Extreme Chocolate Cookies

Hi, have I got a treat for you today – Extreme Chocolate Cookies. Ooh if you love cookies and need a chocolate fix then these babies are definitely for you!

These Extreme Chocolate Cookies - perfect with a cup of tea!
These Extreme Chocolate Cookies – perfect with a cup of tea!

 

I’ve been unwell lately, including a 2 week stay in hospital (I’ll save that for another post). Having been home for 2-3 weeks now, today was the first day I really had the energy to bake. So, unashamedly I decided to make these Extreme Chocolate Cookies for our gorgeous children and my wonderful hubby, who has taken THE BEST care of me. I really do love that man.

Rows of Extreme Chocolate Cookies. Is there a better sight??
Rows of Extreme Chocolate Cookies. Is there a better sight??

 

I know that I’ve said it before, but baking or cooking for others, especially my family, is one of the ways I like to show my love for them. Chocolate is not my go-to favourite Cookie, I favour nutty, fruity, oat cookies, BUT, I obviously had to try one of these and they are my favourite chocolate cookies to date!

Extreme Chocolate Cookies - my favourite chocolate cookie ever!!
Extreme Chocolate Cookies – my favourite chocolate cookie ever!!

 

Recipe : Makes 18 Extreme Chocolate Cookies

225g/8oz Unsalted Butter softened

150g/5oz Dark Soft Brown Sugar

1 Large Egg at room temp.

1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/8 tsp Sal

225g/8oz Plain White Flour

50g/2oz Cocoa Powder

1/4 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

100g/4oz White Chocolate Chunks

150g/5oz Milk Chocolate Chunks

Method : Preheat oven to 170C/155C fan

In a large bowl add the butter, sugar and salt. Whisk until well combined and fluffy.

Add in the egg and vanilla extract to the whisked butter/sugar.
Add in the egg and vanilla extract to the whisked butter/sugar.

 

Whisk in the whole egg and vanilla extract.

Now chop up the white and milk chocolate into chunks.

These chocolate chunks are what make the cookies EXTREME!!!
These chocolate chunks are what make the cookies EXTREME!!!

 

Add the flour, cocoa, bicarb and chocolate chunks to the bowl.

Once combined these ingredients make Extreme Chocolate Cookies!
Once combined these ingredients make Extreme Chocolate Cookies!

 

Mix all of the ingredients together until just combined. Take about a tablespoon of mixture, roll into a ball shape and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the mixture is used.

These cookie dough balls are about to be squished!!!
These cookie dough balls are about to be squished!!!

 

Wash your hands, they WILL look like you’ve been making mud pies!!!! Now using your fingers squish the cookie balls, they will still spread a bit whilst cooking.

The finger marks leave a pretty pattern even once baked!
The finger marks leave a pretty pattern even once baked!

 

Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 15-20 mins. I rotated my baking sheets halfway through the cooking process so that the cookies baked evenly. This is fine with cookies NOT cupcakes!!!

Once baked remove from the oven and allow the Extreme Chocolate Cookies to cool on the trays for 5 mins, then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.

Inhale deeply. The smell of baked Extreme Chocolate Cookies is gorgeous!
Inhale deeply. The smell of baked Extreme Chocolate Cookies is gorgeous!

 

Whilst cooling I sent the children a text (at school – rebel mummy!!!) and put the kettle on for a lovely cuppa!!

I can’t tell you how good it feels knowing I’m getting back to being me. Sooo good.

Am I alone? Why do you bake? I’d love to hear what motivates you?

Until next time have fun, feasting, sharing and smiling.

Sammie x

 

 

 

 

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Jerk Pulled Pork Watercress Sandwich

Hi, sorry for not posting recently, had a spell in hospital but home now and couldn’t eat the rest of this Jerk Pulled Pork Watercress Sandwich without sharing it’s deliciousness with you all!!

Oh my, this Herk Pulled Pork Sandwich may be the best sandwich I've ever tasted, in like, ever, in my life, since I was born. Did I mention it's soooooo good???
Oh my, this Jerk Pulled Pork Watercress Sandwich may be the best sandwich I’ve ever tasted, in like, ever, in my life, since I was born. Did I mention it’s soooooo good???

 

I had already eaten half – I’m sorry was very hungry- of this Jerk Pulled Pork Watercress Sandwich, when I had an epiphany!! It was sooooo good, I stopped eating, grabbed phone, attempted to take photos – I was in bed, so apologies for crumbs and general absence of food/photo styling – then quickly polished the last half off!!

Please note the Watercress was ABSOLUTELY not arranged for effect - it had simply fallen out of the other half I'd already eaten!!!
Please note the Watercress was ABSOLUTELY not arranged for effect – it had simply fallen out of the other half I’d already eaten!!!

 

So, we had shoulder of pork, cooked with a couple of bottles of cider, for dinner on Sunday. It was delish with mash and veg! Will post recipe when I cook it again, promise. Anyway, cooked low and slow, pork shoulder makes the best pulled pork. It was quite a large joint and made fab Fajitas for dinner on Tuesday. Rummaging around in the fridge today I realised there was still some meat left and so, not wanting any to go to waste, turned it into a fab lunch.

Ooh check out my funfetti painted nails!!!
Ooh check out my funfetti painted nails!!!

Here’s how I did it:

I used leftover pork (shoulder, roast leg or tenderloin would also work), but you can easily buy packets of pulled pork in the supermarket. Just make sure the pork is already cooked.

It’s hard to give amounts as it depends in how many Jerk Pulled Pork Watercress Sandwiches you are making and how big those sandwiches are going to be. I used sourdough bread, unbuttered and allowed a generous handful of both pork and watercress for each of the two sandwiches made.

I chopped up the pulled pork and heated it up with a good dollop of Levi Root’s Reggae Reggae Jerk Sauce until bubbling and completely reheated. The Jerk Pork was then generously place onto the bread, topped with watercress and another slice of bread.

