Monday, 30 April 2012

Caribbean Fish Pie

Wow. That's all I can say about this dish - I absolutely loved it! I don't know about you, but I get so bored with the usual fish pie, that I rarely make it these days. I was reading a forum where fish pies were being discussed, and all were based on a white/parsley sauce until someone mentioned this one and it caught my attention. They didn't give a recipe, just a rough idea of what went in it so I had to play about a bit. It was perfect though, I cannot wait to have it again! There are no spices in it, so the kids all enjoyed it too. Let me know what you think, if you try this recipe! Id love to know.

About 500g of fish (I used salmon, haddock & coley)
600ml milk
Carton of coconut cream (I found it in Morrisons in the Chinese section)
90g baby spinach
Thyme leaves
Chopped coriander
75g butter
2 tablespoons flour
800g sweet potatoes
Teaspoon lime juice
Pinch of ground nutmeg

Peel & chop the sweet potatoes, then boil for around 10 minutes until they are ready to mash. Add about 30g butter and the pinch of nutmeg and mash.

Warm the milk & thyme in a saucepan, when it starts to bubble add the fish & turn off the heat. After 5 minutes, remove the fish from the milk and put into a pie dish/casserole dish.

Melt 25g butter and then add the flour to make a roux, cook for a few mins on a low heat, then add the milk a little at a time until its all mixed in. Add the coconut cream, coriander, lime juice, and spinach. Warm until the spinach wilts, then pour all the mixture over the fish. Top with the mashed sweet potato, dot with butter and put in the oven at 180c for around 20/25 mins. I served it with baby corn & mange tout.

Sunday, 29 April 2012


Warm scones out of the oven, spread with butter that melts ...that was my Sunday lunch today. This is my first ever attempt at baking scones. It was a mess! I have totally wrecked my kitchen - I really think I went wrong somewhere. The recipe seems foolproof, but perhaps I am a speical kind of fool ha ha. I baked them anyway, and they tasted divine! Light & tasty instead of the dense "rocks" they sell at my local supermarket. I have plenty for packed lunches this week, so the kids will enjoy this treat. Mine are oddly shaped because the dough was so sticky, the cutter wouldnt cut out neat shapes, so I had to just make balls with my hands!

Recipe can be found here.

Meal Plan

How many of you meal plan? I find it saves me a lot of money so I try to do it as often as possible now. I dont alwyas include the weekends, as I never know what we are doing! Weeknights are pretty cheduled here though, so meal planning fits in well. My plan is in no order, I just go by either use-by dates or what we fancy that particular day. We tend to have a soup & pudding night once a week, as I dont really do pudding after a hafty meal. This is usually the kids favourite dinner of the week!

Ok, so this is my meal plan for the coming week ....

1. Carribean Fish Pie
2. Lasagne & salad.
3. Cypriot chicken, carrots & potatoes
4. Chickpea & ketchup curry/beef curry & pilau rice.
5. Soup & pudding night! This week it's chicken noodle soup & toffee apple pudding with custard.

Feel free to share your meal plan, either by writing it in the commenst or linking to it :) I always love to read others.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Chicken Curry

I havent had time for much cooking this week! We have eaten out a couple of times and then my husband cooked one night. It has been an easy & relaxed week for me :) We tried out a new restaurant that opened up in town. I had the duck rilletes with a spiced plum chutney for my starter, which was very delicious! For my main meal, I tried their "Catch of the Day" which was 4 pieces of locally caught fish (we are a fishing town and this restaurant is right on the harbour). There was rainbow trout, sea bass, lemon sole & halibut. I did enjoy it, but I was disappointed that all the fish was over cooked. You have to cook fish so carefully! Hopefully it was just opening week nerves and because they were so busy.

Anyway, I did manage to cook one meal this week - chicken curry! I rarely cook these from scratch, I do tend to use a decent curry paste to make them. I was directed to this brilliant blog called mamtas kitchen.  I found a recipe for an easy basic curry sauce, so I gave it a go. The resulting curry tasted great! You can add what you like to it, so I went for a Korma slant as that is one of my favourites. Next time, I am going to make up a big batch of the basic sauce and freeze some. I cant wait to try out different flavours!

