Pumpkin Spice French Toast

IMG_20170903_083257_713When Starbucks send out an email telling you Pumpkin Spice is soon to be back on the menu, you know that it is time to start formulating pumpkin everything. If you want you can check out my version of a Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte smoothie, or an easy Pumpkin Bread recipe, or a Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal with Cheat’s Salted Caramel, but this year we’re making Pumpkin Spice French Toast.

I know the amount of spice in pumpkin spice is a pretty personal thing, so in this recipe you’ll be adding as much or as little as you like. You won’t need a tonne of different spices either, just ground cinnamon, and ground mixed spice. They do all of the work for you. I mention this below, but I really do recommend you try get hold of soda farls to make this. I got mine from Asda when I did the weekly food shop, and they’re great buttered with soup, so trust me, you will use the rest of the pack up.

Let’s go:

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Savoury Oats (Eggs, Asparagus & Mushrooms)

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Savoury porridge. Are you feeling disgusted or intrigued? Either way, just for me, please give it a go. You might surprise yourself.

In this porridge bowl we have mushroom, asparagus, salt, black and white pepper, and two runny-yolked eggs. This combination meaning that you have a lovely, balanced breakfast containing low GI carbohydrates in the oats (they digest more slowly, meaning they don’t spike blood sugar and keep you fuller for longer), a source of protein and healthy fats in the eggs, and one of your ‘5 a Day’ in the asparagus and mushrooms- as well as plenty of vitamins and minerals, which the fat in the egg yolk is going to help the body absorb. This is one super-charged breakfast bowl, and a great alternative if you want to change it up a bit from fruit and nut butter on your porridge. My biggest tip with this dish is not to skip the seasoning: white pepper is amazing with eggs, and the salt and pepper combo is going to give the oats some oomph (they smell great when they’re cooking).

I happened to love this combination of salt and pepper oats, eggs, and veggies- but I’m interested to hear what you think, so let me know in the comments below if you decide to try this. Lets get started…

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Easy Banana Protein Pancakes

(which actually taste good- because we all know they usually don’t!)

As the weather gets warmer, I sometimes find myself not wanting porridge for breakfast. I feel such a traitor saying that, but it is undeniably true. And so about a week ago I began a search for some breakfast alternatives. Overnight oats are a great option (loads of recipes on this blog), I tried a breakfast trifle using lucuma , omelettes are nice and light, shredded wheat is good- but then came these pancakes, and I am now converted. IMG_20170531_083814_327

I’ve tried egg and banana pancakes before and they were -quite frankly- absolutely shite. In no way can you simply mix banana and egg together and magically have that give birth to a pancake. I also found they didn’t fill me up at all. These pancakes do use a base of banana and egg, but we’re adding in oats to keep you full, protein powder to also up the satiety level and help build those muscles (I need them to carry several 1kg tubs of PB home from Holland & Barratt’s, and according to Spark Nutrition’s recipe calculator, for the recipe as it is above you’ll be getting 24g of protein) , some baking powder for fluffiness, and  “cinnamon” for some more sweet dessert-like taste.

Okay, they aren’t your momma’s pancakes, but I have been making these at least three times a week with different combinations of toppings (see recipe), and I’m sure you’ll be hooked too (they taste way better than the classic egg-and-banana sin of a pancake). They’re quick, can be made ahead and reheated, and are a lovely, less stodgy alternative on a lazy summer’s morning. Be sure to pile on some toppings and tag me in you IG pictures…

 

Ingredients

  • 1 large, ripe banana
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 heaped tbsp. protein powder (I use the Pulsin Pea Protein, and this is approx. 10g of the product)
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • Cooking spray

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Banana & Nutella Pancakes (healthy, cheap & easy!)

wp-1488111400372.jpgIt’s nearly Pancake Day!! Even if I don’t go out for pancakes (a LOT of cafés and restaurants seem to do Pancake Day up here in Newcastle), or even if I don’t actually get around to making Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday (Tuesdays are busy days for me), I always HAVE to have pancakes at some point on the run up to this day. However, I find pancakes don’t usually fill me up for long, and so I wanted to create a recipe that was healthy, filling, simple, inexpensive, and delicious. Because lets face it, those “pancakes” that are just egg and banana are pretty damn gross. These though, are fluffy, soft, and definitely pancakes.

We’ve added in another few ingredients than banana and egg here- including some blended up oats for low GI energy release and “fluffiness”, vanilla for sweetness, almond milk for creaminess, cinnamon to balance blood sugar and add some warmth, and – of course- some “Nutella”. Though I’m actually using Jim Jam’s healthier alternative, of a hazelnut- chocolate spread. Seriously, I prefer this to Nutella. It’s still got a rich cocoa – hazelnut flavour, but it isn’t as sickly. However, I wouldn’t say no to a bit of the original either if it was kicking around in my flat, so don’t feel you have to go out of your way to get hold of this.

