Homemade Chicken Fajita

Everyone has this ‘why’ feeling about something. Packet mixes are one of mine. Fajita’s are a popular dish across the world, they are on the table of many a household in the middle of the week. The sales of pre mixed packets of seasoning for such dishes must be staggering. I always ask myself why? Even if you cant/won’t cook its so simple to go homemade, especially with these. If your looking to serve more homemade food to your family this is a great way to start. 

My mix contains just 3 spices. In large UK supermarkets these 3 spices will set you back around 69-99p per 100g. Compared the the price of a well known branded fajita kit this saving is huge. The DIY dinner kits you see in supermarkets for £3+ contain 1 seasoning mix, 8 flour tortilla and 1 sachet of salsa. My seasoning mix costs on average 15p, tortillas cost me £1 and a salsa/guacamole/sour cream dip would cost under £1 also. Big difference. 

Try it for yourself. I promise you, one, that you wont ever go back and two, you’ll start asking why too. 

Dont even get me started on microwave baked potato! Is it just me?

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Ingredients:

2tsp Cumin

1-2tsp chilli Powder (depending on heat required)

1tsp Paprika or Smoked Paprika

1tbsp Tomato Puree

220g Chicken

1 Red Pepper

1 Onion 

1 Small Bunch of Spring Onion

1tbsp Olive Oil

Method:

First heat your frying pan on a medium heat. Slice your pepper and onion as desired and add to the hot oil. Stir until onion is translucent.

Slice the chicken in bite size strips and add to the pan with the vegetables. Allow to fry until sealed. To this add the tomato puree and spices. You may need around 2tbsp of water at this point, just to loosen it up a bit. Leave for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Chop in the spring onion and take off the heat. 

I recommend serving with fresh salad, tortilla wraps and sour cream and chive dip. Potato wedges are a must too. 

 

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Yup. It might not get any better than this. Talk about chocolate heaven. 

If there is ever an ideal ‘dinner party’ cake its this one. So delicate, light and decadent. Rich, gooey and completely chocolatey. Having said this, I’m not having a dinner party. This is just a mid-week chocolate madness.

A very selfish cake, I already think I should hide it. It’s mine! You will know what I mean when you try it.. It can’t just be me, sorry, I refuse. Hiding it is TOTALLY justifiable. It is. 

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Ingredients:

200g Dark Chocolate

100g Butter

4 Large Eggs

185g Icing Sugar

Method:

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4/108C/350F. Place a saucepan around 1/3 filled with water on the hob to reach a simmer.

Break the chocolate in to a bowl (you will use this over the saucepan so make sure its the correct size) and add the butter. Put the bowl over the simmering saucepan, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Leave this on a low simmer to make sure the chocolate melts gently. As soon as you have completely melted the butter and chocolate remove the bowl from the heat. 

Separate the eggs. Staring with the yolks, whisk along with the icing sugar until pale and creamy. Around 1 1/2 minutes in an electric mixer will bring you to this stage. Moving on to the whites, these should be whisked together in a separate bowl until soft peaks form – make sure the bowl and whisk are clean and dry. 

Fold the chocolate mixture in to the yolk mix until fully incorporated. When this has come together and your egg whites have reached soft peak stage you can now gently fold in the whites to the rest of the mix. Make sure this is completely combined.

Carefully pour the mixture in a lined cake tin and transfer to the oven for 30-40 minutes. The cake will be ready when it appears to have a cracked top but is still gooey in the middle. There should be no wobble.

Remove and allow to cool in the tin. Dust with icing sugar and transfer to a plate.

I recommend serving with fresh double cream or ice cream and some fresh berries.  

Unblogged creations..

I haven’t stopped baking. Oh no, baking runs in my veins. So while I’ve been away what have I baked? A lot! I will tell you that. I just thought I would share pictures below, as proof!

I baked 20+ giant cookies for the school cake sale. Made THE best carrot cake ever. A must! Helped my daughter make Sable Rudolf’s and jam filled stars. Slaved over 36 ice cream inspired cupcakes for daughters friends to celebrate her birthday. Dabbled for the first time with sugar paste. I envy you if you can use this stuff. I must say I was pleased for a first attempt but I definitely need practice. I even whipped up a baked cheese cake. I don’t like cheese cake I might add! Many more things happened but these are all the pictures I have to hand.

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Is this sensible?

