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Friday, 28 October 2011

Halloween Toffee Apples!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

My mum lent me her latest edition of Easy Food magazine and I found a great easy to follow receipe for Toffee Apples! Yum!
I made these tonight with great success, so thought I would share with you!


For the toffee coating:
225g demerara sugar
110ml water
1/2 tsp vinegar
2 tbsp golden syrup
25g butter

For the apples:
6 apples
6 ice pop (lolly) sticks

1. In a frying pan, add the sugar and water and dissolve over a moderate heat.
2. When it has dissolved, stir in the vinegar, syrup and butter.
3. Bring to the boil and cook without stirring until it reaches the stage that if you dropped it in cold water it hardens. This should take about 10 minutes boiling time.
Meanwhile while the syrup is cooking, pierce each apple with a wooden stick.
4. Once the toffee is ready, dip each apple into the hot toffee, turning it around in the syrup so that each one is fully coated.
5. Leave to harden on a lightly oiled tray or greaseproof paper.

Simples!

Enjoy!

Mel
@Tikobear
@Honestlyitseasy

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Make ahead Christmas Presents?

With the cost of living constantly rising and people trying to save money anyway possible we have been thinking about how we can save money on Christmas presents. Christmas is my favourite time of the year, it’s not the presents, its the fact that you see and spend time with people and family you may not have seen for a while.

Every year we go to my parents for Boxing Day to celebrate Christmas with them and my brother and his girlfriend join us for the day. This year in an effort to save money etc we have decided that all of our presents to each other will be hand made!! I have a few ideas already but if you have anymore that you would like to share please let me know – all ideas are welcome!!

We aren’t the only ones thing in a festive theme, in November’s issue of the Good Food Magazine there is a special section on ‘Make ahead Christmas Gifts’, my favourite recipe from this section is

Pistachio and Cranberry Cookies

Makes 22. Prep 15 mins plus cooking. Cook 15 mins

175g/6oz butter, softened
85g/3oz golden caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
225g/8ox plain flour
75g/2 ½ oz pistachios
75g/2 ½ oz dried cranberries

1. Mix the butter, sugar and vanilla extract with a wooden spoon. Stir in the flour, then tip in the pistachios and cranberries – you might need to get your hands in at this stage to bring the mix together as a dough. Halve the dough and shape each half into a log about 5cm across. Wrap in cling film, then chill for 1 hr or freeze for up to 3 months.

2. Heat oven to 180 c / 160 fan / gas 4. Slice the logs into 1cm thick rounds, place on baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake for 12-15 mins. Completely cool on tray.

Make ahead
Well wrapped, these dough logs will happily freeze for up to 3 months, meaning you can include freshly made biscuits in your Christmas hampers without any last minute effort. Simply defrost in the fridge overnight, then slice and cook as above.
So has anyone got any other make ahead recipes or home made gift ideas they want to share?

All the best

Claire
Xx

Twitter:
@CropredyChicken
@Honestlyitseasy
@steelsyrockitup

Saturday, 15 October 2011

River Cottage Veg Everyday!

This Sunday sees the return of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall to channel 4, we at Honestly Its Easy are really looking forward to it!

http://www.rivercottage.net/

“Hooray! The brand new TV series of River Cottage gets underway this Sunday (16 October).
In River Cottage Veg, renowned carnivore Hugh - this week named OFM Food Personality of the Year - spends a summer without either meat or fish.
Acknowledging that he needs to curb his appetite for flesh focuses entirely on vegetables, and attempts to reboot his whole attitude to food.
In this first episode, Hugh makes peace with the pigs, and says goodbye to bacon sandwiches before heading out to meet David Bailey, one of the best vegetarian chefs in the country.
David wows Hugh with his Asian inspired cooking, and more importantly reassures him that there are good times ahead. On his return to River Cottage HQ, Hugh’s first challenge is to put on a full summer BBQ without so much as a sausage – let alone his beloved hog roast.
But a forage in the wild larder proves fruitful, providing delicious samphire for tarts and seaweed for rosti.
Hugh even manages to put the spit to good use, creating possibly the world’s most unwieldy kebabs.
All the recipes from the new series are taken from Hugh's new book: River Cottage Veg Every Day!
You can grab all those recipes and cook along with the man himself during the Channel 4 show this Autumn.”

http://astore.amazon.co.uk/rivecott-21/detail/1408812126


So I know what I will be doing at 8pm Sunday evening – let us know what you think to the series too!

