The Crazy Kitchen: January 2013

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Thursday, 31 January 2013

Pimp My Pancake - Competition

You've heard of 'Pimp my Ride' but now it's time for you to pimp your pancake's in goodtoknow's new competition, and be in with the chance of winning one of 5 £50 Sainsbury's vouchers.

All you have to do is make your pancake's using their basic recipe which you can find here, then jazz them up, take a picture and do one of the following :

Twitter : tweet @goodtoknow or @GTKrecipes with your pancake, using the hashtag #pancakesmyway

Facebook : share your pancakes on the goodtoknow or goodtoknow recipes pages

Pinterest: Follow goodtoknow and pin your pancake, using the hashtag #pancakesmyway

Email: email your pancake to goodtoknowrecipes@ipcmedia.com

More details, along with T&C's can be found here.


Here's my pimped up pancake, using the basic recipe plus a few extra ingredients.

Chocolate & Hazelnut Pancakes

110g Plain Flour
2 Eggs
200ml Milk (I used Almond milk)
75ml Water
40g Chopped Hazelnuts
1 Heaped tbsp Nutella
Boiling water
Squirty Cream
  • Separate the eggs and whisk the egg white until it forms soft peaks
  • Sift the flour
  • Beat the egg yolks with the milk
  • Pour the milk into the flour along with the whisked egg whites and mix to combine
  • Stir in 25g of the chopped hazelnuts
  • Heat some butter or oil in a pan & add some batter and swirl it around 
  • Fry the pancake until browned on one side before flipping over and browning on the other side
  • Repeat until all the batter has been used up
  • Mix the Nutella with a small amount of boiling water until it's of pouring consistency
  • Squirt the cream over the pancake, drizzle with chocolate sauce & scatter with the remaining chopped hazelnuts
You could stack or roll the pancakes or serve them as they are - delicious!

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Mailsports Swim Specialists - Review

My 10 year old daughter is a keen swimmer, currently training 5 times per week. It's an expensive business, there's monthly training fees, gala entry fees and not to mention the kit that she needs - swimsuits, tracksuits, bags, hats, goggles, fins and floats. It all mounts up, so when I was contacted by Mailsports swim specialists to ask if I wanted to review an item from their range it couldn't have come at a better time.

Hanna had only recently acquired a new swimsuit and goggles at one of the many galas that she'd been to but had just been asked to provide a new piece of training gear - hand paddles. These are worn on the hands
to help teach swimmers to adopt the correct palm position and thus improving their stroke. Mailsports have a variety of hand paddles but we chose the Finis Agility Paddles as we had been advised that the strapless ones were best.

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She is over the moon with the paddles and hopefully they'll help her perfect her strokes for the upcoming galas.

If you have a little fish in your family, or are indeed a bit of a fish yourself then Mailsports have swimwear and accessories for men, women and children, including performance wear and goggles.


I was sent the paddles for the purpose of this review



Zalando Online Fashion Boutique - Review

I must admit I'd never heard of Zalando when they contacted me to ask if I wanted to review any of their products. When I had a look on their website I was really surprised at the massive range for men, women and children. I could have chosen anything I liked for myself, a new coat perhaps or a pair of shoes?

Instead my motherly instincts kicked in and I found myself browsing the mens football boots as my 12 year old son's feet are growing at such an alarming rate that he's getting through football boots and trainers like there's no tomorrow.

The order process was straightforward enough and I placed the order and redeemed my code without any trouble. Unfortunately it wasn't as straightforward after that as, after chasing up with a phone call and emails, it became apparent that my order had become 'lost' somewhere en route to me. After initially receiving standard email responses I did then go on to receive more helpful replies and was advised that my order has been mis-routed and was now on its way to me. I suspect that the change in response was due to the fact that this order was for a review, however I can't be sure of that and would hope that all customers would receive the same helpful responses if they had a problem, rather than standard emails. 

These delivery problems aside, I then received the football boots within 2 working days, bringing a smile to the face of a rapidly growing pre-teen.

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I was provided with a voucher towards the cost of items from the Zalando website for the purpose of this review.



Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Snow Volcano - Science Sparks

It's been a while since we've done any science experiments here, but after seeing the snow volcano on Science Sparks last week it would be a shame not to give it a go before the snow disappeared for good.

At Christmas I bought a bottle of Chambord raspberry liquor and once empty (it didn't last long!) I washed the bottle out and left it on the shelf, knowing that it would come in handy one day. It was a perfect size for the volcano, wide at the bottom with a narrow neck.


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I added some food colouring (we opted for green), washing up liquid and bicarbonate of soda and the boys then buried it in the snow. I poured vinegar in the bottle, and we waited....





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Next time we will need to use more food colouring as the colour wasn't very strong, but apart from that it worked quite well.

For more science experiments pop over to the fabulous Science Sparks

Sciencesparks3

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Bar Stools are not just for Breakfast

In our house breakfast is definitely the favourite meal of the day with the children. I have never known them to skip breakfast, and they will often follow a bowl of cereal by fruit or toast, or another bowl of cereal. At the weekend we all try and eat together, and on Sundays, the only leisurely morning of the week, I try and make something a bit more exciting than cereal or toast.

Pancakes are the most commonly requested breakfast 'treat' and I've previously shared my favourite recipe for American style pancakes, but as they're so good there's no harm in sharing it again.

American Style Banana Pancakes

1 cup plain flour
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp oil
1 banana, mashed
  • Mix all the ingredients together until well combined, but do not over beat/whisk.
  • Spoon or pour batter (I find it easier to pour from a jug) into a greased non-stick frying pan around 3 inches in diameter
  • When the pancakes are dry around the edges flip them over & fry on the other side until browned
  • Drizzle with lashings of Maple syrup



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We're lucky that we have quite a large kitchen with a big table in the centre where we all sit when we're eating together. On weekdays though the children and husband often take shifts at the breakfast bar. The stools we have aren't the most comfortable but they do the job. When we re-fit our kitchen (hopefully this year or next) I definitely want to get something more comfortable, like these breakfast bar stools from Atlantic Shopping. With padded seat, variable height and 360 degree swivel I think that we're going to be needing a bigger breakfast bar though, as no-one is going to be wanting to vacate these in a hurry.

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This post is supported by Atlantic Shopping

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Newborn at NEXT - Review

Whoever said that girls clothes were cuter than boys obviously hasn't seen the newborn range at Next. There is something to suit all tastes, stars & stripes, cars and cute little puppies. There are little shirt and trouser sets as well as plenty of rompers, all in ranges that can be mixed and matched.

I was asked if I would like to receive some items from the Mother and Baby range, which includes maternity clothing, nursery furniture, bedding and accessories, as well as baby clothing up to 18 months. My children are well past this stage and I have no plans any time soon to be needing any maternity clothing or kitting out a nursery, but the next generation of our family is on its way with my husband's eldest daughter (my step-daughter) expecting her first baby in May.

She found out on New Year's Eve that she's expecting a boy, and the first thing I did was pop along to the Next sale and buy a festive romper for next Christmas. It was really difficult to choose items from the new  range as there are so many lovely things, but in the end I settled on these, which you have to agree are so very cute, as well as being of a lovely quality.



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I still can't quite believe that we're going to be Grandparents, but now can't wait for the new arrival to be be here.


I was sent the above items for the purpose of this review.

images courtesy of Next.co.uk

Friday, 25 January 2013

Sugar Free Raspberry Muffins

I felt a bit guilty after I'd made muffins with my husband's favourite chocolate so I thought I would make him something nice to make up for it. The very same day I received some Total Sweet* sugar alternative in the post so decided to give it a go in muffins.


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Sugar Free Raspberry Muffins - Makes 10-12

175g Self Raising Flour
25g Ground Almonds
1 tsp Baking Powder
50g Total Sweet
150g Mashed Banana (2 small bananas)
2 Eggs, beaten
75ml Sunflower Oil
150 ml Milk
100g Frozen Raspberries

  • Mix the flour, almonds, baking powder & Total Sweet together
  • Mix the banana, eggs, oil & milk into the dry ingredients - do not over mix, it should be lumpy
  • Break the raspberries up and stir gently into the mixture - just a couple of mixes
  • Divide mixture between muffin cases 
  • Bake in a preheated 180 C oven for 18-20 minutes
  • Cool on a wire rack

The husband thought these were THE best muffins, and I must admit they do seem to be improving every time I make a batch. He now has a sweet treat that he can enjoy without worrying about having too much sugar. My regular muffins only have 50g of sugar in (per 12) anyway and considering your average low fat yoghurt has around 17g of sugar in, one of my muffins surely has to be better for you!

