Your Last Mouthful

Cardiff based food blog

Category Archives: Guest blogger

Ancre Hill Estates Welsh Wine – Bringing Welsh Wine To The Market

Guest Review by Mr. V

Recently, Fine Wines Direct on Penarth road asked us to review some Welsh wine.

Slowly but surely wines from this part of the world – i.e. from the Biritsh Isles are making a mark in the world of quality wines and some even say that some of our sparkling white is better than Champagne. You may be surprised to hear that – especially given the recent wonderful weather we’ve been doomed with (perhaps 2012 won’t be a vintage…) but there are already quite a few vineyards and wine producers in Wales.

Ancre Hill Estates Pinot Noir

The wine on review is from Ancre Hill Estates where the grapes are grown in Wales and turned into wine here too. First up is  the Pint Noir.  Being a lover of deep dark merlots and shirazes, I thought a light wine like a Pinot Noir wasn’t going to do it for me. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. It is a light, soft wine with hints of vanilla and licqurice and has a good roundness. I think it would be an excellent accompaniment to a light but spicey pasta dish.

The wine is priced at £18.99 from Fine Wines Direct .

Ancre Hill Estate White Wine

The second wine is the Ancre Estates White wine (£12.79 from Fine Wines Direct). I do like to know which variety of grape is in the wine and so when it’s labelled ‘white wine’, it does make me curious. On this occassion though, sadly I wasn’t pleasantly surprised. I thought the wine lacked crispness and freshness that is usually present in a good chilled white wine. It did have notes of citrus and a slight gooseberry kick but failed to hit the mark with me. However, I would like to stress that I find wine tasting a personal thing. Everybody have slightly differently configuered taste buds and so you should only take my opinions with a pinch of salt.

As wines go from small yielding wine producers growing their grapes in a rain soaked country I was impressed – especially with the pinot noir and I would love to see Welsh wines appear more and more on restaurant wine menus and in our local highstreet shops. I have also heard excellent reviews of the Ancre Hill sparkling rose but sadly weren’t asked to review that one on this occasion.

If you’d like to try any of these and other Welsh wines, you can find them at Fine Wines Direct on Penarth Road.

CUPCAKE WEEK: SATURDAY- Cupcakes Are The Height Of Fashion!

Today’s National Cupcake Week post is a guest post from Debra of Love, Peace and Cupcake. Deb was selected to provide cupcakes for fashion week. Her cakes are delicious and you can read my previous review here.

Over to Debs…

A successful and exciting London Fashion Week came to an end on Tuesday and Welsh designer Jayne Pierson helped the conclusion by launching her new Spring/Summer 2013 collection, Brave.

 In the planning stages of the launch Love Peace and Cupcake were approached by Jayne herself to provide bespoke cupcakes for the VIP goodie bags on the day. We thought it was fabulous to be asked to bake for such a momentous event and were keen to create unique individual cupcakes that would reflect the collection!

 Jayne and her team provided verbal and visual clues to the collections projected look by sending snapshots of their research. They described the types of fabric and blends that were being considered. This was hugely exciting as we got a sneaky peek at the innermost secrets behind the new launch!

 We took several aspects of the designs and planned a creation of black, white and royal blue. A bespoke cupcake with texture and visual sharpness fit for a style showcase.

 Armed with our trusty Nikon D5000 we got started and recorded our journey from batter to bright lights!

Exclusive invitation to the show

The batter.
In the beginning :)

On the train

Arrival at Paddington

A cupcake nap

Quick tour of the sights

The wonderful Somerset House on the busy Strand

Modelling Jayne Piersons new collection

The goodie bag contents…oooo look there we are!

They disappeared faster than a blink!

Thanks to Debs and congratulations!

CUPCAKE WEEK: THURSDAY- A Giant Cupcake Tutorial

The second tutorial of the week is from Rachel Ellis of Oh Sugar Cake Company.

I’ve just looked back at my guest blog from Cupcake Week 2011 and this was my opening sentence –

I love baking, I love decorating cakes and I love sharing my cakes with anyone who’s happy to be called a taste tester. Cupcakes are perfect for all of these things….’

Nothing has changed, in that sense, since last time I wrote. There is still something lovely about baking, decorating and sharing these little cakes and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of them! I’ve also come to love the giant cupcake and it really is a great way to get started with decorating large cakes.

For anyone new to cake decorating it can be daunting, as there is so much equipment available -cutters, smoothers, tools, non-stick boards, tins…the list goes on and on. It also takes lots of practise to create the perfect finish. The giant cupcake doesn’t need much equipment and is a great way to create a professional looking party cake!

To create this cake you will need the following equipment –

Giant Cupcake tin

Rolling Pin

Cake board or drum

Alphabet set (optional)

Giant cupcake tins or silicone moulds are hugely popular which means there are bargains to be had, treat it as an investment as I’m confident you’ll use it again and again. To make the cake I used a vanilla sponge recipe.

Cake

250g Unsalted Butter

250g Caster Sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla Paste

5 Eggs

250g Self-Raising Flour

75g Plain Flour

4 tablespoons Milk

Method

  • Beat together butter, sugar and vanilla paste until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time and beat until fully incorporated.
  • Add flours and fold in with metal spoon.
  • Add milk and beat until mixture is completely smooth.
  • Split mix between 2 parts of tin (scoop out centre as shown to allow for rise) and bake on 170C for 50-60 minutes.

