Superfood Energy Balls & Bites: Nutrient-rich, healthful & wholesome snacks by Nicola Graimes

I love how the author starts by saying that "Although 'superfood' may have become a buzzword in recent times, certain foods are undeniably blessed in that they provide superior nutritional value for the amount of calories they contain." because it is a buzzword. One that I generally roll my eyes at whenever I read it, as it's usually accompanied by someone who uses it to feel superior.

Drawn to the book, despite my assumptions on the word 'superfood,' I was pleased to have those same assumptions erased by the time I read through this book! Nicola Graimes, an award-winning writer, shows us how to use these superfoods in a variety of snacks and treats to get us through our day.

The author gives us an A-Z list of all the superfoods used in the book, most I have heard of, like the avocado and quinoa and some I haven't like guarana which is a powdered berry from an Amazonian plant. Then we get chapters that cover raw and cooked superfoods as well as savoury superfoods and it covers other snacks and treats!

A few of the recipes I would like to try are:
Blueberry Bites
Carrot Cake Balls
Morning Mocha
Berry Bounty Balls
Double Raspberry Maca Balls
Chocolate Goji Bars
Lemon Bliss Bites
Coconut & Cherry Drops
Banana Oat Bites
Raspberry, Coconut, & Lemon Bars
Cauli-Chickpea Power Balls
Sweet Potato & Quinoa Bites
Japanese Rice Balls
Satay Rice Balls
Cashew 'Cheese' Balls
Wasabi-Roasted Edamame
Cauli 'Cheese' Bites
Raspberry Kefir Gels
Fruit 'n' Nut Chocolates
Strawberry & Cream Balls
Salted Caramel Banana Bites
Mango & Brazil Nut Wonder Balls

The majority of the ingredients can be found in your local supermarket. There are nuts and dried berries and a few of the not so common ingredients are easily sourced via health food stores or online. They are also very straightforward and simple to put together. 

This book gives us every reason to indulge in our snacking! A nation who loves to snack it's nice to have an alternative to all the sugar or salted ones that line our supermarket shelves. If you like me are weary of the word 'superfood' please do not let it put you off this title, it's full of delicious looking snacks and treats and can change your snacking habits for good! 

* I was provided a copy of Superfood Energy Balls & Bites by Nicola Graimes to review by the publisher, Ryland Peters & Small, retails at £9.99 and available now from your local book retailers or online! All opinions are my own, I was not given any other compensation nor was I asked to give a positive review, please see my contact/policy page above for more information. 

Bakeland: Nordic Treats Inspired by Nature by Marit Hovland

There are a lot of cookbooks and baking books on my shelf and all of them are as unique as the authors who wrote them, but it does take something truly special to stand out and impress me as much as this book has.

Bakeland is the baking book I never knew I wanted or needed in my life. Marit Hovland has a website that is titled Borrow My Eyes. It is the most perfect title for her site as she sees such incredible things in nature and the things around her. I am glad she has loaned us her eyes through her photography and her ablity to recreate what she sees in her baking.

It's a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively! The fact that it is not a book full of rainbow everything and over the top sprinkles I adore it. There is a place in the world for those sorts of things and don't get me wrong I do like shiny sparkly things, but I also love the colors of the world around us as they are just as effective if not more so.

As in the sub title of the book and my description above the pages of Bakeland are filled with treats inspired by nature.

Unlike other other baking books that break the recipes into seasons Hovland gives us her recipes for the changing of seasons. The first chapter being Winter into Spring, followed by Spring into Summer, Summer into Fall, Fall into Winter, and ends with recipes for the New Year.

A few of my favorite recipes that I am bookmarking to try are:
Coffee Ice Cream Cake with Chocolate Meringue
Chocolate Almond Cookie Eggs (pictured)
Cardamom Macarons with Blueberries and Cream Cheese
Birch Bark Cookies
White Chocolate Seashells with Raspberry Filling
Cinnamon Bun Cake with Rum Glaze
Lime and Strawberry Macarons (pictured)
Soft Pistachio Cookies with Strawberry Glaze
Walnut Brownie Cake with Whipped Cream and Blueberries
Vanilla Cloudberry Macarons
Pistachio Brownie Cake with Troll Cream (on cover of book)
Cinnamon Macarons with Apple Filling (pictured)
Chocolate Cinnamon Tree Cookies
Raspberry Mousse Cake with Mint Chocolate
Spice Cake with Cinnamon Almonds
Apple Pie with Caramel and Chocolate Leaves
Gingersnap Macarons with Cream Cheese
Gingersnap Pinecones with Cocoa (pictured)
Chocolate Coffee Mousse
Cheesecake with Cinnamon-Chocolate Crust (pictured)

I wish I could show you every single one of these recipes with you, but I suggest  your own visit to Bakeland  by picking up your very own copy at your local book store, I like supporting books stores, but it is of course available online and for more delicious recipes check out the authors blog linked above! 

