Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Italian Sausage Soup

My sister-in-law Kim passed this recipe on to me after she made it for her family and it disappeared in an instant! Once I tried it I wasn't surprised – it is amazing and the perfect mid-week meal. The original recipe was for a slow-cooker but I've adapted this one to make it on the stove top. You can make it either way – just whatever is most convenient for you. I've changed the original recipe a little bit just to make more broth as the pasta absorbs a lot and I can promise you, you will want plenty of this soup! A delicious slightly spicy broth, with juicy sausage meatballs, pasta and spinach – it really is a complete meal in a bowl that your family will thank you for and perfect after a long day Christmas shopping!

For the Meatballs:
1lb sausages of your choice (mild Italian work well but use what you can get)
50g/ ½ cup dried bread crumbs
15g/ ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
60ml/ ¼ cup milk
1 large egg
½ tsp Italian seasoning
small pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the Soup:
2 litres/ 8 cups good quality chicken stock/broth
2 tbsp tomato puree/paste
1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
¼ – ½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
85g/ ¾ cup small pasta shapes (I like Ditalini the best but use your favourite)
3 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves (if you prefer you can add more)

To serve:
Parmesan cheese, grated
Pre-heat the oven to 350F/ 180C and line a baking tray with tin foil (aluminium).

Start by making the meatballs by removing the sausage meat from the casing. Put into a bowl along with the rest of the meatball ingredients. Mix well so that everything is well combined then shape into small meatballs. I use my smallest ice cream scoop for this which makes it even quicker and easier to do and means that they are all the same size. Using my ice cream scoop I usually get 35-40 meatballs so aim for that. Bake the meatballs in the oven for 20 minutes until just browned.

While the meatballs are baking make the broth by combining the chicken stock, tomato puree, garlic and chilli flakes in a large pan. Bring to a boil then add the meatballs and cook at a gentle simmer for 10-15 minutes. Increase the heat a little so that it is boiling again and add the pasta. Cook for roughly 10 minutes or according to the time indicated on the packet of pasta, stirring from time to time. As soon as the pasta is ready remove the soup from the heat then add the spinach. Stir well then cover with a lid and leave to sit for 5 minutes to allow the pasta to swell a little more, the spinach to wilt and all the flavours to mingle and become even more delicious!

When ready to serve ladle into bowls and finish with a good sprinkling of parmesan.

*If you would rather make this in a slow-cooker make the meatballs as above then put the stock, tomato puree, garlic and chilli flakes into the slow-cooker/ crock-pot and then add the meatballs once they have been browned in the oven, and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Add the pasta and cook for a further 30 minutes. Once it is tender add the spinach and stir until it has wilted. Serve as above.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Italian Eggs

Eggs are probably my favourite breakfast dish as they are so quick and easy to prepare and very versatile. This dish might take a little longer than your average egg dish but it is well worth the wait.

'Italian Eggs' might not necessarily be the correct name for this delicious dish, but I didn't want to call it 'Baked Eggs' since for this recipe I don't bake them but keep them on the top of the oven. That being said, if you prefer you could easily finish this dish off in the oven so that you can get on with other things while the eggs cook.

Regardless of how you cook the eggs what you end up with is a deliciously tangy and slightly spicy tomato sauce which becomes a silky smooth bed for cooking the eggs on, until they are just cooked with perfectly runny yolks which once broken dribble and ooze into the sauce. Finished with some fresh basil and plenty of bread of your choice for dipping in and mopping up and you have the most delicious egg dish perfect for breakfast, lunch or even a light dinner.

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 x 28oz (or 2 x 400g) tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar (optional)
½ – 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional but if using add as much or as little as you like depending on how hot you like things)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 organic large eggs
scattering of fresh basil leaves

Bread of your choice for dipping

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil then add the crushed garlic and cook for a minute being careful not to brown. Add the tomatoes, sugar, chilli flakes, salt and pepper and stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat slightly and leave to simmer for roughly 20-25 minutes until it has reduced slightly. Taste to check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Stir in about half of the basil leaves then lower the heat so that it is just gently simmering, then carefully crack in the eggs. Cover with a tight fitting lid and leave to cook for roughly 3-4 minutes until the eggs are just cooked but still with a runny yolk.

