Saturday, 10 December 2011

Chicken Fajita Lasagna

I promised you this little beauty from Jewhurst's repertoire - Chicken Fajita Lasagna:

This is a brilliantly simple dish that can be prepared in advance and just popped in the oven when you need it. It also freezes really well once cooked so make a big batch and keep some for another day.

Chicken Fajita Lasanga
(Serves 4-6 people)

Fry 2-3 chicken breasts in some olive oil, along with a red and yellow pepper, until the chicken is browned.

Pour in 2 jars of fajita sauce, we used Old El Paso but Discovery is also good.

Simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile get out a large lasagna dish and grease with butter. Begin to layer tortilla wraps with the chicken, starting and ending with the tortillas.

Sprinkle grated cheese over the top. If you are making it in advance, wait until it is cool before transferring to fridge or freezer. If you are eating it straight away, put it in a 190deg oven until the sauce is bubbling, the cheese has melted, and the tortillas are brown and crispy.

Serve with a nice salad and/or some crusty bread.

We really love this dish because it is so easy. You could make a few additions to our recipe - perhaps a few chillis to up the heat a bit, or some creme fraiche to cool it down. Lovely!

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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Recipe Shed - One Pot Wonder (and a review of Ludlow Sauce!)

I'll start with Mrs Hesketh's Ludlow sauce...
I discovered this at the Ludlow Christmas Fayre on a deli stall - The Deli on the Square to be precise. It was sitting in a little bowl with chunks of bread next to it, and I ventured over to taste. Oh. My. Days. It is delicious. The taste is somewhere between balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, and from what I could gather from the leaflet provided and the recipes on Mrs Hesketh's website, it is hugely versatile as well. There are actually 4 different types - Ludlow Hot, Ludlow Summer, Ludlow Winter, and original Ludlow Sauce. It was the latter that I bought. So far I have tried it splashed into tomato soup (gives a nice tang), and for dipping with bread (quite sharp on its own, nicer when balanced with some olive oil as well). The website suggests stews, risottos, marinades...and the following recipe for lentil dhal.

I am also linking this up with Reluctant Housedad's Recipe Shed where he asks us to share our one pot wonders. I love one pot suppers, simply because it means I can stand over my beautiful Le Creuset casserole dish and just stir (and stare!).

I got this recipe from Mrs Hesketh's recipe page and it was insanely simple. I must confess to tweaking it slightly, adding some stuff and changing the method. I hope she doesn't mind! You can see the original recipe here.

Mrs Hesketh's Lentil Dhal with Cheese

Get out your chosen one pot pan. That trustly old favourite you always use for these dishes. Then heat 2 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP olive oil until melted and bubbling slightly. Add a small chopped clove of garlic and cook for a moment.

Sprinkle 1/2 tsp each of ground ginger, ground coriander, and ground cumin, as well as a pinch of chilli flakes

Add one chopped onion and cook until soft, stirring so it is coated in the fragrant butter and oil. Splash some white wine, if you have it, and cook out for a moment.

Pour in 600ml vegetable stock, a TBSP of Ludlow Sauce (you could probably use Worcestershire sauce instead but I strongly recommend the good stuff), a tsp tomato puree and a bay leaf, as well as some salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer for 20 minutes until the lentils are cooked and have absorbed the liquid. You may need to add a bit more water (I did, but I may have had the heat too high).

Proof that it was made in one pot!

Stir through some chopped coriander, before serving in a bowl with a dollop of mango chutney and a few strategically and creatively placed coriander leaves

The original recipe calls for 175g of cheddar to be stirred through before serving, however as I was only having one bowl and saving the rest, I just stirred a sprinkling of cheese though after taking this attractive photo.

By the way, do you like our lovely bowls? We got them on our wedding list. Aren't they pretty?

Head over the Reluctant Housedad's page and check out the other one pot wonders in the linky.

I was not asked to review Ludlow Sauce and have not received any product or payment in return (Mrs Hesketh can verify!).... I just think it's really nice!

