Easy Chocolate brownies with cranberries and hazelnuts
I’ve got a thing about eating chocolate and nuts together. Last year I posted my new and improved ‘Just Beet It‘ brownies that had walnuts and more recently, for Easter, I posted a Creme Egg Double Chocolate Muffins recipe with pistachios. This time round it’s the turn of hazelnuts to make an appearance. Chocolate and hazelnuts have long had a happy relationship. Nutella instantly springs to mind, and so does fellow blogger Danni Martin’s Healthier Chocolate Spread.
Brownies are my favourite to make when you want something chocolatey that’s simple and cause a minimum of fuss. I made these in celebration of my blog turning 2 years old on 30th May. I’ve been so busy of late that I completely forgot all about it! I’m so happy to still be blogging and feel like I’ve really come a long way since I started. Unlike the Just Beet It brownies which were more compact, these easy chocolate brownies are more spongey and light. I used a mix of whole hazelnuts and chopped, just to play around with the texture.
How has your month been? At the beginning of May I drew up some goals I wanted to achieve, as I was feeling demotivated and procrastinating too much. My goals included join a baking class and to start taking regular weekend trips, or day trips to somewhere we haven’t been before. I don’t always get the full weekend off work, so it’s important to make the most of it and actually do something with the time off! It will also make these posts more interesting if I discover new goodies on my trips too!
I was really pleased to join a baking class for macaroons. The last time I was in such a class was in school, so I was really happy about going to one! I was quiet at the start but by the end of the class I was chatting away with everyone and my confidence increased as my baking skills improved. I’m certainly no expert and still have a lot of practice to do before I can master macaroons, these were definitely my biggest challenge! The class was so much fun and I’m already thinking about what class I’d like to join next…bread making is high up on the list!
Simple Banana Smoothie With Ginger. Start the day with this quick and simple smoothie.
Last Monday I went to a baking class on mastering macaroons and it was the best fun I’ve had in ages! I met some lovely people, including a lady called Patricia. Patricia and I were the two early birds for the class, so we had time to chat a bit whilst prepping our ingredients for the class. Patricia talked about the gingerbread men she had made recently and I talked about my favourite smoothie of the moment, as it happens to have ginger in it. Before we knew it we were laughing at the mishaps we were having with the macaroons; Patricia was having trouble with the food colouring (grey instead of red), whilst mine were gorgeous in colour but rather on the thick side. They piped out looking like uumm…pink poo! Macaroons are hard to get right but luckily smoothies are so simple to make, especially if you’ve invested in a good quality blender.
Do you ever go through phases of using ingredients for weeks on end? For me, my ingredients of the moment are ginger and coconut. This smoothie was the first one I tested out using the Froothie Optimum G2.1 and the flavours remind me of sitting on a beach soaking up the rays of the sun! Ah, sunshine! It’s made a guest appearance here for the past week and I’m thinking it’s not going to stay for much longer. It really does lift your spirits though and so does this smoothie, with its yellow colour and tropical flavours.
April’s Credit Crunch Munch Roundup
Last month I took over the reins of the #CreditCrunchMunch for Camilla of Fab Food 4 All and Helen of Fuss Free Flavours. April saw a host of varied recipes from soups, smoothies and stews, to potato muffins, burgers and bread. Proving once again that a quality culinary experience need not be expensive! I thoroughly enjoyed reading all your recipes and bookmarking them on my Frugal Recipes Pinterest board, as well as them being pinned on Helen’s Credit Crunch Munch board. Big thanks to all those who submitted their thrifty recipes and to Camilla and Helen for letting me guest host one of the best link ups out there.
So if you are looking for money saving ideas on your food bill without cutting the taste factor, take a look at the recipes and tips linked below!
Roasted Sweet Potato and Vegetable Soup
Has my house landed on the Wicked Witch of the East? Seriously, the winds here have been crazy and the house has been creaking, it feels like it’s about to take off any minute and end up in Munchkin Land! On the bright side, it’s weather for hanging clothes out to dry and even better, an excuse for gathering around the table for a delicious bowl of hot soup.
