Category: Review

The right way to make mashed potato

The right way to make mashed potato

A few weeks ago I tried to make mashed potato. We didn’t have a masher utensil so I decided to give it a go with a fork. It was all lumpy and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get the kids to eat it so I had a bright idea

“I know- I’ll put it in the Nutribullet!” 

Bad idea. Do you know what happens to potato when it’s blended at high speed? Well let’s just say you should be glad I didn’t take a photo of the result. It became like glue. It looked revolting. I still served it up and the girls ate a few spoonfuls but I really don’t know how!

Get the right tools

Masha

I was relaying this story to a PR friend as we discussed how I can bake with my eyes closed but cooking was far from my expertise. She told me I had to give the Masha a try and then she very kindly sent me one to play with.

Now, I’m not a one trick pony sort of a gal. I like my gadgets to be multi functional. They have to be seriously worthwhile if they’re going to take up space in my tiny kitchen and the Masha certainly is. It’s quick to assemble, easy to use, powerful and most of all makes the most delicious mashed potatoes ever. You can use it for all sorts of things like cake mixes, sauces, baby food, whisking up egg whites and batters and it’s just as easy to clean.

So last night we made some mashed potatoes and Darcey helped me to video the masher and show you how it’s childs play to do – note how she mentions the Nutribullet sludge. I don’t think I’ll ever live that one down.

So if you want really fluffy mashed potatoes I can really recommend the Masha

Lovely fluffy mash
Lovely fluffy mash

EmmaMT

Disclaimer: Thanks to the Masha’s PR for sending me this great product. Darcey – the mash monster, says thank you too. All thoughts, opinions and ramblings are my own

Win a whole load of baking goodies from DotComGiftShop

Win a whole load of baking goodies from DotComGiftShop

DOTCOMGIFTSHOP GIVEAWAY

No sooner did I press ‘publish’ on yesterday’s blog post about the cute recipe tin from DotComGiftShop.com than they sent me an email saying

‘Why don’t we do a giveaway with CakesBakesAndCookies?’

to which I said

“Yeeaaahhhhh!”

So here it is. The short and sweet giveaway! You can will all of the Blue tit items shown above.

What can you win?

  1. The recipe tin £9.95 – As I said yesterday – it’s easy to file away and keep recipes safe once you have this baby.
  2. The cookie canister £9.95- which is bigger in real life than it looks in this little pic!
  3. The cake carrier, £29.95- which Tim and I bought for members of our family for Christmas last year and whilst wrapping them up I was asking why on earth I didn’t get myself one? I mean it’s a really great size and it has handles! What’s not to love?
  4. The flour shaker. £5.95 I’ve got two shakers – one for flour and one for icing sugar. Everyone needs some prettiness when they’re doing the shaking don’t you think?
  5. The flour canister- £6.95 so cute! It’s glass so it will last an age. Love the colour of this lid too!

In total that’s over £60 of cake baking goodiness so what are you waiting for. Enter the giveaway now!

How to win this fantastic Dotcomgiftshop bundle

To win this collection of five Blue Tit baking goodies all you have to do is share this post on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or Twitter then leave me a comment below with why you should win before midnight on 29th February 2016. Remember you must share this post on social media AND comment below to be entered.

Good luck and get sharing!

EmmaMT x

CakesBakesAndCookies.com Terms & Conditions

This giveaway will close at 12:00 on 29th February 2016. Leaving a blog post comment is a mandatory entry option. This prize is offered by dotcomgiftshop.com. I am hosting it on behalf of Dotcomgiftshop. Please note, I am not responsible for posting the prize out or providing it. Dotcomgiftshop or its representative will send out the prize, the winner must provide their name, address once contacted. The winner will be selected at random from all correct entries received by the random number generator. The winner will be notified within 3 days of the closing date. The prize is one recipe tin, one cookie canister, one cake carrier, one flour shaker and one flour canister, no cash alternatives are available. This giveaway is open only to residents in mainland UK (excluding Northern Ireland and Scottish Highlands and Islands) and entrants must be over 18.

