Monthly Archives: November 2014

Chicken and Mushroom Stroganoff

I love a good Chicken Stroganoff.  I think it’s the combination of cream and rice, which is something I don’t often encounter,  but sometimes I just get such a craving it cannot be resisted! Quick and simple to whip up, this is one of my go to week night suppers.

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It’s a handy little dish to have in your repertoire as it’s quick, simple, delicious, and looks just a little bit fancy too!

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Serves 2

1 teacup basmati rice

1 large chicken breast, sliced
100g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
300ml cream
thyme (dried or fresh)
salt and pepper

– In a small saucepan with a lid heat a good splash of oil until hot.
– Add your teacup of rice and a good pinch of salt and stir.
– Add 2 teacups of cold water.  *
– Bring to the boil then turn down onto a low heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes.
– When you can no longer see any water bubbling on top, only rice, turn off the heat and leave to stand.
– Heat another splash of oil in a large frying pan.
– Add your chicken and cook, stirring occasionally until it is starting to brown.
– Add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes until they are looking cooked.
– Add the thyme and stir so it is evenly distributed.
– Add the cream, season to taste, and allow to heat through so it just comes to a boil.
– Remove from the heat and serve over your rice.**

* You can also add a pinch of thyme to your rice here if you wish.
** Fluff with a fork before serving.

 

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Filed under Easy, Mains

Hasselback Potatoes

If you have ever set foot on Pinterest you will have seen these babies.  The humble hassleback potato.  And may be you’ve simply looked at them and thought “Yeah, not worth the effort for a potato.”  well, I’m sorry but YOU WERE WRONG!  These things are so very much worth the effort, and it is such a small amount of effort at that!

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These potatoes are crispy and salty, soft and chewy, crunchy and pillowy and DELICIOUS!!!!!  They are all good things in potato form and what’s more, they look smashing too!

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Makes… however many you want really!

1 large potato
olive oil
sea salt

– Take your potato and carefully slice into it so that you stop just shy of going all the way through.
– Slice every couple of mm along until the whole potato is done.
– Place on a baking dish and drizzle liberally with good olive oil.
– Scatter with a pinch of sea salt.
– Cook in the oven for 45 minutes until crisp and golden brown.
– Eat as a side, main, heck, make mini ones and do canapes!

 

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Filed under Basic, Christmas, Easy, Sides

Chicken Pot Pie

 

There is something innately comforting about a simple chicken pot pie.  The combination of simple ingredients adds up to make a dish that just hits all my comfort spots!  Flaky pastry, creamy filling (without any actual cream!) chicken and vegetables, it’s pure comfort in a dish and the perfect way to warm up at this time of year.

Chicken Pot Pie

The great thing about these individual pies is that I can make up a batch of 4 and then freeze 3 of them, leaving me with an easy dish to grab and shove in the oven on days when I need something quick, tasty and nutritious!  It’s always a great feeling knowing I have some of these stashed away in the freezer, and they’re equally good for whipping out for an unexpected dinner guest!

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Makes 4

1/2 quantity Rough Puff Pastry / bought block of puff or shortcrust pastry

2 chicken breasts, sliced
1 onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 stick celery, sliced finely
1 cup frozen peas
1 chicken stock cube
1 litre boiling water
40g butter (can use oil)
3 tbsp corn flour
salt and pepper to taste
milk to glaze (beaten egg if you want it shiny!)

– Heat a little oil in a large, deep frying pan.
– Add the chicken, onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is just catching colour.
–  Dissolve your stock cube in the boiling water and set aside.
– In a small saucepan melt the butter then add the corn flour and stir together to make roux.
– Add the hot chicken stock and keep stirring until it thickens.
– Add the peas to your large frying pan.
– Pour over the thickened stock.
– Season to your taste.
– Allow to cook for a further 5 minutes. Check you are happy with the seasoning.
– Roll out the pastry on a floured worksurface to about 5mm thick.
– Cut around at least 1cm larger than your chosen pie dish.
– Divide the mixture equally between your pie dishes.
– Use a pastry brush (silicone, always silicone!) to brush the edge of your pie dish with milk.
– Place the pastry top gently over the pie dish and press evenly to seal.
– Make a little hole on the centre for steam to escape.  You can also decorate your pies with the spare pastry if you wish. (Add guest’s names for a dinner party, I love that!)
– At this point you can wrap in cling film and freeze any pies you don’t want right away.
– When you are ready to cook them brush the top with milk and cook in the oven for 30 minutes at gas mark 6/200C.

 

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Filed under Easy, Mains

Yorkshire Puddings!

