Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Biscuits for breakfast

...and a bad ass healthy lunch... We are now truly ill... Yesterday I asked Hubs if the term splitting headache had come about because somebody's head had actually split from a headache. It also feels like hot coals have taken up residence in our chests' too.... Melodramatic? Hypochondria?

This morning after Hubs had gone to work, I went back to bed, not to sleep, door wide open, able to hear everything, no need to call social services, I just needed to lie down. Small hit the fruit bowl, he polished off 2 bananas, 2 apples, 3 tangerines and then came to tell me he was still hungry. I said I'd get him some breakfast in a bit. You'd think with all that fruit his stomach could have waited a while... Anyway, Little got up a bit later and then..... the three of us had biscuits for breakfast and I don't feel like a bad parent at all... Why? Because I know that later today I will force myself to prepare some nutritious food that will help heal our poorly bodies and I know we don't eat biscuits for breakfast every day. Infact this could be the first time, but it might not be the last.

This sandwich/tortilla filling was excellent... and healthy, we ate lots of it yesterday.

Grated cheddar cheese, chopped cucumber, chopped red pepper, mayonnaise, sweet chilli sauce - mix it all up - fill your sandwich or tortilla - very nice thank you.

Today I'll mainly be drinking this lemon, honey and ginger drink that I posted about back in 2007.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Little Foodies China go for an easy Chinese New Year

They've asked several times so now we're off again, learning about other countries and the foods they eat... For those who didn't know, it's Chinese New Year today, the Year of the Ox, we did have elaborate plans but we have a burst pipe above our kitchen ceiling (and since I started typing, it's now running down one of the lights into a strategically placed bin)... Someone coming tomorrow, apparently because the wet patches aren't sagging and the pressure in the boiler hasn't dropped completely we don't have to panic... That's good, not so reassuring, but good. Probably a good thing we've kept the lights turned off, instead we've got candles, the cooker hood light, a table lamp and a camping light - it's romantic! Also the boys and I have been invaded by some chest thing. Small woke up very early and came in to tell us that he had an alien in his chest, Little woke some time later and said he felt really hot inside his chest. This is how mine feels so I guess we've caught something... Anyway for these reasons alone we're going for the mega easy option tonight, more elaborate Chinese food and words another day. Happy Chinese New Year all...

Vegetable Stir Fry with noodles and a sachet of sauce
for 2
3 Spring onions, sliced
Yellow Pepper, de-seeded and chopped
Handful of bean sprouts
Couple of chestnut mushrooms, sliced
Packet of Amoy straight to wok noodles
Sachet of Blue Dragon Chow Mein Sauce

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Two Left Cheesy Feet and a Heart

No, I'm not talking about my husband... though he does have a heart!

We made cheese straws that look nothing like cheese straws. I remembered something in a Nigella book, I think it was Feast about cheesy feet, hence why I probably did foot shapes, heart shapes because I do love a bit of cheese. Cheesy grins are the best, especially gappy tooth cheesy grins - Little lost another tooth yesterday, in Maths.

These were made using a block of shop bought puff pastry, a little medium cheddar and a lot of Miss Moneypenny, a beautiful smooth hard cheese made by Hunter House Farm, it's a bit like parmesan, possibly better. These were gorgeous, even if I do say so myself and I'm sure it was all down to Miss Moneypenny. You can contact Hunter House Farm, who are in North East England by e-mail to find out where you can buy their cheese and yoghurt. I know they're at a lot of Farmers Markets in the North East.

(Thanks Mum for the lovely NE produce, more of which I'll write about another time. xx)

Anyway to make the cheesy feet/hearts. Take out a block of puff pastry from the fridge about 20 mins before you want to use it. While you wait your 20 minutes grate the cheese you're using (about 3-4 oz). Pre-heat the oven to about 180C with a fan. Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour, put the pastry on top and roll out to about 1/4 cm deep. Sprinkle grated cheese over half of it, fold the uncheesed part over and then roll again until approx 1/4cm deep, again sprinkle cheese on half, fold over and roll again until approx 1/4 cm deep. Cut out shapes, roll up and flatten any scraps (these can be used for tasting if they're any good before you serve to others!). Place on a baking tray and put in the oven for about 10 mins, check after this time to see if they're nicely golden brown, it not continue to cook a minute at a time more. Take out and cool on a rack. When totally cool store in an airtight container. Not sure how long they'd last as they were eaten straight away.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

What's a clucking muppet?

