2 Minute Chocolate Mug Cakes

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We've had friends staying for the weekend and have had such a great time. As fellow foodies, the weekend has of course revolved around food. We started with a warm bacon, chicken and avocado salad at home before heading out for a walk in Bradgate Park, then out for dinner at Browns Lane in Loughborough and drinks after in The Kelso.

Today we've been chilling out but after seeing this recipe on pinterest, we decided to load it up onto my tablet and give it a go because it seemed so unbelievable! This is one of those things you read about on the internet and think 'yeah right' but seriously - we were so surprised that it actually worked and was really nice!

1 mug is enough for 2 people - or in our case, a taster for 4! Here's the original recipe: 2 Minute Chocolate Salted Caramel Mug Cake. But here it is for ease:

Ingredients:
  • 4 tablespoons plain flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg – beaten
  • 3 tablespoons skimmed milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 salted caramels (we used thorntons)
Method:
  • Into a small bowl add: flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt, egg, milk, and vegetable oil. Mix to combine.
  • Pour mixture into a regular sized coffee mug. Drop caramels into center of mixture one at a time.
  • Microwave on high for one minute and 30 seconds. If needed (if cake batter is still gooey), microwave on high for up to an additional 30 seconds.
2 minute mug cake ingredients
Ingredients for 2 minute mug cake in a bowl
Pouring the cake batter into the mug
My glamorous assistant!
Mug cake mixture in the mug
Mug cake cooking in the microwave
I can confirm this is the only microwave cooking shot on my blog!
Chocolate and Salted Caramel mug cake Finished Mug Cake front view

Chocolate and salted caramel mug cake served on a plate

  The results speak for themselves!

Empty chocolate cake plate with forks
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Mozzarella & Bacon Wrapped Chicken

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Its a Thursday, we've had a busy week and needed a quick, healthy(ish) dinner. Que this months copy of BBC Good Food Magazine for inspiration!

This months issue has a great '5 ways to jazz up chicken' feature and its from there that I found this quick and easy recipe. I served it with steamed broccoli and carrot and oven baked potato & sweet potato wedges for a filling but not overly fattening meal.

Mozzarella, Pancetta & Thyme Chicken, serves 4
  • Heat oven to 200c/180c fan/ gas 6.
  • Slice a 125g ball of mozzarella and use to top 4 chicken breasts.
  • Add a sprig of thyme to each and then wrap each chicken breast with 2 slices of pancetta or bacon.
  • Put the chicken on a baking tray, drizzle over 1 tbsp olive oil and season.
  • Bake or 15-20 mins, then grill for a few mins to crisp the pancetta, if needed.

Chicken with mozzarella and bacon ready to cook in the oven
Homemade sweet potato wedges with chicken wrapped in bacon and mozzarella
Mozzarella and Bacon wrapped chicken breast

I'm very pleased to be part of the new BBC Good Food Show blogger group and if you look to the right, you'll see my lovely new blogger badge to prove it!
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Review: The Red Veil, Loughborough

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I feel like quite the connoisseur of Indian restaurants around Loughborough and Leicester these days. We all love curry in our family and the hubby's too so you'll quite often find us catching up over a Balti or a Bhuna on a Saturday night.

This weekend was no different (apart from the fact it was a new venue). Dinner for four at The Red Veil in Loughborough. Tucked away, out of town on the less than savoury end of town near the train station, this place cant rely on passing traffic. We had a groupon voucher, and it seems that pretty much everyone else did too. The good news is, if their meals were as good as ours, everyone will go back.


Top two pictures taken from Red Veil website


I had something I've not seen on the local curry house menus before - Lamb Almishiki which is a punjabi dish. Medium heat with tomatoes, ginger and onions. The ginger gave it almost a South East Asian flavour, which lifted it from your standard curry. The hubby had a Lamb Balti which was very tasty too. Both of our dishes had melt in the mouth tender meat in them and Daves wasndark red in colour with a fabulously zingy kick. the rice and naans were nice if notba little standard and my mother in law had a Chicken Tawa which came out on a sizzle pan (below). Ir was really tasty and my choice for next time.

 Overall, I'd definitely recommend this restaurant, as I said earlier, it is a little out the way but the food was great and the staff friendly and professional. Take that ten minute walk and you'll find sonething much better than the overcrowded substandard places in the centre of town. We'll be back there soon.


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Quick Spring Chicken & Green Veg One Pot

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Now that the snow has melted (again) and we've got blue skies and temperatures have risen a little I thought it was time to make something a little lighter for dinner.

This is based around a recipe from my well used  Good Food: Meals For Two . The recipe is called Saucy Chicken & Spring Vegetables. The original recipe contains tarragon and broad beans, you can see it here. I've tweaked it slightly but the principles are the same - its fresh, healthy and quick to make.

