Dear Phil Vickery

Dear Phil Vickery,

I was watching This Morning the other day when I spotted a lovely looking cheesecake in the background ad immediately began salivating. I love cheesecake! I had to have this cheesecake.

I watched and waited until your part came along where you showed us how to make the delicious looking delight. Did I tell you, I love cheesecake?

You made it look so easy, there was your shortbread all ready and waiting, “yes, the recipe is on the website you said.” Well, you were not wrong, but it wasn’t on the same page as the cheesecake recipe, and I’m not sure it was the right recipe, but it was for shortbread, and I hunted it down. I spent an hour making  the mix, chilling it, cooking it cooling it. Then I found that the recipe just gave me enough shortcake to use as the base of the cheesecake, I’d have to do it all again to make the decoration on the top. Hence my poor cheesecake had to go without.

“Pop the strawberries around the edge of your tin,” you said. You put one in as an example, you made it look so easy. It wasn’t easy. I spent another hour of my time trying to get the bloody strawberries to stick around the edge of the tin! I’d get three in then they’d all fall down, time and time again. I bet you had someone spend an hour putting all of your strawberries in too, didn’t you? And they made sure they left you a perfect little gap to pop in the last strawberry. Or maybe they were all glued to the tin?

So, now I’m two hours in the making of this super quick and easy cheesecake and I realise that hubby has bought me evaporated milk instead of condensed milk. “It’s the same stuff isn’t it?” He said.
Well, no it isn’t, but you probably know that. Condensed milk has lots of sugar but evaporated milk doesn’t. It’s ok though, I knew what to do. You just have to add sugar to a pan of evaporated milk and warm it up until it’s dissolved. I’ve not made cheesecake with condensed milk before, but I guess it’s the secret as to why this one is so ‘quick and easy.’

My condensed milk was sickly sweet but it’s okay because the cheesecake also contains lemon to counteract the sweetness. In fact three lemons and their zest. Have you ever zested three lemons? I guess you have someone do that for you. It took me ages and my arm was aching afterwards. Three lemons and zest is a lot of citrus.

Right, I had my shortcake base in place and the pan was, finally, lined with juicy strawberries, now it was time to make the cheesecake mix. In the video you said it must all be very cold, so my condensed milk was chilled, as was my mascarpone cheese and lemon juice and zest. I mixed the cheese and milk together then added the lemon. In the video I watched in awe as  your mixture instantly became thick and started to set, it was amazing to watch. Did it happen to mine? No! I was left with a custard like substance, a bowl of lemony slop.

Where did I go wrong, everything was weighed and measured, was it because of the home made condensed milk? I put it in the tin anyway and put it in the fridge to chill, after about two hours it started to set. I left it overnight. I reckon it’s taken fourteen hours from start to finish to make your super quick and easy cheesecake.

And don’t get me started on the mess! How come your kitchen worktop was so tidy? My entire kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it. Okay, I know you are on television and everything is ready for you, but, come on, you could let us know how much mess we would make if we were to try it at home! 

And how did it taste? Well, it was super, super lemony.

Thanks Phil, I won’t be trying this again.

By the way, did you know you could make a super quick and easy strawberry cheesecake using a digestive biscuit base (10 mins) a filling of cream cheese, half a lemon juice, whipped cream and icing sugar (10 mins) with an hour to set in the fridge?

Yours disappointingly,

Anne Sweet

My version of Phil Vickery’s Strawberry (very lemony) cheesecake 

My messy kitchen after making the cheesecake!

Triple Slow Cooker and Warming Station – Review and Recipe

I’ve never owned a slow cooker, it’s just one of those appliances I’ve never felt the need to buy. When I was given the opportunity to review this Bella Triple Slow Cooker I thought, why not, let’s see what the fuss is about

Now, I’ll admit that initially I thought the purpose of slow cookers were to put your dinner on before going to work and it would be ready when you got home. I had two problems with this,

