Egg and Bacon Muffins

Firstly, these aren’t really muffins. More things in the shape of muffins. Secondly, they’re likely to make you make a noise. They’re that good.

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The amazing thing is, apart from how good they taste, is how stupid you have to be to get these wrong and/or stretch the whole creation process past more than 20 minutes.

Just 4 ingredients. Just 6 steps and one of them is turning the oven on. Just really easy.

Ingredients:
6 rashers of bacon – smoked or unsmoked
6 medium eggs
30-40g feta cheese (or you could use goat’s cheese)
Chives

1. Pre-heat an over to 200°c/180°c fan/gas mark 6.

2. Take a muffin tray, grease it lightly with butter and then line it with a slice of bacon per muffin hole. Don’t worry if you need to cut it to cover any holes. Put the tray o’ bacon in for 5 minutes to let it crisp up a little.

3. Crack an egg into each of the newly-formed bacon cups.

4. Crumble on some feta. I used about 30g, so 5g per muffin, but you can add more or less if you want. Sprinkle on the chives.

5. Add to the oven for 15 minutes. The egg whites should just have stopped being gooey.

6. Take out the oven. Admire. Leave to cool a little bit before turning out and eating, otherwise you’re likely to melt your mouth.

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And that’s it. Eat them! I’ve been taking them to work as a mid-afternoon snack as I battle my sugar cravings.

I came upon this idea when reading Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar. I’ve started the 8 week programme with my wife and needed something to fill my snack gap which was usually filled with biscuity things or yoghurt covered rice cakes. This hit the precise spot!

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Paprika Pork

As January is firmly over the horizon and we are all quickly running out of February, it becomes harder to cling on to that New Year’s “I’m going to be a health nerd” commitment that you promised you’d stick to this year.

It’s not so much the snacks (energy balls!) or the breakfasts (overnight oats!) but dinners that become a struggle. You’ve had a hard day at work, you just about managed to get yourself to the gym to make that monthly fee worthwhile and you still have to cook and eat.

We had the same problem the other week, but stumbled over this recipe. Parpika pork.

It ticked all the boxes. It was quick (30 minutes), easy (mostly throwing things in a pan) and cheap (pork, veg and spices). Plus it was delicious.

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Ingredients (serves 4)

600g Pork loin (any other pork should also do though)
300g Mushrooms, sliced
2 Small onions, halved then thinly sliced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1.5 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp corn flour
3 tbsp tomato purée
250ml stock (from one chicken stock cube)
4 tbsp sour cream
Boiled rice

Directions

Add half the oil to a large pan over a medium high heat, then throw in the pork. Let it sizzle around a bit. Maybe wiggle the pan to make yourself look more pro. Once it’s all stopped being pink on the outside, pop it in a big bowl, juice and all.

Now is a good time to do your rice. We follow this foolproof Delia recipe to make sure it’s perfect.

Add the other half of the oil to the pan, then add the onions. Do something else for 3 minutes while they soften. Maybe read another review? When you come back they’ll be all soft and lovely – unless you cut them too thick, then shame on you, go read another review…

Throw in your mushrooms. Stir every now and again for about 7-8 minutes. Once the mushrooms have wilted and darkened, it’s time to put the pork back. Juice and all. Stir around until it’s hot again.

Add the paprika, chicken stock and tomato purée, give it a good old stir and then simmer for 5 minutes.

Mix the cornflour with 3 tablespoons of cold water to make a little gloopy paste, then add to the pan and stir to thicken your sauce. If you found that the sauce was thick enough, don’t bother adding the cornflour unless you want your dinner to have the consistency of meaty toothpaste.

Bring to the boil, remove from the heat, then stir in your sour cream. Serve with the awesomely cooked rice and shovel into your face. Hmmm.

