The Crazy Kitchen: September 2017

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Friday 29 September 2017

Autumn & Winter Garden Party Ideas

Summer may be over, but don't let that stop you entertaining outside and making the most of the mild weather whilst it lasts. Even into the colder months, with a few fun ideas, a heat source and a party gazebo, you can enjoy quality time with your family and friends and show them that your hosting skills aren't limited to Summer.

End of Summer Party
Mark the end of the summer by recreating all the drinks you've enjoyed over the warmer months, whilst blasting out the best banging tunes of the summer. An English garden party isn't complete without a jug or two of Pimms and a Gin based English Garden Cocktail.

Outdoor Movie Night
Set up a large screen and projector, throw down a few bean bags and cosy blankets, and enjoy a classic movie under the stars. For the perfect movie night, don't forget the endless supply of popcorn.

Pumpkin Carving Party
Pick up a few pumpkins from your local farm shop, grab some carving tools, download a selection of pumpkin templates, and you're all set up for a fun and competitive carving party with both the young and the old. Be sure to keep the pumpkin flesh and seeds as roasted pumpkin seeds make a tasty snack, and the flesh can be used in a delicious and hearty pumpkin soup. 

Campfire Party
Keep everyone warm and cosy around the campfire, whilst singing your favourite campfire songs and toasting marshmallows. Set up a s'mores bar, with an endless supply of chocolate squares and graham crackers (digestive biscuits are the UK's closet alternative) to make the most popular campfire treat, whilst sipping on a mug of cocoa.

Photo by Autumn Mott on Unsplash

Halloween Party
Halloween parties are so much fun, and it gives us the opportunity to bring out our inner child, and go to town on the decorations and Halloween party treats.  Set up a few scary props around the garden, and let the kids loose on a trick or treat treasure hunt, whilst the adults enjoy some Dragon's Blood Punch! Make it even more fun by having prizes for the best costumes.

Sausage and Cider Party
BBQ's don't just have to be for summer. Cook up a few varieties of sausage, and have a fun 'guess the flavour' contest, whilst keeping your guests warm with a glass or two of mulled cider, with a non alcoholic version for the younger guests.

Dig out your Lederhosen, bake some giant pretzels and stock up on German beers for the party of the year. Set up a few long tables in your gazebo covered with checkered tablecloths, and serve platters of Bratwurst with German potato salad and sauerkraut. Don't forget to hire in an Oompah band or make a playlist of some of the best Oktoberfest tunes to make your party go with a bang.

Bonfire Night Party
If you've got a really large garden it's possible to set up a safe bonfire and firework display of your own. Make sure you follow all safety measures to keep everyone safe, and don't forget the sparklers, toffee apples and other home made bonfire night treats.

Autumn & Winter Garden Party Ideas

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Tuesday 26 September 2017

Beef and Vegetable Curry - a Pressure Cooker Recipe

Do you ever get to the end of the week and barely have anything left in the fridge, or at least anything that's worthy of making a meal to feed a family? This is the position I found myself in at the end of last week. The fridge wasn't exactly empty, as I had lots of veg, but very little of each. When I usually find myself in this situation I make a soup, but who wants soup on a Friday? Fridays are for something a little bit special, like fish & chips from the local chippy, or a takeaway. However I needed to use up the bits and bobs before my next shop, so, along with a pack of beef from the freezer, I decided to use the veg and make a curry.

Beef and Vegetable Curry - a Pressure Cooker Recipe

If you keep a few spices in your store cupboard it's easy (and cheap) enough to make a curry from scratch, and by using a pressure cooker, such as the Pressure King Pro, it's possible to cut down the cooking time too. The beauty of making a curry from scratch means that you can make it as spicy or as mild as you like, as well as adding your favourite spices, and leaving out those that you're less keen on. It can also be made low fat by using a small amount of oil, or indulgent by adding dairy cream or coconut cream. I only used a small amount of oil in this recipe, making it totally suitable for anyone following Weight Watchers or Slimming World. You can also substitute the beef for lamb, chicken, turkey or pork, but if you use chicken breast it's best to add it for the last few minutes of cooking.

Beef and Vegetable Curry - a Pressure Cooker Recipe

It might seem like a lot of ingredients, but most of them are vegetables, which you can substitute with the vegetables you have in your fridge.