 Buttercream

175g Unsalted butter (softened)

350g Icing Sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla Paste

Method

  • Beat ingredients together until smooth

To Decorate

Buttercream

Jam

500g Sugarpaste

Gel Colour

20g Flowerpaste (optional)

Method

  • Spread a little buttercream onto cake drum to stick the base of the cupcake.
  • Spread a thick layer of buttercream onto the top of the cupcake base.
  • Spread a layer of jam on to the bottom of the lid of the cupcake and sandwich together.
  • Use the remaining buttercream to coat the complete cake.

  • Chill for 20 minutes.
  • Using a warm pallet knife (stand in boiling water and then dry) smooth the buttercream.

  • Roll white icing to approximately 5mm thick and lay over cupcake lid. Using your hands smooth the icing into the layers of the swirl and then cut level just below the buttercream filling.

  • Using gel colouring, colour sugarpaste as desired for cupcake case.
    • Measure the dimensions of your cupcake case as shown.

    • Roll out icing, cut to size and roll up.
    • Brush buttercream and edge of white icing with small amount of water to act as adhesive.
    • Roll out case around cake.

  • Using small rolling pin create cupcake case effect.

  • To cover the board (if desired) again measure the width and length and cut a piece of icing to fit.
  • To decorate with sprinkles sugarpaste can be coloured and broken into tiny pieces.
  • Roll each piece into a smooth ball and then roll into a thin sausage shape.
  • Attach to cake using sugar glue or water.

  • Add further decoration as required.
  • Decorations such as streamers and text should be made using flowerpaste as it sets harder and will hold it’s shape.
  • Alphabet cutters are readily available or text could be piped with royal icing.
  • Streamers are simple to make by cutting a small piece of paste and wrapping around a small rolling pin to shape.

This cake is very forgiving and can be decorated simply if you are new to decorating. I am happy to answer any questions and can be contacted at enquiries@ohsugarcakecompany.com

CUPCAKE WEEK: MONDAY – Vintage CupcakeTutorial With Yes Please Louise

It’s Cupcake Week 2012! To celebrate there will be a cupcake related post every day this week, starting with a tutorial from the very talented Natalie from Yes Please Louise.

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Being a huge foodie myself I love reading Nikki @ Your Last Mouthful’s blog and reviews and jumped at the chance to take part in her National Cupcake week special!

In this tutorial I will show you how to make these gorgeous fondant icing covered cupcakes…

Covering cupcakes with fondant icing is a great, elegant and neat way to cover your cupcakes.

It makes wedding cupcakes look that little bit more special, unique and a lot easier to create than you may think!

I learnt how to decorate cupcakes by watching YouTube Video’s, reading lots of books and searching for online tutorials!

After trying lots of different methods I believe this is the easiest.

As they say ”practice makes perfect”!

This is my first tutorial and had so much fun doing it… I really hope it helps you create some gorgeous cupcakes!

Many Thanks to Eleanor for the lovely photo’s and capturing all the steps beautifully! Please also check out her lovely work at www.eleanorjane.co.uk and www.eleanorjaneweddings.co.uk or www.facebook.com/Ffotogirl

Here goes….

How to Cover Cupcakes with Fondant Icing

Step 1

Add a generous mountain of buttercream to the middle of the cupcake, leaving a small gap around the edge from the cupcake case.

I always make my buttercream with a little extra icing sugar and added milk or water, so its nice and thick and holds it’s shape better.

Step 2

Dust your surface with a little icing sugar if you don’t have a non-stick board. Roll out your icing to around a 1/4 inch thickness.

Using a circular cutter (I use a 7cm circle cutter for a large muffin case cupcake) cut out your circle.

Step 3

Place your circle of fondant icing on top of the buttercream centrally.

Step 4

With your fingers smooth/stretch the icing down to the edges of the cupcake case (do not over lap the case) slowly and gently making sure not to tear the fondant icing. Try not to put too much pressure on the top of the cupcake as the buttercream may squish out of the sides! Make sure there are no gaps all around the edge of the cupcake.

Step 5

Smooth all over the fondant icing with the palm of your hand to make a neat even dome shape.

Now you are ready to decorate!

How to Make Fondant Icing Bows

Step 1

Roll out your fondant icing and cut a thick strip and thin strip.

The thick strip will be your bow so have the bow size you would like in mind when cutting.

Step 2

With the Thick strip of icing fold the edges into the middle and press the middle down so they stick together.

Step 3

Pinch the centre of the folded fondant icing to make a bow shape.

Step 4

With the thin part of the icing wrap it around the middle hiding the join and pinch the edges to stick. Turn over so the joins are hidden.

Step 5

Add another strip of icing to your cupcake if desired and place the bow on top. To secure the icing you can brush a tiny bit of water to the icing first to make it sticky.

How to Make a Petal Paste Ruffle Flower

You can get Petal Paste from any cake supply shop, it is different to fondant icing as it dries hard. So remember to work quickly with it and wrap any you are not using tightly in cling film to stop it drying out!

Step 1

Start by rolling balls with your Petal Paste icing. These will be the centre of your flowers. Put them aside.

Step 2

Roll out your petal paste and cut out four different size circles. I’m using a 6/5/4.5/3.5 cm circle cutters.

Step 3

Put your circles onto a foam pad and thin out/frill the edges with a ball tool. (if you don’t have a foam pad or ball tool you can use a surface dusted in icing sugar and roll the end of a cocktail stick around the edge of the circle for a similar effect)

Step 4

Place the ruffled circles on top of each other (largest on bottom/smallest on top). Use a tiny brush of water on each layer to stick them together.

Step 5

Use your ball tool to push the middle together (gently! don’t push the ball tool straight through!).

