Kenwood kMix Creaming Beater (AX500) Review

Kenwood kMix Creaming Beater

I’ve owned my Kenwood kMix stand mixer for almost three and half years and I absolutely love it. The kMix standing mixer is a dream to use in the kitchen and I wouldn’t be without it now. I recently read in a magazine about the Kenwood creaming beater and how it would reduce the frustrating need of scraping round the mixing bowl. Thank goodness for silicone spatulas!

After finding an online supplier I ordered the AX500 creaming beater which fits the kMix, although do be careful not to accidentally buy the attachment for the Kenwood Chef instead. Online retailers are selling the AX500 from £19.99 upwards plus postage, so it’s worth shopping around.

Kenwood kMix Creaming Beater

I had high hopes for this new attachment as up until now the I’ve only used the K beater for making cakes, cookies and buttercream. I’m honestly really impressed with the AX500 creaming beater. It has a rubber wiper that skims the inside edge of the bowl ensuring the mixture is well mixed and does most definitely stop the need for scrapping round the bowl. I found that there was only a tiny amount of flour attached to the rubber wiper after my cake batter had been beaten. So that was a huge improvement.

I believe new kMix stand mixers now come with the creaming beater but if like me you have an older model and don’t have one, it is definitely worth the investment.

Until next time.

Julie
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Disclosure: This review has been written because I wanted to share my experience, I bought the AX500 myself. This review has been carried out independently of Kenwood. All opinions are honest and my own.

Grains as Mains by Laura Agar Wilson Cookbook Review and Giveaway

Grains as Mains

I was very excited about reviewing Grains as Mains by Laura Agar Wilson, a cookbook recently published by DK books that focuses on using ancient grains such as spelt, quinoa, buckwheat and farro in modern recipes. The term ancient grains refers to grains and seeds that are virtually the same as those used by the earliest civilisations. Interesting, these ancient grains are tasty and nutritious, plus some are gluten free too.

Grains as Mains contains at a glance information about these grains and seeds, followed by preparation and cooking techniques. There is an amazing selection of delicious looking recipes each incorporating an ancient grain as a substantial component of the dish.

Grains as Mains

For the purposes of this review I decided to test the Italian Tomato Barley Risotto recipe. I really like a risotto and quite often choose one if eating out. However, a traditional risotto recipe does require a certain amount of time and patience to prepare, the recipe I selected appealed because of its simplicity and lack of hovering over the hob.

Grains as Mains

I was extremely impressed with the taste and texture of the barley risotto. I can definitely see me making this recipe again and using it as inspiration for my own recipes in the future. What I particularly liked about this book is that it has really got me thinking about ingredients that I would not normally use. With this in mind, I’m planning on experimenting in the future as well as trying out lots more recipes from this fabulous book.

To be in with a chance of winning a copy of Grains as Mains by Laura Agar Wilson (RRP £16.99) you will need to complete the Rafflecopter entry form and provide an answer to the giveaway question as a blog comment. (Leaving a blog comment is mandatory, so please follow this requirement to ensure your entry is valid). Once, you have done that there are further chances to win.

Click here to enter the giveaway

Grains as Mains

The giveaway will close at 00:00 on 4 May 2015 and is open to UK entrants only.

I wish you all the very best of luck.

Julie
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Terms and Conditions:
This giveaway will close at 00:00 on 4 May 2015. Leaving a blog post comment is a mandatory entry option. This prize is offered by Dorling Kindersley Ltd (DK) and I am hosting it on behalf of them. Please note, I am not responsible for posting the prize out or providing it. DK or their representative will send out the prize within 14 days of the winner providing me with their name and address. The winner will be selected at random from all correct entries received by the Rafflecopter widget. The winner will be notified within 7 days of the closing date. The prize is as stated, a copy of Grains as Mains by Laura Agar Wilson, no cash alternatives are available. This giveaway is open to UK entrants only.

Disclosure:
Dorling Kindersley Ltd (DK) are kindly offering the prize to one lucky reader. I received a copy of Grains as Mains to review. I have not been sponsored or paid to host this giveaway. All opinions are honest and my own.

