Raspberry Almond Muffins

Hi there everybody, thanks for stopping by to take a look at these delicious , Raspberry Almond Muffins. Ideal with a mug of steaming coffee for Breakfast, Elevensies, Mid Afternoon Snack, or anytime your tummy rumbles and your next meal is too far away!!

Crunchy flaked almonds hide the moist, raspberry and almond muffin!
Crunchy flaked almonds hide the moist, raspberry and almond muffin!

What I love about these Raspberry Almond Muffins is they aren’t too sweet, they are proper muffins, dense and moist. Each mouthful filled with the tartness of Fresh Raspberries and the sweet crunch of the flaked Almonds!

Just dive right in. So scrumptious!
Just dive right in. So scrumptious!

This recipe is very easy, you can use fresh or frozen Raspberries (defrosted) and from start to finish these can be made and baked in half an hour!

Recipe : Makes18 Muffins

8 oz:250g  Unsalted Butter – room temp

8 oz/250g  Caster Sugar

4 Large Eggs – pref free range

1/4 tsp  Salt – free flowing (I use Kosher)

1/4tsp  Almond Extract

1 tsp  Vanilla Extract

4 oz/125g  Fresh Raspberries (or frozen raspberries defrosted.

4 oz/125g  Ground Almonds

4 oz/125g. Self Raising White Flour

1/2 tsp  Baking Powder

4 oz/125g  Flaked Almonds

Method : Preheat oven to 175C (160C fan)

Whisk or beat the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy. I used an electric whisk, you’ll see why as you read through the recipe!

Add the eggs slowly, one at a time, until they are fully incorporated in the batter. The eggs MUST be room temp for the mixture not to curdle (curdling makes a slightly heavier muffin/cake ). If the mixture starts to curdle add in a tablespoon of your flour, whisk away and watch as your mixture comes, beautifully together again!

Next add the salt, vanilla and almond extracts and half of your raspberries (along with any juice, if using defrosted, frozen raspberries). Whisk until thoroughly combined and enjoy the pretty, natural pink colour!!

Oh, just wait - pink is just a whisk away!!!!
Oh, just wait – pink is just a whisk away!!!!

Now add the ground almonds, flour and baking powder.

That pink's so pretty- oh did I already mention that????
That pink’s so pretty- oh did I already mention that????

I now switch to a spoon and finish mixing the batter by hand. Using the folding technique I mix until the batter is just combined.

So pretty and yummy, I just couldn't resist a taste!!
So pretty and yummy, I just couldn’t resist a taste!!

Place 18 Muffin/Cupcake cases in Muffin tins.  Then using an ice cream scoop (or 2 spoons) fill each Muffin case with a scoopful of Raspberry and Almond Muffin batter (if using spoons fill the cases halfway).

An ice cream scoop provides just the right amount of batter!
An ice cream scoop provides just the right amount of batter!
Using a scoop fills the cases in next to no time!
Using a scoop fills the cases in next to no time!

For the final finish, pop a raspberry (or two – depending how many you have) on the top of each mound of batter.

They look a bit like noses!!!
They look a bit like noses!!!

Next evenly sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top of the uncooked Muffins, very gently pressing them into the batter.

When cooked the flaked almonds will hide the tart, crimson raspberry beneath!!
When cooked the flaked almonds will hide the tart, crimson raspberry beneath!!

Place the muffin tins into the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if they turn a darker, golden colour than vanilla cupcakes – these Muffins have whole Raspberries whisked into a batter that is 50% ground Almonds  (instead of 100% flour) the darker colour means they’re cooked!!!

So pretty and yummy, you just have to share these!
So pretty and yummy, you just have to share these!

Gorgeous, crunchy on the outside, soft and moist inside. The perfect balance of sweet and tart.

Definitely feasting food, made to share!

 

 

 

 

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Showing Sharing Loving Caring

Hi everyone how are you? I hope you are enjoying the start to 2015.  My theme and aim for this year is Showing Sharing Loving Caring. It’s really the essence of why I set up this blog. Showing Love through Sharing, Caring enough to spend time, whether it’s family, friends, neighbours or someone new.

I know for some however, that  Christmas, the New Year and Winter in general can be a really tough time. So wherever you are I’m sending you a big, warm hug. Life can be very tough and it’s during these tough times that we need to show love and be shown love more than ever.

Now I can’t physically visit every single person and sit, listen and spend time with them. But we can all take time to show love to one person, outside of our family and friendship group.

Am I freaking you out or scaring you yet? Yes. Good!!! We can all get comfortable in our own lives, which I  do understand are busier than ever. Even though we have time saving gadgets galore, we still live in a ‘time pressed’ society.

It is still our choice though how we spend our time, what we prioritise as important and those things that are less important. For me my life has no meaning if I don’t show love. That can mean spending time listening whilst someone unburdens their heart. Or no words, just a big warm hug. I also love to cook or bake for people.

Sharing is central to who I am. Once I made a very simple Victoria Sponge Cake for an elderly couple, one of whom had just spent time in hospital. Their faces broke into huge smiles at this surprise gift, but more importantly they felt loved and cared for.

Reach out, you may be surprised by the results!
Reach out, you may be surprised by the results!

I’m most definitely not trying to portray myself as some perfect Saint. I am a pretty normal, fun loving, individual – just like so many other people. So I really want to encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and reach out to just one person, who you wouldn’t normally interact with.

A cup of tea, cookie and natter can become a feast. A feast of time! There is no greater gift, than the gift of love. As a Christian I have the gift of love inside me. God’s love. He has shown me limitless love through His Son JESUS. I am completely accepted and loved for who I am and because of that great love, I want to share love.

