Week 12 – Aperol Spritz, The World Cup and parts of an Amigurumi Sheep :)

The challenge this week has really been to get motivated enough to actually make a thing or bake a thing.  The weather has been lovely all week, and I cannot be bothered to do much more this evening than make myself a glass of Aperol Spritz 🙂 Tis delicious 🙂

For those of you who haven’t discovered Aperol. According to wikipedia Aperol is an Italian apéritif made of, gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona, among other ingredients. You mix this with Prosecco and soda for a delicious cocktail. It goes down beautifully with olives or salty nibbly things.

The recipe, such as it is, for an Aperol Cocktail is helpfully on the back of the label. Simply, 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol and 1 part soda water. Top off with a slice of orange or pink grapefruit, sit down in the early evening sun and enjoy.

 

If you like a gin and tonic, then I would think you will like this. The Aperol adds a slight bitterness to the sweetness of the Prosecco. Its a lovely summery drink that is the most amazing shade of orange 🙂 Reminds me a bit of Irn Bru!!

 

I didn’t entirely fail at making a thing with crochet. I did do the squares for the square a week blanket and while England scored goal after goal this afternoon 🙂 I also managed to crochet a head and a body for what I am sure will be a cute sheep 🙂

Enjoy,

Lx

 

Advertisements

Week 10 – curry time again. Palak Paneer and Spinach Curry without Paneer!!!

I wanted this weekly project initially to have the focus on a bake and/or a make. I have decided to broaden this a bit. The idea was originally to be inspired by something and  so this week I was inspired by dinner!!

We have, like many others tried the recipe boxes that are everywhere all of a sudden. Gousto was the first one we tried and although we didn’t stick with them, I did adopt a few of their recipes into our regular menu.

The first time I made this, I of course followed the recipe to a T. Since then I have tweaked a bit (but only the tiniest bit, promise) Instead of paneer, I have started using halloumi. It’s just that bit nommier 🙂

Ingredients: (serves 2 but you can bulk it out for 3 with maybe a bit more rice, side dishes, poppadoms and mango chutney or simply double for 4)

  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 red chilli (I have substituted dried chilli here if you don’t have fresh to hand, use around 1/2 tsp or more depending on how hot you would like it)
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 6 cardomom pods
  • 250g paneer cheese (as mentioned I substitute halloumi as I prefer it and have also reduced the amount by half before to reduce calories without impacting the flavour significantly, your call!)
  • 150g baby leaf spinach
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 20g fried onions
  • 130g basmati rice

Method;

  • Crush the cardamom pods with side of a knife or a spoon.
  • Place the basmati rice and the cardamom pods, a pinch of salt and 300 ml cold water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Once boiling turn it down low, pop a lid on and gently cook for 10-15 minutes. Do keep an eye on this as you want to turn the heat off once it’s absorbed all the water and is cooked. Leave the lid on and leave your rice to one side in the hot pan until you are ready to serve. It stays piping hot for a good while (10 + minutes easily).
  • Meanwhile, peel and dice your onion, chop your chilli finely, chop up your tomato and pop a kettle on to boil.
  • Chop your paneer (or whatever cheese you desire, if you use a vegan cheese here, this dish is perfect for vegans and veggies alike. Violife have one, not tried it myself but worth a shot for this yummy curry) Heat a non stick frying pan and heat up a drizzle of veg oil. Once hot, add your cheese and fry on both sides till golden brown. Once browned , transfer it to a plate, season if desired and set aside for later.
  • Get your pan back on the heat, add a little more oil if you need and then fry your onions till soft. Then add your chopped tomato, garam masala and 3/4 of your chilli (you can tweak this to suit, the dish is really flavourful and can cope with being less heated 🙂 ) Cook for around a minute to release the fragrant spices.
  • Meanwhile, pop your spinach in a colander, stick it in the sink and pour over your boiled water. It will wilt. Rinse with cold water till cool and then squeeze out the water. Grab your wet squished spinach, chop it up roughly.
  • Re boil a kettle
  • To your curry, now add the tomato paste and spinach and cook for a minute or so.
  • To 250ml of boiled water, dissolve your stock cube and then add this to your curry. Cook for around three minutes till it thickens up a bit.
  • Then add your cheese and just warm it through for another minute or so.
  • Serve with your rice and garnish with the fried onions. You can add more chillis too if you want to really spice things up.