Place one of your petal paste balls into the centre of the flower and allow to dry for an hour or so until it holds it’s shape.

Step 6

Then place your flower onto of your already covered cupcake. Again attach with a tiny bit of water if necessary.

How to Make Small Petal Paste Flowers

Step 1

Roll out your petal paste and cut out your small flowers with your choice of cutters.

Step 2

Place your flowers onto a foam pad and gently thin/frill them with a ball tool.

Step 3

Put the flowers onto a curved foam drying pad (this will make the petals dry curved not flat) you can find these at most packaging suppliers (you could also use an empty egg box). Mix and match your flowers as desired and add middles if you like! Leave to dry.

Step 4

Decorate your cupcake with the flowers. Using a tiny brush of water to stick them if necessary.

I really hope this has inspired you to give this a go…. Please feel free to post a picture of your creations on my facebook page, I would love to see them!

If you have any questions or need any help in creating these cupcakes from my tutorial please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can contact me via my website  and Facebook  or Twitter @yespleaselouise. Make sure you ‘like’ and ‘follow’ me to see my creations and get updates on tutorials and offers in future!

Natalie :-)

Pie: A Social Meal By Design- Guest post by Michael Partridge

It’s British Pie Week and it’s Friday so I thought you might like some light entertainment in the form of a guest post by pie lover Michael Partridge. You can follow Michael on Twitter if you want to discuss your love for pies.

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Hello there, my name is Michael and I’ve decided to write about pies!  Some people, when given an opportunity to write about any food stuff would automatically go to a favourite recipe, a great place to eat…but I was asked to write about pies.  There is no escaping it, pie’s are a social meal in my life. There is some sense to this statement, but it requires a little back story…

 

Some years back, I was living in a shared house that was very close to a large supermarket on Cryws Road.  This nameless large supermarket was notorious for good deals on all sorts of “EAT ME TODAY” produce.  There was some debate about the best time to get the best deals, go in around 8ish, smaller savings, larger choice or take the risk and head in after 9 for massive savings and a real lucky dip approach to your shopping.  It wasn’t uncommon for my housemates or me to return with an eclectic bag full.  My personal favourite remains:

 

Jam doughnuts (10p for 5)

2 pints of milk (20p)

Big bag of carrots (15p)

Cat food (£1.50 instead of £4).

 

Bakery produce was always reduced, there was always something worth getting and sharing that would normally come in under 50p.  On one occasion, my housemate returned home with his shopping and an apple pie. “Apple pie anyone? It was only 20p.” A debate was had about the perfect way to eat apple pie, we agreed on piping hot with ice cream. However, we didn’t have any ice cream, “There’s choc ice’s?” and thus the institution was born. Pie with a choc ice. Seriously, its incredible.  If you doubt me, oh how I pity you! You are missing out.

 

If any of us went to the supermarket and saw pies going cheap, one was bought, taken home and everyone in the house (often more than the 3 residents) would come together in the living room for pie and choc ice.  The supermarket pies were big enough for 8 people (or 4 greedy buggers), spending under £1 cheap pie and value choc ice’s was outweighed by the bonding over pie eating.

 

A few houses later, I had really taken to the kitchen and started to feel braver, so started to experiment making my own pies. I had never made pastry from scratch before, but I quickly discovered that the recipes I found were more of a guide than a precision formula, and the amount of effort required to make enough pastry for a 2 person pie isn’t a great deal different to a 4 person pie. It’s exactly the same with fillings!

 

After my first attempt, I realised that it made sense to invite people round for dinner to enjoy the fresh out of the oven pie, because it just isn’t as nice warmed up.  It is also amazing the effect this statement has on people…

 

“Do you want to come round for dinner tonight?”

 

Pause, whilst they think….

 

“I’m making pie…”

 

“Can I bring my girlfriend as well?”

 

My original plan of dinner for 2-3 often became 3-5…and the social eating continues.  People are drawn to quality home cooked food like moths to a flame and the offer of a tasty hand made pie with a hearty helping of mash, peas and gravy will have your friends beating your door down.

 

I am grateful that I now have a reputation as a man who makes good pies. If I need a favour, I use the line, “If you help me…there could be pie in your future.” It very rarely fails.  It still comes back to a group of people eating pies!  However you look at it, if I’m making pie, I’m cooking for at least 4, so you might as well make the most of it!

 

Favourite fillings:

 

Steak and chorizo. Add some onion and finely chopped spinach to the mix and you are in heaven!

 

Lamb and mint.  Fresh mint is the key, and don’t be afraid to use plenty.

 

Sun-dried tomato, olive and feta. Again some friend onion and spinach really make this something special.

 

Chicken, sun-dried tomato and extra mature cheese. Fried onion is a must, add the other elements with some grated cheese and big chunks as well!

 

Useful advice.

 

Cooking:

 

Pastry first. Work to a recipe the first few times, then start winging it.  I always get my dough to the right consistency and then cling film it and put it in the fridge whilst I concentrate on fillings.

 

Filling. Don’t be afraid to do the majority of the cooking outside the pie! I prefer it as I feel I can control everything more closely.

 

A cake/pie tin that has a clasp/release so you can get it out easily. Trust me, it’s far more satisfy to see a finished article and cut into it.

 

Sides:

 

I am all about adding to the basics. If we are having pie, mash and gravy, I will always add a little something extra!

Mash with spring onions, blue cheese and milk instead of butter is incredible. I cheat with gravy and use instant all the time, but adding some extra love, makes a world of difference. Fry up some red onion, as soon as it goes soft add a few spoons of brown sugar, once the sugar has caramelised pour on some boiling water, then add some instant gravy. World of difference.

