The Crazy Kitchen: January 2015

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Tuesday 27 January 2015

One Pan Egg Ratatouille

This year I'm continuing to work with British Lion Eggs as a 'Shortcut Eggspert', where I'll be sharing my own family recipes using eggs. We eat a lot of eggs as a family, and I'm particularly partial to one or two for breakfast, and if the husband is in charge of dinner (which doesn't happen very often) you can guarantee that it will include eggs as they're quick and easy to cook.

The brief for the first challenge of 2015 was to cook something 'quick and healthy' with eggs as a main ingredient. As I'm trying to shed a few pounds at the moment this challenge was an easy one for me, and I chose to make something that is great as a lunch for one, or served to the whole family (just increase the quantities accordingly).

One Pan Egg Ratatouille

One Pan Egg Ratatouille
- serves 1

olive oil
1/2 small red onion, sliced
1/3 courgette, sliced
1/4 red pepper, sliced
1/4 green pepper, sliced
1/4 aubergine, sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
tsp dried thyme
4 mushrooms, sliced
cherry tomatoes
tbsp tomato puree
tbsp hot water
1 egg
  • Heat a little olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan
  • Add the onion & fry for 2-3 minutes
  • Add the courgette, pepper, aubergine, garlic & thyme
  • Fry for approx 5 minutes, stirring regularly
  • Add the mushrooms & tomatoes & cook for a couple of minutes longer
  • Mix together the tomato puree & water & stir into the pan
  • Make a well in the middle of the vegetables & crack the egg into it
  • Place the pan in a preheated 180C oven and cook for approx 10 minutes, or until the egg is cooked to your liking
  • Serve in the pan to save on washing up!

One Pan Egg Ratatouille One Pan Egg Ratatouille One Pan Egg Ratatouille One Pan Egg Ratatouille

Here are my previous #shortcuteggsperts recipes :

Chicken & Egg Fried Rice
 photo chickenfriedrice2jpg_zps3673282f.jpg

Omelette Fajitas
 photo eggfajitas3jpg_zps58217fb8.jpg

Roast Dinner Tart
 photo roastdinnertart4_zps712fd6d6.jpg

I was provided with vouchers to cover the cost of ingredients used

Friday 23 January 2015

Meatballs in Coconut Milk Gravy

Leading a busy life and cooking full meals from scratch every night isn't always easy, so I like to have a few staple items in my freezer to help me out on those days when I'm in a rush, or just feeling a little uninspired. Along with the usual sweetcorn and garden peas I like to have ready chopped onions, sliced mushrooms, peppers, cooked chicken strips and meatless meatballs or mince, which can be used to make bolognaise, chilli, curries and pasta dishes in minutes.

I also like to freeze my fresh herbs in a ziplock bag which makes it convenient to then add them to dishes - once the herbs are frozen they can be scrunched up in the bag, so no need for chopping.

A couple of weeks ago I made some meatballs and discovered that a very tasty 'Ikea-like' gravy could be made using a beef stock pot and a can of coconut milk. Making the meatballs from scratch takes a bit of time, but ready made meatballs from the freezer are really convenient, and these meatless meatballs from Asda are great for a vegetarian dish (substitute the beef stock pot for a tbsp Marmite).

Meatballs in Coconut Milk Gravy

Meatballs in Coconut Milk Gravy - serves 4

tbsp olive oil
1/3 bag of frozen chopped onions
1/3 bag of frozen sliced mushrooms
bag of frozen meatless meatballs
1 beef stock pot
1 can of coconut milk
  • Heat the oil in a pan
  • Add the onions and fry until softened
  • Add the mushrooms and meatballs and fry for 5 minutes
  • Stir in the stock pot and coconut milk
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for approx 15 minutes until the gravy has thickened

This is great served with mashed potato (which can also come straight from the freezer) and peas

 photo COOLCOOKERYINGREDIENTS_zpsde7066c5.jpg  photo coolcookerycooking_zpsc4e3e6ea.jpg Meatballs in Coconut Milk Gravy Meatballs in Coconut Milk Gravy Meatballs in Coconut Milk Gravy

I’m working with BritMums and highlighting the versatility, economy and nutritional benefits of cooking with frozen food. All opinions are my own. For recipes and ideas visit

Thursday 22 January 2015

Sugar & Gluten Free Apple & Almond Cake

The husband was diagnosed with diabetes just over two years ago, and since then he's cut down on biscuits and other sweet things, lost some weight and taken more exercise. His sugar levels then went back to normal for a while, but he started to get a little complacent, and whilst he didn't turn back to the custard creams completely, he perhaps ate more of the sweet stuff than he should, which ultimately led to a rise in his sugar levels. Being the good wife that I am, I experimented with recipes that use natural sweeteners rather than added sugar and came up with a cake that's sweetened with dates and Bramley apples. I also decided to use ground almonds instead of flour, which also makes this suitable for those following a gluten free or Paleo diet too.

The almonds and fruit make this a very moist cake, and whilst it's not as 'cakey' as one made with flour, it is very moreish.

