Bank Holiday Brunch

I personally think that I should win girlfriend of the year award for this…

I stayed out at a friends house on Sunday night, whilst The Man went out for a few (too many!) pints with the boys. Knowing that the kitchen was bare and The Man’s stomach would be empty, I stopped off on my way home in the morning and picked up croissants. I then made the ultimate croissant breakfast – one savoury, one sweet. The first one had a rasher of crispy bacon and melted cheddar cheese and the second one was filled with melted chocolate, which was perfect for dipping in a frothy coffee. It’s like having a main course and a dessert!

Croissants & Coffee

Croissants & Coffee

Obviously I am totally aware of how unhealthy this is, so here is a workout to burn it off!

Grab a barbell and put a weight on that you can use for the entire workout. I used 15kg which might not seem like much but there are a lot of reps – those Clean and Presses really do get you!

30 x Clean and Press
30 x Squats
30 x Deadlifts
30 x Press Ups

Row 500m as fast as you can.

20 x Clean and Press
20 x Squats
20 x Deadlifts
20 x Press Ups

Row 500m as fast as you can.

10 x Clean and Press
10 x Squats
10 x Deadlifts
10 x Press Ups

Row 500m as fast as you can.

Thinking about it, I’d probably recommend you do the workout first then eat the double croissant wonder afterwards, otherwise it could get messy….

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WIAW #8 MAYDAY, MAYDAY!!

In one of my recent posts (the one with the yummy Biscotti recipe!)  I commented on how up until then I’d been so busy with my fitness, that I’d (almost) forgotten about cake….

How the tables have turned!

Since then, when I haven’t been baking, I’ve been either thinking about baking, or testing scoffing what I have already baked. It gets worse because I also haven’t managed to get my gym kit on since Saturday, which by my usual routine means I have skipped 3 workouts. Gah!

I wish I could show you what I have been working on, but as of yet, it’s not quite there…see I’ve been back on my quest to make the PERFECT Triple Chocolate Muffin. All I can say is that both types of Muffin Top are developing well – the cool kind…and the very uncool kind. Double Gah!

Me Vs. Muffin Tops

Me Vs. Muffin Tops

I feel that now I’ve come this far, I need to see this through to the end. I won’t rest until either I have the perfect muffin or I can no longer fit in my jeans. I really hope it’s not the latter.

On to What I Ate Yesterday…

Bored of my breakfast yet? Cos I’m not!

Oats, Yoghurt & Raspberries

Oats, Yoghurt & Raspberries

Lunch was a wrap made with some leftover roast sweet potato, houmous and salad made up of rocket, baby spinach and cucumber.

Wholemeal wrap filled with roast sweet potato, houmous & salad.

Wholemeal wrap filled with roast sweet potato, houmous & salad.

With my brain totally consumed with Triple Chocolate Muffins,  I’m sorry to tell you that dinner was out of a packet. A  Tesco Finest packet though! Smoked Haddock Fiscakes, served with spinach.

Smoked Haddock Fishcakes with Spinach

Smoked Haddock Fishcakes with Spinach

Guess I’d better confess the things I didn’t take a picture of…

A handful (or three!) of Chocolate Chips
A lick (or ten!) of the bowl (once the muffins were safely in the oven of course!)
A finished muffin (for research purposes you understand)
My very overdeveloped,uncool kind of Muffin Top 😦

If anyone has a tried and tested Triple Chocolate Muffin recipe, my jeans would be grateful if you could put an end to this relentless taste testing by telling me your secrets!

Me Vs. Soda Bread

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Soda Bread

Just how I love pretty much all kinds of cake, I also love all kinds of bread. Sourdough, roti, granary, flat bread, bloomer, wraps, focaccia – you name it, I eat it. All except that horrid plasticy stuff you get ready sliced at the supermarket that smells more like chemicals than bread. Yuck!

As patience is definitely not one of my virtues, I’ve sadly never baked my own bread before. I’ve always loved the idea, but I just can’t bear the thought of waiting around all that time for my dough to proof (prove?).

So when The Man’s parents presented a deliciously fresh loaf of Soda Bread the other Sunday and told me that it took only 40 minutes to make with no kneading, yeast or proofing – I was sold!

