Sunday, 30 January 2011

Chorizo Spaghetti - a quick & easy supper

This was a very tasty and a very, very quick dinner to make. It's one of those 5 minute meals that you chuck together but tastes divine! I made it for my husband & Dad this evening, and they literally licked their plates clean. I added a red onion to the recipe, which I just softened in the olive oil before the chorizo.

  • 80g pack sliced chorizo sausage
  • 300g bag fresh spaghetti
  • 20g pack flatleaf parsley (a good handful)
  • 2 red peppers from a jar, in brine or oil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g finely grated fresh parmesan , plus extra to serve 

  1. Put a pan of water on over a high heat to boil. Meanwhile, snip the chorizo into strips with scissors, and chop the parsley and peppers (check for stray seeds first).
  2. When the water is boiling briskly, add the spaghetti with a good measure of salt, stir and return to the boil. Cook for 3 minutes.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat the oil, add the chorizo and peppers and plenty of black pepper. Cook for a minute or so, until heated through and the juices are stained red from the paprika in the chorizo. Scoop half a mugful of pasta water from the pan, drain the remainder and tip the spaghetti into the frying pan.
  4. Add the parsley and parmesan, toss well and splash in the pasta water, to moisten. Hand round extra parmesan at the table.

Little Lousie Cupcakes.

I made these delicious little cupcakes from a recipe I found on the Good Food website. We were going to a 3 year old girls birthday party, so these seemed perfect to take along! I quite like meringue topped cupcakes, and the cocnut in these was delicious!


  • 175g butter , softened
  • 300g golden or white caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs , 4 separated
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 150ml milk
  • 12 tsp raspberry jam - use a firm jam
  • 85g desiccated coconut 
  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cases. In a large mixing bowl beat together the butter, 175g of the sugar and the vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Beat in the whole egg, followed by the 4 yolks, before briefly beating in the flour, baking powder and milk until smooth. Divide two-thirds of the mix evenly between the cases, then top the centre of each with 1 tsp jam. Divide remaining cake mix over the top, using a wet finger to smooth it in place so no jam is visible. Bake for 18-22 mins until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. Wait until cool enough to handle, then transfer the cakes to a flat baking sheet.
  2. Lower oven to 110C/90C fan/gas ¼. Using a large, clean bowl, beat the 4 egg whites until stiff, then continue whisking while you gradually add the remaining 175g sugar. Beat until thick and shiny, then fold in the coconut and use spoonfuls of the mixture to top each cake. Bake for 30-35 mins until the outside of the meringue is crisp, then cool before serving.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Chinese Supermarket

I have been to the Chinese supermarket today - I love it there! I could quite honestly spend a fortune. I restrained myself though, and just bought ingredients for my Chinese dinner party this weekend. Do any of you readers do any Chinese cooking? What is your favourite dish?

I plan on serving  chilli shredded beef, sweet & sour chicken, satay chhicken, panko prawns, char sui pork, spare ribs, chow mein & egg fried rice.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

BBQ Pork Enchiladas

With the success ofthe chicken enchiladas that I made for my family a couple of weeks ago, I thought Id try again with a variation. BBQ pork is always tasty, so that seemed like a good idea. I think they turned out quite tasty! The children & husband seemed to enjoy them too. Served the enchiladas with corn on the cobs (another of my childrens favourites!).

1/2 yellow or red pepper
400g pork stir fry strips
1 small tin sweetcorn
1 medium onion
6 tortillas
1 tub sour cream
8 tablespoons tomato ketchup
4 tablespoons dark muscovado sugar
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salad leaves
cheese to top

Soften the onion & pepper in some olive oil. Add the pork strips & brown. Mix the ketchup, sugar, paprika & white wine vinegar in a bowl, then add to the frying pan. Mix well & let simmer for 10 minutes. Spoon some of the mixture into a tortilla wrap, add soem salad leaves & rol up. Place into a lasagne dish. Do this for all 6 wraps and nestle them side by side in the dish. Pour over the soured cream & spread evenly on top. Add grated cheese and then put into the oven at 200C for about half an hour.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Muffin topped Beef Stew

This was perfect for a cold winters night! Lovely tender beef, vegetables and a lovely muffin topping. Sounds odd to have a muffin-lid, but it really works. It's also one of the dishes that you can make and then leave for hours to cook itself - which is perfect for me. My son has an afternoon nap, so I was able to prepare the stew while he slept, then left it for 3 hours on low in the oven until I added the topping. The stew is my own recipe, the topping is from the Good Food website.


