Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes

Today is the first day is Spring! The sun shone this morning, birds are chirping in the garden, people are outside mowing their lawns and I was inspired to create a cupcake that celebrates the passing of Winter. So here are my gluten free Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes.

HM Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes
Utterly delicious and gluten free Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes.

The lovely Sarah at Heavenly Marshmallows had sent me a selection of her homemade, artisan marshmallows. Amongst the selection were nine that are mango and passionfruit flavour. I knew I wanted to somehow include these in a bake.

Since the mango and passionfruit marshmallows are gluten free and as you all know how much I love sharing, I decided to make a gluten free cupcake, with mango in the cake batter.

Yep – I love a challenge.

HM Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes
Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes so beautiful and utterly delicious.

While making gluten free cupcakes was first for me, I also wanted to incorporate the delicious mango and passionfruit marshmallows into the frosting. Since I had seen lots of different marshmallow frosting’s on Pinterest and after reading through a few different recipes, as usual I  decided to come up with something of my own.

Thank you to Pinterest – without it I probably would have never tried this frosting.

HM Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes
Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes could you tell the difference?

The gluten free taste test

For these Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes I decided to make two cake batters. The first was gluten free and can be seen in the photos on the yellow background, the cupcake wrappers are yellow floral, perfect for Spring.

While the second batch are in the orange wrappers and are made using plain flour, that is NOT gluten free. Since no one in our home is gluten intolerant, my wonderful family were to serve as ‘taste testers’, in a blind taste testing!!

HM Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes
Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes you can see the pieces of mango in the cupcake.

Each batch of cake batter had some mango added to it. Because I didn’t have any fresh mango, I used mango from a pot in juice. I mashed up the mango with a fork and added it to the cake batter. Finally I  was thrilled that in both bakes, the mango stayed evenly distributed throughout the cooked cupcake.

So that was the cupcakes made. I’d successfully made gluten free cupcakes, with a good texture.

Marsmallow in the frosting?

Now onto the frosting. Which wasn’t as daunting as I’d imagined. Although the hardest part was saying goodbye to each of the 9 mango and passionfruit marshmallows as I put them in a heatproof bowl, over a double boiler.

Effectively this dreamy marshmallow frosting is effectively buttercream, with melted marshmallows added to it. Yes, there’s a bit more to it than that, but it is no more difficult than making a chocolate ganache, that is then whipped and piped.

HM Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes
Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes the dreamy frosting is lighter than buttercream.

For some reason I’d imagined the marshmallow frosting to be a bit like marshmallow fluff. Very sticky, sweet, frosting that I’d probably have enough of halfway through eating the cupcake.

I couldn’t have been more wrong!!

Because this marshmallow frosting is the stuff of dreams, where fairies and unicorns live and rain falls like glittery sprinkles. Just took myself off into my dream world there 😉. It truly is amazing. Since the melted marshmallows lighten the buttercream frosting, giving it a mallow, sponginess, that doesn’t set hard and melts, almost like sherbet on your tongue.

Buttercream would have been delicious piped onto these cupcakes. Heavenly Marshmallows takes it to a completely different level. Utterly divine marshmallow frosting.

Recipe: Makes 12 Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes

Note: These cupcakes can be made NOT gluten free, just substitute wheat flour for the gluten free flour. Method and cooking times are exactly the same.

For the Mango Cupcakes

100g/4oz Unsalted Butter-at room temperature

100g/4oz Caster Sugar

2 Large Free Range Eggs

1tsp Vanilla Extract – I use Nielsen-Massey

100g/4oz Gluten Free White Flour – I use Doves Farm

1tsp Baking Powder – Waitrose Cooks’ Homebaking baking powder as it is gluten free – check yours not all brands are gluten free.

Small pinch of salt

75g/3oz Fresh or Tinned Mango – any juice strained off and mango mashed with a fork.

For the Marshmallow Frosting

Heavenly Marshmallows Mango and Passionfruit flavour marshmallows – see not at bottom of post Art of Mallow

1tbsp Glycerine

300g/11oz Icing Sugar – sifted

150g/6oz Unsalted Butter – very soft

3tsp Boiling Water

Gluten Free Sprinkles

Method preheat the oven to 170C/150C, 325F, gas mark 3

To make the mango cupcakes 

  • Add the caster sugar,vanilla and butter into a medium sized bowl and whisk/beat together until pale and creamy.
  • Sift in the gluten free flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Add 2 eggs.
  • Whisk/beat until all the ingredients have come together and the batter is smooth.
  • Always take care to not over mix the cake batter.
  • Add the mashed mango and fold into the cake batter.
  • Place 12 cupcake cases into a cupcake tin.
  • Spoon the cupcake mixture evenly into the cupcake cases.
HM Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes
Mango Cupcakes ready for the oven.
  • Bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes. The low slow cooking will ensure flat tops, perfect for frosting.
  • The cupcakes are baked when they are golden brown and spring back from a light touch.
  • As soon as the cupcakes are baked remove from the oven.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tin.
  • Remove the cupcakes from the tin and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
HM Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes
Gluten Free Cupcakes cooling on the rack.