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* some of the benefits of Total Sweet - low GI value, non artificial, aspartame free, suitable for diabetics, 40% less calories than sugar. Excessive consumption may have a laxative effect, especially in children, so eat sparingly

I was sent some Total Sweet to try out in my recipes

Pasta Fish Bake

The family is divided on fish, 2 like it, 2 don't (unless it's white & covered in batter & served next to a pile of chips wrapped in paper) and the other one hasn't really decided yet. From time to time I like to please the fish loving pair and thought a fish pie would do the trick. As Candy Crush has pretty much taken over my life I was snowed under with work I opted to use pasta instead of all that faffing with peeling, boiling and mashing of the potatoes.

It did the trick anyway and the fish lovers loved it, the non fish lovers were not so keen on the after smell. Thank heavens for Yankee Candles..

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Pasta Fish Bake - Serves 3/4

350g Dried Pasta
355g Mixed Fish (I used haddock, smoked haddock and salmon)
100ml Milk
200g Cream Cheese (low fat onion & chive)
100g Frozen Peas
100g Frozen Sweetcorn
1 tsp Cornflour
Dash of milk
2 Hard boiled Eggs, each cut into 8 pieces
85g Cheddar Cheese, grated

  • Put the pasta on to boil as per directions on the pack
  • Bring the milk to a boil in a lidded pan (suitable for oven use)
  • Add the fish to the milk, turn down heat, place the lid on for 7-8 minutes
  • Stir in the cream cheese, peas and sweetcorn
  • Mix the cornflour to a paste with the milk and stir into the pan
  • Once the pasta is cooked stir it into the pan & add the eggs
  • Cover with grated cheese and bake in a 200 C oven for approximately 15-20 minutes until golden brown




Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Cadbury Fruit & Nut Muffins

The husband loves Cadbury Fruit & Nut but on his birthday he got told he was diabetic. By this time he'd already opened a couple of bars of the chocolate which he just put to one side. He also received some for Christmas a few days later as he hadn't yet shared the news of his diabetes with everyone.

Sooo, 'waste not want not' and all that, I decided to make some muffins for the rest of us to enjoy...

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Cadbury Fruit & Nut Muffins - makes 12

175g Self Raising flour
120g Cadbury Fruit & Nut, roughly chopped
1 tsp Baking powder
50g Caster sugar
100g mashed banana (1 medium banana)
3 Eggs, beaten
75ml Sunflower oil
150ml Milk

  • Mix the flour, chocolate, baking powder & caster sugar together
  • Mix the banana, eggs, oil & milk into the dry ingredients - do not over mix, it should be lumpy (I had a momentary lapse of concentration & slightly over-mixed, resulting in some flat topped muffins)
  • Divide mixture between muffin cases 
  • Bake in a preheated 180 C oven for 18-20 minutes
  • Cool on a wire rack

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Now, I don't wish to blow my own trumpet but these were good, really good, so good in fact I would go so far as to say they are better than Costa Coffee muffins....if you don't believe me then try them for yourself!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Paprika Potatoes

This is a great alternative to mashed, boiled or roast potatoes. It's really tasty as well as being very easy to prepare.


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Paprika Potatoes - serves 4/5

1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, sliced
750g Potatoes
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Turmeric
200ml Vegetable stock


  • Heat the oil in an ovenproof lidded pan
  • Add the onion & fry gently for 5 minutes
  • Dice the potatoes (approx 1-2cm) and add to the pan
  • Stir in the paprika, turmeric & stock and mix well
  • Place in a preheated 200 C oven with the lid on for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through
  • Add salt & pepper to taste before serving as an accompaniment to your meal

Time for a change

At the moment it feels as though Spring is a long way off, but over the next few weeks the days will be getting longer and (hopefully) warmer. Spring usually brings with it change, whether it be rearranging the furniture, cleaning out the cupboards, decorating or something more major such as a house move or extension.