Nutrition
Per serving (quarter of recipe, without rice)

Calories 300

Total fat 11g
Saturated: 3.1g
Polyunsaturated: 2.4g
Monounsaturated: 5.0g
Trans/hydrogenated: 0.0g
Cholesterol 82.8mg
Sodium 486.6mg
Potassium 265.9mg
Total carbs 9.0g
Fibre: 1.4g
Sugars: 2.9g
Protein 39.8g
Vitamin A 1.8%
Vitamin C 6.2%
Calcium 2.7%
Iron 5.2%

Is it clean?
Depending on your definitions, this can be considered a clean meal. The ingredients you may take umbridge with are the corn flour and the stock cube. Corn flour is the starch extracted from corn. While corn is ok, the extraction means it’s refined/processed. The nutrients are zero and there isn’t any rubbish in it, but it goes against the ethos of “clean”. Same goes for the stock cubes. Usually it is just dried from regular stock and seasoned, so it’s up to you as to whether it ticks your box or not!

I adapted this recipe from one my wife found in a recent Asda magazine, but I changed a few things (more paprika, more pork, fewer mushrooms) to make it nicer!

No-bake Energy Balls

Eating clean is hard. It’s not finding things to eat. Recipes are easy to find but there is a part of my brain that wakes up every now again and demands that I eat four times my body weight in Haribo. The hard bit is ignoring it.

I have found a way of shutting it up, getting something yummy in my gob and getting a little boost of energy at the same time.

No-bake Energy Balls are quick and easy to make and just as quick and easy to eat. They make for great snacks that provide a good balance of complex carbohydrates, fibre, protein and omega 3, as well as keeping you away from the Haribo. For now.

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Ingredients (makes around 10 balls)

  • 30g Desiccated coconut
  • 60g Porridge oats
  • 30g Ground flaxseed
  • 40g Crunchy peanut butter (approx 2 tbsp)
  • 30g Runny honey (approx 3 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 Medium banana
  • 53g milk chocolate (approx 4 squares of a bar)

Directions
Put it all in a bowl. No particular order needed. On my second batch I left the honey until last so the oats didn’t soak it all up, but it really didn’t make a difference.

Mix it all about. You may need to mush the peanut butter down a bit so you don’t end with one energy ball that is just a lump of peanut butter covered in oats and coconut.

Once that’s done you can get on to making the balls. Grab a small handful of the mixture, wrap your hand around it and squeeze. I then push the excess back into the ball at both ends with my thumb while my hand is still closed. Shape the lump into a ball and there you have it. Your first no-bake energy ball! Well done!

Repeat 9 times or until your mixture runs out.

Pop them gently into an airtight container and keep in the fridge. I say that last for a week but they could last longer. They’ve never survived long enough for me to find out.

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You can add different things in there to make your own versions. I’ve been tempted to replace the chocolate with some cranberries or similar dried fruit. I did try leaving out the chocolate, melting it down and using it to cover the outside of the balls. Fancy trying that as well? Don’t. They’re too delicate for that. They fall apart and you’re left with an oaty, cocnutty, chocolatty mess instead of an awesome snack.

Nutrition
Per ball (recipe makes around 10 balls)

Calories 120

Total fat 7.2g
Saturated: 2.0g
Polyunsaturated: 0.7g
Monounsaturated: 0.7g
Trans/hydrogenated: 0.0g
Cholesterol 0.0mg
Sodium 10.1mg
Potassium 0mg
Total carbs 9.6g
Fibre: 1.7g
Sugars: 2.8g
Protein 2.9g
Vitamin A 0.0%
Vitamin C 0.0%
Calcium 1.0%
Iron 3.9%

I adapted this recipe from one I found through Pinterest, but omitted a few things (chia seeds?) and changed a couple of measurements as it was an American recipe using their silly cup system…

Banananut Butter Overnight Oats

After the initial boyish excitement of signing up to throw myself around an obstacle course for charity my brain quickly realised that I would need to eat well, not just train well.

That’s why I’ve been trying to eat clean as often as possible, eating less processed things and trying to balance out my diet. Lunch and dinner are easy to vary, but I’ve struggled with breakfast recently. Porridge was a first call for breakfast but after 3 weeks this has gotten a bit boring, so I’m trying something that I don’t think any person has ever achieved before: making porridge oats interesting.

But I found an answer and that answer is banananut butter overnight oats.

They sound fancy, they look fancy, but they’re really incredible easy and yummy. Get the ingredients, pile them into a jar, shake, pop into the fridge, go to bed, eat in the morning. Done.

