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Christmas Cupcakes

Christmas CupcakesSome festive cupcakes for you to try. Not much time to write anything else - I've got too much to do! I thought I was really organised...!


350g plain flour
85g golden caster sugar
85g light muscovado sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
zest 2 small oranges
2 eggs
284ml carton soured cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g butter , melted

Step 1: Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/ gas 6. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
Step 2: Mix the flour, sugars, baking powder and zest.
Step 3: In another bowl, beat the eggs, then stir in the cream, vanilla and butter and pour into the dry ingredients. Stir to mix but don't overbeat. Spoon into cases.
Step 4: Bake for 25 minutes
Step 5: Cool and decorate with butter icing and festive sprinkles
Beth Sachs
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Curried Mince and Peas

Curried Mince and Peas
Cheap, easy and with only a handful of ingredients this is the perfect midweek meal to satisfy the whole family. If you like it a bit hotter try making it with Madras curry paste rather than the Tikka paste specified in the recipe.

Pin the recipe for later...
Curried Mince and Peas
Curried Mince and Peas


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Curried Mince and Peas
A quick and easy curried mince and peas recipe.
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 4 TBSP Tikka Curry Paste
  • 750g Minced Beef
  • 200ml Beef Stock
  • 400g tin Chopped Tomatoes
  • 100g Frozen Peas
Step 1: Heat 1 TBSP oil in a pan and fry the onion for 5 minutes.Step 2: Add the minced beef and fry for another 5 minutes.Step 3: Stir in the tikka paste then pour in the tomatoes and stock. Simmer for 15 minutes.Step 4: Add the frozen peas and cook for 5 minutes before serving.

Prep time: Cook time: Total time:
Yield: 4

Beth Sachs
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Chocolate Yule Log

Chocolate Yule Log
This 'Nigella' inspired Yule Log has gone straight in the freezer ready to be pulled out on Christmas Eve, sprinkled with some icing sugar, and maybe, just maybe 2 little robins on top (as my Nan used to do).

I feel like I'm really on top of my Christmas preparations this year. Last Christmas was way toooo hectic - I got married on the 29th December so Christmas went by as a bit of a blur. This year I just want to relax with the family, eat what I want (I had to be a bit careful last year) and be 'merry'(and you all know what that constitutes in my book). Bring it on!!!!!!

For the cake;
6 Eggs separated
150g Caster Sugar
50 g Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

For the Icing:
175g Dark Chocolate
250g Icing Sugar
225g Butter, softened
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Step 1: Preheat oven 180c and line a swiss roll tin with baking parchment (let it overhang the edges)
Step 2: Whisk the egg whites until the form stiff peaks and continue to whisk while you add 50g of the sugar.
Step 3: Whisk together the egg yolks and remaining sugar until it becomes thick, pale and moussy, sieve in cocoa and fold in with vanilla extract.
Step 4: Combine with the egg whites by folding in gently then tip into tin and bake for 20 minutes.
Step 5: To make the icing, melt the chocolate, beat together the butter and sieved icing sugar then combine with the now cooled chocolate and vanilla extract.
Step 6: When the cake comes out of the oven, let it cool for 5 minutes before turing out onto another piece of parchment paper.
Step 7: Spread a thin layer of the icing on top of the cake then roll up to form a roll.
Step 8: Place on a presentation plate and smother the icing over it.
Step 9: At this point you can put it in the freezer or serve sprinkled with icing sugar if you wish.

Beth Sachs
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Nigella's Christmas Spiced Chocolate Cake

Nigella's Christmas Spiced Chocolate Cake
The smell of this cake was amazing, with the orange zest, espresso and cinnamon. Serve with raspberries for a fruity twist.


150g Dark Chocolate
150g Butter
6 Eggs
250g Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
100g Ground almonds
1 tsp Cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves (I didn't have any so didn't add this)
Zest of 1 Orange (Nigella uses a clementine)
4 tsp Instant Espresso powder
Raspberries and chocolate sauce to serve

Step 1: Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature.
Step 2: Preheat oven to 180c. Butter sides and line base of 23cm springform tin.
Step 3: Melt chocolate and butter together in microwave and set aside to cool
Step 4: Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until thick, pale and moussy. They should have doubled in size.
Step 5: Fold in ground almonds, cinnamon, orange zest and espresso powder.
Step 6: Fold in chocolate mixture.
Step 7: Pour into tin and bake for 35-40 minutes
Step 8: Place tin on cooling rack and don't unlock the tin until cooled completely.

