Sunday, 30 March 2014 - , , , , , 0 comments

MOTHER'S DAY : Blueberry, Vanilla & Lavender Cakes with Rose Creme Fraiche

I came up with this pretty little tea time treat especially for Mother's Day.
It's very simple to make, so you can really go to town on the decorations.


These fat-free sponge cakes are fantastic- the way they are baked means that the delicious blueberry filling is incorporated into the cakes.
I've added some vanilla and lavender to give a sweet floral hint...then made a rose-flavoured creme fraiche to serve with them.
It's Springtime on a plate, scattered with edible rose petals.


This works out to an unbelievable 2pp/approx.130kcal per portion-this includes a cake and a portion of creme fraiche.
(Two portions is 5pp/260kcal)


YOU WILL NEED : (Makes 4 servings)

1 medium egg
25g caster sugar
25g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon edible lavender
(I bought mine in the herb/spice section at Waitrose)
100g blueberries


120g reduced fat creme fraiche
2-3 teaspoons rose essence
2-3 teaspoons artificial granular sweetener
Edible dried rose petals
(I bought these in Waitrose too!)
12 fresh raspberries


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4

Choose a muffin tray or one like this that will make 8 individual-sized cakes.
(You need 2 per finished cake).
Cupcake cases will work too if you don't have a tray. Mist with Frylight oil to prevent sticking.

Distribute the blueberries evenly, forming a flat layer on the base of each shape.

Whisk the egg and sugar together. An electric hand whisk is best for this. It will take a few minutes and needs to increase in volume by 3 or 4 times.

You will know when it is ready because the mixture will become pale and frothy. When you lift the whisk out it should leave a light trail.

Sift the flour into the bowl. Add the lavender and vanilla extract.

Fold in the flour very gently using a metal spoon so that you don't knock out all the air you created with the whisk. Make sure the flour is incorporated well.

Distribute the cake mixture equally between each portion. You only need a small amount just to cover the blueberries.

Pop into the preheated oven.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. This will vary according to whether you have used a metal muffin tray, paper cases or a silicone mould so check carefully. The cakes should be golden and firm to touch when cooked. They will be quite flat on top.
Leave to cool slightly in the tray.

While the cakes are cooling, mix the rose essence and sweetener into the creme fraiche. Play around with the flavours until they suit your personal taste.

Once cooled, run a knife around the edge of the cakes and lift out carefully. The blueberries will be very soft underneath.

Pop each one sponge-side down on a wire cooling rack.

Any little remnants of blueberry that get left behind can be scooped out and popped back onto the cakes. 

I just love these vibrant purples and pinks that form! The smell is warm, fruity and vanilla-laden...home baking at its best.


To Serve

If you like my little extra touches, cut some pretty string to decorate the cakes.
(They will hold together beautifully on their own if you don't want to use string).

I have a real thing for vintage plates and teacups too-especially mis-matched ones, where each person has a different collection of patterns and colours.
This kind of theme lends itself well to Mothers Day. I'm very lucky as I've inherited all sorts of vintage china from my great aunt. I really treasure them and use them all the time.

Put one cake fruit-side-up onto your serving plate on top of the string.

Place a second one on top fruit-side-down.
This makes your little mini self-filled cake!

Tie a bow around the cake with the string.

If you're feeling really decadent, you could thread a fresh flower through the bow to finish. If you make these later in the year, you could add a sprig of fresh lavender instead to continue the flavour theme.

Now take some fresh raspberries and place 3  in the base of each of your bowls or teacups.

Divide the rose creme fraiche equally between each portion (30g each). Dollop on top of the raspberries then sprinkle with a few dried rose petals.

Finally scatter a few more rose petals onto the plate.
Serve as a delicious, healthy alternative to a cream tea-so feminine and fun.


A token of love.



If you don't like the floral elements, or find it hard to get hold of the ingredients, just use some lemon zest, poppy seeds, orange essence, lemon curd-whatever appeals to you.


You could put the flavoured creme fraiche inside the cakes between the layers of blueberries, instead of serving on the side.


You could multiply this recipe and make two large cakes to sandwich together.
(You could still tie string around individual slices!)


This would be a lovely Valentines idea too.


Saturday, 29 March 2014 - , , , , 1 comments

SIMPLE START : Sage & Onion Stuffing

I love taking requests for recipes, so when Allan Crowley contacted me through my WeightWatcher leader's Facebook page to ask  if I could come up with a tasty stuffing recipe for a Simple Start or Filling & Healthy day, I was happy to take up the challenge!
This recipe is really simple and very tasty-just what you need to round off a delicious roast dinner-all of which is possible on the plan!



WeightWatchers Brown Danish Bread
(It must be the 1pp per slice variety)
Dried sage & thyme
Black pepper
reduced fat soy sauce
fresh basil leaves
lemon zest

Portion guideline- 6 slices bread, 2 onions, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons dried herbs, zest of one lemon makes 8 stuffing balls or enough for about 4 portions


Toast 4 slices of WeightWatchers Brown Danish Bread.
Allow to cool.

Chop up a couple of onions and fry gently in a little Frylight oil. Season generously with dried sage and thyme and a splash of low salt soy sauce.

Pop a lid on the pan and sweat the onions until soft. This takes around 10 minutes.

Blitz the toast in a food processor to make fine breadcrumbs, then add the cooked onion and blitz again until it forms a paste.

Tip into a bowl and add some chopped basil and the zest of one lemon.

Mix with 2 eggs and breadcrumbs made from 2 more fresh slices of WeightWatchers Brown Danish bread.