To make the marshmallow frosting

  • First of all, place the marshmallows into a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of barely simmering water.
HM Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes
Mango and Passionfruit Marshmallows starting to melt.
  • As the marshmallows melt it is important to keep stirring continuously.
  • Once melted remove the bowl from the saucepan and set to one side to cool.
HM Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes
Heavenly Melted Marshmallows!
  • While the melted marshmallows are cooling make the buttercream.
  • Add the softened butter and boiling water into the bowl of sifted icing sugar.
  • Whisk on a high speed until light and creamy.
  • Add the glycerine and whisk into the buttercream.
  • Pour the warm melted marshmallows into the buttercream, whilst the whisk is still mixing.
  • Continue mixing on a medium speed for 5 minutes.
  • You will have the lightest frosting to pipe onto your cakes.
HM Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes
Light, creamy, marshmallow frosting.

Decorating the cupcakes

  • Fit a large piping bag with a large star tip – I used Wilton #1M
  • Place the bag inside a sturdy jug or glass, folding back the sides of the bag.
  • Fill the bag with the marshmallow frosting.
  • Pipe swirls (like ice cream in cones) or roses see here.
  • Sprinkle over the topping of your choice.
HM Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes
Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes here piped as swirls the frosting is very versatile.

These Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes are completely delicious and in a blind taste test the gluten free cupcakes tasted exactly the same as the regular ones!! Nobody could tell the difference and happily ate both cupcakes.

One part that was declared “exceptional” was the marshmallow frosting. This is something that I will definitely be making again. The taste and unbelievable texture is most definitely worth the extra step!

Artisan marshmallows

Heavenly Marshmallows  certainly live up to their name. Made with natural ingredients and flavourings and no artificial colours, they truly are unlike any other marshmallow I have ever tasted. Within the selection were: mint chocolate, chocolate, liquorice (which I don’t like – but tasted some of hubby’s and it was so subtle, I’d have happily finished it), lemon meringue, vanilla and the mango/passionfruit flavour.

My personal favourite was the lemon meringue, ooh I would love to top cupcakes with this one. It had an almost sherbet like flavour which I loved and it is unashamedly lemon, completely my type of delicious.

What surprised me was the melt-in-the-mouth texture. All flavours were delicious with the texture adding a massive bonus. These marshmallows are truly artisan, without preservatives and with some flavours being gluten free, I’d say they would be my perfect treat. If you know someone this Easter who doesn’t like, or can’t eat chocolate these Heavenly Marshmallows would make a wonderful gift.

Do you find it hard to buy an alternative to chocolate eggs at Easter?

If you enjoyed these Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes I think you’ll love these too:

Raspberry Ripple Almond Cupcakes

Smartie Raspberry Ripple Almond Cupcakes
Raspberry Ripple Almond Cupcakes.

Springtime Vanilla Cupcakes

HM Springtime Vanilla Cupcakes
Springtime Vanilla Cupcakes

Maltesers Popping Candy Cupcakes 

FF Marshmallow Frosted Mango Cupcakes
Maltesers Popping Candy Cupcakes

If you make these, or indeed any of my recipes, please post a photo, if you are able, on Twitter or Instagram and tag me in. I love seeing your makes and bakes.

Wishing you all a very happy Spring.

Sammie xx

@sammiefeasting Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest

Heavenly Marshmallows  provided me with the marshmallows for this recipe. All content, photographs and recipes are my own. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

Note: unfortunately Heavenly allows are no longer trading.

I suggest Art of Mallow as a suitable replacement.

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Steak Leek and Ale Pie

Hi, this Steak Leek and Ale Pie has a golden pastry crust, under which are chunks of melting steak and leek sitting in a thick ale gravy. Homemade pie has to be at the top of my comfort food list. Long gone are the light, fresh salads of summer. As soon as Autumn arrives, with it’s blustery gales I want proper, nourishing, hearty food.

I want, I need, this Steak Leek and Ale Pie.

Steak Leek and Ale Pie delicious chunks of steak and leek cooked in a rich ale gravy, topped with homemade pastry - delicious. www.feastingisfun.com
Steak Leek and Ale Pie delicious chunks of steak and leek cooked in a rich ale gravy, topped with homemade pastry . 

 

Take a look at that golden crust. It is so inviting, willing you to cut in and discover the melting chunks of steak and leek beneath, sitting in a pool of thick gravy made with the ale. While I know making pastry completely freaks some people out, it really is worth having a go. A recipe for this pastry can be found here.

When you have a little time, maybe at the weekend, I really would encourage you to make your own pastry. While it really isn’t as difficult as some believe and the rewards are very gratifying. Yet, if you cannot bring yourself to make your own pastry, then good quality, shop bought shortcrust or puff pastry will also work very well.

Steak Leek and Ale Pie prefect comfort for cold dark evenings. www.feastingisfun.com
Steak Leek and Ale Pie prefect comfort for cold dark evenings. www.feastingisfun.com

Although I made this Steak Leek and Ale Pie for a mid-week meal, it will be replacing the occaisional roast on a Sunday too. It really is that good.

I have to mention the Leek Colcannon a fantastic dish of creamy mashed potatoes, steamed cabbage and sauteed leeks that I made to serve alongside this pie. Amazing!

If you are wondering why leeks feature in both dishes, November heralds the start of the British leek growing season. So keen to use seasonal produce, I came up with these two recipes for the British Leek Growers Association.

