Halloween Cupcakes and Broomsticks

With just under a week to Halloween, it is getting pretty excited in this household.  We love celebrating Halloween. This year we are not going all out like previous years, but still, we will decorate a little, and take the kids Trick or Treating. 

Halloween's not on the weekend or even during half-term like normally, which means no late night party for us, but that doesn't mean we're not going to make the most of Halloween.  So with the kid's outfits pretty much sorted, decorations out ready to put up, I just need to sort the food.  I'll put on hot food: chilli, jacket potatoes and hot dogs, but it's Halloween, it's for the kids, kids love cake and so in prep for next week we popped to our local Tesco's and bought all the ingredients we needed for our fun afternoon of decorating cupcakes:

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Rosemary and Garlic Shoulder of Lamb #HealthyRedMeat

As a parent, I want to make sure that my children are eating a balanced diet, because, eating well is so very important; they need to grow, develop and explore and eating well will help them flourish. No single food contains all the essential nutrients needed, and that’s why we need to make sure our kids are consuming foods from each of the main food groups.

It's easier said than done if you have a fussy eater and providing a balanced diet for your little one can be quite an uphill challenge. But, as long as they eat well most of the time, they will be getting plenty of nutrients and they will also slowly learn healthy eating habits.

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Caribbean Food Week with Grace Foods'

It's Caribbean Food Week the 22nd - 29th August. During this week we celebrate all things Caribbean food. And, Grace Foods, the UK’s number 1 Caribbean food and drink company, is at the forefront of celebrations.  This year Grace Foods UK is holding its first ever Caribbean Food Week Food Festival at Windrush Square in Brixton, London (Friday 26th – Saturday 27th August), featuring Caribbean street food, live cookery demonstrations, music and more! It's a free event and perfect if you want to join in the celebrations and try some yummy Caribbean food.

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Vanilla-Filled Chocolate Cookies - "LIfe is Sweet" The Hummingbird Bakery

The Hummingbird Bakery, famous for their Red Velvet, have been bringing us the finest authentic American cakes and desserts to London since 2004. They are six The Hummingbird bakeries across London and serve traditional American cupcakes, layer cakes, brownies, pies, tray bakes, cheesecakes, whoopie pies and many more delicious and unique desserts.

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Tapas and #Alhambra1925 #giveaway

Alhambra Reserva 1925 , a beer that comes from Granada, bringing you the personality of Spain in both taste and presentation.

 It is a light beer with low fermentation -  perfectly made with a formulated balance of wheat and hops that achieves a sweet but also bitter flavour. A refreshing and enjoyable beer to drink, Alhambra Reserva  is the perfect beverage to complement a tapas feast.

I love cooking different dishes, discovering different flavours and generally having fun in the kitchen. I also enjoy tapas but have only ever experienced it in restaurants, so I was super excited to attempt and cook some of my favourite tapas dishes in my own kitchen and of course, I invited family around to enjoy (hopefully) the tapas as well.

I made a few dishes, cold and hot and below you can find the recipe for my two favourites, the chorizo with broad beans dish and the garlic mushrooms dish:

Chorizo with Broad Beans:

Ingredients

8oz broad beans

Chorizo sausage

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon chopped mint

1⁄2 lemon

salt and pepper

Method

Cut the sausage into roughly 4mm slices. 

Blanch the beans in lightly salted boiling water for 1 minute, then drain and run under cold water.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the garlic (crushed) and fry on a medium heat for 3 minutes, until softened. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and add the sliced chorizo and fry for a further 3 minutes, or until it is golden.

You stir in the board beans and cook for a further 3 minutes, then chuck in the mint, squeeze the juice of half a lemon and you are done. Serve in a tapa dish.

Then for my favourite tapas dish, I love mushrooms:

Garlic Mushrooms:

Ingredients

4oz of extra virgin olive oil

3 large cloves garlic

Button mushrooms

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbs. dry Spanish sherry

Method

In a skillet heat the olive oil on medium-low heat and add the garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until the garlic is soft but not brown. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper and then raise the heat to medium-high, stirring to combine the garlic and seasonings. Toss occasionally until mushrooms begin to brown, for about 6 minutes.

Raise the heat to high, add the sherry continue to stir allowing the mushrooms to brown and when the wine evaporates, remove from heat, and serve - in a tapa dish.

The evening went down a treat! We thoroughly enjoyed good company, tasty food and refreshing beer - what more do you need?!

Alhambra is giving one of my readers the chance to win an Alhambra Reserva 1925 gift box. 

