Pizza Night {prize draw promotion}

Nights in are the new black.

A night out can be a lot of fun, but so can a night in especially when you have your friends and family with you!

One of my favorite nights in is Pizza Night with my little family! 

What cartoon characters love pizza? The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

It is my all time favorite childhood cartoon and I am proud to say my girls love it too! It's a common pizza/movie night combo for us!

We make individual pizzas with all our favorite pizza toppings. Anything goes! 

Well, with in reason I mean we don't go as far as the turtles themselves, see suggestions by them below! 

Then after we're done with dinner we cuddle up with some dessert pizza and enjoy the movie! It's a great way to get the whole family involved and spend time together!

Pizza Dough

makes 4 individual pizzas, half the recipe for 2
400g Sainsbury’s Strong Canadian Bread flour
16g/2 pouches of Sainsbury’s Fast-Action dried yeast
pinch of salt
280ml luke warm water
extra virgin olive oil

In a mixing bowl mix the flour and yeast together, once combined put in the pinch of salt and mix again. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the warm water, plus a tablespoon of olive oil. Mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until it comes together as a wet-dough. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes on a floured surface, I always start out with a light dusting then add about another two light dustings while kneading. Once it’s smooth and elastic, lightly oil a separate bowl for the dough ball to rest cover with clingfilm and rest for 25 minutes.
While it’s resting lightly oil two baking sheets/trays and heat the oven to 200C.
Once it’s rested gently break it into four separate pieces. Use a sharp floured knife if you want a more even division of the dough. Roughly spread out into a circle or an oval as we did to fit on our trays.
Top with sauce and a choice of your favorite toppings, suggestions listed below, before baking in the oven for 18 minutes or until the edges just start to turn brown. After 10 minutes I switched the pizzas from the top shelf to the bottom shelf to insure even coloring for all the pizzas, but you don’t have to do this. Serve immediately with salad or any sides that you like!

Suggested Pizza Toppings
passata flavored or with added oregano and garlic salt to taste
tomato paste, just a squeeze
cheese, mozzarella is always a favorite

Ninja Turtle Suggested Pizza Toppings:
Pepperoni & Ice Cream
Jelly Bean & Sausage
Anchovie & Peanut Butter
Whipped Cream
Bananas & Sausage
Cereal (Raisin Bran, Cornflakes, Coco Puffs)

Then for dessert we had pizza again! This is inspired by an American treat sometimes called cactus bread. I used mixes for this one to save on time and cost! Start this about 10 minutes before the pizzas are done or just after you've rotate the pizzas if you have done that.

Dessert Pizza

1 pkg (145g) Sainsbury’s pizza base mix
1 pkg (225g) Sainsbury’s crumble mix,
1-2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar (Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference or make your own)
100g icing sugar
1-2 tbsp of milk

Follow the instructions on the back of the pizza base mix package, leave to rise in front of the already heated oven. Once you've eaten your amazing pizzas from above your pizza dough should be risen, poke a few holes in it with a fork before spreading over the cinnamon sugar, then spread over the crumble mix. There will be leftover crumble mix because you don’t need very much to cover the top of this pizza. Bake in the oven according to the packaging. Both the pizza base and crumble mix bake for about the same amount of time.
Before it’s out of the oven make the glaze by mixing the icing sugar with the milk. Once it’s out of the oven while it’s still warm drizzle over the glaze. You might have a little leftover, but that’s okay you can use it as dip for the dessert pizza. Enjoy! 

That is one of my favorite nights in, but I have had many date nights in with my husband and occasionally I'll have a wine night in with my girl friends. So.... 

Prize Draw Closed

notes: In association with Sainsbury’s, all opinions are my own please see my contact/policy page for more information. Ninja Turtle topping suggestions are taken from the first season of the original show. Pizza dough recipe adapted from Gino D'acampo's Italian Home Baking

Shamed by Hollywood

Paul Hollywood that is! 

Earlier today, Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes, and I attended the BBC Bakes & Cakes Show!

We were too busy talking on the circle line tube train, that we didn’t hear that it changed directions. 

Stupid tube trains.

If it weren’t for that we would have been in plenty of time to see Paul Hollywood at 11 in the Bakes & Cakes Theatre. However, we were not on time.

As we were sneaking in to take seats in the back, Paul totally called us out. Yes, he paused in the middle of his demonstration and said something about late comers.

At least he caught us up to where he was in his making of his Devonshire Splits, they did look delicious. 

Our faces were a little red, but hey-ho we really hadn’t missed much!