Sugar & Gluten Free Apple & Almond Cake

Sugar & Gluten Free Apple & Almond Cake

100g dates
1 medium Bramley apple, peeled, cored & chopped
100ml water
juice of 1 lemon
175g butter, softened
3 eggs
185g ground almonds
tbsp. cinnamon
a few flaked almonds for topping
  • Place the dates, apple, lemon juice and water in a pan
  • Cook over a medium heat until the apples have softened completely
  • Remove from heat and beat until as smooth as possible
  • Place the butter into a bowl and beat in the apple/date mixture until well combined
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time
  • Beat in the ground almonds and cinnamon until combined
  • Grease & line a loaf tin & pour in the batter
  • Smooth the batter over & scatter with flaked almonds
  • Bake in a 180°C oven for 30-35 minutes, until the top is browned & when a skewer is inserted it comes out clean
  • Remove from the tin and allow to cool fully on a wire rack

Sugar & Gluten Free Apple & Almond Cake Sugar & Gluten Free Apple & Almond Cake Sugar & Gluten Free Apple & Almond Cake

Monday 19 January 2015

Bramley Apple Crumble Slices

Since the new year there hasn't been much baking going on here. That way there are no temptations to sabotage my diet, but of course, the blog starts to suffer. I'm currently waiting for my new oven to be fitted, which I'm hoping will be this week, so this could be my last bake in my old oven. I have no sentimental connection to my old oven, and can't wait to get my long awaited new and shiny model fitted.  The old one has done well though, and has been put through it's paces for the past 11 years, despite being a bit crooked, hotter on one side, not having a functioning light & worn away temperature controls. The main difference will be my hob, as I'm getting rid of my gas one and having an induction fitted. This is going to make a huge difference in terms of speed - the gas hob takes an age to bring water to the boil - as well as giving me an extra work surface and be easier to clean. I'm just a little bit excited..

Onto the Bramley apple crumble slices, which were a Sunday morning bake, eaten as an afternoon snack after working on a fence in the garden (husband & Jack) and going for a run (myself & Hanna), as well as dessert after a big roast.

Bramley Apple Crumble Slices

Bramley Apple Crumble Slices

shortbread base
150g plain flour
50g caster sugar
85g butter

apple centre
2 medium Bramley apples, cored & peeled
tsp cinnamon
handful sultanas
tbsp caster sugar

crumble topping
100g plain flour
50g butter
25g demerara sugar
tbsp cinnamon
30g almonds
  • Make the base by adding the flour, sugar & butter to a food processor.
  • Pulse until everything starts to come together
  • Press into the base of a greased & lined tin (28cm x 17cm)
  • Slice the apples into wedges and then slice thinly
  • Scatter the apple over the base
  • Sprinkle over the cinnamon, sultanas and then the sugar
  • Make the crumble topping by adding all the ingredients to a food processor & pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs
  • Scatter crumble over the apples & press down
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven for approx 30-40 minutes, until the apples are softened and the topping has browned
  • Allow to cool fully before slicing 
Bramley Apple Crumble Slices Bramley Apple Crumble Slices

Bramley Apple week is 2nd-8th February 2015

Thursday 15 January 2015

Bacon, Avocado & Warm Vegetable Salad

New year, new start. Are you sick of hearing people saying that yet? Wondering if they will even make it into February with their sugar free, alcohol free, fat free, gym filled plans. 

Every year my year starts off similar to that, but by the time the summer holidays come around the wine has begun to flow more freely, the 'chips n dips' get consumed at a rate of knots, and the gym membership starts to feel a little lonely. Come September the heat is back on to get the body in shape for Christmas, but there are too many temptations around. There are always temptations around when you have a food blog, but the lead up to Christmas always seems worse as I'm a sucker for desserts favoured with the winter spices of cinnamon and mixed spice.

This year I want things to be different. I don't want to start 2016 exactly the same weight as I was at the start of 2015, 2014, 2013 etc. 2015 is going to be the year I get fit and lose the fat. Towards the end of last year I started going to boot camp once or twice a week but as the evenings drew in the class times became disorganised, and as a result I stopped going. By this time though I had found a love for running (quite hard to believe even for me) and now regularly go 3-4 times per week. I may not be fast at running but my stamina is improving each week, and this week I signed up for a muddy 5k run in the summer.

I'm also trying to get back on track with eating a more paleo friendly diet. I'm not eating clean 100% of the time but most of my meals are heading in the right direction. I do love a good salad, and when I spare a few minutes longer than it takes to make a sandwich, I come up with results like this, making me wonder why I don't do it more often.

Bacon, Avocado & Warm Vegetable Salad

This was an amazing tasting salad, and one that I could eat every day. I just need to make sure that I set aside that little bit of extra time each day to put it together.