Recipe Shed

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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Recipe Shed - 5 ingredients or less

Recipe Shed
This week's Recipe Shed from Reluctant Housedad is a good 'un: a dish using 5 ingredients or less. I'm coming at it a bit late because I only made this dish yesterday. On the plus side, I used our new camera so the picture is MUCH better!
You'd be surprised at how many recipes call for more than 5 ingredients, even the ones you think are really easy! But this is a great recipe from Nigella which fits the bill perfectly. I use it a lot when I have visitors over.
Minestrone in Minutes
(serves 3-4)
In a large saucepan, heat 750ml chicken stock, a 350g jar of pasta sauce (I use Dolmio), a can of Mixed Bean Salad, and a pinch of chilli flakes. Bring to the boil, then add 100g small pasta - any type you want.
Simmer until the pasta is just cooked, then turn off the heat to let the pasta swell a bit and soak up the flavours.
Look! Look! It's a DECENT picture of food!
If I add any more to that recipe it'll be cheating.......but if you wanted you could add some grated cheese on top, or stir through some cooked sausage, or serve with crusty bread.
Head over to the Reluctant Housedad blog to see some more 5 ingredient dishes, and add your own!
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The Crazy Kitchen

I've also linked this up to The Crazy Kitchen's Foodie Foto Friday :)

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Recipe Shed - Spices

I missed out on Recipe Shed last week because of a busy week and lack of inspiration. On Meal Planning Monday I lamented the fact that one of this week's dishes would have been great to link up to Recipe Shed last week, as it is a veggie dish. I realised tonight that it is also slightly spicy, so I am linking it up to this week's Recipe Shed, where the theme set by Reluctant Housedad is "Spices" :)

I have taken a *tiny* bit of liberty here as the "spices" in this dish are verging on negligable. But it does involve spices I use in practically every dish I make so I'm linking it anyway. Also the lovely Seren who always comments on my MPM posts said how nice it sounded so this recipe is for her as well.

This is a big favourite of mine, loosely adapted from a Rosemary Conley recipe. I add lots of chilli flakes or use sweet chilli Philly because I like mine really spicy. The beauty of this dish is that you can tinker with the ingredients to suit your taste.

Garlic Mushroom Pasta
(serves 1)

Cook some pasta - any type, I used wholewheat fusilli - according to pack instructions. As this is for one person, just cook as much as you would have normally.

In a small frying pan or wok, heat 1 TSP oil and fry off a clove of chopped garlic and 1 chopped spring onion.

Add some sliced mushrooms - I used half a packet of baby button mushrooms, I guess you just add as many or little as you like and fry off til softened.

Dollop 2 teaspoons of Philly cream cheese and stir to coat the mushrooms and spring onions. Add a splash of milk to make a creamy sauce, and a big pinch of chilli flakes. Simmer gently while the pasta is cooking. If it starts to thicken too much, turn off the heat and put a lid on the pan, or add more milk.

When your pasta has cooked, drain and tip into the sauce. Stir thoroughly and serve immediately.

Apologies for the crap picture. We have bought a new fancy-pants Canon camera with wedding present money so in a month or so my pictures will be MUCH more impressive! (We've made an executive decision not to use it til we're both in the country....!)

For more spicy recipes head over to Reluctant Housedad's blog!

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Saturday, 10 September 2011

Spaghetti aribiatta

This is one of my staple dishes, and one of the first things I made myself when I moved into my new house. I watched an episode of Saturday Kitchen whereby James Martin made pork in an aribiatta sauce and I adapted what he did to create this recipe. I have tried to give quantities to make it easier for you, as I tend to make this off the top of my head for just me.

Spaghetti Aribiatta
(serves 2)

Cook enough spaghetti for 2 according to pack instructions

Meanwhile, heat some oil in a pan, and fry off 1/2 an onion and 1 chopped clove of garlic. Add some cubed salami (optional but REALLY tasty) and fry until golden.

Add 400g of chopped tomatoes and lower heat. Sprinkle in 1 tsp chilli flakes (or less if you prefer - I like mine spicy!) and 1/2 TBSP of sugar - this really brings out the taste of the tomatoes.

Simmer until the sauce is reduced, and take off the heat if spaghetti is still cooking.

Once the spaghetti is cooked, drain (retaining some of the cooking water) and add to the sauce. Add a dribble of cooking water to help the sauce adhere to the pasta. Toss the spaghetti and sauce together.

Serve with grated parmesan and some torn up basil leaves, if you have them (I didn't).

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Thursday, 8 September 2011

Recipe Shed - Sausages

Many thanks to the Reluctant Housedad who has devoted this week's Recipe Shed to sausages, after I had a small paddy at him the other week *blush*

Jewhurst and I made this a few weeks ago while he was staying over. The original recipe for this stew comes from the good people over at BBC Good Food, but after making it the first time Jewhurst remarked that it would be nice with some spuds in it as well, a la Irish Stew.

We had a little play around with ingredients and timings and came up with this:

Sausage Stew with Potatoes
(Serves 4)

Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in deep frying pan or large casserole. Fry 12-16 chipolata sausages until browned (you'll probably have to do it in batches) – remove and chop into pieces when cooled slightly.

