Energy Bites Book Review and Giveaway

Energy Bites

Energy Bites by Kate Turner with Annie Nichols. Published by DK (£6.99) DK.com

Energy Bites are immensely popular at the moment, pushing the granola bar to the wayside. These high protein filled balls are the healthy snack of choice for anyone looking for a nutritious and tasty treat. Perfect as an afternoon snack, post gym energy boost or popping in a lunch box. Energy bites are easy to make and delicious too.

I was delighted to be given the opportunity to review the Energy Bites book recently published by DK. The book includes fifteen sweet and savoury energy bite recipes, including easy bake and no bake recipes. You’ll find tempting recipes such as Tropical Immune Boosters, Kale Covered Coconut Blasts, Superfood Granola Balls, and Raw Chocolate Instant Energy Treats.

The recipes are all natural and vegetarian, plus contain no refined sugar. With many recipes that are diary and wheat free, there is something for everyone.

Using the incredibly handy Energy Bites Formula, I created my own energy bites made with a combination of cashew nuts, medjool dates, raisins, baobab powder, cacao powder and desiccated coconut.

Baobab powder is a raw whole food, that is rich in vitamin C, calcium, potassium, thiamin. It is claimed to have one of the highest antioxidant capacities of any fruit. I recommend you track it down in your local health food shop.

My Cashew, Date and Coconut Energy Bites really do taste amazing, and have been a huge hit with the all the family. I think next time, I’ll let the kids have a go at rolling the energy bites themselves.

Energy Bites

Cashew, Date and Coconut Energy Bites

  • Servings: 16
  • Time: 1hr 15mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:Energy Bites

125g cashew nuts
150g medjool dates
100g raisins
1 tsp baobab powder
1 tbsp coconut oil
4 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 tbsp cacao powder

Method:

1. Place the cashew nuts, dates, raisins, baobab powder and coconut oil in a food processor and process until the nuts are finely chopped and mixture is well combined.

2. Mix the desiccated coconut and cacao powder together in a large plate.

3. Divide the energy bite mixture into 16 balls, then roll the balls in the coconut cacao mix.

4. Chill for 1 hour in the fridge before serving.

Recipe based on the Energy Bite Formula from Energy Bites by DK Books

Energy Bites

I am delighted to give two lucky readers the opportunity win a copy each of Energy Bites courtesy of DK in this brilliant giveaway.

To be in with a chance of winning a copy of Energy Bites you will need to complete the Rafflecopter entry form. Please provide an answer to the giveaway question as a blog comment. Leaving a blog comment is mandatory, so please follow this requirement to ensure your entry is valid. Once, you have done that there are further chances to win. Please do not worry if your blog comment does not display immediately, all blog comment entries will be displayed prior to the giveaway ending.

Energy Bites

Energy Bites by Kate Turner with Annie Nichols. Published by DK (£6.99) DK.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway will close at 00:00 on 7 March 2016 and is open to UK entrants only. I wish you all the very best of luck.

Until next time.

Julie
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Terms and Conditions:
This giveaway will close at 00:00 on 7 March 2016. These prizes are offered by Dorling Kindersley Ltd (DK) and I am hosting the giveaway on behalf of them. Please note, I am not responsible for posting the prizes out or providing them. DK or their representative will send out the prizes within 14 days of the winners providing me with their name and address. The two winners will be selected at random from all correct entries received by the Rafflecopter widget. The winners will be notified within 7 days of the closing date. The two prizes are as stated, a copy of Energy Bites for each of the two winners, no cash alternatives are available. This giveaway is open to UK entrants only.

Disclosure:
I have not been sponsored or paid to host this giveaway. Dorling Kindersley Ltd (DK) provided me with a copy of Energy Bites to review. Dorling Kindersley Ltd (DK) are kindly offering the prizes to two lucky readers.

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

Pan Fried Beef with Aubergine, Tomatoes and Beans

Pan Fried Beef with Aubergine, Tomatoes and Beans

This hearty recipe of Pan Fried Beef with Aubergine, Tomatoes and Beans is a quick version of the Italian Spezzatino di Manzo beef stew. Cirio very kindly sent me some of their tinned peeled plum tomatoes and borlotti beans to try out this tasty recipe of theirs.

Cirio Borlotti Beans

I opted for rump steak, to help keep the cost of the meal down and only used half of the stated amount of olives as I’m not a huge fan! This stew is packed full of veggies and beans, making it a complete meal in itself. Although for a more filling dinner serve with mashed potato, soft polenta or fresh crusty bread.