  • 170g self-raising wholemeal flour
  • 170g plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 290ml/½ pint buttermilk (I used a 284ml Pot and topped up with regular milk)
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C – Gas 6.
  2. Tip the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir.
  3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly with a large fork to form a soft dough. (Add more or less milk depending on the consistency – you don’t want it too wet and sticky.)
  4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Form into a round and flatten the dough slightly before placing on a lightly floured baking sheet.
  5. Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

As you can see, my first attempt was far from perfect. For starters I was much too timid when I cut the cross in the top, which not only ruined the look aesthetically but also compromised the bake ever so slightly. Still it was so simple and satisfying that I’ll definitely be trying it again soon.

 

 

 

 

Me Vs. Biscotti

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Pistachio, Orange & Choc Chip Biscotti

It seems to me that lately there has been way too much talk about fitness and not nearly enough talk about cake.

Although I’ve baked a few things here and there over the last few weeks, I haven’t really made anything that seemed quite special enough to share. Until today that is.

This biscotti is ahhhhmazing. There really is no other way to put it!

I urge you to give it a try…

Pistachio, Orange & Choc Chip Biscotti

200g Caster Sugar (preferably golden caster sugar)

2 eggs

zest of 1 small orange

200g plain four, sifted, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

100g pistachios (shelled)

50g macadamia nuts (halved)

100g Chocolate Chips (milk, plain or dark depending on your preference)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C – Fan 160°C – Gas 4 and line a baking tray.
  2. Beat together the eggs, sugar and orange zest in a bowl. In a separate bowl, sift together the baking powder and flour. Combine the dry and wet ingredients together along with the nuts and chocolate chips. Mix to a sticky dough.
  3. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead. Using floured hands divide the mixture into 2 portions and roll each into a 30cm log then place on the lined baking tray. (Be warned, it really is very sticky, but persevere because it will all be worth it!) Bake for 30 minutes, until lightly browned.
  4. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the tray for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, turn the oven temperature down to 160°C – Fan 140°C – Gas 3.
  5. Cut the logs into 1cm slices diagonally and place back on the baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes until golden on top. Turn over and bake for another 5-10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

 

Me Vs. Easter

My scales and I are not on speaking terms this morning and I blame Jesus and his Lindt bunny disciples.

I also blame Hot Cross buns. And Wine. And the late night burger and chips I ate. And the bacon and egg baguette I needed.  And creme eggs. And the cheese scones I baked.

OK so it’s pretty obvious who’s really to blame…

Me.

It all started so well, Friday morning Gym Buddy and I hit the gym at 08:00 for a 90 minute full body work out. I arrived home ravenous (see previous post about my extraordinary post workout hunger!) and that is when the halo started slipping. I think it finally came crashing down when I was polishing off a burger and chips at 01:00 AM after a boozy girls night out.

When I woke up on Easter Sunday I sealed the deal by eating an entire Lindt Gold Bunny for breakfast. Yep, you read that right.

Ironic really that this supposedly Holy holiday seems to encourage  gluttony these days – oh wait, maybe it’s just me?! (Tell me it’s not just me?!)

This morning I dragged my bloated body out of bed to the gym for this workout:

  • Burpees (30 seconds)
  • Deadlifts x 8 (30kg)
  • Shoulder Press x 8 (8kg Dumbell in each hand)
  • Sumo Squats x 8 (8kg Kettle Bells in each hand, held in front)
  • Bent Over Rows x 8 (20kg)
  • Press Ups x 10

Repeat 6 times. 

  • Plank on the Swiss Ball (rolling ball in and out)
  • Crunches on the Bosu x 15
  • Side Plank (30 secs each side)

Repeat 3 times.

It’s slow going, but I am back on track and hope to be able to report that my scales have forgiven me come the end of the week….

In the meantime, someone PLEASE ease my guilt a little by telling me about your overindulgence’s this Bank Holiday weekend!

Me Vs. Post Workout Hunger

My appetite after running is incredible.

Take this morning for instance.

Before leaving the house, I drank a pint of water and ate one of the homemade Hot Cross Buns I had made the night before (another post to come on those!) I knew as I was eating it that it was a bit of a mistake and that I should only eat half, but I don’t really do the whole ‘save half for later’ thing – I salute those who can manage this, but I am more of a ‘have one now…and then have another one later too’  kind of girl. That my friends is why I will never be a skinny minny.

Anyway, I then ran 6.5 miles as scheduled with Gym Buddy. It was a windy run again (no, still not that sort of wind, even after the hot cross bun) which made it tough, but the sun was shining so we kept our chins up.

