Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Last nights dinner....

Last night the Mr cooked - he cooks far more often then i do, I'm more the baker in our little household. we did a shop last week and Lee picked up a stir in spice packet by Schwartz, he went for the  Pork Apple And Cider Casserole Mix. out of all the stir in items you can get i have to say the I'm more than happy to go for the spice ones, sometimes we don't always have the "right" spices to hand and the spices them selves can be a bit pricey. so we bought some sausages (the packet suggests pork loin or chicken)   - the apple and cider variety. I've been using my dutch oven a lot as well, I'm so please with it! only £20 from TKMaxx my first purchase from there, i think I'll be going back again soon!!

So here's the recipe

1 tbs oil
450g (1lb) pork, cubed - (We used 6 sausages)
1 onion, chopped
125g (5oz) mushrooms, sliced
1 packet Schwartz Pork, Apple & Cider Casserole Winter Recipe Mix
300ml (½ pint) cider
1 apple, cored and cut into wedges

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas Mark 4.
2. Heat the oil and fry the pork for 4-5 minutes in a deep frying pan until browned.  Add the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the mushrooms and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
3. Blend the packet contents with the cider, add to the pan and bring to the boil.  Transfer to a casserole dish, cover and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
4. Add the apple, cover and cook for a further 30 minutes.
5. Serve with creamy mashed potato.

I think it turned out pretty damn well!!, the mash was amazing! Lee doesn't like it so much but he knows how to make it super creamy and melt in the mouth!, i reckon i'll be picking up some more of these mixes, they do a slow cooker range, we have one but haven't used it so with the festive season creeping ever more upon us, i don't want to be spending all my time in the kitchen, i want to come home and dinner is ready and waiting! ... i love cooking but at this time of year i like things quick,easy and hearty! but also healthy!

Happy Cooking

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Oh Canada!!!!

Last Friday i booked our holiday to Canada!!!!
I'm totally excited! I've been before but that was nearly 8 years ago, scary how times fly's by so quickly!
I've got Family out there who we'll be staying with, which is going to be soooooo lovely! we'll be gone for two weeks in March, the girls break up for spring holiday, we'll have the 1st week to ourselves as they don't breakup till the 8th. We're headed to Ottawa, Canada's capital, theres so much to see and do in the city that i hope we get to do most things, on our list of things to do also included :

visiting a Sugar Shack -small cabins or series of cabins where sap collected from sugar maple trees is boiled into maple syrup. this is a must!! i LOVE Maple Syrup, it is pancakes best friend!!

Watching  a hockey match! i've always said to Lee that when ever we visit somewhere we have to do what the place is know for, and Hockey is huge in Canada so it would be so silly to miss out on this!. the home team being The Ottawa Senators, i just hope the NHL sorts whats going on out!

A bit history and architecture with a visit to Parliament Hill - a bit like the houses of Parliament in London.

Skiing/Snowboarding- Fingers crossed we can have a go, even if it means going on a hunt for snow! as i'm not really sure what the snow conditions will be like.

Shopping and food trying! it would be wrong not to do these two these, more saving for spending! not sure how much to put aside but enough so i can really enjoy ourselves!

I can't wait!!!!!!!! 14 weeks and counting!!!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Mini Doughnuts!!

I love doughnuts, well to be perfectly honest anything that's sprinkled with icing is a winner for me.
A few months ago i went to visit my Nanna who lives on the mainland near Reading,as the Island is quite bad for shops we all went shopping in main city center, and of course i had to pop into Lakeland! the mecca to all bakers and cooks alike, If you don't know what lakeland is then let me just fill you in a bit, its a store where you can buy pretty much everything you need for your kitchen, they sell all sorts - pots and pans, baking trays, jars for persevering and Topsy turvey cake tins,decoration tools to name but a few of what they sell, Its pretty amazing and as the island doesn't have one - which by the way i think would be far better then Pirmark or primarny as people like to call it. so yeah off i went, i picked up a silicon mini doughnut tray, £4.99 which for making 20 doughnuts actually pays for its self, now i must admit it took me longer to actually get around to making them, but as the laptop at home is down and my Mr is playing Halo4 i took my opportunity to give it a test run.