As soon as the eggs are ready remove the lid to stop the cooking and sprinkle over a good pinch of sea salt and if you like a grinding of pepper. Finish with a final scattering of basil then serve in shallow bowls with plenty of bread or toast to mop everything up with.

*If you would like to make individual servings like the one pictured (which is what I do 99% of the time) simply make up the sauce as above then transfer ¼ of it to a small individual sized frying pan (keep the rest of the sauce for another day – unless you have 4 small pans and are doing it for presentation purposes!). Once the sauce is simmering follow the instructions as above then serve in the pan on a chopping board to protect your table from the heat!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Carrot & Lentil Soup

This soup is adapted from a version by Ross Dobson featured in his book, Kitchen Seasons. I had to include it here because it tastes just like the Lentil Soup my Mum used to make. It is not only delicious but hearty and comforting. Nothing else can make you feel better than a steaming hot bowl of this soup.

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 leek, sliced
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp tomato puree (you can use either sun-dried or normal)
3 carrots, peeled and grated
250g red lentils, rinsed
1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
Salt & pepper

A sprinkling of curry powder to serve (optional)

In a large pan melt the butter with the oil. Add the onion and leek and gently sauté for 5 minutes until starting to soften. Add the garlic and tomato puree and cook for a further minute before adding the grated carrots, lentil and stock. Stir everything together then season with some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover with a lid and cook over a medium-low heat until the soup comes to a boil, then lower the heat slightly, remove the lid (or have it on at an angle so that it isn't completely covered) and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are cooked and completely tender, stirring from time to time.

Remove the soup from the heat and leave to cool slightly. At this point you can either serve it as it is – perfect if you prefer a chunkier soup, or you can blitz it up to make a thick and smooth soup (as pictured). And if you really can't decide, it's also delicious when you blend half of it and keep the other half chunky....then you get the best of both worlds!

Heat before serving and if you like, (as I do) finish it off with a little sprinkling of curry powder.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bonfire Night Menu Ideas

When it comes to Bonfire Night (or Guy Fawkes) the food you want to eat is all about complete comfort. Warming, comforting food that is easy to eat while standing around a giant bonfire and watching fizzing, whizzing, popping fireworks. If you are having a bonfire party this year here are a few suggestions for some of my favourite recipes to enjoy around the fire which are guaranteed to keep you warm and toasty. Just don't forget the sparklers!

{Although Bonfire Night is a British celebration there is no need to miss out on an excuse to get your family and friends together and have a warm and cozy Comfort food party!}

Toffee Apple Tarts

Autumn and apples go hand in hand so these little tarts are the perfect Autumnal dessert. Crisp, slightly sharp apples mixed with creamy, sweet caramel sauce make these the perfect indulgent treat. They are a great alternative to Toffee Apples and are an ideal end to a Bonfire party, but they are also elegant enough to serve for a dinner party dessert. Serve accompanied with some whipped cream or for an extra special treat some ice cream and you have a beautiful, decadent and delicious treat.

Since I use bought pastry shells for these tarts they take no time to make at all so can be made up in half an hour. If you prefer though, you could easily make your own pastry.

Serves 6

6 pastry shells
4 tbsp dulce de leche (or similar caramel sauce)
2 apples
Sprinkling of cinnamon (optional)
Small handful of pecans

Preheat the oven to 375F/ 190C.

Peel and core the apples then cut into small pieces. Pop into a pan along with 1 tablespoon of water and the cinnamon then cook over a medium heat for roughly 15 minutes until the apples have softened and look like a chunky puree. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes.

