Tuesday 29 November 2016

Toad in The Hole

Toad in The Hole

I think Toad in the Hole has to be one of my husband's favourite meals.   Just in case you are wondering what Toad in the hole is . . .  it is a traditional British dish consisting of sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter, usually served with onion gravy and vegetables.  

You can dress it by adding herbs to the batter or onions, etc.  but basically it is just sausages and a pudding batter baked together. Simple.

Toad in The Hole

I like to keep it pretty basic, although from time to time I do wrap my sausages in bacon, like I have done here today.   Its a simple thing, but tastes so good. 

Toad in The Hole

The main thing is to use a good quality sausage. Nothing cheap and nasty.  I have been favouring gluten free sausages lately.  They seem to be meatier.  Not a lot of fillers I guess.  

Toad in The Hole

And I always use dry cure bacon.  You can use smoked or non-smoked.  

I like the smoked myself, but its nice to have choices I think.   This recipe here today serves two hungry people, (or three with regular appetites) but can easily be doubled to serve more.

Toad in The Hole

You can make your gravy from scratch or use Bisto.  Todd really likes the Bisto.  And he loves mashed potatoes with his.  

You can't go wrong.  Crisp batter pudding . . .  crispy herby sausages and bacon . . .  good gravy, mash and vegetables.  This be comfort food at its very best! 

And best of all . . . it is such a simple supper.

Toad in The Hole

*Toad in the Hole for Two*
Serves 2 generously 
A delicious family favourite downsized for the smaller family.  Serve hot, straight from the oven with some hot gravy creamy mash and veg on the side. 

6 chipolata sausages
(I use the gluten free ones)
6 slices of smoked streaky dry cure bacon
70g plain flour (1/2 cup) sifted
pinch salt
1 large free range egg, beaten
75ml semi skimmed milk (1/3 cup)
75ml water (1/3 cup)
coarsely ground black pepper 

Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gas mark 7.  Have ready a 7 by 9 inch casserole dish which you have sprayed with low fat cooking spray.  Wrap each sausage tightly in a slice of bacon and arrange in the prepared dish.  Place in the oven for 15 minutes, until just beginning to brown. 

While the sausages are cooking sift the flour into a bowl along with a pinch of salt.  Make a well in the centre.  mix the milk and water together.  Drop the beaten egg into the centre of the flour and then gradually beat in half of the milk/water mixture with a wooden spoon.  Beat for 2 minutes until smooth, then gradually whisk in the remaining milk/water mixture until you have a smooth batter which has the consistency of cream.   Season with coarsely ground black pepper. 

Remove the sausages from the oven and quickly pour the batter around them.  Return to the oven and bake for a further 30 to 35 minutes until the batter is well risen and golden brown. 

Serve hot straight from the oven as above.   Yum!

Toad in The Hole

Simple.  Easy. Delicious. Comforting.  What more could you want?  Bon Appetit!

Monday 28 November 2016

Grilled Mac, Cheese and Pancetta Sandwich

I made a nice Macaroni and Cheese for supper one night at the weekend and had a bit extra mac and cheese that didn't fit into the casserole dish.    I hate waste and so I decided to do what any who loves to cook, loves to eat and hates waste would do.  I created something tasty with it.  Don't shoot me because once you see this, your life will never be the same again. 💕  Sorry about that!

Meet the Grilled Mac, Cheese and Pancetta Sandwich.    I know . . . I can't help it, the wheels in my culinary head are always turning.

I can't claim to have invented this . . . but it's new to me.  If you've already done this, I haven't stolen your recipe.  We are just great minds that think alike!  (What a fab idea to think that the world is filled with great minds thinking alike!)  They say there is nothing new under the sun, only new ways of doing things.   I expect that is true.

This is so tasty   . . . yes . . .  more than  tad bit hedonistic to be sure.  But once in a blue moon a gal just has to do what a gal has to do . . . and as you know by now I like to push the envelope a tad bit now and then.

Each bite brings the taste of buttery toasted bread |(Garlicky if  you have used garlic mayo instead of butter), salty crisp pancetta and creamy peppery macaroni and cheese!  WOWSA!  This was FABULOUS!

I was too afraid to eat the whole thing.  My arteries were constricting just thinking about it so I tortured the Toddster with half of it.  He seemed to enjoy it as well.   Now I am pondering what else I can do to this to take it even further over the top. Any ideas???  (I think some rocket/arugula would be a nice addition.  Next time!!)

