How to Make Smoothie Bowls

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So, here’s the thing.  I’ve been absolutely, bladdy awful at getting in my five a day recently.  Truly terrible at it.  I mean, I’d say I get about half that; I’ve never had trouble sneaking a healthy portion of vegetables into my dinner, but for the rest of the day, anything goes.  Fruit just isn’t what I go for when I want a snack.  Five doughnuts, no problem.  Five (squared) custard creams, easy mate.  Five pieces of fruit?  PASS.  I’m not sure what happened, because the truth is I’ve always really loved fruit – and when I do actually make the effort, I really enjoy eating it.  But over the past couple of years – either out of laziness or bad habit – I’ve just stopped reaching for it, and I’ve really noticed a change in my skin and my energy levels because of that.

I’ve been making it my mission recently to find easy ways of sneaking in those missed portions of fruit, and I’ve kind of come to the conclusion that breakfast and the mid-afternoon munchies are when I’m more receptive to scoffing a bit of fruit instead of dipping into the old biscuit tin.  So I started making the odd smoothie bowl for breakfast as a way of rekindling my love of fruit and – d’you know what? – I’ve enjoyed making them so much that I’ve even occasionally swapped out my lunchtime egg on toast for one!  They’re easy to make, can be prepped ahead of time and there are so many different flavour combinations that it’ll be a long, long time before you get bored of scoffing them.  Oh, and did I mention that they’re pretty? 😉

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The Idea

You’ll probably have seen smoothie bowls all over either Pinterest and Instagram and shrugged them off as essentially pretty but pointless – a lot of faffing around for something designed to be inhaled first thing on a Monday morning before you fly out the door.  They’re basically a bowl of blitzed fruit (and sometimes added flax seed or protein powder), mixed with fresh yoghurt (or a dairy-free alternative) and topped with more fresh fruit, nuts and granola. But they’re not as time-consuming as they look; the blended base recipe can be prepped and whipped up the night before, or even frozen for the week ahead.  That way, all you need to do is mix it into your chosen yoghurt and then add whatever toppings you fancy.

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The Basic Base Recipe

The base recipe is simple – provided you’ve got a blender handy – and uses only a handful of ingredients.  It’s adaptable; so if you’re not a banana fan then substitute it with 80g of another fruit, and the yoghurt can be swapped out for any dairy-free alternative (personally, I love coconut yoghurt).  You can also add in protein powder and/or flax, hemp or chia seeds if that’s your jam.  Once you’ve got the base figured out, you can mix it up and get creative!  As mentioned above, it can be blitzed up the night before or on a Sunday when you’re prepping your meals for the week ahead – letting you hit snooze on your Monday morning alarm! 😉

Ingredients (serves one)

  • 1 large banana, sliced and frozen
  • 120g of your chosen fruit, chopped and frozen
  • 1 tsp runny honey, agave or maple syrup
  • 100 ml chosen yoghurt
  1. In a blender, blitz the banana, fruit and honey together on a low setting until the mixture resembles ice cream.  If you’re prepping ahead of time and plan on freezing the mixture now’s the time – just pour it into a portion size ziplock and freeze.  Just remember to pop it in the fridge to defrost slowly the night before you intend to eat it.
  2. Once you’re ready to serve up the smoothie bowl, mix in the yoghurt until smooth and combined – then add toppings.  Easy!

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Toppings

When it comes to toppings, there are so many different ways you can go – but a combination of fresh fruit, seeds and/or nuts and some kind of cereal or granola works really well – especially if you flavour-match your fresh fruit with whatever fruit you’ve put in your base recipe.  If you’re feeling particularly extra, you can even pop a couple of edible flowers on top or some grated chocolate.

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Recipe Ideas

By swapping out the base fruit and yoghurt flavour and then adding different combinations of toppings there are literally thousands of different recipes you could come up with.  But here are three I’ve been enjoying lately to get you started… 🙂

Pina Colada

  • 1 large banana, sliced and frozen
  • 120g of fresh pineapple
  • 1 tsp runny honey
  • 100 ml coconut yoghurt 
  • Topped with: sliced, fresh pineapple, dessicated coconut, poppy seeds and marachino cherries.

Peanut Butter and Jelly

  • 2 large bananas, sliced and frozen
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 100 ml toffee yoghurt
  • Topped with: sliced bananas, raspberries, pecans and raisins

Strawberry Bakewell

  • 1 large banana, sliced and frozen
  • 120g of fresh strawberries and raspberries
  • 1 tsp runny honey
  • 100 ml almond yoghurt
  • Topped with: fresh strawberries, almond granola, dried cherries, white chocolate dots, poppy seeds

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Have a smoooooth(ie) week! 🙂

Strawberry Picnic Cake

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I feel like baking’s been on the back seat for a lot of this year; I’ve been so busy the past few weeks that just getting dinner on the table (/my lap… TV’s just been too good) has been a struggle.  I just haven’t had time to batter up and whip up something sweet.  Last weekend though, I had a little window and instead of just scrolling or snoozing through it, I decided that I wanted to bake something fuss-free that would perk up my mid-morning cuppa come Monday – and this is what I came up with.