I'm always rearranging the furniture, whatever the time of year, and we have no plans to move or have an extension any time soon, although a garage conversion is high on my wish list. I would however like to spruce up the lounge, with a lick of paint, new carpet and perhaps some new curtains. 

We've managed to keep the beige carpet relatively clean looking, despite being subjected to many tea, coffee and soft drink spillages (no red wine I might add) and not to mention the amount of toddler accidents that it's seen over the past nine years. It's time for a new one though, due to the one and only threadbare patch in front of the husband's chair, proving my thoughts that he watches too much tv. (Hello husband if you're reading, you know it's true!)

The current curtains have been up for quite a few years now, well when I say 'up' they were taken down when we decorated a couple of years ago as I wanted new ones but then didn't find anything I liked so they went back up again. Now I'm bored and want a change. I'm sure that even a fussy person such as myself can find something to go with our wallpaper in the massive range at Tuiss curtains, or maybe it's time for new wallpaper too...

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Curried Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

During this cold snowy weather the perfect lunch to have is a hot steaming bowl of soup. I've always got a butternut squash kicking around which is great for making home-made soup as it's so tasty, filling and my kids love it.

Butternut squashes are not the easiest of things to peel unless you have a really good peeler, or you're prepared to lose a large chunk of the flesh by slicing the skin off with a knife. If you're making soup though you don't need to peel it as the skin is easier to remove once it has been roasted, and if you're like me and don't like waste then you can use the skin in the soup too. The apple in this soup adds a sweetness to it and, because it doesn't contain any oil or cream, it's naturally low in fat too.

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Curried Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

1 Large Butternut Squash
1 onion
2 Eating Apples
500ml water or stock
1 tbsp Curry powder (or to taste)
  • Cut the butternut squash into 4 pieces & remove the seeds (don't throw them away as they can be toasted) & the stalk
  • Peel & roughly chop the onion
  • Core & chop the apple
  • Place the onion, squash & apple into an ovenproof dish or pan with a lid (or cover with foil)
  • Roast in a 200 C oven for 50-60 minutes until the flesh is soft
  • Add the curry powder & stock & bring to the boil on the hob (you may need to transfer to a saucepan if your pan can't be used on the stove top)
  • Using a stick blender blend until smooth, adding more water if needed
  • Add salt & pepper to taste


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Best Ever Chocolate Cake (version 2)

At the weekend I had the urge to make a cake, possibly something to do with the cold weather, or maybe the bottle of fizz that I'd consumed the night before. I didn't have any Greek yoghurt or chocolate spread to make my 'best ever chocolate cake' so I improvised with what I had in the cupboards, as there was no way I could buy what I needed as we were snowed in. Well maybe 'snowed in' is a bit dramatic but I definitely didn't fancy taking the risk for the sake of a cake. The result was just as good as the best ever chocolate cake and lasted only a day - just don't tell my kids that 2 of their chocolate reindeer's went into making it!


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Best Ever Chocolate Cake (version 2)


175g Stork for baking
175g Soft Dark brown sugar
150g Self Raising Flour
25g Cocoa Powder
1 tbsp Baking Powder
3 Eggs
1 Milk Chocolate Reindeer (120g), melted
50ml Almond Milk

Icing
200g Full Fat Cream Cheese
1 Milk Chocolate Reindeer (120g), melted
3-4 tbsp Almond Milk
  • Beat the Stork & sugar
  • Sift the flour, cocoa & baking powder together
  • Add the dry ingredients along with the eggs, melted chocolate and milk
  • Beat well until combined
  • Divide mixture between 2 x 8" round pans that have been greased & lined with baking parchment
  • Bake in a 180 C oven for approx 25 minutes, until the tops are springy
  • Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tins & allowing to cool fully on a wire rack
  • Beat the cream cheese, melted chocolate and almond milk together
  • Sandwich the 2 cakes together with half of the icing and use the rest to spread over the top
  • Decorate as desired - I used red M&M's

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Thursday, 17 January 2013

How to Make a Silicone LEGO Brick Mould

After posting a picture of my Lego cake I was asked a few times about the silicone that I used to make the mould for the bricks, so here's my best attempt at a tutorial.

