Yogurt Fruit Salad

Yoghurt Fruit Salad

When Sainsbury’s recently asked food bloggers to try out their salad sprinkles, I thought it would be a great opportunity to try something new. I was sent four different sprinkles to try, crispy onion, savoury oat, Italian style and dried fruit and honey seed.

Salad sprinkles

I love the serving suggestion tip on the packet of the dried fruit and honey seed sprinkle, which inspired my Yogurt Fruit Salad recipe. This colourful sprinkle is a mix of dried apricots, orange flavoured cranberries, toasted pumpkin seeds and honey coated sunflower seeds. I used some of my favourite fruits for the recipe but it really doesn’t matter which fruits you use, just choose your favourites. To boost the flavour of the 0% fat yogurt I added a little vanilla and honey for extra sweetness.

Here’s the recipe for Yogurt Fruit Salad.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

1 medium banana
8 small strawberries
12 red grapes
24 blueberries
6 tablespoons natural 0% fat yogurt
1/2 tablespoon runny honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
30g Sainsbury’s dried fruit and honey seed sprinkle

Method

1. Hull the strawberries and slice the banana, then distribute all the fruit equally between two bowls.

2. In another bowl mix the yogurt, honey and vanilla extract together. Then drizzle the flavoured yogurt over the fruit.

3. Add the sprinkles on top. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Yoghurt Fruit Salad

For the other sprinkles I made a simple salad with a mix of watercress, rocket and spinach leaves, with pomodorino tomatoes and cucumber all tossed in a balsamic vinegar. I put the sprinkles in small serving bowls and we all helped ourselves to the ones we fancied. The Italian style sprinkle, a mix of toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds, toasted pine nuts, dried onion, dried sundried tomato and dried tomato was most definitely the favourite. It really jazzed up the salad and I’m sure I’ll use it again.

We also really enjoyed the crispy onion sprinkle which is a mix of dried red onion, toasted sunflower seeds, dried red proper and dried green pepper. I think it would make a tasty alternative to croutons if served with a bowl of warming tomato soup. The savoury oat sprinkle flavoured with rosemary was lovely, I think it would make an excellent topping for oven roasted fish.

Salad sprinkles

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Until next time.

Julie
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Disclosure: Sainsbury’s sponsored me to write this post. All opinions are honest and my own. The recipes are my own.

Tomato and Basil Salad

Tomato Salad

During a recent trip to London’s Borough Market I bought some amazing tomatoes from an organic veg stall. As you can see from the pictures there was a fantastic selection of tomatoes in varying colours and sizes. Seeing such an impressive display prompted me to buy some with the idea of making a simple tomato and basil salad when I returned home.

We ate our salad with my other Borough Market purchases which included some focaccia from the Bread Ahead Bakery and a wedge of Montgomery Cheddar from Neal’s Yard Diary. The tomato and basil salad is hardly a recipe at all but I wanted to share it with you as it really was rather good especially with the focaccia and cheese.

Borough market

Borough market

Here’s my recipe for Tomato and Basil Salad.

A selection of different tomatoes
Handful of fresh basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

Method

1. Slice the larger tomatoes, cut the smaller ones in half or quarters depending on their size.

2. Arrange the tomatoes and basil leaves on a plate. Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil, season with sea salt and black pepper. Serve at room temperature and enjoy.

Tomato Salad

Sometimes simple unfussy food is the best.

If you haven’t seen it yet, do take a look at my review of London’s Borough Market which includes lots of photos of my day there.

Until next time.

Julie
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London’s Iconic Borough Market

Borough market

I recently spent a day at London’s iconic Borough Market. Located near London Bridge it’s undoubtably one of London’s best food markets. There’s a fantastic variety of fruit, vegetables, hot food, chocolate, cakes, breads, cheeses, cured meats, olive oils and drinks available to buy. In fact, I can’t think of anything you can’t buy there. There’s a real buzz about the place, the enticing smells and the friendly people make it a brilliant place to visit. Borough Market is steeped in history so I strongly recommend you pick up a market guide to learn more about it.