Stellar Tate Stackable Draining Saucepan Review

Stellar Tate draining saucepan

I was delighted to receive a Stellar Tate 18cm stackable draining saucepan to review recently, knowing full well that I would get plenty of use out of it. Cooking and preparing food is a big part of my life with 3 growing children and a husband to feed. I really enjoy cooking a roast on a Sunday and find that it’s one meal that seems to require lots of saucepans.

The new range of cookware from Stellar includes draining casseroles in 20/22/24cm and draining saucepans in 16/18/20cm. As you can see from the images the sleek lid is what makes the cookware stackable, saving you space in your kitchen. I particularly like the shiny stainless steel exterior which complements the rest of my saucepans perfectly.

The winning design aspect for me has to be the unique draining lid, there’s no need to use a colander as all the cooking water drains away with ease. The inside of the saucepans are marked with measurements, such a clever idea and very useful if making sauces or custard. Plus the Stellar Tate range is suitable for all types of hobs and includes a lifetime guarantee.

In my view the Stellar Tate stackable draining saucepans and casseroles would make a stylish and practical addition to any kitchen.

Until next time.

Julie
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Disclose: I was sent a Stellar Tate 18cm stackable draining saucepan to review. I have not been paid or sponsored for this review. All opinions are honest and my own.

Healthier Carrot Cake (Sugar-Free) and Natvia Review

Healthier Carrot Cake

Is it really possible to make a delicious sugar-free cake? The answer most definitely is YES. I am fully aware of how addictive sugar is and being someone who enjoys cakes, biscuits and chocolate this bothers me a lot. I’m careful as I can be when it comes to feeding my children, I try to make sure they eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Although, I do allow them cake and biscuits in moderation, fizzy drinks are an absolute no no and the drink of choice is water.

So when Natvia contacted me asking me to try out their sugar-free sweetener I was intrigued to say the very least. I’ve never liked the taste of sweeteners so whilst I was researching Natvia it became obvious to me that if the claims that it doesn’t have an unpleasant aftertaste were true, then it was worth trying.

Natvia

Natvia contains no calories and is unlike other sweeteners in that is doesn’t contain any sugar at all. Natvia is a natural sweetener made by combining the best Stevia extract and Erythritol. Natvia can be used in exactly the same quantities as sugar, for example if a recipe asks for 100g of sugar then 100g of Natvia can be substituted.

I decided to bake a carrot cake with the Natvia samples I was sent, not any old ordinary carrot cake but one that was as healthy as I could create without compromising on taste using wholemeal flour and coconut oil. Well, I can honestly say I’m delighted with this deliciously moist carrot cake with its tangy cream cheese frosting. The cake itself is baked well and has a great crumb structure. I really don’t think you can tell that it is sugar-free at all and there is certainly no unpleasant aftertaste.

Healthier Carrot Cake

Healthier Carrot Cake (Sugar-Free)

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

IngredientsHealthier Carrot Cake

Carrot cake

150g Natvia baking pack
150ml coconut oil
3 large eggs
225g plain wholemeal flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
175g grated carrots
75g sultanas

Cream cheese frosting

125g Natvia icing mix
125g full fat soft cheese (I used Philadelphia)
zest of ½ orange
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

Method

1. Pre heat the oven to Fan 160c Fan.

2. Grease and line the bottom of a 23cm (9 inch) round spring form cake tin.

3. Melt the coconut oil by putting it in a bowl in the pre heating oven for a few minutes, then set aside to cool. To make the cake put all the cake ingredients in a bowl and mix well until thoroughly combined.

4. Spoon the cake mixture into the tin and bake for 40 minutes, until springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean.

5. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes then remove from the tin and allow to cool fully on a cooling rack.

6. Make the cream cheese frosting by mixing the remaining ingredients well for a few minutes, then spread on top on the cake. Enjoy!

Healthier Carrot Cake

Healthier Carrot Cake

I was sceptical about trying Natvia but I guess my curiosity got the better of me. If you are looking a sugar free alternative sweetener then it is a good substitute.

Until next time.

Julie
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Disclosure: I was sent free samples of Natvia baking pack and Natvia icing mix. I have not been sponsored or paid for my review. All opinions are honest and my own. The recipe is my own.

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Giveaway: Win The Caravan Trail Teapot and Mug Giftset

Just in time for Mother’s Day I have an absolutely fantastic giveaway prize, that I think any mum would be thrilled to receive. The generous people at The Caravan Trail are kindly providing one lucky reader the chance to win the Fowey teapot and the Riviera mug giftset from their delightful Riviera collection. The Riviera collection features rich tones and colourful prints inspired by the beautiful Cornish Riviera, an area that I love to visit.

