How To Make Flippin’ Good Pancakes This Shrove Tuesday

It’s that time of year again when the nation stocks up on lemon, sugar, syrup and Nutella all in preparation for the tastiest Tuesday of the year – Pancake Day! Get set for the tradition with our guide to the perfect pancakes, whether you like them thin and crispy or thick, fluffy and piled high! The thinner variety are more traditional on this side of the Atlantic whereas in the USA, you can expect a stack of fat pancakes. Whichever you choose, our easy pancake recipes are ideal for anyone, from basic bakers to master chefs. Follow this and we promise your pancakes won’t get stuck to the pan or, worse again, to the ceiling!

Now for a look at how this all began. Feel free to skip right on if you’re eager to get cooking. Pans at the ready!

When is Pancake Day, and Why Pancakes?

Shrove Tuesday lands 47 days before Easter and this year that’s Tuesday 13th February. But what’s up with the pancakes? Well, with 40 days of lent coming up, traditionally it was the day to use up all the good stuff. The last chance to go big and gorge on all your eggs, flour, sugar, butter and milk and anything sweet you had lying around. In some areas of the world it’s known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, and is the same day as Carnival (the last chance to party). With names like that, we think it’s okay to forget those New Year resolutions or diet plans just for one day. It’s a time-honoured tradition, after all. No one will notice – they’ll be too busy stuffing their faces too!

 

English Style Pancakes

Ingredients

256 g flour

8 g sugar roughly (optional but I would recommend)

Pinch of salt

1 egg

2 egg yolks (can replace with one whole egg)

500 ml milk

30 ml vegetable oil

57g butter

Method

  1. Add the flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl and combine. Slip in the egg and egg yolks, followed by the milk and half the vegetable oil. Whisk to mix and remove any lumps.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, or even in the microwave, and pour into the mix. Get whisking again until it’s all nice and smooth. At this point, leave your mixture to rest for about 10 minutes.
  3. Heat your frying pan (ideally 8 inch but bigger is fine) until it’s hot. Add the rest of the vegetable oil and make sure it spreads to coat the pan. When the oil is hot enough, pour out any excess into a bowl or mug. You should be left with a nice coating on the pan that will prevent sticking. Removing the excess is important – you don’t want to flip anything when there’s hot oil involved!
  4. The mix meets the pan. This is the big moment when you’ll know if your mix is up to scratch. You’re aiming to add roughly 30 ml for each pancake. Tilt the pan to ensure an even spread. Cook until the bottom is golden brown (you’ll develop a sense for this by about your fifth).
  5. Now, get ready for the flip (see below for tips) or just use a spatula to turn it over and cook the other side.
  6. Slide the pancake onto a plate. Repeat the process – each one will be better than the last!

 

Tips

– Prepare the mixture in advance and take it straight to the pan.
– Trick your family and friends into helping by letting them cook and flip a pancake each.
– Have all your toppings ready to go before the first lot of batter hits the pan. The pancakes are best eaten right away.

 

On the flip side…

 

American Style Pancakes

135 g plain flour
15 g baking powder
A pinch of salt
16 g caster sugar
130 ml milk
1 large egg
30 g butter

 

Method

  1. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and egg.
  2. Melt the butter and add to the milk and egg. Whisk to combine completely then pour into the flour mixture and whisk some more. The lumps should disappear quite quickly to leave a thick, smooth batter. Leave it to rest for a few minutes.
  3. Heat a pan over a medium heat and add the butter when it’s hot. Wait for the butter to melt and tilt the pan to coat the bottom.
  4. Grab your ladle. Scoop out some batter and add it to the pan. American style pancakes are small, thick and fluffy, so you might be able to fit more than one in if your pan is big enough. Your mixture might seem thick and gloopy but this is exactly what you’re aiming for!
  5. Let the pancake cook until the top starts to bubble. Turn it over with a spatula or flip it (see below for tips). Be careful if you’re flipping more than one at the same time!
  6. Keep going until you’ve used up all your batter. Stack your pancakes on a plate, add syrup and dig in!

