30th January 2018 Helen

It wouldn’t be January without some sort of purge going on, would it? To be fair, I haven’t made any resolutions or joined any gyms (as if), but in my ongoing pursuit of a waist, and with a little encouragement from my friend and fellow cake maker and eater Emily over at The Nest, I am kicking the sugar – or at least cutting back. And, as everyone knows, misery loves company and, as this house isn’t actually a democracy, whatever goes for mama goes for everyone else. So, the good news for anyone who is equally inclined to cut…

Sugar-free Pancakes and Fruity 'Jam': a fast and (secretly) healthy family favourite
Print Recipe
A two-minute fruity and easy alternative to jam. Perfect on cakes, breads or pancakes - or mixed with natural yoghurt. Recipe works (so far) for strawberries, raspberries or blueberries.
Servings Prep Time
1 bowl / jar 3 minutes
Cook Time
2 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 bowl / jar 3 minutes
Cook Time
2 minutes
Sugar-free Pancakes and Fruity 'Jam': a fast and (secretly) healthy family favourite
Print Recipe
A two-minute fruity and easy alternative to jam. Perfect on cakes, breads or pancakes - or mixed with natural yoghurt. Recipe works (so far) for strawberries, raspberries or blueberries.
Servings Prep Time
1 bowl / jar 3 minutes
Cook Time
2 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 bowl / jar 3 minutes
Cook Time
2 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: bowl / jar
Instructions
  1. Prepare your ingredients.
  2. Put the fruit (frozen or thawed) in the pot with the water and heat gently until the fruit softens (c. 2 minutes).
  3. Add the vanilla, chia seeds and agave syrup (if using) and bring the mixture to the boil. Stir constantly.
  4. Blend using the stick blender until the berries are pureed. Return to the heat and - stirring constantly, allow the mixture to thicken (c. 1 minute).
  5. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. The jam is ready to use straight away or can be stored in a clear, sterilised tub / jar in the fridge for a week.
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26th January 2018 Helen 2Comment

This is the most moorish and delicious blade steak casserole. With minimal prep and a long, slow cooking time, it’s perfect for any day of the week – as easy to walk into after work on a weekday as it is to tuck into after a weekend walk.  Serve up with crunchy bread (go for my old reliable lazy homemade option), mash (potato or celeriac), green veg – like wilted kale and carrots. I tweaked an old steak casserole recipe I found years back in the midst of a maternity leave when I needed to feed a large and hungry…

Braised Blade Steak Casserole
Print Recipe
A gorgeous winter stew - best served up with mash, thick socks and a glass of red wine.
Servings Prep Time
4 adults 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3-4 hours 3.5 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 adults 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3-4 hours 3.5 hours
Braised Blade Steak Casserole
Print Recipe
A gorgeous winter stew - best served up with mash, thick socks and a glass of red wine.
Servings Prep Time
4 adults 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3-4 hours 3.5 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 adults 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3-4 hours 3.5 hours
Ingredients
Servings: adults
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 160 C. Prepare your ingredients.
  2. On a chopping board, season the beef lightly on both sides and gently run.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a heavy bottom pot or frying pan, on a medium heat. Add the beef steaks and cook for 2 / 3 minutes until browned. Remove steaks from the heat and transfer to a casserole dish.
  4. Reduce the pan to a low heat. Add the remaining oil, onion, celery and carrots and fry until golden brown ( c. 7 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Transfer to the casserole dish.
  5. Put the pan back on the heat and deglaze it with the red wine, gently scraping any 'bits' from the pan so they dissolve into the sauce. Add the stock, tomato puree, mustard and stir to combine. Bring to the boil. Pour over the meat and vegetables. Add the thyme and bay leaf to the mix.
  6. Cover the beef and vegetable mix with a greaseproof paper / baking parchment, tucking it in around the edged. Cover with a lid. Cook in the oven for 3 to 3.5 hours occasionally skimming any fat from the surface but otherwise not stirring.
  7. Gently remove the beef from the casserole and place onto a warmed dish and cover.
  8. Pour the liquid from the casserole through a sieve removing all of the vegetable pulp. Add back to the pan casserole dish (or pan if the dish isn't suitable for the hob) and bring to the boil. Reduce for c. 3 to 5 minutes. Add the beef.
  9. Serve up with greens - sautéed courgette, wilted kale or spinach are best, and - for extra winter deliciousness, with baked potato, creamy celeriac or potato mash. And wine.
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23rd December 2017 Helen 4Comment

With two sleeps to go to Christmas morning I’ll never get my act together for any Pinterest style Christmas posts! As usual I never managed to work through an advent calendar – frankly I’m still patting myself on the back for turning three pillowcases and half a roll of tinfoil into one angel and one shepherd outfit.   But – if you’re looking for some last-minute handy (read: easy) ideas to make Christmas your own, here’s a few of our own little traditions that might work in your family. 1. Put up some homemade decorations We’ve made a stack of homemade…