Thank you to Dotcomgiftshop for providing this giveaway. All thoughts, opinions and ramblings are entirely my own.

5 reasons why I love the Kenwood Chef Sense

5 reasons why I love the Kenwood Chef SenseKenwood Chef Sense

Just before Christmas I was sent an email about the beautiful new Kenwood Chef Sensesand it got me thinking. I’ve never had a KC before and there’s a lot of hype about them and questions about whether you should buy a Chef or a Kitchenaid. I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer so I thought “if I have a play with a Chef I’ll know the difference”  So I got my hands on one at the busiest time of year – Christmas.

The Kenwood Chef PR sent me one of their press samples (one that is used for shoots and testing) and I got to play with it for a month. A month for me usually means around four baking sessions but you’ve guessed it, at Christmas that more than doubles!  I made biscuits fruit cakes, sponge cakes and a lot of royal icing. Here’s why I liked it.

1.The pouring spout

It has a splash guard with a really large opening. Don’t you just hate it when the pouring spout isn’t big enough to get a spoon in let alone a jug where you can pour liquid in? I added eggs, flour and even poured milk into a cake mix while it was mixing just to see if it dribbled out side of the bowl. It didn’t.
Kenwood Chef Sense

2.The Splash guard

It comes with a splash guard that not only fits around the bowl, but under the arm of the machine too, meaning that the whole bowl is enclosed and no icing sugar can escape. Normally I have to cover my mixer with a tea towel and I still get a dusting of icing sugar everywhere. It attaches really easily and can be removed for cleaning easily too.  This photo shows royal icing being made on the fastest speed. See no icing cloud to be seen anywhere! Kenwood Chef Sense

3. The glass bowl

I’ve had my eye on these glass bowls since I first saw them on The Great British Bake Off years ago. There’s something very reassuring about being able to see if you’ve got all the flour incorporated and can basically see what’s going on. I thought – being a relatively clumsy person, that the glass would worry me. That I’d knock the bowl and chip either it or my work surface but I didn’t. It’s heavier than the metal bowl I’m used to but you soon get used to that. There’s two handles which are useful – especially if your hands are wet when you’re handling it and it  also slots into the base really easily.
Kenwood Chef Sense

4. The speed

There’s no getting away from the fact that this is a fast machine. It’s 1100W motor can whizz through the toughest of doughs effortlessly. The dial is really easy to use and the fact that it’s on the front makes it much easier to use than on my Kitchenaid. You can reverse the direction of the beater and pulse it which I really liked. And it is fast. Royal icing took half the time to make. I also really liked the easy on/off button on the front. It lights up which is a nice touch.Kenwood Chef Sense

5. The colours

Okay, without meaning to sound like a five year old girl, the colours that this machine comes in was the main reason I liked the look of it so much. I mean as well as it needing to be a serious piece of kit – especially at £449.99, it needs to look good on your kitchen worktop. Not many of us have the space to hide away our gadgets – and let’s face it,when it looks this good why would you?

The Kenwood Chef Senses range are available on Amazon.co.uk and in major retailers

So, do you have a Kenwood Chef? Do you love it? I’d love to know. Leave a comment below.

EmmaMT

Disclaimer: The Kenwood Chef Senses was loaned to me for four weeks to review on CakesBakesnAndCookies.com – (Thanks Kenwood- I really didn’t want to give it back!) All thoughts and opinions in this post are entirely my own.

Add a little glitz to your cakes with these stunning cake toppers

Add a little glitz to your cakes with these stunning cake toppers

Talking Tables cake Toppers 2

The moment I saw these cake toppers I knew I had to share them with you. I mean how cool are they? The font, the colours, the style! They’ll look great on any cake and what’s more when you’re in a rush a plain and simple cake can instantly become divine!
Talking Tables cake Toppers 5

I received the Talking Tables newsletter about them just last night when I was actually sitting down to write up a post on Rhubarb jam but I just couldn’t wait to share them.