I used this recipe here for the basic sauce. I added chicken, ground almonds, fenugreek leaves, dessicated coconut & single cream, to make a wonderful mild tasty curry. Going to omit the cream next time for a spicier taste.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Easy Peasy Chicken Pie

This pie is very easy & quick, especially if you use ready-made puff pastry. I was in a "bung it all together and hope it works" kind of mood today, and luckily it did work! You could even use left-over chicken from a Sunday roast if you liked. I also used frozen veg for extra easiness. All the kids scoffed it, with the Wee Man declaring he "loved it with all his heart!". Such a sweetie! We finished this off with the chocolate cupcakes we made this afternoon, perfect Sunday dinner!

1 medion onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
400g chicken breasts pieces/bonesless thighs (or leftover roast chicken)
150ml chicken stock
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
400g frozen mixed veg
150 ml creme fraiche
1 packet of ready-rolled puff pastry

Heat the oil on a medium heat & brown the chicken & onion. Once golden, add the stock and tarragon, season with salt & pepper and simmer for 20 mins. Add the frozen veg and the creme fraiche, mix and tip the entire mix into an oven-proof pie dish (or similar). Top with the puff pastry and cook in the oven at 220C for around half an hour.

Chocolate Cupcakes

These are yummy and easy cupcakes to make with the kids. Big Bee and Little Bee were out on their bikes this afternoon so the Wee Man & I decided to bake. His favourite sweets are Smarties, so I fished out a packet from leftover Easter eggs. The toping is Silverspoon chocolate cake covering, stuff that comes in a wee sachet and you melt it in a bowl of warm water -perfect for kids to do.

Cake recipe -

200g caster sugar
200g self raising flour (then remove 2 tblspoons and replace with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder)
200g butter softened
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Chocolate topping/Smarties to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180C. Cream the sugar & the butter together. Sift in the flour & baking powder then add the eggs. Combine altogether using an electric whisk or mixer. Spoon the mixture into 12 cupcake cases, and put in the oven for about 15/20  minutes. Remove & cool the cakes. Once completely cooled, add the melted cake topping & Smarties, then allow to set.

Weekend Snapshots

A wee look at what we got up to this weekend.

Friday, 20 April 2012

A bit late...Melted Snowman Cookies

A bit out of season, I do apologise! I made this interesting biscuits for the school Christmas Fete, and they were very popular! I think I saw the idea on Pinterest, and just winged it my own way. They are quite easy & simple to do, and really fun for kids to eat. I sat up til 10pm the nigth before the fete making these though! You need a pack of plain biscuits, white marshmallows, icing sugar, red laces (sweets) and icing pens.

Start by drawing faces on the marshmallows with icing pens. Make up the icing my mixing icing sugar with a tiny bit of warm water. Pour on the biscuits & very quickly stick on a marshamllow before it dries. Once dried, tie a red lace around the marshmallow like a scarf. Finish off with coal buttons, using an icing pen.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Reasons to be cheerful .. #R2BC

This is my first post with my Reasons to be Cheerful .... and these are my main ones here ...

My 3 wonderfull children, 1. Big Bee, 2. Little Bee and 3. my Wee Man. They have made me laugh and cry so much over the 12 years that I have been a mother. I am so proud of them, how polite they are and how kind they are to others. They are funny, bright and fun loving. I hope they read this one day, and realise how much I love them, despite all chaos in our house! I love looking at their faces, trying to see what they have inherited from me, I love seeing little parts of myself in them. I love watching them sleep, serene faces and soft breathing.