Recipe : Makes one Steak Leek and Ale Pie, serves 6

450g/1lb Shortcrust Pastry – to make your own you will need 350g/12oz Plain White Flour, 75g/3oz Butter and 75g/3oz Vegetable shortening – I use Trex

1kg/2lb Good Quality Beef Steak – I used rump, chuck or braising steak would work well

2 Tbsp Butter

3 Leeks

500ml/1 pint Light Ale

2 Bay Leaves

1 tsp Fresh Thyme – halve if using dried

1 Clove of Garlic

2 Tbsp Tomato Puree

1/4 tsp Nutmeg – I always use freshly grated

1 Beef Stock Cube – or I used 1 Knorr beef stockpot

2 Tbsp Flour plus extra for rolling out pastry

Sea Salt – I use Maldon

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Medium Egg whisked with a little water for the egg wash

Method : Please read through before starting

If making your own pastry, make, cover in cling film and place in the fridge to chill.

Cut the steak into good sized chunks - 1.5"
Cut the steak into good sized chunks – 1.5″

Mix 2 Tbsp of flour with 1 tsp of sea salt and 1 tsp freshly ground pepper.

Toss the steak in the seasoned flour.
Toss the steak in the seasoned flour.

Place 2 Tbsp of butter into a large pan and melt over a high heat.

Brown the steak in batches in a hot pan.
Brown the steak in batches in a hot pan.
Place the browned steak in a bowl and set to one side.
Place the browned steak in a bowl and set to one side.

Prepare all 3 leeks by cutting off the tough, dark green tops and root. Starting at the top of the leek cut almost through and down two thirds. Wash the leeks under cold, running water to remove any dirt trapped between the leaves. Shake off any excess water.

Tip : I wash the leeks and leave them to drain upside down, before prepping other meat or vegetables.

Take one large leek.
Take one large leek.
Finely dice the leek.
Finely dice the leek.
Add the diced leek to the pan used for browning the steak. Sauté for 2-3 minutes over a medium heat.
Add the diced leek to the pan used for browning the steak. Sauté for 2-3 minutes over a medium heat.
Pour in the Ale and then, using a wooden spoon scrape all the crusty, tasty brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Pour in the Ale and then, using a wooden spoon scrape all the crusty, tasty brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Strip the time from its stalk and mince the garlic.
Strip the Thyme from its stalk and mince the garlic.
Add the steak, herbs and garlic back to the pan. Add an additional 500ml of water.
Add the steak, herbs and garlic back to the pan. Add an additional 500ml of water.
Slice the other 2 leeks into 1" chunks and add to the pan.
Slice the other 2 leeks into 1″ chunks and add to the pan.
Now add the tomato purée, stock cube and nutmeg.
Now add the tomato purée, stock cube and nutmeg.

Bring everything up to a simmer and leave to cook on a medium/low heat, uncovered for 2-3 hours, stirring occaisionally.

At the end of the cooking time the beef should be meltingly tender and the ale gravy reduced by half. Check the sauce for seasoning. I found the salt and pepper added to the flour was sufficient, however, adjust if needed.

Remove the steak and leeks, using a slotted spoon and place into a pie dish.
Remove the steak and leeks, using a slotted spoon and place into a pie dish.
Reduce the ale gravy in the pan by half.
Reduce the ale gravy in the pan by half.
Pour the thickened gravy over the pie filling.
Pour the thickened gravy over the pie filling.

Brush the egg wash around the rim of the pie dish. This will enable the pastry to stick to the dish.

Roll out the pastry so that it is 1" wider that the top of the pie dish. Trim the pastry so it has a neat edge.
Roll out the pastry so that it is 1″ wider that the top of the pie dish. Trim the pastry so it has a neat edge.
Steak Leek and Ale Pie place the pastry on top of the pie dish and crimp.
Steak Leek and Ale Pie place the pastry on top of the pie dish and crimp.

To crimp I simply pinch between my forefinger and thumb all around the pastry edge. Make 3 slits in the pastry to allow steam to escape.

Steak Leek and Ale Pie brush the pastry with egg wash and cut out decorations from the leftover pastry. Place on the pie and brush with egg wash.
Steak Leek and Ale Pie brush the pastry with egg wash and cut out decorations from the leftover pastry. Place on the pie and brush with egg wash.

Place the Steak Leek and Ale Pie on a baking sheet and place in a preheated (200C/180C fan) oven. Bake for approximately 1 hour. The pie is cooked when the pastry is golden brown and little bubbles of hot gravy or steam are bursting through the slits in the pie.

Steak Leek and Ale Pie beautifully golden, light pastry. www.feastingisfun.com
Steak Leek and Ale Pie beautifully golden, light pastry. www.feastingisfun.com

As as the pie is baked remove from the oven. Serve immediately.

Steak Leek and Ale Pie delicious served with Leek Colcannon www.feastingisfun.com
Steak Leek and Ale Pie delicious served with Leek Colcannon www.feastingisfun.com

The leek in this pie lends a delicate onion flavour, which with the ale and steak, perfectly compliment each other. This Steak Leek and Ale Pie was thoroughly enjoyed by all in our house and my very good friend and chief taste tester – who lives 2 doors away!

