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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Winter Warmer? How about Chicken and Dumplings?????

Chicken and dumplings is a delicious filling winter warmer, the only really awkward bit I found with this recipe was making sure the dumplings didn’t get submerged in the cooking liquid. It’s funny, I made this recipe in April 2010 approximately, and I remember thinking at the time, that it was going to be quite complicated “culinary taxing” but looking back I realise it wasn’t really that hard to do!

Chicken And Dumplings

2 ½ - 3lbs Chicken
3 cups water
1 medium onion cut into wedges
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp dried sage
¼ tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup thinly sliced carrot
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup cold water
¼ cup flour

  1. In a dutch oven combine the chicken, water, onion, salt, sage, pepper and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for about 25 minutes, add the vegetables and return to a boil, reduce the heat again, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is no longer pink. Discard the bay leaf, and place the chicken on top of the vegetables.
  2. Meanwhile prepare the dumplings. In a medium bowl combine 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder and ½ tsp salt, cut in 2 tbsp shortening until mixture resembles course crumbs. Add ½ cup buttermilk, stir in until just moistened. Spoon the batter into six mounds on top of the chicken, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat again, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the dumplings are cooked through, check with a toothpick, it should come out clean. Transfer the chicken, dumplings and vegetables to the serving plate and keep warm.
  3. Now make your gravy, pour 2 cups of your cooking liquid into a large measuring cup, skim the fat and discard. Then pour into a saucepan. Mix ½ cup of cold water with flour then add to the cooking liquid, stir continuously until thickened. Serve gravy over the chicken and dumplings.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hungry For Goulash?

I spent years and years – buying pre-prepared, packaged food, (well the ex did, I wasn’t allowed to shop, some lame excuse about my “trolley rage”) rubbish food that is full of MSG’s – whatever that is, not good that’s for sure – artificial flavours, colours and preservatives, all the junk you don’t want. Why – when I am clearly aware this is not a good thing, who on earth knows? To be fair I lost interest in cooking – Monday, Mcdonalds – Tuesday, Spaghetti with scrambled egg and tomato sauce, YUCKY….. Wednesday, Pizza – Thursday, pork schnitzel with a packaged potato or noodle salad – Friday, bread rolls – Saturday something random, usually pork, Sunday, “roast” pork with potatoes and veg out of a jar and powdered gravy. BORING!!!!!
So when I started this cooking adventure, one of things I wanted to try most was goulash, mostly because I had never made my own from scratch and it was about time I did, besides how do you know if homemade is better if you don’t try and make your own?
Magyar Gulyás (Hungary) Hungarian Goulash
1kg goulash meat (it’s cut into equal cubes)
2 large onions, sliced
6-8 large potatoes, cubed
50g mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
Warm stock or water
1 tbsp mild paprika
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp tomato puree
15g butter
1tsp caraway seeds
  1. Heat a thick pan, add the fat, when it’s hot, add the meat and brown, then put the onions, mushrooms, garlic, tomato puree, mild paprika in the pan with the meat. Once the onions and mushrooms have softened cover with the water or stock. Cover and gently cook until the meat is tender.
  2. Cook the potatoes in boiling water, and then add to the goulash once the meat is tender. Just before serving, melt the butter and stir in the paprika, then add to the goulash and salt to taste. Serve with crusty bread.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Joys Of Having A Teenage Son

On Thursday night, I got a distressed telephone call from my son, he turns 16 this year, saying that he didn’t want to live with his father anymore, and he wanted to come and live with us. This is all very well and good, but I am not about to rock the boat, so I made some extra phone calls to find out what was really going on. After a long conversation with his father, I discover that he had be grounded, all telephone and internet privileges removed, because he had bunked off school AGAIN!! Fair enough, I would have dealt with it in the same way. The problem was getting my 16 year old son back in the car with his Dad. He was at some woman’s house, I have decided I don’t like her very much. Anyway, I said that if he went home with his Dad, he could come here for the weekend and we would try and sort out the “issues.” In the end nothing got sorted, I did try to help him, but he is a typical teenager, who is NEVER wrong. I did make a banana cake with him though….. Recipe to follow in a later blog..