 

In conclusion…

 

Make it all yourself, fill  your house with the smell of great meals being cooked, fill your house with friends and be happy (and full) together.

Deli A Go Go- A must go for your foodie treats!

Guest review by Mrs. J

When I was asked to review Deli a GoGo I was very excited as I love my food and I’m always happy to try somewhere new. Deli a GoGo is situated on the busy Whitchurch High Street by the crossroads. When you enter you firstly come to the delicatessen which is full of a wide variety of tasty treats. They have a selection of olives, sun dried tomatoes and stuffed peppers which you can help yourself to or grab one of the pre packed boxes. They have an even bigger selection of cheeses both from Wales and around the world. The staff are extremely helpful and are happy to cut the cheese to a smaller size if there isn’t any available the size you want.

If olives and cheese aren’t your thing, they also have meats, wines, oils, homemade chutney, sandwiches, cakes and plenty of other food for sale. As I visited Deli a GoGo the week before Christmas they also had food hampers for sale that looked like they would be a welcome gift to any food lover. I would be really happy to unwrap one as a gift!

When you walk through the delicatessen you come to the café. The café is a small cosy area with simple white painted walls and wooden tables and chairs. It’s quite a small seating area and space is tight so it isn’t ideal if you have a puchchair as I found out. There wasn’t much space to leave the pushchair where it wasn’t in everyone’s way so if you have a baby, you should bear this in mind.

It’s a nice place to meet for a coffee as they have a huge selection of hot drinks available. I went for the Baileys latte and Mrs V chose the chocolate chai latte. We both agreed our drinks were delicious and creamy and a good price. They were very generous with the Baileys in my latte and both drinks came nicely presented with an Amoretti biscuit.

We couldn’t decide what to have for lunch so we went for the dish of the day – chargrilled vegetable pie and a dolcelatte, walnut and honey salad and shared them both.  The pie was full of courgettes, aubergines, peppers, tomatoes and came with a salad garnish. The dolcelatte, walnut and honey salad was very tasty.

The prices were extremely reasonable with sandwiches even cheaper than some of the pre packed ones you get at supermarkets.

I’m a big fan of independent shops and eateries and Deli a GoGo is a winner in my book. If you’ve got time to stop and eat great, but if not, treat yourself to some cheese and wine to enjoy at home.

My last mouthful was: The Baileys Latte

Service-

Atmosphere and Decor-

Quality of food-

Diversity of menu-

Value for money-

Overall Rating-

Slow Cooker recipes for the 12 days of Christmas

My blog revolves around eating out in Cardiff and the surrounding area but I also love to cook so when Susan Colburn asked me if I would like to publish her guest post, it seemed like a nice change.

Over to Susan…

Slow-Cooker Recipes for the 12 Days of Christmas

It’s that wonderful time of year, when hearts are merry and homes are filled with the spirit of Christmas. But with tight budgets, longer work hours and wound-up children anxiously awaiting Santa’s arrival, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Take a deep breath, pull out your Crock-Pot, and try these delicious slow cooker recipes that will save time and money (think leftovers!).

Whether you’re looking for hearty soups, mouth-watering desserts or slow-cooker chicken recipes for dinner, your slow cooker will soon become your best friend this holiday season. And, there’s no need to get creative—these tasty slow-cooker recipes provide exactly what you need to feed the family and keep everyone happy (including you).

Super easy and full of flavor, the following easy recipes provide 12 days of Christmas recipes… and a lot more time to relax!

Day 1: Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

Servings: 8

What You Need

1/2 cup A.1.  Steak Sauce

1/2 cup water

1 pkg. (0.9 oz.) onion-mushroom soup mix

1 boneless beef chuck eye roast (2-1/2 lb.)

1 lb. baby red potatoes

1 pkg. (1 lb.) baby carrots

1 onion, thickly sliced

Make It

MIX first 3 ingredients.

PLACE meat in slow cooker. Top with vegetables and sauce; cover.

COOK on LOW 8 to 9 hours (or on HIGH 6 to 7 hours).

Slow-Cooker Tip!

If one of the slow-cooker recipes you are trying out does not yield enough servings and you need to double it, keep in mind that your Crock-Pot or slow cooker should be no more than two-thirds’ full. Many people own two (or more) slow-cooker appliances for this very reason.

Day 2: Slow-Cooker Cheesy Chicken & Potatoes

Servings: 4

What You Need

1 large green pepper, chopped

1 lb. red potatoes (about 3), very thinly sliced

1 tsp. paprika

8 small bone-in chicken thighs (2 lb.), skin removed

1 can (10-3/4 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup

1/4 lb. (4 oz.) ,cheddar cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Make It

PLACE peppers in slow cooker sprayed with cooking spray; top with potatoes. Sprinkle paprika over chicken. Place 4 thighs in slow cooker; cover with soup and remaining thighs. Cover with lid.

COOK on LOW 6 to 8 hours (or on HIGH 3 to 4 hours).

USE slotted spoon to transfer chicken and vegetables to platter; cover to keep warm. Set slow cooker on HIGH heat. Add cheese and Worcestershire sauce to reserved liquid in slow cooker; stir. Cover with lid; cook 5 minutes. Stir until cheese is completely melted and sauce is well blended. Spoon over chicken and vegetables; top with parsley.

Slow-Cooker Tip!

Ever notice how dairy products are generally added to slow-cooker recipes toward the end of the cooking cycle? Foods with milk contents—including sour cream, yogurt or cheese—have a tendency to break down in the slow cooker, which is why they are added last minute.