Cook 1 onion and 4 chopped cloves of garlic in the same pan, adding splash of water if they start to catch.

Add a 350g jar of ready made tomato sauce (I used Dolmio), 450ml chicken stock, 1/2 tsp chilli flakes, and 1tsp tomato paste. Bring to a bubbling simmer.

Add the chopped sausages and 500g potatoes to the pan (small baby new potatoes or larger ones cut in half), lower heat, and simmer for 40mins or until potatoes are cooked.

Enjoy with a plenty of crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

This is perfect warming food - a great dish to have now that the weather is starting to turn. It also freezes/reheats well.

If you have a sausage recipe to share, or are looking for inspiration, why not head over to Reluctant Housedad's blog and take a look?

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Recipe Shed

Friday, 2 September 2011

Macaroni and cheese

When I was a wee young thing I would often go to my Nanny's house to stay overnight or for a weekend. My big treat to have when I was there was macaroni cheese. As a child I loved carbs and I loved cheese - even if I didn't eat much else - so this was heaven on a plate. I don't want to do my Nanny a disservice as she was an amazing woman and great cook, but her way of making macaroni cheese was to cook the pasta and simply stir through some grated cheddar. I use this method myself when I fancy something comforting but not time consuming. However this evening I was watching an episode of the Barefoot Contessa, in which Ina Garten made macaroni and cheese for herself and her husband Jeffrey, and I took a real notion to make myself proper macaroni cheese. I didn't follow Ina's recipe because, bless her heart, she always makes enough to feed a small army. Instead I googled it and came up with one from the BBC Good Food website. I made a few changes but you can see the original recipe here. It is perfect Friday night comfort food.

Macaroni Cheese with Bacon
(serves 4)

Cook 250g of macaroni (or in my case, fusilli) in a large pan of salted boiling water until cooked. Drain and set aside

Meanwhile, grill 4 rashers of bacon until crispy.

Melt 40g of unsalted butter in another saucepan, slightly larger than the one you have cooked the pasta in, and add 40g of plain flour. Stir to form a roux and cook for a minute.

Gradually whisk in 1 pint/600ml of milk, and continue to whisk for 10-15 mins until a thick sauce is formed. By the way, don't panic if it all looks like a watery lumpy mess. As my lovely Twitter friends assured me, just keep whisking and it'll be fine!

Add salt and pepper to the sauce, as well as a pinch of paprika.

Meanwhile, preheat the grill to hot.

Remove the sauce from the hob, add 150g grated cheddar and 50g of Parmesan cheese (leave behind a handful to sprinkle later), plus the crumbled up bacon. Stir through the cooked pasta and transfer to a suitably sized baking dish.

Top with some breadcrumbs and the remaining cheese, and pop under the grill until the cheese is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.

Enjoy :)

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Thursday, 1 September 2011

Recipe Shed: Hand-me-downs

This week's Recipe Shed over at Reluctant Housedad asks us to think about those recipes which we have had handed down from someone else. I have chosen one which my Mother in Law (to be) gave to me the weekend Jewhurst and I got engaged. Unfortunately as soon as you put the word "balls" into a title it automatically makes you want to snigger like a small schoolboy but try to look past the unfortunate wording and you will find that this recipe makes a delicious and incredibly moreish snack to enjoy with a cup of tea! There is pretty much always a box of these on the go at Jewhurst's house, and I am touched that his mum shared the recipe for me so that when he moves here he can have some treats to remind him of home!

Coconut Balls
(makes approx 22)

Crush 10 digestive biscuits into sandy crumbs; add 5 level TBSP drinking chocolate and 5 level TBSP of dessicated coconut

Melt 2 oz margarine and add to mixture along with a small tin of sweetened condensed milk*

Roll into balls about the size of a walnut and toss in some more dessicated coconut to creat a coating on the outside.

* My MiL makes a footnote at the bottom to say that you can't buy small tins of condensed milk, so she either doubles the quantity of coconut balls, or finds another recipe calling for a small tin of condensed milk!

If you have a hand-me-down recipe to share, or fancy noseying at other people's, why not head over to Reluctant Housedad's blog and take a look!