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Ingredients

  • 65g Porridge oats
  • 10g Ground flaxseed
  • 50g Crunchy peanut butter (approx 2 tbsp)
  • 150ml Skimmed milk
  • 18g Runny honey (approx 2 tsp)
  • 80g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 Medium banana

Directions
Didn’t you read the bit above the ingredients list? Whack everything but the banana into a jar. Shake it up. It doesn’t even matter what order you do it in!

Once you’ve had enough fun trying to not throw a full jar across your kitchen, pop it into the fridge and then go to bed. When you get up and are ready for breakfast, slice the banana over the top and dig in!

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I thought this was easy and yummy, really giving porridge oats the lift I was searching for after 3 weeks of bland.

You can change the thickness of the oats by using semi-skimmed instead of skimmed or just add less milk and more yoghurt. I found the above amounts to be a bit stodgy so I’d suggest adding 25ml more milk and 10-15g less yoghurt, or even both. Sort your own breakfast out. I’m not your mum.

You can also add in different things, like fruit, nuts or coconut. Once I’ve had my second helping of this one tomorrow I’m either going to make an apple and cinnamon version or one packed with berries! Nom.

Nutrition
Per serving (recipe makes 2)

Calories 493

Total fat 18.4g
Saturated: 3.3g
Polyunsaturated: 1.6g
Monounsaturated: 0.4g
Trans/hydrogenated: 0.0g
Cholesterol 0.0mg
Sodium 139.4mg
Potassium 181.1mg
Total carbs 49.9g
Fibre: 7.2g
Sugars: 18.7g
Protein 16.7g
Vitamin A 0.5%
Vitamin C 7.5%
Calcium 4.8%
Iron 16.0%

I adapted this recipe from one I found on Pinterest, but had to change some amounts and also work out measurements as it was an American recipes using their silly cup system…

Epic Hot Chocolate with Orange Chantilly Cream

I know it’s not what Easter is actually about, but for lots of people it is a festival of Chocolate gluttony. Therefore it seems a good time to break out the best hot chocolate I’ve ever come across.

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Hot Chocolate
Serves 2
150g Ganache
(60g dark chocolate)
(20g milk chocolate)
(100ml whipping/double cream)
250ml whole milk (blue top)

Chantilly Cream
1/2 orange zest
1.5 tbsp caster sugar
125ml whipping cream

1. First of all you start the ganache. That word might sound too fancy and put you off, but don’t let it. It is cream and melted chocolate. That is it. Put the dark and milk chocolate pieces into a bowl. Put the cream into a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Pour it over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted and is nice and smooth. Done. Impress your friends by boasting you’ve made a ganache when all you really did was melt some chocolate with hot cream.

2. Grate the orange into a large bowl. Add the sugar and cream. Whip until it makes soft peaks.

3. Put the ganache you have been telling all your friends about into a heatproof bowl. Put the milk into a saucepan (use the same pan from earlier to save on washing up if you want) and bring to the boil. Pour into the ganache and whisk until smooth. Be quick so that it doesn’t cool too much otherwise your hot chocolate won’t be very hot.

4. Pour into some snazzy-looking glasses, a bit like the one I used below, then spoon on the Chantilly cream. Be a little posher and add a few more bits of orange zest on top or just devour it. Up to you.

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As Kelly and I made this we thought that it was a huge fuss compared to a few spoonfuls of Cadbury’s instant, hot milk and some squirty cream, but once you taste it you realise that that is like comparing a Michellin-starred dinner to a Happy Meal. They both serve the same function, but they are in totally different leagues. It doesn’t take that long and is well worth the small amount of effort. Once you make it I assure you you’ll make it again and again.

This recipe was taken and altered from the Gü Chocolate Cookbook

Down With Boring Ice Cream. Long Live Berry Meringue Semifreddo!

Ice cream is great, right? Right. What is your favourite flavour? You probably answered automatically, without blinking, but I’ll bet it was one of the top ice cream flavours everyone always says is the best.

I’ve got news for you. Ice cream is boring. You can argue with me all you want, but the flavour most people opt for is vanilla. That’s the culinary equivalent of beige paint. Yawn.

This is where the semifreddo comes in. Semifreddo means ‘semi frozen’ and it goes down very well with Italians, and they know frozen desserts. It is a fruity, creamy, crunchy, frozen bit of awesomeness.