I know this looks like a lot of steps. I must admit the first time I made this it felt like a bit of a faff but once I realised that the rice can be pretty much be left once it is cooked, I was then free to concentrate on the curry which in real time takes only about 10 minutes or so to cook,  if you have everything chopped and ready to go. For someone who used to avoid curries because of the overuse of heat and coriander, this recipe has become a bit of a favourite.

Enjoy,

Lx

P.S Its not a pretty curry but then which curries are!!

Week 9 – My overnight oats, oooooh how exciting!!!

This blog started life as a way of recording family recipes that we enjoy. We didn’t want those recipes that we keep in our heads to disappear over time.

I know, I know. This doesn’t sound remotely exciting, and if I’m honest, how exciting do you really need breakfast to be? But, I think, it is just exciting enough (don’t judge me, breakfast sets you up for the day!)

This recipe is inspired by all of the many recipes you can find out there for overnight oats/Bircher Muesli. I had of course read about these and a few friends had waxed lyrical about them. Honestly though, the thought of soggy, cold porridge did not appeal. If you are having cereal, I have always tried to eat it as fast as possible to stop any sogginess happening. I even pondered the two bowl approach 🙂

How wrong was I. Not entirely sure what prompted me to try these in the end but here we are.

I googled and found many recipes. You can probably find a recipe for every day of the week. There are so many options, although the oats certainly appear to be universal. The bigger the better. For the dairy components, you can add milk of course, but condensed milk was in one recipe, cream in another and yoghurt or combinations of.

The next ingredient that features in all seemed to be grated apple. Now I did try this but my grater turned most apples to mush, and I refuse to go out and buy a special grater just for this. It also seemed to be an awful lot of faff for not much in the way of flavour for me. Of course, try it. It is after all your breakfast, you might as well make it to suit you. I dabbled with pureed apple sauce, not bad but settled on apple juice. I pretty much always have it in the fridge as it is hubby’s choice generally, when it comes to juice 🙂

Nuts, another seemingly universal ingredient. All types, it appears go into these recipes . All to add some crunch as well as protein. I do not like nuts, therefore, I did not include them!! If nuts are your thing, go wild.

Dried fruits – again, many recipes include different types depending on the author. Like most households I can usually find some sultanas or raisins in the cupboard but this recipe works beautifully with any kind that you like really. I am currently loving the tropical fruit mix which has mango and papaya in it. Yum. But I have some apricots ready for the next bowl.

That is pretty much that in terms of main ingredients but let your imagination (and what’s in your stores) decide. Add seeds, fresh fruit, spices, syrups, granola, plant based milks and yoghurts. This recipe can be entirely vegan should your heart desire it.

What I have been really pleased with is that I can have this without any added sugar. I have a wicked sweet tooth and generally find that I prefer life on the sweeter side. Adding cinnamon, for me, is the magic ingredient that ties it all together and gives it the sweetness I need. That and the fruits of course. I’m aware they have sugar in them, but for me this is pretty good to avoid adding syrup or something similar.

As the title suggests, these are generally made the night before. This does buy you some valuable morning time. However, if like me you are regularly not organised for life. When you get up, nip down, apple juice your oats, stick them back in the fridge while you get showered, dressed etc. They’ll have soaked enough by the time you get down again. The overnight soaking gives a much softer porridgy mix, but 10-15 minutes soaking is fine if that’s all the time you have.

