These spooky eyeball chocolate chip cookies are great easy Halloween cookies! I bought a packet of these sugar eyeballs ages ago but never really found a need to use them until now! These cookies are a great Halloween treat and you can use the technique with your own favourite cookie recipe if you prefer, no need to follow this one (though it is great!) You simply press the eyes into the cookie when it comes straight out of the oven and then leave to cool.
Makes 18 cookies
200g melted unsalted butter 220g light muscovado sugar 100g caster sugar (If you like the grainyness of the M&S cookies feel free to use granulated, I don’t like it so I use caster) 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 egg 350g plain flour 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 200g chocolate chips (I use one bag of dark and one bag of milk for variety)
One pack sugar eyeballs
– Heat the oven to Gas mark 3/170C and prepare two baking trays. – Melt the butter, I put it in the microwave for 1 minute but microwaves vary so be careful! – In a large mixing bowl mix the melted butter with both sugars until smooth. – Beat in the vanilla and egg until smooth. – Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until it forms a dough. – Mix through the chocolate chips. – Divide the dough in to generous balls, slightly larger than a ping pong ball is best. Roll briefly in your hands to make a round ball and place 6 on a baking tray. Make sure they cookies are well spaced apart as they spread. – Bake one sheet at a time in the top of the oven for about 15-17 minutes. The cookies will still be soft but the edges should be a little brown. – As soon as they come out of the oven press the sugar eyeballs randomly into the cookies. Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely/eat. – Repeat with the remaining trays of cookies.
When I saw these langoustines in the fishmonger yesterday I knew a special meal was needed!
I’ve never made paella before but I’ve eaten it plenty of times. I was a little nervous going all in on a recipe I’ve never experimented with before (langoustines aren’t cheap!) but I didn’t need to worry, it was amazing and so delicious!
125g chorizo, sliced
4 large chicken thighs, skin on (or 8 small ones)
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 red pepper, diced
250g paella rice (or risotto rice if you can’t get it)
500ml chicken stock
Pinch of saffron
100ml white wine
400g tin chopped tomatoes
150g king prawns
Handful of frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cooked langoustines
– Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy pan with a lid.
– Add the chorizo and cook for 3 minutes.
– Remove the chorizo from the oil (which should now be a lovely colour) and place in a bowl to the side.
– Add the chicken thighs and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes each side with the pan lid on.
– Remove the chicken thighs and place in the bowl with the chorizo.
– Add the garlic, red pepper and rice and stir well until the rice is well coated.
-Add the stock, saffron, wine and tinned tomatoes. Stir well.
– Add the chicken thighs and chorizo back into the pan and simmer on a low heat with the lid on for 10 minutes.
– Add the prawns and peas and mix through gently. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
– Add the langoustines on top and replace the lid. Simmer for 10 more minutes.
– Leave to sit with the heat off and the lid on for 5 more minutes before serving with lemon wedges.
Super quick and simple to make this Japanese Tori Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) really hits the spot! You can add garlic and ginger to the marinade if you like for a little extra flavour but I don’t usually. For authenticity make sure you’re eating it with Kewpie mayonnaise!
Chicken breast (or thigh) chopped into bite size chunks
1 tbsp cooking sake
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp corn flour
Large pinch of salt
– Marinate the chicken in the sake and soy sauce (optional: garlic and ginger pastes) for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight in the fridge.
– Heat a pan of oil to 180°
– Drain any excess liquid from the chicken.
– Add the corn flour and salt and mix so the chicken is well coated.
– Drop into the hot oil a piece at a time, cook in batches if necessary so it’s not crowded.
– Cook for 3 minutes until golden brown.
– Remove from the oil with chopsticks (or tongs) and place on a sheet of kitchen paper to drain.
– Serve hot or cold with mayonnaise and a lemon wedge squeezed over.
– Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a small bowl.
– Cream together the butter, sugars and vanilla.
– Add a spoonful of the dry mix to the butter mix and beat well to combine.
– Gradually add the remaining flour mix, beating well between additions until a smooth, dark dough is formed.
– Add the chocolate chips and mix in.
– Divide the dough in two, press down into rounds on a baking tray and sprinkle with the salt flakes.