Day 3: Slow-Cooker Ginger-Nut Apple Betty with Warm Eggnog Custard

Servings: 8

What You Need

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. flour

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

8 medium apples (about 2 lb.), peeled, cored and sliced

12 Ginger Snaps

2/3 cup quick-cooking oats

1/3 cup Chopped Pecans

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, melted

1 pkg. (4-serving size)  Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding

2 cups milk

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Make It

MIX sugar, flour and cinnamon in large bowl until well blended. Add apples; toss to evenly coat. Place in bottom of slow cooker. Place cookies in food processor or blender container; cover. Process until finely crushed. Pour into medium bowl. Add oats, pecans and butter; mix well. Sprinkle over apples; cover with lid.

COOK on HIGH for 2 to 3 hours or until heated through. Serve warm or transfer to large bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

EMPTY dry pudding mix into medium heatproof bowl; set aside. Bring milk just to boil on medium-high heat. Gradually add to pudding mix, beating with wire whisk until well blended. Stir in nutmeg. Spoon over individual servings of dessert. Cover and refrigerate any leftover sauce and/or dessert.

Slow-Cooker Tip!

When delicious slow-cooker recipes are finished cooking, the insert of the Crock-Pot or slow cooker should never be placed directly onto a cold surface. Otherwise, you run the risk of cracking the ceramic pot.

Day 4: Slow-Cooker Old-Fashioned Beef Stew

Servings: 8

What You Need

2 lb. boneless beef round steak, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/4 cup light Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing

1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard

2 carrots, peeled, sliced

1 large red potato, cut into 1-inch cubes

8 fresh mushrooms, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (14.5 oz.) Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup water

1 pkg. (12 oz.) whole wheat egg noodles, uncooked

Make It

HEAT nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add meat, in batches; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until evenly browned, stirring frequently. Place in slow cooker.

MIX dressing and mustard; pour over meat. Top with next 5 ingredients; cover with lid.

COOK on LOW 8 hours (or on HIGH 4 hours), cooking noodles as directed on package for the last 15 minutes.

MIX flour and water; stir into meat mixture. Cook, covered, 5 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened; stir before serving. Serve over drained noodles.

Slow-Cooker Tip!

If you want an even heartier stew, dipping meat into flour prior to browning helps thicken the sauce. While most slow-cooker recipes will include this step in the directions, you can determine how much flour to use depending on your personal preference.

Day 5: Slow-Cooker Apple Crisp

Servings: 12

What You Need

1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding

1/2 cup sugar, divided

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

10 Granny Smith apples (3 lb.), peeled, sliced

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

6 Tbsp. butter, melted, divided

12 Wafers, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup Sliced Almonds

Make It

MIX dry pudding mix, 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Toss fruit with 1/4 cup butter in large bowl. Add pudding mixture; mix lightly. Spoon into slow cooker; cover with lid. Cook on LOW 4 to 6 hours (or HIGH 2 to 3 hours).

MEANWHILE, combine chopped wafers, nuts, remaining butter and sugar in shallow microwaveable dish. Microwave on HIGH 1 minute; stir. Microwave 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 30 seconds. Cool.

SPRINKLE with nut mixture just before serving.

Slow-Cooker Tip!

For whatever reason, many people like to sneak a peek at their slow-cooker meal while it’s cooking; nevertheless, resist the urge to open the lid (or stir the stew when making soup). Why? It takes awhile to replenish any moisture that escapes the pot. Remember, slow-cooker recipes include exact cooking directions—follow them carefully.

 

Day 6: Slow-Cooker Chicken & Dumplings

Servings: 6

What You Need

1-1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs

2-1/2 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth

1-1/2 cups each chopped onions, celery and carrots

2 cups frozen peas, thawed

1/2 cup (1/2 of 8-oz. tub)  Chive & Onion Cream Cheese Spread

1 pkg. (6 oz.)  Stuffing Mix for Chicken

3/4 cup hot water

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Make It

COMBINE chicken, broth, onions, celery and carrots in slow cooker; cover with lid.

COOK on LOW for 8 to 10 hours (or on HIGH for 3-1/2 hours).

ADD peas and cream cheese spread; stir until well blended. Mix stuffing mix, water and eggs until well blended. Drop stuffing mixture, 2 heaping tablespoonfuls at a time, onto chicken mixture in slow cooker. Cook, covered, on HIGH 30 minutes. Gently turn over dumplings. Cook, covered, an additional 15 minutes.

 

Slow Cooker Tip!

If you prefer a thicker soup to soothe the soul, keep in mind that liquid does not evaporate in a slow cooker. Most slow-cooker chicken recipes and soups will reduce the amount of liquids by roughly 20 percent.

 

Day  7: Slow-Cooker Saucy Swiss Steak

Servings: 4

What You Need

1/4 cup Italian dressing

1 boneless chuck blade or shoulder steak (1 lb.), cut into 4 pieces

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained

1/2 cup beef broth

1 green pepper, chopped

1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Make It

HEAT dressing in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Meanwhile, coat steaks with flour; gently shake off excess flour. Add to skillet; cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until steaks are browned on both sides. Remove from heat.

COMBINE tomatoes, broth and tomato paste in slow cooker. Add steaks and peppers; cover with lid. Cook on HIGH 3 to 4 hours (or on LOW 8 to 10 hours).

SPRINKLE with cheese just before serving.

Slow-Cooker Tip!

With slow-cooker recipes, it’s better to brown meat in a skillet before adding it to the Crock-Pot or slow cooker. While you can add the meat without following this prep step, it enhances the flavor of the meal.