23rd February 2016 Helen 4Comment

My search for tasty and easy food has seen breakfast time over-hauled.   We’ve not entirely abandoned our Breakfast Frittata, but in search of a bit of variety two or three weekday mornings we’ve been testing a few Granola recipes.  Here’s this weeks medley: a warming Coconut, Cinnamon, Seed and Nut Granola. Served up with a few scoops of Greek or Natural Yoghurt, it’s yum. I’ve been making these large tubs of Granola up on a Sunday afternoon when the oven is on anyway. It’s all very ad hoc with a glass of wine in hand !  It takes about five minutes to make…

Coconut, Cinnamon, Seed and Nut Granola
Print Recipe
A naturally sweet and crunchy Coconut, Cinnamon, Seed and Nut Granola
Servings Prep Time
20 servings -ish 5 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
20 servings -ish 5 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Coconut, Cinnamon, Seed and Nut Granola
Print Recipe
A naturally sweet and crunchy Coconut, Cinnamon, Seed and Nut Granola
Servings Prep Time
20 servings -ish 5 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
20 servings -ish 5 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings -ish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients well in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave (this should take max 1 minute) and pour it over the dry ingredients, stirring it up well.
  4. Tip into a large baking dish and put it in the middle shelf of the oven.
  5. Stir every ten minutes to ensure it toasts evenly and doesn't burn.
  6. After 30 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  7. Store in an airtight container and enjoy with Natural Yoghurt. Sweeten with honey, maple syrup, agave nectar to taste or add a sprinkling of dried fruit (like Goji Berries).
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3rd February 2016 Helen 5Comment

This really simple vegetable dish is what it is: Greens & Beans with Garlic & Basil Dressing. It was knocked up in a bit of a rush the other night making it up as I went. It’s a mix of those lovely flavours that just go brilliantly together plus one of those cans of beans that I buy to feel all good and green but which often lingers in the back of the cupboard feeling terribly unloved. This went down a storm as a side dish with some pasta. It would go equally well with fish and boiled new potatoes; or using a crusty bread to…

Greens and Beans with Garlic & Basil Dressing
Print Recipe
A quick and good looking vegetable dish. Perfect with pasta or fish and easy to split between two meals.
Servings Prep Time
2 People 10 Minutes
Cook Time
10 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 People 10 Minutes
Cook Time
10 Minutes
Greens and Beans with Garlic & Basil Dressing
Print Recipe
A quick and good looking vegetable dish. Perfect with pasta or fish and easy to split between two meals.
Servings Prep Time
2 People 10 Minutes
Cook Time
10 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 People 10 Minutes
Cook Time
10 Minutes
Ingredients
Servings: People
Instructions
  1. Rinse the courgettes and chop off either end. Cut into long strips with a knife or (even easier) with a potatoe peeler. Prepare the asparagus by chopping off the bottom end and rinsing.
  2. Heat a skillet (or normal pan) with 1 tbsp olive oil to medium high heat.
  3. Season the courgettes and cook, tossing lightly, for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and place in a serving dish.
  4. Add the asparagus spears to the pan ( there should be no need for more oil unless the pan is very dry). Cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and place in the dish with the courgettes.
  5. Add the drained beans to the dish and gently mix to combine.
  6. Using a pestle and mortar - or just mixing in a bowl, blend two good tablespoons of oil, the basil, a sprinkling of salt, the lemon juice and the crushed garlic cloves. Drizzle over the vegetables and mix lightly.
  7. Serve up and enjoy.
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31st January 2016 Helen

In my teens, every Saturday morning my mum would make up a large pot of soup that we’d all dip into as we came and went during the day.  Though she made her soups from scratch, I have particularly fond memories of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Chicken soups which must have featured as a treat.  This Cream of Mushroom soup knocks the socks off anything shop-bought though and has the added advantages of having very little cream in it and also working as a sauce for a pasta bake (recipe coming during the week). This is a bit…

Cream of Mushroom Soup - served up with crusty bread rolls
Print Recipe
A lovely creamy mushroom soup that's fast and easy to make and can double up as a sauce for a pasta bake.
Servings Prep Time
6 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Cream of Mushroom Soup - served up with crusty bread rolls
Print Recipe
A lovely creamy mushroom soup that's fast and easy to make and can double up as a sauce for a pasta bake.
Servings Prep Time
6 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Rinse and chop the mushrooms and celery thinly.
  2. On a medium heat, melt the butter and add the vegetables. Cook for five minutes stirring as needed.
  3. Add the flour, two or three shakes of tabasco sauce (more or less can be added later to taste) and cook for a further five minutes stirring frequently. If the floury mix starts to stick add a small amount of water.
  4. Add the stock, stir well and leave to cook on a simmer for ten minutes.
  5. Add the cream and cheddar and stir to mix.
  6. Using the stick blender or liquidiser, blend to smooth. Season to taste and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Your leftover soup can us used in a pasta bake (link to recipe follows as I make and photograph it!) This soup also freezes fabulously.

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