Beef and Vegetable Curry - a Pressure Cooker Recipe

Friday 22 September 2017

10 Dinner Party Themes your Guests will Love

We all love a good get together with family and friends, so why not really impress them at your next dinner party by going all out with a theme night. These ideas will provide something suitable for everyone, whatever style and cuisine takes your fancy. It's also a good excuse to dust off your favourite dinner sets that you've been keeping in the dresser for a special occasion.

Mexican Fiesta
The sky is the limit when it comes to a Mexican Fiesta. Decorate the house with bright and colourful streamers, banners and piñatas. Serve platters of nachos and salsa, followed by fajitas and quesadillas, and invite everyone to come along in their biggest and brightest sombrero.

Mexican pinata

Beach Party
Come dressed to impress in your beach wear (you may need to turn the heating up if it's winter!), chill some beers, blow up a few inflatable palm trees and serve up fish and chips in a sandcastle bucket.

Brit Awards
Decorate the room with Union Jacks and posters of all your favourite British pop stars and bands. Ask everyone to dress in evening wear, or even as their favourite Britpop singer - see how many Geri Halliwells you get in that union jack dress! Serve canapés and cocktails to your guests whilst having a game of 'name that tune'.

Hawaiian Luau
Build a Tiki bar in the garden from old pallets and employ a Hawaiian shirt clad barman to serve up Pina Coladas and Mai Tais in pineapple skins . Then give everyone a flower Lei to wear whilst partaking in a game of limbo.

Who says breakfast foods are just for breakfast. Set up an all night buffet of pancakes, waffles, croissants, fresh fruit and the good old full English, whilst everyone relaxes in their pj's, drinking Bloody Mary's and liquor coffees.
Race Night
Don your best hat and fascinator, choose your horses and place your bets (with paper money of course), and see who comes out on top. 

Cheese Night
A must for all cheese lovers. Serve platters of cheese and biscuits, pair your cheeses with wines, fruit and chutney, and finish off with cheesecake for dessert. Why not throw in a game off blindfolded cheese tasting with some of the strongest cheeses you can find. Do you have the nose for it?

Retro Dinner Party
Dinner parties were all the rage in the 70's, so why not recreate the night by inviting everyone to wear their widest flares and highest platforms, and serve up a few 70's classics, such as prawn cocktail, fondue and black forest gateaux. Don't forget the Babycham and snowballs too!

Christmas in July
It may be summer outside but don't let that stop you from enjoying a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, pulling a few crackers, and wearing a hideous Christmas jumper. Don't forget the presents, the cheesy Christmas tunes, and a game of charades too.

Murder Mystery
Buy a murder mystery box set or download instructions from the internet, send out your invites, have everyone turn up in costume to meet the theme and era of the night, serve some themed food and drink, and use your powers of deduction to discover whodunnit!

murder mystery night

With a little advanced planning, whatever theme you decide to go for, it will be a night to remember.

10 Dinner Party Themes your Guests will Love

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Wednesday 20 September 2017

Caramel Stroopwafels

Tuesday night tv is a bit of a treat at the moment isn't it, starting off with Bake Off, followed by Dr Foster. This week was even more of a treat for me as the husband was away so I had the remote control to myself, with no risk of popping out to make a cuppa during an ad break and coming back to football, or any other random sport, on the screen.

What a night bake off was, starting off with some delicious caramel shortbreads, followed by a few grainy stroopwafels in the middle, and ending up with some epic (and one not so epic) caramel cakes.

A few days ago I thought about attempting to make waffle wafers or cones this week in my waffle maker, so when I saw the stroopwafels on Bake Off I knew that I had to make them, it was fate. I must admit that I was a bit hesitant after watching all the bakers fail with their caramel fillings, with not one of them having the right consistency, although the making of the actual biscuit didn't look too complicated. I've eaten stroopwafels a few times as they seem to be readily available in coffee shops, as well as supermarkets and trendy Scandinavian shops. The way to enjoy them is to pop one on top of your warm coffee to soften the caramel, and allow the caramel and cinnamon flavours to come out.


As the dough has yeast in I was kind of expecting it to be like bread dough, but it was more like a cookie dough - whether that was right or not I don't know, but it worked. My waffle maker is only a cheap one bought from Lidl a few months ago, and for the stroopwafels to be as thin as they should be the waffle maker really needs to be shallower, which meant mine were a little on the chunky side.

