Thursday, February 25, 2016

Slow Cooker Parsnip and Ginger Soup

I really like parsnips, but they only really grace my menus for Sunday lunch, roasted. I love the sweet, nutty flavour they have. Recently, we were eating at a steak restaurant and the only starter on the menu that I felt in the mood for, was parsnip soup. Three of us ended up ordering it. It was a very simple parsnip soup with a bit of  cracked black pepper on the top and some garlic bread on the side. It was so good, that I could have gone home happy right then, never mind about the steak!

Inspired, I bought a big bag of parnsips and set about making some kind of soup with them. Ginger is often put with carrot, another sweet vegetable, so I thought it was worth a try with parsnip. I really enjoyed the kick it gave the soup; it felt like the perfect kind of soup that would do you good if you had a cold!

If you're doing Slimming World, this recipe is "syn" free if you switch ginger paste for ginger powder or fresh ginger.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Pie

My husband made a request for pies recently, and I decided to make a big batch so we could have some in the freezer.  I had some beef stewing steak in the freezer which would go nicely with some mushroom I hadn't used yet, so beef and mushroom pies were on the menu! I find slow cooking the filling gets the best results. I use the traditional style, white, blue-rimmed pie dishes that come in individual sizes.




Sunday, February 14, 2016

Chocolate-Covered Heart Biscuits

If you're looking for a last-minute Valentine's gift or something nice to make with your children for the day, try these chocolate-covered heart biscuits. they are easy and they look effective when you're done.

I used my Christmas biscuit recipe (find it here), as it's important for the biscuits to hold their shape. I got the biscuit cutters from M&S and away I went!



Friday, February 12, 2016

Oat and Raisin Biscuits

I tend not to buy biscuits very often for home, but at work, I always want one with my cup of tea. Unfortunately, our staff room is always full of them! Oaty biscuits like hobnobs are my favourites, so I thought I would make something along those lines today.




Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Valentine's Day Chocolate Cake

My husband and I don't often do much about Valentine's Day.  The main reason is because it's our wedding anniversary shortly afterwards and that means we can avoid the expensive flowers, pricey set menus and so on, and celebrate two days later! Despite being a bit bah humbug about it all, I really wanted to make a Valentine's Cake. I was given a heart-shaped silicone cake mould by one of my lovely teaching assistants, which is just the thing for a Valentine's Cake! It turned out really well- a light chocolate sponge with a chocolate cream cheese filling and pink buttercream on top. The sponge was lovely and light. A good thing considering the rich filling and additional icing on top! Icing is definitely not my strong point; I'm still learning all the techniques. so if you're a whizz with a piping bag, you could probably make it look much prettier on the top than I did! If you are looking for a heart-shaped cake tin, most of the big supermarkets and department stores have them at this time of year. For this cake, you want one that is roughly equivalent to a 20cm tin. I only had one, so had to hold half the mixture back until I could wash the mould again. A lot of people complain about silicone moulds, saying that they are impossible to get cakes out of, but I find, if they are cleaned well before every use and are well-greased with butter, they are far more reliable than standard tins. Good luck!



Sunday, February 07, 2016

Very Chocolatey American Pancakes


Pancake Day is just around the corner! We are going for American style pancakes again this year for two reasons. The main reason is convenience. They are easy to make in big batches and then freeze, so you can whip them out the night before you need them and away you go. Also I have just grown to prefer them. They are more substantial and a bit firmer, less floppy, than traditional British pancakes.

Last time, I made banana pancakes which were really nice and were good for breakfast or dessert. This time, as it will be evening when we have them, I wanted something much more desserty, so I went for chocolate. They ended up being very chocolatey as I added cocoa powder and chocolate chips! 

Instinctively, I wanted to put the chocolate chips in the pancake batter. I decided not to because the pancakes have to stay in the pan for quite a while as they cook, and there's nothing worse than burnt chocolate! The chips sink to the bottom and burn there or, if you put them on as it cooks, they burn when you flip them over. Even if they just melt, the remainder will burn in the pan after you have taken the pancakes out. So, resist temptation! Don't do it!  In the end, I sprinkled them over the hot pancakes on the plate and they melted nicely onto them. I used dark chocolate chips which made them very chocolatey, but you could tone it down a bit with milk ones. The pancakes are very nice with cream or ice-cream to top them off.

Hope you enjoy!

The Improving Cook- Very Chocolatey American Pancakes

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Rhubarb Cheesecake Sponge Dessert

Today's recipe is a Rhubarb and Cheesecake Sponge dessert. It feels like I have been waiting forever for rhubarb to come into the the shops. It always feels to me like it should be an autumnal fruit. I bought my first batch this week and almost made a rhubarb crumble, always nice, but had the idea to make something with a cheesecakey element. It ended up being  mixture of cheesecake and cobbler which was very nice!

Rhubarb has such a deliciously sour taste, it works really well with the soft sweetness of the spongecake and the cheesecake. You don't really need anything else to serve with it, no ice-cream or custard, unless you really want to.




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