Helbel’s Weblog

Coconut Macaroon Lovelyness…
May 24, 2008, 4:54 pm
Filed under: cooking, Food, life, recipes

Hi just a quick post as I am supposed to be cooking tea right now, but I just had to tell you about these delicious macaroons I made today. I haven’t had time to bake much lately as I am working on updating my site (well actually my lovely lovely web designer partner is finally getting around to helping with it as my efforts were well… lets just say I am a better artist than web designer!, but I suppose that’s why they pay him the big bucks and I am just an impoverished artist!)

 Anyway, more about the new site when its finished, I’m veering off track as I said I haven’t baked in ages and I was starting to get with-drawls. I just can’t tell you how nice it is to leisurely potter about baking stuff, I know its now very rock and roll to say it but there it is, I Love Baking!!

 I think if I didn’t have such a passion for painting I would love to own a really cool bakery or a pie shop like in pushing daisies. I am totally in awe of that show, I love the quirky off beat characters and I want Chuck’s entire wardrobe!, I read this in a magazine the other day and I thought it summed the show up brilliantly, “Scientists have been doing experiments to try to find something cuter than Pushing Daisies. And they’re having a tough time. In fact, the only thing they’ve found that comes anywhere near pipping it at the cutepost is a room full of candyfloss, shooting stars and giggling toddlers riding happy puppies as if they were tiny horses.” perfectly described , how could not want to watch!!!

So anyway ( I am sorry I am sooo easily distracted! ) I made these coconut macaroons after being inspired by the recipe in the domestic goddess cook book ( probably still the best in the world by the way) I did have to have help whisking the egg whites as I am a total girl when it comes to muscles and my arm hurt! Owww, so jay did the whiskin and I did the measuring. Must have been a match made in heaven because the macaroons turned out perfectly, so yummy , melt in the mouth loveliness GUARANTEED!!! so give em a go.

Must go Jays tummies rumbling!

love Helenxxx


 Coconut Macaroons-

  • 2 large egg whites,
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar,
  • 100g caster sugar,
  • 30g ground almonds,
  • pinch of salt,
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract,
  • 250g shredded coconut,
  • 1 baking sheet.

Pre-heat the oven at 170oc, gas mark 3.

Beat the egg whites until frothy, then add the cream of tatar and carry on beating until soft peaks are formed. Add the sugar little by little and whisk until the peaks can hold there shape and are shiny. Fold in the almonds, salt, vanilla and coconut. The mixture should be sticky but should, all the same, hold its shape when clumpted together. Form Clementine shaped domes about 6-7 cm in diameter.  I don’t flatten them as i think they look better nicely rounded, but the shape is up to you! Cook for around 20mins until they are just golden in parts and squiggly delicious in the center. Makes 8 large macaroons.

May 16, 2008, 12:02 pm
Filed under: children, cooking, Food, life, recipes | Tags:


This week has been bitter sweet…

 My daughter came home a the beginning of the week in tears. A girl at school had been causing trouble for her by bullying her and getting the boys to throw things at her. Now, Ellie is a good, strong girl with a lot of friends and although this hurt her on the inside she did as I had always taught her and held her head high. She put on her i – pod and ignored the girl as a slight irritation.

But as the week continued things got worse until Ellie cracked. I can’t tell you the feeling you get as a mum when your child is bullied, shes nearly 13 but your protection instinct kicks in and you just want to fight something! I wrote a strong letter to the head of year and promised Ellie that no matter what we’d make it stop.

 But I still felt really helpless and agitated so I did the only other thing I know to do… I set about making her favourite food. My mum always did this for me when I was upset and I have passed on the comfort food tradition to my children, there is nothing that can’t be made better with a good meal and a hug!

Eloise loves curry so we had Beef rogan josh, jerra chicken, Bombay potatoes and home made coconut naans.

Although not a cure for bullying, It definitely tasted good and lifted the mood. Eloise went to school the next day determined to sort the nasty situation out. At lunch time the head of year rang, she said she was very impressed with Ellie’s attitude and maturity and she was confident they could sort it out.

Since then it has seemed to calm down, and i am a very proud mum. Although I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, this episode has given me a real insight into how strong my little girl is and how much she has grown. I know (one day) I can let her out into the world and trust she’s strong enough to handle what life throws at her.

For those with a love of curry and a need of comfort I have left the recipe below, but if your making it for someone else, don’t forget the hug. Its an essential ingredient!