This Strawberry Picnic Cake is one of those bakes that looks super fancy but actually involves barely any effort – if you’re a dab hand with a wooden spoon and can slice a strawb, then you’ve got this.  Texture-wise, it’s a cross between a brownie and an angel slice – with a gooey layer of fresh strawberries (and some raspberries thrown in for a sour edge) sandwiched between a soft, pink sponge.  Once it’s sliced up and dusted with a little icing sugar, it makes for a cute little lunchbox pick-me-up, or would be the perfect treat to pack in your picnic basket (…along with a little tub of fresh cream, obviously!) – if the weather ever perks up…  🙂

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Strawberry Picnic Cake

Ingredients

  • 150g Ground Almonds
  • 150g Salted Butter
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 150g Self Raising Flour
  • 2 eggs (whisked)
  • 300g Strawberries (sliced)
  • 50g Raspberries
  • A few drops of pink food colouring
  • Icing Sugar to dust
  1. Grease and line a deep, rectangular baking tray and set your oven to 180°C.
  2. Grab a mixing bowl and pour in all the cake ingredients except the strawberries and raspberries – hold those back!  Stir everything together to make a thick, lumpy, pink batter.
  3. Pour half of the batter into your baking dish and spread it out into all the corners.  Create a sandwich layer by topping the batter with the strawberries and raspberries, then smooth over the remaining batter.  
  4. Before you pop the cake in the oven, add a neat layer of evenly spaced sliced strawberries on top – one for each slice (I cut nine slices).
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, then leave to cool before slicing.
  6. Finish with a dusting of icing sugar and serve with cream. 🙂

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Have a lovely week everyone! 💕

 

5 Eggcellent Egg Recipes

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Happy Easter Monday!  Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend enjoying the beautiful weather and scoffing plenty of eggs – whether they be the chocolate kind, or the regular kind!  Speaking of which, I bloody love a good egg.  We go through boxes and boxes of them in my house; I use them for baking, for brunches and lunches… and even Bungle’s a big fan – he gets a boiled egg with his dinner every night.  So, with that in mind, I’ve scrambled together (…see what I did there?) five of my favourite egg recipes, from pink poached eggs to pavlova. 🙂

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1. Hair of the Dog Shakshuka

Eggs in Purgatory, Shakshuka… whatever you want to call it, this is breakfast comfort food done right.  This recipe kind of reminds me of the “Wake Up Juice” that Marty McFly feeds to Doc Brown in Back to the Future Part III when he’s passed out in 1885 (one of my favourite movies of all time!).  It’s got a punch that’ll put you back on your feet after a heavy night out!  The egg and crumbly feta are just the kind of comfort food you need when you’re hungover, while the vodka, lime and chilli flakes give it a bit of a zing.

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2. Perfectly Creamy Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled eggs was the first “meal” I learned to cook for myself; it was pretty much my go-to lunch whenever I came home early from school.  I was using exactly the same method (two eggs, splash of milk, knob of butter, stir) until recently, when I decided I could probably do better.  I’m talking super creamy scrambled eggs – so rich that you can forego the obligatory slice of toast.  And, after doing a little research and experimentation I think I’ve got it down.  All you need are two eggs, a tablespoon of butter, and a tablespoon of sour cream (…and a pinch of black pepper if you’re into that).  The trick is to whisk together your eggs and sour cream first, then melt the butter in a deep, nonstick saucepan on a low heat.  Pour the egg mix in and then use a silicone spatula to gently shove the eggs around rather than scramble them.  Serve them up BEFORE they set.  Yum! 🙂

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3. Halloumi Hash

You just can’t go wrong with a heavy helping of Halloumi Hash!  It’s one of those meals that’d work for breakfast, brunch or dinner since it’s got a little bit of everything.  Aside from the necessary potatoes and chunks of halloumi, fill it out with whatever veg you fancy – or whatever you’ve got in the fridge!  And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a fried egg on top. 🙂

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4. Pink Poached Eggs

I’m going to be absolutely clear on this one; this recipe is purely for the ‘gram.  There’s nothing out of the ordinary here – bog standard eggs, bog standard toast and a little bit of spinach and seasoning – the only thing that’s different is that the egg is pink!  There’s absolutely no culinary reason to make your poached egg pink – it won’t taste any different to a normal poached egg – but, it’ll definitely bring a smile to your face. I mean, isn’t everything better when it’s pink?  The trick is to use beetroot juice instead of the water you’d usually use to poach your eggs and – voila! – pink whites!

If Poached Eggs are your nemesis, here are some tips:

  1. Crack the egg into a small bowl or dish rather than straight into the water.
  2. Use a deep frying pan – it’ll give you more maneuverability.
  3. If you really want to cheat, crack your egg into a very lightly greased square of clingfilm and then twist to seal – it’ll keep all the whites together (but obviously won’t work for for the above recipe!)
  4. Crack your egg into a sieve to get rid of all the wispy white bits before you put it into the water – that way you’ll get a nice neat egg!
  5. Use a dash of white vinegar in the water to keep your whites together, or – if you’re only poaching one egg – try the whirpool method (swirl the water, then plop your cracked egg in the middle).