We can all have the love of Jesus in our lives – see ‘Important Stuff!!!’ for more information and help, you can also leave a comment (I can reply and do not have to publish your comment if you preference privacy).

I am very blessed to have a wonderful, loving family, the best friends anyone could ever hope for and I love them all. One of my favourite things is a family get together, where we always have the best feasts! Not only do we feast on delicious food, but also on each other’s company. We laugh, smile, share and love.

Feasting does not have to be in large groups. Sharing a bowl of soup with a lonely neighbour, can itself be a feast. How about inviting someone who is on their own for Sunday lunch? Or, slicing up a cake that is left over from a celebration and popping a slice or two round to your neighbours?

Having fun making my pics look pretty!
Having fun making my pics look pretty!

The excitement and sense of fun, before delivering a meal or slice of cake is priceless. You can have all the money you need, but it will never bring you the happiness and peace that sharing caring and loving bring.

So I encourage both you and myself to be greater at sharing and showing love during 2015. Your life will be enriched as you start Showing Sharing Loving Caring and of course Feasting and having Fun.

Sammie x

 

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Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns

Hi there, how are you today?  These Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are so easy to make and are perfect for weekend breakfast with a large mug of Coffee!  They truly define the meaning of Lazy Weekend Breakfast Feasting.

Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns www.feastingisfun.com
Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns www.feastingisfun.com

Obviously, you don’t have to restrict eating these at breakfast time or just at the weekend – although, as scrummy as they are, I wouldn’t recommend having them everyday! These Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are treats, in fact I had them for my birthday brekkie last year (& that was mid week!).

This recipe was inspired by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa herself.  After following her recipe a few times I fiddled with it a bit.  The buns were scrummy, but I wanted Pecan nuts inside my buns and preferred the use of Sultanas.  I also changed the ratio of ingredients, as I changed from American cup measures to Metric weight.  I was extremely pleased with the results, I hope you will be to and this easy recipe will inspire you to have a go at making these buns!

Pecan Sultana Sticky Buns www.feastingisfun.com
Pecan Sultana Sticky Buns www.feastingisfun.com

Firstly, I should say that these Sticky Sultana Pecan Buns are made upside down!  That is, they are very similar, in method, to an upside down cake – meaning that you place a brown sugar/butter mixture along with Pecan nuts into the bottom of a deep muffin/cupcake tin, place the buns in top and then when cooked turn the buns out so the bottom of the bun becomes the top!

Don’t worry!  It’s not as confusing as it sounds and I am ALWAYS amazed that the buns turn out perfectly, they never stick and always look so impressive for such little effort.  In fact it really is a Ta Dah moment (I imagine a drumroll in my head!) that never ceases to amaze me and I always end up with a huge smile on my face!

Just a quick note : A proper deep muffin/cupcake tin must be used for this recipe.  A bun/fairy cake tin is too shallow, not only will it be too small for your buns, but you’ll also end up with butter dripping all over your oven.  I also place a baking sheet, a little larger than my cupcake tin, on the rack below, just in case any butter bubbles up and drips over – soo much easier to clean than the whole oven!!

Recipe : Makes 12 Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns

For the Topping:

150g/5oz  Butter – unsalted and softened

75g/3oz Light, Soft Brown Sugar

100g/4oz Pecan Nuts – roughly chopped

For the Buns :

450g/1lb Pack Shop Bought All Butter Puff Pastry

1tbsp  Butter – melted

1 1/2tsp  Cinnamon

150g/5oz Light, Soft Brown Sugar

250g/9oz  Sultanas

100g/4oz Pecan Nuts – roughly chopped

Method :

Preheat the oven to 200C (185C fan).

Firstly, for the topping of the buns mix the softened butter and sugar until well combined.

Using a teaspoon (not a teaspoon measure) scoop 1/2 a teaspoon of the butter/sugar mixture and place into the bottom of the muffin tin, repeating 11 more times.

1/2 a teaspoon is just enough!
1/2 a teaspoon is just enough!
Each muffin cup has a dollop of the sugar/butter mixture!
Each muffin cup has a dollop of the sugar/butter mixture!

Next, divide the 100g of Pecan nuts between each of the muffin cups, placing them on top of the sugar/butter mixture.  Remember, although this is going into the bottom of the tin, when turned out this will become the topping of the Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns!

The Pecan nuts become caramelised, golden and sticky during cooking. Yummy!!
The Pecan nuts become caramelised, golden and sticky during cooking. Yummy!!

Now for the Buns :

Lightly dust the worktop with plain, white flour.  Roll out the all butter puff pastry, with a floured rolling pin. You need a square shape that is approx 34 x 34cm.

All butter pastry really is essential as it adds to the flaky, buttery flavour of the buns.
All butter pastry really is essential as it adds to the flaky, buttery flavour of the buns.

Next, trim the top and bottom of the pastry square and brush with the melted butter.  Then sprinkle the sugar evenly over the whole of the square.

Don't worry about the odd few lumps in the sugar, they'll just add to the stickiness of the buns!!
Don’t worry about the odd few lumps in the sugar, they’ll just add to the stickiness of the buns!!

Sprinkle the cinnamon evenly over the sugar layer.

The smell of cinnamon fills the house when these buns are baking.
The smell of cinnamon fills the house when these buns are baking.

Now you can sprinkle firstly the Sultanas and the the chopped Pecan nuts, so they cover the pastry evenly.

Nice and evenly spread, now it's time to get a-rolling!!!
Nice and evenly spread, now it’s time to get a-rolling!!!