Let’s get cracking…

 

Ingredients (makes 6 small pancakes, or 3 large, which is one serving):

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 banana (a RIPE one- which is when they begin to get a few brown spots on them at the very least)
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • 1/2tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 heaped tbsp Jim Jam’s Hazelnut Chocolate spread , or Nutella (or, you know, abandon measuring this- it is Pancake Day…)

 

Method:

  1. Into a blender or food processor place all but the Nutella and half of the banana. Blend until a batter forms
  2. Bring a pan sprayed with cooking oil up to a medium-high heat, and then dollop the mixture in to create your pancakes, flipping each pancake over and cooking the other side once small bubbles appear on the surface facing you.
  3. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used.
  4. Take the remaining banana and slice into chunks. Stack your pancakes with Nutella and banana slices while they’re still hot, and then dig in…

Shakshuka (Eggs in Hell)

I’ve only made sashuka a few times, but this week just gone by I developed a massive craving for it- owing to seeing it on a food diary video on YouTube. Until that point I had always known it as “Eggs in Hell”, due to the spicy tomato sauce. You can eat it for breakfast, brunch, and lunch- and although its great in summer, its even better when the weather turns cold in winter.

This dish takes a little longer than my recipes usually do (around 45 minutes start to finish), but it looks after itself; the time is taken up by the sauce cooking down to a tomato and chilli flavoured goodness. And if the time it takes to cook is off-putting, then just remember: you have less washing up to do, as this is eaten from the pan. See? Perfect student food.

I like to keep my sauce fairly chunky, but if that isn’t for you then simply chop your vegetables into smaller chunks, and add in some more canned tomatoes- this will take longer to reduce though, and you will need to play around with how much chilli you add.

Ingredients (serves one)

  • 1/2 can chopped tomatoes (roughly 200g)
  • 1/2  bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 -1 medium red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1 handful of kale
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • Pinch of each: cayenne, cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika (this is a recipe you can really tailor to your own tastes, but make sure that you have more smoked paprika here proportionately)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • TO SERVE: Toast, if desired

Method
  • Into a frying pan place your garlic and chilli. Cook for around 1 minute, on a medium heat, until softened. Now throw in the onion; sauté over the same heat until golden.
  • Throw in the pepper, the kale, and the chopped tomatoes, along with all of your spices, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, add 1/4 cup of the boiling water, and allow to simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, return to your pan and give it a stir, adding in the final 1/4 cup of water, and allowing to simmer for 15 minutes more.
  • Once you return to the pan the sauce will have thickened, and cooked down nicely. Make two small wells in the mixture, crack in the eggs, and turn the heat up to medium. Allow the eggs to fry, keeping an eye on them to prevent burning. If the bottoms of the eggs have cooked, but the tops are still too raw, then place a baking tray or a lid over the pan (my pan has no lid, hence the baking tray), to direct the heat rising from the pan, back down to the eggs.
  • After 5- 10 minutes- depending how runny you like your yolks- remove the pan from the heat, and add some more black pepper. If you have fresh basil hanging around then tear some up to top your sashuka with.
  • No need for a plate- dig in straight from the pan.

One Person Feta, Asparagus, Mushroom & Spinach Frittata


When I occasionally become bored of overnight oats for a quick pre-prepped breakfast, I often turn to something making use of eggs. And recently, frittatas have been what I opt for.

Although they take a while in the oven, I usually have the oven on at some point in the evening- and so I just pop it in whilst I’m making and eating my tea, allow it to cool, and package it up for the next day.

This recipe incorporates what I think are some the best ingredients to include in a frittata: asparagus, mushrooms, and feta cheese. You can pretty much add in any vegetables you like, but I do recommend you try this at least once.

If you’re a student, then these ingredients are versatile ones: grill the rest of the asparagus and serve in a salad, or with sweet potato, regular potato, or rice. and one of fish/chicken/quorn/tofu. You can also toss it into pasta, or scrambled eggs. Cook the remaining mushrooms with garlic and some of the spinach, and throw onto toast. Crumble the feta into salads, onto sweet potatoes, or make a fancier tuna melt. Boil your eggs and add to sandwiches, salads, crack onto a pitta pizza, scramble with veggies for a good breakfast, or take to uni as a snack. You have plenty of options…


Ingredients

  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 30g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4-5 asparagus spears
  • 1 small handful of spinach
  • 3-4 mushrooms
  • Black pepper, salt, and dried Italian herbs to taste (you can also add in a dash of chilli)