Hey presto, one of the best hot sandwiches I’ve ever eaten was created. The best way to use up roast pork leftovers. Delish!!

Now I’ve shared the 4 ingredient recipe, feel free to add, embellish (I’m thinking panini/melted cheese/jalapeño’s) the possibilities are endless. If you make this Jerk Pulled Pork Watercress Sandwich please share your detectable, taste bud tingling results with me?

Hot, moist, peppery, meaty - Jerk Pulled Pork Sandwich - a must try for leftover pork!
Hot, moist, peppery, meaty – Jerk Pulled Pork Watercress Sandwich – a must try for leftover pork!

 

Note: I came up with the idea, my gorgeous hubby takes all the credit for ‘pulling’ it all together.

Happy Feasting and I’m hoping to get back to baking ASAP.

Sammie xx

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns

Hi there, have I got a FEAST for you, Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns. Delicious, easy to make and very more-ish!

The best Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns.
The best Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns.

Ooh are these yummy! Made with all butter puff pastry these Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns could not be easier to make and disappear fast as soon as they’re out of the oven.

The perfect portion of deliciousness! Gooey chocolate inner, crispy, crunchy, nutty topped buns.
The perfect portion of deliciousness! Gooey chocolate inner, crispy, crunchy, nutty topped buns.

It may be worth making a double batch of these, as they make the perfect portable gift, just make sure you have enough to go around as well!!!

Yum, yum and yum!!
Yum, yum and yum!!

Recipe : Makes 12 Buns

For the topping :

100g/4oz Brazil Nuts

100g/4oz Unsalted Butter – melted

75g/3oz Dark Brown Sugar

For the Buns :

1 Packet 450g/1lb All Butter Puff Pastry – thawed if frozen.

1tbsp Melted Butter

1/2 tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg

100g/4oz Dark Brown Sugar

225g/8oz Milk Chocolate Chips

100g/4oz Brazil Nuts

Method :

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

You will need a deep muffin/cupcake tin to bake these buns in. No pre-greasing of the tin is required.

The topping of these Chocolate Chunk Brazil Nut Buns is actually placed in the bottom of the muffin tin. When the buns are turned out, the bottom becomes the top!!!

For the topping mix the melted butter and sugar together. Add in the roughly chopped Brazil nuts.

The roughly chopped Brazil nuts, on the left are for the topping. The finer chopped nuts, on the right, are for inside the buns.
The roughly chopped Brazil nuts, on the left are for the topping. The finer chopped nuts, on the right, are for inside the buns.

Place about a teaspoon of the butter/sugar/nut mixture into each muffin holder in the tin.

This sweet, nutty mixture will become the topping for the Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns!
This sweet, nutty mixture will become the topping for the Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns!

Now for the buns :

My package of puff pastry came in 2 blocks. If you have 1 block, roll out the pastry to twice the width.

One half of the pastry block. Placed on a floured surface.
One half of the pastry block. Placed on a floured surface.

Roll out the pastry to 26cm/10″ wide by 29cm/11″ long.

Brush the rolled out pastry with melted butter.
Brush the rolled out pastry with melted butter.

Grate the nutmeg directly over the buttered pastry. If using ground nutmeg, sprinkle evenly over the pastry.

Freshly grated nutmeg is sooo much better if you have it.
Freshly grated nutmeg is sooo much better if you have it.

Sprinkle first the sugar, then the chocolate chips and chopped Brazil nuts evenly over the pastry (only use half of the amounts if rolling out half of the pastry, as I have).

An even layer of sugar, chocolate and nuts spread over the rolled pastry.
An even layer of sugar, chocolate and nuts spread over the rolled pastry.
Roll the pastry tightly and evenly.
Roll the pastry tightly and evenly.
Use both hands to ensure the pastry is evenly rolled.
Use both hands to ensure the pastry is evenly rolled.
Finishing with the pastry seam underneath.
Finishing with the pastry seam underneath.

Trim either end and then cut the pastry log in half.

Divide each half into 3 (for half a pastry block), or 6 if you've rolled out the entire 450g pastry block.
Divide each half into 3 (for half a pastry block), or 6 if you’ve rolled out the entire 450g pastry block.

Place each nutty, chocolate portion on top of the butter/sugar/chopped nuts in the muffin tin.

Ooh only 30 minutes away from baking deliciousness!!
Ooh only 30 minutes away from baking deliciousness!!

Place the muffin tin into the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Remove from the oven, look at how scrummy these Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns.
Remove from the oven, look at how scrummy these Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then place a baking tray over the buns. Flip the muffin tin over and prepare to be amazed!

It works every time! Perfect Brazil Nut topped buns.
It works every time! Perfect Brazil Nut topped buns.

Allow to cool as the chocolate and sugar in the centre are very hot. The perfect time to put the kettle on, invite round family, friends and neighbours and prepare to FEAST on these amazingly yummy Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns!

The best Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns.
The best Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns.

If you try this recipe I’d love to here how you get on and your thoughts?

Sammie x

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Best Beef Casserole

Hi there, thank you for stopping by ; this really is the easiest Best Beef Casserole. Perfect for colder spring evenings, warming you through with minimum effort!

Delicious dinner! Best Beef Casserole, served with Creamy Mash and Broccoli.
Delicious dinner! Best Beef Casserole, served with Creamy Mash and Broccoli.

Even though it’s officially Spring, here in the UK, some evenings can still be pretty chilly and this Best Beef Casserole is the perfect antidote. Also I think I’m going down with a cold, so I wanted any easy meal (I’ve zero energy) that wasn’t too rich.

Gorgeous, melt in the mouth beef.
Gorgeous, melt in the mouth beef.

Recipe: Serves 4 Adults

1 Large Onion – finely diced

2tbsp Olive Oil

450g/1lb Beef Steak (braising/chuck)

3tbsp Plain Flour

3 Large Carrots – peeled and diced

2 Bay leaves

1 Beef Stock Cube

2tbsp Tomato Puree

Salt and Pepper to season

Method :

In a wide pan add the olive oil and warm over a medium heat. Add the diced onions and sauté until translucent.

