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"Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers......" Shakespeare.




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Sunday, 20 June 2010

Father's Day Sausage Rolls

Today is Father's Day, and to celebrate I made my Dad some sausage rolls. I've made these for him before, and he seems to really like them. I think it's sweeter to give a homemade gift, so I knocked up a batch of these sausage rolls last night and gift wrapped them in a cellophane bag with ribbon early this morning. Unfortunately, I received a message from my Dad a couple of hours ago saying that the whole of his household are suffering from a sickness bug and that he therefore won't be able to see me today. I feel really bad for him, and will be sure to bake him a fresh batch of sausage rolls, ready for when we next meet. This of course meant that my husband had to eat the batch I baked last night - but he didn't need much persuading!

Hope you feel better soon Dad. x



Recipe:
http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/groceries/index.jsp?bmUID=1277102698297
I use a sweet tomato chutney instead of mango chutney.
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Chili Stuffed Peppers


I love this recipe because it's yummy, filling and very low in carbohydrates. It takes a little time to prepare, so it's a perfect weekend meal.



Ingredients:
  • 4 large bell peppers (yellow, orange or red)
  • 400g lean beef steak mince
  • 150g can of cooked and drained kidney beans
  • 2 x 390g cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large white onion, diced.
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsps tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2.5 tbsps ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp hot chili powder
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
  • Large handful of roughly chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese.
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit / 180 degrees celcius. Cut the tops off of the peppers and remove the white pith and seeds from the inside of the peppers. Ensure that each pepper can stand up freely (cut a very thin slice from the bottom of each pepper if they cannot stand).
  2. Rub each pepper with olive oil and place in a roasting pan. Roast the peppers in the oven for around 20 minutes.
  3. While the peppers are roasting, you can begin to make the chili. Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan. Fry the onion and garlic in the oil until soft and translucent.
  4. Break off clumps of the mince and toss into the frying pan. Fry the mince until brown, and then drain off any excess fat. Stir the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree into the mince, onions and garlic and warm through.
  5. Add the kidney beans and simmer until the mixture is slightly reduced. Then add the cinnamon, cumin, sugar and chili powder. Stir until the spices are combined, and then add the basil. Remove from heat.
  6. Take the peppers out of the oven and fill each one with the chili (you will probably have a little chili left over - save it for tomorrows lunch!). Top the peppers with cheese and put them back in the oven until the cheese is melted, around 5 minutes. Serve with green salad.
Makes 4 stuffed peppers.
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Sunday, 13 June 2010

England Cake (England vs USA)

After months of anticipation and excitement, the World Cup has finally arrived. For their first match, England had been drawn to play against the USA, and with football.....or soccer...being the most popular sport in the England, and the fastest growing sport in the US, this had all the makings of a great match. To mark the occasion, my in-laws invited everyone over to watch the game, which was a perfect excuse for me to break out the cake pan!

I decided to make an England flag cake. I've never used royal icing before so it was a bit of a challenge. I made two rectangle sponges and sandwiched them together using buttercream and jam. I rolled out shop bought royal icing to decorate the cake. The finished cake was a little messy, but not bad for my first attempt. And whilst we couldn't say that victory was sweet, at least the cake was!


And here's a snap of myself in all my festive glory:




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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Handmade Birthday Cards

The tag line for my blog is, "All things Cakey, Bakey and Hand-makey..." Well I've uploaded a few things cakey, and I've definitely shared a few things bakey, but as yet I've not shown you anything hand-makey! So, this is my first craft related post. These are just a few greetings cards that I made during a few rainy evenings this week. Some people are great at making complicated, fancy cards, but mine are just simple and cute. I'll give them out for birthdays and other occasions later on in the year. It won't be long before I make a start on my Christmas cards!

These are my favourite ones:














I love this one. It's simple yet elegant and it reminds me of Autumn. My Mum's birthday is in September, so I will probably give this to her.















This one is for my husband's niece. She's a real cutie and is turning three in July














This one is really girly, and I love it! In case you can't see them clearly, those stickers say "I love you more than chocolate.... shoes..... diamonds." So cute.
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Super Simple Honey-Mustard Marinade

The recent warm weather here in the UK really put me in the mood for something simple and light, like a nice salmon salad. Being a working gal, I don't have a great deal of time to make dinner when I get home from work. Therefore, I favour simple recipes or meals I can make ahead for my weeknight meals. This marinade is both delicious and simple, and you can prepare it in the morning and leave whatever you choose to marinate (salmon, chicken etc) in the fridge all day long.


Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp clear honey
  • 3 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce.
Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Pour over the meat or fish you are marinating, and leave in the fridge for 4-8 hours before baking. Enjoy

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Saturday, 5 June 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

In the very bottom of my cupboard, buried deep under piles of books, is a large, green shoe box. This shoe box holds around 300 recipes that I have cut from magazines and leaflets. Shamefully, I have only actually tried a small percentage of these recipes. Every now and then I dig it out and find one to make, and that's how I found this little beauty! There's nothing tastier than sweet, roasted red peppers. So much better than green peppers. Give it a try!




Ingredients:
  • 4 red peppers, halved and de-seeded
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 390g tin chopped tomatoes
  • Large handful roughly chopped basil leaves

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius / 350 degrees fahrenheit. Place the peppers on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and roast for 20-15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, over a low heat, fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add the tomato puree and warm through.
  3. Once the peppers are roasted, remove them from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle, then peel off their skins, roughly chop and add to the onion and garlic mixture until combined.
  4. Stir through the stock and chopped tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes then season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Top with the basil before serving.
Serves 3
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Sticky Pecan Squares

Finally it's the weekend! Two whole days to fill with whatever you like - and in my case, baking! I've been waiting all week long to try this recipe, which I got from http://www.monkeydish.com/
Me and my husband both love nuts, especially pecans and macadamias, and this recipe makes the absolute best of them!


Ingredients:

Crust:
6 oz. unsalted butter, cut up
2 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup light brown sugar
1⁄2 tsp. salt

Topping:
8 oz. pecan halves (2 cups)
4 oz. unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1⁄3 cup golden syrup / dark corn syrup
2 tbsp. heavy cream

Directions:

1. For crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit / 175 degrees celcius. In food processor, combine all ingredients. Process until mixture just holds together.

2. Crumble mixture into 13in by 9in. baking pan; press evenly into bottom of pan. Bake about 20 min., until golden.

3. Meanwhile prepare topping: Coarsely chop pecans. In heavy saucepan, melt butter; stir in brown sugar, syrup, and cream. Simmer mixture 1 minute; stir in chopped pecans and remaining pecan halves.

4. Pour pecan mixture over hot crust and spread evenly. Bake 20 minutes longer. Cool and cut into squares.
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Soft Brown Sugar Shortbread Fingers


My husband adores shortbread, and whilst I like it too, my favourite biscuit is always going to be something of the chocolate variety! But as shortbread is so simple (especially this recipe!) I have no problem knocking up a batch for him every now and then. I created this recipe by accident whilst making a shortcake base for another recipe. This recipe uses brown sugar, and more butter than usual shortbread recipes which gives it a soft texture and wonderful caramel flavour.


Ingredients:
  • 6 oz. unsalted butter, cut up
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 tsp. salt
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit / 175 degrees celcius. In food processor, combine all ingredients. Process until mixture just holds together.
  2. Grease a 13-in by 9-in baking pan with Butter. Crumble mixture into the pan; press evenly into bottom of pan. Cut the mixture with a sharp knife (one line across the middle and several vertical lines, to make fingers).
  3. Bake about 20 min until golden.
  4. Once cooled, lift the soft shortbread fingers out of the pan.

Makes 16 Fingers.
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Thursday, 3 June 2010

Pasta Con Verdure Arrosto

As extravagant as this recipe sounds, it translates to "Pasta with Roasted Vegetables" which means it's relatively straightforward. This dish is one of my favourites, and is especially good in the summer when the tomatoes will be at their best.


Ingredients
  • 8 large tomatoes, quartered roughly
  • 2 red onions, diced
  • 1 courgette, sliced
  • 2 yellow peppers, de-seeded and roughly chopped
  • 380g dried pasta - I used Spiralini
  • Dash of both balsamic vinegar and olive oil
  • Handful of freshly chopped basil
  • 1 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius / 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Put the tomatoes, onion, courgette and peppers in a large casserole dish. Drizzle over olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and shake the casserole dish to coat the vegetables. Roast the vegetables for 30-40 minutes, or until very tender and caramelised.
  3. Boil the pasta in a pan of boiling water for 10-12 minutes, stirring once. Drain the pasta and return to the pan, but remove from heat.
  4. Tip the roasted vegetables in with the pasta, along with the tomato puree, and a little olive oil. Add a dash more balsamic vinegar and some black pepper and salt. Heat gently for one minute until all of the ingredients are combined.
  5. Stir through the basil a few second before serving. Top with shaved parmesan if you wish.
Serves 4
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Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Chocolatey Shortbread Hearts