The Caravan Trail Riviera Mug Giftset

The Caravan Trail Riviera Mug Giftset

The Caravan Trail Fowey Teapot

The Caravan Trail Fowey Teapot

To be in with a chance of winning The Caravan Trail Fowey teapot and Riviera mug giftset you will need to complete the Rafflecopter entry form and provide an answer to the giveaway question as a blog comment. (Leaving a blog comment is mandatory, so please ensure you follow this requirement to ensure your entry is valid). Once, you have done that there are further chances to win.

Click here to enter the giveaway


The giveaway will close at 00:00 on 9 March 2015 and is open to UK entrants only.

I wish you all the very best of luck.

Julie
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Terms and Conditions:
This giveaway will close at 00:00 on 9 March 2015. Leaving a blog post comment is a mandatory entry option. This prize is offered by The Caravan Trail and I am hosting it on behalf of them. Please note, I am not responsible for posting the prize out or providing it. The winner will be selected at random from all correct entries received by the Rafflecopter widget. The winner will be notified within 7 days of the closing date. The Caravan Trail will send out the prize within 14 days of the winner providing me with their name and address. The prize is as stated, The Caravan Trail Fowey teapot and Riviera mug giftset, no cash alternatives are available. This giveaway is open to UK entrants only.

Disclosure:
The Caravan Trail are kindly offering the prize to one lucky reader. I have not been sponsored or paid to host this giveaway, although The Caravan Trail have offered to send me the mug gift set. All opinions are honest and my own.

Annabelle Jane Cake School Review

Annabelle Jane Cake School Julie's Family Kitchen

I’ve always wanted to develop my cake decorating skills and learn the art of sugarcraft. My girls birthdays are coming up soon so it was the perfect time for me to enrol in a class ahead of making their special birthday cakes. I booked myself on the Introduction to People Modelling class at the Annabelle Jane Cake School in Maidstone, Kent. The course is designed to teach you how to make a cute baby wrapped in a blanket and an adult sat in an armchair using modelling paste.

Annabelle Jane Cake School

I arrived about 15 minutes before the class and was welcomed immediately by Barbara the course tutor. I used that time to have a good look around the amazing shop. I’m hoping my photos do it justice. The shop stocks the most comprehensive range of cake decorating equipment and edible products I’ve ever seen. There is an impressive display of decorated cakes and for those really keen to take their cake decorating more seriously there is a cake club you can join.

I’ve had a go at making cake decorations using ready made fondant icing in the past, some were successful and others not so much. I quickly found out that you need to combine a magic product called CMC or Sugarcel to regular sugarpaste/fondant so that it becomes modelling paste. Now I know this, hopefully my sugar models will retain their shape.

During the class we were given the option to either use a mould or model the faces of our sugar characters ourselves. I decided to have a go at the modelling myself and was pretty pleased that I was able to form a face out of modelling paste.

As the day progressed our models took shape. By far the hardest aspect was painting on the eyes, I could feel myself tensing up because I was concentrating so hard. Painting the features is definitely a skill that requires practice and a lot of patience. Overall, I’m very happy with the models, they aren’t perfect but I had so much fun making them and hope to get better with practice.

I really felt as though I had learnt a lot in one day, I certainly feel more confident about making my own sugar models in the future. If you are looking to learn more about cake decorating and live in the South East of England I highly recommend you check out the Annabelle Jane Cake School.

I want to say a huge thank you to Barbara who was a delightful and knowledgeable tutor, plus thank you to Annabelle who gave me permission to publish the photos of her shop.

Until next time.

Julie
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Disclosure: I paid for the Introduction to People Modelling course myself. I’ve written this review because I wanted to share with my readers my experience. I have not been paid or sponsored in any way for my review by the Annabelle Jane Cake School.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

My Kitchen Cookbooks: Nigella Christmas

Julie's Family Kitchen

I simply couldn’t let December pass by and not feature Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson in ‘My Kitchen Cookbooks’ series. Nigella Christmas is an iconic Christmas recipe book full of enticing and decadent delights. It oozes Christmas charm and is a joy to browse through whilst planning your Christmas feast. I received my copy as a Christmas present quite a few years ago and it’s a book I turn to every year for festive inspiration. It has recently been republished with a stylised front cover but I quite like my retro looking copy.