Lorna’s Overnight (or first thing!) Oats

  • 40g large scottish rolled oats
  • Around 6tbsp apple juice
  • Dried fruit, to taste (I’ve never weighed these, just chuck on a few, about 40g)
  • Milk to loosen mixture, again, this is very much about personal preference.
  • Cinnamon
  • Yoghurt to top
  • Fresh Fruit – whatever is in season or you like. Pears are lovely with this as are strawberries.

Method

  • The night before, in your cereal bowl, place your oats and dried fruit. Add your apple juice to these. Stick it back in the fridge and go to bed 🙂
  • In the morning, take them out and add enough milk to loosen the mixture. You may have to play around with this. It really must be how you like it. I usually add some, give it a mix, taste and then add more if needed 🙂
  • Next sprinkle on your cinnamon, mix. Again this is to taste. Add a little and then more as you like it. Cinnamon is super good for you and apparently help regulate blood sugar. Happy days.
  • Then the toppings. Again this is all about you. I like to add some fresh fruit if I have it to hand. However tinned pears are particularly yummy with this. A dollop of yogurt works well too.

As ever, there is a granny square a week as well related to this project. This weeks square is a delicious peachy pink.

Enjoy,

Lx

P.S I tried my best to take a good picture of this, not my best work. I am not a photographer and food pics are challenging when you are faced with a bowl of creamy brownish smoosh!!

Sticky ginger flapjacks – such an easy recipe, not so easy on the waistline!

Well, it turns out that 2017 was not my year to blog. I started out with good intentions and many many plans and then it was Christmas! Anyway, January 2018 is here and I found this recipe that I clearly intended on posting last Autumn. No pictures of the finished product but a fabulous picture of my cats, just because!

Enjoy, Lx

What a gorgeous Autumn day it is today. Sun is shining, leaves are crisp underfoot and I have been oh so virtuous today. Yoga class first thing and then a smidgen of housework. Socks are paired and the sofa cushions are plumped 🙂

Having had lunch I still feel a tad hungry and yearn for something yummy and homey. Decided to hunt down a decent flapjack recipe.

These days flapjack recipes all seem to be trying to reduce the butter and sugar content in order to make them healthy. Sadly this makes for dry and disappointing flapjacks. If you are after a healthy, low calorie snack that is low in sugar please search elsewhere. This is not the recipe for you! This recipe was found in my old faithful Good Housekeeping Step by Step cookbook. You can always pick up a copy of this somewhere relatively cheaply. I still have my Mums copy from 1957 as well as my shinier version bought more recently with, joy of joys metric measurements.

Ingredients

  • 350g unsalted butter
  • 275g golden syrup
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 450g rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger

I never seem to be able to completely adhere to a recipe and this one is no exception. I had some stem ginger in syrup in my fridge that looked lonely so I chopped that up and popped it in too. Entirely optional yummy extra. I thing sultanas would work too in this.

Method.

  • Grease and line a tin approx 18 x 28cm (your traybake type)
  • Heat oven to 180 degrees c
  • In a large saucepan, melt together your butter, golden syrup and sugar. I added my stem ginger pieces to this too as it will help them combine later.
  • In a bowl, mix your oats with your ground ginger and then add your syrupy liquid. Stir to combine.
  • Pop this mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • Keep an eye on it. After 32 minutes mine was going just a little to0 dark (rescued in the nick of time, still yum). You want it golden and still squidgy in the middle. Overcooked flapjacks are not yummy and are not worth the calories.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for a while before lifting out onto a cooling tray. Cut when cold in to 12 squares or 24 triangles depending on how you feel.
  • For those who really want to know (I didn’t want to know but the book very (un)helpfully gives the calorie count) 517 calories per large square!!! Yikes.