Pan Fried Beef with Aubergine, Tomatoes and Beans

It’s a delicious Mediterranean inspired stew perfect for feeding a hungry family during these chilly winter months.

Pan Fried Beef with Aubergine, Tomatoes and Beans

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:Pan Fried Beef with Aubergine, Tomatoes and Beans

4 tbsp Filippo Berio Olive Oil
2 rump or sirloin beef steaks
1 onion (chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
2 aubergines (cut into 1cm dice)
1 red pepper (cut into chunks)
400g Cirio Peeled Plum Tomatoes
400g Cirio Borlotti Beans
2 tbsp tomato puree
200ml white wine
100g pitted green olives
Salt and pepper

Method:

1. In a large frying pan heat 2 tbsp of olive oil, then pan fry the beef steaks for a minute on each side, then set aside.

2. In a large casserole pan heat the remaining oil, then sauté the onion, garlic, chilli flakes, aubergine and red pepper for 5 minutes until soft.

3. Then add the tomatoes, beans, tomato puree, white wine and olives. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Slice the beef and add to the sauce, simmer for a further 5 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes, soft polenta or crusty bread. Enjoy!

Recipe by Cirio

Pan Fried Beef with Aubergine, Tomatoes and Beans

Thank you Cirio for asking me to try out another recipe from your range, it was a big success and I’m sure that I will make it again. You’ll find more delicious Italian recipes at the Cirio website.

If you haven’t already, please sign up to my monthly newsletter featuring a round up of the blog posts that month plus other news and musings from Julie’s Family Kitchen.

Until next time.

Julie
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Disclosure: I have not been paid or sponsored for this blog post. Cirio have given me permission to publish their recipe. Cirio sent me tins of borlotti beans and tomatoes to try out the recipe. All opinions are honest and my own.

Tote Bag from the Cath Kidston Sewing Book

Tote Bag from Cath Kidston's Sewing Book

With the new year here, I wanted to get back to an old hobby I love, sewing. This lovely tote bag project I found in the Cath Kidston Sewing Book was just perfect in easing me back into the world of sewing.

There’s no denying it, I adore Cath Kidston’s vintage inspired products, whether it’s a bag, umbrella, phone case, fabric covered note pad (yes, I have all of these and more!). I managed to buy 4 metres of cotton duck in the Cath Kidston January sale at a really good price. I originally planned to make a sewing machine cover as my first project and that was the actual reason for buying the book in the first place. However, whilst browsing for fabric in the Cath Kidston shop I saw a sewing machine cover and decided to buy it. As the tote bag project was next in mind, I set about making it first instead.

I cut the pattern out using baking parchment, which is equally good as dressmaking tissue for a sewing project like this. Then pinned and cut out the main fabric and lining. I had some calico packed away in my old craft box which was ideal for the bag lining. The tote bag is constructed with straight seams making this a great first project for a confident beginner.

Tote Bag from Cath Kidston's Sewing Book

The book instructions are generally quite detailed. Although I think a little more guidance would be beneficial on the construction of the handles, for those who are not that familiar with sewing. That’s my only criticism!

Tote Bag from Cath Kidston's Sewing Book

I’m delighted with my tote bag, it is really sturdy and I adore the gorgeous floral fabric. My daughter Jess was keen to get involved and has made the pencil case from the book with a little guidance from me. I would definitely recommend making the tote bag and the Cath Kidston Sewing Book. The book is a must buy if you like to sew and are a Cath Kidston fan.

Tote Bag from Cath Kidston's Sewing Book

If you haven’t already, please sign up to my new monthly newsletter featuring a round up of the blog posts that month plus other news and musings from Julie’s Family Kitchen.

Until next time.

Julie
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Disclosure: This review has been written independently and is not sponsored by Cath Kidston in any way.

www.mrscraftyb.co.uk

Celeriac, Parsnip and Rosemary Soup

Celeriac, Parsnip and Rosemary Soup

Celeriac is apparently set to be one of the hot food items of 2016, recently reported in the Independent newspaper. So this seasonal Celeriac, Parsnip and Rosemary Soup is bang on trend! Although, I have yet to convert the rest of the family to the culinary delights of celeriac, until then I’m happy to make this soup for week day lunches just for me.

My top tip for preparing celeriac is to use a very sharp knife (invest in a knife sharpener if you have to), as it can be a little tough to cut through the skin although not quite as difficult I think as peeling a butternut squash. However, it is worth the effort for the resulting flavoursome soup. The subtle celery taste complements the sweetness of the parsnips and both marry beautifully with the rosemary. Please only use a small sprig of rosemary, just a delicate hint is what we’re after here.