Sauté the onions until......
Sauté the onions until……

 

This!! Translucent onions - it takes approx 5 mins over a medium heat
It looks like this!! Translucent onions – it takes approx 5 mins over a medium heat.

Whilst the onions are sautéing  chop the beef into bite sized chunks.

Nice bite sized chunks of beef.
Nice bite sized chunks of beef.

Now add the 3 tablespoons of flour and season with salt and pepper.

Toss the beef chunks in the seasoned flour.
Toss the beef chunks in the seasoned flour.

Toss the flour coated beef chunks into the pan. Shake the pan so the beef is in one layer. When browned turn the chunks over, repeat until the beef chunks are browned on all sides.

Don't worry if you get sticky bits on the bottom of the pan. This means flavour!
Don’t worry if you get sticky bits on the bottom of the pan. This means flavour!

When the beef is browned all over add the diced carrots a 2 bay leaves.

Bay leaves and Beef are made for each other!
Bay leaves and Beef are made for each other!

Pour water over the pan contents, until just covered. As this heats up, the flour will thicken the casserole.

Crumble in a beef stock cube.

I used a Knorr beef stock cube.
I used a Knorr beef stock cube.

Next add the tomato purée.

The tomato purée adds flavour, colour and will also help thicken the sauce.
The tomato purée adds flavour, colour and will also help thicken the sauce.

Stir, scraping all the delicious dark, beefy residue from the bottom of the pan, so that it mixed into the sauce.

Mmmm. Simmer on a low heat, or place in a 140C oven for approx 2 - 3 hours, until the sauce is reduced and the beef is soft and tender.
Mmmm. Simmer on a low heat, or place in a 140C oven for approx 2 – 3 hours, until the sauce is reduced and the beef is soft and tender.

The beef should be tender enough, once cooked, so you can cut through it with a spoon! Delicious the Best Beef Casserole.

I served this casserole with mashed potato and broccoli.

A delicious, warming, homemade beef casserole. Just what I needed.
A delicious, warming, homemade beef casserole. Just what I needed.

This meal was absolutely scrumptious. Perfect for a weekday meal. A feast in a bowl!

Sammie x

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Crusty White Bread

Hi, how are you liking my new site layout? This is my first recipe post : Crusty White Bread. Delicious and Homemade, since recovering my site from WordPress Help The WhiteScreen Of Death. It’s not completely ‘fixed’ yet – so I’m going through, remaking some of my earlier recipes and posting them, starting with Crusty White Bread.

Ooh yummy. Perfect, Crusty, White Bread
Ooh yummy. Perfect, Crusty, White Bread

This loaf of Crusty White Bread is for a small loaf (450g/1lb flour) baked in a 2lb loaf tin.

I just want to take a moment to talk about ingredients; as there are only 5 ingredients in this Crusty White Bread it really pays to use good quality flour. Shop brand, cheap bread flour WILL make a perfectly good loaf, however, if you want the BEST tasting loaf; organic, unbleached, strong bread flour will REALLY make a difference!

Yes this flour is more expensive (I buy in bulk online – it really helps bring down the cost), but when comparing the price of a homemade, organic, loaf of Crusty White Bread to a shop bought, plastic wrapped loaf, not only is the difference astoundingly smaller, but the quality of the homemade loaf is way, way better!!

The perfect slice. Lovely soft crumb inside with a nice crunchy crust.
The perfect slice. Lovely soft crumb inside with a nice crunchy crust.

Convinced yet?? Make one loaf of Crusty White Bread and try for yourself!

Buttered and slathered in strawberry jam. The best Crusty White Bread ever!!
Buttered and slathered in strawberry jam. The best Crusty White Bread ever!!

Recipe :

300ml  Tepid Tap Water

1 Sachet/7g  Active Dried Yeast

450g/1lb  Strong White Bread Flour – I use Organic, unbleached.

3/4tsp  Sea salt (1/2tsp free flowing)

25g/1oz  Unsalted Butter – cubed

Method:

For ease I use a bread maker to mix, prove and knock back the dough.

You can also make the Crusty White Bread by hand,  or use a stand mixer with a dough hook attached.

For the purpose of this and every other Bread recipe, the bowl is a large bowl/the bowl of the stand mixer/the removable container from a bread maker.

Pour 300ml of warm water into the bowl. Sprinkle over the yeast. Add the flour to the bowl. Next add the salt and butter.

Set your bread maker to mix and prove, press start, make a cup of tea!!

Set your stand mixer to slow mix, allow the dough hook to mix and knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film, place in a warm, draught free spot until doubled in size 1-2 hours.

*If making the bread by hand, rub the butter into the flour, sprinkle over the yeast/salt  and mix through the flour using your hand, make a well in the middle of the flour and add most of the water (280ml). Bring all the ingredients together using your hand (in a claw like position). Mix thoroughly adding the rest of the water if the dough seems dry. Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, using the heel of your hand push out the dough from the centre. Fold the dough back into the centre, rotate a quarter turn and repeat for 10-15 minutes until the dough feels, smooth, springy and elastic in your hands. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm draught free spot until doubled in size 1-2 hours.

Once doubled in size gently punch the dough in the oiled bowl (if using a bread maker, set to mix for 20 seconds – this will ‘knock back the dough and is the main method I use).

Turn the knocked back dough onto a lightly floured surface. Stretch the dough lengthways, then fold the ends into the middle. Rotate the dough a quarter turn and repeat the stretching/folding/rotating 3 more times – this technique builds structure into the loaf and my bread baking really improved once I’d adopted this small extra technique.

Place the dough into a buttered 2lb loaf tin. Cover with a clean tea towel, leave again to double in size, as before.