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Recipe Shed

Friday, 26 August 2011

Recipe Shed - Tex Mex Tacos

Evening all :)

So a manic week has come to an end. This week I have, along with an amazing team of volunteers, been entertaining on average about 50 children every morning at Holiday Bible Club. I'm exhasuted! But I really wanted to join in with Reluctant Housedad's Recipe Shed linky this week, where the theme for the week is "Mince"

Recipe Shed

When I heard that it was mince my thoughts immediately went to the obvious recipes - cottage pie, lasagne etc. I am so glad I didn't go for that as the Housedad himself made the most amazing looking lasagne and Alyson has made a similarly delicious looking cottage pie. Both of which will be infinitely superior to my own versions. So I had a flick through my recipe file, dismissed meatballs as they were too much work for the end of a busy week, and opted for Tex Mex Tacos instead.

The recipe is originally from Good Food and is insanely simple. This recipe apparently serves 6, by which I think they mean 6 tacos rather than 6 people. I halved the recipe for just myself and I got 3 tacos out of it.

Tex Mex Beef Tacos

Heat a large frying pan until very hot, then brown 500g beef mince. Remove, then season with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tbsp sunflower oil in the pan and add 4 garlic cloves, 1 1/2 tbsp dried orgeano, 2 TSP ground cumin, 2 TSP paprika, 1/2 TSP chilli flakes and fry until they release their aroma (you might want to lower the heat to make sure the garlic doesn't burn!)
Return the beef to the pan and warm through with the spices.
Warm some taco shells (2-3 per person) according to pack instructions.
To serve - fill the taco shells with the beef mixture, some sour cream, salsa, guacamole, grated cheese...... whatever takes your fancy!

Unfortunately I did not have sour cream in the fridge as I thought and next time I would definitely add it. Even though the cheese was a great accompaniment, the beef is a dry mixture with no sauce, so you definitely need something like sour cream or salsa to moisten it. Guacamole would add a nice creaminess to balance out the crunchy spice from the beef and tacos.

This would be a great dish for families or if you had friends coming over. You could just put the beef in a large dish, tacos on a plate, and toppings in little serving bowls. Perfect!

If you have a great mince dish to share then please join in with Keith's linky (just click on the Recipe Shed badge), and if not then why not check out the other blog entries and get some ideas! There are even some veggie options there!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Sargies Cornish Kitchen: Recipes

Yesterday I reviewed 2 Sargies products - their Luxury Lemon Curd and Free Range Meringue nests. Although they were very nice in their simplest form, I thought it would be good to use them in a couple of recipes too. I wanted the recipes to be simple, to use both ingredients, and to have other ingredients I am most likely to have in my cupboard. So I chose Lemon Meringue Cupcakes, and Lemony Eton Mess.

Both recipes are taken from somewhere else (BBC Good Food and Delia Smith respectively) but I tweaked them slightly to suit the Sargies products.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes - serves 12
(original recipe can be found here)

100g butter, softened
100g sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence
2 free range eggs
100g plain flour
Zest of 1 lemon
75g lemon curd (I used Sargies
Luxury Lemon Curd)


Preheat oven to 180 C
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together until fluffy and combined

Crack in the eggs, one at a time, and beat until fully incorporated and creamy
Fold in the flour and lemon zest until well combined
Spoon mixture into paper cases, then add a teaspoon of lemon curd on top of each
Bake the cupcakes for 15-20 mins until they are golden and springy, or until a skewer (in my case a piece of broken spaghetti) comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before icing.

It is here that I deviated from the original recipe. Where Simon Rimmer's calls for making my own meringue, I instead made a batch of Hummingbird Bakery vanilla frosting, substituting the vanilla for a squeeze of juice from the lemon I had zested earlier. I then crushed in some of Sargies Meringue nests to give the frosting texture and flavour and to add the key "meringue" part!

I asked my lovely friends Magda and Mark to have a taste and tell me what they thought. Unfortunately my style of questioning (akin to an inquisition I think) was a bit too much for him and he declared the whole process as "STRESSFUL! Really stressful!". He did say they tasted nice though...! In fact I think I'm lying there. I seem to remember him also saying "So where is the lemon in this stupid cake?!" but I will put that down to the stress of blogger interrogation...

What a trooper...

As it happens, I had a taste of one myself and was impressed by how light and tasty they were. The lemon curd acted like a "drizzle" - moistening the cake yet retaining enough of its consistency to make a pleasing little filling in the middle which took me by surprise. The frosting complimented it well, and was a good use of the ready made meringues.