 

Top Tips

– Add mashed banana to the milk, egg and butter bowl to make banana pancakes.
– These thick pancakes work really well with ice cream.
– They’re deceptively filling.

 

The Flip 

Method 1

  1. Hold the pan firmly in two hands, one hand if you’re brave enough.
  2. Arch your wrists, so they’re pointing towards the pan and the floor. Keep an eye on the floor, you don’t want the pancake landing here.
  3. Flick your wrist in a fluid gentle motion while slightly raising your arm. Exert enough force to lift the pancake out of the pan.
  4. Watch as gravity does its magic – the pancake soaring through the air, flipping, spinning and, optimally, landing back in the pan and not on the aforementioned floor.

 

Method 2

Don’t think too much, just flip the pancake

 

So there you have it, two great recipes. Now is when the fun really starts – with the toppings!  Keep it simple with lemon and sugar or slather on jam, syrups, chocolate spread, fruit or ice cream. It doesn’t even have to be sweet. Ham, cheese and veggies all work well too. Happy Shrove Tuesday! How will you be cooking yours?

New Year, New Workout Routine

You were working out three times a week with fitness classes, DVDs on your mat at home, eating a healthy diet and generally really motivated. Then… all of a sudden it stopped! Christmas landed and your health and fitness plan went out the window. The kids were off on holidays and bar madly running around for Christmas presents, you had no time for exercise. Maybe you were also munching mince pies and enjoying yourself a little too much? Hey, you deserved a little break.

But now everyone’s back to school and back to work, it’s time to get back to fitness! Yes, we know it’s cold and dark outside but if you haven’t rebooted your workout plan for 2018 yet, it’s time to commit. Just follow my five fitness tips and you will get back into shape faster than you think.

1. Set a Date and Time

Before you groan, it doesn’t have to be a Monday. Why not start back on Tuesday… okay well Wednesday. But whatever day you choose, treat it like an appointment. Would you cancel your nails or hair? No, then don’t cancel getting back into your workout regime. Once you get past those difficult first few early morning/after work sessions, you’ll find it so much easier.

2. Be Prepared

Make fitting in your routine as easy as possible. We all know that any excuse and you will roll over in bed or drive straight home past the gym and miss your session. So, pack your gym bag the night before with your workout gear, or leave it out ready if you are a morning exerciser. Charge your iPod, dust off your Fitbit and make sure you have water and a towel!

3. Start Slow

Ease yourself in and you are more likely to keep at it. There’s no point in going at 110% during your first session then not being able to walk for a week! That’s if you even make it in the first place. The scarier the plan, the more likely you are to skive off.  Start off slow and simple, then as you get back into the routine, you can gradually up your game

4. Set Targets

Without a goal, it’s easy to lose commitment. You’ll feel so much more motivated when you work towards and finally achieve something specific. So ask for a fitness programme, hire a personal trainer or, for a more purse-friendly option, just use a fitness app – there are lots of free ones out there. A simple plan like ‘Couch to 5K’ is straightforward but still a challenge.

5. Enjoy It!

If you pick something you enjoy, you are far more likely to stick to it. There are so many different exercise ideas to choose from, it’s easy to find something that suits you. Mix it up and you also won’t get bored! If you are into mindfulness, try yoga. If you’re always the first on the dancefloor, why not join Zumba. Buddying up with a friend can also make fitness far more fun.

So today was the day: Tuesday at 7.00pm, you have that sports bra and leggings on with workout music at the ready. You don’t have to run far, but it will be a run all the same. It might be the endorphins talking but you already feel fitter (maybe a little slimmer) and generally happier!

What are your tips for staying on track with your fitness routine? Together we can do this!

Meal in a Mug: Breakfast

It’s something you use every day – your favourite mug for a nice cuppa tea. But who knew that you could whip up a whole meal in mug? The recent trend for microwave mug recipes suggest you can and could be a lifesaver for people on the go or those with an aversion to the washing up.