Starting at the front edge of the pastry, evenly roll over the edge of the pastry, tucking it under itself ( not too tightly). Then proceed to roll until you have a log shape, with the join underneath.

A nice even roll along the front edge of the pastry.
A nice even roll along the front edge of the pastry.
Keep rolling so the pastry is an even log shape.
Keep rolling so the pastry is an even log shape.
Trim the side edges of the log.
Trim the side edges of the log.

Next, using a sharp knife, mark the middle of the log. Then mark each half of the log in the middle. Now divide each marked section into 3 separate pieces. You should now have 12 buns!

Use a very sharp knife to slice through each section - so you get a nice clean edge to each bun.
Use a very sharp knife to slice through each section – so you get a nice clean edge to each bun.

Carefully place each bun, cut side up, on top of the butter/sugar/Pecan mixture in the muffin tin. Squish a little bit if needed and don’t worry if a little of the filling falls out in transit, you can always pop errant Pecans and Sultanas into any gaps once all the buns are in the muffin tin!

All ready to be popped into the preheated oven.
All ready to be popped into the preheated oven.

Place the tin into a preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. The Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are cooked when the pastry is golden and puffed.

Ooh yummy! But be careful, they will come out of oven very hot.
Ooh yummy! But be careful, they will come out of oven very hot.

I just love to watch them bubbling and breath in their cinnamon scent when they first come out of the oven – it’s the little things in life that give me most pleasure!!!!!

Wait a few (3 ish but no longer than 5) minutes, then wearing oven gloves place a baking sheet (that is at least the same size as your muffin tin) over the top of the muffin tin and turn over. I promise the buns will drop out! Remove the muffin tin and stare in amazement at your gorgeous Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns– all 12 of them!! See I told you, they really are easy and they turn out every single time.

Perfectly turned out Sticky Pecan and Sultana Buns.
Perfectly turned out Sticky Pecan and Sultana Buns.

Leave to cool – remember all that bubbling and sizzling was butter and sugar boiling very hot!!

Serve warm with nothing but a hot drink of your choice, sit back, relax and smile!

These Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are perfect for breakfast, brunch, mid afternoon coffee. I think these are at their most delicious shared with friends & family who unexpectedly pop round! These are best served warm, so pop in a 140C oven whilst the kettle boils and serve with a steaming cup of coffee and a smile!

These scrummy Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns keep well in an airtight container for up to 5 days. They can also be frozen for up to 1 month. When needed, remove from freezer, place on a baking sheet and allow to defrost (this doesn’t take long 1-2 hrs depending on the room temperature), refresh and warm in a 180C oven for 5 minutes and serve.

Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns www.feastingisfun.com
Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns www.feastingisfun.com

I really hope that you give the Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns a try as not only are they easy to make, they are scrumptious and everyone who tries them has a big smile on their face!!!

Sammie x

 

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Fun!!

Hi there.  I hope that you are having a good day?  I’ve been pondering why, as people, we have fun? What makes popping bubble wrap feel sooo good and is so much fun to do?  Why, as fully grown adults, do we wrap up and run outside, in the middle of Winter, as soon as there’s a dusting of snow on the ground?  Then we rush to the top of the nearest hill, sit on a piece of plastic or metal and spend an entire day sliding down, walking up, sliding down, walking up –  you get the picture – and we thoroughly enjoy ourselves? Why do we need fun in our lives?

Great fun was had building this snowman!'n
Great fun was had building this snowman!’n

I can quite clearly remember the very first time our eldest daughter laughed. She laughed at something on the TV (not me or her Dad!!!!).  It was an amazing moment.  This beautiful baby girl finding fun and laughing.

Why do we laugh harder and longer at something when we are in the company of others who are laughing too?  Why do we find things funny in the first place?

Our cat was chasing his tail the other day. Every time he caught it, he gave it a lick, sat down, noticed his tail again, like it was something he had never, in his life seen before and then proceeded to turn round and round chasing it again!! It was hilarious. Our whole family were laughing at this silly, grey, pussy cat chasing his tail. I’m not sure if the cat was having fun, but we certainly were watching him!!

Our poor cat dressed up in Reindeer Antlers!!!
Our poor cat dressed up in Reindeer Antlers!!!

My hubby and I got together at a ‘Bad Taste’ fancy dress party.  He in the widest flared trousers I’d ever seen and me in red & black striped tights under some hideous hot pants!  You can imagine (or maybe you’d rather not – that’s fine) we weren’t looking our best. Yet we were having fun, looking silly!

Our lil man running with his kite - there was not a single breeze in the air - but he was having FUN!
Our lil man running with his kite – there was not a single breeze in the air – but he was having FUN!

I often look at butterflies, sunsets, twinkling stars in the night sky and wonder why I find such beauty in them? If I evolved, what purpose does beauty like this have? The same can be said of fun.  Why are we all different, finding beauty in different places and laughing at different things?

"Hey dudes, I'm totally rockin these shades!" Bud on 6 hour car journey. She's one cool cat - I mean dog!!
“Hey dudes, I’m totally rockin these shades!”
Bud on 6 hour car journey. She’s one cool cat – I mean dog!!

Jesus went for a boat ride with some of His mates, then gets out of the boat and walks on the water.  Whoa seriously fun!  I mean how much fun must that have been, not only that but one of His friends joined Him (there’s no mention of a body, surf or paddle board in the bible – just saying!).

So is this just some anomaly of Evolution?  Sitting on a trampoline whilst someone else bounces away and giggling so much that you beg them to stop, because it’s almost too much fun!! What, if we didn’t evolve – getting radical here – if we were designed, to have fun?

