Pretzel Pumpkins

Happy Halloween everybody. Whether you subscribe to the traditions or even agree with it, Halloween in it’s current form is big business . Some years I join in, others I don’t. What can I say, I have a take it or leave it attitude towards dressing up and the boy is really too young to get involved. However, this year I have found myself feeling a little bit of Halloween love, partly because I was invited to several Halloween parties and partly thanks to the time vortex that is Pinterest! While this isn’t a post about Halloween as a festival or any of the other issues surrounding it (is it too commercial?, are we feeding our children too much sugar?, is trick or treating safe? etc, all of which are valid questions and should be answered by more learned folk than me!), it is about something I’ve made to give to friends this Halloween.

You may have seen my pictures on Instagram or Facebook of the Pretzel Pumpkins I made for the children’s party yesterday. I originally found them, via Pinterest, on a blog called Butter with a Side of Bread and couldn’t get over how cute and easy they looked. The hollows in the pretzels resemble the face of a pumpkin when covered in chocolate and despite never really going for anything quite so cutesy, this year I just couldn’t help myself! No they are not Slimming World friendly (I couldn’t even hazard a guess at how many syns one would be, which is why I’m giving them but not eating them!) but they went down a storm, with both the ladies and the children yesterday, so I’ve made some more for today’s party. And as so many people have asked me how I made them, I thought I’d write it up. You wont believe how easy they are.

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Ingredients. 300g of white chocolate, 1 tbsp of shortening, Pretzels, orange food colouring and green M&Ms.

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Break the white chocolate up and melt. I always melt chocolate in the microwave, but go slowly. This much only took 1 min and 10 secs. I’d start with 30 seconds, stir then blast again for another 30 seconds, stirring well each time.

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The shortening is to make the chocolate thick enough to coat, but thin enough to show the hollows of the pretzels (the face of the pumpkin). Melt it with the chocolate.

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I used about a teaspoon of this super concentrated Wilton colour, but you may need more or less depending on the type and brand you use. I think pastes would be better for this strong colour.

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I go slowly with the colour, adding a drop at a time, then stirring really well before adding more. Keep going until the colour is as bright as you want, but remember you can always add more, you can’t take it away! I used my glass jug as it doesn’t take on any colour.

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Separate out the green M&Ms. This many came from two large bags. Which does now mean I have lots of M&Ms left over. Not that Ben seems to mind! Someone suggested using green Smarties. Personally I think they’d be too big, but go for it if you’d rather.

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Then getting dipping. As messy as it may look I found using good old (clean) fingers was the best and neatest way to do this. Lay the wet pretzel on a baking sheet covered in greaseproof paper and gently push an M&M into the crook at the top while the chocolate is still wet.

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Now you could let them harden in a cool room, but as I have no particularly cold areas of my house and a curious toddler flying around, I felt it safer all round to put them in the fridge. Yes the chocolate sets too quickly and you loose that shine, but really, it was that or a wet chocolate pretzel covered toddler. And any way I don’t mind the matte look.

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And there you go. Peel them off the paper when set and enjoy. Even those who were dubious about the coloured white chocolate loved them.

I loved making them so much. I noticed the pretzel shape is also one of a heart. I think I may have a crack at making red ones for Valentines Day, although as you wont need to the see the hollows I might leave the shortening out.

Happy Halloween folks!

 

A lazy girl’s guide to Syn Free Chips

Chips. You know I love ’em. With most things really. Fish (well I am British), steak, eggs, on their own. There’s just something about a chip. It’s the white shirt of the food world, dressed up to the nines one day and comfy casual the next. Trouble is chips are traditionally made by frying in large amounts of oil. Even oven chips have an oily coating to help them crisp up. Not great when you want to eat more healthily, as I do.

Slimming World rave about their syn free method of making chips from scratch, they’re quite rightly proud that they have found a way to make chips available to those who want to eat food that is better for them. Trouble is, it dosent matter which SW recipe I follow for Syn Free Chips, I have never been able to produce a chip I actually want to eat. So after some research on the internet, I have devised my own way of cooking them. And I bloody love them.

As I was trying to explain to my group last night, I forgo the par boiling of potatoes, as I found it to be fussy and wide open for error (although if you can do it and get good results them more power to you). Here is the method I use – I urge you to give it a go!