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I’m so pleased I found Konditor & Cook a fabulous cake shop, selling a delicious selection of cakes and brownies. I bought 4 of their regular brownies and they were the most fudgey chocolate brownies ever. On display in the shop were the most exquisite tiered cakes, with a really colourful show stopper in the shop window. I just could resist taking lots of photos.

The Olive Oil Company sells a vast selection of olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Although, I didn’t buy any I did buy two cute olive oil dipping bowls.

I visited Neal’s Yard Diary a wonderful cheese shop located on Park Street, after sampling lots of different cheeses I bought a wedge of Montgomery Cheddar.

At the end of our day my husband and children treated me to some gorgeous chocolates from Rabot 1745, Hotel Chocolat’s restaurant and bar selling cocoa inspired cuisine and chocolates. It’s most definitely a restaurant I’d like to eat in.

If you’re ever in London make sure you spare a few hours or ideally a day to browse the food stalls and shops of Borough Market. I think you’ll love it. I’m hoping I can go back around Christmas time to see what festive goodies I can buy.

Here’s a few more pics of my day.

Do look out for my next blog post which features a recipe using some of the ingredients I bought at Borough Market.

Until next then.

Julie
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Harissa Spiced Giant Couscous

Harissa Spiced Giant Cous Cous

Having a barbecue on a week night most definitely means it’s the summer holidays. Oh, I do love the holidays, we all needed a break from the usual crazy rushing around routine. For us having a family barbecue is a lovely way to relax and enjoy our favourite foods.

When Sainsbury’s asked food bloggers to try their giant couscous I thought our barbecue would be the perfect time to experiment. Giant couscous is much larger than regular couscous and is made from wheat flour. It’s quite similar to small pasta in texture. For this recipe I’ve teamed the giant couscous with spicy harissa paste and sweet roasted peppers resulting in this super tasty side dish which we enjoyed with our barbecue feast. It’s a really simple recipe and tasted great with our burgers, sausages and salad. I know I’ll be making it again and again.

Here’s my recipe for Harissa Spiced Giant Couscous.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
Olive oil
100g giant couscous
1/2 tablespoon harissa paste
1 spring onion (sliced)
Small bunch of curly leaf parsley (chopped)
Salt and black pepper

Method

1. Pre heat your oven to Fan 200c.

2. Cut the peppers in half, remove the stalk, seeds and pith. Brush the outside with a little oil and place on a non stick roasting tray skin side up. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.

3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

4. Meanwhile, place the giant couscous in a medium size saucepan. Cover with cold water and then bring to the boil. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until cooked through, then drain.

5. Peel the skin off the peppers and then chop into 1cm square pieces.

6. Place the giant couscous in a bowl, add the chopped peppers, harissa paste, spring onion and parsley. Season generously with salt and black pepper, then mix well. Serve at room temperature.

Harissa Spiced Giant Cous Cous

Have you ever tried giant couscous? I’d love to know if you have a special way to cook it.

Until next time.

Julie
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Disclosure: Sainsbury’s sponsored me to write this post. All opinions are honest and my own. The recipe is my own.

Strawberry and Banana Smoothie

Strawberry and Banana Smoothie

Packed full of nutritional goodness this Strawberry and Banana Smoothie will please everyone (well nearly everyone!). My children really enjoy smoothies and now I’ve got into the habit of making them on a regular basis, I’m finding it a great way of serving up some of their 5 a day…or is it 7!

With the abundance of sweet British strawberries at the moment now is most definitely the best time to make this healthy smoothie. I’ve added a little honey but you can leave it out if you want to. My blender can’t crush ice so I add ice cold water but if you have a really powerful blender then I’d suggest replacing the water with ice cubes instead.