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5. Pina Colada Pavlova

You weren’t expecting that, now were you?  But hey, it’s a recipe that makes utilizes the whole egg (no more wasted yolks!); the whites are used for the meringue and the yolks make a lovely pineapple curd.  If there’s one thing I remember about dinners in my house as a kid, it was the prepacked meringue nests my Mum used to buy from Sainsbury’s to make impromptu pavlova for afters (sorry, Mum, I know… I meant “pudding”).  So I thought I’d give it a go from scratch and make a pina colada flavoured one complete with pineapple curd, coconut cream and a healthy splash of rum.

Have an eggcellent week everyone! 😉

Easy Korean Dak-galbi

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I’d never heard of Dak-Galbi until I stumbled across a recipe for it over on Pinterest (…honestly, where did I go to hunt down new recipes before Pinterest came along? Books?) – but as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to add it to my takeaway dupes repertoire.  It’s a stir fry of spicy chicken and sweet potato and is basically Korean Pub Food; you’ll usually find it served up and sizzling with alcohol.  The marinade is sweet and spicy – thanks to the Gochujang Chilli Paste and Honey – and pairs perfectly with the sweet potato chunks.

I’m pretty sure most Koreans would cry sacrilege at my take on Dak-galbi.  I mean, it’s pretty much just the bare bones of the real deal because you just can’t get a lot of Korean ingredients in your average British supermarket – in fact, I’d be surprised if you found any at all!  The one essential ingredient – and pretty much the base ingredient for any Korean cooking – I had to order off of Amazon.  But as for tteok and perilla leaves?  Forget it.  Still, my stripped back version makes for a tasty, spicy and colourful midweek stir fry and – aside from marinating time – goes from wok to table in under 20 minutes.  Noice!  🙂

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Easy Dak-galbi (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 3 tsbp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp gochujang paste (I *think* Waitrose stock it, but if not check amazon!)
  • 3 tbsp runny honey
  • 3 tbsp rice wine
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • shredded red cabbage
  • grated carrot
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  1. First things first, make the marinade.  In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, gochujang paste, honey, rice wine, curry powder and half of the sesame oil.  Stir until smooth.  Pour in the chicken and stir until it’s thoroughly coated in the marinade – then leave it to rest for at least one hour.
  2. Get your wok smoking hot and pour in the rest of the sesame oil.  Turn down the heat and chuck in the chicken (hold back the marinade) along with the sweet potato.  Cook for ten minutes until the sweet potato has softened and the chicken is mostly cooked; make sure you keep stirring otherwise the honey in the marinade might scorch.
  3. Next throw in the stir fry vegetables – the spring onions, cabbage, carrot and pepper – as well as the remaining marinade and chilli flakes.  Stir fry for five minutes, then serve up with some egg fried rice! 🙂

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Happy four day week! 😉  Oh, and hey – if there’s a takeaway favourite of yours that you’d like to see me take on and come up with an easy to follow recipe for then just let me know in the comments!

Feeling Blue-Berry Muffins

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Oh hey, would you look at that, Monday swung back around.  *eyeroll*  Although actually, I’m kind of relieved.  It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the Cwtch household; Sunny’s been travelling non-stop with his work, I’ve pretty much been chained to the computer and then last Friday, Bungle went into the vets for an “operation” – if y’know what I mean – which meant a whole weekend of staying in and keeping his head out of his crotch.  Fun times!  So, needless to say, we’ve been kind of running on empty – as have a lot of people I’ve spoken to.  It’s funny; it seems like the crossover between March and April’s been a little manic for everyone.

I had one of those blue days last week where everything just got on top of me and I needed to take ten.  Usually when that happens I like to do a little baking to de-stress, but I wasn’t in the mood to do anything too complicated.  Sometimes, it’s nice to go back to the basics and bake something easy but satisfying.  Turns out we had a whole punnet of blueberries sitting in the fridge (they were supposed to be for porridge, but it had been Frosties kinda week…) and so I thought I’d whip up some Blueberry Muffins to see me through the rest of the week!  They’re stupidly simple and adapted from a recipe I found on the Red Magazine website just before Christmas – except that my batch have a little cinnamon and some extra crunch with the added granola and demerara sugar topping.  Yum!

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Feeling Blue-Berry Muffins (makes 12)

Ingredients

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 150g butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 100ml milk
  • 200g blueberries
  • 50g granola (click here for my recipe)
  • 50g demerara sugar
  1. Set your oven to 180°C and line a muffin tray with lightly greased cases (I like to use the 1 calorie spray because it makes things easier 😉 ).
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together your butter and caster sugar – then beat in the eggs until the mix is nice and fluffy.
  3. Next, gently fold in the flour little by little – alternating with the milk.  Finally, stir in the blueberries (I like my muffins gooey and full of fruit, so I used a loooooot of blueberries, but feel free to dial it back a little if that’s not your jam), cinnamon and salt.
  4. Spoon the mixture into your muffin cases, then sprinkle each one with a generous helping of granola and demerara sugar.  Bake for 20 minutes.

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Have a great week! 🙂