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Baked Eggs with Swiss Chard & Garlic Croutons

Baked Eggs with Swiss Chard & Garlic Croutons

We've been really  blessed these past few weeks having been gifted with some lovely free-range farm eggs.  They are just beautiful eggs and we are most appreciative of them! 

We've also been fabulously gifted with bags of beautiful vegetables  . . .  corn, beans, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages, courgettes, beetroot and some lovely rainbow Swiss chard.  I adore Swiss chard.

Like Kale or spinach, it lends itself beautifully to stir frying, and other simple preparations.  Just so long as you wash it really well.  Dirt collects in all of those wrinkley folds, so do take care and wash it well.  I like to put it into a pan of cold water and give it a good swish around, and then a quick rinse under the tap again.  After that you can put it into a net bag, go out into the garden and swing it around a few times to dry it off a bit.

Today I braised the swiss chard in a skillet, with a bit of white wine and some fresh herbs from the garden.  Chard and kale do take longer to cook than spinach. They lend themselves beautifully to braising . . .  

While it was braising I had some leftover ciabatta that I toasted in a skillet and made into croutons.  I love croutons . . .

The chard and the croutons got put into baking dishes.  I made a bit of a hollow in the centre of each  . . .

and then I broke one of those lovely farm fresh eggs into those hollows and popped the dishes into the oven . . .

It only takes about 10 to 15 minutes and you have beautifully baked eggs. I sprinkled a few more fresh herbs on top, a sprinkle of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper, and dinner was served!

*Baked Eggs with Swiss Chard & Garlic Croutons*
Serves 2

You can actually bake eggs over a multitude of things . . .  ratatouille, stewed tomatoes, peppers, etc.  We especially like this version I came up with when gifted with a lovely big bag of rainbow Swiss Chard and some very fresh Hen eggs! Summer in a dish.

2 TBS butter
2 slices of a rustic type of bread, cut into cubes
pinch each garlic and onion powder
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 big bunches of chard, any colour, stems trimmed off and leaves roughly chopped
60ml dry white wine or vegetable stock
1 TBS chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp each fresh chopped rosemary leaves and fresh thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 (depending on appetites) large free range eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.  Melt half of the butter in a large skillet. Add the cubes of bread and dust lightly with some onion and garlic powders, salt and black pepper. Toss together and brown lightly over medium heat, until golden brown but not hard. Scoop out and set aside.  Melt the remaining butter in the skillet.  Add the shallots.  Stir and cook until softened without colouring.  Add the chard and white wine, along with a healthy seasoning of salt and black pepper.  Mix together the herbs and toss most of them into the pan, reserving some for the garnish.  Cook and toss together.  Cover and cook until well wilted and tender.  Divide between two buttered single sized baking dishes along with the croutons.  Make a well in the centre and crack in one or two eggs.   Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or so until the whites are set and the yolks to your preference. Dust with a bit of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkle of the reserved herbs. Serve immediately.

Oh, I am so enjoying all of these beautiful gifts of the season this year.  You can't go wrong with vegetables that are freshly grown and local.  This summer weather has been really good to us and our vegetable gardens this year!  We are truly blessed! Bon Appetit! 

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Marie Rayner
Raspberry Celebration Cake

Raspberry Celebration Cake

Today is the day I turn 63.  However did that happen? Wasn't I just 16 a few days ago?  I don't know how it happened, but it has and there is no lamenting it.  I am 63.  This is the cake I make myself every year for my Birthday.  Raspberry Celebration cake. It makes the aging go down a tiny bit easier.

Every year I say I'm not going to bake myself a cake . . . but then, I beak down and baked one anyway. I have lots of things to celebrate after all.

My Birthday (of course!) for one.  I reckon every year after fifty five is a milestone. (Even if the Queen doesn't send me a card.)

A clean bill of health from my Doctor!  (Blood Glucose levels 4.1, blood pressure 120/78,  Iron Levels normal.)   It's all good.  Yes, I do need to lose weight, but . . .  one thing at a time!

And the anniversary of the arrival of a furry little bundle of joy named Mitzie.  (Eight years today!)