Apart from burning my fingertips slicing the stroopwafels open, the whole process was pretty painless, relatively quick, and a lot less messy than I'd anticipated. I decided to make the caramel in the microwave to avoid burning a pan, which seemed to work really well and resulted in a lovely smooth caramel. The recipe I used called for treacle, but as I didn't have any, following a recent store cupboard clear out, I instead used maple flavour golden syrup.

Apart from looking a little rustic, I was extremely pleased with how these turned out. They had just the right amount of crispness, and the caramel was just the right amount of sticky. I know I should've cut a perfect round with a cutter, but I decided not to as the shape wasn't too far off round anyway.

If I was to see these in a coffee shop wrapped in cellophane and tied up with string, I would definitely be tempted to buy some, and I'll definitely be making these again, especially the 'wafel' part, which would be great served with ice cream.

Mummy Mishaps
Hijacked By Twins

Monday 18 September 2017

Cardamom, Orange & Cinnamon Teacakes

Following Bake Off last week I decided to go for the signature bake and make teacakes. I don't recall ever making teacakes before, although I have made hot cross buns, which are very similar, as well as many other kinds of sweet buns.

I haven't made bread for a while but I did have some in date yeast and bread flour in the cupboard, so all was well, or so I thought.

As I'm always looking for ways to cut corners and save time whilst cooking and baking, I opted to make the dough in my bread maker before adding the dried fruit and spices after the first prove.

Whether it was the yeast or the flour, but one of them wasn't working in my favour, and there was barely a rise on the dough, but as I wasn't really paying much attention when I took it out of the bread maker, I carried on regardless.  It was only after I'd added the fruit and spices, rolled the dough into balls, flattened them out and left them to prove for an hour or so that I realised that I wasn't get a rise out of my buns that day, and perhaps the yeast was dead.

I baked the buns anyway, and despite being a little on the small side, they were perfectly acceptable, albeit a little dense and more on the English muffin side that the teacake, but everyone loved them anyway.

Once I'd replenished my yeast and flour supply I tried again, and this time the teacakes rose perfectly well, and again everyone loved them.

Cardamom, Orange & Cinnamon Teacakes

I love cardamom (especially in gin) but I took a risk not knowing if everyone else in the family would feel the same way. I need not have worried though as they loved them, even my 8 year old flavour connoisseur.

Cardamom, Orange & Cinnamon Teacakes

There's something so comforting about a toasted teacake in the afternoon, especially now the weather has turned so autumnal.
Cardamom, Orange & Cinnamon Teacakes

Cardamom, Orange & Cinnamon Teacakes

Mummy Mishaps

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Autumn Vegetable Soup - a Pressure Cooker Recipe

Up until a couple of weeks ago if anyone had told me that I needed a pressure cooker in my life I would've laughed at them. If I needed to make soups or stews I had a slow cooker for that, so why would I need a pressure cooker. I work from home and have all the time in the world to put dinner on, so I would use the slow cooker and leave it cooking all day, and have a delicious stew for dinner. Except I don't. I don't because I am a procrastinator. I know I should chop the vegetables and prepare the meat first thing, and I know that it will only take me a few minutes to do so, but I don't. I keep saying to myself 'oh I must do that veg and put the slow cooker on', and before I know it it's the middle of the afternoon & the slow cooker is still on top of the cupboard.

This is where the Pressure King Pro comes in handy for me, as soups and stews and lots of other delicious meals, can be cooked in next to no time. Fluffy rice takes just 5 minutes, steamed vegetables take under 4, casseroles in under 30 and a whole chicken can be cooked from frozen in just one hour!

I definitely DO need a pressure cooker in my life, and I didn't even know it!

Autumn Vegetable Soup - a Pressure Cooker Recipe

Over the past couple of weeks I have barely turned the oven or hob on to cook a meal, instead opting to make most of our meals in the 5 litre Pressure King Pro. We've been enjoying bolognese, chilli, soups, rice dishes, pulled pork, potatoes, chicken, stews and vegetables. The machine is simple to use, with the touch of a couple of buttons and a twist of the lid, it then does its thing for a few minutes before beeping to indicate that the cooking time is over. You then have the choice to leave it to keep warm and release the pressure naturally, or release the pressure manually by moving the valve, to speed up the process. I usually go with the latter, unless I've cooked a stew which I want to keep warm for a while before serving.