2 sticks celery chopped
2 medium carrots chopped
2 medium onions chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
500g braising beef
2 tbsp plain flour
1 400g tin tomatoes
500 ml beef stock
1 tbsp tomato puree
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper

Soften the vegetables & bay leaves in the olive oil over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the beef & the flour & mix. Add the tinned tomatoes, stock, puree, worcestershire sauce, balsamic and season. Mix & bring to the boil. Cover & put into the oven at 180C for 3 hours.

Muffin topping

225g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
140g cheddar , coarsely grated
2 tbsp olive oil
150ml milk

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add half the cheese. Mix olive oil and milk, then stir into the flour to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Add more milk, if necessary. Spoon the dough over the meat and vegetables, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake for about 15 mins until golden, risen and cooked through.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Easy vanilla ice-cream

 I made very easy ice-cream with the kids yesterday. The kids loved it, with lots of sprinkles on! I dont have an ice-cream maker, so we had to stir by hand every 45 minutes. Even so, it was still very easy and only has 4 ingredients, perfect for children.
Excuse the rubbish photo! I didnt realisethere was shadow until after the kids had eaten all the ice cream!
Serves 3 children

120 ml semi-skimmed milk
50g white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
120 ml double cream

In one bowl, mix the milk, suagr & vanilla extract. In another bowl, whisk the double cream until thick.  Add to the milk mixture & combine. If you have an ice-cream maker, pour into the bowl & churn as per instructions.

If doing by hand, tip the mixture into a freezer-proof tub & place into teh freezer. Ever 40/45 minutes, mix the ice cream well, breaking up all ice crystals until smooth. Repeat until the mixture is completely frozen. Serve with plenty of sprinkles!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Nigella's Clementine Cake - Flourless gluten free cake!

Yesterday I made Nigella Lawson's Clementine Cake. It has no flour in it, so its great for those who avoid gluten in their diets. It's not the best tasting cake I have ever made, but it is still very flavoursome! Husband didnt like it, and 1 child didnt but my other two and I did!


  • 4-5 clementines (about 375g total weight)
  • 6 eggs
  • 225g sugar
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder


  1. Put the clementines in a pan with some cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 hours. Drain and, when cool, cut each clementine in half and remove the pips. Dump the clementines - skins, pith, fruit and all - and give a quick blitz in a food processor (or by hand, of course). Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190ºC. Butter and line a 21cm Springform tin.
  2. You can then add all the other ingredients to the food processor and mix. Or, you can beat the eggs by hand adding the sugar, almonds and baking powder, mixing well, then finally adding the pulped oranges.
  3. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake for an hour, when a skewer will come out clean; you'll probably have to cover with foil or greaseproof after about 40 minutes to stop the top burning. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, on a rack, but in the tin. When the cake's cold, you can take it out of the tin. I think this is better a day after it's made, but I don't complain about eating it at any time.
  4. I've also made this with an equal weight of oranges, and with lemons, in which case I increase the sugar to 250g and slightly anglicise it, too, by adding a glaze made of icing sugar mixed to a paste with lemon juice and a little water.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Tana Ramsey's Orange Chicken Bake

Tonight I cracked open one of my new cookery books to try a new recipe. The Orange Chicken Bake in Tana Ramsey's book looked simple and tasty. It went down very well! All 3 children tried it, 2 completely cleared their plates. 2 year old Josh didnt, but he ate a lot so I am still impressed. I served it with warm ciabatta rolls & vichy carrots.

  • 6 white potatoes, peeled and cut into 2.5cm chunks
  • 3 leeks, roughly chopped
  • 2 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 Ibs skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into large pieces
  • splashes olive oil
  • 3-4 sprigs rosemary
  • 90 ml orange juice
  • 100 ml chicken stock
  • crusty bread or rice, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.

2. Mix together the potatoes and leeks and pile into a 30 cm x 20 cm ovenproof dish and season well with salt and pepper.

3. Arrange the orange slices over the leeks and potatoes, then place the chicken pieces on top. Drizzle over the olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Scatter the rosemary sprigs over the top, then pour in the orange juice and chicken stock.

4. Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the oven and divide into portions. Serve with crusty bread or rice.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Chicken Enchiladas

This is a recipe that I just made up myself this evening. It went down very well with all 3 children and husband! Clean plates all round. You can make this as spicy as you like, but I wanted it to be child-friendly and my children dont like a lot of spice :(  You can hide a lot of vegetables in this though!
4 chicken breasts
1 red pepper
1 onion
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 small tin sweetcorn
Pinch garlic powder
Pinch ground cumin
Pinch ground coriander
Pinch chilli powder
3 tsp sugar
Pinch salt
Pinch black pepper
Pinch smoked paprika
6 tortilla wraps
Shredded lettuce
1 tub soured cream
Crispy onions (optional, we love them in our house and use them for toppping everything)
Plenty of grated cheese!

Slice the chicken breasts into think strips. Slice the onion & pepper into strips. Gently brown the chicken in some olive oil. Add the onion & pepper & sweat for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sweetcorn & spices and simmer gently for 15 mins. 

Add some lettuce to the middle of the tortilla wrap, a ladle of the chicken mix & a sprinkle of cheese, then wrap & place into a lasagne dish. Do this for all 6 wraps, and nestle in the dish side by side. Pour over the sour cream and sprinkle over the rest of the cheese. Sprinkle on the crispy onions if using. Pop in the oven at 200 for about 15 mins or until the cheese is is bubbling & melted.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Prawn, mango & spring onion pakoras

I was browsing the Good Food website looking for inspiration for my upcoming Chinese dinner party when I found this recipe. It sounded unusual, and I had the ingredients in the cupboard/fridge. I have made pakoras in the past, so I have a large bag of gram flour (the best type for pakoras) already. These were tasty, if unusual tasting. I didnt make the dip, I served them as a side dish to our curry last night.

I swapped the spring onion for finely chopped onion though. Not sure what difference that would have made, but I loved them anyway!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Balsamic & honey roasted sausages & veg

Adapted this recipe I found in an old Good Food magazine. It's supposed to be red vegetables, but I needed to use up some other coloured veg! It was very very tasty served with mashed potatoes. I used Morrisons pork, honey & english herb sausages.

  • 3 red onions , cut into wedges (I used both white & red)
  • 3 red peppers , deseeded and cut into quarters (I used yellow & red)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 8 sausages
  • 250g cherry tomatoes
  • few thyme sprigs (optional - I left this out as I had no fresh)
  • 1 tbsp clear honey 
  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put the onions and peppers in a roasting tin, drizzle over the oil and vinegar and season well. Roast for 10 mins.
  2. Nestle the sausages, tomatoes and thyme, if using, in and around the veg, drizzle over the honey and cook for 25 mins more or so, turning the sausages halfway, until the sausages are cooked and everything is golden and sticky. Serve with mashed potatoes.
Balsamic Vinegar on FoodistaBalsamic Vinegar

New Cookbooks!

I love the sales! I went to WH Smith today and bought 3 new cook books. I also recieved Jamie Olivers Ministry of Food for Christmas from my mum, plus money to buy more of my choosing. I am chuffed with all of them!

What are your favourite cookery books?

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Sweet Cherry Bread

Today I made a sweet cherry almond loaf from a recipe that my cousin shared with me. Oh my, it's delicious! If you dont like marzipan though, you can use flaked almonds instead.


oil, to grease,
350g (12oz) strong white plain flour (bread flour) plus extra to dust,
1/2 tsp salt,
2tsp ground mixed spice,
1tbsp cinnamon,
25g (1oz) golden (or unrefined) caster sugar,
75g (3oz) unsalted butter at room temp diced,
25g (1oz) fresh yeast, OR, 15g (1/2oz) dried yeast,
200ml (7floz) full fat milk, Warmed,
125g (4oz) Almond paste, roughly chopped,
125g (4oz) Glace Cherries
3 tbsp honey, warmed,
75g (3oz) icing sugar sieved,


1, Grease a 20.5cm (8inch) deep cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper (an average sized spring form cake tin will do). Sift the flour, salt, spices, and caster sugar into a bowl (add the dried yeast at this point if using) and rub in the butter. Dissolve the fresh yeast in the milk, then add to the flour to make a dough (if you find the dough is too dry add a little more milk).

2, Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for ten minutes. Don't be afraid of being a bit rough with the dough. For speed you can place the dough in a food processor that has a dough hook or use a hand blender with the same for 2-3 minutes (personally I would recommend doing it by hand. it may be slower but its MUCH more satisfying, especially if the kids have been frightful, you can get out a lot of annoyances of bread dough). Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl cover and leave in a warm place for 2 hours or until it's doubled in size.

3, Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead lightly (no punching this time, you do NOT need to 'knock back' the air in this recipe). Shape into a 60cm (24inch) long oval. Scatter the almond paste (or roughly chopped nuts) and cherries on the surface and roll the dough up lengthways, then form a tight coil. Put in the prepared tin, cover and leave in a warm place for 30 mins or until doubled in size and spongy to touch. Preheat the over to 180C (160C fan oven) mark 4.

4, Bake the bread for 40 mins or until golden and the bread sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. When cool glaze with the warm honey.
5, to make the icing (yes this NEEDS icing lolz think 'Danish'), mix the icing sugar with a few drops of water to form a paste, then drizzle over the bread. leave to set before serving.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Birthday cakes!

It's my wonderful husbands birthday today, and he has quite the sweet tooth! So me & the girls baked him some goodies last night.

First off, me & Brogan made lemon cupcakes. They were delicious!

We used this recipe ...
  • 150 g butter, softened
  • 150 g sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 150 g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp milk
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas 4.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light, fluffy and pale.

3. Gradually mix in the beaten egg alternating with the flour to stop the mix from curdling. Finally, stir through the vanilla extract and milk.

4. Place 12 paper cupcake cases into a muffin tin and divide the mixture between them.

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. 

After that, me & Bethan made Millies type cookies (Crisp edges & soft middle). We made about 15 small cookies plus one giant one. She decorated it herself!

We used this recipe I found on mumsnet -
Note: 1 cup measures 200ml

2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
250g/8 oz butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (yes loads!) choc chips = about 12 oz/375g - we used less than this in our batch.

• Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C) = moderately cool
• Sieve flour, soda and salt together and set aside.
• Using electric mixer, blend sugars and butter to make a grainy paste
• Add eggs and vanilla and mix until blended
• Add flour mixture and choc chips and mix with wooden spoon - do not overmix
• Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie shee, 2 inches apart.
• Bake 15-22 mins or until golden (mine always take a little less)
• Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
If you want lovely chewy cookies, they need to ba a little under-done (soft to touch when hot) rather than well-done as they will then be dry and crispy.

I attempted cake pops - what a disaster! I'm not sure how to get the cake balls to stay at the top of the lollipop stick? Anyway, they were delicious even though they looked a mess!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

2nd attempt at Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

I have made lemon meringue cupcakes before, but decided to try them again. This time they were more wonderful than the last time! Lovely crisp meringue on top, moist cake & gooey lemon inside.

Chicken Parmo

I saw a discussion about this dish on Mumsnet this evening. It sounded interesting and disgustingly fattening. With my plans for a healtier eating plan after my husbands birthday on Tuesday, I decided to give this meal a try!

It was quite simple to make, I bashed 2 chicken breasts into quarter inch flat pieces. Dip into beathen egg, flour & breadcrumbs. Shallow fry until both sides are golden. I quickly knocked up a bechmel sauce (infused milk (bay leaf & onion), butter & flour) which you pour on top of the breaded chicken, then top with grated cheddar. I put it into the oven until the cheese was all golden & melty. Decided on just a side salad, as this looked like a coronary on a plate! Glad I did, as it is quite filling!

It was quite nice, would probably have it again with crispy bacon or some other topping added.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Christmas Cards designs

These are some Christmas cards I designed this year, but never got round to printing out! It's quite difficult to find somewhere online who will print outwith the usual  photograph sizes.

Peppermint Cupcakes

Messy peppermint ice cupcakes! My excuse is that I am still hungover. They were very tasty though! New cupcake stand was a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law. I love it! Also got a matching pinny & oven gloves :)


I didnt take a single photo over Christmas at all! I was ill with a cold, Josh was ill with a flu-type bug and no-one else bothered :( We still had a fab time though, and I actually managed to cook the full works dinner with no stress! I've no idea how, as usually I get very ranty & stressy but this year everythign just fell into place. We had a 3 bird roast that I glazed with a Phil Vickery marmalde glaze, a gammon cooked in CherryCoke (Nigella recipe) and made a saausage & walnut stuffng as well as all the usuall side dishes. It was all very delicious!