As a hard-core foodie and former chef, I must admit that I was a little sceptical. I’ve seen some crazy mug recipes out there. Mug cake. Pizza in a mug. Lasagne. My head hurts just trying to imagine how you would even go about assembling these dishes. How could you possibly cook lasagne in a cup without the pasta going hard, the meat being severely undercooked and the cheese spilling down the side of the cup in a greasy sludge?

But then I thought about two of my all-time favourite chefs who both use microwaves in professional kitchens. Gordon Ramsay cooks fresh herbs in his microwave, and Marco Pierre White swears that microwaving bacon will revolutionise your kitchen. If it’s good enough for Marco it’s certainly good enough for me, so I have decided to put this idea to the test and see if microwave mug meals really work.

I’m going to dip my toe into the world of microwave cooking and start with breakfast. I’m not quite ready for microwave pizza just yet (and I’m not sure I ever will be) so I have chosen one of favourite breakfast dishes – French toast! In this cold weather, we all want something hot for brekkie with minimum time spent in a chilly kitchen.

I will be testing out my gastronomic experiment in the Zazzle canteen – a place where Zazzlers come to eat, relax and play video games!

The mug:

A new recipe calls for a new mug and I treated myself to the cutest new Zazzle mug just for this occasion. I wanted something unique and funny that I could also use for my morning coffee. I opted for a bright, colourful mug, personalised with an adorable breakfast themed design. At least if my meal in minutes becomes a culinary disaster I’ll have an adorable new coffee cup to cheer me up! Zazzle mugs are sturdy and microwave safe so there’s no fear of any mishaps in the microwave but steer clear of fine bone china or anything delicate when testing this recipe.

The recipe:

Ingredients:

1 slice white bread

½ tbsp. of butter

4 tbsp. milk

1 large egg

1 ½ tbsp. of maple syrup

1 tbsp. chocolate chips

1 tsp. cinnamon

French Toast ina Mug Ingredients

Method:

  1. Whisk the egg, maple syrup and cinnamon together in a mug until combined
  2. Butter the bread and cut it into bite sized cubes
  3. Add the bread to the mug, sprinkle with chocolate chips and give it a good stir
  4. Microwave for 2 minutes in 30 second intervals

The verdict:

I was blown away by how tasty my two minute meal was. It was rich, buttery and delicious and it tasted like a warm hug in a mug. The only thing that this recipe lacked was a bit of crunch. The chocolate chips added a great texture but I missed the golden caramelization achieved by pan frying. The next time I make this I’m going to sprinkle some granulated sugar on top for an extra crunch. I was concerned that it would look a mess but surprisingly it looked just as appealing as it tasted.  The smell was invigorating and the inviting odour of sweet maple syrup floated through the  entire downstairs office. It wasn’t long before hungry colleagues emerged offering to taste test my new culinary delight!

French Toast in a Mug

French Toast in a Mug

Spooktacular Halloween Recipes To Try This October

Not only does Halloween give us an excuse to pull on a silly costume, it is also the perfect opportunity to get creative in the kitchen! When else is it acceptable to use copious amounts of food colouring or not worry if it all looks a bit unappetising. That’s all part of the fun of trying some Halloween recipes. Whether it is the annual trick or treat around the neighbourhood, or a chic but scary soiree, your guests will want to be fed. So here are some terrifying but tasty treats to try this Halloween!

Chocolate Dipped Clementines

First up, a healthy alternative to traditional Halloween trick or treat candy. This easy Halloween recipe will have the kids coming back for more. To make it even more fun, you can swap the dark chocolate for a full white chocolate covering to make some spooky ghosts!

Homemade Halloween Sweets - chocolate dipped clementines | UK Zazzle Blog

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 medium clementines
  • 100 g dark chocolate bar (60-70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • Sea salt (optional)

Method:

  1. Peel your clementines, break them into segments and set aside in a bowl.
  2. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  3. Place your chocolate into a microwavable bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, then microwave for another 30 seconds.
  4. Dip your segments one by one into the melted chocolate, then transfer to the baking tray.
  5. Before the chocolate sets, sprinkle with sea salt if desired.
  6. Place your baking tray into the fridge for 10 minutes until the chocolate sets, then enjoy!