I’ve been shooting for Talking Tables for a few years now so I’m no stranger to their fantastic and top end products (just head on over to their website  and loads of the shots you’ll see there are styled by me – the silver bath is one of my favourites. Actually this is my all time favorite styled shot which is happens to be a TT shot and is bouncing around Pinterest like mad at the mo) But this is the first time I’ve seen these cake toppers and I know that I’ll be putting an order in soon.

Talking Tables Cake Toppers post

Alice, the product developer has a really good eye for detail. I love it that this range has something for everyone whether you’re getting married, baking something special for your partner or just want to add a bit of ‘Sparkle‘ to your day. Talking Tables cake Toppers 3

You can choose the gold ‘Love’ heart and cover the cake in gold! How amazing does this cake look? I’ve been seeing gold cakes everywhere since I went to The Squires Cake Show back in March. Maybe Silver is catching up with the metallics cake trends too!

Talking Tables Toppers 1The toppers are really easy to insert. I’ve used many of Talking Tables’ other cake toppers on shoots in the past – just check out the ponies! These ones can be wiped clean ready for the next big celebration.

TT LEt's party topper

So which is your favorite? I think mine is the ‘Let’s Party’! It has so many uses.

EmmaMT x

Disclaimer: I did not receive any product for this post and these are not my styled shots or cakes so I can’t take the credit. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Talking Tables didn’t even know I was going to write this post so that will be a nice surprise for them won’t it? 

 

Kitchen Gadget Review: The Nutribullet 600 Series

Kitchen Gadget Review: The Nutribullet 600 Series

Nutribullet review

Everyman and his wife seems to have a Nutribullet nowadays. My dad bought us one last October and I have to say that Tim and I are a little bit addicted to it (and those smoothies!) Every morning Tim’s up at the crack of dawn and whizzes up a green smoothie and leaves one in the fridge for me when I get back from my run. I don’t know how the girls don’t wake up with all that blending going on beneath them but they never do!

The Nutribullet: What’s the fuss all about?

Well, in truth the Nutribullet is just another blender but what makes it so much better than all the rest (and I’ve had a Kitchenaid blender!) is that it makes whatever you put in it really smooth. It’s simple to use and can be cleaned in less than a minute. Instant winner in our eyes. The price is also a real bargain. At around £99 it is a serious competition for all the big, expensive names out there.

It’s the simplicity of it that makes it so wantable. The Nutribullet is pretty small- so sits nicely on your kitchen worktop without taking up much space It’s quick and easy to use and therefore simple to add a daily, healthy smoothie to your diet without really impacting on your time; you can literally wash and slice up some fruit, add some water, blend, pour, drink and wash up in under 10 minutes and we can all find 10 minutes in our day to be healthier and that is why I think it’s been so popular.

What’s in the box?

We’ve got the Nutribullet 600 Series but there are other newer Nutribullet models out on the market. Ours has a 600w motor which is very powerful.