Here’s my recipe for Strawberry and Banana Smoothies.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

250g strawberries
3 medium bananas
2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
4 tablespoons ice cold water
1 tablespoon runny honey

Method

1. Hull the strawberries, then peel and chop the bananas into chunks. Place all the fruit into a blender.

2. Add the yoghurt, water and honey. Then blitz in the blender until smooth. Serve immediately.

Strawberry and Banana Smoothie

If you enjoy this smoothie I have some more smoothies you might like to check out too.

Berrylicious Smoothie

Berrylicious Smoothie

Banana Cinnamon Smoothie

Banana cinnamon smoothie

Do you have a favourite smoothie? I find it hard to pick a favourite, if you have one I’d love to hear about it.

Until next time.

Julie
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Chocolate and Ginger Cookies

Chocolate and Ginger Cookies

These Chocolate and Ginger Cookies are seriously good, I kid you not. In fact, my husband has broken his healthy eating regime for these, he absolutely loves them. The cookies are soft, ever so slightly chewy filled with dark chocolate chips and crystallised stem ginger chunks. Bitter dark chocolate is always delicious in cookies but combined with the subtle heat from the stem ginger takes these cookies to the next level. I hope you love them too.

Chocolate and Ginger Cookies

Chocolate and Ginger Cookies

Here’s the recipe for Chocolate and Ginger Cookies.

Ingredients (Makes 14)

175g unsalted butter (softened)
100g golden caster sugar
100g dark chocolate chips
100g crystallised stem ginger (chopped into small chunks) *
50g whole rolled oats
225g plain flour

*I used Neal’s Yard crystallised ginger sold in Holland & Barratt, I chopped the ginger into small chunks the same size as the chocolate chips.

Method

1. Cream together the butter and sugar together until thoroughly combined.

2. Mix in the chocolate chips, chopped ginger and oats.

3. Add the flour and mix until the mixture becomes a dough.

4. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.

5. Divide the cookie dough into 14 pieces, roll each piece into a ball. Then, place the balls of cookie dough on the lined baking sheet and flatten until about 1cm thick. Smooth the edges of the cookies with your hands if they are cracked.

6. Place both the baking sheets in the fridge to allow the uncooked cookies to firm up, chill for at least 1 hour.

7. Pre heat the oven to Fan 160c.

8. Oven bake the cookies for about 20 to 25 minutes, the cookies will be pale gold when cooked. I recommend you take a look at the cookies after 20 minutes and if you think they need longer pop them back in the oven. Don’t over bake as they will lose their soft texture. I baked mine for 23 minutes.

9. Once cooked remove from the oven and leave on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Chocolate and Ginger Cookies

Chocolate and Ginger Cookies

With all this talk of baking cookies has got me thinking about the next series of the Great British Bake Off which starts on 6th August. Yay! I can’t wait to see what technical challenges Mary and Paul have for the new bakers, I bet it’s going to be brilliant.

Happy baking.

Julie
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I’ve entered this recipe into #CookBlogShare at Supergolden Bakes.

 photo 9af5d0df-b279-4c3c-92ad-fc98f562a39a_zpsaca21226.jpg

Tomato and Mozzarella Tarts

Tomato and mozzarella tart

While we enjoy the summer heat thoughts often turn to outdoor eating, if barbecue food is not your thing then try these Tomato and Mozzarella Tarts that scream summer. Using the classic flavour combo of tomato and mozzarella, these delicious individual puff pastry tarts should appeal to most people. I think they are brilliant for a tasty weekend lunch or a light dinner. Being quick and simple to prepare makes them a superb recipe to add to your cooking repertoire. As you’ve probably guessed I’ve used shop bought ready rolled puff pastry. I love how easy it is to use and for me time is often short, I think it’s a great shortcut product.

