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

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.

Vichy Carrots

This dish get it's name from the brand name of sparkling water the original recipe uses for cooking these carrots. I personally just use a cheap bottle of sparkling water! This is my favourite way of cooking carrots.I love to sprinkle fresh parsley from my garden over them near the end of cooking for a fantastic flavour. These take longer to cook than just boiling our carrots, because we are simmering them slowly, but it is worth it for the end result.

Use your largest frying pan.

Serves 4

4 carrots, peeled & sliced about 1 cm thick
Sparkling water
Large knob of butter
Chopped fresh parsley
Salt & pepper

Lay the carrots in one layer in the largest frying pan that you have. Pour in enough sparkling water to just cover the carrots. Add the butter & season. Simmer gently for 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. . Scatter over the parsley, stir & serve.

Swede (turnip) Bake

Up here in Scotland we call them neeps or turnips, but I know the English call them swede and Americans call it rutabaga! No matter what you call it, it's a tasty vegetable, and a great replacement for potatoes in a lot of dishes. This dish is lovely with a roast dinner or maybe some sausages. I think this has more flavour than potatoes, and make it quite often to go alongside roast chicken. I didn't add cheese to mine, but you can sprinkle some on top if you fancy it.

Serves 4

Butter to grease
1 swede, peeled and sliced in 0.5 cm thick slices
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200 ml double cream
Cheese to top (optional)

Grease an oven proof dish with butter. Preheat oven to 200c.
Place a layer of swede slices in the bottom of the dish. Add a little garlic on top. Layer more swede on top, with more garlic. repeat until you have filled the dish or have used all the swede. Pour the cream over the whole dish. Add cheese on top if you are using. Pop in the oven for around 30/35 minutes. A knife should go through all the layers of swede easily.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Growing Herbs

I use a lot of herbs in my cooking, and it is so handy to grow your own in the garden. I love that I have fresh herbs on hand, no matter what or when I am cooking. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to grow vegetables, but my herbs are doing great. I have encouraged my kids to garden with me, and they have a huge patch of strawberries growing. The wee man has had fun planting sunflowers and tomatoes. I have a bay tree, rosemary, tarragon, mint, 2 kinds of parsley, 2 kinds of basil, fennel, chives and lemon thyme. I am going to attempt garlic this year too.

Do any of my readers grow their own herbs or food in their garden? I'd love some tips & hints! Leave a comment below.

This post is an entry for BritMums’ #KidsGrowWild Challenge with

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Celeriac Tartiflette

Celeriac  is one of my favourite vegetables. I quite often use it in place of potatoes, as it is much more flavoursome. I picked one up in Sainburies the other day, and was walking around the store wondering what to do with it when I spotted some Reblochon cheese. Of course, I decided to make tartiflette and use celeriac instead of the traditional potatoes. It was a huge success! I used a recipe that I found on Mumsnet and took it from there. I did take a photograph, but it was terrible so decided not to share it! Believe me though, it was great.

1 celeriac, peeled & chopped
250g bacon lardons or smoked bacon chopped
2 shallots, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
100ml  white wine
200ml double cream
1 whole Reblochon cheese
Salt & pepper to season

Parboil the celeriac for 10 minutes in some boiling salted water. Drain & set aside. Meanwhile, fry the bacon lardons in some olive oil. Preheat the oven to 200c.Add the shallots & garlic to the frying pan and cook for 5 minutes. De glaze the pan with the white wine & allow to reduce down slightly. Place the celeriac in an oven proof dish. Pour over the wine/bacon mix over the top, and then the double cream. Season. Place slices of the Reblochon over the top & pop into the oven for 15 minutes. Serve with a green salad or crusty bread.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Eggs in Clouds

This is a really fun & cute idea for cooking eggs that kids will love! It is almost like a savoury breakfast meringue. You can chuck in all sorts to flavour it - spring onion, cooked chorizo, grated cheese, etc. In this version I just use some parmesan and served them with bacon & mushrooms for a hearty brunch. Use an electric hand whisk, if you have one, to save time. Beat the eggs until white & fluffy.

Allow 1 or 2 eggs per person.

Parmesan (or any other ingredient you would like to add, such as spring onion, grated cheese etc)
Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 200c.