On returning from my run, I then had my real breakfast which was a banana, oats, yoghurt and berries (the hot cross bun was more of an accidental breakfast, so doesn’t count alright?) and some more water. Pretty substantial right? A good blend of carbs, protein and fruit – just what my body needs post run.

By 10:00AM, despite 2 cups of coffee, my stomach was rumbling! What is that all about??

Fortunately for my belly, one kind soul at the office had brought in some homemade Tiffin. Which as it happens, tastes suspiciously like Rocky Road. Anyone know the difference?! Either way, it was yummy.

So belly was satisfied for a little longer. But it came at a price. Before 10:30AM I had almost certainly consumed more calories than I burnt running this morning.

There’s still a lot of hours left in the day to eat my way through!

I’m not suggesting for a second that I would have been better off staying in bed this morning and therefore having a slightly smaller appetite. I’d rather gain all the fantastic health benefits of exercise and eat like a horse any day.

I just can’t help but think it’s all a little bit unfair that my appetite seems to totally overestimate my calorific needs! I’ve been exercising regularly now for nearly 12 months, you’d think my body would have realised that I am definitely NOT going to let it starve.

So come on appetite, relax, chill out, I will continue to feed you cake – I promise!

The Great Birthday Bake Off

It was The Man’s birthday this weekend and as my most trusted taste tester, I thought I’d spoil him with a selection of goodies. Carrot Cupcakes, Melting Moments, a Chocolate & Salted Caramel Layer Cake (and cupcakes – I’ll explain in a minute!) and not forgetting his breakfast of choice – american style pancakes topped with crispy bacon. I spent the majority of the weekend in the kitchen. All well and fun, except for the 22,000 loads of washing up!!!

Then there was the other downside. I am of the opinion that all raw mixtures/doughs/icings should go through a thorough testing process before being served up, and who better to test than me. This weekend however, I might have bitten off more than I chew in terms of bowl licking. Yep, 6 packs of butter, 3 blocks of dark chocolate, a large pot of double cream and a kilo of sugar later  and I am officially caked out.  I don’t even want to think about cake…Well for today at least.

Me Vs. Carrot Cupcakes

Carrot Cupcake

Carrot Cupcake

I’m usually hyper critical of everything I bake. Always finding a flaw, no matter how many people rave about my creations. But these Carrot Cupcakes left me lost for criticism, in fact, I’d go as far as to say that these are the best cakes I have ever baked. What’s more, The Man (a self-confessed chocolate fiend who generally believes carrot cake to be too healthy to be considered ‘real’ cake) agreed!

 

Of course, I can’t take all the credit. I took the recipe from The Primrose Bakery Cupcake Book, and followed it to the letter.

The mixture uses carrots (well, durrr!) raisins, orange zest and cinnamon, is easy peasy to make and turns out the moistest little morsels of cake you have ever eaten. The topping is cream cheese icing with orange zest – deliciously smooth and creamy yet also zingy – totally moreish!

Me Vs. Melting Moments

Melting Moments

Melting Moments

Also known as Viennese Swirls. For these, I used a recipe from the Series 1 Great British Bake Off book.

The biscuit is made by first creaming butter and sugar, then adding flour, cornflour and vanilla essence. Then, in theory, you pop the mixture into piping bag and effortlessly pipe out  32 pretty little swirls. In reality however, it went something like this…both hands on piping bag squeezing, twisting, pushing, grimacing, shouting, shaking, swearing, sweating, grrrrrrrrrr… until eventually I gave up. This mixture was IMPOSSIBLE to pipe. Determined not to give up,  I scooped the sticky mixture out of the piping bag and back into the mixing bowl, and beat in some milk to make it more ‘pipeable.’ Then I clumsily piped out 24 misshapen and inconsistently sized swirls. After 15 minutes in the fridge to set, I put them into the oven to bake with little hope.

When the timer went off I despondently took them out the oven and set them on the side. Imagine my shock when I look down to see 24 pretty little, neat, golden, crumbly looking biscuits sitting proudly on the baking tray….

It was a total ‘here’s some I made earlier’ moment, except there was no one in the house to see.

So either a) I have a magic oven or b) some elves/fairies/sprites took pity on me and sneaked into my kitchen whilst I wasn’t looking and replaced the tray of dodgy ones with these beauties.

I whipped up the buttercream-esque filling in a flash and waited impatiently for the biscuits to cool. Seriously though now, why do baked goods take so damn long to cool?!