We live in a lane where it's quite unsafe for children to get out of the car, even in the drive because people speed past despite it being a 30 miles per hour speed limit. Anyway, because of this I park my car in a little parking space at the back of the house, accessed via a road. A road where currently there is some major work taking place, already the workmen have upset quite a few people for various reasons. Though it's inconvenient I was mindful that they had a job to do. Until yesterday when I had to reverse my car out and scraped it along some stupid barriers they'd put up.... I didn't say anything and when I checked my car (safely out of sight of workmen of course) and it was okay I thought not much more of it.

Until I came home with Little and Small in the afternoon. I couldn't get anywhere near the back of our house so I had to leave my car miles away (slight exaggeration). We got out and I heard the men arguing "Well you're a f***ing muppet!" In the vain hope that the boys hadn't heard I started talking utter rubbish very loudly. We walked past the workmen, came straight into the house where 4 year old Small looked up and said...

"What's a clucking muppet?" To which I replied, thinking jolly fast on my feet...
"Yes, err, ah, Yes do you remember watching the Muppet Christmas film? Well the muppets used to be a TV programme that was on every week when I was a little girl and I'm sure I remember there being some chickens that clucked all the time. Cluck! Cluck! Clucking!"
"Okay Mama." he said having thankfully lost interest.

It wasn't as if I really lied, I said I was sure I remembered, not that I definitely remembered. Little looked at me and raised his eyebrows, we've already had the discussion about the F word as it was being bandied around the playground... and that's the second time this week he's caught me out. The first time was a tiny lie to the dog trainer who checked Tinks to see if we had the correct ID tag... I wont go there but suffice to say it doesn't look great when I bang on about never ever telling lies and it's much better to take the flak and get into trouble than to lie and be found out later...

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Don't forget Burns Night this Sunday

I bought my haggis today in preparation for the celebrations on Sunday (click on the picture for a link to the makers Macsween). We'll serve it with mashed potatoes and mashed swede, all made with lots of cream, butter and a pinch of salt and pepper. I spent my early years growing up in the North East where we called swede turnip and I understand it's called rutabaga in the US. How to confuse people...

Although supposedly traditional we wont be pouring whisky over the haggis and we certainly wont be throwing half a bottle of whisky over it as seen by Oz Clarke in episode 3 of his latest venture with James May and the BBC - Oz and James drink to Britain.

For further links on information for Burns Night I highly recommend the following...

Address to a Haggis by Robert Burns
- you can read the poem but even better, click on a link to hear the lovley John Gordon Sinclair reading this famous poem. Worth it, for his voice alone.

Biography of Robert Burns

Burns Night - the running order of what traditionally happens at a Burns Night celebration.

The Works of Robert Burns

The Menu
Cock-a-leekie soup, my Dad used to make the best Cock-a-leekie soup.
Haggis with bashed neeps and tatties. Click this link for how to make your own haggis.
Clootie Dumpling, or I love the sound of a Typsy Laird, a Scottish Sherry Trifle

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Obama - "This is a big deal right Mama?"

I love my boys, their innocence and yet total reliability to be spot on.

What a speech... We have some very happy relatives in America today.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Nigella's damp lemon and almond cake

This cake is from How to be a Domestic Goddess. For once I followed the recipe exactly... The boys and I loved this cake, as did friends. H wasn't so keen as he said it tasted a little of marzipan (he doesn't like marzipan). I think that's probably the almond extract in it. Although it was really good, I have to say I still love and prefer lemon drizzle cake and lemon drizzle cupcakes, because it's just so easy and I can do it without weighing anything (only because I've made so many I can do it by eye)... I also make lemon cake using the old 4,4,4,2 method and add zest and juice of a lemon. May have to make them both at the same time and do a taste test, see which one wins with everybody else.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Cereal Bars your kids will love you for!

Edit: I swapped the cup amounts over for rice pops / oats - sorry - I've changed it to read correctly now.
I had a bag of dried cranberries and macadamia nuts that needed using up so I was looking for the recipe for the white chocolate, cranberry, macademia nut cookies. I was also in the middle of making Nigella's damp lemon and almond cake. In the end I decided not to make the cookies and make something up. I came up with these cereal bars.

White Chocolate, Cranberry, Macadamia Nut Cereal Bars
1 100g bar of white chocolate, broken into pieces
6-8 tablespoons of golden syrup
1oz butter
2 cups of rice pops/rice krispies
1 cup of porridge oats
175-200g mixed macadamia and dried cranberries

In a heatproof bowl over a pan of boiling water, melt the white chocolate, butter and golden syrup. While that's happening, roughly chop the nuts, if you can pick them out then great but if not just try not to cut the cranberries up too much. Even easier if you can buy the cranberries and macadamias separately. In a large bowl add the oats, rice pops, macadamia nuts and cranberries. Stir the chocolate, butter and syrup mix well then pour over the dry ingredients. Mix well then scrape it out into a lined tray. Press it down firmly with the back of a wooden spoon. Put it in the fridge to set and that's it.