Day 8: Slow-Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

Servings: 8

What You Need

1/4 cup Italian dressing

3 lb. mixed chicken thighs and drumsticks

1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup each red and green pepper strips

1 clove garlic, minced

1 can (14.5 oz.) crushed tomatoes

1 tsp. dried thyme leaves

4 cups hot cooked long-grain white rice

Make It

HEAT dressing in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken, in batches; cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until evenly browned on all sides.

PLACE mushrooms, onions, peppers and garlic in slow cooker; top with chicken. Combine tomatoes and thyme; pour over ingredients in slow cooker. Cover with lid. Cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours (or on HIGH 5 hours).

SERVE chicken mixture over rice.

Slow-Cooker Tip!

Meat tends to cook faster than vegetables in the slow cooker. For slow-cooker chicken recipes that include veggies, place them at the bottom of the pot so they will be closer to the heat source.

Day 9: Slow-Cooker Green Beans, Tomatoes and Bacon

Servings: 8

What You Need

2 slices Bacon, finely chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 lb. green beans, trimmed, cut into 1-1/2-inch lengths

1/2 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/4 tsp. pepper

4 plum tomatoes (about 1/2 lb.), chopped

Make It

COOK and stir bacon in large skillet on medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon, reserving drippings in skillet. Drain bacon. Add onions to drippings; cook and stir until crisp-tender.

ADD beans, broth and pepper; stir. Bring to boil; cover. Simmer on medium-low heat 40 minutes.

STIR in tomatoes; cook on medium-high heat 3 minutes or until heated through. Top with bacon.

Slow-Cooker Tip!

Never reheat leftovers in the slow cooker. (It’s deemed a slow cooker for a reason!) Instead, use a conventional oven, stovetop or microwave to warm up what’s left over from slow-cooker recipes.

Day 10: Slow-Cooker Lasagna

Servings: 8

What You Need

1 lb. ground beef

1 jar (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce

1 cup water

1 container (15 oz.) Ricotta Cheese

1 pkg. (7 oz.) 2% milk shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 egg

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

6 lasagna noodles, uncooked

Make It

BROWN meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce and water. Mix ricotta, 1-1/2 cups mozzarella, 2 Tbsp. Parmesan, egg and parsley.

SPOON 1 cup meat sauce into slow cooker; top with layers of half each of the noodles (broken to fit) and cheese mixture. Cover with 2 cups meat sauce. Top with remaining noodles (broken to fit), cheese mixture and meat sauce. Cover with lid.

COOK on LOW 4 to 6 hours or until liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses; let stand, covered, 10 minutes or until melted.

Slow-Cooker Tip!

Slow-cooker recipes work wonders if your slow cooker is the right size. If you’re not sure which size is best for your household, see below:

1 person = 1-1/2 qt

2 people = 2–3-1/2 qt

3–4 people = 3-1/2–4-1/2 qt

4–5 people = 4-1/2–5 qt

6 or more people = 5-7 qt

Day 11: Slow-Cooker Chunky Chicken Chili

Servings: 8

What You Need

1 can (15 oz.) dark red kidney beans, rinsed

1 can (15 oz.) light red kidney beans, rinsed

1-1/2 cups Mild Salsa

1 can (16 oz.) no-salt-added tomato sauce

2 Tbsp. chili powder

1-1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces

1 onion, chopped

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup Mexican-style finely shredded four cheese

Make It

COMBINE beans, salsa, tomato sauce and chili powder in slow cooker. Top with chicken, onions and corn. (Do not stir.) Cover with lid.

COOK on LOW 6 to 8 hours (or on HIGH 4 to 5 hours).

STIR before serving. Ladle into bowls. Top with cheese.

Slow-Cooker Tip!

Be conscious of how much time is left before mealtime. It typically takes twice as long to cook slow-cooker recipes on the low-heat setting (around 200 degrees) than the high-heat setting (around 300 degrees).

Day 12:  Slow-Cooker Saucy Meatballs

Servings: 8

What You Need

1 pkg. (6 oz.) Stuffing Mix for Turkey

1-1/2 lb. lean ground beef

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup water

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

2   green peppers, cut into strips

4 cups spaghetti sauce

1 pkg. (1 lb.) spaghetti

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Make It

COMBINE stuffing mix, meat, egg and water. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place in slow cooker; top with vegetables and sauce. Cover with lid.

COOK on LOW 6 to 8 hours (or on HIGH 3 to 4 hours).

COOK spaghetti as directed on package. Serve meatballs with sauce over spaghetti. Sprinkle with cheese.

Slow-Cooker Tip!

When trying out slow-cooker recipes, make a little extra for dinner or snacking the following day. For example, the extra sauce and meatballs in this recipe could be used for an easy meatball sub sandwich or hot appetizer, or simply make more noodles and add the meatballs to a delicious baked pasta dish.

About the Author:

Sue Colburn believes in new beginnings… For her “retirement” from teaching 7th grade Social Studies she set her sights on breaking into the Food Media industry. Just like she taught her students: “ain’t nothin to it, but to DO IT.” If you’d like a food article for your site please email her: SusanColburn@gmx.com. When not writing or cooking, Sue spends time with her 2 granddaughters, 3 children, 8 cats and her high-school sweetheart, who by the grace of God she also married.

If you’d like to write a guest post for me, please get in touch.

Tweet and Eat competition – Winners review!

If you haven’t entered one of my Tweet and Eat Competitions yet, keep your eyes open for the next one. Here is a review from one of my winners. Hannah entered my Tweet and Eat competition in association with Angel’s Cakes. Here’s what she won.