  • who has the time to prepare a meal first thing in the morning
  • I don’t like the idea of leaving something cooking at home when there is no-one there (I’m terrified of fire!)
I prepared a meal for the slow cooker and it involved a little browning of the meat which took 5 mins and the preparation of vegetables (which can be done anytime really.) Then I threw it in the pot with the herbs and spices etc and the whole thing took less than 10 mins. With pre-prep you could have it ready a lot sooner, in fact you could have it ready in the pot the night before and just turn it on in the morning.
I still don’t have an answer for the second one, although they do seem pretty safe. I kept an eye on mine all day and it never got really hot, or the liquid spill over. 
Since using a slow cooker I’ve discovered that it’s much more than having a meal ready when you get home from work. It’s a great way of just throwing stuff together and ending up with a great meal with little effort. The meat cooks so slow that it’s always really tender and you can get away with using tougher cuts of meat which are generally cheaper. 
Apparently you can cook cakes and desserts too, I might have to try that one day, it would be nice to have desert cooked for eating straight after dinner.
This three pot slow cooker is a little different to your usual slow cooker as it has three pots and most have only one. Each pot can hold 1.3 litres which is pretty good. A lot of the smaller slow cookers only hold 1 to 1.5 litres, although you can buy really big family size ones. It was suggested that one pot holds enough for 2-3 people and I found that about right, although we did get four small servings out of one pot. If you need to cook for more you can cook in two pots! 
An advantage of having three pots to cook in is that you can do three different meals. You’d need to be cooking for a large family though. I did try two different curries in two pots and this worked fine. I have a big household of 4 adults and 3 children and we don’t all like the same food so this is going to be handy.
We also often eat at different times which when this slow cooker really comes in handy. It will keep your food warm until ready to serve, so you can  you just help yourself whenever you need to. I found that when I did the two curries, I also made some rice and when it was cooked I put it in the third pot on warm. Perfect curry night!
It would also be great for entertaining, you can keep three meals warm and guests can just help themselves. 

Bella Triple Slow Cooker and Warming Station

So lets get down to the nitty gritty of the product. The Three Pot Slow Cooker is pretty big so make sure you have room for it. 
It is 56.4cm long, 26.5cm wide and 20cm high and it weighs 8kg. 
As I said each pot holds 1.3  litres which is enough for 2-3 good servings. 
Each pot has it’s own controls, Off, Low, High, Warm. 
The pots are good quality stoneware and are easy to wash. (They are stated to be dishwasher safe but I don’t have a dishwasher so I can’t really comment on that.)
They each have a spoon rest too which helps with keeping the area clean and tidy. 
The lids of each pot are glass and there is a holder for each lid when you are ready for serving.
It’s ideal for entertaining with buffet style serving and a keep warm option.
The product comes with an instruction manual with five recipes to get  you started.
You can purchase the Bella Triple Slow Cooker on Amazon for £54.99 (it’s currently on sale)

Recipe – Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts, chopped into chunks
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs tomato ketchup
100 ml orange juice
1 tbs cornflour
2 tbs cider vinegar
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs fresh grated ginger
1 220g can pineapple chunks
1 green pepper, sliced
rice to serve.
Method:
Fry the chicken until it is browned (about 5 mins)
put all the ingredients into the slow cooker pot
turn to Low and leave for 6-7 hours
stir occasionally after 2 hours
Serve with rice.
So, so easy and incredibly delicious, this is the nicest sweet and sour I’ve ever cooked. It was even nicer than the one I had from the take-away restaurant last week!.
Disclosure: I was sent the Triple Slow Cooker for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Five Delicious Ways with Dolmio

Have you ever made your own bolognese sauce? I have and although it’s not that difficult, it never seems to taste as nice as the ones you get in a jar. I assumed that this was because of all the additives in there to enhance the flavours and colour. I didn’t realise how wrong I was.

Did you know that a 500g jar of Dolmio Bolognese sauce is 100% natural; it contains no artificial colours, flavours,
preservatives or sweeteners. In each jar, you’ll find at least 10 juicy diced
tomatoes, some tomato puree, half an onion, sunflower oil, garlic, a handful
of herbs, a teaspoon of cornflour, a teaspoon of salt, a pinch of pepper, two
teaspoons of beet sugar for taste, a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of water
and nothing more. In fact, a jar provides a family of four with one of their
5-a-day making it a great mid-week meal option for the whole family.

Take a look at this short video and see for yourself!

This certainly makes me feel happier about using Dolmio in my cooking.
As a family we all have our favourite Dolmio recipes.
The older kids love the traditional Spaghetti Bolognese while the younger ones love to get stuck into mum’s home made meatballs and spaghetti. Dad loves his bolognese stuffed peppers, and we all love a good lasagne. This week I tried something new because I’m on a diet that forbids pasta, I made a gorgeous Courgetti bolognese instead.

Here are our Top Five Delicous Ways With Dolmio.