So, where have I been? Truth be told I gave up too easily. I fall in and out of love with blogging, never seeming to find a routine of writing and publishing.

So why have I come back? I’m in that blogging zone now, for how long I don’t know.

The most consistent blogs attract a lot of people, posting to some is their livelihood, it consumes large parts of their day. To me, I like to post when I feel like it. But why can’t some blogs be like this? After all, your sharing information and inspiration in to the world, there isn’t a rule to how this should be done. Or am I missing something?

So for all of you that are still following me or have wanted more, I’m back. As I said before, I don’t know whats going to happen here all I can say is I’m going to try. Baking blogs are difficult, it’s not a niche at all and I am left to eat everything I create! I may incorporate everyday family meals in to the mix, this way I can keep posting without eating all that sugar!

So, hello again!

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes with Basil Syrup Injection

Another summer surprise. If only the British weather could make its mind up. This summer has just been the worst so far, honestly, it just cannot make its mind up. Last weeks bake was fitting of the weather, this weeks bake a little less so. It had to be done though. The fresh ingredients were sitting in the fridge staring at me, if they weren’t used a certain small person would of dived straight in and there would of been nothing left to bake with. That’s how things normally pan out in our house. Fresh fruit, gone in 60 seconds. Berries, definitely.

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes with Basil Syrup
yields 16 standard cupcakes

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I suppose a lot of people wouldn’t put basil and strawberry together, but then again, a lot of people would. Maybe not so much in a cake, but it does work. Basil syrup is amazing stuff, it’s also gorgeous with brownies. At a family meal this past new year me, my mum and younger sister wracked our brains for a good pudding. This is where basil syrup came from, although granted, it wasn’t our idea. We found it all over the Internet ‘for use in cocktails’. Yes, of course. But we can use it elsewhere. So we did. Brownies (baked by yours truly), basil syrup (made by yours truly) and mango ice cream (made by my little sister). It was the best after dinner treat ever. I’ve been itching to use the syrup since. So today I did. And it hasn’t failed!

You will need;
Weighing scales
A blender
A whisk
A large bowl
Cupcake tin
Cupcake cases
220g fresh strawberries
2 eggs
200g sugar
1tsp vanilla
80ml vegetable oil
200g plain flour
1tsp baking powder

First preheat your oven to gas mark 5 (190c). You need to start by blending your strawberries into a smooth purée in the large bowl, to this add 2 eggs, the sugar, vanilla and vegetable oil. Whisk until frothy and fully incorporated. To this add the flour and baking powder, combine and spoon into individual cake cases. Bake for 15 minutes until soft and springy.

For the syrup; add 1 cup water, 1 1/2 cup sugar and half bunch of fresh chopped basil to a pan and allow to simmer for 6-8 minutes until you have a thick syrup. Once cool inject into cupcakes using a syringe or cut a hole in cakes and spoon in.

I topped mine with a plain buttercream icing just to cover the basil overflow.

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Pistachio & Rose Cupcakes

Hello summer. The weather was beautiful today, perfect for this flavour combination. I’m a lover of Turkish delight. Whoever isn’t is mad, plain mad. It’s amazing stuff. Pistachio and rose are my two favourite flavours, although its easy to find rose everywhere in the UK, I find it very hard to find pistachio flavour, why? Granted I don’t look very hard, I’m sure it’s here somewhere but I never happen to fall upon it in my not so distant travels.

When we were younger we travelled quite a lot, me and my younger sister now both agree with took this very much for granted. I’d love to do it all again now with my new found outlook on life. If I ever win the lottery, I’m travelling the world and showing my little girl all the things I never appreciated. Sorry mum and dad. Anyway, we once went to New Zealand. Of all things I remember Turkish delight being a part of this holiday – although I could be making this up or I could of dreamt it. There was this little hatch type shop, across from a Indian restaurant we had eaten at, it served Turkish delight cut straight from mammoth blocks right into a little paper bag, now that is my idea of heaven. I had to have it, and indeed I got it. Daddy’s girl, I am.

Pistachio & Rose Cupcakes
yields 16 cupcakes

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This is like a cupcake made for a warm Arabian night. I got so excited by the smell of just the pistachio, let alone the cooking stage. I don’t think you can find a better match. They look perfect too. The flavours aren’t overwhelming, it’s a really delicate balance so that you can taste both flavours in there, you don’t want to drown out the pistachio with the rose. It can be easily done. I’d definitely say to anyone to give this a try, it’s a beautiful cake. Do let me know what you think if you try it.