Start by carefully separating the egg whites & yolks. Keep the yolks intact! Whisk the egg whites until they are thick, white & fluffy. Add a teaspoon of permesan per egg and carefully fold in into the mixture. Season & spoon onto a baking sheet. Divide the mixture into equal parts totalling the amount of eggs you used. Make a small well in the top of each mound, and carefully add back the yolk. Place into the oven on the middle shelf for 5 minutes. If you like runnier yolk, cook the whites for 3 minutes before adding the yolks & returning to the oven.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Aubergine Melts

Aubergines (or eggplants for my US readers!), I find, are the meatiest tasting vegetable out there. I can eat one of these and not feel like I am missing the meat part of my meal. I ate a whole one for my lunch, or you could have half with a couscous side dish. I couldn't entice any of my children to try it though! Not even the veg-loving one wanted to taste it. I loved it though, and will have it again soon.

Serves 1-2

1 whole aubergine
Olive oil
2 tablespoons pesto
1 ball of mozzarella, drained & sliced
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
Basil leaves to garnish

Preheat the oven to 200c. Cut the aubergine in half and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Spread a tablespoon of pesto on each half, then top with sliced mozzarella and then finish with the cherry tomato halves. Pop back into the oven for anther 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted & tomatoes softened. Sprinkle with basil.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Smokey Pork Burgers

These burgers are flavoured with lovely smoked bacon & paprika to give a wonderful taste. They are great for a BBQ or just grilled indoors. Serve with some lovely BBQ sauce and some applewood smoked cheese & salad. I served mine with hommade coleslaw and onion rings, for a great American feel. I love finding recipes that use pork mince as its a nice budget-friendly meat. This recipe will make 4 burgers.

olive oil, for frying
500g pork mince
4 rashers of smoked  bacon, finely chopped
1 shallot - peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Gently fry the shallot & bacon for a few minutes in the olive oil, over a medium heat, until the shallot is  translucent and the bacon crispy. Add the paprika and continue to cook for a further minute. Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly then add to a mixing bowl with the pork mince and season. Combine the mixture with the mince using your hands, then divide into 4 equal parts. Form into patties. Cook the patties in a grill or an oiled frying pan on a medium heat. Cook for around 4 minutes each side, until cooked through. Arrange on bread rolls with salad, smoked cheese slices, BBQ sauce & serve.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Caramelised Sprouts

I love my green veg, but was bored with just steamed or boiled brussel sprouts. This recipe brings out their amazing flavours and jazzes up a simple roast chicken dinner. I could eat these every day! The secret is the slow cooking of the sprouts.Fresh thyme is best, but you could use dried instead. Use the best quality stock and let it simmer right down into a sticky sauce.

Olive oil
Knob of butter
Sprig of fresh thyme, leaves chopped
2 shallots, finely diced
400g sprouts
150 ml chicken or veg stock

Heat up a frying pan to a medium heat and add the sprouts. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil & stir the sprouts until all coated. Let them cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When they are soft and starting to turn brown, add the shallots, thyme & butter. Stir through. When the shallots have softened, add the stock and allow to simmer gently. When the stock has reduced down to a sticky gravy, serve immediately.

Tuna Patties

I invented this recipe whilst thinking of ways to use up tins of tuna in my cupboard. These are full of protein, so perfect after a morning of Zumba! I love my Zumba classes, but I come out of them ravenous. I have 2 patties with some salad for lunch, and they are very filling. My kids love them too, which is a bonus. You could swap the tuna for tinned salmon, you could also add finely diced peppers or sweetcorn to the mix as well. Delicious hot or cold.

1 180g tin of tuna, drained very well
2 spring onions, chopped
40g grated cheese
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 beaten egg
Salt & pepper to season

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Form into 2 patties. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan to a medium heat. Add the patties, and leave for 6/7 minutes. Do not move the patties during this time! They need to form a crispy crust on the underside so that they keep their shape. Flip over and fry the other side for 5/6 minutes. They should be golden on both sides. Remove to a plate and serve.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Superhero Party!

As you may know, I love to throw themed parties! Last year I threw a Mad Hatters Tea Party for my girls birthday, which you can see here. I also love to throw great Halloween parties, and even had an 80s party for my own birthday which was a lot of fun. This year, my wee boy turned 5, so I wanted to host a great party for him & his friends. I started looking on Pinterest for ideas and asked on Mumsnet, where I got some great advice. . There are some amazingly talented people out there! We had a lot of fun, and I think my son will remember his Superhero party for a long time.

My sister made these fab biscuits as party favours.
 I made a set for the superheroes to play with and pose in front of. We had inflatables for them to play with too.
 The kids looked awesome in their outfits!

 My friend agreed to be my tattoo artist - we had great grape smelling tattoos for the kids!

 The amazing cake!
 We also had face painting.

 Batman & Robin dropped by, with a present for the birthday boy!

 The party food. I love the spotty plates!