Also it would make perfect sense to double the quantities and make 2 pies. Since an uncooked pie will freeze beautifully, just ensure it is absolutely cool before double wrapping in cling film and freezing for up to 2 months. Or maybe pass the second pie onto a busy family, new mum, or friends. The gift of a meal, even if there is no ‘special’ reason shows that you care.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Steak Leek And Ale Pie you may also like these:

Cream Cheese Pastry Mince Pies

FF Steak Leek and Ale Pie
Cream Cheese Pastry Mince Pies

Quiche Lorraine

FF Steak Leek and Ale Pie
Quiche Lorraine

Amazing Apple Pie

FF Steak Leek and Ale Pie
Amazing Apple Pie

Please tell me about your pastry successes, or disasters, I love reading your comments.

Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens have fun preparing and sharing your feast.

Sammie x

Whilst I was provided with most of the ingredients for this recipe all content and opinions are my own. I did not receive payment for this post. No part of this post may be reproduced or duplicated without the written consent of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

 

 

 

 

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Leek Colcannon

Hello, how are you? It’s wet and dreary outside, so I have the perfect, cold weather side dish for you today, Leek Colcannon.

Leek Colcannon a delicious side dish www.feastingisfun.com
Leek Colcannon a delicious side dish www.feastingisfun.com

Dreamy, ultra creamy, mashed potatoes, mixed with gorgeously green, savoy cabbage and sauteed leeks.

Mashed potato vamped up to the max!

This Leek Colcannon is the perfect side dish for all your Autumn/Winter favorites – sausages, homemade pie, chops, roast chicken. Really there are endless possibilities to what you could pair this dish with.

Leek Colcannon the perfect twist for bangers and mash www.feastingisfun.com
Leek Colcannon the perfect twist for bangers and mash www.feastingisfun.com

Did you know that the beginning of November heralds the start of the British leek growing season? Nope neither did I!!

I absolutely love leeks, with their delicate onion flavour and that is exactly what makes them perfect in this dish.

Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made using mashed potatoes and cabbage or kale. While I challenged myself to come up with some recipes to celebrate the British leek, I knew it’s delicate flavour would perfectly compliment the traditional Colcannon dish.

Also using seasonal fruit and vegetables in my cooking is important to me and savoy cabbage is in season now, so my choice of brassica was decided.

Nutmeg also pairs beautifully with leeks and so I knew I had to incorporate that into the dish – thus the Leek Colcannon idea was born. Whoops there I go, having ideas again – fortunately this one turned out to be absolutely delicious.

Recipe : Serves 6 generous portions of Leek Colcannon

1.75kg/4lb Pre-peeled weight Desiree Red or other Mashing Potatoes

50g/2oz Butter plus 1Tbsp extra

300ml/10fl Double Cream or whole milk

1/4tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg –

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 Savoy Cabbage – mine was medium sized

1 Leek – usual sized (use 2 if they are very small)

Method : Important please read through the whole method before starting.

Peel and dice the potatoes into 1″/2.5cm chunks and place in a large pan, cover with water. If you wish to add salt to the water that’s fine, I left the seasoning to the end.

Bring the potatoes to the boil and the simmer until a fork easily pierces the potato chunks – it’s worth checking a couple.

Drain the potatoes and place back into the saucepan. Allow to steam dry for a couple of minutes.

Add the butter, 250mls of the cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Nutmeg is the secret to delicious tasting mashed potatoes www.feastingisfun.com
Nutmeg is the secret to delicious tasting mashed potatoes www.feastingisfun.com
Mash the potatoes, cream and butter until completely smooth.
Mash the potatoes, cream and butter until completely smooth.

Add the rest of the cream if needed – the potatoes should be creamy, not dry. Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Whilst the potatoes are cooking you can prepare the cabbage and leeks.

Look how gorgeously green this beautiful Savoy cabbage is.
Look how gorgeously green this beautiful Savoy cabbage is.
Remove 5 leaves from the cabbage and stack them.
Remove 5 leaves from the cabbage and stack them.
Slice the leaves in half and then finely shred each half.
Slice the leaves in half and then finely shred each half.

Continue peeling off the leaves, stacking and shredding. I used almost all of the savoy cabbage. I left the very few inner, yellow leaves. If you have a large cabbage cut in half and use one half.

Place the shredded cabbage into a large saucepan, pour over an inch of boiling water from the kettle, clamp on the lid and cook on a high heat for no longer than 5 minutes.

Drain the cooked cabbage.
Drain the cooked cabbage.

Place the cabbage back into its pan and allow to steam dry for a couple of minutes.

Next, the leek. Trim the tough dark green top from the leek and also the root end. Make a slit cutting almost through from the top of the leek to two thirds down.

Wash the leek under running cold water ensuring any dirt, trapped between the leaves is washed away.

Shake the leek over the sink to remove any excess water.

Tip : I wash my leeks, shake them and leave them upside down on the draining board to drain, before prepping other vegetables.

Cut the washed leek in half.
Cut the washed leek in half.
Finely shred the leek.
Finely shred the leek.

Place a tablespoon of butter into a shallow pan and gently saute the leeks until tender, over a medium heat.