Easy and cheap to make. Fun to eat. Like boring ice cream, but a little different… and not boring.

Berry Semifreddo Recipe

Ingredients
400g frozen berries
125g icing sugar
3 tbsp fruit liqueur
1 lemon, seated and juiced
4 large eggs whites
600ml double cream
50g meringue nests, crumbled

1: First line a freezerproof serving dish with greaseproof paper. Or one that isn’t freezerproof. Depends how many bits of dish you want in your dessert.

2: Add the fruit to a saucepan with 50g of the icing sugar, the fruit liqueur and the lemon juice. Heat gently until the berries start to get a little mushy and the surrounding liquid is syrupy. This should take about five minutes.

3: Lift out half the berries (with a slotted spoon if you’re fancy enough to have one) and set aside. Whizz the remaining berries and juice to a pulp in a food processor. Leave them both to cool.

4: In a bowl whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. If you’re feeling like a show off, turn the bowl upside down over your head. If it is stiff enough it’ll stay in the bowl. If it isn’t you’ll at least provide everyone with a laugh. Showmanship out the way, add the remaining icing sugar and beat until thick and glossy. In a separate bowl whip the cream until it holds its shape.

5: Gently fold the egg whites and lemon zest into the cream then fold in most of the crumbled meringue. I’ll tell you not to pinch a little bit here and there but what’s the point? You know and I know that you’ll ignore me.

6: Drizzle in most of the puréed fruit and all the whole fruit. Gently fold until marbled, which is a posh way of saying “all swirly”. Empty into serving dish and drizzle over the remaining puréed fruit and meringue. Freeze for at least 8 hours. Try not to poke half way through.

7: 20 minutes before you want to eat it remove it from the freezer, let it soften for those 20 minutes before serving in dollops. Or straight into your mouth. Depends if you have company or not.

It melts better than ice cream. Tastes better than ice cream. Looks better than ice cream. Is easier to make than ice cream. Summary: better than ice cream.

Plus, make it for when people come round and you’ll look like a kitchen wizard when all you did was make ice cream fun again.

Jamie Oliver Griddle Waffles

Technically this wasn’t trying a new thing, but it almost felt like it as it had been about a year since I last made them – and in that year a lot has changed.

We had cancelled some plans, so had a lot more time for breakfast than we had scheduled for. And Amelia was asleep, so I suggested making Jamie Oliver’s Griddle Waffles as a nice, snowy breakfast treat. I was met with a sarcastic “oh if I must” so I set to it.

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First of all, the ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml milk
  • 100g butter (unsalted if possible)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  1. So I started by cracking in the eggs, whisking them along with the milk. Add the salt and the baking powder (slightly less than Mr Oliver suggests otherwise you’ll feel it on your teeth).
  2. Sieve in the flour to make it nice and smooth and lump free. Whisk it up. Whack the butter – I used unsalted at room temperature – in the microwave until just before it explodes all over the inside of it. Then put a third in. Whisk. Another third. Whisk. Final third. You can guess what is the next step… Yup. Whisk.
  3. Rest for 30 mins so the baking powder and flour get to work.
  4. Heat up your griddle pan until it is about to melt. Pour in the batter and make sure it spreads evenly about in your pan. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 8-10 minutes.
  5. Mr Oliver wants you to flip it with a spatula. Don’t. It’ll collapse on you and your hob and probably set your house on fire. Instead slide it onto a plate, then put the pan over the “raw” side and turn the plate and pan upside down. Voila. It’s turned. Cook the other side for another 8 minutes.
  6. When it is done, slide onto a chopping board, drizzle with maple syrup. It looks like this…
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  7. Once it’s all soaked in, cut in half, then cut again into batons. Serve with a ramekin full of more maple syrup so you can dip them.

I had mine with a mug of hot chocolate as it was about 11.30am by then, so it seemed an ok time for a sugar overload. The baking powder and self raising flower make them quite thick, but that allows for more goodness to soak in when you dip.

They’re wonderful, easy and make you look like you know what you’re doing in the kitchen, so they will always be a winner in my book.

Thanks to Recipe Rifle for archiving the recipe as it had disappeared off of the Channel 4 website it was on last year, although I have changed it ever so slightly.