*Grilled Pancetta, Mac & Cheese Sarnies*
Makes one

My instructions and amounts are for one sandwich, but can easily be upped to more.  I used my homemade macaroni and cheese for this, before it was baked in the oven.  I just removed about a cup of it and then put the rest into the casserole dish to bake a bit later on.  

2 slices good white bread 4 slices of pancetta, cooked until crisp softened butter or garlic mayo about 1 cup of prepared good macaroni and cheese
a small handful of grated cheddar cheese Fresh ground black pepper

Butter the outsides of the bread with some softened butter or garlic mayonnaise.  Place the grated cheese on the un-buttered side of one slice of bread and spread the macaroni and cheese on the un-buttered side of the other slice.   Grind a goodly amount of black pepper on the macaroni and cheese.  Lay the slices of cooked pancetta on top of the cheese on the other slice.  Carefully press the two sides together, taking care that the plain buttered sides are on the outside.  Heat a small nonstick skillet.  Carefully add the sandwich and brown first on one side, then flip over and brown on the other side.   Wait a few minutes and then slice into halves or quarters and enjoy!  

Note:  If you really want to be hedonistic, you can brown them in the fat leftover from cooking the pancetta.  I'm not going to admit to this.  ;-)

You can find a really good Mac & Cheese recipe here. 

Sunday 27 November 2016

Fluffer Nutter Brownies

When I first moved over here twelve years ago . . . there were some things that you just couldn't find. Things like Betty Crocker cake mixes, Marshmallow Fluff,  and Skippy Peanut Butter, amongst other things.  You never know what you will miss until you can't have it any more . . .


Over those years I have had to learn to adapt some of my favourite recipes to use other ingredients that are available over here . . . but there were still some things that you just couldn't adapt no way . . . no how.  I used to bring back oodles of stuff each time I went over to Canada to visit my family.  Todd used to do a lot of moaning about that . . . but I just reminded him of how he would feel if he couldn't get marmite anymore!

Saturday 26 November 2016

Honeyed Apricot, Oat and Walnut Cookies


Some days you just want a cookie . . . or biscuit as they are called over here.  That inner child in you just crys out for something sweet . . . something which feels like a reward.
A tasty treat that is equally at home with a glass of cold milk . . . or with a cup of something hot, for dunking . . .

Friday 25 November 2016

Mulligatawny Soup

 I had some leftover roast chicken which needed using the other day and we were both in a soup kind of a mood and so I made us a delicious Mulligatawny Soup for our dinner.  I have waited to show it to you because I knew a lot of you would have leftover turkey to use up after the recent holiday and I thought this was the type of recipe that would come in really handy after you have gorged on sandwiches and such. 

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Sausage with Autumn Mash

The people at debbie & andrews recently sent me a package of their new Buttered Onion & Mustard sausaged to try and so I created a delicious supper dish with them that celebrates not only the flavour of these delicious sausages but also lovely autumn flavours. 


There is a delicious mustardy apple sauce to serve with these meaty sausages and a butternut and sweet potato mash.  Altogether quite fabulously delicious! 


My Todd is a real sausage and mash man.   I love mash too, but I like to shake things up every now and again. This is a really healthy version of mash.  I love butternut squash and I love sweet potatoes. The two together are bliss and go so well with sausages. 


 Especially with these lovely sausages which are created with Sauteed buttered onions, mild wholegrain mustard and a splash of blossom honey.  Rugged, rustic and gluten free.  Sausages produced the old fashioned way using British meat from Red Tractor approved farms.  The perfect autumn banger!   We loved them.  (No surprise there as we love all of the debbies & andrews Sausages!)


*Sausage with Autumn Mash*
 Serves 4.
Printable Recipe

A simple and delicious weeknight supper that your family will love. 

8 good quality pork sausages
(I used debbie & andrews Buttered Onion and Mustard)
2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
(I like to use Granny Smith because they hold their shape well and have a lovely tartness
2 TBS whole grain Dijon mustard
2 TBS runny honey
a good splash of cloudy apple juice
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.  Put the sausages onto a baking tray along with the apple wedges.

Whisk together the mustard, honey and apple juice.  Pour over the sausages and apples, tossing to coat all over.

Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, shaking stirring now and then to prevent sticking.