Nigella has all manner of Christmas meals catered for in this book from informal suppers to the main event featuring roast turkey. There’s a huge variety of side dishes, starters, canapés and cocktails too.

The Spruced Up Vanilla Cake recipe is one I’ve been meaning to try for a long while, in fact I bought the Nordic Ware Holiday Tree bundt tin especially a couple of years ago but just never got round to it. I have to admit the thought of using a bundt tin for the first time was a little scary, I had visions of bits of cake clinging to the side and the resulting cake looking a complete disaster. As you can see from the picture, I shouldn’t have worried. I sprayed the tin inside liberally with cake release spray and the cake came out with no bother at all. The Spruced Up Vanilla Cake really has the WOW factor and is an ideal centre piece for a Christmas party.

Julie's Family Kitchen

I don’t know about you but I actually like brussels sprouts. Inspired by Nigella’s recipe, I now always cook my brussels sprouts with chestnuts and pancetta. I don’t bother with the Marsala wine as Nigella recommends but it’s definitely a great way to liven up sprouts.

My favourite chapter in Nigella Christmas has to be ‘Joy to the world – Christmas baking and sweet treats’, I just wish I had enough time to bake everything. One year I baked two batches of the super chocolatey Christmas Chocolate Biscuits for my girls to take into school for the class Christmas parties. I’ve also baked the very delicious Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies as presents for the class teachers and the school lollypop lady.

I don’t usually make a Christmas pudding as I always make a Christmas cake instead. This year I’m seriously considering making the ‘Chocolate Pudding for Christmas Pudding Haters with Hot Chocolate Sauce’, it looks like a chocolate lovers dream dessert and I think it will please everyone. There’s an amazing chapter on edible gifts, perfect if you like to make and give your own Christmas hampers. Nigella really has got everything covered with a fabulous selection of chutneys, flavoured vodkas and sweet things.

Nigella Christmas is a cookbook I’d definitely recommend and would make a wonderful Christmas gift for the foodie in your life.

Until next time.

Julie
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Seasoned Pioneers Product Review

Julie's Family Kitchen

I was recently sent a package of goodies from Seasoned Pioneers to review. You probably have come across the brand for selling around the world spices in resealable foil pouches (designed to retain the freshness and protect the spices from light). Their range includes over 300 authentic spices, chillies, herbs seasonings, specialist ingredients plus a range of organic products too. I’ve been using their tamarind paste for a long time in a lamb dhansak recipe so I was very confident about the quality.

Seasoned Pioneers sent me their Mulled Wine Spices and their Eight Seed Mix. With the Christmas festivities almost upon us I was keen to try out the Mulled Wine Spices to make up a jug of mulled wine, something I’ve never tried before! Containing a mix of cinnamon, cassia, orange peel, allspice berries and clove buds, the aroma that filled the kitchen whilst the spices were simmering with sugar and water was intoxicating. I then added a bottle of Merlot and heated it through. The mulled wine tasted divine and it’s certainly a drink I’ll be serving at Christmas. The instructions also tell you how to make a non alcoholic version too, perfect for children and those who can’t drink alcohol.

Julie's Family Kitchen

The Eight Seed Mix contains mix of white sesame seeds, brown linseed, black sesame seeds, nigella seeds, chia seeds, blue poppy seeds, white poppy seeds and golden linseed. Described on the packaging as mini seeds, I think the eight seed mix would be ideal to use in baking homemade bread and rolls. Something that I’m planning on experimenting with soon.

Until next time.

Julie
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Disclose: I was sent free samples of Seasoned Pioneers products to review. All opinions are honest and my own.

Giveaway: Win a copy of Charcuterie by Miranda Ballard

Charcuterie by Miranda Ballard

Charcuterie by Miranda Ballard, photography by Steve Painter, published by Ryland Peters & Small rrp: £16.99

I have a fantastic cookbook giveaway on the blog just in time for Christmas. One lucky reader will win a copy of Charcuterie by Miranda Ballard, courtesy of Ryland, Peters and Small. This inspiring book is essential reading if you enjoy eating and cooking with cured meats, like chorizo, pancetta and prosciutto. Providing you with in depth knowledge of the different types of charcuterie and salumi (yes, the spelling is correct!) from Italy, France and Spain you will be transported to sunnier climes.

