The Crazy Kitchen: May 2015

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Saturday, 30 May 2015

Birds Eye #MixUpYourMenu Twitter Party

Come and join us on Tuesday 2nd June from 1pm - 2pm for a Birds Eye #MixUpYourMenu twitter party, hosted by Britmums, where you can share tips, tricks and tasty family meals.

You can be in with a chance of winning 1 of 10 £25 shopping vouchers and Birds Eye vouchers when you tweet along using the #MixUpYourMenu hashtag. 

If you have any recipes or meal ideas that include these Birds Eye favourites we would particularly like to see them:

Fish fingers
Wholegrain fish fingers
Chicken Chargrills
Beef burgers
Peas

Over the past couple of weeks we've been going Birds Eye mad in The Crazy Kitchen, and have so far been feasting on Chicken Chargrill naan bread pizza, beef[burger] fajitas and fishfinger waffle butties, to name a few.


Birds Eye #MixUpYourMenu Twitter Party
#MixUpYourMenu

Don't forget to join us for inspiration and to share your own ideas. In the meantime check out how Katie from Feeding Boys & a Firefighter has been mixing up her menu, as well as these Birds Eye Vine videos.

Here is one of my own Vine videos (my very first), to show how simple it is to make a fishfinger pie, using just fishfingers, peas, mashed potato and cheese.


FISHFINGER PIE





I'm working with Britmums and Birds Eye on this #MixUpYourMenu campaign

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Lemon Prosecco Syllabub

When asked to put together a dinner party menu but only recreate one of the courses which course do you think I chose? hmmm, now let me think...

Although I am a savoury girl at heart, I do love a good dessert, especially home made. I will rarely eat a dessert when I go out for a meal as I'm often left disappointed (especially at the prices some of these places charge for a measly slice of mediocre cheesecake!) However, I will find it hard to resist a homemade dessert, even after a hefty meal.

This lemon Prosecco syllabub not only looks indulgent in the individual cocktail glasses, it is also extremely easy to make, and can be mostly prepared in advance, with just some minimal assembly before serving.

Lemon Prosecco Syllabub Lemon Prosecco Syllabub Lemon Prosecco Syllabub Lemon Prosecco Syllabub Lemon Prosecco Syllabub

Find the full recipe and my complete dinner party menu here.


Thank you to Dave from Wolseley Wine Loft for all his help and the great wine recommendations. If you've ever in the region of Wolseley Bridge, on the edge of Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, then please call in.

Dave's wine recommendations

starter  : Famille Bougrier Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2013 - £17.95

main : Tom Knappstein 'Riposte' Pinot Noir called 'The Dagger' - £11.95

dessert : Bella Modella Prosecco - £9.99 

cheese course : Pecorino from the Abruzzo region of Italy - £12.50


If the UK does happen to have a shortage of Prosecco this summer, as predicted, then Dave is on hand to recommend some great bottles of Cava or sparkling wines from South America, Australia & New Zealand.


this recipe has been commissioned by Great British Chefs

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Apple, Pork & Leek Pie

A couple of weeks ago we acquired an allotment, which had plenty of weeds to clear, but also quite a few leeks. They were a bit past their best but once the tough centre had been removed the rest was fine, and once they had all been cleaned up and sliced I ended up with 3 large freezer bags full. Next came the job of deciding what to do with all those leeks, and first I made a chunky leek & potato soup, which the kids lapped up for lunch within hours of the leeks being picked.

Chunky leek & potato soup with leeks that were still in the ground a few hours ago #allotment #recipe #veg #growyourown

With some pork left over from a roast the natural thing to make next was a pork and leek pie, which I added some grated apple to and a handful of sage. There are no accurate measurements for this pie as I never weighed the leftover pork or leeks, so just use whatever you have.

Apple, Pork & Leek Pie

Apple, Pork & Leek Pie

approx 1kg leeks, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
knob of butter 
black pepper
vegetable stock cube
approx 200ml double cream
fistful of sage
leftover roast pork
2 eating apples (Braeburn), grated
sheet of puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

  • heat the oil and butter in a large pan
  • add the sliced leeks and stir over a medium heat
  • add some ground black pepper and crumble a vegetable stock cube in
  • sautee the leeks until softened & then stir in the cream, sage, pork and grated apple
  • continue cooking over a medium heat until heated all the way through
  • pour the filling into a large shallow dish
  • lay the sheet of ready rolled pastry over the dish, and tuck in any overhanging edges
  • brush with the beaten egg
  • bake in a preheated 200C oven for 30 minutes, until golden brown
    Apple, Pork & Leek Pie Apple, Pork & Leek Pie Apple, Pork & Leek Pie

Follow our allotment journey here.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Cinnamon Cake with Mascarpone & Caramel filling {and 30+ more ways with mascarpone}

What would you do with a tub of mascarpone that needed using up?