You can freeze it for up to 1 month or it will last for 3 days.
Beth Sachs
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Edible Christmas Gifts (5) ~ Cranberry Vodka

Cranberry Vodka

It takes two weeks to make so you need to get started pretty soon to have this ready for Crimbo.

1 litre Vodka
250g Fresh Cranberries
175g Caster Sugar

Method: (makes 2 50cl bottles)
Step 1: Sterilise a suitably large bottle (see picture at top)
Step 2: Prick the cranberries with a fork and place in bottle, add voddy and sugar
Step 3: Leave for two weeks shaking every day
Step 4: Strain and decant into smaller 50cl bottles (sterilised) to give away as presents - I may well have to keep a bottle...for emergencies
Beth Sachs
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Edible Christmas Gifts (4) ~ Gold Dust Christmas Cookies

Courtesy of Nigella, an easy festive cookie for you all to try. I bought my edible gold glitter, which is a necessity in this recipe I think, from Jane Ashers online store. I made these for Lowen's little friends at nursery (I've put them in the freezer for now) but I'm half tempted to make another batch and use them for Christmas tree decorations. They have a lovely delicate flavour and my only alteration to the recipe was the addition of some orange zest, which went great with the ginger.

Ingredients: (makes 30ish)
90g Butter, softened
100g Caster Sugar
1 Large Egg
1tsp ground ginger
Zest of 1 orange
200g Plain Flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
Edible gold glitter

Step 1: Preheat oven to 180c
Step 2: Cream butter and sugar, beat in egg followed by ginger and orange zest. Fold in flour, baking powder and salt and continue mixing until it comes together to form a soft dough.
Step 3: Form 2 discs, wrap in cling film and put in fridge to rest for 20 minutes
Step 4: Flour surface then roll out dough to 5mm thickness
Step 5: Cut shapes out and put onto baking sheet lined with parchment
Step 6: Sprinkle with gold glitter and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on size of cookie.
Beth Sachs
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Mediterranean Pasta Bake

Cheesy Mediterranean Pasta Bake
The great thing about this pasta bake is that there's no need to pre cook the pasta. All you need to do is mix the ingredients together in a bowl, pour into an ovenproof dish, scatter over the cheese and bake for 1 hour in the oven. It's really tasty too!

Mediterranean Pasta Bake


| Serves: 6 | Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: 1 Hour | Total Time: 1 Hour 5 Minutes |


  • 100g Chorizo, sliced
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 500g Penne
  • 150 ml of Double Cream
  • 50g Capers
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 TBSP Basil, chopped
  • 175ml Boiling Water
  • 1/2 TSP Sugar
  • Salt, Pepper and 1 tsp sugar
  • 80g soft goats cheese
  • 75g Parmesan, grated
  • 75g Cheddar, grated


  • Step 1: Preheat the oven 180C (160C Fan).
  • Step 2: Mix all of the ingredients together (except the cheeses) in a large bowl.
  • Step 3: Pour into an oven proof dish, top with the cheeses.
  • Step 4: Bake in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cover with foil after 20 minutes to stop it browning too much on top.

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date:  22nd November 2008 |

Beth Sachs
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Edible Christmas Gifts (3) ~ Apple and Cranberry Chutney

Apple and Cranberry Chutney
This Chutney tastes fantastic, even straight out of the pan! The original recipe comes from Good Food magazine but I halved the recipe as I only wanted to fill 2 x 500g jars.

Great served with cold meats and cheeses or given as a Christmas present. The Chutney will keep for 6 months.

500g Cooking apples, peeled and chopped
250g Eating Apples, peeled and chopped
250 onions, sliced
25g Ginger, chopped
1/2 Tsp red peppercorns
250g Granulated Sugar
125ml Cider Vinegar
250g Cranberries

Step 1: Put all ingredients in a large pan except the cranberries, bring to the boil then simmer uncovered for 50 minutes.
Step 2: Add the cranberries for final 10 minutes of cooking.
Step 3: Fill 2 x 500g Sterilised Jars.
Beth Sachs
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Apple Crumble Bars

