Christmas Tree Mini Pizzas

Ho Ho Ho….we had some neighbours round recently for Cheese and Mulled wine & the kids made these festive mini pizzas for their friends. They used cookie cutters for the bases. How cute do they look? Check out the link below for the quick no proving required pizza base:

https://mumsinreallifecouk.wordpress.com/?s=Scone+base

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas xx

Something For The Weekend: Beef & Guinness Stew

As the chilly air creeps in & the evenings become darker earlier, we are thinking of mouth watering stews to warm our tummies.

This gorgeous beef and Guineas stew does just that.

Let’s get started!!

Ingredients;

500g diced beef

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 celery sticks, cubed

3 large carrots, cut diagonally

1/2 a bunch of fresh rosemary & thyme

500g swede, cubed

500g squash, skin on and cut into chunks

4 chestnut mushrooms, sliced

1 litre beef stock

1/2 x can of Guiness

Start off by preheating the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Place a large casserole pan onto a medium heat & add 1tbsp of oil. Add the onions to pan and allow to soften for a few minutes. Stir the carrots & celery into the pan, then add the rosemary & thyme.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Stir in the beef, swede and squash. After a few minutes, add the stock and Guinness, stirring gently.

Bring up to a be gentle simmer and cover with a wet scrunched up sheet of greaseproof paper and pop into the oven for an hour.

After an hour, remove the paper and cook the stew for another hour (ish) until the meat is tender.

Next up, it’s time to make the dumplings. Mix 2oz of suet and 4oz of self raising flour together with 4tbsp of cold water. Mix in well and form into a ball. Divide into 8 dumplings (or if you prefer big dumplings, divide into 4) and roll into balls.

Place the dumplings on top of the stew and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before plating up. Serve with chunky bread and enjoy!

Hassle Free Chicken With Chilli, Lemon And Mint

Every now and again I really get stuck in a rut at meal times. As you probably know by now, I love flavour. This is something that my kids don’t always agree with me on! And who can blame them right? I don’t remember eating the type of food I try to cook for them. Our meals were always the same most week days. I always knew Tuesday would be Lasagne, Friday would be fish fingers and we’d almost always have a roast on a Sunday. Nothing wrong with that. Absolutely not. It’s just not me these days.

So anyway, here I was feeling a bit stuck. Dinner needed to be quick and tasty. My fridge was also looking a bit on the bare side. I therefore decided to get some inspiration from my recipe books, and I came across this little beauty. To make matters better, I had all of the ingredients to hand. That is always a bonus. Especially when you live in the back end of nowhere.

This recipe is lifted straight from Nigel Slaters classic guide to comfort food. It really did hit all the right notes and was so easy to make.

Ingredients:

400g Chicken fillets

1 medium sized red chilli, seeded and chopped

1tsp dried chilli powder

2 pinches of saffron

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

Handful of mint leaves (about 20)

4 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Halves of lemons to serve

Method:

Cut the chicken into finger size strips and pop into a dish. Blitz the fresh and dried Chillies, the garlic, saffron, most of the mint , olive oil and most of the lemon juice for about seconds until you have a lumpy marinade.

Spoon the marinade over the chicken strips and set aside for half an hour or so.

Next up, heat a frying pan (or you can use the grill) and lightly oil it. Add the chicken to the pan and gently fry for 4-5 minutes on each side until they are golden brown in places (make sure the chilli doesn’t burn). Season the dish with some salt and the remaining mint and lemon juice.

I served this (as suggested by Nigel Slater) with some well buttered couscous, flecked with coriander and coriander. I also added a blob of Creme Fraiche on top, which I mixed some finely chopped mint leaves into.

Bon appetite lovely people! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Squash And Vegetable Soup

It’s that time of year when everywhere you look, pumpkins and squashes adorned the shelves in shops.

If you’re looking for something to do with them other than carving out ghoulish faces or pumpkin pie, look no further!

This delicious soup is hands down the tastiest thing I make at this time of year, and to make matters even better, my kids eat it! Surely that’s worthy of a parent point?!

Ingredients (serves 4 with plenty for seconds);

1kg Squash or pumpkin

2 carrots, cubed

2 large potatoes, skin on cubed

2 small onions, sliced

2 cloves of Garlic (or more, depending on taste buds)

2 pints of Vegetable stock

Sprigs of Rosemary & Sage

Seasoning

3 slices of brown bread

1tbsp olive oil

Method;

Start off by quartering the squash and carefully cut off the skin. Cut into large chunks, deseed and chuck them into a large saucepan.