Tomato and mozzarella tart

Here’s the recipe for Tomato and Mozzarella Tarts.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

320g puff pastry (ready rolled)
220g mozzarella pearls
12 pomodorino tomatoes
8 teaspoons sun dried tomato paste
salt and pepper

Method

1. Unroll the pastry 10 minutes before you want to use it and pre heat the oven to Fan 200c.

2. Cut the pastry into 4 rectangles, measuring approximately 17.5cm x 12cm in size and place on a greased baking sheet.

3. Using a sharp knife score a border 1.5cm inside each pastry rectangle to create the tart edge. Using a fork prick holes on the pastry base. This will stop the inside of the tart rising.

4. Spread 2 teaspoons of tomato paste on each tart base.

5. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthways, then top each tart with 6 tomato halves and 4 mozzarella pearls.

6. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 18 to 20 minutes until the pastry is puffed and crisp.

Tomato and mozzarella tart

I served the tomato and mozzarella tarts with a rocket and spinach salad dressed with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, finished off with grated parmesan cheese. The salad is a must, do try it too.

I hope you enjoy.

Until next time.

Julie
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Pepper Flatbread Pizzas

Pepper Flatbread Pizza

These delicious Pepper Flatbread Pizzas are hugely popular with all my family. For me that makes them a winning dinner solution. I think the secret to these is the richly flavoured tomato sauce with herbs and balsamic vinegar. Pizzas can be a bit time-consuming but these are pretty quick to rustle up because I have a couple of cheats I use and even more so if you make the sauce in advance. My first cheat is that I use oval flatbreads from Marks and Spencer as the pizza bases which taste really good and second is I use frozen pre sliced peppers.

My children sometimes help me make these pizzas and they love feeling involved in preparing their own food. It’s a brilliant way to encourage any reluctant eater to try new pizza toppings.

Pepper Flatbread Pizza

Here’s the recipe for Pepper Flatbread Pizzas.

Ingredients (Serves 2 with extra sauce for 2 more pizzas)

400g chopped tinned tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Black pepper
M&S Oval Flatbreads (twin pack)
50g grated hard mozzarella cheese
Small handful of frozen sliced peppers

Method

1. Firstly, make the tomato sauce by putting the tinned tomatoes into a saucepan with the herbs, balsamic vinegar and a good grinding of black pepper. Stir the ingredients well.

2. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes stirring every now and again. As you only need half the sauce freeze the remaining half for another day.

3. Meanwhile, pre heat the oven to Fan 200c.

4. Lay the flatbreads on a non stick baking sheet. Spread the tomato sauce over the flatbreads leaving a gap around the edge.

5. Sprinkle on the cheese.

6. Top with the frozen peppers.

7. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until starting to crisp.

I only literally had a minute to take the photo of this pizza as my daughter was waiting very patiently for her dinner. If I’m serving the pizzas for me and my husband I usually top each pizza with sliced pepperoni and serve with a rocket salad instead.

I hope you and your family enjoy these Pepper Flatbread Pizzas as much as mine do.

Until next time.

Julie
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My Kitchen Cookbooks: Mary Berry’s Baking Bible

Mary Berry's Baking Bible

I really had no hesitation choosing Mary Berry’s Baking Bible as my next book to feature in ‘My kitchen cookbooks’, the section of my blog dedicated to reviewing my ever growing collection of cookbooks. The list of recipes I’ve baked from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible is so long that it’s most definitely one of my most used cookbooks.

Believe it or not I didn’t actually buy this book when first published. I was put off by the lack of photos and opted to buy 100 Cakes and Bakes by Mary Berry instead. After borrowing it from my local library I was completely persuaded to get my own copy. The Baking Bible is one of the most comprehensive baking books I own featuring over 250 classic recipes, including all the traditional favourites such as Madeira cake, Swiss Roll, Carrot Cake, English Muffins and Millionaires’ Shortbread.

The ‘Introduction and Techniques’ chapter is a must read for any new baker, as it guides you through baking terminology and tips for success. The book is then divided into chapters for different types of bakes e.g classic cakes, chocolate cakes, fancy biscuits and breads. At the end of the book there is a really helpful ‘Cake Decorations’ chapter which includes recipes and instructions on making almond paste, fondant icing, coulis and chocolate decorations.