While the apples are cooking place the pastry shells on a baking tray and spoon in a good teaspoon of the dulce de leche so that the bases are completely covered.

Once the apples have cooled slightly spoon them evenly into each pastry case the sprinkle over the chopped pecans. Bake in the oven for 23-25 minutes until the edges of the tarts are golden brown and the caramel bubbling. Carefully remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before drizzling over a little extra dulce de leche then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm as they are with a cup of tea or with cream or ice cream for an special after dinner treat.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Catherine Wheels

Crisp and flaky puff pastry filled with a tomato sauce and plenty of bubbling, melted cheese – these are the perfect little snack to munch on. And since they resemble (and are therefore called!) Catherine Wheels, it makes them the perfect Bonfire Night treat. Delicious served warm out of the oven, these treats won't last long and will be loved by everyone.

Cheese & Tomato

Makes roughly 14 {easily doubled}

1 sheet of ready rolled puff pastry
75ml (5 tbsp) basic tomato sauce or pizza sauce
115g/ 4oz Cheddar cheese, grated
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C/ 425F/ GM 7 and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Spread the puff pastry evenly with the tomato sauce, getting right to the edges then sprinkle over the grated cheese. Grind over a little black pepper then roll the puff pastry up as tightly as you can. Trim off the ends then slice the roll into roughly ½ inch thick pieces.

Arrange the slices on the tray. Bake in the oven for 14-15 minutes, until the puff pastry is golden and the cheese bubbling. Leave to cool for a minute or 2 then remove and place on a wire rack to cool slightly.

And why not try some Mozzarella & Pesto Catherine Wheels which are equally delicious.

Mozzarella & Pesto

1 sheet of ready rolled puff pastry
75ml (5 tbsp) basil pesto
115g/ 4oz hard mozzarella, grated
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C/ 425F/ GM 7 and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Spread the puff pastry evenly with the pesto, getting right to the edges then sprinkle over the grated cheese. Grind over a little black pepper then roll the puff pastry up as tightly as you can. Trim off the ends then slice the roll into roughly ½ inch thick pieces.

Arrange the slices on the tray. Bake in the oven for 14-15 minutes, until the puff pastry is golden and the cheese bubbling. Leave to cool for a minute or two then remove and place on a wire rack to cool slightly.

*These also make a delicious treat to serve on the side with some homemade soup. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ultimate Sticky Sausage Rolls with Onions

Nothing says Bonfire Night food like some deliciously sticky and sizzling sausages! These sausages are wrapped in bacon then finished off with a wonderfully sweet and sticky honey sauce. Topped off with some onions these sausage rolls will be a hit and perfect for eating while standing around a bonfire watching the fireworks. Just don't forget the napkins!

Serves 4 {easily doubled or tripled for a crowd}

4 good quality sausages of your choice
4 rashers of streaky bacon
60ml honey
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp soy sauce (low sodium)
2 tsp mustard (I like Honey Dijon but use your favourite)
few shakes of Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion
salt & pepper

To serve:
Sausage rolls/buns

Preheat the oven to 400F/ 200C.

Line a baking tray with tin/aluminium foil then wrap a piece of bacon around each sausage, stretching the bacon slightly if needed. Put onto the lined baking tray then repeat with the remaining sausages. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes.

While the sausages are cooking mix together the honey, maple syrup, soy, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well so that its properly mixed together then set aside.

Heat the oil in a frying pan then slice the onion into medium-thick slices. Add to the frying pan and cook over a medium heat until the edges are just tinged golden brown. Season with some salt and pepper then turn the heat to low and continue to cook until softened.

When the sausages have had 40 minutes remove them from the oven then pour over the honey sauce, coating them evenly. Pop back into the oven for no more than 10 minutes until they are fully cooked through, golden brown and deliciously sticky!