For 12 sugar dusted doughnuts

  • 75g (2½oz) plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 55g (2oz) caster sugar
  • 60ml (2¼fl oz) milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp olive oil (If preferred 10g (½oz) melted butter may be added in place of the olive oil)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Extra sugar for dusting

For 36 sugar dusted doughnuts

  • 225g (8oz) plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar
  • 175ml (6fl oz) milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (If preferred 30g (1½oz) melted butter may be added in place of the olive oil)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Extra sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C/Gas 3. Lightly brush the doughnut pan with cooking oil.
  2. Take a large roomy bowl, and sift the flour, baking powder and salt into it. Add the sugar and give it a stir round to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, beaten egg, olive oil and vanilla extract together and add this to the dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly.
  4. Using a teaspoon carefully fill each of the doughnut cups around ¾ full with the batter. Place in the oven and bake for about 8 minutes, or until firm, but springy to the touch. Cool slightly.
  5. Sprinkle a little caster sugar onto a plate or other flat surface. Turn the doughnuts out and dip them (bottoms first!) into the sugar and Hey Presto fabulous sugar-dusted doughnuts in no time at all!

These were pretty darn good!, will definitely be making these again, will get a little more festive when December arrives and the parties start!

I've never really gotten on well with silicon in the past but this one worked, next on my list is the silicon molds that were used in the Great British bake off, when they did chocolate tea cake, i think i'll but that from Lakeland also.
If you want to buy the tray click on image.

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

New book... well kinda...

I love books! the smell, the sound they make when newly opened and how there worded can make me sink in to the pages and not rise for many hours.
My book collection i think is a perfect representation of who i am, there's fantasy, spiritual and homely- cooking and gardening, there's also the collection that I'm building up, not only for me but my little ones! that's not to say I'm getting ahead of myself, as i wouldn't want to put that pressure on myself, but I've already got quite the little gathering of children who mean an awful lot to me and i hope to always be in their lives, the fun adult who makes them pancakes and reads them fairy-tales about brave princess's and tall tales of falling down that rabbit hole. But my focus today is to tell you about a wonderful little book that i picked up back in May when i went to London to see an old friend.. another friendship reignited due to the sad passing of an old school friend. We were browsing the shops in islington when i saw this book, it had a simple cover nothing outlandish, had a very homely feel to it nothing sleek about it - and that's not a bad thing, it drew me in like a beacon, the title "Friends At My Table" by Alice Hart seemed to be too good to pass by.

As you may have read, In my about me section i try and live as much as i can via the seasons, eating whats in and enjoying the celebrations that are held to each month. And this book is perfect for that way i like to live, For Spring there's a lovely meal for 8 which is designed for a bridal shower, spring being the time for new things a bridal shower seems most fitting, Summer caters for the main event a "Laid Back Country Wedding for 20" - from sweet pepper sausage rolls to the pie de resistance - Strawberry and Vanilla wedding cake -which looks amazing!, the drinks are the most refreshing sounding drinks that i will most defiantly be making for next years summer gatherings. My favorite being Raspberry Crush and Elderflower vodka, these make for delightful party drinks!

In the same summer section theres  ideas for camping and a perfect beach barbecue.
As we fall into Autumn there's a recipe for fire-pit Venison, with instructions for your very own fire pit, which goes perfectly with a night of fireworks,sparklers and warm gloves!

And as we look into Winter its all about spending cosy nights in with those you love, it includes a menu for new year, mezze night and some of the best sweet delights I've had the pleasure to read.

I have yet to make anything from this book, but the Bacon Scotch Pancakes i think will be the first that i try.
this is one book I'm very happy to have on my bookcase.

Buy here- Friends at my table - Alice Hart
*Images take from the book on my phone. but taken by Emma Lee.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Plum and Apple chutney

I'm getting rather into this preserving chutney making, there's something so oldy worldly about it that it makes me feel very comforted by it. This recipe took a while to prep but on a Saturday afternoon when the weather is a little to wet and nippy, and you have plenty if tea and good company to keep to going, its perfect to just close yourself away for a few hours. I don't have as much time as i'd really like to really spend making things, i think that's something i might have to add my news year resolutions. I've already got two on there, another can't be so bad.

So here we go - 

Recipe for Spicy Plum and Apple Chutney, now on the recipe say it will fill 4-5 jars well, i took 4 190ml thinking that would  be enough- oh how wrong was I! in total it made up 9!! 2 200ml jars and  3 250ml jars! plenty to go around if like me you're making these for Yule/Winter Solstice/Christmas.