All the best

Claire
Xx

Twitter:
@CropredyChicken
@Honestlyitseasy
@steelsyrockitup

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Foraging Mushrooms

A couple of weekends ago I went to see my brother and his girlfriend who have just moved into a new house on a farm estate. Whilst out on a Woodland walk in the estate I saw lots of mushrooms! Now I love mushrooms, but in the wild I’m really not too sure which ones are edible and which ones aren’t so I tend to leave well alone! I watched an episode of River Cottage a while ago and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall got mistaken which were edible mushrooms and which weren’t so I’ve got no chance!

At any rate here are a few of the mushrooms we found, the theory is I learn a bit more about mushrooms before going to see my brother again so I can forage to my hearts content!




For those people who are interested in learning more about mushrooms etc I’ve just ordered the following books to help me on my quest for mushroom knowledge, I’ll let you know if they are any good (only in my opinion of course!)

Mushrooms: River Cottage Handbook No.1
By John Wright

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mushrooms-River-Cottage-Handbook-No-1/dp/0747589321/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1318516108&sr=8-13

Field Guide to Edible Mushrooms of Britain and Europe (Field Guides)
By Peter Jordan

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Edible-Mushrooms-Britain-Europe-Guides/dp/1847737463/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1318516065&sr=8-10

And whilst browsing for these books I also came across a new one from ‘the legend’ Alys Fowler which was published by Kyle Books (8 Sep 2011), not sure how I missed that one! But I’ve added it to my end of month buying!

The Thrifty Forager: Living Off Your Local Landscape


http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thrifty-Forager-Living-Local-Landscape/dp/1856269124/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1318516108&sr=8-14

All the best

Claire
Xx

Twitter:
@CropredyChicken
@Honestlyitseasy
@steelsyrockitup

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Great British Bake Off Final!

So last night saw the final of this years Great British Bake Off. If you’ve not been watching this series, you’ve missed a treat! To summarise 12 amateur home bakers take part in a bake-off to test all of their baking skills as they challenge each other to be win the title of the Great British Bake Off’s best amateur baker, they cook anything from classic Victoria sponges to pastries, to bread. I’ve loved every minute of this programme it’s been even better than the first series!

Big Congratulations to Joanne Wheatley who won the title last night but congratulations also has to go to Mary-Anne Boermans and Holly Bell the runners up. Personally I thought Holly was the winner but it was a close call.

Recipes from the contestants on the series can be found on the website http://www.thegreatbritishbakeoff.com/recipes/

You can view Joanne Wheatley’s blog, Jo’s blue AGA, at http://josblueaga.blogspot.com/.
You can follow Joanne Wheatley on Twitter: @joannewheatley

You can view Holly Bell’s blog, Recipes from a Normal Mum, at http://recipesfromanormalmum.blogspot.com.
There you can view her latest postings, beautiful celebration cakes, recipes and reviews.
You can also follow Holly on twitter: @HollyBellMummy

You can view Mary-Anne Boerman’s blog, Time to Cook Online, at http://timetocookonline.com/.
Follow Mary-Anne on twitter: @wotchers

There is also an Official Book to accompany the series

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1849902682/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=thegreatbri00-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=1849902682


It’s definitely on our shopping list!!

All the Best!

Happy Baking!!

Claire
Xx

Twitter:
@CropredyChicken
@Honestlyitseasy
@steelsyrockitup

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Saving Money!