While the sausages are baking place the squash and sweet potatoes into a lightly salted pan of boiling water to cover.  Bring back to the boil, then cover and simmerto 15 minutes until tender.  Drain well and return the vegetables to the hot pan.  I then placed the pan back over low heat and mashed them until they dried out a bit.  I stirred in a knob of butter and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. 

Serve a generous scoop of mash piled with two sausages, some apples and some of the sticky pan juices to each lucky person.

Sausages are such a versatile meat and they don't need to be only eaten for Breakfast. With the wide variety of flavours that debbie & andrews offers, you can use sausaged to put extra meatiness into a wide variety of meals..  Sausages are always easy to cook and you can trust debbie & andrew's sausages to be delicious and add a special touch to any dish whether it is a potato bake, meaty pasta dish or simple sausage sarnie.  For those who prefer their meat free range, debbie & andrew's make a selection of great regional sausage recipes based on meat from pigs that live safely outdoors.  For more information of debbie & andrew's latest products, new ranges, charity projects, micro sponsorship schemes, recipes, and products just visit www.debbieandandrews.co.uk or Facebook www.facebook.com/debbieandandrews or Twitter @d_a_sausages. 

debbie & andrew's sausages are available through Amazon Fresh, Asda, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury's and Tesco, priced between £2.00 and £3.50 dependent on retailer and promotions.

Bon Appetit!  🐖 👌

 Note - I was sent a pack of sausages free of charge but not required to write a positive review. (Many thanks to debbie & andrew's!) Any opinions are my own. I quite simply like these sausages and they are always my sausage of choice.  I use them all the time.  My favourites are the Harrogate 97% and the Cumberland.  These were lovely too.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Curried Harvest Bisque

If you are looking for a first course this holiday season that is not only simple and quick to make but delicious as well you need look no further.  Curried Harvest Bisque is a fabulously tasty soup!  Simple ingredients . . .  butternut squash, chicken stock, butter, flour and single cream with a few bits and bobs combine beautifully to create a wonderful soup with not a lot of fuss involved.

Monday 21 November 2016

Pulled Beef Tacos

I should actually call these Sunday Tacos.  The delicious beef filling is made in the slow cooker and on Sundays the slow cooker is my best friend!   💕

Sunday 20 November 2016

Vanilla Breakfast Cornbread

I adapted this recipe I am showing you today from a book I have had for a very long time entitled Bread for Breakfast, by Beth Hensperger.  It is one of my favourite books when it comes to picking out special bakes for breakfast for when you have the whole family around, the holidays or just when you want to have something a little bit special and different for breakfast or brunch.  Breads like this delicious Vanilla Breakfast Cornbread!

Saturday 19 November 2016

Spiced Pumpkin Fritters with a Vanilla Sauce

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 I got really lucky this year.  Aldi (which is one of the cheaper grocery stores) had tinned pumpkin on special a month or so back.  I was so excited.  It can sometimes be a really difficult ingredient to find on the cheap over here in the UK.  Normally you pay over the odds for it, if you can find it.  (I have had success in Waitrose and Sainsbury's and of course there is Skyco as well.)

Friday 18 November 2016

Favourite Things

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I recently burnt my hand quite badly when I accidentally brushed it against a hot oven rack as I was removing a casserole from the oven.  It didn't half smart and it only touched the metal for a second, but here I am two weeks later with a nasty scab and it still hurts.  I thought it was time for some new oven gloves.

 I have been looking at silicone oven gloves for quite a while now, but have been resisting buying them, partly because they look somewhat bulky and partly because they cost a lot more than normal oven glove.   I was at a garden centre the other day and these caught my eye.  I had some Birthday money I had been saving to buy myself something and I found myself going back to these again and again.  Maybe it was the catchy colour  . . . maybe it was the nice kitschy print of the fabric and the silicone.  I tried the on several times, and kept walking away . . . I wasn't sure I could justify spending that kind of money on oven gloves.  The mitt one was £11.99 and the pinch one was £7.99 . . .  in other words almost all of my £20 bar tuppence.

Finally after walking back to them for about the sixth time, I caved and put them into my shopping basket and crossed my fingers hoping that I had not wasted my money on something I wouldn't use.  I LOVE THEM!  Seriously I love them.  The glove does not feel awkward at all on my hand.  The pinch one is perfect for small jobs and they both work together very well in tandem.