I am a Yorkshire Lass.  So I can only apologise for the fact that up until this point I haven’t shared the recipe for Yorkshire Puddings with you guys! Yorkshires are a staple comfort food in my family, they are present for every Sunday Roast and frequently pop up in the doldrums of winter for a comforting Toad In The Hole.  These little pillows of crunchy, squidgy batter are so easy to throw together and even easier to scoff down at the speed of light!

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I have to confess that I don’t normally cook Yorkshire Puddings.  That’s my mum’s department.  I go back home almost every Sunday to share a Sunday Roast with my parents, there’s little point in cooking a Roast for one and it lets Darcy and Frodo play together regularly and I get to check in with my parents.  Win win, really!  But sometimes I’m with friends or simply in the mood and that is when it is time to pull out the bun tin and get cracking! After a certain amount of practice you can do this without measuring properly but start slow, practice and soon you’ll find your feet!  I like to use a tall measuring jug from the stick blender as I can see exactly where everything comes up to and it’s so simple!

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Makes ~ 12 Yorkshire Puddings

100g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
300ml milk
1 egg
oil/lard/trex for cooking

– Put the flour, salt, milk and egg into a tall jug.
– Blitz with a stick blender to combine (Keeping a good grip on the jug!)
– Leave to sit for around 20 minutes, half an hour, or longer if necessary.
– Get the oven nice and hot (Gas 6 / 200C or above) If you already have had your roast in this shouldn’t be an issue.
– Put a small knob of trex, lard or a dash of vegetable oil (just enough to cover the base of the tin) and place in the oven to get piping hot.  (10 minutes or so)
– Pour the batter in to just fill each hole of the bun tin.  (Careful of the hot oil!!)
– Place carefully in the oven and close the oven door.
– Leave to cook for 25-30 minutes until all poofed up and golden brown.  DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN WHILE THEY ARE COOKING!
– Remove from the oven when you have reached the correct level of brown for your taste (Sometime I quite like them to be just a little bit squishy to be honest, other times I let them fully crisp up!)
– Serve with gravy… or, indeed, jam and sugar if you do so choose!

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Filed under Easy, Sides

Mini Glazed Donuts

 

Mini Glazed Donuts

About two years ago I bought myself a mini donut maker… as you do.  I used it once with the recipe that came with it, was pretty unimpressed, and it has lived in the back of the cupboard ever since.  Until I got a craving for donuts that is!  I just so happened to have reorganised the cupboards earlier in the week and so the mini donut maker was at the forefront of my mind!

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These are so quick and easy to whip up it’s ridiculous!  Even just using a mini donut pan or something in the oven I’m sure there would still be really quick.  The batter takes about 5 miuntes to prepare and the donuts cook in the mini donut maker in 5 minutes.  10 minutes is all it takes to have fresh cooked donuts!!!

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I had been doing so well on the healthy eating too.  Alas, those days are probably gone now that I have figured out how to make delicious mini donuts at a moment’s notice!  Although as these are cake donuts and baked rather than fried the calorie count is vastly reduced, which is good!  And the flavour possibilities are endless too!  I can’t wait to experiment!  For now I’m pretty happy with these simple glazed donuts… and the sprinkles.  Sprinkles are awesome!

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Makes ~ 30

30g butter, melted
125ml milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g golden caster sugar
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

2 cups icing sugar
3-6 tbsp cold water
1 tsp vanilla essence

– Melt your butter in a large pyrex jug or medium bowl.
– Add the milk, egg and vanilla and whisk together.
– Add the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt and whisk together until they all form a smooth batter.
– Pour the batter into a piping bag.  (I unfold the top of the piping bag over a pint glass or beaker then simply scoop/pour the batter in.  Then unfold the bag, twist close to secure and snip the end off to pipe!)
– Heat up the mini donut maker (there should be an indicator light telling you when it’s ready)
– Carefully pipe the batter into each hole, making sure to leave the centre spike clean.  (I favour a steady pressure around, then push down and lift for a clean circle.)
– Lock the lid on and wait 5 minutes.
– The donuts should be nicely coloured top and bottom.  If the tops are still pale give them a little longer, sometimes the first batch need a little longer until the machine is properly up to heat.
– Gently use a fork or teaspoon to lift the edge of the donuts and them place on a plate or wire racks to cool slightly.
– Repeat until all the batter is used up.
– Now for the glaze!
– In a small bowl mix the icing sugar, vanilla and enough water to make a nice runny glaze. You don’t want it too stiff or you get a white icing rather than a transparent glaze.
– Prepare two wire racks with trays or chopping boards underneath to catch the drips.
– Take each mini donut, dip it in the glaze, flip it over to coat the other side, then lift out, allow the excess to drip off a bit, then place on the wire rack to set.
– Repeat with all the donuts.
– If adding sprinkles be sure to add them while the glaze is wet, about every 3 donuts gives you enough time.
– Allow to dry completely on the racks before placing in a box or tin to store… some donuts may not make it and may have to be “tested” before they are completely dry… that’s a shame!