It is easy to save money, I'm not talking putting away £25 a month in a savings account with little return, I'm talking saving money on everyday items, earning "free" cash and receiving "free" products.

I love a good bargain (as you may have seen in one of my previous blogs re: freecycle!) and if I can help it, I won't pay full price on most things I buy. I always look for instore offers, money off coupons in papers/magazines and of course the internet.

The internet has many sites offering voucher codes or printable coupons, take today for example, I had a look on the internet site supersavvyme.co.uk and found a £2 off coupon for a stain remover (with both my boys at school now, stain remover is a must for their white school shirts!) This coupon was redeemable at either Tesco or Sainsburys (you choose which store you want it for). I chose Tesco. After visiting the store later this evening, Tesco had the prduct on sale anyway for £3, so with my £2 off coupon, I got the product for £1! Bargain!
I also had a coupon for cream cheese, Tesco was selling the product for £1.36, my coupon was £1 off - I paid just 36p for it! Double Bargain!!

My favourite sites for printable coupons are:
www.supersavvyme.co.uk
www.beforeishop.co.uk

Online voucher codes are brilliant too, you can save money on all sorts of things from restaurants to days out!
Just type in "voucher codes" in your internet search engine and it will come up with a whole list of online voucher code sites which list companies offering discount with a code!

One thing I also do when shopping online, I go through a cashback site called Quidco, this gives you a percentage of cashback for your purchases, which pays you into your Paypal account (terms apply)
This is now my little "pot" for my wedding fund, so hopefully during christmas I'll be getting cahsback on all my pressies!

I also joined a survey site and a product testing site. Basically I complete surveys on all sorts of topics, in return I accumalate points, once you get to a certain amount of points, I can exchange these for vouchers for places like amazon. This certainly helps during christmas as I save them up during the year!
The product testing site is exactly that, they send you products to test for a period of time and then you complete a survey to tell them what you thought about it! You get "free" products just for your opinion!

I learnt all the above from good ol' Martin Lewis, his website is jammed pack full of ways to save and making sure you get the best deal.
Check it out: http://www.moneysavingexpert.co.uk

Oh and before i forget, I bought a new book called Bubble wrap, banana peel, baby oil and beyond. It has over 700 ways of using everday household items for different jobs, from keeping your glasses mist free to de-icing your car! Interesting eh??!

Whats your fave way of saving money??

Mel
@Tikobear
@honestlyitseasy

Monday, 3 October 2011

Cake Stands!

According to an article on the front page of the Daily Telegraph today Cake Stands are making a come back! So in celebration I thought I’d post a few of my faves I’ve found!

It’s not surprising that we are seeing a big rise in the sale of cake stands, department store John Lewis has said that sales of three-tier cake stands are up 46 per cent!

With some great baking shows on the TV, to name but a few The Great British Bake Off, The Hairy Biker’s with Mum’s Know Best and Home Cooking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale, baking is on the schedule almost every night!

Whether your cakes are beautiful rich Victoria sponges, indulgent chocolate, or dainty cup cakes, we love them all! Long live the cake!

4 TIER CUPCAKE DESSERT STAND NEW **HOLD 23 CUPCAKES**







http://www.amazon.co.uk/TIER-CUPCAKE-DESSERT-STAND-CUPCAKES/dp/B0041K5DV6/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&qid=1317624545&sr=8-15

Lakeland do a great range too and even do matching cupcake papers!;

http://www.lakeland.co.uk/search/ks_cake-stand/q02.r16.1?src=ggkit&gclid=CK3bwpD2y6sCFbEntAodQhOO0w

They have a fabulous Halloween and Christmas themed stand as well! We may even try and make one ourselves! Look out for it in future blogs! ;)














All the Best!

Happy Baking!!

Claire
Xx

Twitter:
@CropredyChicken
@Honestlyitseasy
@steelsyrockitup