Cut some sausage rolls/buns down the middle then pop a sausage in each one. Spoon over some of the marinade from the baking tray then top with the onions and serve with plenty of napkins!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Witches Hair with Bugs {Spaghetti with Prawns}

Try not to be too grossed out by the name (or look!) of this dish as it is the perfect Halloween dish to get you in the mood for trick or treating or to quickly gobble down after! There is something about black spaghetti that just screams Halloween and so I just can't resist making it to mark the occasion. I love this dish as it takes no time to make – literally just as long as it takes for the pasta to cook – it tastes fantastic and has the perfect Halloween look to keep the children happy! Of course when Halloween has past this is still a fantastic meal which can be enjoyed minus the black spaghetti and with whole wheat or regular white spaghetti instead. We eat this dish a lot as it is the perfect quick and easy mid-week meal!

{Serves 4 easily doubled for a crowd}

400g black (squid ink) spaghetti
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 long red chilli, finely chopped (de-seed for a milder child friendly dish)
1lb prawns, cleaned*
Juice of ½ lemon
Sprinkling of fresh parsley, finely chopped (optional)

Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted, boiling water for the time instructed on the packet. While the spaghetti is cooking heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan and gently cook the garlic and chilli until softened but not coloured. Add the prawns and toss well and cook until warmed through (or if using raw prawns until they have cooked properly). Squeeze over the lemon juice then take off the heat.

Drain the spaghetti reserving a tablespoon of the cooking water then add the spaghetti to the garlicky prawns. Add the reserved pasta water then mix well. Finish with the final tablespoon of olive oil to give a real 'glossy' look to the pasta then if using scatter over the parsley. Serve at once.

*For this particular dish I used small prawns since I thought they better resembled bugs(!) however ordinarily when I make this I use normal sized prawns. You can use either cooked or raw prawns for this dish, just make sure they have their shells off and have been cleaned. If you do use raw prawns they will require about 4 minutes to cook whereas the cooked prawns literally just need to be heated through.

**If you like you can miss out the prawns and have a super simple pasta supper of Garlic & Chilli Spaghetti – one of my favourites! 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Orange Jelly Pumpkins

A great treat for Halloween for the kids as it's super easy to make and a lot easier to carve than a pumpkin! Perfect for a party these 'pumpkins' will have vanished before you can say Boo!

Makes 3-4 'pumpkins' (depending on how big the oranges are)

3-4 oranges
1 packet of orange jelly/ jello

Cut the top off the oranges then scoop out the orange flesh as best as you can and set aside in a bowl. Squeeze as much juice out of the orange flesh as possible then pop into a measuring jug.

Make the jelly up according to the instructions by dissolving it in boiling water, then instead of using cold water to finish it use the same amount of the freshly squeezed juice (topping up with water if needed to the correct amount). Let the jelly set in the fridge.

While the jelly is setting and chilling carve the oranges to make faces like a pumpkin. Once the jelly has set mix it up a bit then fill the oranges with it (it's easiest to pop the oranges into a cupcake/muffin tin to keep them steady). Keep cold until ready to serve.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cookbook Challenge ~ Week 2

Well I lasted 7 days (a full week!)....but then I failed! Thanksgiving proved to be too much and on Thanksgiving Monday following a day of cooking a huge feast I couldn't resist a quiet day of enjoying left-overs, so that was that. I don't feel too guilty though – as I said on last week's update, it really is proving to be far too much food for the 3 (ok so more like 2 ½!) of us and I am definitely trying to eliminate waste!! Unfortunately though the hiatus continued on Tuesday as I wasn't feeling well and definitely not up to cooking so another fail.... I got straight back to it on Wednesday though and made up for it by trying 3 new recipes (ok so they were all super simple but still a recipe is a recipe!!) Here's how the rest of Week 2 panned out......

Day 8:  Thanksgiving Monday – nadda!

Day 9:  Not feeling well – nothing again! : (

Day 10:  Fudgy Brownies (EYTF) A definite thumbs up and at only 86 calories per piece you can't complain, however they are tiny little squares which might make you be tempted to have more than 1! Super easy to make and perfect if you are watching your calories.