Serving Suggestion:

Pop your chocolate orange treats into some cute personalised Halloween favour bags to hand out to guests or trick or treaters.

Cute Bat Treats for Halloween Family Name Favour Bags
Cute Bat Halloween Family Name Favour Bags
by hhhalloween

Spooky Spider Devilled Eggs

This nutritious Halloween recipe could be served as canapes at a Halloween drinks party or equally as an after school scary snack.

Homemade Halloween Snacks - Devilled Eggs | Zazzle UK Blog

Ingredients:

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, halved
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ½ tsp ground mustard
  • 12 black olives
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Cut the eggs in half lengthways and transfer yokes to a separate bowl.
  2. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper to the yokes and mash to form a paste.
  3. Transfer the paste back into the egg halves, just slightly overfilling the hole.
  4. Cut the whole olives in half. Place one half, centre down, on one devilled egg half.
  5. Finely cut the other olive half to create spider legs, then arrange.

Serving Suggestion:

Serve your spider eggs on a spider’s web with these fun paper plates.

 Rice Krispy Brains

This cheap, easy recipe is perfect to make with kids. The spooky brains can be handed out to trick or treaters, or even make a statement at a Halloween school bake sale.

Homemade Halloween Recipes - Rice Crispie Brains - Zazzle UK Blog

Ingredients:

  • 45 g butter
  • 350 g mini marshmallows
  • Red food colouring
  • 180 g Rice Krispies cereal
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Red gel icing

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in a microwave for 30 seconds
  2. Add the marshmallows and heat until melted, stirring frequently.
  3. Add red food colouring to the mixture until you achieve the desired brain colour.
  4. Add the mixture to the cereal in a large mixing bowl, then mix until the cereal is evenly coated.
  5. Immediately spray your hands with non-stick cooking spray and scoop out balls of mixture to form brain shapes.
  6. Place your brains on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.
  7. Let them cool completley, then drizzle with red gel icing for a frightful finish and store in an air-tight container.

Serving Suggestion:

If you are selling these treats at a Halloween bake sale, why not hand them out on custom Halloween napkins? Zazzle paper napkins can be created from scratch with the name of a charity, or you can choose a cute design like this one.

Boo! | Halloween Napkins Disposable Serviette
Boo! Halloween Napkins
by FINEandDANDY

Brownie Bat Truffles

These terrifying truffles are a little trickier than the previous recipes, however they are an undoubtedly a cool addition to any Halloween party snack table.

Halloween Recipes - Brownie Bats | Zazzle UK Blog

Ingredients:

Makes 12-14 pieces

  • 34 cm x 20 cm tray of chocolate brownies, baked and cooled
  • 120 g chocolate buttercream icing
  • 7 Oreo cookies, halved and stuffing removed
  • 300 g milk chocolate
  • Red M&Ms

Method:

  1. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, roughly crumble the brownies by hand.
  3. Mix in the chocolate icing and gently knead mixture until evenly moistened.
  4. Divide into 1-tablespoon portions and roll into small balls.
  5. Insert two halved Oreo cookies on either side to create wings.
  6. Place brownie balls on the prepared baking tray and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  7. Remove balls from the fridge and let come to room temperature for around 15 minutes.
  8. Heat chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in 10-second bursts until melted. Dip bat brownie truffles in chocolate.
  9. Create eyes using your red M&Ms, and enjoy!

Serving Suggestion:

Give your Halloween party a comic-book theme and serve these bats on a retro Batman plate. They will look super cool against the electric blue background.

Halloween Jelly Cups

This easy recipe puts a funny twist on the traditional adult jelly shot, or can be served without alcohol as a colourful
kids’ treat.

Ingredients:

  • 3 packs of jelly in different colours and flavours.
  • Malibu rum (for the adults only!)
  • Jelly snakes
  • Paper cups

Method:

  1. Select your first jelly colour, and make the jelly in a jug, following the packet instructions. Add a spash of rum if desired.
  2. When the jelly mixture is completely liquid, fill a third of each party cup, then place in the fridge to set.
  3. When the cups are set, repeat steps one and two, layering the next colour of jelly over the previous colour.
  4. Repeat step three with last flavour if desired, decorate your cups with a gummy worm, and enjoy!