You will need;
Large mixing bowl
Weighing scales
Measuring jug
Small mixing bowl
Wooden spoon
Wire rack
Cupcake cases
Cupcake tin
150g plain flour
70g unshelled unsalted pistachios
2tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
100ml milk
1tsp vanilla extract
175g sugar
110g butter
2 eggs

Preheat your oven to gas mark 5 (190c). Start by bashing your pistachios into crumbs (I just stuck them in the small bowl and used the end of a rolling pin to crush them) leave some bigger for added texture. When you’ve done this add in the flour, salt and baking soda and stir together. In the large mixing bowl cream together your butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs one at a time until incorporated. In the jug mix together your milk and vanilla extract. Now your going to add all the ingredients together. Into the butter, sugar and egg mix you need to add the milk mix and dry ingredients in stages until its all come together. Spoon into your cases and pop into the oven for 15 minutes.

For the buttercream I did a standard buttercream, butter and icing sugar to the right consistency to pipe. Then added enough rose syrup for the desired flavour. As syrup strengths differ I can’t really specify what amount to use. I use KTC rose syrup, available in the world food section in larger asda stores. Of this I used around 2tsps for the right balance against the pistachio. If you continuously taste it, or have a cooled cake on hand to taste it with you should get the right balance fine.

Enjoy, I know I will.

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Chocolate Coca-Cola Cupcakes

So… tomorrow is Fathers day in the UK. Bakers at the ready. I have memories of todays recipe, from childhood. I can remember the taste and having this before. A longterm friend of Mum must be the culprit baker. Regardless of how odd it may be it does work, genuinely. The recipe comes from deep within the pages of ‘how to be a domestic goddess’ by Nigella Lawson. Not sure if this constitutes becoming a domestic goddess – loading guests/friends/kids and the unannounced with the biggest sugar rush they will ever get from a cake – but okay!

For those that are new to such a concoction I introduce to you;

Chocolate Coca-Cola Cupcakes
yields 18 standard size cupcakes

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I would recommend any baker looking for a seriously moist but not at all oily cupcake to give this a try. The chocolate flavour is barely there, I struggle with calling this chocolate at all infact but I know it’s in there, I put it there. It’s subtle caramel undertones expected from coke, not much sweetness – considering what your adding to the cake you expect it to be very sickly sweet. I’ve topped mine today with a Coca-Cola buttercream and a cola syrup. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

You will need;
A large mixing bowl
A measuring jug
A heavy bottom pan
A sieve
Weighing scales
A wooden spoon
A metal spoon
Cupcake tin
18 paper cases
200g plain flour
250g caster sugar (white or golden)
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4tsp salt
125ml buttermilk
1 egg
1tsp vanilla extract
125g butter (I always happen to use salted, but unsalted is fine)
2tbsp quality cocoa powder
175ml Coca-Cola

Preheat your oven to gas mark 5 (180c)
Firstly your going to sieve together the flour and bicarbonate, straight into the mixing mixing bowl. Next, add the sugar and salt. Over in your measuring jug beat the buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract until fully incorporated. Separately, get your pan warm on a low heat, melt the butter with cocoa powder and Coca-Cola. When this has all melted beat into the dry ingredients until smooth and velvety, do the same again with the buttermilk mixture from the jug. When all the ingredients are combined its ready to be poured into cupcake cases. I filled mine 3/4 and they came out perfect. Simply pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

Decorate as desired. I experimented at this point, coming up with Coca-Cola buttercream by adding icing sugar and cola to 100g of softened butter until I reached the taste and texture I required to pipe. I also put around 100ml of cola and 40g of sugar into a pan and heated over a low heat, reducing to a thick toffee like syrup. On a few I drizzled over the buttercream (after cooled) on others I experimented further. Finding it hardened enough when swirled into water and quickly dried off to stand in the cupcake I did this on a few too.

