Crispy bacon with charred sprouts with a delicious hint of garlic, this is not a boring side dish.
Sprouts have quite a bad reputation here and a lot of people don’t seem to like them. Like a lot of people in Britain, I used to only tend to eat brussel sprouts at Christmas. When we have them at Christmas, they are usually just boiled so they aren’t the most exciting vegetable.
I decided to come up with a brussel recipe a couple of months ago. It came about when I decided to try out a low carb diet to help me drop a few more pounds before my wedding. I didn’t want to cut out carbs altogether, but dramatically reduce them. This meant I was eating a lot more veg – I mean a lot more. I became slightly obsessed with tenderstem broccoli; I can’t get enough of it! But I couldn’t just eat broccoli, so I decided to come up with a sprouts recipe. I’d heard of combining bacon with sprouts before so thought I would give it a go. The recipe turned out great and I now have it at least once a week; my boyfriend now even asks if he can have some when he wouldn’t go near brussels before!
My diet has gone well and with the last few weeks of eating far less carbs, I have managed to loose just over three stone in five months. This recipe is great for everyone to enjoy, not just people trying to loose weight!
500g brussel sprouts
200g bacon lardons
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- Trim the sprouts and get rid of any outside leaves that don’t look great. Cook in salted boiling water for around 10 minutes so the sprouts are just cooked but not soft. Drain the sprouts and leave to cool slightly
- Cook the bacon in a frying pan on a high heat until crisp
- While the bacon is cooking, cut the sprouts in half or quarters depending on how big they are. Add them to the bacon along with the oil and stir occasionally
- Once the sprouts have started to get crisp, add the garlic and allow to cook for a five or so more minutes
I chose a short and catchy name for this recipe!
I have made quite a few chicken casseroles in my time. They are so versatile as they can be eaten with potatoes and vegetables as a simple and warming dish or topped with some puff pastry for a quick and delicious pie. Although a lot of the recipes I have followed in the past have been delicious, they tend to need some forward planning. I think there is nothing more annoying than wanting to make a recipe but realising you’re missing a vital ingredient. It can’t just be me that writes numerous lists and will still always forget something when you go to the shop?! My housemate and I found a delicious chicken casserole/pie recipe that we would make at uni; but the recipe used creme fraiche which isn’t something I tend to have in my fridge. And then once you have used the small amount you need for the recipe, the rest goes to waste as it sits in the fridge because you don’t know what else to do with it.
I decided I wanted to come up with a chicken casserole recipe that was minimum effort and used mainly ingredients I (and other people) tend to already have in their cupboards or fridges. Obviously you can substitute ingredients still but this recipe will provide you with a deliciously comforting chicken casserole without needing a long shopping list!
This chicken casserole freezes really well. When you reheat it, the chicken tends to break up slightly but I don’t mind this at all! I usually serve this with small baked potato and vegetables.
4 – 6 people
1 kg chicken breasts (or use a mix of breast and skinless thigh)
500g carrots, peeled and sliced
300g leeks, washed and sliced
400g tin cream of chicken soup
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 tsp dried thyme
350ml semi skimmed milk
Chicken stock pot
¼ ground pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp cornflour (if needed)
- Cut the chicken into cubes. Brown the chicken in batches in a pan or in your slow cooker on the hob (if your slow cooker allows this) using some spray oil
- Once all of the chicken is browned, add it all to the slow cooker dish. Add the sliced carrots, leeks and the rest of the ingredients apart from the cornflour. I add the soup and then use the tin to measure the milk and then fill nearly to the top with recently boiled water. Not only does this give you the correct measurements but it also rinses out the tin too!
- Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8
- Once the casserole has finished cooking, check to see if the sauce is the right consistency. If it is too thin, use the cornflour and add enough water to make a slurry. Add this to the casserole and allow it to cook for another 30 minutes
I am very lucky because my parents have a villa in Fuerteventura which means I can pop over there for some sun. It seems customary to offer shots of honey rum at the end of a meal. Although this isn’t in all restaurants, it seems to happen more often than not following an evening meal. There seem to be endless different brands and each restaurant appears to have their favourite – some are definitely better than others!
When my family were out there over New Year, we hunted down one of our favourite bottles. My Mum and boyfriend started then having a few shots before we went out for an evening meal! Before you panic, it has a lower alcohol percentage than other spirits at around 20%. I say shots, but really my Mum was sipping it which was far safer for her.
I was also lucky enough to go out to Fuerteventura for my Hen Do in February with some of my closest friends. Honey rum obviously played quite a large part with us losing track of just how many shots we were having. The difference with honey rum to other liqueurs is that honey rum actually tastes nice so is enjoyable which is more than can be said about other liqueurs!