Enjoy,

 

Lx

Spring has Sprung (maybe) hopefully :)

Well the last couple of days have seen a delightful shine in the air. Birds have been chirping, sky is blue with cottonwool balls of clouds dancing along (I know, the words are a tad whimsical but that’s how I feel today 🙂 enjoy it!). My garden is showing signs of life too. Lovely, although it is a teensy bit early so hope we don’t have too much of a downturn on the weather front (forecast is looking a little chilly ahead)

Anyway, I digress. I have found myself recently with a little time off. Apart from napping, I have also been crocheting like a demon and also a spot of baking again. Lovely.

Todays venture has resulted in a batch of lemon curd for my daughter to take back to Uni with her tomorrow so that she can make some lemon curd and white chocolate muffins. Check out my recipe here, for the lemon curd. Keeps for about two weeks in the fridge although we’ve never had it long enough to test that theory!!!

I am hoping she sends me some pics. I have also finally got all the pieces together for my latest blanket, here is a sneak preview of some of the pieces 🙂 

The other thing I have been doing is trying to get better at my food photography skills, looking back over the last year to try and find a picture of spring flowers, I stumbled across some pics I took last year that never really got showcased. Apologies for the self indulgence but I really like them despite the fact that one of them is of the peel of a garlic bulb!!! Not to mention that this is the best pic I have produced in the last year (I think!)

Enjoy,

Lx

 

Well for goodness sake, how is it March again already!!!

I am such a lackadaisical blogger!!! I keep crocheting and lately baking a bit more too. Think to myself, mmm must write up a blog post about that and then promptly don’t. Anyway, the next few posts will (I hope) have new recipes and also some links to some exciting CAL’s (crochet a long) that are coming up or already started.

This post though is motivated by my sweetest, youngest child. In her third year at uni she has decided that it is time to embrace the baking genes that run deep in this family! Text received requesting a recipe for banana muffins. I directed her to my blog as that is where said recipe resides. Shock horror, the offspring has not read my blog. Rude!!!!

Anyway, once over the shock, we discussed the pitfalls of baking without scales and she went ahead and produced a delicious batch of muffins that she shared with her coworkers that weekend. happy days. I am looking forward to the next time she comes home so we can bake something together and post pics.

Although I don’t have a picture of her baking, I do have a really cute picture of Agnes!!

Cute Agnes

Enjoy,

Lx

Harry’s perfect Pasta penne :)

This blog post is pure indulgence on my part for one particular member of my family. Harry has always been very particular about how his pasta is cooked and it would appear that I am the only one that can nail it exactly. This was not my plan when I had my three kids!! I was pretty sure that we were all going to eat the same things at every meal and they would all grow up having a healthy and balanced approach to food. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, I make myself laugh 🙂

Roll on twenty plus years, an Autism diagnosis for one child and a leukaemia diagnosis (happy ending there 🙂 ) for another, and there’s me in the kitchen doing three kinds of pasta.

Best laid plans are a sure fire way to set yourself up for something else entirely 🙂

For Harry:

Pasta Penne – boil as per packet instructions, usually 10-12 minutes. Perfect texture is, apparently not too soggy 🙂

I find the amount I serve varies on how much I absent mindedly tip into the water!!

To serve, after draining the pasta, pop it back into the pan with a small amount of the water it was cooked in, chuck in a dollop of butter, a drizzle of olive oil (not extra virgin) Mix sprinkle a little garlic salt over and let Harry add a “little” more if he really, really wants it/needs it.

Hey presto, Harry’s perfect pasta penne 🙂

10275353_1248373635177797_7273032622726102251_o

Enjoy,

Lx

A Curry recipe for those who don’t like curry and for those who do :)

IMG_1984I am part of a family who appear to be fairly partial to a curry. I however, do not normally like curry’s as they all seem to contain coriander (shudders)  and far too much heat. I don’t mind some warmth, but do not enjoy the sensation of a burning tongue while I am eating.

I must admit as well to being put off by the pretty dodgy curries I had tried as a teenager. These stopped me even trying curries for the best part of twenty years. Vesta curry anyone?