Preheat the oven to it’s hottest setting (250C in my oven). Place a deep tray, half filled with hot tap watering the bottom of the oven – this will create steam, helping build a crunchy crust.

Once the dough has doubled in size remove the towel and place the tin in the oven. Immediately turn the oven down to 225C (or down 1 gas mark).

Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown (30 minutes for a thick crust). I then turn my loaf out directly onto the oven rack and continue to bake for a further 10 minutes, this allows the base and sides to get really crusty.

When baked remove from the oven and turn out of the tin immediately (if not already done). The base of the loaf should sound hollow when tapped with your knuckle. Leave to fully cool on a rack.

Nothing beats the smell of homemade bread! Mmmmm
Nothing beats the smell of homemade bread! Mmmmm

Inhale deeply, enjoy the smell of freshly homemade bread! No matter how many times I bake bread, the smell still warms my heart every time.

Ideally you should leave the loaf to cool completely, it will cut much better when cold. Who am I though to deny you warm bread, smothered in butter???

If you try to cut through the loaf, hot, straight from the oven, the inside will squish together and it will be almost impossible to spread butter on! Give the loaf at least 30 minutes to cool a bit before you start slicing.

The perfect slice. Lovely soft crumb inside with a nice crunchy crust.
The perfect slice. Lovely soft crumb inside with a nice crunchy crust.

Yummy Crusty White Bread!

The same loaf baked the following day for 20 minutes in its tin - I forgot to turn the oven temp down!!!!!
The same loaf baked the following day for 20 minutes in its tin – I forgot to turn the oven temp down!!!!!

Bread is the ultimate sharing food. Everyone sitting round the table having toast for breakfast, or dunking thick slices into warming soup. Even Jesus took bread and shared it with His disciples and when feeding the 5000. Wow what a feast that must have been?

Bake a loaf for someone – it will make them smile and feel loved?

Until next time remember Food Tastes Better When It’s Shared!

Sammie x

 

 

 

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Am I Being Silly About Silicone?

Hello there, thank you for stopping by. Do you mind me asking you a question? Am I being Silly about using Silicone???

Cute little chocolate spoons made in a Silicone mould.
Cute little chocolate spoons made in a Silicone mould.

The photo above shows gorgeous little chocolate spoons, made in a Silicone mould.

 

Silicone chocolate spoon mould, available from Lakeland.
Silicone chocolate spoon mould, available from Lakeland.

 

The little choccie spoons are made in this lovely, flexible, Silicone mould.  I’m pretty ok with that.  It’s a mould!  It doesn’t go in the oven, so I have faith that it’s ok to do the job of setting chocolate that’s poured into the little spoon shapes.

So all good so far.  Now here comes the bit I struggle with.  Baking, in the oven, using Silicone as cupcake cases, cake tins (Silicones???) and finally, as well as all the other shapes and sizes that Silicone bakeware comes in, this……..

A Silicone macaroon mould/template.
A Silicone macaroon mould/template.

 

I just can’t get my head around using something ‘plastic’ in the oven, in heat, where it’s hot, to cook something in.

I know it must be fine for use as baking equipment.  I’ve seen chefs and cooks (including Nigella – she wouldn’t steer me wrong – would she???!) use Silicone for baking on the TV and they seem fine.  It’s just, well, it’s not metal.  Cake tins are metal (the clue is in the name!!)!  They are sturdy and strong and don’t, for one moment look like they are going to MELT in the oven (don’t even get me started on whether they are safe, or if they are going to leach poisonous, plastic, chemicals into my food????).

Am I alone??? Are they really safe??  Is Silicone better than metal???  You see I’m just not convinced.  I’ve been wanting to make Macaroons for ages.  Every time I get a new Lakeland catalogue through the post, the Macaroon mould speaks to me – not literally!!! I want to make these…….

Perfect, precise, pretty Macaroons - cooked on a Silicone sheet - help???!!!
Perfect, precise, pretty Macaroons – cooked on a Silicone sheet – help???!!!

 

Please help me?  Have you cooked/baked with Silicone. Does it work?  Did you get poisoned – I’m serious here people.  Is it fiddly to work with – the Macaroon mat looks very floppy and not sturdy, if I have to put it on a baking sheet doesn’t that defeat the object of using Silicone in the first place?  Does it make food taste odd??

I really need your help to decide if I should invest in Silicone bakeware or stick with my solid metal (very reassuring that solid and metal bit!) bakeware???

Please share your thoughts and experiences with me? I really would appreciate your help with this.

Thank you.  Sammie x

Note : All pictures taken from the current Lakeland catalogue.

 

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Cranberry Oat Cookies

Hi, there. How are you today? I woke up and felt the need to bake – it’s been too long. Then I checked my posts and realise it’s been ages, I mean like a gazillion seconds, since I’ve posted a Cookie recipe!! So, today I bring you my Cranberry Oat Cookies.

Cookies - I need Cookies!!!!
Cookies – I need Cookies!!!!

 

Now that doesn’t mean I haven’t baked Cookies since the last Cookie post, just that I’ve baked Cookies I’ve already posted. Confused yet??? Any how I baked a a batch of Cranberry Oat Cookies. Oh my!! I think these may be my favourite Cookies today!!!

 

These Cookies are a mash-up of two previous recipes I’ve posted – Cranberry and Almond Cookies and Apricot and Oat Cookies!

So these delish Cranberry and Oat Cookies also have Almonds added!
So these delish Cranberry Oat Cookies also have Almonds added!

 

I really fancied Cranberries, Oats and Almonds. So I made these Cookies throwing in all the ingredients hoping they would turn out ok. Oooh they are so much more than ok they are scrumptious.