Prawns with Maryam Zaira Sauce (Nigella Express) Another thumbs up and not just because it's delicious, but because it's super quick and easy to make. The perfect starter, this is a Moroccan inspired version of the classic UK style Prawn Cocktail.

Mozzarella with Crazy Gremolata {NE} I eat Mozzarella any way I can so I was delighted to find something a little different. Even more so when I saw that this 'crazy gremolata' included olives and chillies – 2 of my favourite ingredients. Before I even made this I knew I couldn't go wrong and I was right – completely delicious, quick and easy!

Day 11:  Granola {MFM} This is just 1 recipe for Granola that I bookmarked from several of the chosen books for this challenge but I couldn't resist this version because it just seemed to have a little bit of everything in it! It also makes a lot of granola which was another bonus. It was easy to make, more so just a question of measuring out the ingredients and stirring them up before letting the oven take over for 25 minutes. A delicious Granola which I enjoy scattered over some yogurt. I don't think it will last long in our house!

Minestrone in Minutes {NE} From the moment I saw this recipe I knew I had to try since it promised me a delicious minestrone in minutes using only 4 ingredients....how could I not try it. It really did take no time at all to make – the hardest part was waiting 10 minutes before eating it! I don't ever buy bought pasta/tomato sauces so I would probably change the one I bought but if you have a favourite bought tomato sauce then you will love this soup. I couldn't resist by finishing mine off with a sprinkling of some chilli, parsley and for completely unnecessary indulgence and greed, a little grating of cheese. It was delicious!! I will definitely make this again when I need something filling and hearty in a hurry!

Split Pea Dhal and Cauliflower Curry {MFM} Since it was National Curry Week (in the UK anyway!) at the time of making this I felt I had to make a curry (any excuse!), but I loved the idea of making a vegetarian curry, especially since I had cauliflower left over in my fridge. I was delayed a day making it because I had to let the yellow split-peas soak over night but that wasn't a big deal. Both recipes serve 4 but there was again there was a lot more than 4 servings for us. Both the dishes were good – a was a little worried about the Dhal but by the time I added some salt and finished it was the onion topping it was really delicious. The curry as it was wasn't great and I ended up adding some curry paste to it towards the end to give it more flavour. By the time I did that it was great, it was just a touch bland before hand. We both enjoyed the meal but I'm not sure if I will make those particular recipes again as I have lots of other vegetable curry recipes that I prefer (such as Jamie Oliver's Curry Rogan Josh).

Day 12:  Eggs Italian Style {EYTF} Another success from Eat Yourself Thin Faster. This was a great breakfast which was quick and easy to make, tasted fantastic, kept me full for ages and was only 186 calories! I will definitely make this again and again as something a little different!

Day 13:  Day off

Day 14: Sweet Potato Gratin {EYTF It was a miserable rainy day so it was the perfect day for a Roast Beef Dinner, so I made this Sweet Potato Gratin as a side dish. It was really easy to make and although there seemed to be little lumps through it (which I assumed was flour) you didn't taste it. That being said I would make it slightly differently next time to make sure that didn't happen again. Really delicious and the perfect side dish! 


So there you have it! Since the initial challenge (which was to make 1 dish a day) has failed a little, the targets I will use are to reach 31 recipes by October 31st. Here's how I am doing so far.....

Target no. of dishes = 31
Dishes made so far = 18 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cauliflower & Gruyere Soup {And Challenge Update}

This soup, courtesy of Ross Dobson and his book Kitchen Seasons, is rich, indulgent and utterly delicious – so good, that I thought it would be rude not to share it with you and I would hate to be considered rude! If you really want to get an idea of what this soup is like then think fondue meets cauliflower and cheese and you will get an idea of how amazing it is. The end result is a smooth, silky soup that is perfect for a cold night snuggled up by the fire. All you need to go with it is some nice crusty bread.