Anyway, after much deliberation, a fair amount of procrastination and a nagging husband, I decided to have a go at a curry to see if I can make something that I would like as much as the rest of the family.

I turned to Madhur Jaffrey’s book “Curry Easy” that I had picked up fairly cheaply online, had a scroll though and found a recipe that had no coriander in it and a fair amount of spices that I already had in my cupboard. There is nothing worse than wanting to try a recipe and then have to go out and buy half a dozen ingredients that you will never use again 😦

The curry in question is called Kerala-style Chicken Curry. It is a really flavourful curry that is not hot. We served it with a wholemeal basmati, but I would certainly advise perhaps making more accompaniments for this if you are feeding hungry family members. The recipe claims to serve 4, we only served 3 with it, but we are gannets at the best of times 🙂

I sadly or stupidly did not take any photos of this curry as it was my first attempt, I genuinely did not think it would be blog worthy. Turns out it was the most delicious meal I have made this year and resulted in husband and first born offspring making all sorts of yummy noises 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil or olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp whole brown mustard seeds
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into half rings
  • 2 tsp peeled and freshly grated fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1.25 kg chicken pieces, skinned
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet red paprika
  • 15-20 fresh curry leaves or 8 fresh basil leaves (I used the basil as that is what I had)
  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 1 tsp salt

Method:

  • Oil into pan and heat up.
  • Once hot, add cumin and mustard seeds. Once the mustard begins to pop (seconds) add your onions and stir fry gently till browned lightly.
  • Now add your ginger, garlic, chicken, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and curry leaves. Stir for a minute
  • Add 250 ml water and bring to a simmer.
  • Cover, lower heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
  • Remove lid and reduce down. Add coconut milk and cook for a minute.
  • Serve with rice.

Instead of a picture of a yummy curry, please enjoy this fabulous picture of one of our cats, Bernard 🙂

Bernard

Enjoy,

 

Lx

 

The yummiest, “healthy” (maybe not) flapjacky, oat and date ginger slice also Gluten Free :)

Oat and ginger slicesOver the last week I have baked Nigella’s new breakfast bars which I was going to post the recipe for. Then I stumbled across this recipe in the Peyton and Byrne British Baking book. I literally cannot stop eating them, although in about five minutes I will have to as I am on the last bit (don’t tell hubby!) 😦

I may still write up the Nigella one as it is definitely on the healthier side. This one gets it’s sweetness from lots of golden syrup but my goodness they are worth it.  The added extra nomminess, I think comes from the fresh ginger. I’ve not used fresh ginger before in anything other than curries and stir fries but after this I will definitely try it in some sweet bakes. It cuts through the sweetness and adds just the right amount of freshness and heat. I have a ginger cake recipe that I may try it in 🙂

Although the recipe calls for dates I would think most dried fruit would work well here. Think apricots with the ginger may be lovely. I may make that later on today!!

Photo’s are not great today as the camera appears to have run away so I was limited to my phone.

Ingredients:

  • 180g unsalted butter plus a little extra for greasing your pan
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of golden syrup
  • 100g de-stoned dates (I had 125g left over which was fine, tis a very forgiving recipe) and chopped into small bits
  • 20g fresh ginger
  • 275g rolled oats
  • quarter teaspoon salt

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C or gas mark 4.
  • Butter and line your tin. The recipe calls for a 20cm square. I used my brownie tin which is a 25cm oblong. Don’t overthink it, as long as your mixture is in a tin around that size then it should bake fine.
  • In a saucepan melt your sugar golden syrup and butter together over a low ish heat stirring with a wooden spoon constantly. Once melted pop to one side.
  • Put your oats and salt into a bowl and if you want to you could add some cinnamon and ground ginger too. I did because I can’t ever seem to follow a recipe to the letter. Mix.
  • Add your dates to the butter mixture and grate in the ginger too. Mix.
  • Combine wet and dry, easy peasy. I added a few more oats as the mixture was quite wet. I may have been a little heavy handed with the golden syrup.
  • Put your mixture into your prepared tray and using a spatula smooth over till it is even.
  • Bake for 30 minutes till golden.
  • Leave in the pan to cool completely before cutting up and serving. These apparently last for up to a week in an air tight tin but hubby took some to work and I ate the rest so all gone in less than a day!!