Hannah says:

I recently won my choice of a Giant Cupcake from the wonderful blog Your Last Mouthful.  I’ve been a fan of the blog pretty much since it started so I was super happy to have won one of her wonderful competitions!  My prize was to be made by Angel Cakes UK , a Cardiff Bay based company run by a lovely lady called Angela.  

 

I was told I didn’t have to use the prize straight away and that I could save it for a special occasion, which was perfect as my boyfriend’s birthday was coming up in September.  To celebrate we were going to New York so I called Angela with an idea of a Big Apple themed cake being made for our return. 

 

That was literally the extent of my ideas and I left it totally in her control to come up with whatever she could think of! 

WOW! did she deliver!  I received a HUGE cupcake filled with vanilla sponge, strawberry jam, cream AND Rolos, Minstrels and other yummy goodies!  She had come up with a brilliant idea of putting Hershey’s chocolate in the middle to continue with the USA theme but unfortunately I can’t bear the taste!   Awesome idea though! 

 

The decoration was amazing!!  The Giant cupcake was intricately iced with blue, white and red stars and spangled with edible glitter!  Surrounding the cake was a personalised birthday message, a Yankee’s shirt, a big apple (geddit?) and an American flag.

 

The cake came wrapped in a mass of cellophane and a huge bow – the perfect gift!

 

Last but not least all I can say was the taste was divine!!!  The sponge was so soft and tasty and although there was a lot of icing it wasn’t too much because it was the buttery kind which melts in your mouth.

 

I’m definitely going to be getting a cake from Angela at Angel Cakes UK again.  Thanks Your Last Mouthful!   

 

There are lots of competitions planned for the new year so make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss out!

Guest blogger Rachel Ellis – Cupcakes, What’s not to love?

CUPCAKE WEEK: FRIDAY

As part of my cupcake week feature, I thought it would be great to have a guest blog post from a cupcake enthusiast so please welcome… RACHEL ELLIS!

Rachel has been baking and decorating cakes for 2 years and although it’s just a hobby at the moment she has lots of plans and dreams to make it her job one day. Rachel is married and lives with her husband in Cwmbran, although she is originally from Cardiff. In her spare time she likes to see friends and family, go on long walks with her two dogs and the occasional run! She is currently training for the Cardiff half marathon to raise money for Free Cakes For Kids Wales

Over to Rachel…

Cupcakes

What’s not to like?

I love baking, I love decorating cakes and I love sharing my cakes with anyone who’s happy to be called a taste tester. Cupcakes are perfect for all of these things and I often use them as my baking fix. When time is short but I need to bake, when I want to try new decorating ideas or when we have guests visiting they are just perfect. Cupcakes are a great place to start for anyone who is just joining the world of baking and ideas can be developed as your confidence grows.

Cupcake week seemed a great time to work on a recipe that I’ve been thinking about for some time, a light, delicate orange sponge with a smooth passionfruit buttercream.

Recipe

Orange Cake Ingredients Makes 8-10

120g Unsalted butter (softened)

120g Caster sugar

1 large egg

150g Plain flour mixed with 1tsp baking powder

60ml milk

Zest &juice of 1 orange

 

Passionfruit Curd Ingredients Makes 1 jar

50g Unsalted butter (melted)

75g Caster sugar

1 large egg and 1 egg yolk

6 passionfruit (juice only)

 

Passionfruit Buttercream

80g Unsalted butter (softened)

250g Icing sugar

Passionfruit curd

 

Method

 

Firstly make the curd and allow it to cool.

Whisk the sugar, egg and egg yolk together.

Add this mix to a pan with the melted butter and mix.

Then add the passionfruit juice and continue to stir over a low heat until thickened.

 

On to the cupcakes

Beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.

Beat in the egg, scraping down the sides of your bowl if needed.

Add half of the flour and beat (on slow speed if using an electric mixer)

Add the milk, beat well.

Add remaining flour and beat.

Lastly mix in by hand the juice and zest of an orange.

Fill cupcake cases 2/3 full and bake in preheated oven at 160C for 20 – 25 minutes

When baked allow to cool on a wire rack

 

For the buttercream

Beat the butter and icing sugar together until well mixed

Add passionfruit curd to taste, I add approx. 2 tablespoons.

 

When the cakes are cool, scoop out a piece of cake from the top of each cake. Fill hole with curd and place cake cut out back on top. Top with buttercream and add decorations as required.

 

The recipe above may seem to have many stages but there are shortcuts and on the days when you are in need of a cake fix there is nothing wrong with a cheeky shortcut! Curd can be shop bought, and although passionfruit is hard to find it can easily be substituted for another flavour. Check your local farm shop for the more interesting flavours or head to the supermarket for trusty lemon curd. You don’t need to add the scoop of curd into the cake as buttercream alone will be enough to finish it off. Or if you really are in a rush for a sweet treat these cakes are delicious still warm from the oven with no topping or decoration.

When it comes to decorating I am a huge fan of the simple buttercream swirl, I am also happy to scoop the buttercream on with a knife and sprinkle some shop bought decorations over the top. Having said that I love to decorate and there are many ways to make a cupcake look even more tempting. It can take time but for me it’s relaxing and rewarding to create those finishing touches. If you would like something with more detail but don’t want to make your own head to your local cake decorating shop, most stock decorations that are handmade and they offer more choice than the supermarkets.

For a special occasion or if you like to make your own, a few basic sugarcraft tools and cutters will get you started. Simple flowers can be made to suit your colour scheme and quickly add detail to your cupcake swirl.