Also, did you know that Paul Hollywood is funny? I was mildly surprised by this fact. He really did put on a good show. The Great British Bake Off really makes him come off as a jerk sometimes. I guess it’s just the bad cop good cop thing they try to portray.

After that we had a great time running around seeing what there was to see.

We had a lovely chat with Scott, from Kooky Bakes and we learned a lot taste and our senses from Flavour Sense Nation. We also learned a lot about York and chocolate, I think I will be visiting there soon. Apparently when the wind is blowing the whole town smells like chocolate!

Overall it was a nice day out and the best was that I got to spend some time catching up with Jen!

notes: I was provided with a press pass for the event, all opinions are my own. Please see my contact/policy page for more information. The Bakes & Cakes Show was held at the Business Design Centre in London. 

Quorn Cottage Pie {recipe review}

When ever I am exclaiming I love something, I’d say 9 out of 10 times it has to do with food.

There are many reasons I love autumn the most out of all the seasons, but the food is one of them. Who doesn't want something nice warm and comforting for dinner after a cold gloomy day?

My first go to comforting dinner is soup, then cottage pie. Cottage pie is one of those dinners that the whole family loves.

We aren't vegetarians, but I do buy Quorn as a healthier protein. I got into the habit when I first started Slimming World; I am no longer a member, but habits die hard.

I used the recipe provided here on their site. I used only one tablespoon of soy sauce because I didn't have the lighter version that is naturally less salty, I only had dark soy sauce. Other then that I stuck to the recipe.

It turned out really good, it had a lot of flavor and the whole family enjoyed it.

The one thing I would change next time is the parsnip in the mash. I didn't like the root-y flavor it gave the potatoes. Instead I would use a sweet potato or carrots. In my opinion they would have given a better flavor. 

Over all it filled all my criteria of a warm and comforting dinner and to be sure it was served on a cold gloomy day which made it all the better!

For more Quorn inspiration follow them on Twitter or Facebook! 

notes: In association with Quorn, I was given a voucher that supplied me with the Quorn mince, no other compensation was given – all opinions are my own. Please see my contact/policy page for further information. 

Twix Brownies or Not Leftover Halloween Chocolate Bar Brownies

Last Friday I talked about my favorite five chocolaty things and the number one thing on that list is brownies. Then my most viewed post last week was 'How to use up leftover Halloween Candy.'

So, today I thought I would combine them.

I made leftover Halloween chocolate bar brownies.

Technically the chocolate bars I used weren't leftovers, because Halloween hasn't happened yet. They are Halloween candy though because it they were on offer for a pound so you know….

Anyhow, I do enjoy a Twix bar from time to time, so I layered my baking tin with Twix’s and poured brownie batter on top.

Now for these brownies I used a box brownie mix. If you are against the use of box mixes then any brownie recipe will do. I have plenty here on my blog!

Yes, I am self promoting. If I don’t do it, who will?

If you bought a lot of different chocolate bars to give out and you end up with loads left or if you take the children trick or treating and have an abundance of chocolate bars then use those.

A variety of different chocolate bars would make for very interesting brownies. I like the Twix for the cookie/biscuit base; it feels sturdier somehow.

I am probably just talking trash/rubbish, but it’s how I feel.

Twix Brownies aka Halloween Chocolate Brownies

1 package of brownie mix
            plus an egg, vegetable or sunflower oil, and water or whatever it says on the
20-23 Twix fun size bars

Line the base of an 8x8 inch pan with baking paper, then layer the Twix or leftover chocolate bars on the bottom. Heat the oven to the recommended temperature on the box or by whatever recipe that is being used. Make the brownies according the box instructions. Carefully pour the brownie mixture on top of the chocolate bars and gently smooth with a spatula. Bake according to the time on the box or by the recipe. I may not sound very helpful, but depending on what types of boxed brownies are used then the temperatures and times can vary!
Be sure to cool completely in the pan, especially depending on what type of chocolate bars used. Some of them could be very gooey and ooey as they are on the bottom. So, no matter how much a warm brownie from the oven is tempting, be sure to allow them to cool to avoid unwanted mess!

 notes: For these brownies I used Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie mix, which can be found at Costco. Costco do not approve of this post nor do Twix; not because they don’t like it, but because they don’t know about it. I just thought you might like to know where I get the best boxed brownies from and that Twix are great! For more information see my contact/policy page. 

Pumpkin Spice Meringues

If you follow me on Instagram and if you don’t you should, you will have seen my whoopie pie disaster the other day. 

At the moment I am holding a grudge against the whoopie pies because, I still haven’t been able to figure out what when wrong? 