  • The power base. This is the base part which sits on your worktop. It’s easy to clean and heavy enough to sit still while your blending. The small size means that you can tuck it into a corner out of sight if you want to.
  • 1 x extraction blade (that’s the smoothie maker bit to me and you!) It’s made from high quality stainless steel that never needs sharpening. It’s pretty easy to clean and can be put in the dishwasher but it takes seconds to wash by hand so get yourself one of those bristle pan cleaners.
  • 1 x milling blade– super grinder. Also made from always sharp stainless steel, You can use this blade to grind up nuts, oats, grains or fresh herbs and even coffee beans.
  • 1 x tall cup. This is the one we use most mornings and it makes plenty for us to share. There is a ‘Max’ line on the side and this is the max for both fruit and/or veg and liquids.
  • 2 x short cups.These are really handy as you can take a smoothie to work or store some for later. I also use these when making the Naked bars – as seen in the recipe below. When storing smoothies for later on in the day remember that all that goodness found in preparing fresh drinks begins to deteriorate after 45 minutes so wherever possible try and drink your smoothie straight away. My thinking is that if I leave it a few hours at least I’m drinking fruit and not Dr Pepper!
  • 1 handled lip ring. Great for when you take your smoothie on the go. Ours hasn’t left the cupboard!
  • 1 regular lip ring. Again- hasn’t left the cupboard! I prefer to drink from glass.
  • 2 stay fresh resealable lids. Invaluable if you want to prepare ahead or store in the fridge. Or if you want to travel with one.
  • 1 x user manual Now when it comes to manuals and guide books I tend to give them a quick once over but this one is probably the best I have ever seen. It’s literally jam packed with information, loads of great recipes and facts and ideas. Tim and I both read it cover to cover as soon as the Nutribullet landed in our kitchen. It explains exactly how to build on basics of a healthy diet. How to make a nutritionally balanced smoothie. There’s even a “program’ (aka a diet) to follow. The recipe ideas include ‘protein powerhouse, the immune booster, toxin cleansing blast and vita berry blast.’ There’s even room at the back for notes and planner so you can record what you ate and when.
  • 1 x Pocket nutritionist. This is another great read especially if you don’t know what the benefits are to each fruit and vegetable. I thought I knew but I learnt a lot reading this. There’s also a guide on how to select the best produce.

5 Great facts about the Nutribullet

  1. You can crush ice in it.
  2. You can turn granulated sugar into caster or even icing sugar with the milling blade
  3. It makes great soups and sauces.
  4. You can blend vegetables and hide them in the kids foods without them noticing.
  5. You can use frozen fruits to make summer shakes all year long.

My favorite smoothie / milkshake recipe

(aka getting your kids to eat their greens)

Although I enjoy the traditional green smoothies, the milkshakes I make with the Nutribullet are a bit more kid friendly. To start with they don’t look too brown or green which in my house is a no-no to getting the kids interested in drinking them. But they just taste like milkshake so no-one really knows that they’re getting 3 of their 5 a day in one delicious hit.

Nutribullet: smoothieIngredients

  • Handful of spinach
  • ½ – 1 mango – make sure it’s ripe
  • 1 banana – the ones with brown spots are sweeter and blend the best
  • Almond milk up to the ‘max’ line. You could also mix this with water.
  1. Place all the ingredients in the Nutribullet starting with the spinach then screw on the lid tightly. Blend for 20-30 seconds until all the spinach is well incorporated and you can’t see any green specs.
  2. Pour into a tall glass add a straw and enjoy!

Naked bars

These are so easy to make and I totally love them. I’m sure they’re super fattening with all the nuts and seeds but they do contain the healthy oils so I’m not counting them! They’re great cut into little bars or small squares so you can pop  them into your mouth when you’re feeling peckish. As they’re so sweet they give you that 4pm sugar hit we all crave without the guilt!

Anything goes with these bars. As long as you stick to a 50/50 ratio. 50% soft dried fruit that will hold together the other 50% of dry nuts and seeds. Just weight them to check.

Nutribullet: naked barsIngredients

  • 45g (⅓ cup) almonds
  • 40g (¼ cup) mixed seeds – I use flax, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin
  • 60g (½ cup) pecans
  • 75g (½ cup) dried or fresh dates
  • 100g((½ cup) dried apricots
  1. Start by milling all the nuts and seeds together using the milling blade and one of the small cups. You may need to stop every 10 seconds to shake up the contents as the moisture in the nuts makes them clump and you want to ensure there aren’t too many large pieces (unless that’s the texture you’re looking for). The end result should be the consistency of ground almonds.
  2. Add the dried fruit to the milled nuts and seeds, screw the milling blade back onto the cup and mill again. This will take 2-3 grinds. Again you may need to shake the cup a little to ensure all the ingredients are combined.
  3. Line a bowl with cling film then press the ingredients into the bottom of it using the back of a spoon. Make the top as smooth and flat as possible. Cover the top with cling film then leave to chill in the fridge.
  4. When ready to eat cut into bar shapes or squares and serve. You can wrap individual ones up for packed lunches or do what I do and just snack straight from the fridge! Yummarge!

