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Maple Cake

Maple Cake

As a Canadian, I love the flavour of Maple. Maple Syrup used to be really difficult to find when I first moved over here to the UK. I brought a 4 litre tin of it over with me when I moved over.  Brought it right on the air plane. (Try and do that now!) This was pre 9/11 of course.  Thankfully Maple Syrup is readily available now in the UK. It can be a bit on the expensive side, but I have always felt that it is worth it for special things like pancakes and lovely cakes like this one I am sharing today! 

Maple Cake

My late BIL Bruce used to make what he called "Oopsie Cake."  My kids loved it when we would visit him and he had baked an Oopsie Cake.  Oopsie Cake was a Maple Chiffon Cake, that had a 7 Minute Maple Frosting.  Gorgeous it was.  It got the name Oopsie Cake because whenever he had baked one, he would ask them if they wanted a piece, and get them to hold up their plate to have one. He always made sure when he put the cake on their plates that he got some of the sticky icing on their hands and he would say, "Oopsie!"  Hence . . .  Oopsie Cake.  Sadly Bruce is no longer with us and I never did get the recipe.  But we have sweet memories, which is nice.

This is  not Oopsie Cake.  This is not a Chiffon Cake.  Instead it is a Maple flavoured snacking cake with a lovely Maple Sugar Frosting.

Its a dense cake, not light and fluffy . . . a bit stodgy, but in a very delicious way.  I love a moist cake with a dense crumb, don't you? 

My father always loved Maple. His favourite ice cream flavour was Maple Walnut, and, in honor of him, every time I make this cake, I sprinkle toasted walnuts on the top.

It is rich and delicious . . .  beautiful with a cold glass of milk or if you are so inclined a hot drink.

This makes a great after school snack . . .  or for break times, etc. 

I highly recommend it . . . especially if you love the flavour of Maple.

The icing is really lovely also. Its the same  icing that I use on my Spanish Cake (which is another doozie of a cake!)

Its very like a fudge icing.  Make sure you sift the icing sugar when you use it, or you will get lumps.  Its not a problem if you do get lumps as you can put it through a sieve, but it can be a bit of a hassle to have to do that.

If you only bake one cake this weekend, I can't recommend this highly enough.  Its a real winner/winner!

Yield: 16

Maple Cake

prep time: 15 minscook time: 50 minstotal time: 65 mins
A deliciously moist and flavourful snacking cake that the whole family will love!


350g plain flour (2 1/2 cups)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
240g butter, at room temperature (1 cup)
180ml pure maple syrup (3/4 cup)
100g soft light brown sugar (1/2 cup)
2 large free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
8 ounces plain Greek yogurt

For the icing:
For the icing:
60g butter (1/4 cup)
80g of maple sugar (1/2 cup, can use 1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar)
2 TBS milk
130g of icing sugar (1 cup)


Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Butter a 9 inch square pan and line with baking paper. Set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder, soda and salt together. into a bowl.  Set aside.

 the butter, sugar and maple syrup together until light and fluffy. 
Beat in the vanilla paste.  Add the flour mixture alternately with the
yogurt, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Spread into the
prepared pan, evening everything out.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes until risen and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then lift out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Place the butter for the icing in a saucepan and
melt.  Add the maple sugar and heat gently over low heat for 2 minutes,
until the sugar  has melted.  Add the milk.  Bring to the boil, then
remove from the stove and let cool.  Beat in the icing sugar and spread
onto the cooled cake.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Have you been watching the GBBO?  I have been glued. This past week was pudding week.  Those show stopper puddings were fantabulous, with chocolate spheres holding a layer cake inside, with a hot sauce poured over top to melt the chocolate sphere and expose the cake.  I mean, wowsa . . .  what a challenge.  I'm glad it wasn't me!  Happy weekend and Bon Appetit!

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Marie Rayner
Twice Baked Potatoes with Leeks & Cheese

Twice Baked Potatoes with Leeks & Cheese

One of the things we loved most when I was growing up was when my mother would make twice baked potatoes.  They were a real treat for us.  She didn't do anything really special to them . . . she just basically scooped the insides out and mashed them with butter and milk, a bit of seasoning and then refilled the skins and baked them for a bit longer until the surface of the mash got a bit crispy.