Pressure King Pro 5L

The Pressure King Pro is a good looking machine, which blends in nicely into my kitchen, and although I've reserved a space for it on top of the cupboard, it hasn't actually got up there yet as I use it so often. It comes complete with a measuring cup, spoon, and steamer tray (which is a little tricky to remove when hot, unless I'm using it completely wrong), and a recipe booklet with ideas and cooking times to start you off. I've also noticed that it's possible to buy an additional inner pot, which would be really useful when cooking chilli and rice, or bolognese and pasta for example.

Now that it appears winter has set in (I'm in full blown onesie mode at night now!), it's definitely time for soups and stews again. Last week I wasn't quite ready for a thick and hearty soup,, so instead I opted for a chunky vegetable soup in a light broth. I like to eat the chunks of soft veg, but it can be easily blended with a stick blender to a smoother, thicker consistency if preferred.

The soup is lovely served with hot buttered toasted bread, or served on top of a few slices of grilled cheese topped baguette to allow all the lovely juices to soak into the bread - soggy bread isn't for everyone, but don't knock it until you've tried this!

Autumn Vegetable Soup - a Pressure Cooker Recipe

Autumn Vegetable Soup - a Pressure Cooker Recipe

I've been sharing my ventures with my new Pressure King Pro over on Instagram and Instagram stories, and after seeing some of my meals my friend decided that she needed one in her life too, and promptly bought one. My mum has been eyeing mine up too, and although I said that if I ever received a pressure cooker to try out on my blog she could have it afterwards, I've now changed my mind, so she'll have to buy her own - sorry Mum!

Do you have any favourite pressure cooker recipes to share?

Autumn Vegetable Soup - a Pressure Cooker Recipe

About the Pressure King Pro 5L

The 12-in-1 Digital Pressure Cooker will create delicious, hearty, home-cooked meals faster and easier than traditional cooking methods in minutes, rather than hours and with a simple press of a button!

The Pressure King Pro cooks with pressurised steam, locking in more vitamins and nutrients than many other cooking methods, and infusing your food with its natural flavours and seasonings, making delicious, healthier family dinners up to 90% faster than conventional methods. You’ll get that slow-cooked taste and tenderness in minutes rather than hours!

  • Worry-free cooking with the family sized pressure cooker that cooks meals up to 90% faster than conventional cooking methods.
  • Quick, safe and easy to use, the Pressure King Pro maintains the perfect temperature from centre to edge and from top to bottom, whilst cooking your food quickly and evenly.
  • The 12-in-1 Digital Pressure Cooker will create delicious, hearty, home-cooked meals faster and easier than traditional cooking methods in minutes, rather than hours and with a simple press of a button.
  • 12 pre-programmed settings to make cooking simple: Meat, Rice, Stew, Soup, Pasta, Fish, Steam, Canning, Delay Timer, Fast Re-Heat, and dual Keep Warm/Slow Cook setting.
  • The Pressure King Pro’s super-heated pressurised steam locks in more of the important vitamins and minerals in your food than many traditional cooking methods, including boiling and steaming. What’s more, your food will be infused with incredible, slow-cooked tenderness and taste!
  • With the BONUS recipe book included, you can make a wide variety of meals from slow cooked hearty stews, fluffy and creamy risottos, wholesome soups to delicious pasta dishes - with the Pressure King Pro you can even cook a whole chicken in just 25 minutes with succulent and flavoursome results.
  • The 24 Hour Delay Timer mode means you can switch it on in a morning and your food will be ready to eat when you get home.
  • The Keep Warm mode automatically kicks in when your food is cooked, so your food will stay hot until you’re ready to eat it.
  • Fast Reheat mode warms up already cooked food. 
  • Great taste without added fat –add fats or oils for additional flavour if desired.
  • Compact, sleek design that fits easily on your countertop.
  • 5 litre capacity (900 Watts) so you can cook huge amounts for your whole family.
  • Made from high-quality stainless steel and is non-stick, simply wipe it clean and you’re ready to cook amazing meals over and over again.

Available from High Street TV for £69.99, including delivery

Commissioned post for High Street TV & Pressure King Pro

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