Little tried some last night and asked if he could have some in his lunch, I don't think they're supposed to have chocolate in their lunchboxes but I thought if it's got fruit, nuts and oats in then it can't be that bad - surely?

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Healthy Low Fat Spicy Roast Parsnip Soup

I'm missing the holidays... aren't you? It's freezing cold, we've had snow, we've had it so cold that the trees and ground remained in a permanent state of winter wonderland, now the grey, damp weather has arrived. The sort that makes all your joints sing that they're getting old. I still love it. The wood burning stove giving that gentle warmth that doesn't dry your skin out like the central heating does and what better way to warm up than with a bowl of spicy roast parnsip soup.

I made the best version of this soup over the holidays as I had a glut of parsnips. When the children were tiny in our old house, they used to sit in those stroller things and whizz round the house, sore ankles if they knocked in to you. I used to love it when the organic veg box turned up, because I never bothered to look up what would be coming it was always a surprise, a bit like Christmas morning. The boys would scoot up to the box and start pulling everything out "What iz der? What got we?" This Christmas Eve the organic veg box really was just like Christmas, possibly because it was Christmas I know, but you get my point. The doorbell rang late afternoon, just as we were heading to a party for a couple of hours. I answered to this very jolly and I have to say good looking guy who handed me a box. A box stuffed full of organic fruit and vegetables, a great Christmas gift from Abel & Cole.

I like a lot of things about Abel & Cole but the thing I like best - the delivery guys, they're always happy and helpful. Now either they get great training. I used to be a training manager so I can normally tell when someone has had good training OR - they're on something... Either way, it works...

Healthy Low Fat Spicy Roast Parsnip Soup - could feed 4
4 good sized parsnips
1 or 2 onions
1 large potato
A really good pinch of each - ground cumin, ground coriander, ground ginger, hot smoked paprika, (a little chilli powder if you like your food hot).
500-750ml skimmed milk
750ml of stock - (vegetable or chicken)

Pre-heat the oven to about 180-200C. Wash, scrub and chop (into rough 2cm cubes) the parsnips and potato. (If the skin is not at it's best then peel them). Peel and chop the onion. Place in a roasting tray and lightly spray with olive oil. Mix all the spices together and then sprinkle over the vegetables. Cook in the oven for about 40 minutes, until the vegetables have some colour. At this point you could let the vegetables cool and make the soup at a later time. Put the veg in a pan, pour over the stock and then blitz with a stick blender. Then start to add the milk, depending on how thick you like your soup. Heat through and serve. Lovely with spring/salad onion on the top though obviously they're not in season right now!!

When I just checked the Abel & Cole site for a link I saw that they're doing a paperback version of the Abel & Cole cookbook at the reduced price of £5.00. It's a good book, I like it - a lot, and for a fiver, you can't really go wrong.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

What do you do when you're in somebody else's kitchen?

When you're in somebody else's kitchen do you ever...

open the cupboards?
sneakily open the cupboards when they're not looking?
peek in the fridge?
spy cookery books that you don't have and pick them up and start reading them?

I'm guilty of the last one and I very much want to look in other people's cupboards but the way I was dragged up stops me.

Monday, 12 January 2009

I love pie and you can tell I'm a food blogger because...

You can tell I'm a food blogger because... the only pictures I have of New Years Day are of food, albeit not very good ones!

Creamy Chicken, Bacon and Leek Pie made with love, as you can see from the hearts...

4-6 chicken thighs depending on size (4 large, 6 small)
one onion, peeled and finely diced
one small packet of cubed pancetta
one large leek, peeled and very finely sliced
1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
1 cup of double cream

1 packet of shortcrust pastry unless you're a domestic goddess and make your own. I need lessons!

Gently fry the onions in a little oil, add the bacon and chicken and cook for approx 5 mins, then add the leeks and cook for a further 5 mins. Add the cream and mustard and stir through, warm for a few minutes before transferring to a pie dish, then top with the rolled out pastry, making shapes if that's what floats your boat. Cook in a pre-heated oven (170C) for approx 30-40 mins.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Coffee Baileys, Baileys Coffee, Baileys with a hint of Coffee...?