  • 1 garlic bulb
  • thumb-size piece fresh root ginger
  • 2 large onions
  • 1kg Bramley apples
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 500ml bottle cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1kg plums
  • 450g golden caster sugar


  • Start by getting the ingredients ready. Peel the garlic cloves and cut them into slivers. Peel and thinly shred the ginger. Halve, peel and thinly slice the onions, then put them in a large, wide saucepan or a preserving pan with the garlic and ginger. Peel, core and chop the apples, then add to the pan with the spices, vinegar and salt.
  • Bring the pan to the boil over a gentle heat, give everything a good stir, then turn down the heat and cover the pan (if you don't have a lid use foil). Simmer for 30 mins until the apples are cooked and pulpy.
  • While the apples are simmering, stone and quarter the plums, then add them to the cooked apples with the sugar. Stir well and leave to bubble away, this time uncovered, for another 40 mins stirring regularly until the plums are cooked but still retain some of their shape. Ladle into the sterilised jars, seal and label. This chutney is best kept for about a month before eating as the vinegar needs a bit of time to mellow. If you don't want the flavour of the spices to develop any more, then take out the cinnamon and star anise before potting. It will keep for 1 year in a cool place but once opened store in the fridge and use within a month.

Fingers crossed the family like my efforts, still to be made -  Red Onion Chutney and Beetroot and Orange Chutney.


Friday, 9 November 2012

Gabrielle Aplin - Home

I’m a phoenix in the water
A fish that’s learnt to fly
And i’ve always been a daughter
But feathers are meant for the sky
So I’m wishing, wishing further
For the excitement to arrive
It’s just I’d rather be causing the chaos
Than laying at the sharp end of this knife

With every small disaster
I’ll let the waters still
Take me away to some place real
'Cause they say home is where your heart is set in stone
where you go when you’re alone
Is where you go to rest your bones
It’s not just where you lay your head
It's not just where you make your bed
As long as we’re together, does it matter where we go?

So when I’m ready to be bolder,
And my cuts have healed with time
Comfort will rest on my shoulder
And I’ll bury my future behind
I’ll always keep you with me
You’ll be always on my mind
But there’s a shining in the shadows
I’ll never know unless I try

With every small disaster
I’ll let the waters still
Take me away to some place real
'Cause they say home is where your heart is set in stone
Is where you go when you’re alone
Is where you go to rest your bones
It’s not just where you lay your head
It's not just where you make your bed
As long as we’re together, does it matter where we go?

'Cause they say home is where your heart is set in stone
where you go when you’re alone
Is where you go to rest your bones
It’s not just where you lay your head
It's not just where you make your bed
As long as we’re together, does it matter where we go?

Monday, 5 November 2012

Bonfire Night!!!


Today as you all know is November 5th! the night best known for Guy Fawkes -

Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot's failure.

But the celebration of lighting fires is also shared by others, "In the ancient druid religions, bonfires were held between 31 October and 5 November to celebrate Samhain, a harvest festival where they used bonfires " bone fires" to burn the bones of the slaughtered livestock they had prepared and stored for the winter months. People and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual and the bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames. Some modern day Druids and Pagans see bonfire night as a significant celebration to end the harvest festival."

So yesterday i was very much in the foodie mood and thought about making something fitting for this time of year. firstly i baked!, a parkin cake.

Parkin, is a cake most associated with Yorkshire and being eaten on bonfire night. Its a rich taste and very filling!!
Now I've made it before so I'm not sure if i did the right recipe but here's the one i followed -


  • 200g butter , plus extra for greasing
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 85g treacle
  • 85g light soft brown sugar
  • 100g medium oatmeal
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger

Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease a deep 22cm/9in square cake tin and line with baking parchment. Beat the egg and milk together with a fork.

Gently melt the syrup, treacle, sugar and butter together in a large pan until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat. Mix together the oatmeal, flour and ginger and stir into the syrup mixture, followed by the egg and milk.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 50 mins - 1 hr until the cake feels firm and a little crusty on top. Cool in the tin then wrap in more parchment and foil and keep for 3-5 days before eating if you can - it'll become softer and stickier the longer you leave it, up to 2 weeks

The smell of this baking is divine!, rich sweet and spicy!!
once it cooled i cut me a few slices, sat down with a brew and just relaxed for a little while.... well a few hours actually. but sometimes its needed.

So as the day worn on, around came tea time, and what with being the festive kind of mood, i decided to make something that would be perfect for those of you holding your own bonfire party,

As I've mentioned before, sometimes your fridge can be your best inspiration, and on the occasions mine did just that.. as well as a little foodie hunting on the Internet.

Here we have-
Sticky Sweet Sausages with melted cheese topped baked potatoes. 