Love Helenx


                                                         Eloise’s Comfort Curry Banquet

                                                           Jeera chicken

Cook’s notes- I found this recipe on www.mydish.co.uk but I have changed it slightly to my taste. ( I hope you don’t mind Sujata)


1 tsp turmeric powder,

4 tbls cooking oil,

half a large pot of yogurt,

1 tsp of dried coriander,

4 large chicken breast (each sliched into fillets)

2 large onions,

3tsp cumin seeds,

2 x2inch sticks of cinamon,

good couple of grinds of black pepper,

3 cloves,

2 green chillis,

2 tsp of ginger-crushed,

3 cloves of garlic-crushed,

1 tsp garam masala powder,

salt to taste,


1. chop the onions into really small pieces
2. cut the green chillies into half
3. pour oil in a large non-stick pan and warm
4. add the cumin seeds, Cinnamon and cloves and let it splutter (crackle)
5 add the chopped onions and let it cook until the onions are dark brown [not just transparent]
6. now add the chicken pieces and increase the heat and stir fry until the chicken turns brown
7. add the crushed garlic, ginger and chilli and stir fry for a couple more mins
8. add salt, turmeric, coriander powder.
9.continue stirring and finally reduce the heat onto med and add the yogurt.
10. cover the pan and let it cook for at least 30-40 min until the chicken is cooked.

Best Ever Bombay potatoes

3 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chili powder
5cm/2in piece fresh ginger, grated
1kg/2lb 3oz potatoes, peeled, and cut into smallish cubes
350ml/12fl oz vegetable stock
4 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped


1. Heat a wok until hot and add the oil.
2. Add all the spices and the ginger and stir-fry for one minute until fragrant.
3. Add the potatoes and stir to coat in the spices.
4. Add the stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
5. Stir in the tomatoes and coriander.
6. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.

Beef Rogan Josh

500g diced beef,

1/4 to 1/2 a jar of rogan josh paste ,Depending on taste, (I use Pataks)

2 onions,

2 tins of tomatoes,

100ml water,

fresh coriander,

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil,


In a good sized pan start frying the onions gently, once soft add curry paste and beef for a few mins.

once beef is sealed add the toms and water and cook for about an hour, I keep the lid on for the first 45 mins and then remove so the sauce has time to thicken.  You can cook this dish slowly for as long as you like, the longer you leave it the nicer it becomes!

and finally …

Coconut naan Bread

Cook’s notes- I got this from Tanya Ramsey’s Book, its better than Gordans! (Sorry Gordan!, but I’m pretty sure you don’t care what I think!)

1lb of plain flour,

2sp baking powder,

1 tsp of salt,

125ml of milk,

125 natural yogurt,

1 egg,

1oz dessicated coconut,

1oz ground almonds,

1 tsp of sugar,

5 tbsp of water


Pre heat the oven at 220oc 425of gm7.

Sieve the flour abd baking powder togher in a large mixing bowl. Add salt.

In a second bowl beat together milk and yogurt and egg.

In a third bowl mix together the coconut, almonds, sugar and water to form a paste.

Make a well in the flour mixture and add the milk mixture. Using a wooden spoon, carefully mix together the flour and liquid until they make dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for around 4 mins.

Divide into 4 or five balls.

Take one dough ball and flatten in between your hands. In the center place a good teaspoon of the coconut paste and fold the dough over then roll the whole thing flat until it resembles the size of a large Naan.

repeat with all the balls of dough.

Then cook on a lightly oiled tray for about 8 -10  mins.


Lazy Summer Dayzzz…..
May 9, 2008, 11:34 am
Filed under: children, cooking, Food, life, recipes | Tags:

lovely garden...

I officially love this hot weather! I think I might have been suffering from sunlight deficiency just lately ,but now the sun is out I’m on top of the world!

We all had a great chance to enjoy it over the bank holiday weekend, finally taking some time off, we lived on BBQ food and shandy’s (well the grown-ups that is!)

 I think if I lived anywhere hot I would be permanently merry and toasty warm ! Maybe that’s what heavens like!

Jack (my youngest) was a little less exisited by the heatwave, we call him Casper the friendly ghost due to his pall skin and blond hair, but once we slathered him in factor 20, and gave him a hat and shades he was ready to party like the rest of us.

We all got treated to a surprise water fight from my lovely partner jay, well I say fight but it was really a massacre as jay was the only one with any weaponry (in the form of our garden hose, on full pelt!) I ended up looking like an extra from a Kiss concert with eye liner and mascara down my cheeks, Jack advised me to pick up some waterproof stuff next time, for eight he has a surprising grasp on make-up products…..hum maybe to much television, but his ability to talk max factor might be a hit with the ladies later on in life!

Eloise, my oldest is starting to get a little vain about the slightest hair out of place ( she does full make up to get on the wii fit! ) so by the time she finished getting hosed she was just a tad sulky!