  She might have added a bit of minced onion from time to time, but that is as fancy as she got. She liked to keep things really simple.  We thought they were a real treat. She could never make enough of them for us . . .  kinda like her butter fried potatoes.  We gobbled them up! 

I used to do the same thing for my own kiddies, except I got a tiny bit fancier and used some sour cream, butter, and chopped spring onions . . . and then gradually through the years I added other bits and bobs as I was inspired . . .

Chopped bacon or ham, cheddar cheese, sometimes creamed cheese, garlic . . .

Not all together mind  . . .  just a bit of this and a bit of that.  I think my children's favourites were when I did them with sour cream, cheese, chives and bacon.  I'll let you in on a little secret, they were my favourites also!

I had some leek which needed using up the other day and decided to saute it in some butter and use it to stuff some baked potatoes . . .

Along with a little bit of a four cheese blend.  Mine had Cheddar, Jack, Red Leicester and Gouda in it.

I scooped the potato insides out and mixed them with some seasoning, the cooked leeks and the cheese and stuffed them back in.  Do leave a thin layer of potato in the skins when you are scooping the potato out. It makes for more stability in the finished product. 

Don't pack the filling in too tightly either when you are refilling the skins.  You want it a bit loose and craggy looking.  This makes for lots of lovely crispy edges, which we love.

I like to sprinkle a bit more cheese on top before I pop them back into the oven.

You don't need a lot really, just a couple teaspoons on top of each.  Or not, as you wish. We like the extra cheese.

You don't really have to bake them for long after you have re-stuffed them.  You are basically only reheating already cooked stuff . . .  and making sure the cheese melts.

And of course you want some crispy bits.  They are the best!

Yield: 4

Twice Baked Potatoes with Leeks & Cheese

prep time: 5 minscook time: 2 hourtotal time: 2 hours and 5 mins
These are the perfect light lunch or a delicious side for with your supper.


4 large baking potatoes
2 medium sized leeks
1 1/2 TBS butter
salt and black pepper to taste
124g grated four cheese blend, plus a bit more for sprinkling (1 generous cup)


Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Scrub
the potatoes clean and prick with a fork. Place into the oven directly
onto the oven rack.  Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until the potatoes give
 a bit when gently squeezed.  Remove and set aside to cool while you
cook the leeks.  Keep the oven on.

Trim the
dark green parts from the leeks and discard, or save to use in making
stocks. Cut the remaining stalk in half lengthwise and rinse well in
cold water to remove any grit or dirt.  Slice thinly.  Melt the butter
in a large skillet.  Add the leeks and saute gently for about 5 minutes
 until softened.  Set aside.

Cut the potatoes
in half lengthwise.  Carefully scoop out the flesh into a bowl, leaving a
 thin shell. (I find a teaspoon works beautifully for this.)  Mash
together with the softened leeks and some salt and black pepper to
taste.  Stir in the cheese.  Mix well together. Place the potato halves
on a baking sheet and then stuff lightly with the potato/leek/cheese
mixture.  Try not to compact it. Leave it loose, you get more crunchy
bits that way.  Sprinkle with a bit more cheese.  A  pinch works well
for each.

Return to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes, until heated through and golden, with some crispy bits.
Created using The Recipes Generator

I can't think of anything these wouldn't go with. I love them even on their own with nothing else!  Its a simple thing really . . .  twice baked potatoes.  Its really true that the simple things in life are the best things!  Bon Appetit! 

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Marie Rayner
Quick Chicken Chowmein

Quick Chicken Chowmein

I have a real fondness for oriental flavours  . . .  sesame, soy, ginger, garlic . . . I love the way they go together.  I love the freshness of stir fries, and the simplicity of them.  I love Chinese Food, and yes I know pretty much my only experience of that is Westernised, but I am quite  happy with that! When I looked into my August Degustabox I was inspired to do something along those lines . . .  something quick and delicious and with Oriental flavours!