 

Scrumptious Cranberry and Oat Cookies - yum x
Scrumptious Cranberry Oat Cookies – yum x

 

Recipe :  Makes 18-20 Cranberry Oat Cookies

150g/5oz  Caster Sugar

225g/8oz  Unsalted Butter – room temp

1  Large Egg Yolk

1tsp  Vanilla Extract

1/2tsp  Almond Extract

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

175g/6oz  Plain White Flour

175g/6oz  Oats – not quick cook

50g/2oz  Flaked Almonds

Method :

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

Into a large bowl add the butter, sugar and salt.  Beat together until pale and fluffy – I used an electric whisk, a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fixed is fine.

Add the egg yolk and vanilla/almond extracts and thoroughly mix in. Next add the flour, oats, cranberries and flaked almonds.  Mix until just combined.

Take about a heaped tablespoon of the Cookie dough and roll into a ball using your hands.  Place the Cranberry Oat Cookie dough balls onto baking sheets (line with parchment paper if not non stick).

Cookie Dough Balls
Cranberry Oat Cookie Dough Balls

 

Gently press down on the cookie dough balls so they just become flattened.
Gently press down on the cookie dough balls so they just become flattened.

 

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Then remove from the oven.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Then remove the Cranberry Oat Cookies from the oven.

 

Once golden, remove from oven and allow to fully cool on the baking sheets.  This allows the Cranberry Oat Cookies to firm up.  These Cookies are particularly scrumptious with a nice, cold glass of milk.

Cookies and milk - the perfect combination.
Cookies and milk – the perfect combination.

 

One of my best friends has been unwell recently, a fresh delivery of Cookies will be just the boost she needs.

Who will you share your Cookies with?

Remember, food always tastes better when it’s shared.

Sammie x

 

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Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne

Hello, I really hope you enjoy this post – Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne.  It’s extremely easy to make, there’s no need to precook the lasagne sheets.  This lasagne is also a lighter version than the traditional beef lasagne.  If you wanted to really cheat you could buy good cheese sauce, but it’s not a complicated process to whip up your own!

Delicious, cheese sauce topped, chicken lasagne - delish!
Delicious, cheese sauce topped, chicken lasagne – delish!

This is a perfect make ahead meal as it only gets better the longer the lasagne sits. It will keep, unbaked, in the fridge for 4 days and double wrapped in cling film, again unbaked, it can be frozen for up to 3 months.  It is also the perfect, portable meal.  Ideal for delivery to a new mum, a family going through tough times or a bring and share meal with friends.  Truly an all-in-one feasting dish!!!

A perfect, portable meal for sharing with others.
A perfect, portable meal for sharing with others.

By substituting the beef, usually used in Lasagne, with minced Chicken, the resulting baked Lasagne becomes a lighter dish. Not lighter in calories, with the delicious four cheese sauce – but not as heavy on the stomach and a delicious change from the norm!  The four cheese sauce was simply me raiding the fridge for leftover Christmas cheese!!!

The Four Cheese Sauce tops of this lasagne perfectly!!
The Four Cheese Sauce tops of this lasagne perfectly!!

I realise that minced Chicken is not  available everywhere, minced Turkey is a great substitute.  Otherwise processing skinless chicken breasts, thighs or a combination in a food processor would be another way to make your own chicken mince.  Alternatively, chopping up chicken with a sharp knife would work and give the lasagne added texture.

Recipe : Serves 6-8 portions.

Chicken Lasagne Sauce

450g/1lb  Chicken Mince

1  Large White Onion

2tbsp  Olive Oil

2  Celery Stalks (the larger outside stalks)

1  Green Pepper (washed, deseeded and finely diced)

2-3  Carrots (peeled and finely diced)

3  Garlic Cloves – minced

3 x 400g  Chopped Tinned Tomatoes

2tbsp  Tomato Puree

1tsp  Dried Mixed Herbs (or fresh basil/oregano/parsley/thyme – to taste)

1tsp  Sugar

Salt and Ground Black Pepper – to taste

Cheese Sauce :

3tbsp  Butter

3tbsp  Plain White Flour

750-800ml. Whole Milk

6oz  Hard Cheese (I used a 50/50 mixture of Mature Cheddar and Swiss Cheese)

125g  Riccota

250g. Mozzarella (drained)

1 tsp  Nutmeg – freshly grated if poss

Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste.

Butter – For Greasing the Lasagne Dish

1 packet Dried Egg Lasagne Sheets 375g – NO NEED TO PRECOOK!!!

Method: Chicken Lasagne Sauce

Finely chop/dice the onion/celery/green pepper and carrots.  Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan.  Add the diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes over a medium heat until the onions just start to turn translucent.  Add the diced celery to the pan and continue to sauté for a couple more minutes, just until the celery starts to soften.  Push the onions and celery to one side of the pan and add the Chicken mince to the other side (if you don’t have a large sauté pan, remove the onions and celery, into a separate dish and then add the Chicken to the pan).  Cook the chicken, using a wooden spatula to break up the mince so big clumps of meat don’t form.

Having a large sauté pan means you can cook all the ingredients in one go!!!
Having a large sauté pan means you can cook all the ingredients in one go!!!

Unlike beef mince, the Chicken mince will get lighter as it cooks. I don’t cook the Chicken until it is browned, just until it is cooked through (lighter colour).  Now add the carrots/green pepper and also the minced garlic (I use a garlic press!!).

Mix all the veggies and garlic with the Chicken mince. Inhale the gorgeous aroma!
Mix all the veggies and garlic with the Chicken mince. Inhale the gorgeous aroma!

When all the veggies and garlic are well mixed add the tomatoes (rinse each can out with water, fill the can almost to the top and add that to the pan as well), tomato purée, dried or fresh chopped herbs. Give everything a good stir add the sugar and add salt 1/2tsp and a good grinding of black pepper.  Turn the heat to medium/low and leave to gently bubble away on the stove for an hour, stirring occasionally.

This gorgeous Chicken, vegetable and tomato sauce just bubbles away happily on the stove! Pop the kettle on for a cuppa!!!!
This gorgeous Chicken, vegetable and tomato sauce just bubbles away happily on the stove! Pop the kettle on for a cuppa!!!!