*I was provided a copy of Bakeland: Nordic Treats Inspired by Nature by Marit Hovland to review by the publisher, Greystone, Retails at £22 and available from the 13th March 2018 from your local book retailers or online! All opinions are my own, I was not given any other compensation nor was I asked to give a positive review, please see my contact/policy page above for more information.

Ferrero Rocher Brownies

OMG right? 

I have to admit that these were not of my creation, but come from a creative youtuber Cupcake Jemma. I love watching her videos and if you haven't before you should start with the video I have linked below! These brownies again wouldn't have been my first choice as I am not a fan of hazelnuts. They aren't terrible, just not a huge fan. 

However, my baby baker, not a baby any more having celebrated her 8th birthday last week, likes them and loves Nutella even more. Something I discussed a few posts ago when I made Nutella brownies and since I only just made them I couldn't make them again. 

So, on the hunt for what else I could make her I came across great recipes featuring Nutella like 
Nutella Bueno Cupcakes from The Baking Explorer and an Ultimate Chocolate and Nutella layer cake from supergolden bakes and I also came across a No-bake Ferrero Rocher Cheesecake from What Jessica Baked Next. It was this last one that made me think of Ferrero Rochers and went on another hunt before coming across these brownies from Cupcake Jemma. 

They turned out beautifully (please ignore my cracked ganache) and were loved by all who tried them! If you'd like to have a go I have listed the ingredients you will need, watch the video for instructions and I made some notes on what I did differently below it. Enjoy!! 

Ferrero Rocher Brownies

2 small eggs
165g caster sugar
80g dark chocolate
80g unsalted butter
25g cocoa powder
60g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
30g chopped roasted hazelnuts

Nutella Nougat
25g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
30ml evaporated milk
40g nutella
100g marshmallow fluff
60g chopped roasted hazelnuts
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

for the topping
75g double cream
75g dark chocolate
8 or more Ferrero Rocher

There were a few things I changed to suit my needs: first I made them in a 7inch circle cake tin as I wanted it to be cake like for my daughters birthday. Because of this I cooked it for 25 minutes instead of the 15-20 that she suggests in the video. However, that could be because of my oven so if you too are making them in a round tin then check them at 15 minutes. 

Second I didn't pipe more Nutella in the nougat. Just an extra step I couldn't be bothered with, but would totally be worth it if you are a Nutella fan! 

Third I didn't decorate with more hazelnuts and gold lustre although I wish I had as my ganache cracked a bit. That was only because I was impatient and didn't let it all sit before taking it out of the tin. 

*Want to see more of Cupcake Jemma's delicious treats? Follow the video above or visit her website here

Afternoon Tea at the Bramble Cafe by Mat Follas (book review)

If you are lucky enough to live in Dorset then there is a chance that you may have visited the Bramble Cafe and Deli in Poundbury and if you haven't then at least you have an opportunity too being so close. For the rest of us unless we are planning a visit the only way we can try Mat's delicious treats is by trying them at home with his new book Afternoon Tea at the Bramble Cafe. Mat was the winner of Masterchef in 2009 and opened the cafe with his wife and business partner Kate in 2016.

Each chapter covers the essentials of a perfect afternoon tea. Most importantly the Introduction teaches us how to make the perfect cup of tea. Although I have lived in the UK for 12 years this is something I still struggle with. After the tea the most important part of any afternoon tea is the cake and scones, which is why it's the first chapter. All the classic cakes like lemon drizzle, coffee walnut, and Victoria sandwich are covered in this chapter 

The next chapter covers a wide range of slices and tarts - brownies (my favorite), Millionaire's shortbread, white chocolate & strawberry tiffin, jam tarts, and bramble cheesecake. Biscuits and Cookies are in the next chapter and you can't go wrong with buttery shortbread, but Mat gives us a couple variations to spice it up. He also gives us recipes for treacle oaties, macaroons, and bright colored fairy rings. 

Dainties & patisserie is what we have next and is usually the chapter that seems daunting to me, but Mat has eased my fears and given me confidence to try out a few of the recipes like lemon posset & raspberry terrine, crème brûlée spoons, macarons, Camp coffee & caramel eclairs, and raspberry meringue kisses. 