I love these boxes. Opening each one is tiny a bit like opening a Christmas gift. Always a surprise, and always filled with things that pique my interest and desire to try. Degustabox is a monthly foodie subscription service that sends out a range of 10 to 15 specially selected foodie products. There's always a great mix of new products that I haven't tried before, as well as plenty of treats from more established brands. Quite often you will have the opportunity to try  new products before they arrive in the shops, so it can be a bit of a sneak peak! Each Degustabox costs only £12.99, delivery costs are included in the price, and there is no fixed contract involved - you can cancel at any time. I love getting these boxes! They are great value for money spent.

Here is what was in the August Box. I am not sure what the theme was if any, it was kind of a mix of all things tasty!  Some was perfect for starting off your day, some for snacking and some for popping into a lunch box!

LIOBITES Smoothis Bites 2 X £1.99 each 

LioBites are new, healthy and 100% natural fruit crisps. Their Smoothie Bites are made from fresh fruit, picked in season, blended and freeze dried to create a crunchy and delicious snack. Smoothie Bites are high in nutrients, vegan and gluten free with no added sugar or preservatives.  The perfect snack for the whole family, ideal for lunch boxes and one of your five a day! 

These were really moreish. I love the fact that they are made from fruit and sugar & preservative free!

JOHN WEST Infusions 1 X £2.29

John West Tuna Fillets are a range of succulent tender tuna fillets, delicately cut from the highest quality part of the fish and marinated in to keep them tender. Infused in oil that's a perfect salad dressing and available in 3 flavours; Chili & Garlic, Basil, and Lemon & Thyme.

Todd enjoyed this for lunch one day along with some crisp crackers.  He really liked it. We had the Chilli & Garlic  flavour.

BOKA Bar 2 X £0.75

Boka cereal bars are unique in having four green traffic lights, they are low in fat, saturated fat, sugars, and salt, under 100 calories, whilst tasting delicious!  Great as a healthy snack, in a school lunch box or sports bag.

I confess, I was a greedy gus and hogged these both to myself. Very yummy! I liked the healthy snack aspect of them and they were quite tasty!

ROWNTREE's Random's 30% Less Sugar Pouch 1 X £1.29

30% Less Sugar, 100% fun-filled. Introducing Rowntree's 30% Less Sugar Randoms.  The sweets you know and love, but now with 30% less sugar.  Rowntree's sweets contain no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or sweeteners.

Its nice to know that when you want something a tiny bit sweet to munch on or share, there is a lower sugar alternative to the regular sugar filled sweets available.

GOOD HEMP Unsweetened Dairy Free Drink 1 X £1.60

 A dairy-free alternative to milk that's delicious, nutritious and good for the planet. Try it with your cereals, hot drinks and smoothies.  Made from organic hemp seeds, Good Hemp is 100% natural, vegan friendly, free from GMO's, dairy and lactose, gluten, soya and nuts.

A lovely Vegan alternative to dairy.

illy Instant Smooth Taste 1 X £5.85

Discover the unique 100% arabica illy blend, now available as an Instant!  illy Instant Smooth Taste is a well-balanced velvety coffee characterised by sweet, floral and fruity notes with caramel, toast and chocolate. Naturally fragrant with aromas of almond and honey, its the perfect coffee for any moment of the day.

We don't do coffee as we are Latter Day Saints, so I gave this to my neighbor and she said it was lovely.

DORSET Cereals Spectacular Grains 1 X £3.49

Discover the new Spectacular Grains collection. Made with toasted spelt flakes and popped grains, fora  crispier crunch than their classic meuslis and blended with delicious fruit, they are a remarkable fusion of flavours and come in three flavours. 

I am no stranger to Dorset cereals.  I have always liked them.

CROOKED Beverage Co Alcholic Soda 1 X £2.00

Crooked Beverae Co Alcoholic soda is light, refreshingly and totally deliciosu. Often fruity alcohol can be heavy, syrupy and synthetic, yet Crooked delivers tasty, moreish fruity flavour whilst only containing less than 5% sugar, and just 46 calories, per 100ml. Made with natural ingredients, no nasties, you can't go wrong! 