Method: Four Cheese Sauce

Into a medium heavy based pan add the butter. Over a medium heat melt the butter until just sizzling. Add the flour and keep stirring as the two become a paste. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes, this removes any floury taste.

This is what the butter and flour should look like.
This is what the butter and flour should look like.

Now gradually start adding the milk, approx 50mls at first and stir vigorously. The milk will become incorporated into the flour/butter paste making it a thicker past. Keep adding small amounts of milk, stirring continuously.

The sauce will become very thick. DON'T WORRY!!!!
The sauce will become very thick. DON’T WORRY!!!!

Now you can add larger amounts of milk, keep stirring, lumps will form, if you want to you can switch to a whisk at this stage (I do!). Keep stirring and adding the milk until all the milk has been added and you have a beautiful, lump free white sauce. The sauce should be thick enough to cover the back of a spoon.

No lumps here - if you squint!!!!!!
No lumps here – if you squint!!!!!!

Remove the pan from the heat and add the Ricotta and all the other cheese (except the mozzarella), which if you are a patient person you certainly may grate. I almost never bother to grate, I just chop the cheese into smallish (1/2″) cubes and the sauce turns out fine.

The Ricotta gets dumped in and then add the hard cheeses.
The Ricotta gets dumped in and then add the hard cheeses.

Stir vigorously. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper to taste. The Ricotta cheese will give the Four Cheese Sauce a slightly grainy texture – DON’T WORRY – that’s normal! If you’ve grated the cheeses they will melt into the sauce easily. With the cubed cheese the sauce will almost never become completely smooth – but that’s ok as it will when it’s baked in the oven later! Also the addition of freshly ground nutmeg not only elevates the flavour above and beyond, but please, if you can, grate your own nutmeg. I know I was lazy with the cheese but, freshly grated nutmeg is a million times better than pre-ground nutmeg, trust me.

Assembly :

You will need an oven proof rectangular dish.  Mine is  12″ x 8″ x 3.5″(deep) – measurements were taken from the top.  But you can always use an oval dish and break the lasagne sheets to fit the curves – I have made many lasagne dishes this way, or alternatively split between 2 small dishes. As long as the dish is ovenproof, this really is an adaptable recipe!!!

I always butter my lasagne dish, it makes the cooked lasagne much easier to dish up!
I always butter my lasagne dish, it makes the cooked lasagne much easier to dish up!

I’ve found, after making more than a gazillion – slight over exaggeration – lasagnes, that buttering the dish before hand not only helps when serving the cooked lasagne, but also, it doesn’t require 3 days soaking to get the stuck bits off of the dish!! It’s the little things you know???

These are dried lasagne sheets. Any brand will do!
These are dried lasagne sheets. Any brand will do!

I REALLY WASN’T JOKING, when I said that you don’t have to precook the lasagne sheets. I’ve used lots of different makes, some with ruffled edges, green spinach lasagne sheets, egg vs plain AND this works with ALL TYPES – I guess you could even use fresh lasagne sheets, you would need to cook the Chicken lasagne sauce for longer so that it was thicker – otherwise I can’t see it being an issue. If you try it please let me know how you get on?

Once you have buttered/oiled your dish place a layer of HOT Chicken lasagne sauce (check the seasoning and adjust if necessary) into the bottom of the dish, so that it is completely covered.

The first layer is down, time to start building!!!
The first layer is down, time to start building!!!

Next place enough lasagne sheets to cover the bottom layer – I got luck and this dish takes 4 exactly. I like the layers to meet or very slightly overlap.

If your lasagne sheets don't fit exactly, just snap bits off to adjust them.
If your lasagne sheets don’t fit exactly, just snap bits off to adjust them.

Repeat the sauce/lasagne sheet layering twice more finishing with a sheet layer.

All the bits and pieces of the lasagne sheets will be covered by the Four Cheese Sauce.
All the bits and pieces of the lasagne sheets will be covered by the Four Cheese Sauce.

Now pour the cooled cheese sauce all over the top of the lasagne sheets. I gently tap the dish to ensure any trapped air bubble rise to the surface.

Ooh this is going to be sooooo good - look at that yummy cheese sauce layer!
Ooh this is going to be sooooo good – look at that yummy cheese sauce layer!

This baby is still not finished!  Drain and slice the mozzarella.

The final gooey, stringy, adornment for this fab lasagne dish!
The final gooey, stringy, adornment for this fab lasagne dish!

And now arrange the mozzarella slice on top of the cheese sauce.

The Four Cheese Sauce tops off this lasagne perfectly!!
The Four Cheese Sauce tops off this lasagne perfectly!!

The Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne should be left, ideally for 4 hours, to allow the dried lasagne slices time to absorb moisture from both sauces. This dish can also be made 1-2 days in advance, wrapped in cling film and left in the fridge.

When ready to bake preheat the oven to 180C (165C fan oven). Place the lasagne dish onto a slightly larger baking tray; this dish can bubble up and over – it’s much easier to clean a baking sheet rather than scrub out the bottom of your oven!!!!!

Cook the lasagne for 1 1/2 hours until piping hot all the way through and gorgeously, golden brown.

Delicious, cheese sauce topped, chicken lasagne - delish!
Delicious, cheese sauce topped, chicken lasagne – delish!

Remove from the oven 10-15 minutes before serving. This allows the lasagne to cool slightly and hold it’s shape when being served.

This Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne is delicious on it’s own, served with a salad or garlic bread. It can be frozen at the pre-bake stage or in individual portions, wrapped tightly in foil and popped into the freezer. Or why not double the quantities and make an extra meal for the freezer?

If you try this recipe please let me know how you get on. Do you have alternative lasagne combinations that are scrumptious? If you do please share them.

But most of all if you know a new mum, or someone who has been ill for a while, or just a very busy family that you would like to bless, then this is THE perfect, portable, all in one meal for sharing!