I've always struggled with shortbread and found it can be a temperamental thing to bake. Sometimes it's too hard, sometimes it's too soft, and when the texture's perfect - it's not pretty! Shortbread tends to bubble on the surface while it's cooking and the only real way to stop this, is to prick the unbaked hearts with a fork. This doesn't look so pretty either, so I always resort to dipping mine in chocolate!



Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 sifted icing sugar (Confectioners Sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cup all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100g of chocolate - white, milk, dark - whatever you like!
Directions
  1. Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until combined
  2. Beat in flour and salt. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; chill until firm, at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until 1/16-to-1/8 inch thick. Cut out hearts with a heart cookie cutter. Transfer cookies to an ungreased baking sheet, chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Heat oven to 300 degrees fahrenheit /180 degrees celcius with a rack in the center. Press the pricks of a fork into each cookie to make designs. Bake until just beginning to brown around the edges, about 18 minutes.
  5. Once the cookies have cooled, melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over simmering water. Then the fun part! Decorate the cookies however you like - dip them, drizzle the chocolate over, add sprinkles! Transfer cookies to a sheet of baking paper to dry.
Makes about 15 Shortbread Hearts - depending on the size of the cutter you use.

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Hearty Chicken and Veggie Stew

Yesterday was miserable, rainy and surprisingly cold for the last day of May. So I decide to cook a generous bowl of comforting stew for dinner. I had never made this before, it's a combination of a few of my staple recipes, and it must've been good - Dan had seconds! The addition of potatoes to this recipe is optional, depending on how stodgy you want your stew, and whether you plan on serving bread. We ate it with crusty rolls, so I left out the potatoes.






Ingredients
  • 2 raw, skinned chicken breasts, diced.
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed (optional)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and thick sliced
  • 2 large leeks, sliced
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 2 large stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cup petit pois
  • 700ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 60g plain flour
  • 2 tbsps dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 50g butter
Directions
  1. Put the carrots and potatoes (if using) in a large pan of boiling water and par-boil until tender, but not too soft. Drain and keep to one side.
  2. Put the diced chicken in a plastic ziploc/sandwich bag with the flour and 1 tbsp of thyme. Shake the bag to coat the chicken.
  3. In a large stew pot, melt the butter over a medium heat. Once melted pour in the chicken with the flour, and the leek, celery and onion. Fry until the flour is combined with the melted butter, the chicken is starting to turn white and the vegetables have softened. If the mixture starts to get too dry, drizzle over a little olive oil.
  4. Tip in the carrots and potatoes and stir in the tomato puree and the remainder of the thyme. Once combined, slowly add the stock, stirring until it thickens. Scrape the bottom of the pan to release any stuck flour. Add the cup of petit pois.
  5. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Yields 3 small portions or 2 generous portions.
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Maple and Pecan Cheesecake

I love making cheesecakes. Any kind, any time, anywhere. I would probably bathe in cheesecake if it were possible. The great thing about them, is once you've mastered the basic recipe you can make all kinds of wonderful variations. This is a little no-bake cheesecake I invented for two rumbly tumblies.



Ingredients:
  • Crushed digestive biscuits / graham crackers (I used 8 to make two individual cheesecakes)
  • 3 tbsps butter (To every 8 crushed biscuits/cracker)
  • 250g soft cream cheese
  • 90ml double cream
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 85g cushed pecan nuts
  • 3 tbsps maple syrup
Directions:
  1. To make the crust, melt the butter either in a microwave or in a pan over a low heat and stir into the crushed biscuits and crushed pecans. If the mixture is too dry for your taste, add a little more melted butter.
  2. Press the crust mixture into two ramekins, cooking rings or a small springform pan.
  3. In a seperate bowl, add the cream cheese, double cream, icing sugar and maple syrup. Stir until combined.
  4. Press the cheese mix onto the crust. Drizzle a little maple syrup over top and finish with a cluster of pecans. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or more before serving.
Yields 2 generous servings - perfect for a cosy night in!
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