Method

  • Preheat the oven to 190*c, and grease an ovenproof dish.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the three eggs, pepper, dried herbs, and salt. Then move on to preparing the vegetables…
  • Snap the tough ends off of the asparagus, and chop into pieces- about the length of your little finger. Slice the mushrooms up too.
  • Add your asparagus, mushrooms, and spinach into the egg mixture, followed by the feta. Stir to incorporate.
  • Pour this into your oven proof dish, and then loosely cover with foil to prevent the top of the frittata from burning. Don’t let the foil touch the top of the uncooked frittata- we don’t want it to stick as it rises.
  • Place into the oven for 50 minutes, uncovering for the last 10 minutes, so that the frittata can turn golden on top.
  • Once cooked, either dig in straight away- or allow to cool, chop up, and place into a lunch box for later…

‘Ernest’ – My Favourite Geordie Brunch Spot

‘Ernest is an independent cafe bar situated in the top end of the Ouseburn; we do our very best to serve up honest food, drink, music and art. We are open everyday 10am until late for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinking and dancing.’
http://weareernest.com/
 
Even people in Newcastle, native Geordies, haven’t heard of this place. And that needs to change, because it is simply one of my favourite places to eat. One of my best friends lives literally next door to this place, I can see it from her bedroom window, and it’s a firm fixture that we head here for brunch post girls night. I chose this café-bar for my breakfast brunch last week. This place will be 10 minutes from me next year, and so it’s a good thing they do student discount…

 

Ernest serve good, honest food. They do all day breakfasts, vegan and vegetarian suitable food, pescetarian options, and some stunning meaty options too. The food is homemade, fresh, and local and seasonal where possible. I recommend the natural smoked haddock on sourdough with spinach and two poached eggs, the eggs eclipso (two poached eggs on slow cooked tomatoes and peppers with flatbread on the side), and most definitely the sweet potato fries. Their eggs are always perfectly cooked, with runny golden centres, and their fries are never greasy, the presentation in on point every single time. I have eaten a lot of sweet potato fries in my time, and these are THE BEST. Better than Pitcher and Piano, better Fat Hippo, and better than Giraffe. They’re the best I can get without making them myself (because I am slightly bias and love my smoked paprika and chilli on them)- they’re also one of the most liked pictures on my IG feed. The staff are happy to accommodate tastes: I hate hollandaise and so they always leave it off for me, and I prefer wholemeal or sourdough to white bread- of which you get a choice depending what they have in. If you take a look at the specials board you may be lucky enough to get your hands on a super food saturated salad, or the kippers on sourdough toast. I’m always tempted by the salads, but the kippers are huge, tender, and juicy. It’s an internal battle every bloody time. Another tempting topic is that of cakes. There are always cakes on the counter: coffee and walnut, carrot cake, scones, the most amazing looking brownies loaded with nuts, and gorgeously gooey blondies- they change every time I’m in. Unfortunately I’ve always been too stuffed to try even a bite, although believe me I have seriously considered buying one of everything. Coffees and teas. We must talk coffee and tea. There is a selection of teas written above the bar area, and there are some I’ve never tried before: pineapple and coconut being one. I’m stuck on the stinging mint one for now. If it’s not tea, then I’ll be ordering a cappuccino- again one of the loveliest cappuccinos I’ve ever tried. Ernest are also licenced, and serve a variety of different beverages to choose from later in the day. They do music nights, something my friend and I are definitely trying in the near future (she doesn’t know this yet).

Now, to the staff and the café itself. The staff are friendly- and not in that really annoying over-every-two-minutes way. They’re over to check your food is okay and magically alert to when you need them to appear, but aren’t going to ruin your meal by hovering. One time I visited there was a mistake made on my friends order, and they didn’t charge us for her meal at all. Which was brilliant considering it was virtually the same thing as the dish she’d originally chosen, but more expensive. The outside of Ernest is painted with a picture if Darth Vader holding (I believe) a tray with wine on it. Next to some buckets of colourful flowers. That should indicate what a quirky-cool place this is. If it doesn’t then get this: inside there is an eclectic mix of comfy squashy sofas, chairs, board games, bare light bulbs, disco balls, mirrors, a lime green wall or two, a cabinet of star wars figures, and a blow up kangaroo.

Overall this is a place to bring friends for a slap up meal, or a drink on an evening- I definitely feel it’s more of student and adult place due to the chilled out vibe. More so than somewhere to park a pram with a screaming kid inside. Although if your child is well behaved then maybe it could be perfect for you too. My point is that Ernest is most definitely student friendly. This student is making her way there on Friday to bid Newcastle farewell for the summer- with some of the finest food this city has to offer.