Sunday, 20 April 2014

Eating Out - Wagamama

This was the first time I'd eaten at Wagamama, and really enjoyed it. I quite enjoy Japanese food anyway, so this was a nice treat. I'd had the gyoza recommended to me by my sister, and the friend I ate lunch with recommended the tropical juice - both were lovely!

                                                                Chicken teriyaki donburi
                                                             Steamed chicken gyoza
Freshly made tropical juice

 I would definitely eat there again, and I think I would try the chicken katsu curry next time.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Smokey Bacon Spaghetti



This is one of my favourite budget meals. If you use value versions of the ingredients, you can make this meal for a few pound - bargain! I paid 33p per tin of tomatoes, 30p for the dried spaghetti, £1.50 for the smoked bacon and I already had smoked paprika in my cupboard. You can buy paprika quite cheaply though, and it will last for quite few meals. The smoked paprika is a must, it gives this dish a lovely taste.

Serves 4

400g dried spaghetti
150g smoked bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
Oil for frying
2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
Parmesan (optional)

In a large frying pan, heat the oil to a medium heat & fry the bacon until starting to crisp. Add the onion & garlic & cook until soft. Stir in the paprika and continue to cook for another minute. Tip in the tomatoes and stir through. Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, until teh sauce thickens. Cook the spaghetti per the pack instructions. Once the spaghetti is cooked, add the sauce & coat the pasta. Serve sprinkled with parmesan, if you like, and garlic bread.

Easy Chicken Biriyani



I like one-pot meals - easy and keeps the washing up to a minimum! This is one the kids enjoy, but you can use a hotter curry powder if you like it spicier. Curry paste can also be used in place of powder, just whatever you have at hand. Allow one or two chicken thighs per person, depending on appetite.

Serves 4

7 chicken thighs (1 or 2 per person)
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons of curry powder (I used mild, so the kids could enjoy)
1 tablespoon oil
1.5 mugs of easy cook rice
3 mugs of chicken stock
1 mug of frozen peas

Preheat the oven to 200c. In a large hob/oven proof dish, heat up the oil to a medium heat. Fry the chicken in batches, to colour & crisp the skin. Remove & set aside. Fry the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder & cook for another minutes. Add the rice, and stir to coat in the curry/oil. Pour in the stock, stir & allow to come to a simmer. Add the chicken back on top and then place in the oven for 30 minutes. Add the peas, stir and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Serve in warm bowls.

Monday, 3 March 2014

BBQ Brisket




This is a really easy meal to make in the slow cooker. I have been trying to use my slow cooker more often, as it renders cheap cuts of meat really tender and soft while retaining all the flavour. I served it in wraps, with cheese sprinkled on. It would also be great in crusty rolls with crisp salad leaves. A side order of onion rings & coleslaw would make this a perfect dinner.

1kg beef brisket (roughly)
1 large onion, sliced
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 tbsp tomato puree
300ml passata
150 ml stock
2 tablespoons orange juice
100ml cider vinegar
1 tbsp demerera sugar
1 tbsp honey
2 whole cloves (remember to remove these before shredding the beef)
Salt & pepper

Place the brisket on top of the onions in the slow cooker. Mix the other ingredients & pour over the beef. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove the beef, shred with two forks, then mix the shredded meat back into the sauce. Serve in wraps/pitta/crusty rolls/

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Halloween Recipes & Ideas




I thought I'd share some fun food and decoration ideas from Halloween parties I have held in the past. All of these were cheap & easy to do, and quite effective. The kids all had a great time!

Boil up some hard boiled eggs. Crack the shells, but do not remove. Place a a bowl with water & red food colouring overnight in the fridge. This is what they will look like when you finally remove the shell!
Bats cut out of black paper. Very effective! Bend the wings slightly, where they join the body, to create shadows on the wall/



This is just orange tissue paper and black paper for the eyes & mouth, tacked to the window.


Cadburys white choc finger biscuits, scratch knuckles halfway down & paint the tips with red gel colouring.
Little meringues with icing pen faces.



Coffee and mason jars, PVA glue & tissue paper! So easy. I then drew faces on with a marker pen. I popped glow sticks into the ghosts and battery-operated tea lights into the pumpkins.


Bandaged fingers .... sausages wrapped in pastry strips, ketchup for blood, bit of onion for teh finger nail.


Monday, 7 October 2013

Scottish Stovies




This is actually my husbands recipe, he is the "stovies maker" in our house. I think most Scottish kids grow up eating stovies ... it's so cheap & easy. Traditionally, you bunged all your left overs from your roast dinner (beef and potatoes) in a pot with some onions & stock and simmer it all down in a pot on the stove (hence the name). Some areas use sausages, mince or Lorne, some add other veg (carrots, peas etc) but the stovies I grew up with were made from corned beef. We serve ours with oatcakes to scoop it up with.

