Thursday, 29 December 2016

Creative Christmas Homemade Santa Sacks



Stockings are never large enough for little boys with big gifts, so I decided to make for them as part of their Christmas gift some sacks with their names on, so that every Christmas we can put their toys in them. Hopefully they will treasure these until they are grown men.




Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Creative Homemade Christmas Presents



MERRY CHRISTMAS!

One of this year's creative Christmas presents from me was handmade boxed mini iced Christmas cakes. I used my late-grandmother's recipe which I found in the process of clearing my mum's house earlier this year.




Tuesday, 20 December 2016

A Creative Merry Christmas



When you can't put up a Christmas tree as you have a climbing toddler, you have to get creative instead...


...tree painted with my kids hands & the decorated by them as well



Friday, 9 December 2016

Root Vegetable Pie



Again another real winter warmer...


Ingredients:

Tbsp veg oil
2 onions
1 tbsp thyme
1 large parsnip
3 large carrots
3 medium potatoes
Half a swede
4 tbsps pearl barley
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
1 litre of veg stock (I used 2 veg OXO cubes)
500g puff pastry
Milk or egg to glaze

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Chop onions finely & the other veg into small chunks.
  3. Heat oil in a pan.
  4. Add the chopped onion & thyme & fry for a few minutes.
  5. Add the carrots, parsnips, swede, celery & potato, place the lid on the pan & gently fry for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the flour & mix well to coat the vegetables.
  7. Add the pearl barley & stock, again cover the pan & simmer for 15-20 minutes until veg is softening.
  8. Place in an oven proof dish or pie dish.
  9. Roll the pastry til approx 0.5cm thick & cut to the shape of the dish. 
  10. Brush the edges of the pie dish with milk or egg to allow the pastry to stick.
  11. Place the pastry on top of the dish & with a fork or your fingers press the edge of the pastry to the dish.
  12. Place a small hole in the centre of the pastry & brush with milk or egg to glaze.
  13. Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. 


Friday, 2 December 2016

Rosemary, Leek & Bean Ragu




I made this recipe using home grown leeks and carrots, it's a real winter warmer.




Ingredients:

A little olive oil
500g leeks, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 sprigs of rosemary
400g tin of butter beans, drained
400g tin of black eyes beans, drained
500ml vegetable stock 
1 tbsp of corn flour mixed in cold water


Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat & add the leeks. Stir continuously for about 7/8 mins until soft.
  2. Add the carrots, beans, rosemary & stock and mix together.
  3. Bring the pan to simmer, add the corn flour/water mix & stir in well. 
  4. Simmer for about 20 mins until it begins to thicken.

Serve with mashed potato, crusty bread or garlic bread.



Friday, 25 November 2016

Lentil Shepherd's Pie


Ingredients:

Topping:
500g potatoes, peeled and chopped
splash of milk
50g butter
few handfuls of grated cheese
salt & pepper

Filling:
1 onion, chopped finely
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp thyme
1 bay leaf
300g lentils
2/3 large carrots, chopped
handful of frozen peas
handful of frozen sweetcorn
1 tin of black eyed beans
600ml vegetable stock
splash of Worcester sauce (vegetarian one)
1 tbsp tomato puree
olive oil

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Gently fry the onion, garlic & thyme in the oil, until soft.
  3. Add a little more oil & the lentils, coating them in the oil.
  4. Add the vegetable stock, carrots, peas, sweetcorn, black eyed beans, bay leaf, Worcester sauce & tomato puree, mix well.
  5. Bring to the simmer, with the lid on the pan simmer for 20-30 mins until the carrots are soft & lentils are cooked but not too mushy.
  6. Whilst the lentils are simmering, prepare the potatoes & boil them in a pan of boiling water until soft.
  7. Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk and a handful of cheese. Add the seasoning to taste.
  8. Place the lentil filling into the bottom of an ovenproof dish and top with the mashed potato.
  9. On top sprinkle another handful of grated cheese.
  10. Place in the oven for about 30 mins or until the topping is golden brown.

Serve with a green salad or crusty bread.




Friday, 18 November 2016

Decadent Chocolate & Banana Tart



Ingredients:


Base:
225g ginger nut biscuits, crushed
125g butter, melted

Filling:
4 bananas
150g dark chocolate
280ml double cream
50g butter
2 large tbsps nutella



Method:


Base:

  1. Crush biscuits finely. I used my pestle & mortar, which worked really well.
  2. Melt the butter on a low heat.
  3. Add the butter to the ginger biscuits and mix well.
  4. Spoon into a loose bottomed cake tin & press into the base & sides to create a tart base.
  5. Leave to cool in the fridge for 30 mins.