Afternoon tea isn't just about the cakes and I love that this book covers Savouries & sandwiches. Not only does it cover things you can put between bread like cucumber & mint and smoked salmon & dill mayonnaise, but he gives us a recipe for milk bread to put those fillings in! There is also a recipe for Welsh rarebit, which if you are like me wasn't 100% sure what that is it's essentially cheese on toast Mat makes his with a ale-infused béchamel sauce between the toast and cheese. 

The last chapter covers Preserves & cordials, it might the chapter you over look, but with anything it's the attention to details that makes something absolutely perfect. So, don't over look this chapter because the recipes for bramble & rose jam or strawberry & elderflower jam look amazing!! And as for the cordials, not everyone is a tea drinker and on a hot sunny day cordials are a nice alternative. There are recipes for blueberry, elderflower, apple & pear, and raspberry & blackcurrant cordials and all of them look so refreshing and delicious. 

* I was provided a copy of Afternoon Tea at the Bramble Cafe by Mat Follas to review by the publisher, Ryland Peters & Small, retails at £16.99 and available now from your local book retailers or online! All opinions are my own, I was not given any other compensation nor was I asked to give a positive review, please see my contact/policy page above for more information. 

Honest Burger - Reading, Berkshire {restaurant review}

In 2010 there were two guys in Brixton, London in a tent cutting their potatoes by hand, flipping burgers made with meat they delivered to themselves because the butchers wouldn't and bringing passion to their dream. It was the start of something amazing and as it's not that often I get to London I am super excited that they opened a restaurant in Reading, Berkshire.

Last week my friends and I went out for our monthly meal and were lucky enough to try out Honest Burger. First impressions are everything and as we stepped in the vibe was chilled and rustic, the definition of a cool place to hang out. The staff were welcoming, knowledgeable, and energetic. However, the real test was going to be the food.

The menu is not very long and this, to me, shows confidence and trust in what they are producing. I was excited and sad that I couldn't eat more then one burger in a night. See even though the menu isn't extensive I wanted to try everything on the menu, but as the saying goes when in Rome......

Naturally, I had to try the Reading Special - which is made, like all their burgers, of the best cuts: chuck and rib cap (the fatty bit that's skimmed off a rib eye steak) that is chopped not minced, chopping helps not only hold in the flavor, but makes it really tender. Then they topped the burger with Barkham blue cheese and a red pepper chutney both locally sourced.

The blue cheese comes from a small family business, Two Hoots Cheese in Barkham a little village that sits just between Berkshire and Hampshire. The red pepper chutney comes from the Nomad Bakery in Caversham, they get the chutney from the Caversham Jam Lady.

The burger also is topped with bacon, tomato, red onion, lettuce, and their own pickles in between the buns that are steamed, they wet the bun before placing on the grill and it just gives them a little something extra.

All of this served with the best chips ever. Let's just talk about these chips for a moment, they are fried and then covered with their rosemary salt and are addicting. Then if you are like me and like your dips you need to try the curry sauce, chipotle mayo, bacon ketchup, yes you read that right bacon ketchup, and saving the best for last bacon gravy. You just have to try it for yourself. Trust me, trust them they know what they are doing!

So, as I mentioned my friends joined me for dinner and they tried the chilli burger topped with chilli cheese, bacon and a jalapeño relish. I tried a bite it is good, but it is hot just a warning! Then my other friend tired the special the Disco Burger. The Disco is limited edition and this burger is topped with a pineapple bacon jam, cheddar, burger sauce and pink onions. I didn't get a chance to try this one on the night, but I was told it was very good! You only have until the 12th of February to try this one so get in there now!

They change their special every three weeks and as my lovely waiter suggested we, me and you, need to visit at least once every three weeks to try the new special, but ideally it should be twice every three weeks and he told me it was really a sin if I didn't. So, I thought I'd pass that message on to you. It's a sin if you don't visit at least once, because once is all it will take to make it your go to burger place.

Now that last sentence is an awesome line to end a review, but I have to just mention a few more things - my cocktail the Kentucky Tea - which is buffalo trace bourbon, honest iced tea (they make it themselves), and lemon. I highly recommend it, it was so good and I haven't had proper iced tea since I left the states. Then there were the onion rings, the batter was thick and fluffy and was seasoned with a little bit of aniseed that just gave them a special something. Also note that it's not only the burger toppings they source locally they also source local beers and lagers so check them out if you are in town! And last but not least they serve breakfast too!