Apple Crumble Bars
Apple crumble is probably my favourite dessert (with warm custard in the winter and a dollop of clotted cream in the summer), but I wanted to see if I could transform this popular pud into traybake form, making it easily transportable in lunchboxes and picnic baskets. I'm pleased to report it worked and I ended up with a gorgeously fruity tart apple bar with a sweet and crumbly topping. The quantities I give make a huge tray but it freezes really well too so why not freeze half for another day?
Apple Crumble Bars
If you love apple crumble I promise you'll love these.
Apple Crumble Bars


| Serves: makes 30 bars | Prep Time: 20 Minutes | Cook Time: 55 Minutes | Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes |


  • 560g Plain Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 270g Golden Caster Sugar
  • 60g Light Brown Sugar
  • 330g Butter, diced.
  • 3 Bramley Apples, peeled and diced
  • Juice half a Lemon
  • 1 TSP cinnamon


  • Step 1. Peel and dice up the apples into small cubes. Squirt with the lemon juice and set aside in a bowl.
  • Step 2. Combine the flour, salt and sugars in a bowl.
  • Step 3. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until you get a breadcrumb like consistency.
  • Step 4. Take 1 cup of the crumb mixture and mix it with the apples. Add the cinnamon and set aside.
  • Step 5. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan and grease and flour a 9inch×13inch baking pan. Take 1/2 of your remaining crumb mixture and press it into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Step 6. Remove the crust from the oven, pour in the apple mixture and top with last of the crumbs. Put it back in the oven for another 45 minutes. When it’s done, the top should be a beautiful golden brown. Cool by putting the pan on a wire rack so air can circulate around it. Cut into bars after they've completely cooled.

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 13th November 2008 |

Beth Sachs
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Chicken Tikka Masala

Another quick one I'm afraid. We are preparing to say to goodbye to hubby's sister and family this weekend as they leave for New Zealand.

I made this last night for dinner and it was a complete hit, very tasty, with minimal effort. Great when time is short.


Ingredients: serves 4
2 Onions, sliced
Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 Red Chilli's, sliced
3 Chicken breasts, chopped
1/2 280g jar of tikka paste
1 can coconut milk
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Salt and Pepper

Step 1: Fry onion, ginger and chilli's for 10 minutes until soft
Step 2: Turn up heat and add chicken and tikka paste, then add coconut milk and tomatoes and season generously. Bring to the boil then simmer with lid on for 20 minutes
Step 4: Serve with rice

A little picture of Lowen in her new winter hat!!

Beth Sachs
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Apple and Sultana Traybake

Apple Traybake
This is a beautifully moist traybake that used up my remaining Bramley's.


225g Butter, Softened
280g Caster Sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 TSP Vanilla Extract
350g Self Raising Flour
2 TSP Baking Powder
Handful of Sultana's
1 large Bramley, peeled and sliced thinly

Step 1: Preheat oven to 180c
Step 2: Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the eggs and vanilla and fold in the flour and baking powder until smooth. Add the sultana's and pour half the mixture into a lined baking tin.
Step 3: Scatter the sliced apple on top and then cover with the remaining batter.
Step 4: Bake for about 50 minutes or until golden.
Beth Sachs
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Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies

Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies
These were utterly delicious and I've frozen a second batch to use next weekend (catering for relatives during the wedding weekend).

125g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g butter, softened
150g crunchy peanut butter
175g soft light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g white chocolate, chopped
20 x 20cm (8 x 8in) square cake tin

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 170oC (325oF), Gas mark 3. Butter the sides of the cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.
Step 2: Sift the flour and baking powder into a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and peanut butter together until very soft. Add the sugar, egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the flour, baking powder and the chopped chocolate and mix to form a dough.
Step 3: Place the dough in the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and almost firm in the centre. Allow to cool in the tin, before removing and cutting into squares.

Beth Sachs
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Pork, Spinach and Mushroom Lasagne

Pork, Spinach and Mushroom Lasagne
There are three sauces in this, a pork ragu, a spinach bechamel and a creamy mushroom, so I'll be honest and say it was a bit of a faff (my Nana loved that word) to make and put together - but well worth it when it came to tasting! It's beautifully rich and creamy and fantastic with a slice of garlic bread.
Pork, Spinach and Mushroom Lasagne


  • The lasagne can be frozen so why not make two and freeze one for later.
  • Some halved cherry tomatoes on top would be a nice addition.
  • Serve with a crispy green salad and garlic bread.