As ever, remember food always tastes better when it’s shared. Happy Feasting.

Sammie x

 

 

 

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Crunchy Homemade Coleslaw

Hello everyone.  A big shout out to all the Mums and Dads on half-term duty.  I’ve created a deliciously Crunchy Homemade Coleslaw, that all my children love. It’s a really good way of getting fresh veg onto the dinner plate and goodness into us all.  Not only that but this Crunchy Homemade Coleslaw tastes seriously good!

Homemade Crunchy Coleslaw - easy on the eye, tasty on the tongue!
Crunchy Homemade Coleslaw – easy on the eye, tasty on the tongue!

Some may argue – ‘Why should I make my own Coleslaw, when it’s easily available and isn’t expensive?’  Which, if you think about it, it a fair point.  I do, on occasion, buy Coleslaw from the shops aaaand each time I do I regret it!  The Coleslaw is either really gloopy and absolutely smothered in a creamy sauce, or else it seems to contain only cabbage and onion, the latter having a strongly, oniony, overbearing taste.  I don’t like shop bought Coleslaw!  There I’ve said it!!!

Homemade Coleslaw really is better than anything you can buy.
Crunchy Homemade Coleslaw really is better than anything you can buy.

Now I like onion in my Coleslaw, but I don’t like it to have a nasal clearing, strong, over powering taste.  I’ve sorted this problem.  Firstly I use red onions, which are generally sweeter than white onions, then I slice them thinly and soak them in lemon juice with a sprinkle of salt.  The lemon juice draws out all the acridness from the onions, leaving them sweet and crunchy!

Pretty red onions add a super sweetness to this Coleslaw!
Pretty red onions add a super sweetness to this Coleslaw!

I make a great big bowl of this Coleslaw which we eat alongside fish and potato wedges, fabulous with homemade pizza, great with burgers, or in place of salad with any meal.  Let’s get on with the –

Recipe :  Serves 6 as a main side dish.

1/2  Medium White Cabbage

1  Medium Red Onion

3  Medium Carrots (or 2 large)

1  Lemon

Approx 5 Heaped Tablespoons of Mayonnaise (I use full fat mayo)

Method :

First take the lemon, cut in half a squeeze it into a large bowl – feel free to use your favourite citrus juicer!!!

Watch out for any pips!!!
Watch out for any pips!!!

Now cut the red onion in half and slice as thinly as possible into half moons. Break up the onion and add to the lemon juice in the bowl. Sprinkle over the sea salt and mix the onion half moons, breaking them apart as you go, into the lemon juice.

Set aside for 10 minutes whilst you prep the cabbage.
Set aside for 10 minutes whilst you prep the cabbage.

Take half a medium white cabbage and remove the tough core.  Cut the cabbage into 3 sections and finely shred them with a sharp knife.L

Shredded, Crunchy, White Cabbage.
Shredded, Crunchy, White Cabbage.

In the bowl with the onions and lemon juice add 4-5 heaped tablespoons of your favourite mayonnaise.  Mix thoroughly so that the lemon juice becomes incorporated into the Mayo. Add 1/2tsp of freshly ground black pepper.

The onions should now be in a thickish, lump free sauce.
The onions should now be in a thickish, lump free sauce.

The lemon juice thins out the mayo so the resulting sauce is smooth and creamy, but not gloopy, thick and claggy like mayonnaise only Coleslaw sauces.  Put the shredded cabbage on top of the onions and sauce in the bowl.

All we need now are the carrots!!!!
All we need now are the carrots!!!!

Trim off the tops and bottoms of the carrots, peel and then grate in the coarse side of a box grater.

This is gonna be grate!!!!!!!
This is gonna be grate!!!!!!!

Place the grated carrot in the bowl.

"Hi there - you've been Tango-ed!!!"
“Hi there – you’ve been Tango-ed!!!”

Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly and you have yourself some top notch, Crunchy, Homemade Coleslaw.

I'm not a side dish - I'm the main attraction!!!
I’m not a side dish – I’m the main attraction!!!

If not using straight away, cover in cling film and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.  This coleslaw is at it’s best the day you make it, but will keep for a day in an airtight container.

Put me on a jacket potato and dive in!!!!
Put me on a jacket potato and dive in!!!!

Again this is a fantastically portable dish, that makes it great for feasting with family, friends, work colleagues, in fact ANYONE.  This Coleslaw is ideal for buffets (it’s easy to double/triple/quadruple the quantities. It is so easy, inexpensive, cheaper and way more delicious than the shop bought alternative.  Try this recipe once – feel free to adjust the lemon/mayo ratio – and I bet you’ll think twice before buying shop bought Coleslaw again!

 

Crunchy Homemade Coleslaw - another batch made - we eat this ALL the time!
Crunchy Homemade Coleslaw – another batch made – we eat this ALL the time!
Homemade Crunchy Coleslaw
Homemade Crunchy Coleslaw equally as good made with red cabbage.

Oh and please let me know how you get on, I love to read your comments.

This Homemade Crunchy Coleslaw is the ideal accompaniment to:

Better Than Takeout Pizza

Better Than Takeout Pizza
Better Than Takeout Pizza – crispy edges, chewy dough, gooey melted cheese. Once you’ve made this you’ll never want to order a pizza again! www.feastingisfun.com

Ciabatta Based Pizza

Homemade Ciabatta Base Pizza
Homemade Ciabatta Base Pizza.

Until next time happy feasting, sharing and having fun!

Sammie x

 

 

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Breadsticks Garlic Herb Dipping Oil

Hello there, have I got a new take on Garlic Bread for you today? Oh yes I have. Homemade Breadstick Garlic Herb Dipping Oil – deeeelish!! A fab recipe to make with the kids any day, but especially this week, during half term, here in the UK. Just like at Cafe Rouge except everyone has their own pot of dipping oil!