They have a nice thick lining and according to the label you can clean them in the dishwasher.  Not sure about that, but I have found that if you do get them dirty, you can just rinse them off and they look brand new again.  I am really pleased about that.  Coz I am always dipping my oven gloves into things they shouldn't be dipped in.  They keep my hands nice and cool.  They are not too long and not too short and they feel nice and not bulky like I thought they might.

In short, I approve.

I got mine at the Gordale Garden Centre gift shop, but I suspect you can get them just about anywhere.  They are by a company called Zeal, and come in a whole host of colours and patterns.

Note - I was not sent these for free and am not being paid to promote them.  I quite simply like them and thought that you might too.  ☺

Stuffing Stuffed Onions

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I am really excited because I am going to be cooking Thanksgiving Dinner this year as a kick off to my holiday season and I have invited a few people over to share it with us. So I have spent a few days test driving a few recipes in anticipation of the holiday meal!

Thursday 17 November 2016

Chicken Filets with Lemon and Capers

Chicken Filets with Lemon and Capers

Capers are an ingredient that I always, always have either in my larder or in the refrigerator.   I just adore their tangy flavour and the flavour boost they give to dishes that they are used in!  I had never ever heard of them prior to moving over here to the UK. 


Chicken Filets with Lemon and Capers

Mind you I hadn't discovered pizza until my late teens, nor Chinese food!  I had a really limited experience with food when I was growing up. 

 It was all simple but good.  Nothing fancy smancy, and I guess I carried that somewhat into my adulthood . . .  with a few new discoveries along the way, of course!




Capers are the small flower buds of a Mediterranean  shrub called Capparis .  They are picked by hand which means they can be fairly pricey but they're a versatile store cupboard ingredient, and are good for adding a distinctive sour/salty flavour to many savoury dishes.  

Also a little goes a long, long way flavour wise, so they are not a bad investment as they will keep virtually forever in the refrigerator so long as you keep the berries submerged in the pickling liquid if you have bought the pickled ones and salt is a natural preservative so the salted ones keep virtually forever as well.

Really small, peppercorn-sized capers, called 'nonpareille' are available, but the slightly larger ones are more common. Capers are preserved a number of ways - either in salt, wine vinegar, brine or olive oil. The brine-pickled type has the sharpest flavour and is slightly less versatile than the salted type. For a more sophisticated caper flavour, you can try the elegantly stemmed caper berries, which are a little milder and sweeter than the standard type. I have a bottle of those in the larder, which I have yet to use.  

I have become so fond of them that I could eat them all on their own, like a pickle . . .  it is handy to note that if you can't get capers, sour gerkins make a great substitute.

Chicken Filets with Lemon and Capers

They go really well with mild flavoured proteins such as chicken and mild flavoured fish . . .  and they are great in tartar sauce!   They actually help to bring out the best in these things . . .  and when you mix them with lemon, it's a combination that  just goes WOWSA in your mouth!

Chicken Filets with Lemon and Capers

This dish here today is one of my absolute all time favourite chicken dishes.  I could seriously eat it every night of the week . . .  well, maybe not every night, but fairly often anyways!


 Chicken Filets with Lemon and Capers

The chicken is so tender in this . . . because it cooks so quickly and that sauce is just to die for.   Buttery and lemony . . . with just the right amount of salty piquancy!  

I just adore this and I think you will too.  It's quick and easy and just fancy enough to be considered special  . . .  special enough for dinner party fare, I do declare!!


Chicken Filets with Lemon and Capers

*Chicken Filets with a Lemon and Caper Sauce*
Serves 4

This is so impressive, and yet it is quick and simple to make.  The sauce is rich and delicious.  Have all of your ingredients ready before you start and things will run as smoothly as clockwork.

12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces, divided
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
75ml  Chicken stock (1/3 cup
1 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp parsley flakes
Kosher salt
2 heaped dessertspoons of non pareil capers, rinsed and drained

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (or use cutlets)
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
45g  flour (about 1/3 cup)
Salt and pepper
olive oil

8 oz angel hair pasta, cooked and drained  to serve.  

Chicken Filets with Lemon and Capers  

Cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally through the middle so that you have 8 fillets.  Put them in a plastic baggie, one at a time and pound lightly to 1/4 inch thickness throughout.  Season liberally all over with salt and pepper.  Mix together the parmesan cheese and flour.  Dredge the pieces of chicken in this until well coated.   Set aside.  