Everyone cheered up when the food got served though, as well as the usual burgers, hot dogs and home made potato salad I made honey mustard glazed chicken. It was lovely and works well on the BBQ so I am leaving the recipe for the potato salad and chicken for you here,

Here’s hoping the good weather and life continues!

love helenx


Helen’s Yummy Potato Salad!

  • 750g bag of new potatoes,
  • 3-4 spring onions,
  • 1 good tablespoon of ( it has to be…) helmans mayo,
  • a little mouldon sea salt and black pepper.

Boil potatoes, until nicely cooked (i like them when they are just soft)

let them cool for a few mins, then add the sliced spring onions mayo and seasoning, I know it sounds simple, but sometimes the best things are, its really yummy!

Honey mustard chicken…

  • 12 drum sticks, (skin on)
  • 12 chicken thighs, (skin on)
  • For the marinade…
  • 4 tablespoons runny honey,
  • 4 tablespoons of wholegrain mustard,
  • juice of 2 lemons,
  • 4 tablespoons of soy sauce

Pre-heat the oven at 190oc/375of/gm5.

Place marinade ingredients in small pan and stir gently over a low heat. This melts the honey down and makes it easier to pour over the chicken pieces.

Place the Chicken on a large lightly greased tray and pour over marinade, ensuring that every piece has a generous coating.

Place in oven for around35mins, turnubg the chicken from time to time and reglazing with the marinadeat the bottom of the tray.

When the chicken is nicely brown they are ready to eat, but if you have a BBQ on the go bung them in for a further 5 mins or so , so the meat takes on a smokey BBQ flavour.

Again fairly simple food but so yummy and perfect for hot lazzy summer days!!!

Busy doin Nothing!
April 9, 2008, 4:43 pm
Filed under: cooking, Food, life, recipes

I have been busy doing nothing today…

I have canvases to paint, a website to tinker with and a large pile of paper work to do but somehow its five fifteen, and none of this got done!

I am the queen of procrastination and can easily waste a whole day panicking about what I have’nt done rather than just doing it! I am sure it can’t be just me , there must be other people out there with the same afliction! And it seems the more important the task the less likely it is I will get it done. Ok, breath, Im sure I will have a much more productive day tommorow, and I have made cranberry and chocolate chip muffins so all is not lost…

If you have a little procastination to do, and need to waste hour, the recipe is as follows…..



Cranberry and chocolate chip muffins 

  • 5oz self raising flour,
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder,
  • a pinch of salt,
  • 4oz soft brown sugar,
  • 2oz melted butter,
  • 1 egg, beaten,
  • 125ml milk,
  • half a teaspoon of vanilla essence,
  • 4oz dried cranberries,
  • 1oz of white choc chip,
  • 1oz of dark choc chip,
  • a little sugar for sprinkling.

Pre-heat the oven at 180oc , mix all the dry ingredients together with your fingers, lifting to incorporate some air.

Melt the butter, beat the egg lightly and add to the dry ingredients with the milk and vanilla essence, fold rather than beat into a wet mixture.

Fold in the cranberries and choc chips and spoon into muffin or cake cases. Sprinkle with a little sugar and bake for around 25 mins until risen and golden.





Kiddy Curry
March 28, 2008, 12:49 pm
Filed under: children, cooking, Food, life | Tags: , , , ,

We like our food spicy in our house, well everyone accept Jack, my youngest, who despite many a valiant effort just can’t seem to get his head around new flavours. Unless of course they are new flavours of crisps which he seems to cope with quite well!

So I have been trying to create a curry which tastes a bit like “nice n spicy” nick nacks ( I know this sounds lame but you will be surprised at the lengths you end up going to !)

  I think I have found the right combination of sweet and spicy with just a hint of hotness , and I made it last night. I’d like to tell you it was a huge success but I would be lying, but he did eat it all without to much compliant which trust me is a big improvement and everyone else loved it , so I will definitely be making it again. If you’d like to give it a try I have left the recipe and there is a note on making it spicier for grown-ups too!

 Kiddy Curry

2 tbsp ground nut oil,

2 onions,

1 clove of garlic,

2lbs of good beef mince,

3 tbsp medium curry powder, ( I kept adding

and tasting, so adjust to your own taste)

3 tbsp tomato puree,

half a tin of chopped tomatoes,

3 good tbsp mango chutney,

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar,

100 ml of good beef or chicken stock ( I use bouillon)

6 dried apricots,

2oz sultanas,

salt and pepper


Heat oil in a big pan on medium heat and add the onions and crushed garlic until they go nice and brown. Add the mince and brown ( don’t drain off the fat as it adds to the flavour and if your using good mince this will be fine)


Add the curry powder, tomato puree, chutney and vinegar and cook together while you make the stock, once that is made add it to the pan with the apricots sultanas and salt and pepper.