They turned out as very flat cookies. I was so mad at them that I couldn't eat them, but they didn't go to waste other family and friends ate them.

See I don’t like waste. It was for this very reason and because I had a coupon, that I bought egg whites in a carton. I didn't want to waste the yolks. 

I know there are many ways to use up egg yolks, but I didn't fee like being all frugal, I just wanted egg whites with no fuss.

However because of my grudge, I have yet to try to remake them to figure out what went wrong. That left me with a whole carton of egg whites.

I did what I usually do with leftover egg whites I made meringues. This time I added a lovely autumn-y twist. I added in some pumpkin spice and some color.

The pumpkin spice is subtle by definitely there, it's a nice kick to a very sweet treat!

These would be absolutely perfect with a little green colored tip and used at a Halloween party. Or skip the added color and top a pumpkin pie with it! The possibilities are out there!

Pumpkin Spice Meringues

12 tbsp of egg whites, or 6 egg whites 
300g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
½ tsp pumpkin spice
peach coloring paste

Preheat the oven at 100C/200F/gas ½
Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks with electric hand whisk or free, standing mixer (so much easier). Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar at a time, whisking constantly until the whites come to a stiff peak. Add the cornflour and the pumpkin spice - whisk until combined.
I drew circles on a piece of baking paper and flipped it over on my baking sheet, if I you leave it with the pencil side up the pencil can come off on the meringue.
Then I used a star tip and 'painted' stripes of peach coloring on the inside of the bag, before filling the piping bag with the meringue and piped the “pumpkins” in the circles. I think I may have painted too much food dye because the excess ran off and made puddles of color next to the meringues on the sheet and made them a little sticky! So, don't be too generous with the stripes. 
Bake in the heated oven for about 2 hours or more depending on the size of your meringues. Turn the oven off, but leave in the oven to cool. Over night is best from what I read, but a couple of hours would probably be all right. You just want them to dry out. 

this one really looks like a gourd!

notes: If you can’t find Pumpkin Spice try making your own: 1/3 cup ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg or mace, 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cloves, 1-1/2 teaspoons ground allspice.

Five on Friday: Favorite Five Chocolaty Things

It’s the end of the National Chocolate Week and there have been a lot of chocolate stuff going on in London.

I wish I could tell you about all the fun I was having in there in London, but I wasn't there! 

So, from the comfort of my couch and laptop I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite chocolaty things for my Five on Friday.

1. Brownies
In the early days of my blog I was going to have a whole thing about my quest to find the best brownie recipe ever! Then I sorta stopped. However I have found my favorite brownie recipe and I haven’t used another one since. I wrote about them in the post Bribe Worthy Brownies (I still haven't taken my driver's test O_o ) and a look here for more brownie recipes!

2. Paul A. Young
He could secretly be made of chocolate. When I got to meet him briefly at last years Cake & Bake Show, he was super friendly and happy to answer any questions. I love his book and I love his shop(s). His book is full of amazing chocolate things and his store is filled with amazing chocolate treats! (His brownies are freakin’ amazing! If you want to know about my visit to his shop I wrote about here and if you want to know more about his book I wrote about it here and more about when I meet him look here!

3. Hotel Chocolat
They have great chocolate and the range of flavors and products is astounding! It is a bit pricey, but it’s part of why I think of it as such a treat! One time when I was pregnant I bought one of the Caramel Slabs and I hid it in the back of a cupboard so my husband didn't know about it because I didn't want to share and in 3 days I had finished the whole thing. So, unless he reads this he'll never know about it. 

4. Blackout Cake
I don’t ever think I ate anything so chocolaty and so rich as this cake. It is the cake that I found myself sneaking to the fridge with a fork to steal bites of it. Then when the cake looked a bit funny, due to the fork marks in it, I had to have a few more bites to even it out. Why I didn't just cut myself a slice is beyond me. More about the blackout cake here

5. Galaxy Ripples
I know I like high-end chocolate from places like Paul A. Young and mid-end chocolate from places like Hotel Chocolate, but there is something to be said about a Galaxy Ripple. I mean sometimes you just want a creamy chocolaty treat! These are my go to chocolate in times of need. 

A couple other things that almost made my list where:

Eric Lanlard’s book Chocolat:
Oatly Chocolate Oat Drink 

notes: Pictures are my own, except the Hotel Chocolate logo, it is from their website. All opinions are my own, no compensation was given for this post. Please see my contact/policy page for further information. 

Hummus & Carrot Sticks

My blog is for the most part about the sweeter side of food. That is because I genuinely enjoy sweet foods.