Serves 4
5 medium potatoes, peeled & sliced 1cm think
2 onions, sliced
1 tin of corned beef (replace with leftover mince/cooked sausages/roast beef trimmings if you prefer)
Dripping/lard (or oil) for frying
1 beef stock cubes
Water.

Heat the dripping in a large saucepan. Gently fry the onions until completely softened but not coloured. Add the potatoes to the pan, cover with water to halfway up your potato/onion mix & crumble in the stock cube. Mix, and allow to bubble away until the stock is almost all absorbed. This will take about 30 minutes. Add the crumbled corned beef & stir through - then allow the mixture to thicken up by letting it simmer/bubble for another few minutes. Serve with oatcakes.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Cheesey bacon potato bake



This recipe came about on one of those days where you need to go shopping, but haven't been yet! I am quite busy with college these days, and it's hard fitting it all in. This was surprisingly tasty, and went down a treat with husband & kids alike. It really does need some veg on the side, as it is quite rich on its own. If you are feeling decadent, you can add a swish of white wine to the cream & garlic mix!

Serves 4

4 large baking potatoes (or equivalent in small potatoes) cut into half cm thick slices
4 rashers of bacon, diced
1 large onion, cut into thin slices
2 garlic cloves, crushed
300 ml double cream
250g grated cheese
Steamed veg, to serve

Heat the oven to 180c. Mix the crushed garlic with the cream and set aside. Fry the bacon on onion over a medium/low heat, until the bacon is cooked & the onion soft. Layer the potato slices in a large oven proof dish, and add the bacon/onion. Pour over the cream mixture, then scatter the grated cheese on top. Pop in the oven for 45 minutes, then serve with steamed vegetables.


Sunday, 22 September 2013

Beef in Oyster Sauce


This is a great, simple but quick meal idea for those days you are rushed off your feet (which seems to be every day for me just now!). This tasted amazing, and you could serve it with some rice or noodles. You could change the vegetables for what ever you have in, carrots, courgette & onion would all work well too. This makes lots, so there were leftovers for lunch the next day.

Serves 2

300g rump steak, thinly sliced
150g chestnut mushrooms
150g kale or sliced greens
150g baby corn/mange tout
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1.5 tablespoons soy sauce
Piece of ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, crushed

Mix the 2 sauces together & set aside.

Heat some oil in a large frying pan & quickly brown the steak strips. Remove to a warm plate. Fry the ginger & garlic for 1 minutes, then add the mushrooms. Fry those for a few minutes, then add the other veg. Stir fry for a few more minutes, then tip in the sauce. Warm the sauce through then add the steak back to the pan. let the whole thing heat up for about 5/6 minutes, then serve.

Slow Cooker Bacon & Cabbage


This sounds less appetising than it actually is! I have recently started college, so my time for cooking has been greatly reduced. This is a great recipe that can be bunged in the slow cooker, ready for when you get home. The juices that run out of the bacon joint are used to make a tasty sauce to pour over. I love recipes where you can put everything in together, less washing up too!

Serves 4

1kg bacon joint
1 pointed cabbage, cut into wedges
12 baby carrots
1 onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
500ml water
8 potatoes, halved or quartered (depending on size)
150ml double cream
Chopped parsley


Place the potatoes, onion & carrots in the bottom of the slow cooker. Lay the bacon joint on top, then squash in the cabbage all round it. Pop in the bay leaf, pour in the water then put the lid on & cook on low for 6/7 hours. When ready, remove the bacon & slice up. Remove 150ml of the stock from the slow cooker, mix with cream, pepper & parsley & warm back up. Use this sauce to pour over the bacon & vegetables.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Chocolate Caramel Muffins




It's a wet miserable day up here in Scotland (typical of the summer holidays!) so deiced to do some baking with the kids. My daughter picked this delicious summer recipe from the bakingmad website. It was a really easy recipe to follow, my 11 year old daughter did most of it herself. They also tasted amazing! I will make these again, for picnics or packed lunch boxes. It would be easy to swap the chocolate caramel drops for other ingredients too.

Makes 10 large muffins

110g butter or marg, softened
100g golden caster sugar
150 ml milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
100g pack of chocolate caramel drops (silver spoon brand)

Preheat your oven to 180c. Line a muffin tray with muffin cases.

Cream the sugar & butter together. Add the eggs, mix again. Add the milk a drop at a time & combine. Add the flour & baking powder & mix again. Gently stir through the chocolate drops & then add a large dollop of mixture to each muffin case.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until firm to the touch & golden in colour.