The Silicone Plastique can be bought from online retailers as well as Amazon & Ebay. I bought a 200g tub for £14.95 from The Cake Decorating Company, and whilst it doesn't seem much 200g would make approx 25 of these small Lego brick moulds.

The Silicone Plastique comes in 2 parts which need to be mixed together to work with. My advice would be to only mix as much as you need as you can't re-use it once it has cured.

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It really is that simple. You can then use the mould for chocolate, sugarpaste or clay to make cake decorations, keyrings or pieces of jewellery - the possibilites are endless.

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Win a Chocolate Hamper from Thorntons

Christmas is well and truly over now, which probably means the Christmas chocolate has all been eaten too. A chocolate hamper from Thorntons could be just what you need to give you your chocolate fix up until Easter, and in conjunction with Thorntons I'm giving you the opportunity to win one of their 'I Love Chocolate' hampers.

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The hamper contains all of the following :

  • Continental Milk, White & Dark collection - 300g
  • Moments - 250g
  • Chocolate Smothered Toffee Box - 525g
  • Continental Viennese Bag - 105g
  • Premium Collection - 96g
  • Continental Alpini Bag - 112g
  • Milk Chocolate Block - 90g
To be in with a chance of winning please complete the Rafflecopter form below, and don't forget to check out the Thorntons website for yummy boxed chocolates, and also remember that Thorntons sell some personalised chocolates too, perfect for birthday's, Valentine's Day and anniversaries.



a Rafflecopter giveaway brought to you in conjunction with Thorntons

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Muesli & Banana Muffins

These are great for using up the last dregs of the muesli, which we always seem to have after everyone decides they like muesli, I buy a box and then the novelty wears off. They are like banana muffins with a bit of added texture from the muesli. They're very moist and not dissimilar to banana bread, so you could slice them in half & spread with butter.

I used greaseproof paper instead of paper cases as I watched Lorraine Pascale do it, and it's a lot cheaper than using the fancy tulip cases - just a little more rustic. I've also used Almond Milk instead of regular milk, just because I love it, but it also means that they're dairy free.


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Muesli & Banana Muffins - makes 12

175g Self Raising flour
120g Muesli
1 tsp Baking powder
50g Caster sugar
175g mashed banana (2 small bananas)
3 Eggs, beaten
75ml Sunflower oil
150ml Almond milk
1 tbsp Demerara sugar
sprinkle of cinnamon

  • Mix the flour, muesli, baking powder & caster sugar together
  • Mix the banana, eggs, oil & milk into the dry ingredients - do not over mix, it should be lumpy
  • Divide mixture between muffin cases (or squares of greaseproof paper)
  • sprinkle the top of each with a little demerara sugar and cinnamon
  • Bake in a preheated 180 C oven for 18-20 minutes

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Monday, 14 January 2013

Best Chocolate Cake Ever

After seeing some of the indulgent birthday cakes I made towards the end of last year, I got asked by a couple of friends to make a cake for them. The first one that I was asked for was a LEGO cake. I'm the first to admit that I'm not great with the decoration on cakes, especially large birthday cakes, so I knew this would be a challenge.

I made silicone moulds using food grade silicone & Lego bricks and then used these to make bricks from coloured icing. It was quite time consuming with only 2 moulds and each brick needing approximately 5 minutes in the freezer before popping out, but the result was worth it and there was one happy boy who declared it was the 'best cake ever'.


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The second cake was a lot simpler - decorated with a box of 16 Ferrero Rocher.


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Both cakes were made using the same recipe, which I've used lots of times before - Chocolate Fudge Cake. I've recently discovered a new way of making a very tasty (and easy) chocolate icing, which I used for both of these cakes too. It just uses 2 ingredients, cream cheese and chocolate spread and results in a really rich and chocolatey topping, and, unlike many butter icings, isn't too sweet. For a Ferrero Rocher cake you could use Nutella to give it more of a nutty taste.