Now onto my latest recipe, we enjoy a good stir fry and I made this lamb one after having left over lamb…

Stir Fry Lamb With Carrots And Leeks

450g Lamb cut into strips
2 tbsp olive oil
2 leeks cut into rings
1 carrots cut into this strips
2 cloves garlic minced
85ml lamb or veg stock
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce

  1. Heat the oil in a hot wok, then add the meat and cook for 3-4 minutes, whilst constantly stirring, with a slotted spoon remove the meat and keep warm.
  2. Place the leeks, carrots and garlic in the wok and stir-fry for 2 minutes, then remove and set to one side, discard the oil.
  3. Place stock, sugar and soy sauce in the wok, add the meat and stir fry for 2 more minutes.
  4. Serve on a bed of rice with the vegetables.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Spaghetti And Tuna Supper

This recipe is really nice. It looks quite disgusting as you are making it, tyr hard when you are, not to think about your bowl evacuation – after a really long night on the booze! And you should be fine….
Seriously though despite the way it looks, it really is a simple supper, served with a side salad and hot garlic bread, it really is comfort on a plate.

Spaghetti Al Tonno
200g tuna
60g sardines
1 tsp garlic powder
250ml olive oil
60g parsley, roughly chopped
150g crème fraîche
Salt and pepper to taste
450g spaghetti
2 tbsp butter
Black olives and parsley to garnish

  1. In a large bowl, or food processor blend the tuna sardines, garlic powder, 225ml olive oil and the parsley into a smooth creamy mixture.
  2. Add the crème fraîche and mix well and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook the spaghetti, with the rest of the olive oil, until just done.
  4. Drain the spaghetti, return to the pot and warm on a medium heat, add the butter and mix well, then add the tuna sauce.
  5. Serve with the olive and parsley garnish, with crispy bread.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Trout Swiss Style

Well if you like trout, then this is one for you, it’s traditionally a Swiss dish. It was made equally by the rich and the farming homes. Trout used to be cheap around the around the lakes, and were bigger than those found in the brooks – I’m a fountain of useless information…….
 Lake Geneva Trout Fillets
2 large trout, filleted but not skinned
100g shallots, finely diced
50g mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
50g butter
150ml sour cream
100ml white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
4tsp chopped parsley
2tsp salt
1tsp garlic powder 
  1. First preheat your oven to 180˚C, 350˚F, gas 4. Grease a shallow oven proof dish with the butter, then place a thick layer of the shallots in the bottom, sprinkle with a little salt. Next season your trout with salt and pepper, the lemon juice and garlic powder, put them in the dish on top of the shallots, next layer with the mushrooms followed by the tomatoes and parsley.
  2. Pour the wine over the top, cover with baking paper and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and carefully pour the cooking fluid into a pan, add the cream and cook for a few minutes. Then put it over the trout again. Serve with buttered potatoes and a crispy green salad.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Meat Juice

There’s nothing wrong with a store bought marinade – in fact – lots are really good, but there’s also nothing wrong with the bragging rights of making your own either! Here are two which we enjoyed and I have used at BBQ’s

 Homemade Marinade

½ cup steakhouse sauce
½ cup BBQ sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp garlic salt
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp Italian herbs
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ cup brown sugar

  1. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together, to make a smooth sauce like consistency, roll your meat in the sauce/marinade and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, turning every now and again.

BBQ Marinade

2 bottles BBQ sauce
¼ cup lemon juice
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup steak sauce
2 tbsp onion
1 can cola

  1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together, until the mixture is really smooth and then pour into freezer bags.
  2. Add the meat and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Another Pasta Bake

Another Pasta bake – Tuna And Mushroom Pasta Bake this time. I can’t remember which recipe book I got this from, you realise I am going to have to searching for it now! Anyway we did in enjoy the original recipe, but preferred my tweaked version. This is great for leftovers so if you have a busy day ahead of you and cooking is going to be difficult, make this for dinner the day before, and you’ll have plenty for leftovers…. two, for the price, of one. Purrrrfect!

 Tuna And Mushroom Pasta Bake

½ package of noodles, cooked to al dente
2 cans tuna
250g mushrooms
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 & 1/3 cups milk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ cup crushed Ritz Crackers
3 tbsp melted butter

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the cooked noodles, tuna and mushrooms. Then in a separate bowl, combine the soup, milk, salt and pepper; pour over your noodle mixture and give it a good stir to combine all the ingredients together. Transfer your mixture into a greased casserole bowl. Then combine your crackers and butter, then sprinkle over the noodle mixture. (You could sprinkle a little cheese on top if you liked as well)
  2. Bake uncovered at 350˚F (180˚C) for 30 minutes, or until golden on top and piping hot all the way through!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


The potato gratin recipe inspired this one, even without the five-a-day, I want to say nonsense; but I realise it’s not – being burned into our brains at every turn, I know we must eat veggies, my own body tells me it needs “wedgitables,” thing is I get so bored of plopping ‘just’ veggies on my plate and slopping sauce or butter and salt and pepper, over the top, I needed something different. So I decided to do something else, this is what I came up with.