Celeriac, Parsnip and Rosemary Soup

Celeriac, Parsnip and Rosemary Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 50 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:Celeriac, Parsnip and Rosemary Soup

1 stick of celery
1 small onion
1 medium celeriac
2 medium parsnips
½ tbsp olive oil
800ml vegetable stock
100ml milk
small sprig of rosemary
salt and black pepper

Method:

1. Finely chop the celery and onion.

2. In a large lidded casserole pan heat the olive oil then sauté the onion and celery for 5 minutes until soft.

3. Meanwhile, chop the celeriac and parsnip into 2cm dice. Then add to the onions and celery. Sauté for a further 2 minutes.

4. Add the vegetable stock and rosemary sprig. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 40 minutes with the lid on.

5. Remove the rosemary leaves from the woody stem, add the rosemary leaves back to the pan and discard the woody stem. Add the milk.

6. In two batches blitz everything in a blender until smooth, season with salt and black pepper to taste. Serve with an extra grinding of black pepper.

Recipe by Julie McPherson

As it is only me enjoying this soup, I use those rather nifty soup and sauce bags from Lakeland to portion up the soup. I then stash away the soup portions in the fridge or freezer, so I can have delicious homemade soup whenever I want.

Celeriac, Parsnip and Rosemary Soup

Celeriac, Parsnip and Rosemary Soup

If you haven’t already, please sign up to my new monthly newsletter featuring a round up of the blog posts that month plus other news and musings from Julie’s Family Kitchen.

Until next time.

Julie
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Italian Sausages with Lentils

Italian Sausages and Lentils

This tempting dish of Italian Sausages with Lentils is a recipe the folks at Cirio asked me to try using their tinned lentils and tomatoes. Now with the English weather really feeling like winter, I was keen to make a hearty and warming dish from the Mediterranean. It’s a traditional dish served across Italy on New Year’s Day that’s believed to bring prosperity and good luck for the coming year!

Cirio Lentils

The Italian Sausages with Lentils recipe is delightfully simple and quick to prepare. I’m always on the lookout for new meal ideas and this one is a real winner. I don’t cook very often with lentils, occasionally I use them in soups or curries but I now feel inspired to cook with them more. Cooking the lentils in a rich tomatoey sauce is a great way of packing in flavour too.

Italian Sausages and Lentils

Italian Sausages with Lentils

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 25mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:Italian Sausages and Lentils

8 Italian sausages
400g Cirio Peeled Plum Tomatoes
3 tbsp Filippo Berio Olive Oil
1 red onion (finely chopped)
1 garlic glove (peeled and finely chopped)
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves finely chopped
410g Cirio Lentils
3 tbsp red wine vinegar (I used a little balsamic vinegar instead)
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Salt and black pepper

Method:

1. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan, then saute the onion and garlic for 5 minutes.

2. Then add the rosemary and cook for another minute.

3. Add the lentils, tinned tomatoes and vinegar. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Break down the tomatoes with a spatula and stir together. Season with salt and black pepper.

4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a pan and cook the sausages. Alternatively, cook the sausages in the oven for 25 minutes at Fan 180°c.

5. Once the sausages are cooked serve on top of the lentils and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil if you wish.

Recipe by Cirio

I served the Italian Sausages with Lentils alongside carrots and broccoli for a wholesome family meal.

Italian Sausages and Lentils

If you are struggling to find Italian sausages for the recipe then try to use spicy sausages instead. I decided to replaced the red wine vinegar for balsamic vinegar, but used less as I didn’t want the flavour to overpower the sauce.

I absolutely loved this recipe and so did my husband. I will definitely be making it again, it is quick, delicious and really easy to make, it ticks all the boxes for me. You’ll find more yummy Italian recipes at the Cirio website.

Until next time.

Julie
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Disclosure: I have not been paid or sponsored for this blog post. Cirio have given me permission to publish their recipe. Cirio sent me tins of lentils and tomatoes to try out the recipe. All opinions are honest and my own.

Sewing a new direction in 2016

When the blog began in 2013, I had no real grand plan of where it would go. I just wanted to share a few recipes I liked to cook for my family. Since then the blog has evolved naturally to include recipes, reviews and giveaways.

I’ve decided that I would really like to take the blog in a new direction and broaden the range of articles I write. I love being creative and making things by hand, there’s no greater sense of pride when you can say “I made that”. Having learnt to hand sew and use a sewing machine as child, I have over the years often dabbled in sewing projects. From making hand sewn clothes for my Sindy dolls and hair scrunchies when at junior school, a pair of trousers whilst in 6th form, then to dresses and bags in more recent years.