Waking up to these three faces everyday is definitely my Reasons to be Cheerful!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Homemade donner kebabs

I'll admit, I love a dirty greasy takeaway! Kebabs feature often on a Friday night, once the kids are in bed. Sometimes though, they want one and Im not so eager to feed them this "meat" as it comes from our local kebab shop. Perfect solution - make my own! That way, I know exactly what is in it and children love the "takeaway" treat that Mum & Dad have. This recipe comes from an awesome wee book called The Takeaway Secret, whichtells you how to make all your favourite takeaway foods at home. I have to admit, I have used this book a LOT. We have enjoyed egg Mcmuffins, chinese ribs, pakoras etc. I may blog about them sometime soon. This is a recipe that I have made at least 5 or 6 times now, the kids really do love it. I add coleslaw & salad to the pittas, serve with potato wedges and it makes for quite a healthy dinner! My husband though says he could at 2 of these, and this recipe just makes enough for 5 kebabs. I might make double next time, and freeze some of the meat, Im pretty sure it would freeze well. Let me know if you try this recipe, and what you think of it.

1 teaspoon plain flour
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Ha;f teaspoon dried Italian herbs
Half teaspoon garlic powder
Half teaspoon onion powder
Quarter teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Half teaspoon black pepper
500g Lamb mince
Pittas, salad & coleslaw/sauce to serve. I als added potato wedges coated in olive oil, garlic & herbs.

Combine all the ingredients. Work the mixture well with your hands, pounding & kneading until there are no air pockets. It shold be a smooth mixture.

Shape into a loaf shape, and place on a baking tray (preferably on a wire rack) and put in the oven at 180c for 1 hour 20 mins. Turn the loaf over halfway through cooking.

Remove from the oven & wrap in foil. Let it rest for 10 minutes while you warm pitta bread & prepare salad. Unwrap the meat and slice as thinly as possible.

Baked meatballs & spaghetti

I cant remember where I read this tip, but somewhere out on the interwebz someone said oven baked meatballs were nicer than pan-fried. Last night, I decided to test this theory, and 5 out of 5 of us agreed it was true. They kept their wonderfully meaty taste and were still juicy. I make my meatballs from both pork & beef mince (usually half and half). The sauce I used is just my basic pasta sauce that I make for quick meals. I really dislike buying jars of sauce when it is just as easy & usually tastier to amke your own. It can be made in a huge batch & frozen, so that you always have some on stand-by. I sometimes make a "grown-up" batch that includes red wine, but as this was for all of us I just used the basic version. There were 5 licked-clean bowls after dinner last night!

Meatballs - I dont use a binder or anything in my meatballs, as they are oven baked they dont fall apart as easily as those that are fried/moved about a lot. So it's just 200g beef mince, 200g pork mince, salt & pepper. Combine and divide into small meatballs (I usually make 25 small ones, so 5 each). Put into a casserole dish and put into the oven at 200C for about 10 minutes, while you make the sauce.

Sauce -

1 onion diced
5 mushrooms, diced
2 garlic loves, crushed
a little olive oil
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon caster sugar

Fry the onion & garlic in a little oil until softened (about 5 minutes). Add teh mushrooms and fry for another few minutes. Add the tomatoes & sugar, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Pour overthe meatballs & return to the oven for 15 minutes.

Serve on top of cooked spaghetti and top with parmesan or grated cheese.

The Wee Man enjoying his dinner!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Jellybean Cupcakes

It was a miserable wet afternoon today, so me & the Wee Man did a bit of baking. I'd recently bought a bag of jellybeans, so thought they would be a nice decoration. Whilst we were making the cake mixture, I decided to drop some jellybeans into each case too! These actually melted a little whilst baking, so they make a nice gooey surprise inside the cake.

 To make 10 large or 12 average size fairy cakes.

100g caster sugar
100g self-raising flour, sifted
100g butter
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
jellybeans (4 per cupcake)

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Cream the sugar & butter together. Add the sifted flour, baking powder & eggs, and combine. Spoon into parer cup cases in a muffin/cake tray. Push 2 jellybeans into each cake. Bake for 15/20 minutes in the oven. Remove & let them cool and transfer to a wire rack.

Buttercream icing -
140g butter, softened
280g icing sugar
1-2 tbsp milk
few drops food colouring

 Pipe the icing onto the cupcakes & a couple of jellybeans on top for decoration. Enjoy!