6 Sausages
1 Medium Red Onion
2 Shallots
50g Cheese with Garlic and Herb (cheese counter at Tesco) or any cheese of you liking
5  Potatoes
2 Tbsp of Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp of  Sweet chill with garlic sauce -  I get mine from The Garlic Farm here on the Isle Of Wight
2 Tbsp of Honey

preheat the  oven to180c/ gas mark 4.

Place under the grill the sausages and while their cooking, in a
bowl mix the honey, soy and sweet chili together, move over to one side and chop your onions and shallots.. big or small its totally up to you, mine were a bit mixed and matched.

In a pan cooked the onions and shallots until soft, aid it on by using a bit of oil not to much as you don't want them greasy, they'll produce there own juice which is helpful to the softening process,

 Once your sausages are cooked through, place in a oven proof dish and pour over the sticky sauce and add the soften onions in as well.
Mix them up abit so you get a good amount on all the sausage, then pop in the over for about 20mins.

pierce the potatoes and pop them in the microwave, at a high heat for about 10/15 minutes,While there cooking, grate up all the cheese and once the potatoes are done slice down the middle, open them all up and sprinkles each side with the cheese, then place in the over for the last 5minutes to allow the cheese to melt.

Fresh out the oven!

It was a perfect way to end a very chilled out day, a no fuss cake and a no fuss dinner.
Tonight i'm headed to Sandown to watch the fire works with some friends, i'm takin the parking and marshmallows and a friend is bring a hot flask of hot chocolate!

What ever you get up to tonight keep warm and of course safe!!!


    Thursday, 1 November 2012

    Blessing this Samhian and a very happy Halloween

    Evening readers,

    I hope i find you full of treats and not to many tricks, from last nights magical and spooky wonder!

    I know of many people who see this as a US holiday gone mad over here in the UK, and that shops are all out to make a pound or two from something that has no place over here. When actually Halloween or should that be Samhain goes back hundreds of years!!! if you look into it you'll see it was celebrated up and down the UK, Traditionally, Samhain was a time to take stock of the herds and food supplies, it is one of the four main festivals of the Gaelic calendar,(Imbolic,Beltain, Lughnasadh) it marks the last harvest and beginning of winter. Like all beginnings and endding, theres always a celebration, and Samhain is no different, people would gather and have big feasts, eat drink and get merry and mark the end of the harvest year, some places would even light big bonfires on the high hills to warn off evils spirits,. and where does the dressing up come into it? Well back then people were very superstitious, so by wearing costumes and masks it may have been seen as a way to befuddle, ward-off or represent the harmful spirits and fairies  so as not to be taken away into the night. Guising or mumming was common at winter festivals in general, but was "particularly appropriate to a night upon which supernatural beings were said to be abroad".
    So its alot more than just seeing how many sweets you can get!

    Samhian/Halloween is a perfect way to spend time with friends and family, celebrations are always fun, i don't need to tell you but a party with dressing up and themed food is always a winner, I look forward to the day when i have my own little ones, who will get all dressed up and enjoy the fun of the season, Many don't like it when the night gets darker and it feels like it'll be a long old time before the warm nights are with us once more, But for me Halloween and Bonfire night make it all worth it, Apple bobbin, sticky toffee apples, mulled cider and watching fireworks blast the sky it with a rainbow of colour is great!!! 

    So what did i get up to? We stayed in watched "The Walking Dead" and ate delightful feast of cider glazed sausages in ciabatta bread!

    I found the recipe on Tesco Food! it was from the Bonfire night recipe ideas!

                                             Before                                                             After

    • 800g (1.75lb) echalion shallots
    • 200ml (1/3pt) English cider
    • 2 tbsp honey
    • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
    • 12 pork sausages
    • 2 ciabattas, split lengthways and cut in thirds
    Preheat the oven to gas 5, 190°C, fan 170°C. Put the shallots in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of water, cover with foil and roast for 1 hour. Set aside and leave to cool slightly.
    Put the cider, honey and mustardin a small saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes, until the mixture has reduced by about two-thirds.
    Meanwhile, put the sausages in a roasting tin and cook for 10 minutes, then coat with half the glaze and put back into the oven to cook for a further 10 minutes.
    Squeeze the cooked shallots out of their skins, roughly chop, then stir in with the sausages. Brush the meat with the rest of the glaze, then return the tin to the oven for 5-10 minutes until everything is golden brown and sticky. Put the ciabatta in the oven for 5 minutes. Season the sausages, then spoon 2 sausages and some shallots onto each warmed ciabatta bap and serve.

    This was sooooo tasty!!! perfect comfort for a night such as last night, what with it being very windy and stormy, I hope you all had a lovely eve!!!