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  1. We are almost at the end of our second lockdown week due to the Coronavirus pandemic and for a large part of that I’ve not been able to buy any eggs until now, yay!  I’d bought a big bag of apples recently and although I have no idea what variety they are I knew 2 of them would make a great addition to my cupcake recipe.

    I normally use real butter for my cupcakes but today I only had Flora Buttery so I thought I’d give it a try and I’m pleased I did since it made them super light and fluffy.

    With 2 children off school and both of them wanting to bake I found a way of them mixing their ingredients in separate bowls before bringing it together to make sure it was consistent.  Organisation was key and although I have 2 lots of washing up the kids were happy throughout.  My cupcakes are nearly always the same recipe and over the years I’ve added my favourite flavour combinations like lemon and blueberry, and passionfruit curd and coconut.
     
    INGREDIENTS

    110g Flora Buttery or unsalted butter
    110g Self-raising flour
    110g Caster sugar
    2 Medium eggs
    2 Apples
    Sprinkle of cinnamon
    Splash of milk
    Sprinkle of brown sugar if desired
     
     
    Apple Cakes Apr 4
     
    RECIPE

    Pre heat the oven to 180C.  Cream the butter and sugar together until it’s light and fluffy.

    Slowly add the beaten egg bit by bit and alternate with a little flour.  Fold in the rest of the flour and add a little splash of milk.

    Peel and chop the apple into tiny pieces and toss them in a little flour and add a good sprinkling of cinnamon.

    Fold in the apple pieces and divide the mix between 10 - 12 cupcake cases.  Before popping them in the oven I added a sprinkle of brown sugar on top to make them a little more like Dorset Apple Cake.

    Bake for approx 18 minutes.  They should be golden brown and spring back when the top is slightly pushed down.

    The smell when they are baking is mouth watering but when they are ready try and get them on a cooling rack for a few minutes before eating.
     
     
    BeFunky Apple cakes
     
    We had one each after lunch and they are definitely one of the yummiest little cakes we’ve ever made.  The tiny apple pieces meant they cooked well and the sugar on top gave it a bit of a sweet crunch.  I had to say no to everyone’s requests for seconds so that we could enjoy some more after dinner with ice cream.

    And they are one of your 5 a day too, bonus!!!
     
     
    Apple Cakes Apr 6

    Dorsetmums accepts no responsibility for burnt cakes if you get distracted with your children’s many demands or because you have lost track of time flicking through social media.  I also can’t be blamed for weight gain but I will take the credit for happy tummies.
  2. I love my slow cooker, it gets used at least once a week and I’ve never had a bad meal come out of it.  I’m no professional in the kitchen, I have 2 fussy children and whatever I cook has to be simple.  When I first made vegetable soup I sat and stared when the kids lapped their bowls clean and shuted for more!  In the beginning I never thought this was enough of a meal but it’s so filling and I now just cook some mini sausage rolls or nibbles for after if I think they need it.  There really is no exact recipe for the vegetable soup and each time I make it it varies.  Just buy the vegetables you and the family love the most and I’m sure it’ll be a winner.  
     
    Pasta sauce is super simple and cheap to make too and if you have a child like me who begs for pasta pretty much every day then you’ll love having a sauce you can grab out the freezer as and when it’s needed.  I’ll use some on the night it’s made and then use ice cube trays to freeze the rest and it makes loads!  We don’t all want pasta as much as my daughter so I’ll just take 2-3 cubes out the freezer to defrost and warm through when she wants it.  For myself and my husband I normally add chicken and use a chilli and garlic grinder to spice it up a bit before serving.

    SLOW COOKER VEGETABLE SOUP

    2 Big potatoes
    3 Big carrots
    1 Onion
    1 Broccoli
    1/2 Cauliflower
    Bowl of frozen peas
    2 Knorr stock cubes (or your preferred vegetable stock cube)
     
     
    Make up the stock, peel and chop all the veggies and pop it in the pot with a little bit of pepper.  I normally add more boiling water if I don’t feel like there’s enough liquid and then leave it on low for the afternoon.  Just before dinner time I’ll blend it all up and if it’s too thick then I’ll again add a little more boiling water.  I love to serve it with warm rolls or a French stick and then a little grated cheese which the kids like and some crumbled stilton for my husband. 

    There’s normally enough for 4 good sized bowls and the last few portions will go in the freezer for another day.

    Other great veggies to include are leek, sweetcorn, green beans, white cabbage and butternut squash.  
     
    Soup Mar 1
     
    EASY SLOW COOKER PASTA SAUCE

    2 Cans of chopped tomatoes
    1 Pot of fresh cherry tomatoes
    3 Big carrots
    1 Courgette
    1 Onion
    Herbs – Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Parsley and Rosemary. (Or buy chopped tomatoes with herbs and garlic in and omit the additional herbs.)
     
    Pasta sauce Mar 5

    I like to chop all the veggies and cherry tomatoes up nice and small and then put it in the slow cooker with the cans of chopped tomatoes for the afternoon.  That’s it!  Blend it up and you’ll have a huge bowl of sauce which is perfect for smaller freezer portions.  
     
    BeFunky Pasta Sauce 2

    Since making it I’ve used it as a simple sauce with pasta for the kids, spaghetti bolognese with mince, lasagne and even as a pizza base.
     
    Pasta sauce Mar 1
     
    If like me you have a sweet tooth then you might want to have a go at making slow cooker fudge too.  It makes great gifts and the toppings and flavour combinations are endless.  For a simple recipe, please look at our Slow Cooker Christmas Fudge Recipe.