Life is good and so is this cake. A deliciously buttery sponge, filled with fresh raspberries and baked into two moist layers. Sandwiched together with a lovely vanilla butter cream icing and some seedless raspberry jam, and then drizzled with more sweetness. This is one very moreishly scrummy cake.

It won't help my sugar levels, but I reckon one thin slice won't hurt and we will be having a houseful of missionaries over later today to polish off the rest!

shhh . . . don't burst my bubble!

*Raspberry Celebration Cake*
Cuts into 12 scrummy slices
Printable Recipe

This is the cake I always bake for summer birthdays. A light moist sponge, filled with lovely raspberries, butter cream icing and seedless raspberry preserves. Top with a sweet glaze and serve with more raspberries.

For the Cake:
175g of caster sugar (3/4 plus 1/8 cup)
175g of butter, softened (13 TBS)
4 large free range eggs, separated
100g self raising flour (a scant 3/4 cup)
1 tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds (1 scan't cup)
a few drops of almond extract
125g of fresh raspberries (a heaped cup)

For the buttercream:
75g of butter, softened (1/4 cup approx.)
125g icing sugar, sifted (about 3/4 cup)
few drops vanilla

For the glaze:
100ml icing sugar sifted (1/3 cup approx.)
water to thin

Also about 4 heaped dessertspoons of seedless raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/Gas mark 4. Butter two 8 inch sandwich cake tins. Line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks. Sift the flour and baking powder over the creamed mixture and then fold in using a metal spoon. Fold in the ground almonds and exract. Fold only until all traces of the flour have disappeared.

Beat the egg whites until they just hold their shape. Fold them in gently, by thirds, being careful not to overmix and lose the lightness of the whites. Lightly fold in the berries. Divide between the two prepared cake tins and level off carefully.

Bake in the heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, just until they test done. A toothpick inserted in the centre should come out clean and they should spring back when lightly touched on top.

Remove from the oven. Let cool in the tins for five minutes, then tip out onto wire racks, peel off the baking paper and allow to cool completely.

Make the buttercream by beating together all the ingredients until smooth and creamy.

Place one cake, bottom side up on a cake plate. Spread completely with all the buttercream. Spread the raspberry jam over top of the buttercream and then top with the other cake layer, placing it right side up. Whisk together the icing sugar for the glaze and enough water to make a smooth drizzable mixture. Drizzle decoratively over the top of the cake. Allow to set, then dust with more icng sugar if desired.

Bon Appetit!

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Marie Rayner
Ultimate Buttermilk Bran Muffins

Ultimate Buttermilk Bran Muffins

I think my favourite type of muffin of all the types of muffins you can get today are plain old fashioned Bran Muffins. There is nothing pretentious about them.  They are simple and they are delicious. 

Many moons ago when I used to run my own coffee shop, my Bran Muffins were really popular with my customers.  I used to offer three kinds of muffins on a regular basis,  Morning Glory Muffins, Banana Muffins and Bran Muffins.  Occasionally I would shake it up and add another flavour as a treat, like blueberry or chocolate chip  . . .  but these three were the mainstay of our muffin selection . . .

And I can tell you we sold out every day . . .  with the Bran Muffins being the first to go. This isn't surprising really  . . .  we all want to think we are eating something a tiny bit healthy in the morning  . . . and if you can call it the ultimate, well . . .  so much the better, and these truly are the ultimate in bran muffins!

Loaded with lots of lovely fibre  . . .  I use two kinds of bran . . .  wheat and oat bran . . .

And two kinds of flour  . . .  whole wheat and white flour . . .

And plenty of raisins  . . .  I like Sun Maid California raisins for my bran muffins  . . .  they are lovely and dark and sweet. 

These are beautifully moist muffins  . . . probably from the addition of buttermilk . . .

Sweetened with a mix of golden syrup and dark treacle, along with brown sugar (which also makes for very moist baked goods).  You can also use molasses instead of the golden syrup and dark treacle. I understand that both of those things can be somewhat difficult to procure  . . .  molasses works beautifully also.