Heat a swirl of olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat.   Once it is hot add the chicken and brown well on each side.  (About 3 minutes per side.  Don't overcook)  Remove to a plate and then keep warm in a low oven.  

Add 1 TBS of the butter to the pan.  Reduce the pan to low heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds until fragrant.   Add the chicken stock, sugar, parsley flakes  and lemon juice.  Increase the heat and bring to the boil.  Cook until the liquid is reduced by about half.  Turn the heat down to very low.  Start whisking in the butter a bit at a time, letting it melt before adding more.   The sauce should form a thick silky emulsion.  Stir in the capers.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  

To serve divide drained pasta between plates.  Top with chicken pieces and spoon sauce over all.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Cinnamon Roll Scones

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Are you like me when it comes to anything cinnamon?  If it has cinnamon in its title I am immediately salivating.   Cinnamon Cookies, Cinnamon Rolls, Cinnamon  . . . well, anything . . .  I am on it!

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Spiced Baked Chicken Quarters

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We love chicken in this house and it is a meat which I serve often as it is not only affordable but something which readily adapts itself to different flavours and cooking methods.

Monday 14 November 2016

I Love Soup

There is nothing I love better than a nice hot bowl of soup on a cold day and with cold weather season upon us I was thrilled to be able to try out this new cookerybook by Beverly LeBlanc entitled I  ♥ Soup.   Hooray for soup! 

With more than 100 tried and tested recipes, specifically developed to help you get the best out of this fantastically versatile meal, you are sure to find the perfect soup for every meal.   This book is th next in the I Love series from Nourish books, following on after the success of I love My Slow Cooker by the same author, which has sold more than 50,000 copies globally. 

The recipes in I Love Soup range from quick and budges friendly soups to more innomvation and exotic recipes that take inspiration from all over the world, including Asia, the Middle East, North and South America and Europe.  With everything from delicious Poultry soups  (Who doesn't love chicken noodle?) 

Meat and Game Soups.   Beef and Vegetable anyone?   How about some meaty Borsch? 

Fish and shellfish . . . with tasty delights taken  from the sea with broths and chowders, etc. 

Vegetables and Grains bring us tasty offerings for anything from a delicious Broccoli and Parsley to the exotic Egyptian Aubergine and Tomato Soup  (Oh boy sounds delicious!) 

Chilled soups that are great summer coolers, like Gazpacho and White Garlic and Almond Soup . . .  great for entertaining! 

This book gives you everything you need to create bowls of delicious goodness in your own kitchen, no matter the mood, season or occasion.  

It is a virtual tureen-full of international flavours with tried and tested recipes.  Enjoy a delicious chowder from North America, a lentil based soup from India, Middle Eastern tagine-inspired soups, Scottish broths, Eastern European Borschs, Japanese miso soups, Italian bean and pasta soups, and beautiful French classics, such as onion soup and bouillabaisse. There really is a soup for everyone to enjoy! 

The aroma of home-made soup simmering on the hob is one of life's great comforts.  If you are longing for a warming recipe for the cold and rainy days of winter, you can try the thick and creamy Ham and Chicory Soup.  If you're holding a sun-soaked sumer lunch outdoors, why not try the fresh flavours of a chilled Jewelled Cucumber and Walnut Soup.  Whatever the weather you will find plenty of tempting and satisfying recipes! 

No matter the size of your appetite, no matter the occasion, you are sure to find just the right soup in this mouth watering collection of recpes, as well as countless inspiring ideas for the perfect accompaniment.  Novice or experiences cook, you will find it easy to master the art of soup-making with this one-stop guide!  

I just love it!  The recipes all sound deliciously do-able and the photos are brilliant.  This would make a great Christmas gift for the foodie in the family!

I Love Soup, by Beverly LeBlanc
  • Paperback: 176 pages,  £12.99
  • Publisher: Nourish (15 Sept. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848997647
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848997646

About the author:  Beverly LeBlanc is the author of 12 cookery books and was the Food Editor of Reader's Digest.  She regularly contributed recipes to a number of publications, including the Sunday Telegraph and Bella.

Many thanks to Nourish Books for sending me a copy of review.  Although I was sent the book free of charge, I was not required to write a positive review.


Pear and Apple Cake

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This is a lovely cake that I always used to make using just apples.   They almost melt into the cake, making it beautifully moist.   The other day I had some pears that I wanted to use as well, and so I used half pears and half apples with the most delightful results!!