There’s a number of tasty looking recipes in the Small Bites chapter that I’d like to try over the festive period. If you’re looking for a lighter meal over the Christmas holidays, why not try the Pancetta, Brussels Sprout, Chestnut and Camembert Christmas Salad with Cranberry Sauce, I’m sure that will convert anyone with an aversion to sprouts.

I tried my hand at the Chorizo and Bean Burger recipe, as you can see it’s a mighty burger packed full of punchy flavours and it tasted amazing.

Chorizo and Bean Burger

To be in with a chance of winning a copy of Charcuterie you will need to complete the Rafflecopter entry form and provide an answer to the giveaway question as a blog comment. Once, you have done that there are further chances to win.

Click here to enter the giveaway

The giveaway is open until 00:00 on 18 December 2014 and is open to UK entrants only.

I wish you all the very best of luck.

Julie
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Terms and Conditions:
This giveaway will close at 00:00 on 18 December 2014. This prize is offered by Ryland, Peters and Small and I am hosting it on behalf of them. Please note, I am not responsible for posting the prize out or providing it. The winner will be selected at random from all correct entries received by the Rafflecopter widget. The winner will be notified within 7 days of the closing date. Ryland, Peters and Small or their representative will send out the prize within 14 days of the winner providing me with their name and address. The prize is as stated, a copy of Charcuterie by Miranda Ballard, no cash alternatives are available. This giveaway is open to UK entrants only.

Disclosure:
Ryland, Peters and Small are kindly offering the prize to one lucky reader. I have not been sponsored or paid to host this giveaway, although I have received a copy of Charcuterie to review.

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

My Kitchen Cookbooks: Paul Hollywood’s British Baking


Paul Hollywood's British Baking

It’s probably no real surprise that Paul Hollywood’s British Baking is one of the latest books to adorn my bookshelf. It was a birthday present from my husband and children along with a copy of The Great British Bake Off Christmas. Perfect for a Bake Off fan like me. I even managed to get my copy of British Baking signed by the very man himself at the recent BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show in London.

Paul Hollywood

In his latest offering Paul Hollywood has researched recipes from up and down the British Isles. The book is divided into regions, the Southwest, the South & Southeast, the Midlands, the North, Wales, Ireland and Scotland which all have their own individual baking traditions but there are many similarities too, such as griddle baking and steamed puddings.

I really like the style and layout of this delightful book, each region is introduced with a charming explanation of its baking history and characteristics. All the recipes have clear instructions and are accompanied by a beautifully styled photo. Some of the bakes I’ve never heard of before e.g Ecclefechan Butter Tarts and Kentish Huffkins, so having that all important photo is extremely helpful. Plus, you’ll find there are a few recipes with step by step photos too.

I think my favourite chapter has to be the one on Scotland, the recipes look incredibly enticing. I’m sure I’ll be making the Raspberry Crumble Cake and Treacle Sponge Pudding featured in that chapter very soon. I did find it quite amusing to see a recipe for Cheese and Chive Scones of which I have my very own version here.

I chose to bake the Marmalade Cake first of all. Worryingly, the mixture did appear curdled quite early on so I added a spoonful of flour with the last two eggs (I think the eggs were too cold!). I baked my cake at Fan 160c and after 40 minutes of baking it looked golden brown but wasn’t cooked through. I decided to cover the cake with a layer of foil and placed it back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. Once the cake had cooled and knowing my family are quite keen on icing I made a glacé icing using orange juice to finish it off. I was pretty pleased with this cake regardless of the minor hiccups I had, which didn’t appear to effect the overall bake. The cake had a lovely tangy sour orange flavour from the marmalade and a little sweetness from the orange icing, it’s definitely a cake I’d make again.

Marmalade Cake

Other bakes I’d like to try include the Denby Dale Pie (a tasty looking meat and potato pie), Chocolate Heavies (a chocolate chip biscuit I think my children will love) and the Dorset Apple Cake (perfect with my mid morning cuppa!).

I would love to know if you have tried any of the recipes from Paul Hollywood’s British Baking and how you got on. Please let me know if you have any recommendations of which recipes I should try next.

Until next time.

Julie
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