Serves 4-6 (book says 4, I got 6 easily)

2 tbsp butter
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 small cauliflower (about 1kg), cut into small pieces
1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
250ml double/ whipping cream
200g gruyere cheese, grated (plus a little extra for serving)
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
sprinkling of fresh parsley, chopped

Heat the butter in a large pan until melted and bubbling. Add the onion and celery and cook for roughly 5 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add the cauliflower and stock and bring to the boil then leave to gently boil for roughly 20-25 minutes until the cauliflower is really soft and breaking up.

Leave to cool slightly then puree in a blender in batches until silky smooth. Return the soup to the heat and add the cream and cheese, then cook over a low heat, stirring, until the cheese has melted completely. Season with a little salt and pepper then taste and adjust as necessary. Serve hot in bowls sprinkled with some extra cheese and the parsley and enjoy with some crusty bread.


Week 1 of the Cookbook Challenge

As I reminder and to those of you that perhaps missed the original post, on October 1st I challenged myself to a full month of cooking using 10 cookbooks, with a minimum of 1 recipe per day (see here for the full challenge). Here is a quick recap of how my first week went....

Well I managed the first week without too many problems but to be honest this challenge is definitely a lot harder than I thought! I knew it wasn't going to be easy – the planning and scouring the books for recipes I wanted to try was and still is extremely time consuming and a little overwhelming to be honest, but the biggest obstacle I'm finding is that it's just too much food!! There are always left-overs which is great but slowly the fridge is getting more and more filled with Tupperware containers and we just can't keep up! Since part of the challenge was to keep it low in cost I'm going to have to cut back a little.... That being said I am still enjoying it – trying lots of new recipes and reading and re-reading a variety of cookbooks. Out of the 9 recipes I made in week 1, I haven't had any major disasters! Perhaps a couple of recipes that I might not make again, or if I do will have to adjust but really that's not bad going. My favourite recipes of the 9 are both soup recipes and both from the book Kitchen Seasons by Ross Dobson. I have also really enjoyed the recipes from The Meat Free Mondays Cookbook and will be cooking a third time from that book tonight. Here's hoping week 2 is another successful week!

The Tested Recipes:

Day 1:   Strawberry& Banana Smoothie {The Meat Free Mondays Cookbook} ( big thumbs up –   have already made again)

Lentil, Chickpea, Cheddar & Onion Burgers with Winter Coleslaw {The Meat Free Mondays Cookbook}( thumbs up – would make again)

Day 2:   Violet Morning Smoothie {Eat Yourself Thin Faster} ( thumbs up – will make again)

Day 3:   Quinoa & Roasted Tomato Salad {MFM}( as it is it's a miss, but it can definitely be adapted to make it tasty so I might do that. It tasted better on the second day so I haven't ruled it out completely!)

Cauliflower & Gruyere Soup {Kitchen Seasons} (good but even better the next day! It is rich and calorie laden so this is one I would keep for a special occasion. Think fondue meets soup! (See above for recipe.)

Day 4:    Raspberry-Oat Muffins {Pretty Delicious} (easy to make, good taste but bottoms stuck to the wrapper and texture was pretty chewy one cooled. I'm undecided if I will try them again.)

Day 5:    Carrot & Lentil Soup {Kitchen Seasons} ( fantastic! Tasted like the lentil soup my mum used to make and I could probably have eaten the entire pot! Loved it and will be making it all winter long!!)

Day 6:    Orange-Glazed Chicken Stir-Fry on Brown Rice {Pretty Delicious} (really good and will definitely make again. Has quite a kick to it so miss out/cut down the amount of cayenne pepper if you don't want it spicy.)

Day 7:    Breakfast Burrito {Eat Yourself Thin Faster} ( A perfect start to the day and a slightly healthier option as well! I loved adding the chopped chillies to the scrambled eggs for a bit of a kick but it did mean I had to make a 2nd spice-free version for Wee One! I also added more turkey sausage than the recipe called for as ½ a sausage seemed ridiculous!! Anyway it was delicious and both hubby and I really enjoyed it! I will definitely make these again.)