However my blog probably gives a false impression on my eating habits. I have had more then one of my friends comment on how much cake I must eat.

To be honest I don’t, I eat one or two slices/pieces/squares/cookies etc… then the rest is shared among my friends and family.

“Everything in moderation,” is something that I try to live by for everything I do in my life.

Including my cake eating habits.

If I really ate sweet stuff 24/7 I would be way unhealthy and my teeth would have probably fallen out of my face by now.

When I saw a competition on the Simplyhealth website asking bloggers to share a recipe that used one of the ingredients listed here (page removed). I thought it would be a great opportunity to share something that I enjoy eating that isn't cake or cookies and that is good for you! 

My favorite lunch is hummus and carrot sticks. It is also my girls’ favorite lunch, I have taught them well.

Hummus is so easy to make at home, you throw everything into a food processor and lunch is made. It’s also a great base to add different flavors. This one just has some hot sauce drizzled on top to give it a bit of a kick. 

Hummus served with Carrot Sticks:

1 can of chickpeas
3 ½ tbsp of chickpea liquid
2 tsp tahini
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp sea salt    
1-2 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of Paprika
Hot sauce (optional)
Carrot Sticks

Drain the chickpeas, but reserve the liquid. Place the chickpeas, tahini, garlic clove, salt, chickpea liquid, and vinegar in a food processor. Pulse a couple of times before adding the olive oil. Blend until completely smooth.

Place in a dish and drizzle with hot sauce and scoop up with carrots!

Carrots are good for you because they have a lot of Vitamin A, which is a great way to keep your teeth happy and healthy. Also carrot sticks can act as a natural toothbrush! Bonus!

notes: I have entered this competition, hosted by Simplyhealth, on my own accord. For more information please see my contact/policy page above. There is still time to enter if you are interested! 

Pumpkin Spice M&M Cookies

Every year stores bring out holiday things early. Every year people, including myself, complain about this.

Yet, I have been thinking, since the stores do it every year, they must find it beneficial. There must be people out there already stocking up on Christmas stuff.

Who are you people?!? 

I would actually like to know.

To me it seems completely absurd. Well, I did…. 

See this summer I was at my parent’s house in Minnesota and if it weren't for stores bringing out autumn-y food and decorative stuffs then I wouldn't have been able to make these cookies.

Then the answer to my question is that I am one of those people. Who knew I would ever lump myself with that sort of crowd? I sure didn't.

These cookies turned out a little gooeier then I wanted, but that is just because I should have given them a little bit more time in the oven.

Besides that they turned out super pumpkin spicy and autumn flavored. The flavored M&M’s really didn't add too much to the over-all flavor so regular M&M’s could be substituted. 

Pumpkin Spice M&M Cookies:

280g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp cornflour
2 tsp pumpkin spice
½ tsp salt
170g butter, melted
150g light brown sugar
100g sugar
1 medium egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
80g dark chocolate chunks
90g Pumpkin Spice M&M’s

Line 2 large baking sheets with grease proof paper. Mix the flour, baking powder, cornflour, pumpkin spice and salt together and set aside. Whisk both sugars with the melted butter until it thickens to a paste like substance. Then add the egg and whisk until just combined, then add the egg yolk and vanilla and whisk until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks and M&M’s.
Keep in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Take the cookie dough out and set the oven at 170C/325F. When the oven is almost at temperature take about 2 tablespoons of cookie dough and roll into an oblong ball and place on a lined cookie sheet. You should be able to get 8 on each sheet, so a total of 16. Bake for 12-15 minutes depending on how soft you want them. They will look pale and under cooked, but if you leave them on the baking sheet for 10 minutes or more after taking them out of the oven they will set. Don’t fret!

notes: If you can’t find Pumpkin Spice try making your own: 1/3 cup ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg or mace, 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cloves, 1-1/2 teaspoons ground allspice. 

Changing of the Seasons: Caramel Apple Pie Scones

The change in seasons has been influencing my taste buds at the moment.

Definitely craving apples, pumpkin, cinnamon, and other seasonal dishes. Like stews, soups, and pies the list could go on forever!

Usually this time of year I bake a lot of apple bakes, but our tree has produced no more then 5 edible apples this year.

Which is very sad really, but I wasn't going to let that stop me from baking with apples at least once this autumn!

After much thought and deliberation I decided to give a classic teatime treat an apple twist. No, not a Victoria Sponge, but the humble scone.

I made Caramel Apple Pie Scones. They are by far one of the most delicious scones I have ever made. Which isn't really saying a lot because I don’t make scones that often.