These bake up wonderfully with a lovely high dome . . . just what you want to see in a muffin! 

Serve them warm, just as is, or with some butter for spreading.  Either way, they are amazingly delicious!   These are so good that three days later you will still be loving them!  They also freeze amazingly well.

*Ultimate Buttermilk Bran Muffins*
Makes 12 large muffins

These delicious muffins are super moist and stogged full love lovely raisins. I use both oat and wheat bran in them, but you can use all wheat bran if you prefer. Quick and easy to make. 

For the wet ingredients:
120 ml sunflower oil (1/2 cup)
100g soft light brown muscovado sugar (1/2 cup, packed, can use light brown sugar if you wish)
3 large free range eggs
2 TBS golden syrup
3 TBS dark treacle
(Can use 5 TBS mild molasses)
1 tsp vanilla extract
365ml buttermilk (1 1/2 cups)

For the dry ingredients:
55g wheat bran, unsifted (1 cup)
55g oat bran, unsifted (1 cup)
140g whole wheat flour (1 cup)
95g plain flour (2/3 cup)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

You will also need:
100g raisins (2/3 cup)   

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/gas mark 6.  Spray a large 12 cup muffin pan generously with non-stick, low fat cooking spray. Set aside.

Whisk the sunflower oil and brown sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, syrup and treacle.  Whisk in the vanilla and the buttermilk.  Whisk together both brans, both flours, baking powder, soda and salt.  Add all at once to the wet ingredients and stir just to combine.  Stir in the raisins.  Divide between the prepped muffin cups, filling 2/3 full.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until well risen and the tops bounce  back when lightly touched.  Let sit in the tin for 5 minutes, before carefully loosening and tipping out.

You just can't go wrong with a Bran Muffin can you?  If you want you can leave out the raisins, and add toasted nuts instead.  Pecans would work well as would walnuts. You could even add some nuts in addition to the raisins!  Delicious any way you bake them!  Bon Appetit! 

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Marie Rayner
Pam's Cowboy Beans

Pam's Cowboy Beans

This recipe is one of the simplest ones going, and one of the most delicious ones.  I got it from my friend Pam who writes the Blog, On The Bright Side.   She is a little ray of sunshine and, like me, posts every day.  Beautiful messages of positivity that we can all use in these modern times! 

She also posts a recipe every day and as soon as I saw this one I knew it was one I was going to have to make myself!  Cowboy Beans.  Exactly as it sounds.  Simple, easy and delicious.

A wonderful mix of three kinds of beans, with a few bits and pieces added, chopped onion and smoked sausage  . . . (I adore smoked sausage) all  cooked together all day in the slow cooker. No fuss, no muss  . . .

There are two tins of baked beans . . .  and one each of cannellini and pinto beans . . .

A mix of tomato sauce, brown sugar, cider vinegar, dry mustard and some mild chili powder  . . . chopped onions  . . . and of course the sausage.  On this day I didn't have a ring of smoked sausage, but I did have a pack of frankfurters.  I used them in its place with fabulously tasty results . . .

I had some brioche buns leftover from the other night and so I toasted them, and we ladled the beans over top  to eat  . . .

And I added a smattering of grated cheese.  Because  . . .  just because . . .

They were fabulously tasty.  I could have eaten more, but had to stop myself.  A nice dish of coleslaw would go wonderfully with these.

*Pam's Cowboy Beans*
Serves 5 to 6 generously

Great for pot lucks and covered dish get-together, or just for when you have the family gathered round. It is done in the slow cooker and is delicious! 

2 tins (425g) baked beans, undrained (2 15-oz)
1 (425g) tin of Cannellini or Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed (15-oz)
1 (425g) tin of Pinto beans, drained and rinsed (15-oz)
1 ring of smoked sausage cut into 1 inch pieces (or a package of smoked frankfurters)
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
125g tomato sauce (1/2 cup tomato ketchup)
50g soft light brown sugar (1/4 cup, packed)
2 TBS cider vinegar
2 1/2 tsp powdered mustard
1 1/2 tsp mild chili powder 

Spray a slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.  Mix all of the ingredients and pour into the cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours.  Serve with crusty bread.