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Strawberry & Banana Smoothie

This is the first recipe I tried on my October Cookbook Challenge and it was so good I had to share it with you. As with most smoothie recipes this takes no time at all to make so is perfect for a fast, delicious and nutritious breakfast. It is so creamy I'm also going to try freezing it for ice lollies/ popsicles which I just know everyone in the family will love.

Serves 3-4

225g/ 8oz strawberries, trimmed and cut in half
1 banana, roughly chopped
140g/ 5oz natural yogurt
1 ¼ cups/ 300ml milk
1 tbsp honey or to taste

Simply put all of the ingredients into a blended and blitz until it is smooth, creamy and delicious! Perfect for breakfast or a morning snack and great for when you are in a rush and need something to go.

*This recipe is part of my October Cookbook Challenge and was taken from The Meat Free Monday Cookbook.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cookbook Challenge Oct. 2012 ~ 31 Days; 10 Books & 1 Challenge!

The Challenge – To cook at least one meal a day from a cookbook of choice for the month of October. The recipes must be followed exactly so as to properly test them and the budget must be no more (and hopefully less!) than an ordinary month.


That's right folks, for the month of October I am challenging myself to cook at least one meal a day using a cookbook! Now while that might not sound like a challenge for a lot of you, for someone who owns over 1000 cookbooks and rarely cooks from them, this is a challenge for me! Inspired by the bloggers challenge 'Random Recipes' hosted by Dom over at the lovely Belleau Kitchen, I have stepped things up a few notches so that I am not making one recipe a month from a random book, but rather one a day!

With that said however, this challenge isn't quite so random as I have picked out 9 books of choice (fairly randomly and without looking through them) in order to help with meal planning and shopping. The final book for the challenge - book number 10, was picked by you - the readers (through facebook). For those of you that missed it I selected 5 books from my 'library' and the one with the most votes was the lucky book to join the challenge, which turned out to be the Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten. The other 9 books were fairly randomly picked - I tried to do a real mix and choose books that I thought might be fairly familiar to people..... so here they are the 10 books I will be cooking from in October.....

Friday, September 28, 2012

Coconut Cake {A Random Recipe Challenge}

I love the Random Recipes Challenge set to us by the lovely Dom of Belleau Kitchen, however for the past couple of months I have missed the deadlines due to (let's be honest here) too much basking in the wonderful Canadian sun! This month however I was determined to take part especially when it was revealed that this months challenged was teamed up with Tea Time Treats courtesy of Karen from Lavender &Lovage and Kate from What Kate Baked. Not so good for my expanding waist line but a challenge is a challenge and I had to do it after being absent for so long, so like the good girl that I am I headed straight to my baking collection of books. Now the challenge was Tea Time Treats so it seemed only appropriate to pick the book Afternoon Tea Parties by Susannah Blake, since that's as close as you get to any Tea Time Treats! I closed my eyes and randomly flicked through the pages. When I stopped I was extremely happy to discover I had picked her 'Snow-topped Coconut Cake' which was part of the Winter Wonderland tea menu. Since I love coconut and lime I was ecstatic, and after drooling over the accompanying picture for a couple of weeks I finally got round to baking the cake.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mango & Strawberry Smoothie

You can't beat making up a smoothie in the morning to get you going for breakfast or a mid-morning snack. This Mango & Strawberry Smoothie is so quick and easy to make and super healthy too so you really can't go wrong!

Friday, September 21, 2012

'Chewy, Gooey' Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Two things that Wee One really likes is to be kept busy and to eat cookies! So the other day we decided to tick both boxes and make some cookies which I thought would make him extremely happy. It worked and a was a big success and surprisingly not too messy!!

These cookies are really easy to make and don't take long at all so you can have warm-from-the-oven, fresh chewy, gooey cookies in no time! Guaranteed to put a smile on anyone's face!