Eat it straight from the tub alongside a dessert?

Make cheesecake or tiramisu?

A couple of weeks ago I had a tub that was close to its use by date so I decided to make a cake, and use the mascarpone as a filling. I didn't have enough chocolate spread in my cupboard to make my usual easy filling of cream cheese & chocolate spread (I would've substitute the cream cheese for mascarpone), but I did have some homemade caramel sauce lurking at the back of the fridge, which I thought would go perfectly with the cinnamon cake.

Cinnamon Cake with Mascarpone & Caramel filling

Cinnamon Cake with Mascarpone & Caramel filling

4 medium eggs (approx 230g weighed in their shells)
230g butter, softened
230g caster sugar
230g self raising flour
1 tbsp cinnamon

filling
250g mascarpone
60g caramel sauce
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp icing sugar
  • beat the butter and sugar together until pale & creamy
  • beat the eggs in one at a time until well combined
  • sift the flour & cinnamon together and fold into the batter
  • divide mixture between two greased & lined 8" sandwich tins
  • bake in a preheated 180C oven for approx 20 minutes, until springy to the touch and lightly browned
  • leave to cool in the tins for approx 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely
  • beat half of the mascarpone with the caramel sauce, until smooth
  • beat the remaining half with the cinnamon & icing sugar
  • spread each of the fillings onto the base of each cake, and sandwich together


Cinnamon Cake with Mascarpone & Caramel filling Cinnamon Cake with Mascarpone & Caramel filling

Check out my Pinterest board for 30+ more ways with mascarpone

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Bank Holiday Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Bank holidays are usually a time to get together with friends and family, and this weekend we did just that. On Friday night we attended a football presentation for my eldest and then went onto the local pub with friends for a few drinks (and discovered yummy buffalo wing flavour pretzel pieces). On Saturday we had friends over, who brought with them some lovely sweet peas, and we spent time catching up over a few drinks whilst the kids played football in the garden.

 sweet peas

Sunday was a family day, spent celebrating the 2nd birthday of a special little boy (and a new bike, chocolate cake and a game of Pictionary).

 photo william_zpsyeven8mj.jpg  photo william present_zpstkouvkgi.jpg  photo william cake _zpsdgsutnfe.jpg  photo pictionary_zpszxspusor.jpg

As I didn't want to spend the day cooking I went to my go-to meal that enables me to spend as little time as possible at the cooker whilst guests are here, but never fails to impress. Slow cooker pulled pork is so easy to prepare, and I usually cook it the day before we need it and then reheat it in a shallow dish covered with foil, in the oven alongside baked potatoes.

I usually cook the pork on a bed of onions which I then blend with some of the juices and bbq sauce to make a gravy, however this time I added apples along with the onions and then added them to the pork once it had been shredded.

 Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork - serves 8

1.5kg - 2kg pork shoulder joint
pulled pork seasoning (you can find my recipe for bbq seasoning here
3 eating apples, cored & sliced
5 onions, peeled & sliced
400ml cider (or cola, dr pepper or apple juice)
bbq sauce
  • remove any netting or string from around the pork joint
  • pat the pork dry and rub the seasoning all over
  • add the apples & onions to the bottom of a slow cooker pot
  • place the pork on top
  • pour the cider into the pot 
  • cook on high for approx 5 hours, or until the pork falls apart easily
  • remove any fat & discard
  • using 2 forks, shred the pork
  • drain the apples & onions from the cooking liquid & stir into the pork
  • stir some bbq sauce into approx 200ml of cooking liquid and pour over the pork
  • serve with soft bread rolls, baked potatoes & coleslaw


 Slow Cooker Pulled Pork  Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

I made a little video showing how I made the pulled pork, just please excuse the poor sound quality & the annoying beeps from my GoPro!


More delicious pulled pork recipes can be found on the Love Pork website here.



This post was commissioned by Love Pork. 
Follow the #AchieveLazy hashtag for more pulled pork ideas.