Filling:
  1. Heat double cream til gently simmering, remove from the heat.
  2. Add the chocolate & butter to the cream, stirring continuously until melted & smooth.
  3. Whisk in the nutella until smooth.
  4. Pour into the cooled biscuit & refrigerate for a minimum of 30 mins.
  5. Before serving slice the bananas & gently press into the surface.

Optional: sprinkle the top with some icing sugar or top with whipped cream.

Serve as a dessert by itself or with some cream or ice cream.


Friday, 11 November 2016

Leek & Squash Risotto





Ingredients:


2 leeks
1kg squash (if I haven't quite got enough squash I add root vegetables ie carrots, swede), cubed
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp dried sage
350g pearl barley (or risotto rice if you prefer)
1.3l veg stock (made with 2 OXO cubes)
Butter







Method:


  1. On a low-medium heat melt a knob of butter, add the leeks, garlic & sage for a few mins to soften.
  2. Add the squash (& root veg if using) & keep stirring for a few mins again to begin to soften.
  3. Melt another knob of butter & add the pearl barley mixing well & coating in the butter.
  4. Add the stock & bring to boil. Simmer very gently until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the pearl barley, about 30 mins.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Scotch pancakes



Ingredients:

135g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
130ml milk
1 egg
2 tbsp olive oil
Butter for frying

Method:


  1. Mix dry ingredients together.
  2. Whisk together wet ingredients. 
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients & whisk together until there are no lumps. 
  4. Heat frying pan to medium heat & add knob of butter.
  5. Place a tbsp of the mix into the pan, which will make one pancake & depending on the size of the pan you may be able to cook a few pancakes at once.
  6. Once bubbles appear on the top of the pancake, flip them over & brown nicely on both sides.

Serve with lemon & sugar or maple syrup.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Green Tomato Chutney



Wondering what to do with that glut of green tomatoes from the garden?


Ingredients:

1kg green tomatoes
2 medium onions
400g sultanas
400g dark brown soft sugar
1.5 tsp cayenne pepper
1.5 tsp nutmeg
800ml malt vinegar


Method:

  1. Chop tomatoes & onions roughly.
  2. Add all the ingredients to a large pan & mix together.
  3. Bring pan to the boil on a medium heat then reduce the heat to continue simmering, stir occasionally.
  4. Simmer for about an hour to hour and a half (can sometimes take longer!) until the mixture is a thick pulp, when you draw the wooden spoon across the base of the pan there should be no vinegar fill that space.
  5. Preheat oven to 150C to sterilse the jars.
  6. Wash in clean soapy water the jars & their lids, then place on a baking tray & put them in the oven for 15 mins to dry.
  7. Fill the jars with the hot chutney, place a wax seal on top of the chutney & screw on the lid.
  8. Leave for about 4-6 weeks for the flavour to develop.

Great to give away as presents for Christmas or to enjoy for yourself with cheese and ham   :)

NB The above recipe made & filled about 4 1lb jars of chutney.


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

An Autumn Owl



My toddler was loving playing with the dry golden brown leaves in the garden so we collected some together to make an autumn owl.




You cannot get an idea of the size from this photo but the owl is almost as tall as my 2 year old :)

Friday, 21 October 2016

PACMAN Birthday!



For my husband's birthday & with very little time this year I had the challenge of making a cake with a computer game theme. My husband loves his space games especially Elite Dangerous, so an easy but retro idea came to mind....






Friday, 14 October 2016

Paneer Tikka




Ingredients:


Marinade:
125ml natural yoghurt
2 tbsp ginger purée
1-2 tbsp garlic purée
1 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp veg oil
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp cumin
6 cardamom pods, grounded seeds 

250g paneer, inch cubes
2 peppers
1 large red onion





Method:


  1. In a bowl mix together the marinade ingredients to make a thick paste.
  2. Chop the other ingredients to inch size pieces & add to the marinade mixing well.
  3. Leave for a few hrs or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 200C.
  5. Bake for 10mins until the paneer is turning golden brown & turn over putting back in the oven for another 10 mins.

Serve with fresh lettuce, chopped tomatoes, raita & mango chutney in a wrap or naan.

NB could also skewer the paneer & veg after it's marinated & cook on a BBQ or under the grill.

Homemade naans


Monday, 10 October 2016

Where have I been?

I know it's been a very long time since I posted anything...apologies but it's been a very busy summer!!

We had a wonderful road & camping trip to the Black Forest in Germany to see my brother, sister-in-law & 3 nieces. The youngest nieces are twins that were born earlier in the year so it was our first time to meet them & have lots of cuddles. Plus my brother & his family hadn't yet met our youngest neither. We also became Godparents to the twins & had a lovely day with all the family at the Christening at a little chapel high in the mountains.