This is the same recipe for my Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies but replacing the Cranberries & White Chocolate with Raisins and Milk Chocolate.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Blackberry Sorbet

Blackberries are without doubt the gems of Autumn and I love them, however they are definitely a labour of love if you decide to go and pick your own! I did just that last week with my Mother and Sister-in-law and it was worth every little thorn prick and scratch we got! Thankfully this year, having learned my lesson in the past, I came prepared and brought with me a pair of rubber gloves (or Marigolds if you prefer!) which definitely helped. In the end we all left with a good few buckets of beautiful, sweet, gleaming blackberries.

After eating quite a lot of the perfectly sweet berries I decided it was time to do something else with them so since we are having a beautiful Indian Summer I decided on some Blackberry Sorbet. It is so easy to make and really lets the flavours of the blackberries shine. It is definitely one of my absolute favourite ways to enjoy blackberries.

Personally I love to eat this on it's own but if you are serving it for a dinner party dessert it is equally delicious with some thin shortbread biscuits or for an extra special treat serve in individual glass and top with some Sparkly!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Raspberry Moscow Mule

I was recently going through some of my old photographs when I found this picture that I took several years ago. Going back even further in time when I used to live in Edinburgh, this cocktail used to be one of my favourite drinks as it was one of the signature cocktails where I used to work. Somehow over the years I forgot about it as the photo was stored away in the archives along with the recipe and memories, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find it and relive some happy times and of course enjoy a taste from the past that I won't be forgetting about again!

Serves 1

45ml vodka
6 fresh raspberries
½ tsp fresh ginger, grated
½ lime
Ginger beer (or if you can't get it, Ginger Ale) to top up

In a blender add the vodka, raspberries, ginger and lime juice and blend until smooth. Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker or jar then using a cocktail strainer or small sieve, strain the mix into a cocktail glass and top up with the ginger beer. Cheers!

*For a non-alcoholic version simply omit the vodka for a refreshing and zingy, sparkly drink. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Very Simple & Delicious Breakfast.....

I know this doesn't really qualify as a recipe but this is one of my favourite things to eat just now for breakfast. Eggs really are the ultimate in fast food so if you have a few extra minutes you have time to make this for a great start to your day, and if you are like me and need a bit of a kick in the morning try having this with some spicy Siracha Ketchup on the side and a good cup of coffee! You'll be raring to go in no time!

My favourite way of cooking eggs quickly is to baste them (frying to start then finishing off with steam), however if you would rather fry or poach your egg feel free. This dish is all about how you like your eggs!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tomato & Mozzarella Tart

I'm trying to work out how many different ways I can come up with serving my favourite combination of tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil! Here is just another way that I love to enjoy it in the Summer, on a crispy and flaky puff pastry tart. It makes a perfect lunch as it takes no time to make at all but you get all of the wonderful flavours.

If I have some I love to use Tapenade on this tart, but if you don't have any or don't like it then it is just as delicious with some fresh Basil Pesto or for a spicier version, my Spicy Red Pesto. Why not try them all and see which one is your favourite?!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rose Cupcakes for a Wedding

 I've been meaning to post these cupcakes for a while since they were part of the Wedding Cake my Mum and I made for my sister's wedding. She decided that they wanted cupcakes for their wedding which delighted me as I love making cupcakes! That was the only instructions we were given by the relaxed bride to be and groom – the rest was up to us!

Since the reception was in my parent's garden we decided to make three different flavours of cakes – Vanilla, Lemon and Rose.....light and Summery and perfect for a garden wedding. The Rose Cupcakes were also chosen since her flowers all featured beautiful roses so it worked perfectly. The day before the wedding Mum & I set to work baking 144 cupcakes which we then filled with a little buttercream (flavoured to match the cake) then topped with either fondant or royal icing and finished with one of three decorations! It was a busy day to say the least but we did it and the final results turned out pretty well, if I say so myself!

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