Thursday, 21 May 2015

Chicken and Mushroom Korma

Many families like to enjoy a curry together, either at home or at their local curry house, and our family is no exception. The kids love a korma, whilst myself and the husband usually like something with a bit more of a kick. Therefore, when I'm cooking a curry at home, I usually make a korma and then add extra spice to ours.

This recipe is really easy to make, and shows that a homemade curry from scratch doesn't have to take as long as you may think. You can also save time when making your next curry by doubling up on the paste and storing it in a jar in the fridge. I like to use coconut milk as it adds a nice flavour, but you can substitute with cream if you like it richer. I also absolutely love mushrooms, and adding them towards the end with the chicken ensures that they stay plump and don't become overcooked. The chicken can be substituted for extra mushrooms or additional vegetables to make a vegetarian version.

Chicken and Mushroom Korma

Chicken and Mushroom Korma - serves 4

paste
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp crushed garlic
2 tbsp vegetable oil

curry
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp water
400g can coconut milk
500g chicken breast, cut into 2-3cm pieces
500g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
fresh coriander
  • mix all the paste ingredients together and set aside
  • heat the oil in a large pan and add the onions
  • fry over a moderate heat until softened
  • stir in the paste and water and continue to fry over a moderate heat until the oil begins to separate from the spices
  • stir in the coconut milk and bring slowly to a boil
  • stir in the chicken and mushrooms and turn down to a gentle simmer
  • cook for an additional 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked throug
  • serve with fresh coriander and boiled basmati rice

Chicken and Mushroom Korma Chicken and Mushroom Korma Chicken and Mushroom Korma Chicken and Mushroom Korma




This recipe was commissioned by the Just Add Mushrooms campaign

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Simple Summer Salsa

Sometimes at the weekend, when we have hungry house guests passing through, and I've not even thought about what we're having for dinner, I bring the tortilla chips out. As you can't eat tortilla chips without something to dip them in, I like to rustle up a fresh tomato salsa and an avocado salsa.

 photo red salsa_zpsvzsbg4jz.jpg


Tomato Salsa

6 ripe red vine tomatoes, chopped
2tsp caster sugar
1/2 red onion, chopped
tbsp chopped red chilli
tbsp chopped coriander
  • Mix everything together
 photo green salsa_zpsiemqq9o3.jpg

Avocado & Mango Salsa

1 avocado, chopped
1 mango, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
tsp caster sugar
tsp chopped red chilli
tsp chopped coriander
  • Mix everything together
 photo red salsa 2_zpsa4xsasi7.jpg  photo green salsa 2_zpsr90kzdgu.jpg

This particular time I also put together some individual bowls of cheesy nachos with mixed grated cheese with sliced jalapenos on the top.

 photo nachos_zps42vkhgxv.jpg

The making of the salsa's was made much easier with the use of Daregal chopped and frozen herbs. The herbs are grown and harvested in France and Spain, and then washed, chopped and frozen for consumer convenience. They are perfect for using in Salsa as I've done here, as well dressings, marinades, soups and sauces.

 photo frozen herbs_zpsepqrw7xn.jpg  photo frozen chilli_zps0do8qpum.jpg  photo frozen coriander_zpsfcfbxwqj.jpg


I was provided with samples free of charge

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Win a £250 gift voucher with Lindeman’s #CaptureTheSunshine

Summer is coming, although I wish it would hurry up as I've just put the heating back on! Until the warmer weather does arrive though, I'm going to capture the sunshine with Lindeman's Bin range.

 photo Lindemans_zps7sblffmb.jpg

If you fancy doing the same, and be in with a chance of winning a £250 gift voucher and 3 cases of wine, all you need to do is create a menu using Lindeman's wine. 

You could create dishes similar to these two that I've previously featured on my blog.

 photo risotto_zpsmbxaqjkt.jpg

 photo chicken fennel_zpsbkwdmjez.jpg


To find out more details, and check out the other entries, visit the Foodies 100 site.





This post has been commissioned by Lindeman's

Monday, 18 May 2015

Berry Chocolate Cheesecake

My kids love fruit and we get through loads each week. They particularly like fruit salads and smoothies (as it avoids them doing any peeling as I've done it for them!), which I like to add some fruit juice to. Cherry juice is not only a great looking (and great tasting) juice but it also contains antioxidant properties, and some research has shown that a daily glass of cherry juice can help reduce symptoms of inflammatory disorders such as gout and arthritis. 