Honey rum has some great memories for me so I wanted to make a cake that incorporated the delicious drink. The first thing that came to mind was a honey rum drizzle cake where I could add the honey rum to both the cake and the glaze. The cake turned out just how I wanted with the flavour of the honey rum but without there being an overpowering taste of alcohol.
If you’re not heading to the Canary Islands anytime soon and still want to make this cake; you can buy honey rum online and it isn’t too expensive.
For the cake
250g caster sugar
4 large eggs
250g self raising flour
100ml honey rum
- Preheat the oven to 170ºC and line a 1kg loaf tin
- Cream together the sugar and the butter until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat on a high speed
- Add the flour and mix before adding the honey rum and mixing again until just combined
- Pour the mix into the prepared tin and smooth the top slightly
- Bake in the oven for 45- 50 mins or until a cocktail stick comes out clean. If the top is getting a little too brown, cover it loosely with foil
- Allow the cake to cool slightly in the tin before turning out and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack
For the icing
3-4 tbsp honey rum
100g icing sugar
- Mix the icing sugar and rum together until smooth
- Drizzle all of the cooled cake
Fresh, colourful and versatile. This cous cous dish is delicious as well as being healthy.
Growing up I didn’t like cous cous. Well I told myself I didn’t as the only time I had come across it was when my Mum made her version of Tabbouleh. This was never going to be the best cous cous dish for me to try as it is packed with herbs such as parsley, mint and coriander – all of which I can’t stand. After years of thinking I didn’t like it, my Mum made a version with no herbs and very similar to what I make today and I realised I did actually like cous cous!
Along with my Mum, my sister and I have been making this recipe for years but with different variations. This recipe is great for adding things you like and leaving out anything you don’t. My Mum and sister make theirs using tomatoes and spring onions as well as the ingredients I use. I like tomatoes but I don’t seem to have them in my fridge every week whereas I always have the other ingredients. So please feel free to add anything else you fancy. I decided to call is Cous Cous Salad because I tend to use basic ingredients that I’d put in a salad – imaginative I know!
The versatility doesn’t end with the ingredients in the cous cous, you can also add a whole range of ‘toppings’. We usually have this cous cous with marinated chicken, but we have had it with chorizo, grilled halloumi and my new favourite; chicken sausages.
This is now my boyfriend’s favourite recipe to make for his lunches during the week. If he can make it, then you can too!
350g cous cous
750g boiled water
1 tbsp chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1 x 340g tin of sweetcorn, drained
¾ of a cucumber, diced
20g butter (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC. De-seed and slice the peppers. Put them on a baking tray and roast in the oven for around 30 minutes, turning half way. You want them to get slightly blackened
- Put the cous cous in a large bowl. Add the chicken stock, olive oil and water to the cous cous. The water should just cover the cous cous by around 1cm. Stir with a fork and then cover with cling film
- While the cous cous is cooking, dice the cucumber and drain the sweetcorn
- After around 15 minutes the cous cous should have plumped and cooked. Test it is ready by trying it, if it is still a little hard recover for a few more minutes
- Once the cous cous is cooked, add the butter if you are using it and fork through to fluff up the cous cous
- Remove the peppers from the oven and slice up. Add to the cous cous along with the sweetcorn and cucumber and fork through to mix
Delicious soup which is full of flavour perfect for lunch or as a light dinner.
As you may already know, I am incredibly fussy with many things; soup being one of them. When I was a child I had a bad experience with tinned soup and since then I have tended to stick to homemade soup.
I have a soup maker which makes the whole process of making soup so much easier and quicker; if only for the fact it blends the soup as well as cooking it which means less washing up! It also means I can use the base ingredients and quantities to come up with lots of different soups depending on what vegetables I have in the fridge that need using.
This Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper soup is a staple in my house. I roast the vegetables to give them more flavour in the soup, but if you want to make this really quickly you can miss this step out and go straight to adding everything to the soup maker. If you do this, I would reduce the garlic to 1-2 cloves though.
This recipe will make three generous portions which keep well in the fridge for a couple of days or can be frozen. If frozen, you can either defrost the soup or heat it from frozen. What is even better about this soup is each portion is only roughly 150 calories which makes it fantastic for those people trying to be healthier in the new year; or for people who just like tasty soup!
If you don’t like the idea of having tomato seeds in your finished soup, you can either de-seed your tomatoes before you roast them or pass the soup through a sieve after it’s been blended. Personally I don’t mind the seeds so I just leave it as it is.