Baileys very kindly sent me a bottle of Baileys with a hint of coffee before Christmas and I've had every good intention of making something with it but I can't stop drinking it. I've made everybody who has entered the house taste it (with the exception of children of course!), I wasn't that generous with my measures, using the excuse that I needed to cook with it... The verdict so far - very positive.

Being honest, I'd stopped drinking Baileys and hadn't really had a Baileys on its own for years, if I did have one or two, preferring it with sambuca, a cocktail known as (avert your eyes if you're of a sensitive nature) a slippery nipple, or Baileys with coffee flavoured liquers like Kahlua or Tia Maria, now produced by Pernod Ricard - isn't everything now?

By coincidence I had a very delicious Baileys cheesecake the evening before I got the e-mail from the lovely Baileys PR lady and had wanted to try making it at home, and I will, at some point, though having seen the efforts of Spitton Extra here and Trainee Domestic Goddess here, I think I may have to try making Baileys coffee cream pots first, (recipe by James Martin).

When drinking Baileys with a hint of coffee, instead of cooking with it, the coffee flavour is subtle and in my opinion better than Baileys with Kahlua or Tia Maria which I've had my share and somebody else's in the past so I am definitely speaking from experience.

WARNING: Too much alcohol can blurrr your vision,
just enough so you don't see the dust!

Well done Baileys and of course thank you!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

I can't believe the holidays are almost at an end comfort food!

I've said it before but I really do hate it when the holidays end. We've just had the best Christmas ever, relaxed, good fun, the house full of love and laughter. The house is going to feel so empty tomorrow when the boys go back to school and hubs goes back to work. The boys have been adorable, even when they've been over excited and gone past the stage where you feel like stringing them up by their toenails. So to comfort food I called.

Creamy Chicken, Mushroom & Sundried Tomato (feeds 4)
4 chicken breasts, cubed, whatever size you prefer
half a packet of sundried tomatoes in olive oil
half a punnet of chestnut mushrooms, quartered
one onion, peeled and finely diced
one Knorr chicken stock cube (if it's good enough for Marco!)
one carton of creme fraiche
a little boiling water
a tablespoon of oil

Gently fry the onion in the oil, add the chicken and brown the meat, add the mushrooms, then add a little water (about 1/4 of a cup), add the stock cube and stir, then add the creme fraiche and the sundried tomatoes. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. We served with boiled rice and it got top marks. Excuse the rubbish photo - I was hungry!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Banana Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

I seem to have found my blogging mojo again. I didn't want to say it until I was actually posting regularly but it's just sort of happened and I'm loving my little blog again.

Banana and Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins
This REALLY good recipe can be found at the BBCGoodFood website.
Hubs loved these as they're not too sweet. The only thing I did differently was put a lot more blueberries in (we had a lot of them that were on the verge of turning).

Thursday, 1 January 2009

A brand new year and a chocolate peanut butter fudge brownie sundae to celebrate!

This is very loosely based on Nigella's chocolate peanut butter fudge sundae. I say loosely because I didn't look up the recipe in the book but went from memory and now I've looked up the recipe and got the link to Nigella's newly refurbished website for you, I realise that what we did was different. Though different it was delicious and uses fewer ingredients for the sauce, but it did have the addition of a brownie. Here's what we did...

What you need...
One large and very lovely trifle bowl. Though I'm pretty sure any old container would do.
Some delicoius chocolate brownies (made another day so there's no pressure). I used this recipe here at the lovely Backseat Gourmet blog.
Chocolate Ice Cream
Vanilla Ice Cream
Hot Chocolate Peanut Butter Sauce (recipe below)
Some indoor sparklers

Break the brownies up into mouthful size pieces and throw in the bottom of the bowl.
Using an ice cream scoop, make nice balls of ice cream and add to the bowl.
Pour over the warm chocolate sauce and quickly push the (unlit) sparklers into the ice cream or brownies. Light them at the table infront of everybody and then dig in with long handled sundae spoons. If I was eating this with people who are not my immediate family then I'd probably decant into individual bowls.

If there were a lot of you, you could make many layers of this but there were only 3 of us as Small insisted on going to bed early.

For the chocolate peanut butter fudge sauce, I broke up most (some went missing?) of one bar of Divine fairtrade dark chocolate, placed in a pan over a very low heat with a very heaped dessert spoon of whole earth crunchy peanut butter, added a few splashes of Waitrose extra thick double cream. Kept stirring until it went all gloopy then added 1/4 cup of milk and kept stirring over the low heat until it became silky smooth (with crunchy bits) again.... The whole process takes minutes.


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