Lemony Eton Mess - serves 4

(the original recipe can be viewed here)

300g strawberries
300ml double or whipping cream
Icing sugar (to taste)
Meringue nests (I used Sargies free range hand piped meringu
3 tbsp lemon curd

Whip the cream to a soft, floppy consistency
Chop the strawberries into small but meaningful chunks
Set aside half, place in a bowl and sprinkle over some icing sugar.
Put the other half in a blender with another good sprinkle of icing suga
r (to your taste - I like it sweet, you might like it sharp) and blitz to a smooth pulp
Sieve to remove seeds and pour 2/3 into the cream, folding gently to make a marbled effect
Add the lemon curd and gently fold through
Fold in the remaining strawberries and crushed meringue pieces
Drizzle with some strawberry puree before serving.

I loved this. It was light and sweet with a nice tangy bite from the strawberries. The lemon curd was a good addition - a subtle taste that didn't overpower the summery-ness of the strawberries and cream. It was also so easy to make that I have stored this away for use when I next have friends over for dinner.

Thanks again to Beth and Dave for sending me these products

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Guest Post: Karen's Scrumptious Apple Crumble!

My lovely friend Karen, who also happens to be Jewhurst's cousin, mentioned on Facebook the other day that she had some cooking apples and planned to make apple crumble with them. I asked if she wanted to write a post about it for this blog, and here it is!

Scrumptious Apple Crumble

Before I start into this post I feel that I should explain my rather impromptu decision to make an Apple Crumble this weekend.

My mum always used to make a Chicken Waldorf Salad, which I absolutely love. (For those who maybe don’t know what a Waldorf Salad is, it’s basically chicken, celery, apples, in a mayo/sour cream sauce) She said she was making it recently, which inspired me to get the recipe and try it out myself… This was one of those times when you completely regret starting something! I messed up the sauce by getting the quantities wrong and making too much, I managed to salvage this by putting extra soured cream in to disguise the tanginess of the mayo. I turned to the apples which I was about to chop and thankfully glanced a the recipe again, the recipe called for dessert apples…..I’d bought cooking apples, and so the crumble was made to not waste ingredients.

I was very lazy and didn’t even go to my cupboard to get a recipe book instead I went online, did a little google and decided to try the BBC food apple crumble recipe. I had all the other ingredients in the cupboards so started giving it a bash.

The ingredients are as follows:

For the crumble

300g/10½oz plain flour sieved pinch of salt

175g/6oz unrefined brown sugar

200g/7oz unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature

Knob of butter for greasing

For the filling

450g/1lb apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm/½in pieces

50g/2oz unrefined brown sugar

1 tbsp plain flour

1 pinch of ground cinnamon

I made mine with 4 medium sized apples, I didn’t weigh them, but there was an ample layer of apple, which I personally prefer in a crumble.

Preparation method

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Place the flour and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Taking a few cubes of butter at a time rub into the flour mixture. Keep rubbing until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Place the fruit in a large bowl and sprinkle over the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Stir well being careful not to break up the fruit.

Butter a 24cm/9in ovenproof dish. Spoon the fruit mixture into the bottom, then sprinkle the crumble mixture on top.

Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the crumble is browned and the fruit mixture bubbling.

Serve with thick cream or custard.

I actually did step two first and peeled and chopped the apple into the Pyrex bowl. I wasn’t sure how they meant you to cut/chop the apples so I cut them into very thin slices, and then chopped the slices again into thin slivers.

I sprinkled the mixture over the fruit in the Pyrex bowl, which worked perfectly fine. The recipe called for a ‘pinch of ground cinnamon’, I put a good sprinkle in as I personally love it! It had a great taste and next time I would probably add a touch more.

I then went back to step one and made the crumble mixture. My scales aren’t 100% and I think in mine, I had a touch too much butter. The crumble wasn’t exactly crunchy throughout, it was more soft in places and almost ‘cake like’, as my husband put it, however, it didn’t take away from it and was still very tasty.

Overall, this was extremely tasty and went down a treat. My husband and I both thoroughly enjoyed it and took the remainder to the in-laws to taste. I think if I was doing it again, I would definitely add in a touch more cinnamon but as mentioned that is because I love the taste. I would maybe use slightly less sugar throughout the recipe as it was quite sweet, so maybe cutting out some of the sugar in the crumble rather than less in with the apple mixture. I’d also advise putting the butter in, in stages as I can’t say whether the recipe tells you to use too much. – I think after this I’m going to ditch those scales and get some proper ones which actually work!

I’d highly recommend you try this simple, but yet classic dish! A tasty treat for a Sunday afternoon.

My thanks to Karen for doing this post. The crumble does look amazing! (I'm also liking her crockery too!)

If you have a favourite recipe you would like to post on the Big Eejit email me (details on the Contact page) and let me know.