 

A piece of icing can quickly be transformed by embossing using a cutter and this can be complimented with a matching handmade decoration. Butterflies are lovely for adding detail and all of this was achieved with a simple cutter.

So it’s cupcake week…what are you waiting for?

New to baking or an experienced baker, get to the kitchen, pop the oven on and have a go…simple or complicated, it really doesn’t matter. Cupcakes can be what you want them to be, but they will always work best and be enjoyed most when you are having fun and sharing them with taste testers. I’m sure everyone will easily find some of those!

You can follow Rachel on twitter or visit her brilliant blog for more cake related posts.

If you would like to write a guest post, please get in touch.

Guest Blogger- Little Suzi’s Kitchen- Did you say it was Gluten Free?

 

CUPCAKE WEEK: TUESDAY

You might have already read about Little Suzi’s Kitchen in a previous post. Suzanne Carter (aka Little Suzi) was recently shortlisted for this Year’s National Cupcake Awards with her lovely White Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcake. Although Little Suzi didn’t win, being shortlisted is certainly an accolade!

I was lucky enough to taste this special cake and I can confirm that it is in fact delicious!  Raspberry and white chocolate are a great flavour combination and the fresh raspberries running through the sponge keep the cake very moist and soft. The icing was lovely. It was clearly made from chocolate rather than just a flavouring.

Now I’m new to this gluten free business and I haven’t tasted that many products yet but an underlining whinge of mine, going by those I have sampled, is that there always seems to be a powdery texture that is only there in gluten free products. However, I was very excited to find, that with this cake I would have no idea that it was gluten free if Suzi hadn’t told me. In fact, I would go as far as to say it is the nicest gluten free product I have had! If you are gluten intolerant, I suggest you give this a try.

Suzi also supplied me with a Banoffee cake and a Sticky Toffee cake which were also nice. Her cakes are simple with no overly fussy decoration and as a result look extremely appetising. I’ve seen some of Suzi’s birthday cake creations so although her cupcakes are simple in design, she is more than capable of making anything you ask for I’m sure. You can sample Suzi’s cakes by ordering online or you can buy them at Waterloo Garden Teahouse.

Now, over to Suzi for her story…

Gone are the days when ‘free from’ foods tasted like cardboard. Bakers are now finally able to convince customers that ‘free from’ products can taste just as delicious as well as accommodating their diet needs. The winner of this year’s National Cupcake Awards was not only gluten free (…and beat me!) but beat the full fat, dairy, wheat and gluten cupcakes to not just for one award but  3!

Step back to 2 years ago, when I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance, I was devastated. Chocolate cake I could live without but my favourite treats used to be Danish Pastries, Custard Slices and even the humble Carrot Cake. I was surprised to find out what products had hidden gluten in.  A few years ago there were very few ‘free from’ cakes on the market. I had to give up sandwiches for lunch and look for ‘gluten free’ alternatives – which in Cardiff proved really difficult.

I was fed up of being the fussy friend who couldn’t go out for lunch or ask about the ingredients in the cake without being made feel like an awkward customer at the local coffee shop. I also had food envy. I wanted to enjoy sweet treats too.  So Little Suzi’s Kitchen was born…

There were some gluten free cakes on the market but these tended to be the usual alternatives such as flourless hazelnut cake and the free from cakes in the supermarket that tasted like chipboard. I started experimenting using different wheat free flours such as rice and chickpea flour. I also wanted to lose weight and I soon discovered I was decreasing the calorie content by playing around with different recipes.

Now fast forward 2 years and making gluten free cupcakes, cakes and treats is much easier with more good quality gluten free ingredients available and more and more bakers are now making more choice for customers.

It was a real breath of fresh air to see at the National Cupcake Awards in August the amount of entries for the ‘free from’ category and innovative flavours and designs coming through. The overall winner was GF Lime and Coconut Cupcake from Absolute Treats. She won best Free From, Best Taste and Best Cupcake and her recipe contained most store cupboard items. Gluten free doesn’t have to be boring, hard to find expensive ingredients that still lacks flavour. As proved by this year’s winner, who thoroughly deserved to win.

Even though I lost out to a well deserved champion cupcake maker (the free cakes and buffet at the event made up for it!), the remaining 48 independent and national bakers (including chains like Asda and Greggs) were not disheartened either. In fact, the atmosphere was one of real excitement to meet like minded cake bakers from different parts of the country and to see their hard efforts on display. Everyone was really passionate about all the cupcakes entered and openly discussed how they started baking. Interestingly most people in the awards were like me, who had decided to start up their own cake baking business as a hobby while working full time.

If you are interested in setting up your own baking business my advice is to openly ask other bakers. Most won’t be shy in telling you the truth, its hard work but if you’re passionate the rewards are worth it. David and David from Outsider Tart spoke at the awards while the 10 judges casted their votes on the cupcakes. Their words were so inspirational. They didn’t lie about how much they invested, how many hours a day they worked and the pressures and problems they have encountered. It was great to heat such openness in what is now a very competitive market. If you’re passionate about baking give it a go. Or alternatively if you’d rather be the taster rather than the baker, the shortlisted candidate for this year’s National Cupcake Awards (me!) is right on your doorstep and delivers homemade, fresh cakes and bakes for all your catering needs. I even host afternoon tea parties. Visit www.littlesuziskitchen.co.uk to see my selection of cakes and hopefully you can taste why I was shortlisted.

If you are interested in writing a guest blog post for Your Last Mouthful, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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