After years of making a Victoria Sandwich the traditional way by creaming the butter and sugar first, I now only use Mary’s All-in-one method quite simply because it’s foolproof. I made a Pretty Pink Birthday Cake using this recipe earlier in the year and it really did taste amazing.

Pretty Pink Birthday Cake

Another favourite recipe of mine from the Baking Bible is Mary’s Chocolate Chip Brownies. There’s no faff with melting chocolate and I usually have all the ingredients stocked in my baking cupboard (yes, I really do have a baking cupboard!). The brownies are fudgey and very chocolatey, just how a good brownie should be.

If you’re after a quick and easy tasty bake then I recommend you try the Date and Cherry Butter Bars. They’re best described as a cross between a cake and a biscuit, they are quite moreish with a cup of tea.

Date and cherry butter bars

I can’t stress enough how delicious the Viennese Fingers are, they are seriously good. They are beautifully delicate in texture and have a luxurious buttery taste. Don’t be put off by the need to use a piping bag, as the recipe is pretty easy and worth a little bit of effort.

Mary’s Crown Loaf is a fantastic looking loaf of bread to bake. The crown loaf is constructed by baking 12 rolls together in a round cake tin. The individual rolls are light and soft inside with a good outside crust. My eldest daughter baked this crown loaf recently and she did a brilliant job, I think Paul Hollywood would be impressed too.

Crown loaf

Mary Berry’s Baking Bible has a wide range of recipes from simple and traditional to more complex and technical. It’s an essential book for any baking beginner and definitely worth a read too if you are a seasoned pro, there really is something for everyone. There are so many more recipes I want to try but deciding what to bake is difficult as there are so many. What’s your favourite recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible? Let me know, maybe it will be my next bake.

Until next time.

Julie
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Toffee Fudge Shortbread

Toffee Fudge Shortbread

I’m always browsing the baking aisle in the supermarket, looking for something new or different to incorporate into my baking. When I saw a packet of mini fudge chunks I thought they’d be great in a biscuit or cookie. So yesterday, I experimented with my shortbread recipe and came up with these Toffee Fudge Shortbread biscuits.

For quality control purposes I tried a couple with a cup of tea and can vouch that they really are quite yummy. Of course, my little testers don’t like to miss any baked goodies and they too gave the shortbread a big thumbs up. What I really liked is that the shortbread is light and buttery whilst the baked fudge chunks taste like little chewy toffee fudge morsels, delicious!

Toffee Fudge Shortbread

Here’s my recipe for Toffee Fudge Shortbread.

Ingredients (makes 20)

200g unsalted butter (softened)
100g caster sugar plus 1/2 tablespoon for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g plain flour
50g cornflour
Pinch of salt
100g mini fudge chunks

Method

1. Line 2 baking sheets with non stick baking parchment.

2. Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.

3. Sift in half of the flour, cornflour and salt. Then mix together.

4. Once combined sift in the remaining flour and cornflour. Add the mini fudge chunks. Mix until the mixture becomes like a biscuit dough.

5. Dust your work surface with cornflour and bring the dough together with your hands.

6. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 7mm to 8mm using a 6.5cm flower shape cutter cut out as many flower shaped shortbread as possible.

7. Then reform the dough. Roll out and cut out the remaining shortbread.

8. Place the shortbread on the baking sheets and put in the fridge to chill for 1 hour.

9. Pre heat your oven to Fan 160c, then bake the shortbread for 22 minutes. Halfway through baking turn the baking sheets round and swap oven shelves. This will help the shortbread bake evenly.

10. When baked remove the shortbread from the oven, they should be pale gold. Sprinkle with the additional caster sugar. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking trays and then transfer to wire racks to cool.

I think these Toffee Fudge Shortbread biscuits make an excellent gift, so I’m going to put some in a pretty tin and give them to my mum. Hope she likes them.

Until next time, happy baking.

Julie
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