Sauté the shredded leek for 5 minutes until tender and cooked.
Sauté the shredded leek for 5 minutes until tender and cooked.
Add the cabbage and leek to the mashed potato.
Add the cabbage and leek to the mashed potato.
Stir all the ingredients together until well combined.
Stir all the ingredients together until well combined.
Leek Colcannon decant into a heatproof dish, dot a little extra butter on top and finish with a light sprinkle of nutmeg. www.feastingisfun.com
Leek Colcannon decant into a heatproof dish, dot a little extra butter on top and finish with a light sprinkle of nutmeg. www.feastingisfun.com

Ooh this Leek Colcannon was absolutely scrumptious. It was served with steak, leek and ale pie alongside steamed carrots. Fortunately there was enough left over to make bubble and squeak patties for lunch the next day!

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Leek Colcannon you may also like these:

Walnut Pastry Crust Leek Stilton Tart 

FF Leek Colcannon
Walnut Pastry Crust Leek Stilton Tart

Homemade Cauliflower Cheese 

FF Leek Colcannon
Homemade Cauliflower Cheese

Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad 

FF Leek Colcannon
Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad

I do hope that I’ve inspired you to try this delightful dish. Although I used double cream – well we were celebrating the start of the British leek growing season – milk is a perfectly fine substitute. Switching up the greens to Kale or Spring Greens through the growing season will be fine, just make sure they are cooked until just tender – I haven’t found a fan of overcooked, soggy cabbage yet!

Please let me know if you try this recipe? I really enjoy reading your comments.

Sammie x

The British Leek Association provided me with some of the ingredients for this recipe. All content and opinions are my own. I did not receive payment for creating this recipe. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

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Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake

Hi, is everyone fed up with the clouds? Yep, me too. I love Autumn. Yet endless days of rain, with no blue sky occasionally peeking through, well to be honest, it just makes me want to snuggle up with a good film and a big bowl of this Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake.

 

Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake the perfect make ahead meal. www.feastingisfun.com
Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake the perfect make ahead meal. www.feastingisfun.com

 

This dish came about because I was too lazy to get any meat out of the freezer!! True our freezer is in our garage, with no internal interconnecting door and it was raining. Convinced?? Anyway enough of my laziness, what resulted was an incredibly fabulous dish.

We are a meat eating family, although I do make a little meat go a long way. It is very rare however, that I deliberately leave meat or fish out of a dish. Big mistake!!! No one in our family, or my chief taste tester, missed the meat in this Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake. In fact they enjoyed a meat free meal.

I was so pleased. Firstly, I had created a great meal that everyone enjoyed – always my main aim. Secondly, I now have a great vegetarian dish in my repertoire.

Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake all your veggies in a tasty tomato sauce then smothered in a delicious cheese sauce. www.frastingisfun.com
Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake all your veggies in a tasty tomato sauce then smothered in a delicious cheese sauce. www.feastingisfun.com

Since meat is usually the most expensive component in a meal, so, without compromising flavour, this is a fantastic, budget friendly dish. Perfect for a mid week meal. In fact why not double up on the ingredients and make this for a new mum, family or friends returning from holiday, or simply to freeze for up to 3 months. Because this is meat free, more people can enjoy this dish.

Recipe : Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake Serves 6 people generously

1tbsp Olive Oil – I use Filippo Berio

1 x Leek

1 x Celery Stick finely diced

2 x Large Carrots finely diced

6-8 Mushrooms White Button or Chestnut sliced thinly

3 Cloves of Garlic – crushed

4 x 400g Cans Chopped Tomatoes

1/4tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg

1tsp Dried Mixed Herbs

Salt and Pepper to taste

500g/1lb Dried Pasta – I used Penne

Cheese Sauce see Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake – Cheese Sauce

50g/2oz Finely Grated Cheese for topping

Note : If making this dish for vegetarians, ensure you use vegetarian cheese.

Method : Making the Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake 

Cut the very dark green top and root from the leek. Slice the leek in half, lengthways and rinse thoroughly under a cold running tap. This ensures any sand or dirt trapped between the layers in the leek is washed away. Pat the leek dry with a clean cloth. Slice the leeks into 1/2 inch dice.

Pour the oil into a pan and heat up over a medium heat. Add the leeks to the pan.

 

Sauté the chopped leek until tender.
Sauté the chopped leek until tender.
Add the rest of the chopped vegetables and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add the rest of the chopped vegetables and sauté for 5 minutes.

 

Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Pour in the tinned tomatoes.

Add all of the tinned chopped tomatoes.
Add all of the tinned chopped tomatoes.

 

Add the nutmeg and dried herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook with a lid almost covering for 1 1/2 hours.

While the vegetable sauce is cooking make the Cheese Sauce.

As soon as the vegetable sauce has cooked remove from the heat.

Cook your chosen pasta according to the package instructions, less 3 minutes.

Drain the pasta and tip into the vegetable sauce. Mix the pasta and vegetable sauce together.

Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake, pour the pasta/vegetable mix into a baking dish.
Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake, pour the pasta/vegetable mix into a baking dish.
Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake, smother in cheese sauce and finish with a sprinkling of finely grated cheese.
Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake, smother in cheese sauce and finish with a sprinkling of finely grated cheese.

You can bake the pasta dish in a medium oven, 180C/160C fan immediately, for 1hour, until golden and bubbling.