First Ice Cream Cone

I think he likes it ...

Chicken & CousCous one-pot

This was a very easy and very tasty meal. I like one-pot meals (less washing up!) and are usually quick & simple to put together. I loved the smell of this as it came out of the oven, and the colours are wonderful - I like pretty food. I have started to grow my own herbs, and it is so satisfying going out into the garden to pick fresh herbs for my dishes. I need to add basil & coriander to my patch though, as I use these a lot and havent had much success with growing them. Maybe someone out there has some tips?

Everyone enjoyed this dish, so I will make it again. The kids even enjoyed the couscous, which surprised me. Big Bee took the leftovers in her packed lunch the next day.

Origianl recpe here. I changed it slightly to suit my ingerdients, which worked brilliantly.


  • 8 skin on, chicken drumsticks
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 onions , finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves , sliced
  • 500ml chicken stock (from a cube is fine)
  • zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 250g couscous
  • small bunch flat-leaf parsley , chopped 

  1. Toss the chicken  in half the spices and a pinch of salt until completely coated. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large sauté pan with a lid. Fry chicken, skin-side down, for 10 mins until golden brown, turn over, then cook for 2 mins before removing from the pan. Pour the rest of the oil into the pan, then fry the onions and garlic for 8 mins until golden. Stir in the rest of the spices, then cook for 1 min longer. Pour over the chicken stock. Bring everything to the boil, turn down the heat, then sit the chicken in the stock.
  2. Cover the pan with a lid, then simmer gently for 35-40 mins until the chicken is tender. Put the kettle on, then lift the chicken onto a plate and keep warm. Take the pan off the heat. Stir the lemon juice and couscous into the saucy onions in the pan and top up with enough boiling water just to cover the couscous if you need to. Place the lid back on the pan, then leave to stand for 5 mins until the couscous is cooked through. Fluff through half the parsley and the lemon zest, then sit the chicken on top. Scatter with the rest of the parsley and zest before serving.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Pan-fried chicken in a mushroom sauce

I have been waiting to make this recipe for a few days now - I loved the sound of it as soon as I found it. Well, it stood up to my expectations! I had been looking for a recipe for using up some chicken thighs, and found this on the Good Food website. I adapted it slightly, as I couldnt get hold of wild mushrooms. I also only had chicken thighs, and the recipe calls for whole legs. Everyone loved it, 5 absolutely clean plates. Little Bee doesnt like mushrooms, so I served hers without the actual mushrooms but still with plenty of sauce which she enjoyed. I served this with just boiled new potatoes, which was perfect to dip into the sauce. This is on my list to have again, I would love to serve this at a dinner party/grown-up meal.


  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 10 chicken thighs
  • 700ml/1¼ pts chicken stock (or water)
  • 40g butter
  • 1 onion , finely diced
  • 400g chesnut mushrooms
  • 300ml/½ pt dry white wine
  • 284ml pot double cream
  1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Fry the thighs for 8-10 mins, skin side only, until golden brown, then transfer to a casserole dish.
  2. Pour the stock over the chicken legs in the casserole. There should be enough stock to just cover the chicken, if not add a little water. Bring stock to the boil and cover, leaving lid slightly ajar. Cook at just below simmering point for 30-35 mins until chicken is cooked.
  3. While chicken is simmering, drain oil from the pan. Heat the butter in pan and add onion. Sweat onion for 5 mins until soft, but not coloured. Turn up the heat, add the mushrooms, then fry for 3 mins until they soften and start to smell wonderful. Pour over the white wine, raise the heat to maximum and boil rapidly for 6-8 mins until reduced by two-thirds. Turn off the heat and leave until chicken has cooked.
  4. Once chicken legs are cooked, remove the chicken from to stock to a warm plate. To the stock, add the onion, mushrooms and white wine, bring back to the boil and reduce again by two-thirds until it is thick and syrupy. Pour in double cream, bring it to the boil, season if you want, add the chicken. Heat chicken through in the sauce for 2-3 mins then turn off the heat and leave for a few mins before serving. This is such an aromatic and beautiful looking dish you should serve it straight from the casserole with the lid on. Orginal recipe here.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Come Dine With Me

My husband is cooking dinner for us tonight (Haggis, neeps & tatties!), I thought Id share some old food photos.