Heidelberg

Heidelberg

Black Forest

Only a few weeks after returning from our holiday my mum suddenly passed away, which was quite a shock for us all, but meant I was very pre-occupied with all the arrangements & grieving.

In memory of mum

August brought my return to work after nearly 7 months off, which has been a big adjustment for us all. 

Hence, I'm sure you can now understand  why the blog has been a little neglected. But I now have some wonderful new recipes to share with you, especially as we have now all become vegetarians I have even trying out lots of new foods & recipes.

Peas in a pod
Green tomatoes waiting to be made into chutney


On top of that I've been:
  • Enjoying the garden & more recently harvesting
  • Learning lots about essential oils & their benefit to health & wellbeing from my sister-in-law Maria in the Wood
  • Started doing some Christmas crafts in preparation for December coming around much quicker than I'd like to admit! 
  • Looking after my 2 gorgeous little boys  :)
  • And a last minute camping trip to Northumberland enjoying the last of the summer sun in September.

Bamburgh in September

Monday, 18 July 2016

Spiderman Bag



My Goddaughter is Spiderman mad, so for her 4th birthday I made her this bag...





Monday, 13 June 2016

Nappy Flower Bouquet



A great friend is having a baby girl soon. She already has two little boys and is quite excited to be having a little girl, so I had to make her something special...


...the flowers are all made from useful baby items, mainly nappies, but there are socks, baby mitts, muslin cloths...


...and the base is also filled with baby bits - cotton wool balls, more nappies & a little pouch I made to put nappies & baby wipes in for your nappy bag.


For a first attempt I'm pleased with the result.


Friday, 27 May 2016

Creamy Chicken, Bacon, Leek & Mushroom Pie



Ingredients:

250g ready made puff pastry
3 large or 4 medium chicken breasts
125g pancetta
Olive oil
200ml chicken stock
3 leeks, sliced
200g button mushroom, halved
2 medium carrots, chopped finely
75g butter
300ml milk 
5 tbsp flour
1 tbsp thyme
Handful of grated cheese
Seasoning 
A little egg or milk for glazing 


Method:


  1. Chop chicken into roughly inch squares.
  2. In a bowl mix together 3 tbsps of flour & the thyme.
  3. Coat the chicken in the flour mix.
  4. Heat a little olive oil in a pan until hot & add the pancetta & flour coated chicken chunks. Stir continuously until the chicken chunks are beginning to brown.
  5. Add the leeks, carrots & mushrooms & a little more oil, continue to stir until the leeks are soft.
  6. Mix the chicken stock with the leftover flour from coating the chicken & then add to the pan. Allow to continue to simmer for a few minutes.
  7. In another pan on a low heat melt the butter and once melted remove from heat to add 2 tbsps of flour, mix to a thick paste.
  8. Place back on the heat & add the milk a little at a time, whilst whisking to ensure the paste is completely combined with the milk. Gradually the sauce will begin to thicken, but keep stirring until it's the desired consistency. 
  9. Place the chicken & bacon mix into the bottom of a pie dish, sprinkle over the cheese & pour over the white sauce, gently mix together slightly & allow to cool.
  10. Preheat oven to 160C.
  11. Roll out the pastry to the desired shape, size & thickness for your pie dish.
  12. With the milk or egg for glazing brush around the edge of your pie dish & the place the pastry over the filling, crimping the edges of the pastry to the pie dish edge to seal. Make a hole in the middle of the pastry with a knife.
  13. Glaze the pastry case with the milk or egg & place in the oven for 30-40 mins or until golden brown & bubbling. 

Enjoy with some greens and boiled new potatoes.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Slow Cooked Moroccan Chicken & Aubergine Tagine




Ingredients:

5 chicken thighs
2 medium aubergines
2 onions
4 carrots
75g sultanas
75g apricots 
2 chicken oxo cubes in 500ml boiling water
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp cumin 
2 tbsps flour
Black pepper


Method:

  1. Chop aubergines into 1-2 inch chunks & place in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Next place the chopped onions, carrots, sultanas & apricots on top of the aubergines.
  3. In a bowl or jug mix the OXO cubes with the boiling water & add the spices & flour, mixing well.
  4. Place the chicken thighs on top of the vegetables & fruit but push them into the vegetable mix and pour over everything the stock & spice mix.
  5. Place on low in a slow cooker for 6-8 hrs or on high for 3-4 hrs.
  6. Serve with rice or couscous.

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