They say a bad workman always blames his (or her) tools, but there is some truth in the matter. Talent can only carry you so far – you need the right tools for the job in order to push the boundaries into something exceptional. The kitchen is no different – you might be the best at distinguishing thyme from rosemary, and you might know your Julienne from your batons, but without the best tools, it’s tricky to elevate your cooking to the next level.

Here are five kitchen essentials that no budding chef should ever be without.

5 Kitchen Essentials for budding chefs

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If you’re single: fear not. Even though you might not have a man in your life, there’s still plenty of room for delicious food. Invite your bestie over and pig out on something delicious. There’s so much to choose from.

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate brownies - ideas for a proper pig out

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Chocolate brownies are one of the most decadent and delicious foods on the planet. And thanks to a bunch of enterprising vegans, they can now be among the healthiest. It turns out that you don’t have to make brownies with the usual combination of sugar, white flour and egg. Instead, you can use black beans (yes, you read that right), wholemeal oats and maple syrup and create the same effect. Beans, it turns out, are the new flour, and they’re a lot healthier too. In fact, beans have been shown to reduce blood sugar spikes following a meal, helping to protect your pancreas. It’s all good news for those of us who like a bit of custard with our dessert.

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As a busy mum who works full-time I have been reading up on how to quickly bake up cakes. I honestly didn’t know you can utilise your microwave to cook up many different things. I’ve only ever used mine for warming up beans or the odd microwave meal. I love the idea of a microwave chocolate cake!

I made a gluten free chocolate cake a while back for a birthday but that was in a normal oven.

But after looking at recipes on Pinterest many people do use the microwave for baking cakes. So I decided to give it a whirl!

I chose to start with a full size cake, duh! Not a mug cake, which I want to try next time.

Chocolate cake is a huge favourite in our house so that was the one to start with. I have listed the ingredients and method so you can try it at home as well if you wish.

Microwave Chocolate Cake

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Over the past few years I have gotten into making my very own Christmas cakes. Last year I made one. This year I’m attempting two! I always use the same easy Christmas cake recipe. I’m not sure how I came about it. I think over the years I have added my own bits to it. Now it really is the ultimate easy cake recipe. I think the most effort needed is to weigh out all the ingredients.

Easy Christmas Cake Recipe

Ingredients for your Ultimate Christmas Cake

  • 525g Currents
  • 225g Sultanas
  • 225g Raisins
  • 110g Mixed Candied peel finely chopped
  • 165g Glace Cherries halved
  • 300g Plain Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Mixed Spice
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 300g Butter
  • 300g Soft Brown Sugar
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 6 Large eggs
  • 3 tbsp Brandy

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I love this time of year. A Lazy night in is exactly what you need after a busy day at work. With the dark evenings and cold weather, tucked up in front of the TV is just perfect.

Now if you are like me I must have snacks while I’m watching TV especially if it’s a great film!

The perfect little snack around at the moment is these little squidgy cake bites from Soreen. They are extremely moreish and trust me one is not enough!

Lazy night in with Soreen Squidgy cake bites
The Squidgy Cake Bites Come in this cute little sharing tub, which I did share with my husband. Although I could have eaten the lot!

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