I know that I am a creation of God.  Designed on purpose, made with intent.  There is only one of me and trust me that’s enough!! I am unique.  My hubby and I have 3 gorgeous children who are all completely different.  Surely if we evolved then wouldn’t people be more alike?

God’s Word (the Bible) says that He “knitted us together in our mother’s womb”.  He made us and He made us all uniquely individual. When He made us, He gave us a sense of fun so that we can enjoy our lives.

So have a think about it?  Why do we like to have fun?  Why do we sometimes need to have a good old belly laugh (yes I know it releases endorphins, which in turn make us feel better)?  So yes having fun can be good for us, but it doesn’t explain the desire to have fun.

I hope that what I’ve written causes you to think and makes you smile!  During the coming week I hope that your eyes are opened to the outstanding beauty of this amazing world we live in and see the Creator in His Creation.

Sammie x

 

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Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies

Hello, how are you today?  If you’ve taken a look at my blog before, you might have noticed that I rather like Cookies, ooh and Biscuits (is there a difference??)!  This recipe for Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies started forming in my brain last week – but I was out of oats.  I’m very glad I ordered some with my shopping cos these Cookies are scrumptiously moreish!!

Apricot and Oat Crumble Cookies - afternoon tea at its best!
Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies – afternoon tea at its best!

I like to play around with textures as well as tastes and with these Crumbly Oaty Cookies you also get nice nuggets of Apricot which have a lovely chewy texture.  The addition of Demerera sugar also adds a very slight toffee taste and extra crunch.  So all good then!

The first batch of Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies were made and baked.  My special friend and chief taste tester agreed to the arduous task of tasting them – it’s a tough job, but she manages!!!  They were given a thumbs up!! Obviously I had to try one as well and they are scrummy, plus with fruit and oats in them they must be good for you.  Well that’s my theory anyhow!!

Recipe : ApricoT Oat Crumble Cookies

2oz  Demerera Sugar

3oz  Caster Sugar

8oz  Unsalted Butter – room temp

1 Large Egg Yolk – pref. free range

1tsp  Vanilla Extract

1/8tsp Salt – I use Kosher

4oz  Dried Apricots

4oz  Ordinary Rolled Porridge Oats (not quick cook)

6oz  Plain White Flour

Method :

In a bowl cream the butter and sugars together, ideally with an electric whisk (by hand with a wooden spoon is fine, just ensure the mixture is well beaten.

The whisked butter and sugars. The Demerara sugar gives the mixture more colour.
The whisked butter and sugars. The Demerara sugar gives the mixture more colour.

Add the egg yolk, vanilla extract and salt to the mixture and beat in well.  Take the dried Apricots and chop them roughly into small 1/2cm pieces.  You want the pieces of Apricot small enough so that they distribute evenly throughout the cookie dough, but big enough to be golden nuggets of chewy fruit that contrast with the crumbly cookie texture.

Here's a pic of how I chopped the apricots!
Here’s a pic of how I chopped the apricots!

Into the bowl add the oats, flour and place the chopped apricots on top.  Mix together until just combined.

Placing the chopped apricots in top of the flour helps to stop them all clumping together.
Placing the chopped apricots in top of the flour helps to stop them all clumping together.

Scoop a desert spoonful of the cookie dough and shape into a ball using your hands. I placed 6 cookie dough balls on both of the baking trays I used. Obviously the bigger the ball, the larger the cooked cookie will be!

Note : Unless you are confident that your baking trays are non stick, it’s best to line them with parchment paper.

Lightly press down on the dough balls, to flatten them into an even round shape.  Place the baking trays in the I’ve and cook for 15-25 minutes until golden brown on the bottom (see photo).  Again the cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of your cookies.

Note the underside is much deeper in colour than the top.
Note the underside is much deeper in colour than the top.

If the bottom is not golden (as above) return your cookies to the oven for an extra couple of minutes.  The first tray I got out of the oven looked fine, however, when I tried to turn the cookie over to check the underneath, it completely fell apart – I put the tray bake in the oven for an extra 5 minutes and the photo above shows the result!

When cooked properly, even whilst still warm, the cookie will hold it’s shape, allowing you to check the underside.  Leave the cookies to cool completely on the baking tray.

Whilst cooling, ring a friend, or your mum, or someone you’ve been meaning to invite round for ages.  Pop the kettle on, quickly clean up (vacuum, throw some bleach down the loo, anti bac wipe the cat…..). No, no, no!! Whoever you’ve invited round doesn’t want to see you (and the cat!) frazzled to within an inch of your life. Relax.  Put on some whale music if necessary (although if you need that you might want to invite so and so tomorrow – just saying!!!).

Tea anyone???
Tea anyone???

Enjoy feasting and having a good natter, with a friend, over Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies.  Have fun catching up and sharing in each other’s news.  One of the most precious gifts you can give is your time. We all feel loved and valued when others take time out of their busy schedules to share part of their day with us!

I know, because my sister – who is the best sis in the world – took time out of her day for me today.  Thanks babes, love you with all my heart xx.

Sammie x

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Herb Meatballs with Simple Tomato Sauce

Hi there, as I look out of the window I can see it’s ‘Cloudy – with more than a chance of Meatballs, for dinner!’ I know, very bad joke but I couldn’t resist.  The same way I couldn’t resist making Meatballs today after seeing someone cook them on TV yesterday!!!

Yummy, bites sized herb meatballs in a simple tomato sauce.
Yummy, bites sized herb meatballs in a simple tomato sauce.

I haven’t a clue which, if any, recipe they were following, these Herb Meatballs in a super Simple Tomato Sauce are my own creation!  Let’s hope they are a hit with the family, when served with spaghetti later?  Oh who am I kidding?  Hunger default status is always STARVING with our family when Meatballs are on the menu!!