Lasagne, Pasta
Yield: 6Pin it

Pork, Mushroom and Spinach Lasagne

prep time: 40 MINScook time: 30 MINStotal time: 70 mins
A yummy lasagne made with three sauces - a pork ragu, cheesy spinach bechamel and creamy mushroom.


  • 375g Lasagne Sheets
  • 50g Parmesan
  • For the Ragu:
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 6 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 900g Minced Pork
  • 2 Sage Leaves, chopped
  • Pinch of Nutmeg
  • 2 x 400g Tins of Chopped Tomatoes
  • For the Mushroom Sauce:
  • 110g Butter
  • 600g Mushroom, sliced
  • 200ml Double Cream
  • 10 Spring Onions, chopped
  • For the Spinach Sauce
  • 50g Butter
  • 50g Plain Flour
  • 600ml Milk
  • 200g Cheddar, grated
  • 3 TSP English Mustard Powder
  • 200g Spinach, chopped


  1. Prepare the Ragu by frying the onion and garlic in a little oil for 5 minutes until soft. Turn the heat up and brown the pork mince before adding the other ragu ingredients. Simmer on low while you make the next sauce.
  2. Make the mushroom sauce by melting the butter in a frying pan and frying the mushrooms until soft and cooked through. Add the double cream and chopped spring onions and simmer on a very low heat while you make the last sauce.
  3. To make the spinach sauce melt the butter in a pan then stir in the flour. Cook for a few minutes before whisking in the milk. Whisk until the sauce thicken then take off the heat and add the cheese, mustard and spinach.
  4. Assemble the lasagne. Butter a large lasagne dish then ladle some spinach sauce to cover the bottom. Lay over the lasagne sheets then spoon over a third of the ragu and then a third of the mushroom sauce and then some more bechamel before the next layer of lasagne sheets. Continue until all the sauce are used (apart from enough spinach bechamel to cover the top). Sprinkle with parmesan and place in the oven for 30 mins (180°c (160°fan)

Beth Sachs
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Lemon Iced Cupcakes

Lemon Iced Cupcakes
These yummy Lemon Iced Cupcakes are great for bake sales and parties and super easy to make.


  • Decorate with sprinkles for party ready cupcakes.
  • If you don't like buttercream icing, why not make a drizzle topping by mixing a couple of tablespoons of sugar with the juice of 1 lemon and spoon over the cupcakes as soon as they come out of the oven.



Baking, Cupcakes
Yield: 8 cupcakesPin it

Lemon Iced Cupcakes

prep time: 10 MINScook time: 10 MINStotal time: 20 mins
A Lemon Iced Cupcake recipe


  • 125g Butter
  • 125g Caster Sugar
  • 1 TSP Lemon Zest
  • 2 Beaten Eggs
  • 1/4 TSP Baking Powder
  • 150g Plain Flour
  • For the icing:
  • 150g Icing Sugar
  • 75g Butter, softened
  • 1 TSP Lemon Zest
  • 2 TSP Lemon Juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c (160° fan). Line a bun tin with 8 cupcake cases.
  2. Cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest.
  3. Beat in the eggs then fold in the flour and baking powder. Spoon the mixture into the cases and bake for minutes.
  4. While the cupcakes are cooling make the icing. Use an electric hand whisk to cream the icing sugar and butter together then add the lemon zest and juice to form a soft icing consistency.
  5. Pipe the icing onto the cooled cupcakes.

Beth Sachs
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Christmas Mincemeat (Vegetarian)


This recipe makes enough mincemeat to fill approx 50 mince pies. If you would prefer to use suet just omit the melted butter from the recipe.


To make 2 Ib of Vegetarian mincemeat you will need:

450g (1 Ib) mixed dried fruit
100g (4oz) melted butter
100g (4oz) cooking apples or apple of choice - peeled and grated (weight when prepared)
100g (4oz) light brown sugar
50g -100g (2-4 oz) of chopped nuts of choice - optional
100g (4oz) glace cherries, chopped
100g (4oz) chopped candied peel
1 TSP grated lemon rind
1 TSP grated orange rind
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 TSP mixed spice
1/2 TSP ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons brandy (I used 2 TBSP brandy and 2 TBSP orange juice)

Step 1: Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
Step 2: Leave for 24 hours and stir occasionally.
Step 3: Sterilise 3 medium sized jam jars (wash in soapy water and put on a baking tray in a low oven for 20 minutes), pack in the mincemeat using a clean spoon, seal and store in a cool dry place.