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I didn’t mention my daughter was assistant baker throughout the whole bake and made the biggest mess ever of the kitchen – flour clouds, sugar rain. But after, all I heard was..
“Mummy, I’m going to lick this bowl for about an hour, while the cakes cook”. Okay.
All in a successful bake for the special daddy in our house.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Shortbread. Among one of my favourites. Everything about it is a winner in my eyes, the simplicity, handmade charm, texture, buttery taste. It’s my biscuity weakness. Having said this, I have never even attempted to make it, ever. So today, I tried. From a few days research, reading other recipes I came up with my balance. This is something I always do, instead of copying recipes from around cyber space I find a few, take the differences, balance them out, change it around a bit and make them my own. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t but I don’t like to just read, copy and bake. To me there’s nothing in that. I have no creative freedom I suppose.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

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You hear a lot of stories about bad shortbread, it being hard to make. Mine was fine. Am I a natural? I can hardly believe this. I also find it hard to believe its hard to make. The key is cold butter, straight from the fridge. I also hear you should never use anything other than your hands to mix and rub in the butter. Shortbread should be made with love, as deserved. With this in mind, give it a go. It is so simple, you will wish you made it sooner.

You will need;
A large bowl
Weighing scales
300g Plain flour
100g Sugar
240g Salted butter
Chocolate chips as required
Baking paper
Cake tin

Set your oven to gas mark 4 (180c). Weigh out your flour and sugar straight out into the bowl and mix together quickly with your fingers. Next weigh out your butter cutting into 1cm cubes as you go, once weighed put into the bowl with the sugar and flour. Now your going to just get right in the bowl, squish and squeeze the dry ingriedients into the butter, keep going, until you end up with a nice crumbly mixture (exactly like you would want on top of your fruit crumble) not too fine though, I like it a bit rough and ready. Add your chocolate chips evenly throughout the mix. It is as simple as that, now just pour it out into a lined baking tray and press down gently to fit the tray. Pop in the oven for 20-40 minutes depending on the depth of your shortbread. Its ready when it’s turning slightly golden on top, don’t worry if it’s a little soft to the touch, it will firm as it cools. When still warm cut with a knife and leave to cool in the tray.

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Enjoy with tea, perfect.

Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut Cookies

Hello friends! Welcome back me.

Firstly I cannot believe I’ve allowed myself to get sucked into not blogging since January. Oops! I made a pact with myself on the creation on this blog that I wouldn’t dwindle away, stray from blogging or just generally not blog for any time longer than 2 weeks. Yeah right, well.. I’m sorry inner conscience. People out there, take note of my perfectly named blog, for reality these last few months is the excuse for my absence. I’ve actually barely baked. I wanted to, I’ve thought up a million bakes in the depths of my mind and ill admit I’ve drooled over the bakes of many a blogger on WordPress – but that is as far as its gone. This makes me very sad! *Deep Breath* Diving in..

Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut Cookies
yields 12 cookies

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I really wanted to bake some form of cookies with hazelnut. I’ve always been a nut and chocolate fan. Always. I needed simple and quick as my baker in training toddler was all hands on deck to get stuck in, of course. She wanted dark chocolate, yes she’s one of those kids. I think, given a line up, she would possibly now opt for the darkest chocolate she could over it’s milk or white variant. Shame her taste buds can’t opt for the grown up stuff at mealtimes but that’s a progressing work right there – in my flipping dreams!

You will need;
A Sturdy Bowl.
A Wooden Spoon.
A Optional Toddler.
A Whacking Instrument rolling pin.
Weighing Scales.
150g Softened Butter.
120g Light Brown Sugar.
30g Dark Brown Sugar.
1 Egg.
1tsp Vanilla Extract.
300g Plain Flour.
1/2tsp Baking Powder.
100g 70% Dark Chocolate.
100g Whole Hazelnuts.
Wire Cooling Rack.
Baking Sheet.

First off, set your oven to GM5/180 Celsius. You need to start by creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, followed by the egg until fully incorporated. Next add the vanilla extract and give it a little mix. At the point you need to set the bowl aside. Now this is where the optional toddler has fun, and becomes frankly armed and dangerous. Pop your 100g bar of finest quality dark chocolate and all the hazelnuts into a sealing freezer bag, pass the rolling pin (or such whacking instrument) to the toddler and tell them to let loose. Anger management! Allow toddler, or yourself 2 minutes of fun until you have your desired chunk sizes. I had crumbs, boulders, whole nuts, half nuts, slabs of chocolate. Prize said whacking instrument out of the hands of the user and calmly put away. Enough is enough. Chuck the bags contents into the bowl of mixture along with half the flour and the baking powder. Once it’s all combined add the remaining flour until that too has become engulfed in the batter. Spoon desert spoon size dollops onto the baking sheet and bake for 12-15 mins. Leave to cool. Enjoy!