Alternatively, cover the cooled Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake in cling film and refridgerate for up to 3 days. If freezing, cool, wrap the entire dish in cling film and then aluminium foil.

Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake a perfectly, portable meal. www.feastingisfun.com
Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake a perfectly, portable meal. www.feastingisfun.com

 

You can switch up the veggies to whatever you have on hand. In fact this dish is a great way to use up small amounts of vegetables sitting in the fridge, before your next grocery shop!

Perfect served just as it is, or you can stretch it further by serving with some crusty bread and salad. Either way this Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake is sure to become a favourite in your home.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake you may also like these:

Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad

FF Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake
Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad

Baked Cheese Olive Ciabatta Bread

FF Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake
Baked Cheese Olive Ciabatta Bread

Walnut Pastry Crust Leek Stilton Tart

FF Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake
Walnut Pastry Crust Leek Stilton Tart

Would you miss the meat in a pasta dish like this?

Sammie xx

 

 

 

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Easy Tex Mex Chicken

Hi, have I got the easiest, quickest meal for you? Yep, I have – Easy Tex Mex Chicken!

Easy Tex Mex Chicken tipped into a pan, ready for the oven.
Easy Tex Mex Chicken tipped into a pan, ready for the oven.

I am talking 5 minutes prep in the morning. Leave in the fridge all day and then throw in the oven for 45 mins before you want to eat. I told you it was Easy!! This delicious dish is fab served in Tortilla Wraps Fajita style, or alternatively, as I have, with potato wedges – well if you’ve got the oven already on…..

Oh my, this Easy Tex Mex Chicken served with wedges - delish!
Oh my, this Easy Tex Mex Chicken served with wedges – delish!

 

Recipe : Easy Tex Mex Chicken serves 5-6

750g/1.5lb Boned Chicken Breasts (approx 5)

1 Large Spanish Onion

3 Peppers – the colours are up to you!

1 Packet Fajita Seasoning – alternatively use 3 tsp Fajita seasoning

2 tbs Olive Oil or Rapeseed Oil – I use Kentish Oils

Method :

Pat dry the chicken breasts using kitchen paper.

Drying the chicken makes a real difference to the cooked dish.
Drying the chicken makes a real difference to the cooked dish.

 

Cut up the chicken into bite sized chunks (I used scissors) and place in a large, freezer bag.

With these 3 ingredients Easy Tex Mex Chicken is just that, EASY!
With these 3 ingredients Easy Tex Mex Chicken is just that, EASY!

 

Pour a couple of glugs of Olive Oil over the diced chicken then tip in the contents of a Fajita mix.

Massage the seasoning into the chicken.
Massage the seasoning into the chicken.

Next it’s time to get chopping!

Ooh so pretty. Choose whichever colour peppers are your favourite and...
Ooh so pretty. Choose whichever colour peppers are your favourite and…

 

Chop the Peppers and Onion so they are about the same size.
Chop the Peppers and Onion so they are about the same size.

Pop the chopped veggies into the freezer bag with the seasoned chicken and smoosh about a bit so they are covered in the spicy oil.

Easy Tex Mex Chicken in a bag!!
Easy Tex Mex Chicken in a bag!!

 

I prepared the Easy Tex Mex Chicken in the morning and then stashed it in the fridge until dinner time.

To cook, tip the contents of the freezer bag into a shallow oven proof dish. Place in a preheated oven 200C/185C fan and cook for 45 minutes.

Easy Tex Mex Chicken with softened peppers and caramelised onions - delish!
Easy Tex Mex Chicken with softened peppers and caramelised onions – delish!

 

To serve either warm some soft tortillas and load up fajita style, or, as I did tonight simply popped in some Baked Garlic Herb Potato Wedges . Since the oven is on it makes sense.

Well that’s dinner sorted!!

Enjoy how easy this feast is!

Sammie x

 

 

 

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Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake

Hello there, thank you for stopping by to read my blog.  I hope it inspires you to make this delicious, very economical, Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake – covered in a scrummy Cheese Sauce!

FF Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake
Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted anything for a few days, unfortunately my body has been very uncooperative and I’ve been struggling with a lot of pain.  Not looking for sympathy, just explaining.

Anyhow this morning, once I was up and dressed I was determined to make the Christmas cakes ( I know this blog is about the Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake – but I have to tell you the whole story, so bare with please??!!).  One cake for us and a smaller cake for my lovely hubby’s Ma and Pa.  They love Christmas cake like no other people I have ever met and since I love them and making cakes I thought I’d bake them a cake as well!

Once the cakes were happily baking away in the oven I turned my attention to dinner.  I happened to have 8 rashers of streaky bacon in the fridge and thought ‘You know what, I’ll make Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake’.  Not only that, but as I have tended to be a bit lazy with my savoury recipes, I also made a note of exactly what I used and took some photos to show you how to make it yourself!!