I spent Friday and Saturday making crème brûlée and chocolate truffles, when really I should’ve been making something more healthy (I purposely left a couple of healthy cookbooks propped up in the kitchen to no avail). However, whilst I was out on the prowl for dark chocolate chips, I did spot a 500g bag of vegetable soup mix for a mere 6p! Now that’s a bargain I couldn’t pass up. It was then I knew that I would be making soup with the sweet potato I had at home. Come Sunday I put the Silver Machine – my Froothie Optimum G2.1 into action. I wanted to keep the veg nice and chunky, so blended the sweet potato with the stock first and then transferred it back to the saucepan with the vegetables.
I just love sweet potato and unlike regular potato, it counts towards your 5 a day, so this soup is simple to make, packed with veg, tasty and frugal!
Northern Irish no bake traybake – Fifteens
On Saturday Neil and I took Hannah out for a trip along the coastal path in Bangor and made the best of what little sunshine we had. Hannah loves it down there because she can explore and roam quite freely without any big dogs making her feel nervous. We love it because it’s a chance to escape from technology for a couple of hours, take in the fresh sea air, and stop off at our favourite local cafes for a proper natter. As the weather was being kind, we were pleased to see there were tables arranged outside, so no worries of having to leave Hannah in the car. What I love about the cafes here is the array of traybakes on offer. In Northern Ireland, we just love our traybakes! Neil and I particularly love the salted caramel squares from The Court Yard and this unbelievably good fruit cake style traybake in Kook Eatery. For a while now I’ve been wanting to add more traybakes to the blog. It seems almost sacrilegious for a Northern Irish food blog to not have many! To restart my inspiration, I’m beginning with the most famous traybake native to Northern Ireland…Fifteens.
These little rustic slices of delight are very popular at kid’s parties, bake sales, schools and often found in cafes. Called Fifteens because there are 15 of each ingredient, they take just 15 minutes to make and are sliced up into 15 pieces. They are filled with pink and white marshmallows and glacé cherries, bound together by digestive biscuits and condensed milk, before being rolled in coconut – no baking required and super simple, just what I like! You can leave out the marshmallows if you aren’t a fan of them and just add chocolate chips instead. Maltesers are a popular option too, but for me personally, I prefer the original version for a treat!
Fifteens have a certain air of mystery about them. A lot of people here only learn that they are local to Northern Ireland when they step outside to other parts of the UK and can’t find any available. There also doesn’t appear to be a lot written about the history of them either. My research (ahem Google) hasn’t offered up any answers. It appears I will have to dig deeper…until then I will keep on enjoying these sweet little treats!
Homemade Cashew Milk and The Froothie Optimum G2.1
I closed the lid on my blender and prayed that everything would go well. It had been on the blink for a while now, but as I only wanted a basic smoothie, surely it would be able to cope? I watched as it spluttered and choked on the contents and, before I knew it, I was racing out the back door with said blender smoking. Into the bin went the charred remains. I’ve never had much luck with blenders but to be fair, it’s my own fault…this is what is to be expected when you buy a cheap one and then test it beyond its limits. As for food processors, my impatience means I dislike cleaning them and changing the blades to suit whatever I’m making. I came to the conclusion that I finally needed a blender that could cope with my exacting kitchen requirements.
Easy Potato And Seafood Chowder Pie. This seafood medley is simple to make and tasty for all the family. Fish, prawns, mussels and squid topped with potato.
Well, this Easy Potato And Seafood Chowder Pie takes me right back to my school days, when we were taught how to make a basic cheese potato pie in Home Economics. I remember it well, because in this particular lesson my class unleashed mayhem! There were a couple of tearaways that the teacher just couldn’t control, who were throwing potato peel around the classroom and talking back at her. Not that I was an angel, but Home Economics was a subject that I enjoyed and always paid attention in. Luckily, the potato pie was simple to make and tasty, or I doubt we’d have ever gotten through that lesson!