For your chance of winning this fantastic prize please answer the following question in a comment below: 

What would be your perfect tapa for pairing with Alhambra Reserva 1925? 

Good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

  • Open to UK residents only.
  • This competition is open for people aged over 18 only.
  • Cracked Nails and Split Ends is not responsible for the prize and have no part in selecting the winner. 
  • Mahou will select their favourite answer as the winner. 
  • Mahou will dispatch the prize to the chosen winner. 
  • No alternative prize is available. 
  • This competition closes at midnight on the 11th October 2015.

Strawberry Muffins with Jubilee Strawberries

Did you know there are 30 home-grown varieties of strawberries?

Driscoll Jubilee strawberries are one of the best strawberries I have ever tried. They are so much sweeter and much more flavoursome than your average supermarket strawberry. Juicy, fresh and full of flavour, they have a succulent rich flesh, mouth-watering taste and distinctive fresh aroma of this perfect ruby coloured, heart-shaped strawberry.

We love strawberries in this house and have a punnet available in the fridge at all times - they are perfect for snacking on, and great for baking - or sprucing up a salad with.

We were invited to review the beautiful Driscoll Jubilee Strawberries. We were sent a whole crate full of punnets of strawberries - we took a couple on some picnics and the rest we used to bake with. 

When I asked the kids what they wanted to bake using the strawberries, they said muffins.

This is the first time we have made muffins, and what better fruit to use than Jubilee strawberries.

Ingredients

2 cups diced fresh jubilee strawberries

375g flour

1 of tablespoon baking powder

1/2 a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

10oz caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon

310ml of milk

3 eggs

250ml unsalted butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 

220 C

Melt the butter. 

Sift the flour, then mix with the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir until all the ingredients are combined. 

Make a well in the middle of the mix add the milk, eggs, and melted butter. Stir well until fully combined. Make sure not to over mix as it is fine for the batter to be slightly lumpy. 

Add the diced strawberries and caster sugar into the batter and stir gently - be kind to the mix.

I then scooped the mix into the muffin cups, about half way full and baked in the oven for 25 minutes.

They were delicious.

Chocolate Buttercream Cupcakes


We've been making chocolate buttercream cupcakes.

We were sent a pack of Persil branded goodie bags along with a challenge to cook up a recipe with the kids. 

Persil's Cook with the Kids is a campaign to get parents and children cooking up a mess in the kitchen. To help families create foodie memories together. 

Persil is giving away some fantastic cooking rewards, from chef hats and colourful whisks to aprons and bright silicone cake cases, all you have to do is collect the claim codes on the back of Persil washing up bottle.

The kids wanted to cook chocolate cupcakes with buttercream fillings.  We've never cooked cupcakes before, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. The kids loved them and we will definitely be making some more. It was fun and we made a mess in the kitchen.


Ingredients
Cupcakes:
375g of plain flour
400g of caster sugar
30g dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of salt
2 free range eggs
250ml of milk
250ml of water
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Buttercream:
250ml of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
50g of unsalted butter
50g of margarine
250g of icing sugar
1 pinch of salt
3 tablespoons of milk

Method

First we preheated the oven to 190c, then we realised we didn't have any cupcake over trays, oops! So a quick dart down the supermarket Hubby came home with a couple.

In a large bowl we mixed together the plain flour, caster sugar, the cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and the salt. Once this was mixed I made a hole in the middle of the mix and cracked and poured in the eggs, along with the oil, milk, water and vanilla extract, mixing it all together and thoroughly.  
Once I had a smooth consistency we poured the mix into the cupcake oven tray holes - half full, to allow for the rise.

You then bake them for 20 minutes.  

Whilst they were baking we started on making the buttercream.  You have to beat the butter and margarine until smooth and then blend in the icing sugar and salt. Slowly beat in the milk and vanilla extract until it is light and fluffy.  You are then meant to pipe the buttercream through the bottom of the cupcakes, but we didn't have any piping bags so we improvised and used the Calpol syringes instead - which worked perfectly.

Allow them to cool. 


We were super pleased with how well they came out!



 We popped them into our cupcake cases.

 

We syringed some of the vanilla cream into the to the middle of the cakes -syringing underneath. We don't have a piping bag, so I used the Calpol syringe instead, it worked perfectly.


Jacob wanted some sprinkles on his, so he spread some chocolate icing on the top first, and then tapped some sprinkles on top.


What better way to clean up the mess than with Persil.