Recipe:  Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake serves 6

For the bacon and tomato sauce you will need –

1tbsp  Olive oil

1tbsp  Butter

8 x rashers streaky bacon (smoked or not the choice is yours) – any rind removed

1  Large White Onion

2  Sticks of Celery

1  Green Pepper

6 – 8  Chestnut or Button Mushrooms

3  Bulbs of Garlic

2  Tins Chopped Tomatoes and their juice

1tbsp  Tomato puree

1tsp  Mixed Dry Herbs

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

1/4  tsp Nutmeg – freshly grated

1/2tsp  Black Pepper – freshly ground

1/2tsp  Sugar

For the Cheese Sauce :

2tbsp Unsalted Butter

2tbsp Plain White Flour

500ml/1.25 pints Whole Milk

175g/6oz Strong Cheddar

1/4tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg

Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Method

In a large saute pan (or shallow casserole dish) melt the Olive oil and Butter together over a medium heat.  Add the finely chopped Onion and Saute until translucent (approx 5-8 mins).  Add in the Bacon – I usually snip this into approx 1/2″ pieces, directly into the pan, however you can chip up the Bacon with a knife and then add it.

Let the bacon sizzle until it had rendered out some of it’s fat, but not so much that it goes crispy.  Add in the Celery and Carrot ( which have both been finely chopped and cook for another 5 mins.

Sautéing the bacon, onions, carrots and celery.
Sautéing the bacon, onions, carrots and celery.

After 5 mins add in the finely chopped Green Pepper and the Mushroom ( I slice the mushrooms fairly thinly, then cut the slices in half – it just looks nice in the dish!).  Add the crushed (or finely chopped) garlic and continue cooking for another 5-10 mins, until all the vegetables are slightly softened.

Green Pepper and Sliced Mushrooms added. How chunky or fine you chop your veg is entirely up to you!!!).
Green Pepper and Sliced Mushrooms added. How chunky or fine you chop your veg is entirely up to you!!

 

Once the vegetables have started to soften add the tinned, chopped tomatoes.  Rinse each tin out with cold water (fill the tin to just over half with water and swish the tin to dilute any tomato juice left, into the water) and add the tomato purée.  Add the seasonings next: salt, pepper, sugar, nutmeg and mixed herbs.  The sugar balances out the tartness of tinned tomatoes and makes a very real difference to the finished dish.

Allow the bacon, vegetables and tomatoes to bubble away, uncovered, on a low-medium heat for at least an hour.
Allow the bacon, vegetables and tomatoes to bubble away, uncovered, on a low-medium heat for at least an hour.

Cheese Sauce:

Melt 2tbsp butter on a medium heat in a saucepan.  Once melted add 2tbsp of plain white flour and mix thoroughly, lowering the heat very slightly.

Cook the flour and butter together for a couple of minutes to get rid of the 'raw flour' taste.
Cook the flour and butter together for a couple of minutes to get rid of the ‘raw flour’ taste.

This flour/butter mixture is now called a roux.  Now gradually add (50ml at a time at the beginning) whole milk to the flour/butter mixture, stirring constantly.  As the milk warms it will gradually become incorporated into the flour/butter. In the beginning, for the first few milk additions, the mixture will be very thick and stiff to stir.  If you find the milk is not incorporating into the mixture, or it is very lumpy, it’s fine to switch to a whisk, this will ensure a beautiful, lump free, smooth sauce. Add 450-500ml of milk until your sauce has the consistency similar to custard.

Lump free, smooth white sauce!! Easy!!
Lump free, smooth white sauce!! Easy!!

Add a pinch of salt, a good grinding of black pepper, 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg and mix thoroughly.  Off of the heat add a good 2 handfuls (4-6oz) of grated mature cheddar cheese.  Mix thoroughly until the cheese has melted into the sauce.

The Pasta

I have used penne rigate pasta for this dish.  Basically pasta tubes, cut on a slant with ridges in the outside!  I like penne rigate as it holds firm, the sauce not only goes into the pasta tubes, but also the sauce clings to the outside ridges of the pasta.  I cooked about 3/4 of a 500g packet (350g if my maths is correct??).

I said earlier, this is such an economical dish – 8 bacon rashers, bits of veg you have in the fridge, a couple of handfuls of mature cheddar and not even a whole packet of pasta!!  Not only that but it tastes fab and is easily transportable, so ideal to give individual  portions to friends/family or pop in the freezer!!

Once the pasta is almost cooked (not quite al dente) drain and add to the bacon sauce.

The pasta dumped on top of the bacon sauce.
The pasta dumped on top of the bacon sauce.

Mix the sauce and pasta together.  If serving a separate portion to give away, remove a generous portion of the pasta/bacon mix, ensuring you get a good mix of the sauce, bacon, veg and of course pasta.

Not the most elegant container, but foil containers make transporting, or freezing the individual portions sooooo easy!!
Not the most elegant container, but foil containers make transporting, or freezing the individual portions sooooo easy!!

Spread the rest of the bacon pasta evenly into an ovenproof container.  Tap the individual portions to settle the pasta and remove any air bubbles.

Cover your pasta dishes with a good dollop of the cheese sauce.  For added prettiness (and because the cheese sauce didn’t reach the edges!!) I sliced ripe, ruby red tomatoes and placed them around the outside edge of the pasta.

Beautifully decorated - and no one knew my secret!!!!
Beautifully decorated Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake
Slightly overstuffed, once the cheese sauce was added, so just wrapped in foil. One individual portion ready to go!!!
Slightly overstuffed, once the cheese sauce was added, so just wrapped in foil. One individual portion ready to go!!!
So a super tasty, super economical meal to eat and share!