Sewing a new direction for 2016

2016 has seen me bitten by the sewing bug once again and I hope to share with you some of my sewing adventures at Julie’s Family Kitchen. However, the blog will continue to be a home for recipes and food inspired features, afterall life is dull without a slice of homemade cake!

Until next time.

Julie
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Porridge Oats with Banana, Dates and Cocoa Nibs

Porridge Oats with Banana, Dates and Cocoa Nibs

As breakfasts go these delicious porridge oats with banana, dates and cocoa nibs are supercharged and will certainly keep those hunger pangs at bay until lunchtime. Packed full of flavour, this tasty breakfast will help you towards your five a day.

Now I’m not going to pretend I eat porridge every morning because I don’t. These dark winter morning don’t agree with me (roll on the summer) and it takes at least two cups of tea before I begin to feel human. The lure of a slice wholemeal bread with a generous spreading of Nutella does help. That said, I really do enjoy making and eating porridge oats especially at the weekend when life is not quite so rushed and I can potter about in the kitchen.

Porridge Oats with Banana, Dates and Cocoa Nibs

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 10mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:Porridge Oats with Banana, Dates and Cocoa Nibs

40g whole rolled oats
280ml semi skimmed milk
1 medium banana
3 medjool dates
1 tbsp cocoa nibs
1 tsp runny honey (optional, depends on how sweet you like it)

Method:

1. Put the oats in a small saucepan and add the milk. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 8 minutes stirring continuously.

2. Slice half the banana and mash the rest. Add the mashed banana to the cooked porridge oats.

3. Chop all the dates and add two thirds of the chopped dates to the porridge oats. Add half of the cocoa nibs and the honey (if using), then stir well.

4. Top the porridge oats with the sliced banana, the remaining cocoa nibs and chopped dates. Serve immediately.

Porridge Oats with Banana, Dates and Cocoa Nibs

Do let me know whether you try out my porridge oats with banana, dates and cocoa nibs as I would love to know what you think.

Until next time.

Julie
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Wyke Farms Cheese Giveaway

Wyke Farms Cheese Giveaway

After recently writing a review about Wyke Farms cheeses, I now have a rather lovely cheese giveaway for readers of Julie’s Family Kitchen. I will be giving away three prizes in this delicious cheese giveaway, the prizes include a Wyke Farms cool bag filled with a selection of Wyke Farms mature, extra mature and vintage cheddar cheese. This is a fab giveaway, especially if you and your family eat as much cheese as mine.

Wyke Farms Cheese Review

To be in with a chance of winning a Wyke Farms cool bag filled with a selection of Wyke Farms mature, extra mature and vintage cheddar cheese you will need to complete the Rafflecopter entry form. Please provide an answer to the giveaway question as a blog comment. Leaving a blog comment is mandatory, so please follow this requirement to ensure your entry is valid. Once, you have done that there are further chances to win. Please do not worry if your blog comment does not display immediately, all blog comment entries will be displayed prior to the giveaway ending.

Wyke Farms Cheese Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway will close at 00:00 on 25 January 2016 and is open to UK entrants only. I wish you all the very best of luck.

Until next time.

Julie
x

Terms and Conditions:
This giveaway will close at 00:00 on 25 January 2016. These prizes are offered by Wyke Farms and I am hosting it on behalf of them. Please note, I am not responsible for posting the prizes out or providing them. Wyke Farms or their representative will send out the prizes to the winners once the winners have provided me with their name and address. The 3 winners will be selected at random from all correct entries received by the Rafflecopter widget. The winners will be notified within 7 days of the closing date. The 3 prizes are as stated, Wyke Farms cool bags filled with a selection of mature, extra mature and vintage Wyke Farms cheddar cheeses, no cash alternatives are available. This giveaway is open to UK entrants only.

Disclosure: I was sent a Wyke Farms cool bag filled with a selection of Wyke Farms mature, extra mature and vintage cheddar cheese, plus packs of salted and unsalted butter to try out. I have not been paid or sponsored for hosting this giveaway.

Top 5 Recipes of 2015

I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas break with friends and family. We’ve had a lovely time with a little pre Christmas weekend at Center Parcs, which was fantastic fun. Then Christmas was spent at home, involving lots of scrumptious food and plenty of Minion toys (my youngest is totally obsessed with Minions!).