Mixed Cheesy “Wedgitables”

¼ cabbage
2 carrots peeled and diced
1 leek thinly sliced
1- ½ cup mixed frozen vegetables
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. shred the cabbage, peel and chop carrots and leek, place in boiling water and cook until soft, then add frozen vegetables and cook for 5 more minutes.

2. Drain all the vegetables, place in a medium sized bowl, stir in the cheese and salt and pepper.

3. Place in a 180˚C (350˚F) oven and bake until the cheese is nicely melted!

Peppered Roast Beef

I would seriously recommend giving this one a miss unless you like the heat from black pepper, or consider reducing the amount of pepper used – it really is tasty assuming you like black pepper of course – I suppose you could have a glass of water next to you? Good luck if you do have a go……. Mwahahahahahaha!!!!!

Peppered Roast Beef

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp black pepper
2 minced garlic cloves
½ tsp thyme
¼ tsp salt
Beef joint

  1. In a small bowl, mix the oil, pepper garlic, thyme and salt. Rub the mixture all over the beef, gently but firmly massaging the beef as you go. Place the beef into a roasting tin.
  2. Bake at 350˚F (180˚C) until it reaches desired doneness.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Beckey’s Lobster Cakes – Not to pretentious naming this after myself – Ahahaha – not one of my most inspirational moments – Oh well we are all entitled to a few dodgy moments in life – ok so I’ll be honest I have a few dodgy moments a day, but a day – life, what’s the difference? These are really good and I am very proud of them, inspired by store bought originally. I wrote down the ingredients, then put them altogether and made my own. A friend of mine used this recipe to make her own and said she loved them, the only criticism, if you can call it that was that it needed a few dashes of hot sauce to zing them up a bit, add it or don’t or split the mixture in half and add it to one half to see which you prefer… I would just like to say a big thank you to my friend for suggesting it….. :o)

Beckey's Lobster Cakes

1/2 lb flaked pollock
1/2 lb flaked lobster or snow crab
milk to cover pollock - to be retained
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 large beaten eggs
3 slices of whole wheat bread - crumbed
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tsp tomato paste

1. In a frying pan or skillet, poach the pollock in the milk, bay leaves and fennel. Bring to a boil - reduce heat and simmer until fish starts to flake.

2. Flake the lobster, in a large bowl, mix the lobster, eggs, bread, garlic salt, lemon and tomato paste.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 400°F, remove the pollock from the pan, flake and add to the lobster mixture, sieve and retain the milk, add about a 1/4 cup to the lobster mixture, so you have a firm but moist consistency.

4. Make the patties to a desired size. Place on a greased baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn and bake for 10 more minutes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

What's in a regional recipe? Bauernfrühstück.... Farmers breakfast

As with most recipes, this is a regional thing, and I’m sure there’ll be a long standing debate, with the Germans as to whose came first, just as I’m equally sure that depending on where you are from in Germany will depend on what ingredients go in it. I spent 18 years of my life living near Mönchengladbach, in Nordrhein-Westfalen and this is theirs, it’s a variation on an omelette or a Spanish tortilla.

From what I am lead to believe, I gather this is something that dates back to the war, when rationing is rife – however I have also read that it dates back further than that, unfortunately when I tried to google, to check my facts, it seems either no one knows or it gets lost in translation? From what I have managed to read about this recipe, it was cheap to make, but also a last resort (going back further than the war now) because people thought that potatoes, were only good for animal consumption. Whatever the case maybe, I would be interested if anyone does know the answer. This is mine.


Quick, easy and cheap to make....... German recipe

3 potatoes, diced
1 leeks thinly sliced
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 onion coarsely chopped
4 eggs beaten
1 cup milk
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tsp mixed dried herbs

1. Peel and chop potatoes into bite sized pieces, place in a saucepan of boiling water, with the leeks. Boil for about 10 - 15 minutes or until potatoes are just cooked.

2. Dry fry the bacon until they start to crisp, remove some of the excess fat and then add the onion.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Add salt and pepper and herbs.