I’ve used a combination of beef mince and pork sausage meat for these little Meatballs.  I have made them using all beef, but I find them a bit heavy (even using breadcrumbs & egg to lighten them).  I’ve also made Turkey meatballs, but that’s a whole kettle of fish ( not that they contain fish!)!!!!!

Just a quick note : There is a bit of prep work involved in making these meatballs, but the tomato sauce is so quick it really takes no longer than making a bolognaise sauce and the meatballs really do make a delicious change – so I think it’s worth it?  If you try this recipe I’d love to know how get on?


Recipe : This serves 6-8 hungry people!

For the Meatballs

1  Large Onion

1 tbsp  Olive Oil

1 1/2lb  (750g)Beef Mince (pref. less than 10% fat content)

1lb  (500g) Pork Sausage meat

1  Large Garlic Clove

2  Fresh Sage Leaves (1/4tsp dried sage)

3  Fresh Thyme Sprigs (1/4tsp dried thyme)

1tsp  Sea salt (1/2tsp free flowing salt)

1 tsp  Freshly Ground Black Pepper

For the Simple Tomato Sauce

2 x 400g Tinned Chopped Tomatoes

2tbsp  Tomato Puree

2  Sprigs Fresh Thyme (1/4tsp dried thyme)

1/2tsp  Sugar

1/2tsp  Sea salt (1/4tsp free flowing salt)

1/2tsp  Freshly Ground Black Pepper


Method : Making the Meatballs

Chop up the onion as finely as possible.  Add the oil to a frying pan and sauté over a low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent, but not browned.

Sautéed onions, ready to cool down.
Sautéed onions, ready to cool down.

Set the pan aside and allow the onions to cool down.  Place the minced beef, sausage meat, cooled onion, salt, pepper, minced garlic and freshly chopped (or dried) herbs.

All the meatball ingredients in the bowl together!
All the meatball ingredients in the bowl together!

Using a fork, gently combine all the ingredients together.  I’ve found, if I squish them together using my hand (I like squishing, it’s fun – so if I could, I would!!!!) the meatballs end up too dense.

Using a fork to gently combine all the meatball ingredients.
Using a fork to gently combine all the meatball ingredients.

Next, scoop about a teaspoonful of mixture and lightly roll into a ball in between your hands – wet hands make the job easier!  Continue until all of the meatball mixture is used up – I managed 54 meatballs!!

Not perfect spheres but they'll taste just fine, once cooked!
Not perfect spheres but they’ll taste just fine, once cooked!

Heat the pan that you used for sautéing the onions on a medium heat – I didn’t add any more oil, but feel free if yours isn’t non stick.  Add the meatballs so they only form one layer in the pan (overcrowding the pan means the meatballs won’t have contact with direct heat and won’t brown properly). Leave them for 1-2 minutes and then gently turn, repeating the process until the meatballs are nicely browned all over (as they were so small I found it easier to turn them in the pan using 2 desert spoons instead of tongs). Remove from the pan and place on a clean plate.


Making the Simple Tomato Sauce

Using the same pan as before, discard any remaining oil safely – it will be hot so allow to cool and wipe the pan with a handful of kitchen roll.  Now add 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, refilling each tin, roughly halfway with water, swill around to catch every bit of juice a pour into the pan.  Add the tomato purée, herbs, sugar,salt and pepper.  Bring to a  simmer and leave to bubble away gently for 30-40 minute.  The Simple Tomato Sauce is done!!

Super easy, super simple tomato sauce.
Super easy, super simple tomato sauce.

Place the meatballs in a large, ovenproof dish and pour over the tomato sauce.  Heat through for 30-40 minutes, until piping hot and then serve with pasta, rice, crusty bread or even a salad!!

Yummy, bites sized herb meatballs in a simple tomato sauce.
Yummy, bites sized herb meatballs in a simple tomato sauce.

This can easily be a GLUTEN AND DAIRY FREE dish if you use sausage meat – without rusk or wheat added (I buy mine from www.graigfarmirgaincs), as no breadcrumbs or egg are added to the meatball mixture.

A delicious dish that everyone (well not vegetarians I guess) that can be shared and feasted on by friends and family!

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Turkey and Leek Pie

Hi there, thank you for stopping by to take a look at my Recipe for Turkey and Leek Pie, topped with mountains of Mash.  This is a fantastic recipe for using up leftover Turkey after Christmas or Thanksgiving!

Crunchy mash topped pie, hiding chunks of Turkey in a delicious sauce - pass me a plate I'm hungry?!!!!
Crunchy mash topped pie, hiding chunks of Turkey in a delicious sauce – pass me a plate I’m hungry?!!!!

The News has been awash with statistics and reports of how much food we throw away, or waste as a nation.  Now I’m not suggesting you try to make a pie  out of the gooey apple, fermenting at the bottom of the fruit bowl – however, lots of us eat Turkey over the holiday period and Roast Chicken (which makes a great substitute for this pie) throughout the rest of the year.  This recipe will show you one, easy way to make a delicious meal with leftover Turkey!!

Yesterday we had a roasted Turkey crown for Sunday dinner.  It was seriously yummy!  But, I was left with one complete Turkey breast, cooked and in the fridge!!!  What to do??

Today I decided to make a Turkey and Leek pie, topped with Mashed Potatoes instead of pastry.  Alternative toppings for this pie could include : sliced potatoes,  flaky pastry, savoury crumble topping, herbed breadcrumbs.  If you try any of these please let me know how you get on?