So it is very nearly 2016, didn’t this year go in a flash? My personal high light of 2015 has to be Marcus Wareing trying my bake on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice, I still can’t quite believe it actually happened.

Before we step into 2016 I wanted to bring you a recap of the best and most popular recipes published on Julie’s Family Kitchen in 2015, as decided by you the reader.

Julie’s Family Kitchen Top 5 recipes of 2015

Coconut and Raspberry Jam Loaf Cake

Coconut and Raspberry Jam Loaf Cake

Wow! This recipe has proven so incredibly popular with you all. I have had lots of kind comments on Facebook and Twitter telling how much you love this cake. It is an absolute doddle to make and tastes great too. If you are new to baking and looking for a fool proof cake recipe, this is most definitely it. I highly recommend you bake it.

Chocolate Christmas Cake

Another delightfully easy cake recipe, that is just perfect for Christmas. It is made with a star ingredient from Hotel Chocolat, Cocoa Nib Mincemeat. I really hope Hotel Chocolat stock this mincemeat for Christmas 2016 because it tastes sublime.

Healthier Carrot Cake (Sugar Free)

Healthier Carrot Cake

With lots of you looking for healthier baking recipes, I can see why this recipe has done so well. I created this cake recipe when asked to review a sugar free alternative called Natvia. Yes, the recipe really is refined sugar free!

Kale and Red Pepper Frittata

Kale and Red Pepper Frittata

They say eggs are the ultimate fast food and it is so true. My frittata made with kale and red pepper is full of flavour and super quick to rustle up.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes

The combination of a moist chocolate sponge cupcake, a hidden salted caramel centre plus a generous swirl of chocolate buttercream with a drizzle of salted caramel puts these cupcakes in a league of their own. Try these cupcakes and you’ll be in salted caramel chocolate heaven.

There you have it, the top 5 recipes of 2015 on Julie’s Family Kitchen. Cakes have certainly been popular this year, so I’m sure I will be posting plenty more cake recipes in 2016.

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read my blog posts, it means so much to me and I truly value your support. I wish you all a fun packed New Year’s Eve. Julie’s Family Kitchen will be back in 2016 with lots more delicious recipes, fab reviews and brilliant giveaways.

Until then.

Julie
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Wyke Farms Cheese Review

Wyke Farms Cheese Review

Cheese is a food item I buy frequently. With a family of five and two out of three children absolutely loving the stuff, I tend to get through a lot each week. I’m quite particular about the cheese I buy, I like a good strong mature cheddar. You will never find a mild cheddar in my fridge, oh no! Cheese has to taste of cheese, I enjoy bold full flavours particularly of a vintage or extra mature cheddar cheese.

So I was delighted when the folks as Wyke Farms offered me the opportunity to write a review about their cheeses. Wyke Farms have a history of farming in Somerset dating back 150 years, so they know a thing or two about cheese. Wyke Farms sent me a cool bag containing blocks of mature, extra mature and vintage cheddar cheese, plus packs of salted and unsalted butter.

Wyke Farms Cheese Review

You’ll often find a block of Wyke Farm Mature cheese in my kitchen fridge. It’s smooth and creamy cheddar that’s perfect for my eldest daughter’s school pack lunch sandwiches. At the weekend I often make toasted panini or ciabatta sandwiches with mature cheddar cheese and ham.

Wyke Farms Cheese Review

If you like a slightly more mature tangy tasting cheddar like I do, then the Wyke Farms Extra Mature Cheddar really is a good choice. It is bolder in flavour and well rounded. The Extra Mature Cheddar takes 12 months to mature and is their best seller.

Wyke Farms Cheese Review

The Wyke Farms Vintage Cheddar is a multi award winning cheddar and is described as scrumptious. Well I absolutely agree, it most definitely is a scrumptious cheese. Left to mature for 15 months, this is a cheese to be savoured with good bread and wine. It has a robust flavour, that is highly recommended. My guilty pleasure is a chunk of fine vintage cheddar with toast and marmite, it just hits the spot if you want a savoury snack.

Wyke Farms Cheese Review

The Wyke Farms salted butter is delicious spread on crusty bread or crackers, whilst the unsalted butter is perfect for baking cakes, scones and biscuits.

Wyke Farms Butter

Do look out for a rather brilliant giveaway of Wyke Farms Cheeses coming soon.

Until then, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas.

Julie
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Disclosure: I was sent a Wyke Farms cooler bag filled with a selection of Wyke Farms mature, extra mature and vintage cheese, plus packs of salted and unsalted butter to try out. I have not been paid or sponsored for this review.