Next, add the remaining vegetables and crushed garlic. Remove the herb leaves from the stalks and roughly tear up and pop on top of the vegetables.

Cover the ingredients with 2 pints of vegetable stock and bring up to boil on a medium heat.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and leave to cook for about 35/40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The next part is up to you and depends on your preference. You can eat the soup nice and Chunky as it is, or you can pulse it with a handheld blender for a few seconds. I chose the latter as my kids like their soups nice and smooth.

While the soup is cooling down, roughly chop up 3 slices of bread (crusts off) to make some croutons and place a large frying pan onto a low heat to warm up. Add a splash of olive oil and add the cubed bread.

Gently fry until the croutons are nice and crisp on each side, it should only take a couple of minutes.

Now serve up the soup and pop some crispy croutons on top.

Peruvian Inspired Sweet Potato And Chicken Soup

This earthy Peruvian inspired soup is my own interpretation of a Jamie Oliver recipe. I’m a bit of a maverick when it comes to following recipes, often straying heavily. However, the core herbs and spices are the same, I just adapted some of the vegetables with what I had to hand. I must say, this is a very tasty soup indeed!

Ingredients;

1 large red onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped

2 mixed colour peppers

3 potatoes

2 small sweet potatoes

1kg chicken thighs, skin off

Olive oil

1tsp ground cumin

1tsp coriander leaves

Pinch of ground cloves

1.5l of Vegetable stock

2 limes, halved

100g Couscous

1 bunch of fresh coriander

Method;

Prep all of the veg and once done, place a large casserole pan on a medium – high heat to warm up. Put the chicken and 1tbsp of olive oil in the pan and stir well. Brown off the chicken.

Next up, tip in the herbs and spices stirring regularly. Stir in all of the prepped veg and cook for 15 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring the mixture up to boiling point. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.

Put the limes in and pour in the couscous. Cook for a final 15 minutes until the couscous is cooked through. Remove from the heat. Season well and stir in the chopped fresh coriander.

Bon appetite!

Chicken Lollipop Dippers

If you are looking for something a little bit different for the kids, look no further than this Jamie Oliver recipe. My children love these lollipops and the little dip that went with it. What’s more, it was super easy, quick and hassle free.

Ingredients;

2 skinless chicken fillets

Olive oil

Seasoning

4 tbsp natural yogurt

2 tsps tomatoes paste

4 Lollipop sticks, soaked in water

Method;

Start off by cutting the chicken fillets into chunks and use a sharp knife to make a deep slit into the bottom of each piece of chicken.

Rub oil into each chunk and season well. Insert a lollipop stick into each slit and gently warm up a frying pan on a low – medium heat.

Place the chicken lollipops into the frying pan for 7 minutes on each side, until golden.

Whilst the chicken is cooking, mix the yogurt and tomato paste together in a bowl, seasoning to taste.

When everything is ready, plate up with your sides of choice and enjoy!

Bon appetite!

Autumnal Pork & Vegetable Stew

This delicious stew is perfect for these cooler days and tastes like a hug in a bowl. It’s so easy and the kids love it, so a real winner in our house!

Ingredients (serves 4 with plenty left for seconds);

3 pork chops, fat off and removed from the bone (optional)

3 potatoes, skin left on & cubed

1 sweet potato, skin left on & cubed

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 carrots, cut into chunks

1 apple, cored and diced

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

Cup of frozen peas

Splash of balsamic vinegar

Handful of fresh Sage, crushed and chopped (keep a few leaves aside to garnish when you plate up)

1 vegetable stock cube

Sprinkling of gravy granules

Method;

Preheat the oven to gas mark 180°C, and place all of the ingredients (except for the stock cube, gravy powder and frozen peas) into a large casserole pot. Cover with water and bring to boil on a medium heat on the hob. Reduce the heat to a simmer and sprinkle in the vegetable stock cube, stir. Put the lid on and pop into the oven.

After an hour, remove the casserole pot from the oven and stir. Sprinkle a generous amount of gravy granules over the top, stir and put it back into the oven for 45 minutes, until the gravy is thick and the vegetables are tender. Stir in the frozen peas and pop back in the oven for a further 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool down until ready to eat. Garnish with some fresh sage leaves and serve with chunky bread.

Bon appetite!