Crunch Breadsticks with Garlic and Herb Dipping Oil
Crunchy Breadsticks with Garlic and Herb Dipping Oil

We first had a version of these at Cafe Rouge a few years ago and we all thought they were yummy. So my mind started whirring, thinking that these couldn’t be ‘that hard’ to make at home – and guess what, they’re not!! And, dare I say, they taste better!

 

THE perfect sharing food. Perfect with pasta
THE perfect sharing food. Perfect with pasta.

Usually, when I’m feeding a crowd, I double up on the recipe and two people share one plate. But last night, with our Spag Bol we each had our own bowl of Garlic and Herb Dipping Oil and Breadsticks (some of us are getting over colds – so thought individual was best!!).

Crunchy Breadsticks, perfect for dunking in the Garlic and Herb Oil.
Crunchy Breadsticks, perfect for dunking in the Garlic and Herb Oil.

Firstly to make the breadsticks, for me it really is easier to have a bread maker or stand mixer. There is no way I could do all that kneading by myself, but if you’re happy to make the dough by hand, feel free.

 Recipe : Breadsticks Makes 10

1lb/450g  Strong White Bread Flour

2tsp  Dried Fast Acting Yeast

300ml Water – Approx 37C Body Temp

2tbsp Olive Oil

3/4 tsp Sea Salt Flakes – I used Maldon

Method : see below for hand kneading

Place the warm water into the bowl of your bread maker or stand mixer with the dough hook attached.  Add the dried yeast and mix with your fingers.  Place the flour on top of the water/yeast.  Pour the oil on top of the flour and sprinkle over the salt.

* For bread maker set cycle to knead and prove.

* For the stand mixer, mix the ingredients for 10 minutes. When the dough is soft and elastic remove to an oiled bowl, turn once, so the sides and top are slicked in oil, cover with cling film and place in a warm place to double in size (1-2 hours).

* For hand kneading, place all the ingredients into a large bowl, as per the other methods. Bring together with your hand, in the bowl, until a complete lump of dough is formed. Place the dough on a lightly floured worktop and knead by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic – proceed as for stand mixer.

Once the dough has doubled in size knock back – gently punch down into the bowl to knock out the air (in a bread maker set to mix and allow 30 seconds of slow rotating to knock back your dough).

Tip your dough out onto a floured worktop.

Form the dough into a flat, done shape.
Form the dough into a flat, dome shape.
Divide the dough into half - using a dough cutter or knife.
Divide the dough into half – using a dough cutter or knife.
Divide the first half into 5 equal pieces of dough.
Divide the first half into 5 equal pieces of dough.
Pull each piece into a length.
Pull each piece into a length.
Twist each length of dough, pulling as you do so, to make a long twisted, uncooked bread stick and place on an oiled baking sheet.
Twist each length of dough, pulling as you do so, to make a long twisted, uncooked bread stick and place on an oiled baking sheet.

Repeat the same process for the other half of the dough. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm draught free place until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 215C (200C fan).

Place the baking sheets into the hot oven and bake the breadsticks for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven.

Crunchy, golden breadsticks.
Crunchy, golden breadsticks.

 

Place the cooked breadsticks on a cooling rack to cool.

Recipe : Garlic and Herb Dipping Oil

4tbsp  Virgin Olive Oil

4tbsp  Butter

3  Fat Garlic Bulbs

1tbsp  Fresh Finely Chopped Herbs – I used Thyme and Rosemary – or 1tsp Mixed Dried Herbs

1/2 tsp  Flaky Sea Salt

1/2 tsp  Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Method :

Firstly I have to admit I didn’t actually measure the butter or olive oil when I made this!!  But you are aiming for a 50:50 mix of Olive oil and butter!  My laziness is your gain, as you can add more oil/butter if you want to stretch this recipe out for more servings!!!  And I get called Cheeky – can’t think why?????

Anyway back to the dipping oil for the breadsticks!  Put the Olive oil and butter into a small pan. Chop the herbs finely and add to the cold oil/butter.

Finely chopped Thyme (left) and Rosemary (right).
Finely chopped Thyme (left) and Rosemary (right).

Either mince finely, or use a garlic press to chop/squish the garlic bulbs and add to the pan.  Finally add the salt and pepper – you can add less salt if you’ve used salted butter – too little salt however, will result in this dipping oil having a very bland flavour (sorry Cafe Rouge, but it’s the seasoning in your dipping oil that let’s it down!).

Ooh a little heat, a little time and this will become the MOST delish Garlic and Herb Dipping Oil x x x
Ooh a little heat, a little time and this will become the MOST delish Garlic and Herb Dipping Oil x x x

Place the pan over a very low heat.  The idea is to melt the butter, infuse the oil/butter with the garlic and herbs and of course NOT BURN THE GARLIC!!!!

As soon as the butter is melted take the pan off the heat.
As soon as the butter is melted take the pan off the heat.

Leave the pan off the heat to sit and infuse with the Garlic and Herb flavours.  Even a few minutes makes a big difference to the final oil.  I made the oil whilst the Breadsticks were baking.  10 minutes before serving place the pan over a medium heat. As soon as the oil is bubbling and the Garlic is sizzling, remove from the heat and decant into individual serving bowls – I used ramekins.

THE perfect sharing food. Perfect with pasta
THE perfect food for sharing. Perfect with pasta.

Breaking into the crunchy Breadsticks and dipping into the Garlic and Herb Oil is a taste explosion in your mouth!! It’s a fun change from the usual Garlic Bread.  As always these Breadsticks go amazingly well with all pasta dishes.

NOTE: The Garlic and Herb Oil can also be spooned over Ciabatta or Baguette for a more traditional style Garlic Bread.

The Breadsticks can be made smaller (this will stretch out the number of servings), just remember to reduce the baking time – I’d start checking at 15 minutes.

Any leftover breadsticks can be frozen, in a freezer bag, for up to a month.

If you do try this recipe I’d love to hear how you get on?

Have fun making these and most of all sharing them!

Sammie x

 

 

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