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Filed under Breakfasts, Easy, Teatime Treats

Cheesy Dog Biscuits

These Cheesy Dog Biscuits came about because I had a hankering to bake something.  I was trying to be good and not make cookies (I failed, I totally made cookies too!) so I thought I’d have a go at baking something for Darcy.  I had seen a whole bunch of recipes for dog biscuits but nothing ever seemed right.

Cheesy Dog Biscuits

My dog is small and still only a puppy so I didn’t want to use stock, even low sodium stock.  My dog also hates peanut butter.  The only dog I have ever met who doesn’t go nuts for it!  So I thought I’d have a bit of a play around and see what I could come up with that Darcy would love but I would still be happy to give him.  He loves cheese so that was a good starting point.

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These biscuits certainly tick all my boxes!  They’re cheesy, crunchy and, quite honestly, I would totally eat these myself dipped in humous or something!  The recipe gives a good yield for such an small quantity of ingredients and these were all things I had in the cupboard so they were super simple to make!

Cheesy Dog Biscuits

Makes 50-70 biscuits depending on the size of your cutter.

1 cup oats
1 cup wholewheat flour
1 egg
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1/2 cup finely grated hard cheese (like Parmesan)
2 slices ham, finely diced

– Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 5.
– Mix the oats, flour, egg and most of the water together to form a soft dough. You may need all of the water, you may not so add a bit at a time until it comes together in a soft but not sticky dough.
– Add the cheeses and ham and knead to combine.
– Roll out on a lightly floured surface or silicone mat to a thickness of about 5mm.
– Cut with your desired cutter, I used a 6cm bone shape.
– Place about 1 cm apart on a baking tray.
– Bake for 15 minutes.
– Place the baked biscuits on a wire rack to cool and repeat with remaining biscuits until all of the dough is used.

Darcy Biscuit

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Filed under Cookies and Biscuits, Dog Friendly

Sloe Gin

Autumn is here!  And with it come a wealth of free hedgerow foods and abundant old wives’ tales to guide you on your foraging!  Having been indulging in Blackberry and Apple Pie and Brown Betty for weeks now the first frost has come and so blackberries are out (the devil’s claw has been upon them!) but it’s open season on the sloes!

Sloes have had some ups and downs over the past few years but it seems like a good year for them around here so get out and see what you can pick!  This sloe gin is well worth the wait, I’ve just cracked open last year’s stash and, just like every year, I am reminded of just how good this stuff is and questioning why I don’t drink it year round!

Sloe Gin

 

Makes 1 bottle*

350g sloes*
175g granulated sugar*
8 blanched almonds
1 pint gin*

– First step, freeze your sloes.  Or spend 3 hours pricking each and every one of them with a small knife.  Your choice.
– In a large jar or bottle with a wide neck (make sure it seals properly!) layer your frozen sloes and sugar so its nicely combined.
– Add the blanched almonds.
–  Add the gin at room temperature.  The shock of the gin on the frozen sloes will cause the skins to split, you may even hear them cracking like ice cubes!
– Put in a safe, cool place and then shake once a week for 6 months-the end of time. (Mum has a bottle she’s been working on for at least 5 years, its brilliant!)
–  Strain the sloes and almonds from the gin leaving just the liquid.  **
– Enjoy with ice and tonic, or as a bonfire night tipple straight from a hip flask!  Warms you up a treat!

* As with all foraging expeditions your harvest varies.  If you have come home with say 2kg of sloes (well done you!) then simply use half the amount of sugar to the weight of sloes (so 1kg) and when adding gin you want the sloe/sugar mix to come about halfway up the bottle leaving the rest of the room for gin.

As for gin, DO NOT go using Bombay Sapphire or the like in this recipe.  It’s a waste!  Lidl, Aldi and the like do perfectly acceptable gin at a good price especially when you are going to be adding so much fruit and sugar to it.  There’s no need to break the bank!

** If you don’t want to waste the sloes you can go on to use them in Sloe and Apple Jelly by simply adding them to this recipe.

 

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Filed under Dairy Free, Drinks, Easy, Gluten Free, Jams and Preserves