Wet your hands to roll the mixture into stuffing balls, or press into a small oven dish using a fork.
Bake at 200C/400F/Gas6 for 20-30 minutes until crisp and golden.

Serve alongside a traditional roast dinner as a delicious accompaniment.



Try adding mushrooms to the onions and fry before blitzing.
Experiment with different herbs and seasonings such as garlic, parsley, orange rind.
You could shape into sausage shapes to make your own vegetarian sausages!


Tuesday, 25 March 2014 - , , , 2 comments

Hot Off The Press NEWS : Tesco Healthy Living Range

Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of
Tesco's Healthy Living Range.

Now here's a company on my wavelength who have really nailed it. They have developed a range of attractive, tasty foods for customers who want to make healthier food choices without compromise-
just like Slice-of-Slim!

Some are ready made meals-great for those time-short moments, but there are also sauces, dips, wraps, dressings, cereal bars etc if you prefer to combine your own ingredients and get inventive.


The range has been split into two categories;

Healthy Living
Big on taste, lower in calories
for people trying to lose weight.

This range even has the propoints calculated for you and clearly shown on the back-FANTASTIC! 

Healthy Living
Beautifully Balanced
for people trying to eat more healthily or maintain their weight.

Both ranges have controlled levels of salt, sugar, fat and saturated fat. What really impressed me is that NONE of the products have the red nutritional traffic-light colour coding on the front of the packaging. So as a consumer, you can see instantly that you are making a wise food choice.


It was great to have the opportunity to chat to the product range developers- the nutritionist, brand developer and brand manager. So much thought has gone into this range and I really felt that they understood their consumers' needs-our cravings, our need for innovation and excitement as well as wanting to eat more healthily.

They even pointed out details to me that I may not have spotted-like the scoops taken out of the sides of the cardboard sleeves on the packaging not only show the food clearly, but are more exaggerated for the lower calorie range (suggesting an hourglass waistline) and slightly less so for the balanced range.
These may not seem important, but these details help us consumers subliminally - reiterating the healthy message and the promise these foods are going to deliver.


So, let me set the scene for you.
The lunch took place at a beautiful old establishment called Kettners in Soho.

We were greeted with a selection of canapés which showcased the Healthy Living Range.
I tried the
Sweet Chilli Chicken Little Gem Cups
and the
King Prawn and Mango Salsa Pots.

I was delighted to see that this had not been put together just for the event- here's how you buy this particular dish.
It's £3 and 3pp/115kcal and would be delightful to serve guests or even grab instead of a sandwich at lunchtime-right up my street!
I really enjoyed the flavours too.
The King Prawn and Mango Salsa was delicious. £2.00 for 2 pots and 2pp/72kcal per portion-fab!


Spicy Lentil and Chickpea dip served with Honey and Linseed Crackers was a refreshing change from humous and carrot sticks!

I also like to do my own thing with ingredients, so was thrilled to see these wraps made up using

Beetroot, Canellini Bean & Mint dip
(£1 per pot and 2pp/83kcal per 1/4pot serving) cleverly combined with feta, bell peppers and rocket-yes! Refreshing, innovative and tasty!


The room was dressed to perfection. The attention to detail reflected the thought that had gone into the product range. The flowers picked up on the packaging colours...

The window sills were bedecked with fresh produce displays- inspiring us to want to eat healthily and sending us the message that everything we were about to consume was going to be good for us and made with fresh ingredients!

Lit candles set into fresh apples lined the tables and greeted us with a refreshing and Spring-like scent...

Then we did a taste test, where we blind-tasted the Healthy Living Range against the same dishes with a higher fat content...

I genuinely preferred the Healthy Living Range in pretty much every dish!


For the main course, we tasted;

Chicken Saag & Rice

Teryaki Chicken with Brown Rice & Ponzu Sauce

Braised Beef & Root Veg Mash

The Chicken Saag and the Teryaki Chicken were my favourites with delicious, authentic flavours.
I would definitely buy them to use at home.

It will take too long to give you the nutritional information on every dish we sampled, so I will review my favourites and post all the information separately for you.

With two vegetarians in my household, I was delighted to see that the vegetarians at our table were well catered for-with an interesting selection of;

Spiced Butternut with Fruity Pilaf & Feta

Bean & Vegetable Chilli with Rice

Sweet Potato & Jerk Rice


For dessert, we sampled 

Chocolate Sundae
Caramel Iced Dessert
both of which were delicious and you can buy as part of the Healthy Living Range.

But in true Slice-of-Slim style, my favourite desserts were the ones that had been innovated by the Tesco chef using various products from the range to show us how versatile and delicious they could be...

So we had;

Healthy Living Inspired;

Strawberry & Raspberry Cheesecake

Made with;
5 seed Fruit & Nut Bars
Extra Light Soft Cheese
Strawberry Yoghurt

Blueberry Creme Brûlée

Made with;
Vanilla Yoghurt
Manuka Honey
Fresh Blueberries

Even though I'm a total chocoholic, my favourite desserts were the Iced Caramel and the last two 'invented' dishes.


We were sent home with a beautiful hamper of selected goodies to try.
I can't wait to go and see the range for myself in store and pick out some more items to try as it's a really comprehensive range with many lines. Obviously the range selection will vary depending on store size and location.

I hope you will see how inspired I am. I can see that I will genuinely buy some of the convenience dishes on those days when I just don't have time to cook from scratch but want to still give my family and myself healthy choices where everything has been worked out for me. 
I will definitely try the cooking sauces, such as Thai Green Curry, but most of all, I'm looking forward to creating my own dishes using products from both ranges as my basis for innovation-so watch this space!


A Tesco Triumph.