Again we don't do alcohol for religious reasons.  Was shared with my neighbor and she liked it.

GUNNA Craft Soft Drinks 2 X £1.09 

GUNNA is a new range of lower sugar craft soft drinks. We were tired of bland tasting, sugar packed soft drinks packed with unnatural junk, so we created GUNNA, gret tasting, characterful soft drinks with less sugar, 100% natural flavours and no artificial colours or preservatives. 

Its nice to have an alternative fresh soda drink that is all natural, and free from artificial colours and preservatives, with less sugar.

MAGGI Fusian Sticky Hoisin Duck Noodles and 3 Minute Noodles 1 X £1.39

Bring the taste of Asia to your home with Maggi Sticky Hoisin Duck Fusian Noodles. Sweet soy, oriental spice and roasted duck flavours combine with sunflower oil and veggies to create a flavourful noodle dish with a difference.

This is the product I decided to use  and highlight with a recipe.  I always have Maggi noodles in the cupboard anyways.  They are quick and easy to use, and always tasty.

It was screaming Stir Fry to me!  So that is what I did.  I created a quick and easy stir fry Chow Mein dish for two.

I prepared the noodles as per the package and then set them aside while I prepared the rest of the dish. 

A mix of crispy stir fried vegetables . . .  cabbage, celery, green pepper, red onion and carrot . . .  do you like how I cut my carrots like flowers?  Easy to do.  Just take a sharp knife and cut out small wedges along the length of your peeled carrots and then slice crosswise.  Flowers! 

I used two boneless skinless chicken thighs  . . .  seasoned with salt and pepper and browned all over in a bit of sunflower oil . . . 

A large free range egg, scrambled . . .

Some of my homemade Ketjap Manis, and some garlic powder . . .  that's it.  Easy peasy! 

Yield: 2

Quick Chicken Chow Mein

prep time: 10 minscook time: 20 minstotal time: 30 mins
This is quick, easy and delicious, and built just for two. You can very easily double it to feed four if you want.


2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 package of Maggi 3 minute noodles (chicken)
pinch dried chili flakes
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced
1/2 medium green pepper, trimmed and cut into chunks
1/4 small head of green cabbage, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 carrot peeled and thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced on the diagonal
1 large free range egg, beaten
a splash each of sesame oil and Ketjap Manis
sunflower oil
salt and black pepper to taste


Season the chicken pieces all over.  Heat
 a splash of sunflower oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add the
chicken and cook for approximately 5 to 6 minutes per side, until golden
 brown and the juices run clear.  Remove and set aside.

Cook the Maggi noodles according to package directions and drain well.  Rinse in cold water and drain again. Set aside.

 the drippings in the pan add the cabbage and cook for a few minutes. 
Add the pepper, onion, carrot and celery.  Cook for a few minutes until
all the vegetables are crispy tender.  Add the chili flakes, garlic
powder and ketjap manis.  Toss everything well together.  Push
everything over to one side in the pan and drop the beaten egg into the
empty side.  Scramble it and then stir it into the vegetables.  Cut the
chicken meat crosswise into slices and add to the pan along with the
noodles. Toss all together and heat through.  Taste and adjust seasoning
 as required.  Serve immediately.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Every box does include an information card, along with some other bits, recipes, etc. from the brands included.  I find it really handy to have, to learn about the products a bit more and to also know how much the products would cost if I went on to buy them, and also for ideas on how to use some of them.

So, that was the August  Degustabox - a nice selection of products as always. We loved it. The price of each Degustabox is £12.99 (including delivery). To order your box, visit 
 Many thanks to Degustabox UK for sending me this box. I have to say I really look forward to getting my box each month. There are always lots of things in it to enjoy and new products to try out. I highly recommend. You can also tailor the boxes to your own likes and dislikes by filling in your own Taste Profile.  Do you like the sound of this box? Why not sign up now! I find them to be really good value for money spent and I really enjoy trying out new products that I have not tried before.  

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Note - Although I was sent a box free of charge any and all opinions are my own.
Bon appetit! 

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Marie Rayner

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