Recipe : This Pie will serve 6 people

1 1/2 – 2 lb  (750g- 1Kg) Cooked Turkey cut into 1 inch chunks

2  Medium Leeks

4 oz  Butter (split in two)

1 tbsp  Olive Oil

2 tbsp  Vermouth or White Wine

1 tbsp  Plain White Flour

1/2 of a Chicken Stock Cube

3 tbsp + extra  Whole Milk

1.5 Kg  Peeled Potatoes (Maris Piper/Desiree or any floury potato suitable for mashing)

2  Sprigs Fresh Thyme

Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Method :

Peel and chop the potatoes, place in a saucepan and cover with water.  Add  a pinch of salt, bring to the boil and then simmer until tender when pierced with a knife.  Drain the potatoes, place them back into the saucepan with 2 tbsp of butter and milk. Clamp on the lid and leave off the heat for 5 minutes.  Next, adding a good grinding of black pepper, mash the potatoes, set aside to cool.

Place 2tbsp of the butter and the Olive oil into a frying pan over a medium heat.  Chop the leeks into small dice, rinse thoroughly, pat dry and add to the melted butter and oil in the frying pan.

Bright green, uncooked leeks. They fill the pan!!
Bright green, uncooked leeks. They fill the pan!!

Ensuring the mash reaches the edges of the pie dish will help stop the sauce from leaking out during cooking.

Add a pinch of salt and sauté over a low heat. You don’t want the leeks to colour,  just to become soft and slightly translucent.

The sautéed leeks have lost their bright colour and shrunk in the pan as they've cooked!
The sautéed leeks have lost their bright colour and shrunk in the pan as they’ve cooked!

Next add 1 tbsp of flour, stirring so the chopped leeks are covered in the flour. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes – this will ensure the finished sauce doesn’t have a floury flavour.

The flour mixes with the butter and oil to thicken the sauce once the liquid has been added.
The flour mixes with the butter and oil to
thicken the sauce once the liquid has been added.

Add a splash of Vermouth or white wine (if you prefer to not use alcohol, just skip this stage).  Mix thoroughly over a low heat, cooking for a couple of minutes – this stops the finished sauce from tasting floury!  Next add a good splash (30-40mls) of milk.

The sauce will have a very thin consistency. Keep stirring!!!
The sauce will have a very thin consistency. Keep stirring!!!
After a couple of minutes the sauce will thicken.
After a couple of minutes the sauce will thicken.

Crumble in half of a chicken stock cube. When fully incorporated into the sauce, have a quick taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to season.  Next strip 2 fresh Thyme sprigs and add the Thyme leaves to the leek sauce.  Set to one side and allow to cool.

Cut the cold, cooked Turkey (or chicken) into 1 inch chunks and place into a pie dish. Cover the Turkey with the leek sauce.

 

Turkey chunks covered in leek sauce, flecked with Thyme leaves.
Turkey chunks covered in leek sauce, flecked with Thyme leaves.

Now you can cover the Turkey/Leek mixture with mountains of Mashed Potato. Pile the mash up high and then, using a fork, ruffle up the surface (this will ensure an extra crunchy topping when cooked!).

Ensuring the mash reaches the edges of the pie dish will help stop the sauce from leaking out during cooking.
Ensuring the mash reaches the edges of the pie dish will help stop the sauce from leaking out during cooking.

At this stage the Turkey and Leek Pie can be wrapped in cling film and placed in the fridge for a couple of days until needed.  Or double wrapped in cling and popped into the freezer for up to one month – defrost overnight in the fridge before reheating.

To cook the pie, preheat the oven to 190C  (175C fan), place the pie dish on a baking sheet.  Place in the middle of the oven and cook for 1hour, until bubbling around the sides, golden and crunchy on top and piping hot all the way through.

Scrumptious......
Scrumptious……

The ultimate winter comfort food Turkey and Leek Pie, perfect for sharing and sure to put a smile on the face of those who try it!!!!!!

Until next time I hope I’ve inspired you to get creative with leftovers, smile and have fun.

Sammie xx

 

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Baking and Why I Love it?

Hello, I hope you are having a good day. Why do I love baking?

The BEST Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.
The BEST Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Firstly and above all other reasons, I find it really relaxing.  I’m constantly amazed that I really can have a batch of cookies, a cake or loaf of bread baking in the oven in literally minutes!

Secondly I’m always surprised when recipes turn out well.  I’m not sure why this is – as I do have a tendancy to ‘interprete’ recipes, as opposed to following them strictly.

I'm amazed every time I bake these Pecan & Sultana sticky buns. They are scrummy!
I’m amazed every time I’ve baked these Pecan & Sultana sticky buns. They are scrummy!

Thirdly, I have learnt, over the many years of baking and cooking to trust my nose.  Following on from my bad habit if not entirely following recipes to the letter, I also very rarely time things as they are baking or cooking!  I know, sooo bad.  But, since I’ve started my blog I’m getting better.  It’s a work in progress!!!!

Not enough pastry for a Sausage Plait, so made a huge Sausage Roll a cut a diamond pattern to make it look pretty!!
Not enough pastry for a Sausage Plait, so made a huge Sausage Roll a cut a diamond pattern to make it look pretty once baked!!

Next (fourthly didn’t sound quite right?!) I love the smell emanating from the oven as something is nearing it’s cooked stage.  In fact it is this very thing that stops me from timing how long something takes to bake.  My nose alerts me, with alarming accuracy!

As with planting a seed, caring and watering the plant that grows, then picking the produce or flowers, so too, in all types of cookery and baking, the ‘magic’ of turning a wet, lumpy mess into moist, delicious muffins never, ever fails to thrill me.  Yes I make mistakes, but I am all the better for it, tweaking ingredients, methods etc. It’s fun!!