Berry Chocolate Cheesecake


Cherry Good juice is made from Montmorency cherries, grown in the 'cherry belt' around the shores of Lake Michigan, which are picked in the summertime and squeezed in a specially designed cherry press to produce a vibrant red juice.

Cherry Good Juice

There are many ways to use cherry juice in sweet or savoury dishes (recipes can be found on the Cherry Good website here), and I've used some to make a delicious topping for a rich chocolate cheesecake.

Berry Chocolate Cheesecake

Berry Chocolate Cheesecake

berry filling/sauce
200ml Cherry Good cherry juice
75g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
150g frozen Morello cherries (or mix of cherries & raspberries)

cheesecake
18 Oreos (approx 1.5 packs), crushed
50g butter, melted
600ml double cream 
200g good quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
400g full fat cream cheese

to decorate
whipped cream
  • Make the berry filling/sauce first by adding the Cherry Good, sugar and cornflour to a pan
  • Bring to the boil and add the cherries (if using raspberries add these later)
  • Simmer for approx 10 minutes to thicken (if using raspberries add them at this stage & then bring back to the boil)
  • Remove from heat & allow to cool
  • Make the cheesecake base by mixing the crushed Oreos and melted butter together
  • Press into the base of a loose bottomed 20cm cake tin
  • Place in the fridge whilst the filling is made
  • Heat the cream until it just reaches boiling point
  • Add the chocolate to a large bowl and pour over the hot cream
  • Leave for 10 minutes before whisking until smooth
  • Whisk in the cream cheese, until smooth
  • Continue whisking until it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon
  • Pour into the cake tin & place in the fridge for a few hours or overnight before removing from the tin
  • Finish off by piping whipped cream around the edge of the cheesecake & spooning the sauce into the middle

Berry Chocolate Cheesecake Berry Chocolate Cheesecake Berry Chocolate Cheesecake








This recipe has been commissioned by Cherry Good

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Soft Boiled Egg & Seasonal Vegetable Salad

We get through a lot of eggs in this house, whether they're baked into cakes, scrambled on top of toast, cooked into an omelette or just plain boiled. Since getting an induction hob we've found a new love for soft boiled eggs, as it's easier to keep the pan on a rolling boil than it was with our old gas hob.

I'm particularly enjoying a soft boiled egg smashed on top of a crumpet for breakfast or on top of a salad for lunch. The beauty of having a soft boiled egg on a salad is that the egg forms part of the dressing - a bit like a healthy mayo.

  Soft Boiled Egg & Seasonal Vegetable Salad

This seasonal vegetable and egg salad can be eaten warm or cold, but I chose to eat this one cold, smothered with a zesty lemon dressing and runny egg yolk. You don't need to use exactly the sam ingredients as I've used - use whatever you fancy, have in the fridge or is in season.

Soft Boiled Egg & Seasonal Vegetable Salad - serves 2

1 or 2 room temperature eggs
bunch of asparagus
sprouting broccoli
handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
few slices of cucumber
juice of half a lemon
tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
sea salt & pepper to taste
  • Bring a small pan of water to the boil, add the eggs & simmer for 4.5 minutes
  • Remove the eggs & place into a pan of cold water until you need them
  • Bring another pan of water to the boil and add the asparagus & broccoli for a minute or 2 (depending on how crunchy you like it)
  • Remove and place into a pan of cold water, and then drain
  • Add the asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, onion & pepper to a large bowl
  • Mix together the lemon, oil & mustard 
  • Drizzle over the dressing & toss to coat the vegetables
  • Divide the salad into two bowls/plates
  • Peel & slice the eggs & add to the top of the salad
  • Season with sea salt & freshly ground black pepper & serve
  Soft Boiled Egg & Seasonal Vegetable SaladSoft Boiled Egg & Seasonal Vegetable Salad



This recipe has been created for a #shortcuteggsperts challenge. I have been provided with shopping vouchers to cover the cost of my ingredients. More egg recipes can be found here.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

4 Food & Drink picks in Puerto Portals / Portals Nous

With Majorca only around two hours away from UK airports, it's a great place to go for a short, adult only break, especially at the beginning of the season when fares are cheap. A couple of weekends ago I went on a four night break, flying out of East Midlands, for just £69 return. The price would've been bumped up considerably had I booked a hold bag, but instead I chose to take just hand luggage. Ryanair have increased their hand baggage limit and instead of taking just one piece you can now take an extra small bag. In fact, according to their display boards at East Midlands you can take the 2 pieces plus a bag of airport purchases - however don't be fooled into thinking that you have the same generous limit on the return as we saw people at Palma airport being told that it was just two bags and witnessed a couple being charged 50 Euros each to check oversized bags in (which were accepted on the outbound flight).