Serving Suggestion:

If serving these at an adults’ drinks party, have a laugh with these funny Halloween paper cups.

I'm Just Here for the Boos - Funny Halloween Party Paper Cup
Funny Halloween Party Paper Cup
by MyRazzleDazzle

 

Monster Hot Chocolate

This weird-looking but warming drink is perfect after a chilly night of trick or treat fun!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pints semi-skimmed milk (substitute with almond milk for a healthy twist)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 225 g white chocolate chips
  • 2 drops of green food colouring
  • Whipped cream
  • Green sprinkles

Method:

  1. Dip the rim of your cups in water, then in green sprinkles.
  2. In a saucepan, stir together the milk, vanilla, food colouring and white chocolate.
  3. Heat the mixture, stirring often, until the chocolate is melted.
  4. Serve immediately and top with your whipped cream and more green sprinkles.

Serving Suggestion:

This delicious drink is perfect for a scary kid’s sleepover. Why not delight the kids even more by serving the hot chocolate in these fun Halloween monster mugs!

Cute Green Monster Mug
Cute Green Monster Mug
by jasminesphotography

So there you have it, our selection of dishes to die for this Halloween. Which one will you dare to try first?

7 Ways To Display Your Summer Holiday Photos

Oh Summer – you wonderful, glorious thing! In one swift forecast, you turned our ‘no plans’ weekends into a haze of spontaneous BBQs and trips to the seaside. And for many of us, you brought around the main event, the pinnacle of our diary entries… our much anticipated summer holidays!

Whether you’re a beach-hopper, adventure junkie or the epitome of a traditional British seasider, we all have one thing
in common – taking FAR too many holiday photos. And now that summer is long gone, how best to cherish those sundrenched memories?

After a dreamy trip to Lisbon last month, I was determined to hold onto to that breezy vacation vibe for just a little bit longer. Flip flops around the house? An absolute must… until you lose all feeling in your toes, somewhere around mid-November. But bringing holiday snaps into your day-to-day life is easier than you might think!

Here are seven suggestions on how to make the most of your holiday pictures.

1. Photos are great at triggering memories, but so are the little trinkets you pick up along the journey. Create a memory jar by printing out your favourite photo from the holiday and display it in a pretty jar or glass bowl, together with any tickets, shells or small mementos you brought back from your trip.

2. If like me, you always forget to send postcards whilst you are actually on holiday, never fear! Make your own postcards by uploading that award worthy ‘holiday sunset’ shot to our design tool and send a personalised postcard straight to grandma or your besties.My holiday Photo Postcard

3. Why not turn leftover foreign coins into magnets and use them to display a few pictures on your fridge? Grab a pack of round magnets and some glue from your local craft store, clean your coins and stick the magnet to the coin with a small amount of glue. Hey presto!

4. You can never have too many key rings! Create a gorgeous custom key ring and carry your favourite holiday snaps with you at all times.Small (3.7 cm) Premium Round Key Ring

5. Make DIY photo bunting with some wooden pegs and a piece of twine. You can swap your photos around and replace whenever you fancy a change.

6. Is your phone forever by your side? Upload your best snap onto a custom phone case or create a photo collage of your holiday to show off to the world!

Holiday Photo Case

7. I love making a custom photo calendar from my holiday pics, as they allow for a whole years’ worth of reminiscing (long enough to last until your next trip away!) Save your most cherished pictures for the colder months; they will help you to daydream about summer whilst you are wrapped up inside. If you don’t have 12 pics, choose one standout snap and upload it to a piece of wall art. 

Personalised Photo Calendar from Zazzle

So that’s what I’ll be making to remind myself of my recent trip, but there are hundreds of other products on Zazzle that you can customise with your own snaps. Upload your pics to everything from gift wrap to the bath mat!