 

Tim’s Green smoothie recipe

So, this is what I’m greeted with each morning. An old Nutella glass (complete with those handy white lids) full of goodness. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “You drink that!? It looks like pond water!” And you’re right. It does. The green nature of these smoothies mean that they look less than appetising but you have to trust me when I say they taste delicious.

Nutribullet:  green smoothie

 Ingredients

  • Handful of spinach
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Handful of strawberries
  • ½ apple – cored – the seeds are dangerous to eat
  • ½ pear – stalk removed
  • ½ banana
  1. Place the spinach in the large cup first then add the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Fill with water up to the max line and blend for 30 seconds.
  3. Pour and drink.

Some people who have seen me post my smoothies on Instagram  and twitter have asked how we get them smooth. It’s just a case of getting the balance right. There needs to be plenty of water in a smoothie for it to be really smooth. We keep the fruit/veg contents lower than the max line and make sure there’s enough water to blitz it to pieces. If you want a thicker consistency just add items like banana, mango or avocado.

The Video review

Here’s a short video review I shot with the lovely photographer Oliver Gordon back in February. It shows the Nutribullet in action. Take a look and let me know what you think.

So thanks for stopping by. Do you have a Nutribullet? I’d love to hear what your favorite recipes are. Just share them below in the comments.

EmmaMT

x

Disclaimer: This review is completely my own thoughts and opinions. I was not sent the Nutribullet to test and would like to say a massive thank you to the Poopah for giving this one to us. We love it. 

 

Best for Baking: Silicone piping bag

 Silicone piping bags. Why I’m a new convert to after making these chocolate cupcakes

Silicon piping bag

Silicon piping bag

I must have walked past these silicone piping bags a ton of times. They sell them at Hobbycraft (a regular haunt of mine) and they’re available on Amazon too. I’ve always just used disposable piping bags in the past as I think they’re really easy to handle and just chuck away rather than clean up all that greasy butter cream when you’re done. But I figured at £5 it was worth a try. Good decision.

I had some cupcakes to make for Free Cakes For Kids so I thought that it was the perfect testing opportunity. When I make cupcakes for outside friends and family I measure the cake mix into each cupcake case. I know that sounds a bit OCD but it’s the only way I can get them almost even. I do try to be professional! The way I do this is by measuring each cupcake as I go. When using this piping bag it was a doddle.  The silicone piping bag has a smooth inside so the ingredients can be squirted out easily but it has a lightly textured outside so your sticky/wet hands can still grip it firmly. I have to admit I was surprised how easy it was to handle and control.

Silicon piping bag

When I fill a piping bag with cake mix I place it in a large jug, fold the edges over the top and then fill. If I’m filling a smaller bag I simply use a tall glass. This has been the easiest and cleanest way to fill a bag. Make sure that the bottom is folded up so no mixture can escape while you’re filling and if you need to stop half way through filling or decorating you can just pop it back in the jug or glass. Silicon piping bag

You can see how easy it is to fill cupcake cases using the silicone piping bag below. See? Not a drop out of place! Silicon piping bag

Once the cupcakes were baked and cool I added the buttercream topping. Test number 2. Again I made up the chocolate butter cream and filled the bag. This time I added a piping tip. As it’s a large tip I had to cut quite a bit off the end of the silicone piping bag so I think I would need to buy a second bag if I wanted to use it with some of my smaller royal icing tips but as I don’t use them that often I’ll see how I go.

Silicon piping bag

I was really happy with the end result. I think these are probably some of the most even looking cupcakes I’ve ever made and I put that down to using the silicone piping bag. So marks out of 10? I’d give it 8. Silicon piping bag

The end result was 24 pretty and yummy cupcakes boxed up and ready to deliver.

Super-flex silicone piping bag is available from Amazon.co.uk

Do you have and use a silicone piping bag? What do you think about them compared with disposable ones? I’d love to know.

EmmaMT

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