For a bubbly,scrumptious meal, ready for the table:  Cook the large Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake at 180C for an hour until thoroughly heated through, 1/2 hour at the same temp for the individual portion.

An amazingly tasty, versatile dish that’s easy on your wallet and tasty on your tongue.

Have fun, feasting and enjoy sharing your meal!!

Sammie x

 

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Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole

Since we are a family of five, make ahead meals really are helpful when life gets busy. And if the recipe can be made in one pot and I am eternally grateful. My Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole ticks both boxes. Either bubbling away on the hob, or  in the oven, it’s aroma fills the house with a warm spicy scent. Welcoming you home like a warm hug.

FF Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole
Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole.

Why I love Autumn

Before we get on with the recipe, I wanted to share my thoughts. Autumn, or Fall as it’s called in the States is my favourite season. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Summer, in fact, I like all the seasons. Much as the glorious, unending sunshine places like California offer, I simply love the change in seasons we enjoy here in England. Read Autumn The Most Beautiful Season.

While there is something about, at first, the almost subtle change in weather, usually towards the end of August/beginning of September where I live. The deep, deep green of the leaves on the trees, the rustle as the wind blows through the drying out leaves. Followed by the gorgeous change, through deepest red to fiery orange and a last nod to the daily lowering of the sun in the sky, as the leaves turn yellow. And confetti, like fluttering of the leaves on a blowy day. The ravages of an adorned tree, ripped overnight of its leafy covering, by a violent storm.

FF Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole
Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole just add Crusty Bread.

Sunshine is always welcome. Especially on a clear, frosty, day. Also, there is something to be said though for darker, rain & wind filled days, snuggled up on the sofa, the smell of a spicy casserole, gently bubbling away in the oven. And puddings! A must, some may say essential,  during the colder months.

Creating a cheap meal using quality  products

Since first making this dish it has evolved to the final recipe given here. While most of the ingredients are relatively cheap, it is essential to use good quality sausages. Pale, flabby pink sausages will simply disintegrate during the long cooking process. Adding quality pork sausages adds to the overall flavour of the dish. Especially as one packet will feed up to six people.

FF Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole
Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole

You will need a large ( 4 litre) ovenproof casserole dish, or bigger if doubling the recipe to feed a crowd.

Recipe: Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole serves 4 – 6

1 Large Onion – chopped into small dice

1 Aubergine – chopped into 1/2″ cubes

450g/1lb Good Quality Sausages each sausage chopped into 4 pieces – I use Graig Farm Sausages

2 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g tin of baked beans

2 x 400g butter beans – strained & rinsed with cold water

4 individual bulbs of garlic – minced

1 chilli (or 1tsp chilli flakes) finely chopped

200mls of red wine I use Claret( or 100ml Port – any type except Tawny)

2 tbs tomato puree

1/2tsp Celery Seeds

3/4tsp Fennel Seeds

Handful of fresh parsley chopped and added after serving

Freshly Ground Black Pepper to season.

Note: Having made this dish many times, it has never needed the addition of salt.

Method: Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan, gas mark 4

Assembling the casserole

  • First of all place the onion, aubergine & sausages in the casserole dish & pour over the red wine or Port.
  • Add both tins of tomatoes, then half fill each tin with cold water, swirl around so that you get all of the tomato juices left inside the tin and pour over the casserole.
  • Next tip in the baked beans and swirl the tin with water as before, pouring into the dish, then add the rinsed butter beans.
  • Add the tomato purée, minced garlic, chilli, celery seeds, fennel seeds and a good grinding of black pepper
  • If needed add more cold water until all the ingredients are just covered with liquid. Making sure there is still a good inch between the liquid and the top of the casserole dish.
FF Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole
Making the casserole.
  • Place the lid (or cover tightly with tin foil) on to the dish and place in the oven.
  • Cook at 180C for 1/2 hour then reduce the heat to 140C/120C fan, gas mark 1.
  • Leave to cook for 3 hours. Check and top up with recently boiled water so that the ingredients are just covered with liquid again.
  • Clamp on the lid (or foil) and return to the oven for 2 more hours. You can repeat the liquid adding throughout the day, the longer this casserole cooks the better it tastes!
  • The Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole will be cooked after 5 1/2 hours.
  • Serve in bowls, sprinkled with freshly chopped parsley for fresh, grassy, Vitamin C filled flavour.
FF Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole
Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole dinner is served.

Add fresh crusty bread for dunking in the spicy juices.

Leftovers can be chilled, portioned into individual freezer bags and frozen for up to 3 months.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole you may also like these:

Slow Roasted Cider Pork

FF Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole
Slow Roasted Cider Pork.

Creamy Tomato Spinach Chicken Pasta

FF Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole
Creamy Tomato Spinach Chicken Pasta

Chunky Chilli

FF Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole
Chunky Chilli

 

I have wonderful memories attached to making this meal. While on holiday in Devon I wanted to make a meal for friends. Cooking dinner for our hosts resulted in more people being added to the guest list during the day. Extra beans, tomatoes and wine added, we sat happily around their big oak table, enjoying good food and most importantly, great company. Friendships were forged as conversation flowed. Most importantly, it was a feast to remember.

Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing your feast.

Sammie xx

No part of this post may be reproduced without the written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

 

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