A sticky, wet, Morello Cherry and Almond batter....
A sticky, wet, Morello Cherry and Almond batter….

Once cooked, cooled and sliced looks like this…,.

A moist, cooked cake, with a scrumptious Morello Cherry centre!!!!
A moist, baked cake, with a scrumptious Morello Cherry centre!!!!

Baking and cooking allow me to explore the creative side of my nature and I am never short of taste testers who give me the honest feedback I value.

Lastly and following on from the previous point, I get to share! l love the reaction from anyone I share my food with, whether it be the latest homemade ice cream flavour, devoured by our children and their cousins, or an individual portion of lasagne, given to one of my best friends, after a days serious walking (we’re talking 6-10miles here people!!!), knowing, she not only doesn’t have to think about what to have for dinner, but half an hour in the oven and a home cooked meal is ready.

Sharing is such an important part of who I am and so it naturally translates to my baking and cooking.

Made for sharing, totally delicious & good for you!!! Well they contain fruit......
Made for sharing, totally delicious & good for you!!! Lemon iced baked fruit buns.

Many people’s diet is restricted by the fact that they live alone.  If I’m making a Chilli for five of us it’s not any bother to make it for 6 people and it is always greatly appreciated.

None more so than by me.  The week following our eldest daughter’s birth, neither my husband or I cooked.  Family and friends brought round a main meal, everyday of that week.  Now I can honestly say we’ve probably tried every single type of Shepherds pie ever made!  But do you know what?  To a nursing mum (me) and a severely sleep deprived couple, who had absolutely no idea of what parenting was all about, each evening meal was truly wonderful.  I was constantly hungry and my gorgeous hubby has never, ever been a fan of cooking and our needs were met.

Beautiful Pink Cupcakes, made by my wonderful Mummy, for our Daughter's Birthday. Love you Mummy xxxx
Beautiful Pink Cupcakes, made by my wonderful Mummy, for our Daughter’s Birthday. Love you Mummy xxxx

I have never forgotten the love and practical kindness shown to us, during the earliest days of parenthood (where bathing the baby would take over an hour – I’m not joking!!!).

My aim is to now show that same practical love to others and in doing so encourage others to also share.

Handing my shopping delivery man a cupcake. Thank you for carrying all my heavy shopping through to the kitchen.
Handing my shopping delivery man a cupcake. Thank you for carrying all my heavy shopping through to the kitchen.

It’s amazing how many people you can make smile, just because you take a moment to notice them and share with them!

Try it.  I’d love to know how you get on?

Sammie xx

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Almond and Cranberry Cookies

Hello, thank you for stopping by to take a peek at my blog and the recipe for these scrumptious Almond and Cranberry Cookies.

Almond and Cranberry Cookies - delish xxx
Almond and Cranberry Cookies – delish xxx

Just because Cranberries are naturally in season over the holiday period, doesn’t mean you can’t use the dried version any time of the year!

Pop the kettle on - I need to be dunked!!!
Pop the kettle on – I need to be dunked!!!

Dried cranberries have a sweet/tart flavour and work wonderfully well in these cookies as they are not too sweet.  Most supermarkets stock Craisins (by Ocean Spray) otherwise I’ve found reliable stockists of dried Cranberries on Amazon/eBay.

Recipe :  Makes 20 – 30 cookies

5 oz  Caster Sugar

8 oz  Unsalted Butter (at room temp)

1/4 tsp Salt (I use Kosher – no additives)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 tsp. Almond Extract

1  Large Egg Yolk (free range if possible)

2 oz  Ground Almonds

8 oz. Plain White Flour

4 oz  Dried Cranberries

2 oz  Flaked Almonds

Method :

Preheat the oven to 160C fan ((175C conventional oven).

Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper (if the trays aren’t non stick).

Cream together the butter, sugar and salt, using either an electric whisk (much easier!!) or wooden spoon, until pale and smooth to touch (rub a little of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger, it should not feel grainy).

Whisk/beat in the Egg Yolk, Vanilla and Almond extracts.

I now always switch to a spoon for mixing the dry ingredients, this way I can ‘feel’ when everything is combined and avoid overworking the flour (this can lead to tough cookies).

Add the Plain White Flour, Ground Almonds, Dried Cranberries and Flaked Almonds.  Mix until all the ingredients are just combined.

This dough looks yummy enough to eat!!
This dough looks yummy enough to eat!!

Using a teaspoon form small balls (the size of large marbles) of the mixture, approx 12-14 balls – this will use approx half of the mixture.

Place the cookie dough balls, spaced evenly, onto the baking sheets.  Lightly press the balls to form 1/4 inch thick disc.

Put both baking trays into the preheated oven and cook for 18-25 mins.  They are cooked when they have turned a light, golden colour.  Do not expect the cookies to be hard, they will firm up on cooling.

Leave to cool fully on the baking tray.

These taste even better the next day.  I had to hide them to find that out!!!!
These taste even better the next day. I had to hide them to find that out!!!!

With the remaining cookie dough, wipe your worktop with a clean cloth and place at least 14 inches of cling film onto the worktop.  Where the worktop is damp it will anchor the cling film in place!!

Place the cookie dough onto the cling film, form into a roll (approx 1 1/2 inch diameter).  Wrap with the cling film and place in the fridge, it will keep fresh for up to one week.  Or you can place in the freezer for up to one month.

Defrost the dough overnight in the fridge.  To bake, preheat the oven and remove the dough log 20 minutes before slicing – this allows the dough to warm slightly and will help stop the cookies cracking when being cut.