Best Chocolate Cake Ever

175g Stork for baking
175g Soft Dark brown sugar
150g Self Raising Flour
25g Cocoa Powder
1 tbsp Baking Powder
3 Eggs
100ml Greek Yoghurt

Icing
300g Full Fat Cream Cheese
200g Dark Chocolate Spread


  • Beat the Stork & sugar
  • Sift the flour, cocoa & baking powder together
  • Add the dry ingredients along with the eggs & yoghurt
  • Beat well until combined
  • Divide mixture between 2 x 8" round pans that have been greased & lined with baking parchment
  • Bake in a 180 C oven for approx 25 minutes, until the tops are springy
  • Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tins & allowing to cool fully on a wire rack
  • Beat the cream cheese & chocolate spread together 
  • Sandwich the 2 cakes together with some of the icing and use the rest to cover completely




Thai Spiced Pork & Peppers

Here's another tasty healthy recipe that doesn't take very long to prepare. It's similar to a sweet & sour without too much of the 'sweet'.


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Thai Spiced Pork & Peppers - serves 4/5

1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp Thai paste
600g Pork Loin steaks, cut into strips
3 Peppers, de-seeded & sliced
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Cornflour, mixed to a paste with a little cold milk



  • Heat the olive oil and thai paste in a pan for 30 seconds
  • Add the pork and stir to coat with paste
  • Cook for approx 10 minutes, stirring regularly
  • Add the peppers, tomatoes and soy sauce
  • Place the lid on & cook for approx 5 minutes
  • Thicken the sauce with the cornflour paste (use as much as needed to thicken)
  • Cook for a further 2-3 minutes
  • Serve with Basmati rice



Thursday, 10 January 2013

Spicy Sausage & Bean Cobbler

I'm loving my new cast iron casserole dish that I received as a Christmas present, yes I am one of the sad ones that asks for pots & pans instead of diamonds and pearls - you can take the girl out of the kitchen but you can't take the kitchen out of the girl. I'm using it as often as possible for a spot of one pot cooking and the husband doesn't even complain about washing it as nothing sticks to it, no matter how hard I try.

A family favourite in this household is sausage casserole and as the casserole dish can be used on both the hob and in the oven I decided to finish it off with some cheese topped scones on top - in hindsight I perhaps shouldn't have topped them with apricot stilton as the fruity bits burnt a little.


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Spicy Sausage & Bean Cobbler - serves 4/5

1 tbsp Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
625g Good Quality Sausages (I used Chipolatas as Asda substituted my Cumberland sausages!)
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Mild Chilli powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
400g Can of tomatoes
410g can of Baked beans
300g can of Cannelini beans, drained
1 tbsp Tomato puree

Topping
250g SR Flour
1 tsp baking powder
60g Butter
70g cheese, grated (I used a mix of leftover Christmas cheese - mexican hot and white stilton with apricots) + extra for topping
pinch of dried rosemary (optional)
125ml milk + extra for brushing the tops

  • Heat the oil in an ovenproof/stovetop dish & add the onion & garlic
  • Fry gently for approx 5 minutes, until softened
  • Cut the sausages each into 3 or 4 pieces
  • Add the sausages to the pan & fry until browned off
  • Add the paprika, chilli powder & cayenne & stir in
  • Add the tomatoes, beans and tomato puree
  • Stir well, place the lid on and simmer for around 20 minutes
  • Make the scone topping by rubbing the butter into the flour
  • Stir in the cheese & herbs and then the milk until the mixture comes together 
  • Roll out onto a lightly floured surface to approx 2cm thick
  • Using a 5cm cutter cut circles out
  • Arrange the scones on top of the casserole and brush with milk and top with grated cheese
  • Bake in a preheated 180 C oven for around 20 minutes, until the scones are lightly browned & cooked through




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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Chicken Kedgeree

I know that traditionally Kedgeree is made with fish, but we're not all great lovers of fish so I've used chicken - maybe I can no longer call it Kedgeree, possibly it should be called a Biryani or a risotto, who knows. I wanted to put boiled eggs on the top though (as I over bought on the eggs and now have 42 in the fridge!) so I'm calling it Kedgeree!