Okay I think that's it. You can find them at the address below, if you aren't local visit their website (linked below) for more locations and more information about Honest Burger!

Honest Burger: 1-5 King St., Reading, RG1 2HB

*I was invited to visit and check out Honest Burger as it's recently opened in Reading, I was not compensated in a monetary way for my review, all opinions are my own, please see my contact/policy page above for more information. 

Chocolate Cake Donuts

Hearts are one of the earliest things I remember drawing as a kid - it probably is for most people. It's a familiar image or shape that we associate with many things surrounding the emotion of love. The origins of this shape is not known for sure maybe the shape of a leaf of some obscure plant associated with valentine or could be the shape of human sex organs who knows really?

Even if it is pretty likely that the shape has some crude beginnings it's a shape I have always liked; to draw and to eat! I mean everything tastes better when it is in a fun shape right? Kids know that for a fact. That is why I thought  it appropriate to shape these decadent donuts in the shape of hearts. Also I only have a heart shaped donut pan or a mini donut pan and the mini ones take ages.....

Chocolate Cake Donuts

170g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp espresso powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
60g sugar
60g brown sugar
170ml whole milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil (extra for greasing)
2 tbsp sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 180C and grease the donut pan with a little bit of the veggie oil and don't forget the middle part so the donuts don't stick.
Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, espresso powder and salt into a bowl. In another bowl whisk the egg, both sugars, milk, oil, sour cream, and vanilla until combined and then sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and fold in until completely combined and there are no lumps.
Fill the donut indents 3/4 full - *I found that using a tablespoon to fill the donut indents was easiest and I used two tablespoons and it was the perfect amount.
Bake for 10 minutes and leave to cool for 5 before turning out. They should just drop out, but using a butter knife around the edges should loosen them up. Leave to cool while you make the gauche.
I had 3 batches to make a dozen donuts - I wiped the donut indents clean and re-greased them each time.

85ml whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
15g unsalted butter
85g chocolate chips

Heat the cream, sugar, and butter on a medium heat. While it's heating place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl, once the cream mixture is just boiling pour it over the chocolate and gently whisk. We don't want air in the ganache, but we do want it to be smooth and shiny.

to finish: 

I dipped the donuts into the chocolate ganache and then covered with chocolate sprinkles. In between batches you need to keep the ganache slightly warm otherwise it goes hard and lumpy.
Donuts are best eaten fresh, but will last for about 3 days.

These donuts are a great treat and if you love someone you should make these for them because they exude love. They are love even if they aren't made in a heart shaped donut pan. 

Easy Waffles from Jamie Oliver

I wish I could say that I just magically knew how to make waffles from scratch, but I don't. Like most people I had to look it up. I mean someone somewhere in time must have said lets mix flour, egg, and milk together and heat it up in a pan or griddle or waffle maker or whatever they used way back in the day and magically made waffles.

However, when it comes down to the simple things, like waffles, they have generally been done before. That's why I have borrowed Jamie Oliver's recipe - which probably wasn't his recipe to begin with either to be fair. But in today's world of copyright and people owning things I will give him credit here as it was his website I found the recipe I use to make waffles.

Since picking up a waffle maker for only £5 (marked down) I have been making waffles for my girls and I for breakfast and dessert. I hadn't thought of sharing it on the blog because I hadn't changed the recipe up at all and toppings are subjective to individual taste.

Then I thought well people are missing out on this super easy waffle recipe to then top with whatever they want! I mean they might find it on Jamie Oliver's site like I did, but if they are like me they are skeptical of how it might turn out and as I have made this about a dozen times now I can say yes this is a good waffle recipe.

Easy Waffles

150g self rising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1 large egg
240ml milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Mix the dry ingredients together. Then beat the egg in a separate bowl before adding it, in about three parts, to the dry ingredients. Then slowly add the milk beating until smooth between each addition until it's perfectly smooth. Then following the instructions on your waffle maker make waffles!
I usually get about 6 -8 waffles out of the batter.

*I wish Jamie Oliver was paying me to say or to share this, but he's not. If you'd like to visit his site the recipe is here. The amazing lovely lady at Moose Maple Butter sent me a tub of the butter to try out and it's amazing on waffles. Thought it was worth a shout out on here! I met her at Food Blogger Connect a few years back now and received a tub from her there and made these delicious Maple Butter Bars! All opinions are my own and if you want further information see my contact/policy page above!


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