These were a big hit and I can understand why, I mean, look how cute they are!

However, I do think that perhaps the milk made them just slightly softer in texture than they should be. Still, I’ll be trying these again so watch this space…

Me Vs. Chocolate Caramel Layer Cake

Chocolate and Salted Caramel Cake

Chocolate and Salted Caramel Cake

I’m all for a towering cake, but when I found the recipe for this online and read the ingredients list (yikes!) I felt that, maybe,  just maybe, 3 layers might be a tad too much. So instead of messing around with reducing the mixture, I filled 2 cake tins, then used the rest to fill 12 cupcake cases.

To begin with, you have to make 2 batches of caramel sauce. Attempt number one resulted in a kitchen full of noxious smoke and an old jar filled with what I can only describe as black tar. Whoops! Fortunately though I managed to save the sauce pan. A little bit of research (better late than never hey!) confirmed my mistake – you shouldn’t stir the syrup whilst it is boiling. Armed with this information, my next two attempts were a success. I added sea salt to one batch and set aside to cool for later.

The other batch is used to make the chocolate caramel buttercream icing. You add no less than 450g of quality dark chocolate to the hot caramel sauce to melt, then whisk continuously for 10 minutes or until the mixture is cool. Then, as if this icing isn’t naughty enough already, you add 450g of butter!!!! The finished result is absolutely mountains of buttercream icing. Although, I have to confess, I’m not totally sure it was worth the effort….Good old fashioned chocolate buttercream is probably just as good. Lesson learnt the expensive and time consuming way.

Once the cakes have cooled, you spread with salted caramel sauce and buttercream icing and sandwich together. The recipe suggests covering the entire cake in the icing, but again, I decided to scale things back a bit. I topped with more salted caramel sauce, one layer of buttercream, a sprinkle of sea salt and some chocolate chips, then called it a day.

The verdict from The Man was that it was good, but not the best. The sponge was tasty and moist, though next time I might turn the oven down a touch as the edges were just slightly more done than I would have liked. I just felt a little let down that the salty taste didn’t come through as much as I had hoped. Luckily, there is a jar of the stuff sitting patiently in the fridge, just screaming out to be used in another recipe!

Now to avoid the scales for a couple of days….

Me vs. Cookies

Tonight after work we will be driving to the coast to stay with some friends for the weekend and nothing says ‘Thank You For Having Us’ better than home-baked cookies.

So last night, determineCookies and Milkd not to let the previous nights muffin failure discourage me, I set about making two different batches.

One of the friends is again lactose intolerant (grrrrr) so I decided that I would make one batch that she could eat, and another that was full of butter and chocolate!

First up, Oat and Raisin cookies made with corn oil rather than butter. I began with a Rachel Allen recipe but switched the butter for the same amount of oil, added a tsp of cinnamon ( I looooove cinnamon)  and a tbsp of golden syrup to make them a bit gooier.  On a healthy(ish) whim, I also decided to change the  flour to wholemeal flour. Once I’d mixed everything together, I was a bit worried that there were too many oats and the mixture was more like flapjack than cookies. Indeed, the finished result was a little more oaty than I had expected, but delicious non the less. I deemed them a success and the man agreed.

Next,  I went with a recipe from the queen of indulgence Nigella Lawson, called Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies. I stuck to the recipe pretty rigidly, except for the chocolate chips. Nigella recommends 350 grams of dark chocolate chips. For starters that seems like a hell of a lot of chocolate chips, and secondly when I tasted the mixture (you have to!!) I decided it needed a little extra sweetness. So I went with 100g of Milk Choc Chips and 100g White Choc Chips. These looked pretty fantastic when they come of the oven, and taste great too. Nigella wasn’t kidding when she named them! The only downside is that they are a little bit cakey in texture, I think I would prefer either a bit of crunch or soft gooeyness. Still, paired with a glass of milk they are pretty divine! I asked the man his opinion, but I didn’t get an answer because he was too busy munching down his second. Think that tells me all I need to know!

Now, you must be thinking, this girl does a lot of baking and eating, but not so much sweating! Well, this morning I trotted off to the gym at 7:00 for an hour of circuits including mountain climbers, jumping pulls ups, press ups, clean and presses, burpees, dynamic lunges and much more. PHEW!! It must be time for my elevenses….

Anyone got any fantastic cookie recipes?