Slice 1/4 inch (1cm) discs from the dough log, place on baking sheets as before and bake for 18-25 minutes.  The time will vary depending on the diameter and thickness of your cookies.

Again they are cooked when lightly golden.  Leave to cool on the baking sheet.

These cookies make lovely gifts.  Pack a few up in a cellophane bag, tied with a pretty ribbon, reuse a Christmas chocolate tin and fill with Cookies, or pop some into a Kilner jar!

A super present, people can see what they're being treated to!!!!
A super present, people can see what they’re being treated to!!!!

Not only are these so easy to make, you can keep the dough stored in the fridge to whip out when unexpected guests arrive and have freshly baked cookies, ready to share with a smile and a cuppa!

Food really does taste better when it’s shared!!

 

 

 

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A Brand New Year

Hi there, thank you so much for stopping by at the start of this Brand New Year and taking time out of your day to read my blog.  It really is appreciated and I hope it makes you think, smile and laugh!

Tulips in spring.
Tulips in spring.

New Year’s resolution : to make none at all!!!!  I know that the start of the year is a time for us to reflect on our lives : all good so far, and look to the future (still good!).  But New Year Resolutions leave me cold! I’m liking using exclamation marks!!!!

Honestly though, I do believe we are almost ‘doomed to fail’ when we set ourselves tasks, things to be changed, stopped, started on January 1st.  We are creatures of habit and it takes an enormous amount of will power to achieve these goals on our own.  Thus, for the most part we ‘fail’.  Then fall into the trap of guilt, immediately feeling bad about ourselves and from what I can see, spend the rest of the year focusing on what we haven’t achieved.  Depressing isn’t it??

So, I don’t set myself New Year Resolutions, as I don’t want to deliberately set out to fail.  Is it wrong to have short, medium and long term goals in our lives?  No!!  So am I contradicting myself?  I don’t think so, but you can be the judge of that!

I need to improve in many areas of my life.  Some I have control over,  others I do not.  Experience has taught me that trying to change aspects of me in my own strength, invariably leaves me flat on my face.  Do I lack willpower?  Yes sometimes, but I used to enjoy long distance running (the mind is still keen, the body has other ideas!) which requires both willpower and stamina.  The very tools needed for change!

Jake our cat and Bud our dog, getting close to enjoy the sun. I love snuggling them.
Jake our cat and Bud our dog, getting close to enjoy the sun. I love snuggling them.

So I should be equipped to make changes on my own and sometimes I can, but mostly not and especially if I set out to change something about myself on January 1st.  Baffling, I know!!!

Since becoming a Christian I have learned, through experience, that it’s actually really hard to try and change things about me in my own strength.  God is a God of love and He is also my Heavenly Father, whose desire is that I be the very best person I can be.  Not for me, but for Him.

At Christmastime, when we remember the birth of Jesus, God in the flesh, being both fully God and fully Man, born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit, we see a true act of sacrifice and love on Jesus’ part.

He came that we might know Him and through Him know God our Heavenly Father. Jesus lived on this earth, just like any other ordinary person.  He received no special treatment, even though He is the King of Kings.  In fact, He was despised by many and eventually crucified.  In His death He showed the ultimate sacrifice. He took the weight of sin (wrong doing) for all the people of the world, both past, present and future and was punished, for us.

3 days later, He arose from death, once and for all, not only having paid the price for sin (which is death), but breaking it’s hold over us, with Life.

So how does this relate to New Year Resolutions?  Well, our God is a mighty God of Strength, Power and Love.  Jesus said “I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father, except through Me.”

Firstly God wants us to know Him through His Son JESUS.  Jesus came that we may know God’s love. That we may know the Way to God and God’s Will for us and that we might live, knowing the full Truth.  That God is Real.  He loves us more than we could ever, ever imagine and He wants to be part of our daily lives.

Not to boss us around and give us a list of rules and regulations that we must live by.  But that we would know Him and His love and forgiveness and live in the light of that knowledge.

So when I try to do things in my own strength, I do not have a very high success rate – hence not making New Year Resolutions!  Instead I have learned to lean on God.  To ask Him to help me in areas that I need to improve (way, way too many to mention here – patience, humility, patience – to start off) and you know, when I ask Him to help, He does!

A beautiful butterfly - taking a rest.
A beautiful butterfly – taking a rest.

I no longer carry the burden of trying to change or improve myself, instead my load is lightened.  Gradually, day by day, He helps me become a better version of myself.  I still have a long, long way to go.  But that’s ok!  I’m loved, forgiven and accepted, just as I am.

If you are finding it hard to stick to a New Years Resolution, there is an easier way.  Firstly God loves and accepts you, just as you are, right now, at this very moment.  He wants you to know Him, through His Son Jesus.

If you ask Jesus to show you the way He will.  No matter what you have done in your life, you are loved. If you accept JESUS as your Lord and Saviour ( He paid the price, on the cross, for everything you’ve done wrong and saved you from the penalty of that wrong doing, which is death and eternal separation from God) ask for His forgiveness, then you will truely be free.

Free to live the life God has planned for you. Knowing, beyond all shadow of doubt that you are loved, accepted, forgiven by His endless Mercy, Grace and Love.  Wow! What a gift and it’s free!

The Cross - Jesus paid the price to set us free.
The Cross – Jesus paid the price to set us free.

So, I urge you, not to resolve to change yourself on your own, but to reach out to JESUS.  He loves you soo much and once you know Him your life will take on a whole new perspective.

Thankyou for reading, if you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will get back to you ASAP.

Love Sammie xxxx

 

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