Way back in September, me & 3 friends decided to host our own "Come Dine With Me" experience. I went first, and thoroughly enjoyed cooking for my 3 close friends. It was a fun evening too, wine flowed freely. All my dishes were prepared in advance, so perfect for a dinner party, you can enjoy & spend time with your guests without worrying about the cooking.

This was my menu ...


Chicken liver parafits, apple & saffron chutney, melba toasts, homegrown salad.

Main Course

Baked Spanish risotto, homemade bread


Lime cheesecake & chocolate dipped strawberries.

Chicken liver parfait recipe here. Apple & Saffron chutney here.

 Baked Spanish Risotto recipe here.
Lime Cheesecake

juice and zest of two limes
2 tubs of mascarpone cheese
4 oz icing sugar
1 packet ginger biscuits
3oz butter

Blitz biscuits and mix with butter to make the base. Chill.
Mix mascarpone, icing sugar and zest & juice of limes together and top the biscuit base. I made chocolate leaves for decoration.

Chicken thigh recipe help!

I have just bought a big pack of chicken thighs, and I am now lacking inspiration! If you have a tasty recipe for them, please let me know :)

Friday, 13 April 2012

Hotdog Wraps

The Wee Man has a friend over for lunch today, so I wanted to find something fun for them to eat. I had a packet of Warburtons square wraps, and some America hotdogs - perfect! I also fried some onions, which the Wee Man loves but his friend didnt. Plus I finally found a use for teh food picks I bought ages ago, just because they were cute. There is no recipe as such for these, just grill some hotdogs, warm some wraps & fry some onions! Roll & serve with tomato ketchup.

My New Measuring Cups

I love these! I am a sucker for cute & quirky things, especially for my kitchen, so when I saw these in Morrisons I had to buy them. I already have a servicable set of pink plastic ones, but I just had to have these!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Roast dinner!

Tonight I had a friend & her son over for dinner, and made us a nice simple roast dinner. We had roast silverside, roast poataoes, yorkshire puddings, veg & gravy - wonderful! Sometimes it's the simple things ... and the accompanying wine!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Rice Krispies Chicken Nuggets

Well, when I first read about this my first thought was "yuk!". Then I thought, I should at least give them a try ... I like chicken, I like mayonaise and I like Rice Krispies. They were actually quite nice! I think the mayonaise tenderises the chicken (much like buttermilk does) and teh rice krispies are wonderfully crunchy. I made about 10 nuggets in my first try - which Wee Man refused to touch! So I ate them all myself - whoops. So moreish! Im hoping Big Bee and Little Bee will be more willing to try them when they return from their holiday. This is a Lisa Faulkner recipe, from her cookbook From my Mother to My Daughter.

Ingredients - makes 10 chicken nuggets

2 chicken breasts, each cut into 5 pieces.
2 tablespoons of mayonaise
Rice crispies mixed with salt & pepper, to dip the nuggets into & coat.

Dip each piece of chicken into the mayonaise & coat. Dip into the rice crispies & push to thoroughly coat. Transfer to a baking tray & cook in the oven at 190C for 20/25 minutes.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Honey roasted cherry tomatoes

I think I have mentioned my newest cookbook a few posts ago, the wonderful Rivercottage Veg Everyday. We are not vegetarians, nowhere near it, but this book really makes vegetable dishes look and taste amazing! Today I tried the honey roasted cherry tomatoes. These can be served with risotto, other roast veg or just on toast (as I had it). This was divine! No one else fancied it, so I had 3 small toasts topped with it, and put the leftovers in the fridge ... with a plan to gobble them up tomorrow!