5 large tomatoes
2 red peppers
3 cloves of garlic
300ml semi-skimmed milk
600ml chicken or vegetable stock
Sprinkling of frozen basil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
- Heat the oven to 180ºC. Chop up the peppers and tomatoes and add to an oven proof dish along with the garlic cloves, salt, pepper and thyme. Spray a couple of times with spray oil. Put the vegetables in the oven for roughly 30 minutes
- Take your vegetables out of the oven and add to your soup maker/pan with the stock and milk
- If using a soup maker, set to the smooth setting and leave the machine to do the work
- If using a pan, cook for approximately 15 minutes and then blend until smooth
This is one of my favourite things in the world to eat.
Amazingly moist gammon with a deliciously sweet and crisp crust. You will all be fighting for the end piece!
As with a lot of families, we always have gammon around Christmas – traditionally on New Year’s Day. My Grandad (aka Granda) used to come and stay with us for Christmas and New Year and he would bring a huge gammon with him. It used to be a much bigger gammon in those days so mum would boil it first before putting it in the oven and then putting the glaze on it. I cook much smaller versions so you can cook it just in the oven.
I look forward to our New Year’s gammon a lot more than the Christmas roast. Although I love all of the trimmings, turkey isn’t my favourite of meats – especially cold! As soon as my Mum had finished cooking the gammon I would loiter in the kitchen waiting for the change to sneak an off cut. My Mum always serves this with creamed mashed potatoes, vegetables and a parsley white sauce. I don’t like the parsley sauce but the rest of the family rave about it! I do keep the rest pretty much the same though as it is such a delicious combination.
This is so delicious you will keep going back for more!
Smoked boneless gammon joint (1.5kg)
50g demerara sugar
70g clear honey
- Line a roasting tin with plenty of tin foil or use a disposable foil tray. Place the joint on the tin and cover with more foil. Cook the joint for 30 minutes less than the time specified on the cooking instructions
- When the joint has 30 minutes left of cooking time, remove it from the oven and dispose of the foil
- Cut off the rind and the majority of the fat leaving a couple of millimeters. Score the fat with a knife diagonally one way and then the other
- Mix the sugar and honey together in a bowl and then pour over the fat of the gammon. Put the gammon back into the oven uncovered for the remaining 30 minutes of cooking
- Take out of the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes loosely covered in foil before carving
Mince Pies but without all the fiddly pastry! These Frangipane Mince Pie Slices have all the flavours you’d associate with mince pies but in a tray bake instead of an individual little pie.
Mince Pies may not be something you are aware of if you’re not from the UK. They are little sweet pies filled with mincemeat which is a sweet filling consisting of dried fruits, spices and spirits. Although I love a mince pie, mincemeat does divide people and it’s not everyone’s thing!
For me it isn’t Christmas until the mince pies have been made. However the traditional way of making them is a little fiddly as you have to cut out circles of pastry before filling with mincemeat and then topping with more pastry. At a time of year when there is always so much going on, a quicker version is always welcome!
I thought about making a tray bake as a way to speed the mince pie process up. I have come up with this recipe which includes the added extra of frangipane and after a couple of tester bakes sampled by my friends at work, I have come up with the below recipe. I like a good thick layer of mincemeat but feel free to use a bit less if you would like. You could also scatter the top with flaked almonds before putting it into the oven.
These Frangipane Mince Pie Slices freeze really well so make a batch and freeze some ready to whip out the night before you have guests coming. You will then have a lovely home baked treat for your guests without any last minute stress!
Enjoy and remember to thank me when you’re no longer cutting out circles of pastry!
For the shortcrust pastry
175g plain flour
2 – 3 tbsp cold water
For the frangipane
150g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
60g plain flour
90g ground almonds
2 ½ large eggs, beaten
¼ tsp almond extract
½ an orange zest, grated
- Start by making the pastry. Measure the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
- Add enough water to form a soft dough. Add it gradually because you might not need to add all three tablespoons
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Roll the dough out on a slightly floured surface and line the bottom of the tin with it
- In another bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the rest of the frangipane ingredients and mix until combined
- Spread the mincemeat evenly across the pastry making sure you get right to the edges
- Dot spoonfuls of the frangipane on top of the mincemeat and spread evenly
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and then allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so before turning out onto to wire rack to cool completely. Then cut into squares and enjoy!
Deliciously thick and comforting, this soup is perfect for a winter’s evening.
I’m a little bit obsessed with soup at the moment. It is so quick and easy as I have a soup maker that not only cooks the soup, but then blends it if you want a smooth soup. Fresh, tasty soup in 21 minutes – perfect.
Making soup is so much better for you than buying tins or fancy soups from the chilled aisle in the supermarket. I know you can get ‘light’ or low calorie soups in the shops, but when making them yourself is so easy, why buy them?
I was looking through Pinterest, as I seem to spend half my life doing, and saw a pin for Sweet Potato, Leek and Rosemary Soup. The suggestion of the flavour combination was all I needed and I set about to create my own recipe using those three ingredients.