Bacon, Avocado & Warm Vegetable Salad - serves 1

3 rashers of dry cured streaky bacon
1 red onion, sliced
a few thin slices of aubergine
1/2 courgette, sliced
1 avocado, peeled,stoned & sliced
salad leaves - I used cos and rocket
balsamic vinegar
  • Cut the bacon into 2cm pieces
  • Heat a non stick frying pan and add the bacon
  • Fry until crispy and then add the onion, aubergine and courgette
  • Fry until the vegetables are softened
  • Remove from the heat and add a splash of balsamic vinegar to the pan
  • Arrange your leaves and avocado on the plate with the warm vegetables and bacon on top
  • Drizzle with the juices from the pan
  • Serve immediately

Bacon, Avocado & Warm Vegetable Salad Bacon, Avocado & Warm Vegetable Salad , Paleo

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Healthy Soups - Creamy Leek & Potato

The healthy eating has started and the fitness mission is well and truly underway. Extra vegetables are being consumed, and whilst the kids aren't particularly fussy about eating them, one of the best ways to make sure they get enough is in home made soup. Two of the most popular flavours I make are a butternut squash and a curried parsnip soup, but this time I tried another flavour, which is always a risk, not knowing if the kids will enjoy it.

Soup is usually a very thrifty meal, and a potato soup is possibly one of the thriftiest. Throw these together with a couple of leeks and you have enough soup for a family for less than £2. According to the 'Real-time Food Consumption in the UK' infographic produced by Quandoo, since you started reading this blog post over 4000 kg of potatoes have been consumed in the UK.  Obviously I didn't use quite that many in this recipe, although if I did I'm sure it wouldn't have taken very long for my lot to eat it all!

Leek & Potato soup

Creamy Leek & Potato Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
250g leeks, sliced
6-8 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
1 litre vegetable stock
150ml reduced fat creme fraiche
salt & pepper
  • Heat the oil in a large pan
  • Add the onion, garlic & leeks & fry for 2 minutes
  • Add the potatoes & stock & bring to the boil
  • Place a lid on & simmer until everything is softened (or add to a slow cooker and cook on medium/high for 3-4 hours)
  • Stir in the creme fraiche
  • Either blend with a hand blender, or mash with a potato masher if you like a bit more texture to your soup, adding additional stock if you want a thinner soup
  • Season with salt & pepper to taste 
Thankfully everyone loved this soup so it's another one to add to our regular soup list. I like to add a swirl of hot pepper sauce to mine...

Leek & Potato soup Leek & Potato soup

I found these beautiful duck egg bowls & plates in Tesco at the weekend and couldn't resist buying them.

Why not go back to the infographic and see how many potatoes have been consumed since you last checked...

This post has been commissioned by Quandoo

Monday 5 January 2015

Chicken & Fennel in a Creamy White Wine Sauce

Hands up all those who are starting some kind of healthy eating regime now that Christmas and New Year are done & dusted? Well. that's probably most of is then. It's lovely to kick back, relax and over indulge a little over the festive period, but it's also nice to get back on the wagon and start putting a bit more of the healthy stuff inside our bodies to make us less sluggish on these cold and dark mornings.

I've been exercising over the new year and have been out for a few run/walks, including both new year's eve and new year's day, so I haven't felt too guilty about putting away a few extra calories of chocolate, but now that the husband is back to work and kids back at school it's time to eat proper, regular meals again, without any snacking on chocolate santas or reindeer in between.

This chicken dish feels very indulgent with it's creamy sauce, however with just 150ml of reduced fat creme fraiche in the sauce it's a bit kinder on the waistline than a sauce made with double cream. As is the case with many of the meals I cook, it's a very simple one pot dish that can just be thrown in the oven whilst you go off and do something more exciting - like exercising for instance!

Chicken & Fennel in a Creamy White Wine Sauce

Chicken & Fennel in a Creamy White Wine Sauce - serves 4

tbsp olive oil
4 boneless chicken breast (skin on)
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed & halved
2 large onions, peeled & quartered
small handful of fresh Thyme
ground black pepper
250ml Lindeman's Bin 95 Sauvignon Blanc
150ml reduced fat creme fraiche

  • Heat the oil in a wide & shallow ovenproof pan (or you can transfer to a casserole dish)
  • Place the chicken breasts in, skin side down
  • Fry until the chicken skin is lightly browned
  • Turn the chicken over (or transfer to the casserole dish)
  • Add the onions, fennel, thyme & a few twists of black pepper
  • Pour in the wine
  • Cover and bake in a preheated 180C oven for 45 minutes before removing the lid and cooking for a further 15 minutes
  • Ensure the chicken is cooked all the way through and the vegetables are tender
  • Remove the chicken & vegetables from the pan & set aside
  • Whisk the creme fraiche into the pan
  • Serve the chicken & vegetables on a bed of potato and butternut squash mash & spoon the sauce over

Chicken & Fennel in a Creamy White Wine Sauce Chicken & Fennel in a Creamy White Wine Sauce Chicken & Fennel in a Creamy White Wine Sauce Chicken & Fennel in a Creamy White Wine Sauce

This post has been commissioned by Lindeman's

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