oat and ginger slice

Enjoy,

Lx

Mia’s Spaghetti Bolognese for the Clark Family Offspring to refer to – easy peasy promise :)

Spag BolThis blog started life as a handwritten notebook of recipes that I use on a fairly regular basis. The cunning plan being that my offspring would be able to refer to it and use it in their teen and adult lives to enable me to have more freedom!!! Ha Ha Ha, I make myself laugh. Turns out I’m such a control freak in the kitchen I don’t like anyone helping or sharing the cooking load. Anyway, now as the children have left home and started their adult lives officially they are starting to ask me for those recipes that I never got round to writing down. So I thought I would make a start on it finally, starting with my version of Spag Bol. As all family recipes do, this one has evolved over the years and isn’t always the same as written down here. You know how it is, sometimes you have a red pepper, sometimes some mushroom, sometimes not. The only constants are onion, beef and tomatoes. You also need to have a stick blender, a blender blender or something to make the veggies squishy once they’re cooked.

Ingredients:

  • 500g-750g beef mince ish. The amount varies depending on what I’ve got, what’s on offer. You know what it’s like.
  • 1 red onion or two, depends on you and what you have
  • 1 red pepper, or more
  • Stick or two of celery
  • 4-6 large tomatoes, plum ones are yummy but again whatever you have will be awesome
  • Any other veggies you wish to squish and use up or hide from small, medium, or large people 🙂
  • some mushrooms if you have them
  • tin of chopped tomatoes
  • clove or two of garlic
  • sea salt, generous pinch of
  • Olive oil or similar
  • Mixed dried herbs, or oregano, basil. Whatever floats your boat or is hiding in your cupboards!!

Method:

  • Chop up one of your onions into large pieces (around 4-6), same with the peppers, tomatoes and any other veggies that you may have that roast well. I’ve chucked carrots, courgettes, and swede in before now. As long as it will roast and squish it will work.
  • Chuck all of these is a large roasting pan, drizzle over some of your olive oil, a generous pics of sea salt, some pepper if you like and herbs if you have. Also throw in your garlic cloves, depending on taste. They sweeten up a fair bit when roasted so you can be generous if you like.
  • Pop all of this in your oven that you have already switched on (if you’re efficient, if you’re like me you’ll switch it on as they go in, ha ha. It matters not one jot) to around 180 degrees C. Roast your veggies for about half an hour till slightly charred and squishy.
  • Once cooked pop them in your jug ready for your stick blender or whatever you are using to do this. Blitz till smooth “ish”.
  • Meanwhile in a frying pan, fry up some more chopped veggies – onions, celery, garlic, carrots, mushrooms. Whatever you have to hand really.
  • Then add your mince and brown that off.
  • To this mixture add a tin of chopped tomatoes, your squished roasted veg, some salt and your herbs to taste.
  • Then bring to a gentle bubble and leave to gently bubble away for as long as you can be bothered. You will need to check it from time to time. If it starts to stick then add a little water and turn it down. If you can, a couple of hours is great.
  • Serve with pasta of your choice or use this as a base for a lasagna or add chilli, cumin, paprika, red kidney beans and hey presto Chilli con carne 🙂

Handy Cunning Tip

  • Not sure if this is as much a tip as a guideline but this would serve a hungry six comfortably or even better, freeze into portions and then reheat on a busy Wednesday when you cannot be bothered to do anything more than that. This ALWAYS tastes better on a reheat.

IMG_2328

Enjoy,

Lx