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Chicken Kedgeree - serves 4

1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp Curry powder
320g Brown Basmati rice
1 litre of water (or stock)
200g cooked chicken breast strips (I used frozen ready cooked)
100g frozen peas
100g frozen sweetcorn
125g Asparagus tips, sliced
1 tsp coriander paste (or handful of chopped fresh coriander)
2 boiled eggs, quartered

  • Heat the oil in a large pan
  • Add the onion and garlic and cook for approx 5 minutes to soften, without browning
  • Stir in the curry powder and rice and then add the water, stir well
  • Bring to the boil, turn the heat down, place the lid on and simmer gently for 20 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed
  • Stir in the chicken, peas, sweetcorn, asparagus and coriander and cook for a further 5 - 10 minutes with the lid on (you may need to add additional water if the rice starts sticking)
  • Serve with the boiled egg quarters


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

No Added Sugar Fruit & Nut Flapjacks

It seems as though lots of people are starting the new year off with a health kick, out with the cakes and puddings and in with the fruit smoothies and crispbread, and this household is no exception. Just before Christmas the husband was told that he's now diabetic, leaving me with a vacant position of chief taste tester (applications on the back of £50 notes please), and no urge to bake (hence the radio silence from my blog), I mean, a cake without sugar is, well, bread...and we have loaves of the stuff cramming every inch of the freezer.

I do like a challenge though, so my aim now is to come up with some healthy (ish) recipes that use little or no added sugar that are also tasty enough for the whole family to enjoy.

First up, flapjacks - they seem pretty healthy, what with all those oats, but they also contain quite a lot of butter and sugar. I've replaced the sugar with dried fruits and the butter with olive oil and thereby reducing the saturated fat significantly (13g in 100ml Olive oil versus 48g in 100g butter). I added a few peanuts to give them a crunch but you can leave these out or replace with another nut - we have an abundance of salted peanuts after Christmas!

No Added Sugar Fruit & Nut Flapjacks - makes 16

125g Dates
125g Dried Apricots
150ml boiling water
100ml Olive Oil
50g peanuts, chopped (I used salted peanuts & rinsed the salt off)
200g Porridge Oats

  • Chop the dates & apricots and place in a bowl
  • Pour the boiling water over, stir and cover and leave overnight.
  • Blend the dates/apricots/water to a paste
  • Heat the paste and olive oil in a pan until it comes together - approx 5 minutes, remove from heat
  • Stir in the chopped peanuts and oats and stir well
  • Press into a well greased 20cm x 20cm square pan - I use a sandwich bag over my hand for this
  • Bake in a preheated 180 C oven for 18-20 minutes, until lightly browned
  • Cut the flapjacks into squares and allow to cool fully in the tin before removing


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I was quite impressed with how well these turned out, they didn't fall apart and are plenty sweet enough. Everyone, apart from Sam (who said they were 'too nutty') liked them too - even Jack, who took one bite, said he didn't like it and then later said he did and ate a whole one, claiming they were 'delicious'.


Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year's Eve - DVD Review

Before Christmas we were sent a lovely little package of a Santa stocking filled with 2 DVD's and some chocolates. I haven't had much time for watching TV over Christmas so they've been left in the stocking, hanging on the fireplace. Today was the day that the Christmas tree and decorations came down so, as I was home alone, I thought it would be a great opportunity to watch one of the DVD's, 'New Years Eve', whilst I packed Christmas 2012 away.

One of my favourite 'feel good' movies is Love Actually and this film has a similar feel to it, telling the story of how various characters will be seeing the new year in. I'm not great at following films that go back & forth all over the place so I did find it necessary to pause and rewind a few times whilst I plucked baubles from the tree. 

The storyline is based around preparations for the Times Square ball drop as well as other events including getting stuck in a lift, a birth and a death, rekindling a romance and Jon Bon Jovi performing in Times Square.

As the storyline progresses you see the connections forming between some of the characters. Without giving too much away, the ending is a little predictable but that's what rom-com's are all about, and I was left with a warm fuzzy feeling watching Zac Efron schmoozing Michelle Pfeiffer.

If you like romantic comedies then I would definitely give this movie a watch but, unless you have a particularly soppy husband, leave it until they're at the football.



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