That doesn't make them any less delicious though!

They would be perfect for an Autumn Afternoon Tea! 

The scones themselves are seasoned with apple pie spice and have fresh apples in them. I topped them with the traditional clotted cream and instead of jam used some delicious caramel!

Caramel Apple Pie Scones

500g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp golden caster sugar
2 tsp apple pie spice
50g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
25g vegetable shortening/Trek, broken up
300ml buttermilk
75g or ½ an apple chopped into little cubes
sprinkle of sugar
clotted cream
caramel sauce

Start by chopping the apple and sprinkling with sugar, leave in a colander so the juice from the apple drips out. Press between a towel or paper towels to dry them completely.
Heat the oven to 220C and line a baking sheet.
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl before rubbing in the butter and shortening. Add the buttermilk and chopped apple and mix together until it forms a soft dough.
On a lightly floured surface smoosh the dough into a thick circle, using a medium to small circle cutter cut out the scones. I got about ten, but it depends on the size of your cutter. Then place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. They should rise in the oven and slightly brown. When you transfer them to the cooling rack they should feel light. Cool for a bit before adding the clotted cream and caramel. Enjoy! 

notes: These are my entry for The Great Denby Cake Off blogger competition. Apple Pie Spice isn't very common in the UK, however if you add a tsp of ground nutmeg and a tsp of ground cinnamon and maybe a baby pinch of ground cloves it will pretty much be apple pie spice. This could also be tried with dried apples. 

Ginormous Jaffa Cake Cake

Until I moved to the UK I had never heard of Jaffa Cakes.

I can’t recall the exact moment I tried a jaffa cake for the first time, but I do remember thinking they were a bit odd.

The thing was I couldn't quiet decide what it was.

We, us humans, like things to be defined. We feel safer when things make sense or fit into a category. That way we can say we understand it because it fits into something we already know.

Jaffa cakes didn't really make sense to me and I wasn't sure I liked them or not. Even though I have a love of orange and chocolate. 

Then there was a new tax on chocolate covered biscuits. Which then began the whole debate on if a jaffa cake was in fact a cake or was it a biscuit.

Finally we would know where the jaffa cake stood and by knowing that we could sleep better at night.

It was decided they were more cake like and therefore wouldn't be taxed. They proved their point by making a large jaffa cake and I would like to think it was a bit like this one.

Ginormous Jaffa Cake Cake

orange jelly

juice of 4 large oranges
100g golden caster sugar
6 gelatine leaves

Line a 8in/20cm round cake tin with clingfilm. Before juicing the oranges, zest them and save it for cake below. Once zested juice the oranges and place in a saucepan with the sugar. Gently stir to dissolve. While that’s doing that, place the gelatine leaves into cold water to soften. Once soft, squeeze any excess water out before placing in the warm orange juice/sugar mixture. Gently stir until the gelatine is completely melted, then pour into prepared pan and set for 4 hours or more in the fridge.

cake cake:

250g unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
300g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
100g full fat natural yogurt
300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
zest of 4 large oranges

Line a 10in/23cm round cake tin with greaseproof paper and grease with a little butter. Place all the ingredients into a large bowl or the bowl of a freestanding mixture and beat until everything is combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes or until springy to the touch and a skewer test comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin until the tin is cool enough to handle. Finish cooling completely before placing the jelly circle in the middle of the cake.

chocolate ganache

284ml double cream
150g milk chocolate, broken up
150g dark chocolate, broken up

Place all the ingredients above in a heat proof bowl and set on top of a simmering pan of water. Once the chocolate starts to melt gently whisk in the middle of the bowl in tiny circles. It just slowly mixes the chocolate and the cream and it always gives a smooth silky ganche. Cool slightly before pouring on top of the jelly topped cake.

notes: For further information the jaffa cake tax decision look here and/or here. Recipe is adapted from BBC Bakes & Cakes Magazine Spring 2014 edition 

Five on Friday: Five things that make me Smile!

Today is World Smile Day. It started with the creator, Harvey Ball, of the infamous yellow smiley face. He felt like his image was being over commercialized and therefore losing it’s meaning.

He wanted to take one day a year to celebrate smiles and acts of kindness. The Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation was created after he died and they are the sponsors of World Smile Day.

I thought in light of it being World Smile Day today’s Five on Friday would be about five things that make me smile!

1. Sunshine

2. Flowers (wild)

3. Books

4. Cupcakes

5. My little family

What makes you smile?? 

notes: World Smile Day! All pictures are mine please ask permission before using anywhere else!