Allow the sauce to simmer gently, stirring often for around 40Min’s.

( to make it spicier for grown-ups or hardcore kids just half the curry into 2 pans about 30Min’s before end of cooking time, and add another tablespoon of curry powder and a pinch of chili powder to one of the pans, that way you have one tame and one spicy curry that everyone can sit round and enjoy together! )

I serve it with brown rice, poppadoms ( which are great fun to make) and naan bread for a real family feast. YUM!!

Hope you like it!



Birthday Boy!
March 25, 2008, 1:08 pm
Filed under: ageing, children, growing up | Tags: , , , , ,



  It was my youngest 8th birthday on Friday , it feels so strange that this cute, weird kid has been in my life for eight whole years!

 I don’t know if it’s just me but time seems to pass so quickly once they get to school . I wish I could capture just a second of each passing year and keep it somewhere safe so I never have to say goodbye to him being a kid. It’s not that I don’t want him to grow up its just sometimes I wish I could slow it down so  I could savour it a bit.

I guess that’s just part of life, my mum’s 60 in a couple of weeks and I know she has struggled with that one. When I was younger I imagined that the person you were just got old like your body but I don’t believe that anymore. I think if your lucky, time just makes us wiser not older.

 I ended up baking Jack a giant cake for his birthday.I started by baking one cake, but it didn’t seem big enough so I baked another one and stacked it on top, iced it and covered it in smarties (very retro!) it was well worth the effort and everyone was amazed by its sheer girth! It tasted pretty good too…

If you want to try it out I’ve included the recipe. The butter icing part is just an estimate as i had to go to the shops half way through for extra icing sugar and butter , but you basically just have to keep making the stuff until the cakes covered. I think I used roughly a box and a half of icing sugar and a whole packet of butter. YUM!!                                         


Jack’s Big Birthday Cake


4oz self raising flour (110g)

1 teaspoon baking powder

4oz of soft butter (11og)

4oz caster sugar (110g)

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon of cocoa powder


repeat layer one


Butter icing –

1 and a half boxes of icing sugar

1 packet of butter

splash of milk to blend…

5 tubes of smarties.

Pre heat the oven at 180oc and grease a large round cake tin (I used a 22cm tin)

Put the sugar and butter into a mixer and blitz, then add the sifted flour, cocoa, baking powder and eggs and blitz again.

Pour into the tin and bake for around 30mins or until cake looks brown and the centre is bouncy to the touch, then put on a rack to cool

Do the same thing again for the second layer of the cake…

When both layers are cool, make the butter icing by mixing the soft butter with the sifted icing sugar and a little milk or warm water (there is usually an exact recipe on the sugar box) I had to do this in batches as I don’t have a giant bowl and find it easier to mix a little at a time.

Cut the rounded top off the first cake so its flat and spread a layer of butter icing on top then place the other cake on top and cover the entire cake with the butter icing. once this is done decorate with whatever you like, I used 5 tubes of smarties coz I like the colour combination but you could use dolly mixtures, buttons, dark chocolate shavings, the only restriction is your imagination! 



Blimey that’s good banana bread….
March 14, 2008, 4:50 pm
Filed under: cooking, Food, life, recipes, Uncategorized

I have just made a fantastic loaf of banana bread, my kids usually see fruit as a bit of a punishment but this stuff they can-not get enough of. Now I know banana bread is not the same as fruit, per-say, but it is in the same category and I am happy with that!

Any-ho, I can’t include picture’s with this one as my lovely old faithful camera is sick (it will be back soon!) But trust me, just give it a go and you will be heading for a cakey bread food Utopia!

       Blimey That’s Good Banana Bread…

100g (4oz) butter,

100g (4oz) brown sugar,

1 egg,

450g (1lb) bananas, mashed,

45ml (3 tbsp) milk,

5ml (1tsp) vanilla essence,

225g (8oz) plain flour,

1 teaspoon bicarb of soda,

1 teaspoon of mixed spice,

1 quarter teaspoon of salt,

100g (4oz) chopped dates,

1 tablespoon of good quality honey.


Pre-heat the oven 180oc/350of/gas 4 , grease and line a loaf tin. Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy then add the egg and beat again until smooth. Add the mashed bananas, milk, honey, and vanilla.

Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice and salt and mix gradually with the banana mixture. Finally, stir in the dates.

Bake for about 1 hour until nicely brown. Allow to cool (Patience is a virtue!) on a wire rack for awhile before cutting.

And that’s it…  I think I might try it with chocolate chips instead of dates next time, there is no sweet thing that can’t benefit from a little chocolate! Please let me know of any variations you come up with ( no rude ones please, unless there funny! )

Helen x