Beth Sachs
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Edible Christmas Gifts (2) ~ Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla Sugar

Im going to include this in a chocolate themed hamper for a friend who has a serious addiction to all things sweet - apparently this is very good stirred into hot chocolate!!

What you will need:
1 500ml Sealable Jar (I got mine from Lakeland) - sterilised.
500g Caster Sugar
1 Vanilla Pod, slit down the middle and cut into 3 bits, put in with the sugar and then decant to jar.
Beth Sachs
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Edible Christmas Gifts (1) ~ Christmas Spiced Salt

The salt will keep for a year and is good sprinkled on roast beef.

250g Course Sea Salt (I used Cornish Sea Salt)
2 tsp Red Peppercorns
4 Star Anise
2 tsp Dried Chili Flakes

Step 1: Sterilise a 500ml jar
Step 2: Mix all ingredients together and place in cooled jar, seal and store in a cool, dry place until Christmas.
Beth Sachs
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Mars Bar Slices

Mars Bar Slices
Lowen had a couple of Birthday parties this weekend so I whipped up some of these refrigerator Mars Bar slices to take along. They are super quick to make but taste amazing. Well worth a go for kiddies parties...and the adults love them too.
Mars Bar Slices


Yield: 16 BarsPin it

Mars Bar Slices

prep time: 15 MINScook time: total time: 15 mins
A no bake Mars Bar slice recipe made with rice cereal and mars bars


  • 4 standard size Mars Bars, chopped
  • 2 TBSP Syrup
  • 150g Butter
  • 6 cups of Rice Krispies
  • 300g Dark Chocolate, chopped


  1. Line a swiss roll tin with baking paper.
  2. In a pan melt the mars bars, syrup and butter together then stir through the rice krispies. Make sure the mixture is quite stiff - you might want to add some more rice krispies.
  3. Press the mixture into the tin and pop into the fridge while you make the topping.
  4. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave then spread onto the mars bar slices. Chill before cutting into slices.


Mars Bar Slices

Beth Sachs
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Vanilla Apple Cake

Vanilla Apple Cake
We had out Village Harvest Festival last weekend so I decided to make this cake for the bring and share tea. It's lovely and fruity and could even be served warm with some clotted cream as a pudding.


  • If you can't get hold of Bramley apples, then a tart eating apple would work well.
  • The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Just wrap it well in foil and clingfilm.



Cake, Apples
Baking, Cake
Yield: 10 slicesPin it

Vanilla Apple Cake

prep time: 15 MINScook time: 1 hourtotal time: 1 hours and 15 mins
A fruity vanilla apple cake recipe


  • 250g Butter, softened
  • 250g Caster Sugar
  • 4 Eggs, beaten
  • 250g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 TSP Vanilla Extract
  • 3 small Bramley apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 TBSP Demerera Sugar
  • 1/4 TSP Cinnamon 


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c (160°fan) and line and grease a 20cm springform tin.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar then beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. 
  3. Fold in the flour and when the mixture is combined, pour into the prepared tin.
  4. lay the apple slices on top before sprinkling over the demerera sugar and cinnamon.
  5. Bake in the oven for 1 hour.

Beth Sachs
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Blackberry Muffins

These beautiful blackberry muffins are lovely and seasonal and great for packed lunches.


  • Vary the fruits depending what's in season. Raspberries or blueberries would be good.
  • If you can't get hold of buttermilk, make your own by squeezing some fresh lemon juice into 175ml of whole milk.
  • These muffins freeze really well so make a double batch and freeze half.



Yield: 12Pin it

Blackberry Muffins

prep time: 10 MINScook time: 25 MINStotal time: 35 mins
Blackberry muffin recipe


  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 50g Ground Almonds
  • 1 TSP Baking Powder
  • 150g Golden Caster Sugar
  • 125g Butter, melted
  • 175ml Buttermilk
  • 1 Egg
  • 200g Blackberries


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c (160°fan) and line a muffin tin with paper cases.
  2. Place the flour, baking powder and ground almonds in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar.
  3. Combine the wet ingredients in a jug (butter, buttermilk, eggs) then fold carefully into the dry mix. Do not overmix.
  4. Stir in the blackberries before spooning the muffin batter into the muffin cases.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Beth Sachs
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