– Bake for 12 minutes. The cookies are ready when the tops have cracked. If the tops aren’t cracked, they’re not done.
– Remove from the oven and leave on the tray for at least 5 minutes. This is very important! The cookies will be soft when they come out but will solidify in those 5 minutes. Leave them a further 10 minutes before eating for best results.
This is going to be an odd year for many. May be you’re going to be tackling a smaller Christmas Dinner for the first time. May be you’ve decided to go all out now you don’t have to trek round to Auntie Sue’s because it’s “what you always do”! May be you’ve never cooked more than a fried egg but think this is your time to shine!
Whatever your situation, I thought it may be timely to do a little example of how to do a low effort Christmas Dinner as guidance for those that need it. Remember, Christmas Dinner is just a roast dinner but with cranberry sauce and crackers! Don’t let the weight of expectations get you down, this can be as simple or as complicated a meal as you want to make it!
You can look at the Christmas tag for some older recipes and round ups that are more comprehensive but I wanted to highlight some really simple recipes here. Whether you’re on your own or just a smaller family gathering this should hit the spot!
We like to have nibbles to tide us over from noon to 3pm when we have our Dinner. If you want to keep it super simple just grab some party food from the freezer section. These days they almost all cook at 180°C for around 15 minutes. Any leftovers are also great for grazing at!
In my family the Prawn Cocktail is king. (Well, for me it is, mum does try to do fancy smoked salmon thingies!) This is not only traditional but super simple. Finely sliced iceberg lettuce, prawns, cocktail sauce (Iceland’s is my favourite!) and a twist of lemon on top to look fancy. Less than 5 minutes and you’re done!
Turkey is, of course, traditional and if you want to keep it super simple I recommend a frozen Turkey crown. They’re about £10 and you can pick one up in almost any supermarket.
However, a large roast chicken will also do very nicely! I love to do a one pot chicken dish where you simply get a Really Big Pot, put in new potatoes in the base, add your chicken (put some herbs, garlic and half a lemon in the cavity), and scatter with bacon lardons. Drizzle with a little olive oil and cook according to the time on the packet (or 25 minutes per lb + 20 minutes in 180°C oven) Add a cup of frozen peas 30 minutes before the end. This also works well in a slow cooker on high for 3 hours if you need the space in the oven or even if you don’t have an oven! You can find the more detailed recipe here.
A roast dinner is all about timing. If you figure out your timings then it’s plain sailing. You can prep all of your veg in advance, even the night before, so all you have to do on the day is put dishes in the oven on time or you can get the roast in and then do your veg prep. I have a post outlining some of the timings for veg here.
2 hours before: Roast In
45 minutes before: parsnips in (I like them crispy.)
30 minutes before: leeks in cream sauce, stuffing balls & pigs in blankets in
25 minutes before: Brussels sprouts and carrots in steamer on the hob. Check the sprouts after 15 minutes by poking with a sharp knife. They should be soft but not soggy.
Serving Time: Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a serving board. Use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes and peas and bacon. You can make gravy with the juices. I explain how here.
Christmas pudding is traditional, easily available from the supermarket, and I hate it. So I have a couple of other seasonal options that you can make the day before:
If you’re on your own do not let this stop you from having a full roast! The leftovers are the best bit! From this dinner I will be able to make sandwiches, soup, risotto and may be a few other dishes as takes my fancy! I basically won’t have to cook again for the next week, which is exactly how I like it!
– Melt the butter in a medium sized pan. Add a small splash of olive oil to stop it catching.
– Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until soft and browned.
– Add the white wine and vegetable stock.
– Blend with a stick blender until your desired level of smooth. (I like bits in my soup but if you want a totally smooth soup you’ll need to decant into a liquidiser and blend in that then resume cooking.)
– Bring the soup to a boil then turn down to a simmer.
– Add the cream and heat gently until the edges are bubbling.
Hi, I'm Anna and this is what's going on in my kitchen and growing in my garden.
Everything you see here is how it looked as I cooked and ate it. I don't like to make things too fussy. I want you to know that if you try one of my recipes what you see is what you'll get.
Don't forget to leave a comment, I love to know what you're thinking and if you do try out a recipe then let me know how it worked for you. Happy cooking!