I use my trusty soup maker, but you can always make this in a standard pot. Just cook until the vegetables are tender and then blend using whatever you have whether that is a blender or a stick blender.
The quantities below are for two portions simply because I can only fit between 2 – 3 portions worth in my soup maker. I think cooking smaller quantities can be a good idea because if you make a big batch you either sicken yourself by eating it for days on end or freeze it. Don’t get me wrong, I still make soup and freeze it because it’s great to have when you haven’t had time or the ingredients to make it from scratch. But by making smaller batches, I now have lots of different flavours of soup rather than loads of one flavour.
My boyfriend isn’t usually the biggest fan of soup. He likes it but he would never opt to have it instead of a sandwich for example for lunch. As this was my first time making this recipe, I asked him to try it and I have honestly never seen him so excited over a savoury dish I have made. He wanted to eat some there and then (even though he had just had his lunch); and was distraught when I said I was going to freeze it. Over the next day or two he ended up eating all of it so I didn’t get a look in! He really liked it when soup is thick and the sweetness of the sweet potato are what makes him like this soup so much.
350g sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 leeks (approx 200g), sliced
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
300ml semi skimmed milk
1 vegetable stock pot
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
- Chop up all of the vegetables and add to your soup maker/pan with the rest of the ingredients
- If using a soup maker, set to the smooth setting and leave the machine to do the work
- If using a pan, cook until the vegetables have softened and then blend using a stick blender or pour into a blender to blend until smooth (could I have said blend any more times!)
- If the soup is too thick for your liking, add a little bit more water until it is the thickness you like
Not pretty, not fancy but a really tasty and comforting pudding. This is a perfect recipe for a cold winter’s evening.
I’m sure people will tell me that you can make crumbles look pretty but that isn’t what I want from my crumble. They remind me of home cooked meals which are rustic and simple and above all else; delicious. Part of a crumble’s charm is when the rhubarb escapes from under the crumble topping and bubbles up so don’t worry if this happens!
This rhubarb crumble uses rhubarb from my Boyfriend’s Nan’s garden. When she gave it to me, I didn’t to use it immediately so I cleaned it and cut it into roughly 5cm lengths. I then bagged it up and froze it ready for a later date. That later date came when Rien’s Nan was coming to stay for the weekend, so what better time to make a rhubarb crumble?!
The recipe is by Grey Wallace from the BBC Good Food website.
100g caster sugar
3 tbsp port
140g self raising flour
50g light brown sugar
- Cut the rhubarb into thumb length pieces and add to a saucepan along with the port and sugar
- Cover and simmer the rhubarb on a low heat for 15 minutes. Taste and add some more sugar if it isn’t sweet enough
- When the rhubarb is soft, pour it into a medium baking dish
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC or 180ºC fan
- Make the topping by putting the flour and butter into a bowl and rub the ingredients together with your fingertips until you have a soft crumbly texture
- Add the sugar and mix together with your hands. Scatter the crumble topping over the rhubarb and bake for 30 minutes until the top is golden brown
Gloriously indulgent and pure peanut butter chocolatey goodness. These bars will change your life.
Ok so maybe that was slightly dramatic, but they will mean you don’t need to buy Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups again! These bars are everything you want when you get the craving for peanut butter and chocolate. You will find it incredibly hard to have just one!
This recipe is from a fantastic blog which I have featured before – Sally’s Baking Addiction. Make sure you go and have a look at the recipe on her blog as there is a video showing you exactly how she makes them. I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly by using digestive biscuits instead of graham crackers and milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate. Here in the UK we do not have graham crackers, so digestives are our closest alternative. The chocolate was simply because I like milk chocolate more so feel free to use which you would prefer.
Apart from how amazing these bars taste, they are also fantastically easy to make and you don’t even need an oven! Don’t get put off by the simplicity of the ingredients, they really do taste like Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. I was more than slightly dubious about the digestive biscuits as I thought there was no way biscuits would provide the right flavour or texture. I was definitely pleasantly surprised!
115g salted butter, melted
1 cup (approximately 120g) digestive biscuits, crushed
120g icing (powdered) sugar
185g + 30g smooth peanut butter
180g milk chocolate
- Line a 20x20cm baking tin with parchment paper
- Melt the butter in a heatproof bowl in the microwave and set aside. Blitz the digestive biscuits in a food processor into a fine crumb and add to the melted butter along with the icing sugar and 185g peanut butter
- Spread the mix evenly onto the bottom of the prepared tin
- Melt the chocolate along with 30g peanut butter in heatproof bowl in the microwave making sure you check and stir the mix often
- Pour the melted chocolate and peanut butter mix over the biscuit base and smooth out evenly
- Allow to full cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Cut into small squares and enjoy!