1. Spaghetti bolognese.

serves 4

Ingredients:

400g minced beef
1 jar Dolmio
1 pack of spaghetti
parmesan cheese to taste

Method:

  • Put a large pan of water on to boil for the spaghetti
  • Put the minced beef into a large pan and brown, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking together. (tip: I don’t use any oil as the beef has it’s own oil, if it does seem to dry you can add a little oil but drain it off afterwards so you don’t get a greasy sauce.)
  • Once the large pan of water has boiled, pop in your spaghetti and stir
  • Once the minced beef has browned add the jar of sauce and stir, then warm through
  • When spaghetti is cooked (according to pack, but usually around 9-10 mintues) drain and add to the plates before pouring over  your bolognese sauce.
  • sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese

2. Meatballs and Spaghetti.

Ingredients:

serves 4 

500g minced turkey

1 egg
1 jar Dolmio
400g of spaghetti
I make my meat balls with turkey mince and bind them with egg. If I make them for the grown ups too I might add some herbs like basil. If I want them to go a little further then I may had breadcrumbs to the mix. You can also use minced beef, chicken or lamb for meatballs, it’s just that having tried them all we like turkey best. 

Method:

  • Cook spaghetti to pack instructions
  • put turkey mince and egg in a bowl and combine
  • shape turkey mixture into balls with your hands
  • brown the balls in a large pan with a little oil
  • once brown add the Dolmio and stir through
  • serve with spaghetti
This really is a favourite with my kids they can’t wait to get stuck in!

3. Stuffed Peppers.

serves 2

Ingredients:

Left over bolognese (or you can make fresh using previous recipe)

2 large red peppers
grated cheese


Method:

  • heat oven to 200C/ gas mark 6
  • Cut the top off your peppers and take out the seeds
  • place on a baking tray and fill them with the bolognese sauce
  • Top with grated cheese and bake in oven for 15 – 20 minutes
These were fantastic for lunch the day after our bolognese using the leftovers. 

4. Lasagne

serves 4

Ingredients:

500g minced beef

200g sliced mushrooms
1 jar Dolmio
1 jar of Domio white lasagne sauce (or make your own)
3 sheets of lasagne (I like fresh, but you can also use dry)
grated cheese for sprinkling on top


Method:

  • Preheat oven to 190/ gas mark 5
  • brown the minced beef in a large pan
  • Add the mushrooms and fry for a further minute
  • Add the jar of Dolmio and warm through.
  • In a large lasagne dish first place a layer of the minced beef mixture
  • Follow with a sheet of lasagne
  • cover the lasagne sheet with the white sauce
  • pour another layer of minced beef mixture over the top
  • cover with lasagne and white sauce
  • do one more layer of minced beef mixture, lasagne and white sauce
  • finish with a layer of grated cheese
  • Pop in the oven for around 20 minutes or until the top is nicely cooked and beginning to brown.
For an interesting twist we often use slices of chicken breast instead of minced beef. You can also add other vegetable instead of mushrooms, such as peppers or courgette.
lasagne

5. Courgetti Bolognese

I’m currently following a Paleo diet which means pasta is out of bounds. So is processed food but on finding out that Dolmio only use natural ingredients means I could use it. It is still a bit of a cheat as it contains cornflour, sunflower oil and beet sugar which are also off limits to a paleo diet, but a little cheating every now and then shouldn’t hurt and they would work out as tiny amounts for one portion. Not having pasta however, meant I had to find an alternative, so I tried Courgetti for the first time and I have to say, I love it! I’ll definitely have it more often now.
So what is courgetti, it’s basically courgette which has been spiralized. You can buy it in packs at the supermarket or make your own. I decided to invest in a spiralizer and found one on Amazon for only £7.95 and it’s great for starting out. It also comes with an e-book of recipes.

PrimeFolksCo. Hand Held Vegetable Spiralizer Bundle with eRecipe Cook Book ~ Spiral slicer creates endless spaghetti noodles ~ Includes brush for cleaning the compact spiral cutter

Ingredients:

I actually made this just for myself because I used the same bolognese as everyone else substituting courgetti for spaghetti. But here is the recipe for 4 servings.

500g organic minced beef
1 jar Dolmio
2 large courgettes

Method:

  • brown the minced beef off in a large pan (no oil)
  • once browned add the Dolmio (And any extra vegetables)
  • spiralize your courgettes
  • In a frying pan add 1 tbs coconut oil or olive oil and warm
  • add the courgetti and stir fry for one or two minute
  • Place on plate and add sauce.