Once in Majorca you may be wondering where to stay, and may be fooled into thinking that you will be limited to the rowdy resorts of Magaluf and Palma Nova if you only want a short transfer from the airport. A few years ago I discovered the upmarket resort of Portals Nous (also known as Puerto Portals), which is around 20 minutes from Palma airport. We found the Costa Portals hotel for just 115 Euros each for the 4 nights, all inclusive. Whilst we didn't take full advantage of the all inclusive status, it was a great base, staff were friendly, the rooms were clean and the pool area was modern (albeit a bit small).


Puerto Portals / Portals Nous beach Puerto Portals / Portals Nous beach

Whilst it's very upmarket in places (particularly the Michelin starred Tristan restaurant and million pound cruisers in the marina), we found places to eat and drink very reasonably, and here are a few that we've tried out.

Roxy Beach Bar
Situated at the end of the main beach at Puerto Portals the decking clad concrete platform juts out into the clear sea. It looks to have been recently refurbished with very new looking decking and tables & chairs, including a few extremely comfortable loungers. 

It's a great spot for watching the world go by, either first thing in the morning or into the evening, and the food and drink is pretty good too. They do a great jug of Cava sangria, which accompanied our chicken salad and filled baguettes.

There isn't a toilet on site but if you ask at the bar for the key you will be presented with a yellow plastic spade attached to a key that will open a toilet door at the top of a steep flight of steps.

Roxy Beach Bar, portals nous

Diablito
We enjoyed a fantastic meal here on the last night of our weekend. The restaurant had a really relaxed yet bustling atmosphere, and we sat at wooden tables in the glass screened area outside, heated by large patio heaters. 

We were perhaps a little too hungry when choosing from the menu, and ordered far too much food from the tempting meals on offer, which included fajitas, nachos, pasta, pizza, ribs and wok dishes. It was really hard to choose as everything sounded so good. In the end I settled for the ribs and they were amazing, and fell cleanly off the bone without effort. The prices are really good, considering the quantity and quality of the food.


Diablito, portals nous

Ritzi Lounge Bar
A few of us went here a couple of years ago early one evening to sample their huge vodka menu, whilst lounging on large comfortable sofas overlooking the Marina. This time we visited late into the evening and enjoyed cocktails, which were served with a plentiful supply of savoury snacks and olives. They also have a very extensive champagne menu, with bottles priced up to 1400 Euros! It was extremely busy evening with a real party atmosphere and loud music. We planned to go back again for more cocktails but after eating our mammoth meal at Diablito our beds were calling us instead!

Ritzi Lounge Bar, portals nous

Chameli's Cafe & restaurant
This restaurant is positioned up in the town rather than in the Marina, and is only a short walk or taxi ride away from the Marina. We first noticed it as it was so much busier than the other restaurants nearby so decided to call in after a couple of drinks in a nearby bar to see what all the fuss was about. The staff were really friendly, and although they were no longer serving meals we did manage to persuade them to serve us some desserts that we spotted in a fridge by the bar. The desserts were nice, but not amazing, and the bright green minty sauce was a bit odd.

Chameli's Cafe & restaurant, portals nous

We then booked a table for the following evening, and when we arrived we were immediately recognised by the waiter, and shown to the table. The food arrived quickly, but perhaps a little too quickly for us, which left us wondering if it was all cooked fresh to order or not. The meal was nothing special, and although I would return as we had no complaints as the prices and service was good, it isn't somewhere I would immediately rush back to (unlike Diablito).

Chameli's Cafe & restaurant, portals nous

Escape Lounge - East Midlands Airport
I also have to give special mention to the Escape Lounge at East Midlands airport. As we were only taking hand luggage (and taking advantage of Ryanair's new 2 bag policy) we were able to skip queues at check-in, sail through security (halted briefly by a replacement hip, too many tubes of toothpaste and a stray bottle of sun cream) and head straight for departures, where we took full advantage of the 'maximum 3 hours' policy in the lounge. At a cost of £18.99 per person (minus the 10% cashback received via quidco) it was well worth it for the free wifi, delicious sandwiches, salads, cheese, chutney, pastries and cakes, and of course wine, beer and cider.

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