  • 500g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon clear honey
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C/Gas Mark 5.  Lightly oil a medium roasting dish.  Halve the tomatoes and place them, cut side up, in the dish.  They should fit snugly with little or no space between them.
  2. Crush the garlic with a pinch of salt, then beat it with the honey, olive oil and a good grinding of pepper.  Spoon this sticky, garlicky mixture over the cherry tomatoes.  Roast for about 30 minutes, until golden, juicy and bubbling.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Recommend a Recipe!

I am always on the lookout for new recipes to try, so if you have one, please let me know! Full credit will be given. Feel free to link to your own blog too :)

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Tuna sweetcorn burgers

My children all love tuna and they all love sweetcorn, so this seemed ideal to make. We all had them for lunch, and everyone wanted more! Definitely on the "make again" list. Perfect store cupboard recipe too, I only had to nip to the shop for some spring onions.

  • 85g white bread , torn into pieces
  • 198g can sweetcorn , drained
  • 2 x 185g cans tuna in water, drained well
  • 25g grated cheddar
  • 3 spring onions , finely chopped
  • 1 egg , beaten
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • wholegrain bread rolls, lettuce, to serve 

  1. Whizz the bread in a food processor to crumbs, tip into a bowl, then whizz half the sweetcorn until finely chopped. Add the chopped corn, remaining whole corn, tuna, cheese, spring onions and some seasoning into the bowl with the bread and mix well. Add the egg, bit by bit (you may not need it all), until the mixture is sticky enough to be shaped into four even-size burgers.
  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan, then cook the burgers for 5 mins on each side until golden and hot through the middle. Stuff into wholemeal buns with your favourite lettuce. Recipe found here.

Ice cream cupcakes.

I saw this idea on a few websites and thought Id give it a go. Quite pleased with the results! That is until I tried to carry a plate of them to take a photo and they all fell over!They are very top heavy, so be careful when displaying or moving them. You also have to make sure you dont over fill the wafers with cake misture, as it rises quite a bit. I filled up to the first ridge  on the cone.

This is a perfect recipe to use for the cake mixture and frosting ... fairy cake recipe.

Excuse the 2nd photo, they had fallen over & the frosting was squashed :(

Rainbow Birthday Cake

This is my first ever attempt at icing a cake, so please excuse the clumsiness! Also, some small person pushed their finger into the cake while I was getting the camera ready, grrr! I used this very easy and reliable spomge recipe here ... victoria sponge recipe.

I used gel paste colouring to make the rainbow sponge, and for the coloured circle decorations. I used ready to use fondant icing.

Macaroni Peas

Well, I've had quite a gap in my postings! Life has been hectic & busy, but it's now the Easter holidays & 2 out of 3 children have gone away on trips. Time for me to catch up on my poor abandoned blog!

First up, I treated myself to the Riverside Cottage Veg Everyday cookbook, to try & encourage us to eat more vegetables. It's a brilliant book! I looked for an easy recipe to start with, but also one that I thought the children would enjoy. I came across this recipe for Macaroni Peas, which looked ideal. Even my vggie-loathing daughter ate this! My 4 year old son has named it Alien Pasta :) Its such a simple recipe really, that I think I will let my 11 year old make this for us next time. If you really do want some meat with your dinner, bacon or pancetta would go nicely in this dish.

500g of frozen petit pois (4 cups)
500g of dry macaroni (2 cups)
50g of butter ( 4 Tbs)
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
25g of Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated (1/2 cup) plus more for serving
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh flat leaf parsley to serve

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions while you make the sauce.

Heat the butter in a small pan. Add the garlic and cook gently for a few minutes without colouring.

Put the peas in a separate pan, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer until just tender. This should only take a couple of minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Put half of the peas into a blender along with 6 Tbs of the cooking water, and the melted butter and garlic. Add the cheese. Blitz until you have a smooth and loose puree, adding a bit more of the pea cooking water if needed. Combine with the whole peas and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta as soon as it is ready and toss immediately with the hot pea sauce. Serve topped with a hearty grinding of black pepper, some more grated Parmesan and a garnish of chopped flat leaf parsley.