My family love Dolmio and I always have a jar in the cupboard. It’s so tasty and versatile and it’s also healthy and nutritious. It often features in our mid-week meals. I’d love you to try one or two of my recipes and please let me know what you think of them. Have you tried courgetti yet?





Disclosure: This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmio. www.dolmio.co.uk/thankgoodness.”

Banana, Honey and Walnut Tea Loaf Recipe

Banana, honey and walnut tea loaf with a cup of tea

You know when you get some over ripe bananas left in your fruit bowl and you don’t want them to go to waste? They would be perfect for this recipe, the riper the bananas the better.

I love a nice tea loaf that is packed with flavour, but the added chopped walnuts also add nice crunch to this loaf, giving it that little bit extra.

Enjoy it on a Sunday evening with a nice cup of tea!

Banana, Honey and Walnut Tea Loaf

banana, honey and walnut tea loaf

Ingredients:

  • 115g butter, softened
  • 115g soft brown sugar
  • 115g thick set honey
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 2 large bananas
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 60g crushed walnuts

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 4
  • Grease and line a 900g loaf tin
  • In a large bowl place the butter, sugar and honey and beat together until light and fluffy
  • Gradually beat in the eggs
  • fold in the flour
  • mash the bananas with the lemon juice
  • fold them into the batter along with the crushed walnuts
  • spoon mixture into tin and level the surface
  • Bake the loaf for 1 hour until risen, golden brown and firm to the touch.
  • Serve warm or cold.
Pin for Later!
banana, honey and walnut tea loaf with a cup of tea
My Random Musings

Boo Bakes a Valentines Cake

We were asked if we wanted to try some cake decorations from Cake Angels and they couldn’t come at a better time. Boo had been nagging for ages to bake a cake and was so excited over the decorations she couldn’t wait to get started. Her stipulation was that she wanted to bake it all by herself with no help.

She knows the basic of sponge cake making where you have the same amount of ingredients, that’s same flour, butter, sugar and eggs. She also knows that you can mix it all together as one but that Mummy prefers the creaming and folding method for a nice springy sponge.

She decided that her cake would be chocolate and that she wanted to cover it with a basic buttercream before decorating.

I prepared the kitchen and got the ingredients ready for her to weigh and she was off, with very little intervention from me. I set up the camera to record her and we have two videos, one of her making the cake and the other decorating it. I do hope you will take a peek, they are not that long and she was keen to do them. It would be lovely if you would consider giving the videos a like on YouTube and maybe subscribing to our channel.

Here is the first video of the cake baking.

 

Boo’s Chocolate Valentines Cake

 

Ingredients:

8oz self-raising flour
8oz unsalted butter
8oz caster sugar
4 eggs
1tbs cocoa powder

Method:

Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 4
Put the butter and caster sugar in a bowl and mix until creamy
Add the eggs on at a time and beat into the mixture
Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and mix
Pour into an 8″ round tin which has been greased and lined with baking paper
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
Leave to cool and then decorate.

Here is the Second Video with Boo Decorating the cake

 


Ingredients:

4oz of soft unsalted butter
8oz icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract

A selection of decorations,
we used sugar sprinkles, icing roses and white flowers from Cake Angels


Method:

Put the unsalted butter in a bowl
Sift in the icing sugar
add the vanilla extract and mix

cover the cake and then decorate. I think Boo did really well, what do you think?

Boo's Valentines Cake

 

Boo holding her Valentines Cake

I hope you have enjoyed this post. Boo really enjoyed her baking and cake decorating sessions and will be back soon with something new, of that I’m sure. Do leave a comment if you wish and remember to follow our YouTube Channel for more videos.

Disclosure: we were sent some cake decorations from Cake Angels for our cake.

 
Mix It Up Linky

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

Some people only write reviews when things go wrong with products, which is good because it lets people know that there could be potential problems. I’ve also seen negative feedback with say things like, I had to return this item because the colour did not suit me…is this useful?

I write reviews on most items I buy because I like to give genuine feedback. If I have a genuine problem with a product I will write my review in the appropriate place.

I write reviews on my blog too, but they are mostly positive. Why? Because I only write reviews for the things I’ve loved. If I don’t love them I let the person who sent me them know with details why and then let them decided if they would rather me write a negative review or not write one at all. It’s always the latter.

This is my blog, my place and I’ll let you know about the things I love. If you want to find out what other people have hated about the product then you will need to look elsewhere.

My reviews may all be positive, but they are still genuine.