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Rose & Vanilla Triple Layer Cake

If you have an occasion coming up this is a amazing cake to turn up with. Today Im spending all day in the kitchen to produce a knock out cake for my daughters 3rd birthday tomorrow. I was going to do a tortoise cupcake cake, no need to slice just pull an individual cupcake from the design, ingenius. She decided against that idea but instead opted for a pink cake, typical! Although I think to myself how boring, I came up with a cake that will taste sensual and will look fun. I decided on a 3 layer cake first off! Secondly I thought about flavours, rose popped into my head straight away, I’d been waiting to use it since new year, this was my chance. Finally! So Rose, got that, but what else? How about a different flavour, I instantly thought of a vanilla layer centered in the middle of the 3 layers. Beautiful. So 3 layers consisting of rose flavoured ‘pink’ sponge on top and bottom, with a layer of vanilla sponge in the middle, but what about icing? Vanilla icing? Rose Icing? Possibly even Raspberry? I opted for a pink tinted vanilla buttercream, decoration hit me straight away. Flumps, the barratts marshmallow twists (unsure of their availability in the US or worldwide but they are definitely still avialable in the UK) they are the perfect colour to dress my cake. Topped with pink and white pearls. We should of had glitter too but it was unavailable in my supermarket much to my disappointment.

Im excited for this cake, I am sure its going to look and taste amazing. Votes in tomorrow. If you have an upcoming occasion why not come back and try this recipe. Its adapted by myself from various flavoured sponge cakes across the web, as with most of my recipes unless stated. Would make the perfect alternative wedding cake with its delicate rose flavouring and scent (I hope).

Rose & Vanilla Triple Layer Cake

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You will need;

Basis-
400g of unsalted butter.
400g of caster sugar (Once again I use half brown half white)
400g self rasising flour.
8 medium eggs.
2tsp of baking powder.

Vanilla sponge-
1.5tsp of high quality vanilla extract.
2tbsp of milk.

Rose sponge-
3-4tsp of rose syrup (available in the world food section of large supermarkets)
0.5-1tsp of red food colouring (depending on the depth of colour you wish to achieve)
1tbsp of milk.

Vanilla buttercream-
650g icing sugar
200g butter
.05tsp red food colouring
1tsp vanilla extract
3tbsp milk

Tools-
17inch cake tin with loose bottom.
Wooden spoon.
2 large bowls.
Measuring spoon.
Weighing scales.
Electric mixer.
Baking Paper.

To start, preheat oven to gas mark 4/180 celcius. Cream butter (at room temperature) and sugar together until fluffy, then your going to add 2 eggs with 100g of flour each time until incorporated into the mixture, with the last 100g of flour add the baking powder and blitz. At this point I removed 1/3 of the mixture into a separate bowl. Into the 1/3 of the mixture I added the ‘vanilla ingriedients’ as listed under vanilla sponge until incorporated. Now go back to the bowl containing the 2/3 mixture and add the ‘rose ingriedients’ as above until incorporated fully. I’m using one cake tin for this, so I’m cooking in 3 seperate batches but you dont need to do this if you have 3 of the same tin. Wet the inside of the tin slightly to help the baking paper stick neater, you want it sitting as flat to the sides and bottom as possible. Fill each with 1/3 of the mixtures and bake for 25-30 minutes (rose cake will need up to 50 minutes) until a cake tester comes out clean or when touched the sponge springs back. While the cake is baking get started on your buttercream (feel free to use the provided recipe, or your go to buttercream) all you need to do for this is mix butter and icing sugar and your chosen flavour until you form a thick paste suitable for spreading. Your going to need a lot to cover the whole cake outside and between each layer so be prepared. After each cake comes out leave to cool on a wire rack until completely cooled then remove the baking paper and place on the surface you will be using to carry the cake. It will be quite hard to move from one surface to another after iced and decorated. I want to achieve the flattest ‘stack’ with the cakes so I start with one rose top down, then vanilla top down, finally the other rose top down. With a layer of your buttercream between each. Each layer of buttercream should just overflow a little, you then need to start to cover the whole cake (there are good tutorials for this on youtube if you havent done this before), when finished decorate with whatever you wish, its entirely upto you at this stage.

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Update: Cake was amazing, cut beautifully and the rose was lovely and delicate. Winner all round, definitely worth a try. Just disappointed I didn’t decorate it different now, oh well, next time.