Ingredients: 
  • 250g-300g chicken mini fillets
  • 200g baby new potatoes sliced
  • 100g broccoli cut into small florets
  • 100g green peans cut in half
  • Handful frozen peas
  • 300ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp half fat creme fraiche
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh parsley for serving
Method:
  • Fry the chicken fillets in a large pan or frying pan for a few minutes until starting to colour. Add the sliced potatoes and stir. Add the stock and simmer for 10 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.
  • After 10 mins, turn up the heat allowing the stock to further reduce (if you have too much liquid at this point, pour a little bit out) and add the broccoli and green beans.Turn the heat down slightly and allow veg to cook for 3-4 mins. 
  • Add the frozen peas and stir in the creme fraiche to make a nice sauce.
  • Sprinkle with fresh parsley and season to taste.
  • Serve with garlic and a bit of crusty bread to soak up the sauce.
This is a great midweek meal and is relatively quick to make. I find that using mini fillets works better than using full chicken breasts as they cook so quickly. Don't worry about them drying out - poaching them in the stock keeps them moist.

Pan frying chicken fillets
Poaching chicken breasts
Spring Chicken and Broccoli One Pot
4

White chocolate, lemon and macadamia Genoise layer cake

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This is the hardest thing I've ever made in the kitchen! This recipe was created by the fabulous and local to me, Holly Bell, from Recipes from a Normal Mum. Wanting a challenge for the weekend, a friend and I came across the recipe and decided to give it a try! 3 1/2 hours later we'd finished and I have to say, we were rather pleased with the result! If you're going to give this a go, I'd suggest printing the recipe out and clearing everything off your worktops. You need space and lots of it! I think we pretty much used every pot, pan and piece of equipment in my kitchen!
 
gingey bites A slice of white chocolate, lemon and macadamia Genoise layer cake
1

Happy Chinese New Year!

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This Sunday its Chinese New Year - celebrating happiness, forgiveness and looking to the future. This year we wave good bye to the Dragon and say hello to the Snake. I heard on Radio 2 that ancient Chinese wisdom says a Snake in the house is a good omen because it means the family never starve. I like this and thought maybe I'm a Snake seeing as I love to feed people! I looked it up and alas - I'm a rat- compassionate, flexible, intellectual and creative traits but with a tendency to be passive-aggressive and sometimes even self destructive. Oh dear!

Gordon Ramsays Braised Red Belly Pork with Stir Fry Broccoli

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Olive Magazine Challenge! Steamed Pork Buns

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So, here we are again, time for the Olive magazine challenge! I started the year wanting to improve my cooking skills so I was really pleased when I spotted the new 'Challenge' series in Olive.

The first was Bagels and I managed it without too much trouble, even feeling quite impressed with the finished result (you can see my post here). So, yesterday I embarked on round two, filled with a little apprehension but more than ready for the challenge! Steamed Pork Buns.


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Review: Alimentum, Cambridge

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This weekend we were in Cambridge. We've both been before but a long time ago and neither of us could really remember what it was like so we plumped for the academic city for our first romantic get away of the year. We arrived to blue skies and merged with the hoards of tourists to view some of the stunning colleges around the city centre. Sight seeing was followed by an uninspiring lunch at Revolution and a trip to Hotel Chocolat for some luxury evening nibbles.

The day led way to night and we got ready for the big treat of the weekend - a meal at Michelin starred Alimentum, just outside the city centre. After much deliberation we opted for Alimentum over local (and 2 starred) Midsumer House for 2 reasons. 1) It was cheaper 2) Daniel Clifford came across as a grumpy sod on last years Masterchef the professionals and it put us right off him!

So, we arrived at Alimentum to be greeted by a fantastic New York style bar complete with gentle jazz piano in one corner. We had a drink in the bar before being escorted to our table.

Alimentum Restaurant Bar in Cambridge
Olive crisps with orange mayonnaise
Olive crisps with orange mayonnaise
We opted for the Al a Carte menu which is priced at £36 for 2 courses or £49 for 3 courses. The menu is clean and simple with ingredients listed out leaving everything to the imagination! The Amouse Bouche was a parsnip veloute with salted caramel popcorn. The popcorn was a surprise and worked well with the creamy parsnip sweetness.

Parsnip Veloute amouse bouche at Alimentum restaurant, Cambridge
Parsnip Veloute with popcorn
To start I went for Quail, hubby for Ham Hock. The quail was absolutely delicious, full of subtle thai flavours, the ballotine sweet and tender and the legs crispy and full of flavour and slithers of roasted peanut were to die for. The hubby's ham was salty and smoky with a delicious broth which the waitress poured at the table!
Hamhock  Parfait, smoked hazelnut, pickled mushroom Alimentum Restaurant, Cambridge
Quail  Breast and legs, broccoli, lime and peanut, Alimentum Restaurant Cambridge

Overall, we felt that the service was quite rushed - within 45 mins we'd finished eating and they were turning the tables over quickly around us. The food was absolutely delicious but this wasn't the best Michelin experience we've ever had. In my opinion, michelin starred dining is about more than just the food, its the ambience and the experience from start to finish should be special. I do want to give a shout out to the Sommelier though - he was very knowledgable and friendly. We often drink the same wines so he helped us choose something different and actually, he got it spot on!  Thank you Alimentum for a lovely night but not a great night.

Maybe next time we'll try Midsummer House after all. 


Square Meal
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