These make for the perfect Saturday night supper.  We used to have baked beans every Saturday night when we were growing up.  They were a maritime constitution/habit.  Baked beans and brown bread on a Saturday night and then for breakfast on Sunday morning.  This recipe is simple and easy and leaves you free to enjoy a Saturday out with the family doing whatever you want to do, knowing that when you are done, you are coming home to a delicious supper cooking in the crock pot/slow cooker. You can't lose!  Bon Appetit!  

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Marie Rayner
Good Takes Time to Grow - Giveaways

Good Takes Time to Grow - Giveaways

As most of my readers now, I  am a person who likes to do good and practice kindness whenever I can.  Kindness costs nothing, and good deeds are gifts that can't help but give back.  You just can't outgive a giver!  I have an elderly friend, that I am always doing things for.  Sometimes it is as simple as just giving her a quick call on the telephone, other times, I pop in to see how she is doing.  I often cook extra when I am cooking for us and I bring it over to her.  She is always most appreciative.  She doesn't get out much now.  She is 89 years old and mobility is a huge problem. In any case I like to do what I can, when I can.  To my way of thinking, some day I will be 89 (hopefully, lol) and I hope that if I make it that long I, too, will have a special friend who will do small and simple things for me. 

I try to practice kindness in all avenues of my life however.  If I am in the shops and someone is behind me with only a few items, I always let them go first. Todd and I have also sponsored children in Africa. It was only through sponsorship that these children are able to go to to school and be educated. It actually helps their whole family.   

But the caring doesn't stop there. I also try to practice kindness and do good, or as much good as I can by responsible consumership.  I try to buy free range, use cloth reusable shopping bags, cut back on my use of plastics werever I can, etc.  The list goes on and on.  

There are many ways that we can give back. 

Yesterday I got a really nice hamper from the people at Sunbites.  It included a hot pepper plant, a crate of a varieity of their Sunbites whole grain snacks, and a solar phone charger!

Sunbites believes that one small act of goodness can inspire others to do the same, having a ripple effect that turns into a wave of good. Whether the initial act is a move to improve the environment, volunteering for charity or inviting your colleague on your lunchtime stroll, we believe that #GoodGrows, and they would like to seed some goodness back into Britain!

There is a little bit of taste good and do good in every bite, and the Sunbites #GoodGrows campaign is working to give back to society and deliver goodness around the world. The Sunbites team has partnered with CARE International to launch the ‘Light Her Path’ initiative, aimed at improving the lives of women and children around the world by providing the education they deserve. This brilliant initiative helps in lots of ways, including building eco-friendly learning centres that are powered by solar panels. 

I've always been a huge fan of the Sunbites range of snacks. Their Grain Wave range of snacks are made from 2 sun-grown whole grains combined with natural seasonings to give you a deliciously crunchy snack.  They also have a new Veggie Harvest range of snacks which combine yellow peas with whole grains to create a tasty snack, and they also have popcorn and crackers within their range of snacks.  You can read all about their products here.

To celebrate the #GoodGrows campaign I was gifted with this lovely hamper, and because they want my followers to feel good also they are offering one of my BRITISH readers with a Hamper of goodies as well.  In celebration of the CARE International partnership, which harnesses the power of the sun to power the educational centres, the sun that powered our new TV ad and the sun that grows our wholegrains, the giveaway hamper will also include a solar powered phone charger to encourage you to do a little good for the environment too!

To be in for the win, please leave a comment below, and if you have a good deed story you would like to share with us, so much the better!  Thanks!  (Remember they are only able to gift a British reader with this giveaway prize.  Sorry about that!)  Its my Birthday on Monday and I can't think of a better gift on my Birthday than being able to give away something to one of you.  So do leave a comment and I will pick at winner  by 5 PM on the 13th of August 2018.

 Want to find out more about the Sunbites Campain? You can visit their website here or their social media channels below:

Twitter: @SunbitesUK 
Instagram: sunbitesuk 
Facebook: Sunbites
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Marie Rayner

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