 

This much potato will make enough for four, or two hungry gannets like me and my hubby

This much potato will make enough for four, or two hungry gannets like me and my hubby

Pop the potatoes in the microwave, whole, for about 6-7 minutes. You want them just underdone.

Pop the potatoes in the microwave, whole, for about 6-7 minutes. You want them just underdone.

When they come out and you can handle them (although I'm too impatient to wait) slice them thickly and cut into chips

When they come out of the microwave and you can handle them (although I’m too impatient to wait long!) slice them thickly and cut into chips. You can do this ahead of cooking if you need to.

Put chips on a baking tray spayed with FryLight. Don't worry if they wont quite all fit in one layer, they shrink while cooking. Spay with Frylight and add whatever seasonings you like. I most often use sea salt and pepper, but another favourite is garlic salt.

Put chips on a baking tray spayed with FryLight. Don’t worry if they wont quite all fit in one layer, they shrink while cooking. Spray the chips with more FryLight and add whatever seasonings you like. I most often use sea salt and pepper, but another favourite is garlic salt.

Put high up in a very hot oven (I use Gas Mark 9). Shake once or twice during cooking.

Put high up in a very hot oven (I use Gas Mark 9). Shake once or twice during cooking.

Cooking times will vary depending on your oven, but I usually find they take around 45 minutes. Ish.

And there you go. No pans, no mess. Easy Peasy and they go with so much. Tonights effort was paired with gammon, poached egg, salad cucumber and mushrooms.

They go with so much. Tonight’s effort was paired with gammon, poached egg, salad leaves, cucumber and mushrooms. All Syn free.

And there you go. No pans, no mess and minimal effort.

Give them a go – I hope you enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slimming World Update – Week 34

Hello! How nice to see you.

I would like to start with a massive thank you to everyone who read last weeks SW update and found it in their hearts to respond with such warmth and love. It was truly felt and I am so grateful for all of you. Thank you.

So, on to business. As you can tell, I attended group on Thursday rather than Tuesday – purely for reasons of logistics i.e. I couldn’t get there on Tuesday 😉 . Anyway, I’ve had a better week this week. I can’t tell you the difference a bit of sun makes! After last weeks slump I felt I needed a little inspiration and turned to the SW website – it’s a great resource for members, particularly for recipes. Now one of the things I love about SW, is that you can take most recipes, from most sources and make them healthier, and more in line with the SW principles. One of my favourite Chilli recipes still comes from an old Jamie Oliver book I have. And yes it’s free, without much tweaking at all. But sometimes it’s just nice to get some inspiration, without having to make any tweaks. And this week I found what could potentially become a new fave in the Savage house, Caribbean Pepperpot Stew. It’s basically a more jazzed up and fiery version of a beef stew and man was it good! This week we also tried Mexican Chicken (from the BBC Good Food website) which introduced me to the amazing and satisfying heat of Chipotle (pronounced Chip O Lay for those of you who’ve never been to Texas!) Paste. They were both so good, we’re having both of them again this week! Nom nom nom.

It’s definitely true that you can get bored, in eating as much as in life, if you keep on doing or having the same thing. And I think mixing it up a bit has been really good for me. It’s made me think about what I actually want to eat and helped me to discover new ingredients. Its added interest and a touch of excitement. And that can’t be a bad thing. It’s easy to fall back on staples and whilst I’m not suggesting anyone should bin their favourite recipes for a completely new repertoire, trying new things really can be a revelation.

And despite having a wedding reception to attend the past week (again decided to try something different and opted for White Wine Spritzer – a longer drink for less syns) I was delighted to find I’d lost 2lb at last nights weigh in. That’s the 1.5lb I gained last week, plus another 0.5lb. Score! That takes me to a total of 4 Stone 12.5lb (68.5lb). I’m so very very close to my 5 Stone award that that’s my goal for this week – to lose 1.5lb and get that certificate on my cupboard door! Having had a bit of a rearrange, I’ve got a space ready and everything!

Rearrange - only the most recent Slimmer of the Week

Rearrange – only the most recent Slimmer of the Week

Just crying out to be filled :)

Just crying out to be filled 🙂

Have a great week!

xxx