4. When the potatoes and leeks are done add to the bacon mixture fry for about 5 minutes, then add the egg, keep frying until eggs are cooked to desired doneness.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Stuffed tatties

These stuffed potatoes are great, I’m not sure what exactly inspired me to make these, but they are filling and can be used in two ways, serve in large baked potatoes as a whole meal, or smaller ones as a side dish. Either way these are great and easy to make.
Bacon Twice Baked, Stuffed Potatoes

4 small potatoes
4 carrots, chopped
½ leek, sliced
5 rashers (slices) of bacon, diced
1 spring onion (scallion) whites and greens
2 cloves, finely diced garlic
2 egg yolks
½ cup cottage cheese
¼ cup milk
1 tsp Italian herbs
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 ½ tbsp butter, melted
Shredded mozzarella for sprinkling

  1. Wash the potatoes and bake at 190˚C (375˚F) for an hour or until cooked through. In the meantime boil the carrots and leek for about 15 minutes or until soft, dry fry the bacon and when almost crisp add the garlic and the scallions, for about another minute and then allow to cool.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the egg yolks, cottage cheese, milk, butter and seasonings, mash the carrots and leeks, then add to the cottage cheese mixture with the cooled bacon.
  3. Cut the potatoes in ½ and carefully scoop out the middle and mash with a fork, then add to the cottage cheese mixture and give it a good stir, spoon the mixture back into the potato skins. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and return to the oven, bake until the cheese has melted.


I can’t remember why I made this salad, I remember where I was, but for the life of me not the why? It’s nice but I think it would be much nicer as a sandwich filler….

Egg Salad

¼ cup Mayonnaise
2 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
6 hard boiled eggs
½ cup cooked leeks

1. In a large bowl mix together the, mayo, lemon, and the salt and pepper.. then carefully stir in the eggs and leeks.

Wow! That was really weak..... I'll have to blog a second tonight! LMAO........... literally!!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Seaside Fish Cakes

For a nice variation on fish cakes, these are super, the original recipe said to use two cans of Salmon – drained, skin and bones removed – I poached to large salmon filets instead, retaining the milk for the recipe – also I would use Ritz crackers, and not saltines, but that’s our preference.
Salmon Fish Cakes

2 large Salmon Fillets
Enough milk to cover salmon (1 cup to be retained)
2 beaten eggs
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 cups crushed Ritz Crackers/Saltines if preferred
2 tsp finely chopped onion
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Dill Sauce
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp dill
¼ tsp salt
Dash pepper & nutmeg
1 ½ cups milk
  1. In a large skillet, place your salmon fillets and cover with the milk, cook until done, it should easily flake with a fork, when they are ready, remove them from the pan, carefully flake them checking for bones as you go, also remove any skin if there is any.
  2. Next put the beaten eggs, cup of retained milk, lemon juice, Ritz crackers/Saltines, onion, salt and pepper, into a large mixing bowl. Add the salmon and mix well. Shape your fish cake mix into, 12 patties, place on a greased baking sheet, and bake for about 30 – 35 minutes at 350˚F (180˚C) or until lightly browned.
  3. Meanwhile, gently melt the butter in a saucepan, then mix the, flour, dill, salt, pepper and nutmeg with the milk. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the saucepan, bring to the boil and stir continuously until it’s thickened. Serve with the patties.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

KFC? Not quite but almost!!!

If you like KFC – Kentucky Fried Chicken, then this is surly one for you. There’s not much that gets me truly excited these days. My husband does, when he sneaks up on me at work – that makes me beam instantly, and my heart goes pitty patt, but don’t tell him that, or if I can’t see him, but can hear him, that gives me butterflies – that excites me, because we’ve been together for five years, I haven’t become complacent, I don’t take him or us for granted, I look forward to 1630, because that’s when he picks me up from work, and I can’t wait to go home, shut the door and pretend nothing and nobody else exists, it’s perfect. The only other thing to get me excited is anything to do with my kitchen, cookbooks, utensils, gadgets – and any recipe I find that is really good or similar to something we have eaten in a restaurant, for example these… I only use chicken breast and we all know by now why, but if your just now joining the blog, I don’t do bones.. But it works well with drumsticks or wings if you prefer.
 Pan-Fried Chicken
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1tsp pepper
1tsp garlic powder
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp poultry seasoning
¼ cup milk
1 egg
2 Chicken breasts cut into chunks
1/3 cup evoo (extra virgin olive oil)

  1. In a large sealable freezer bag, mix the, flour, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and poultry seasoning. In a bowl beat the egg and milk. Add the chicken to the bag and give it a good shake to coat the chicken pieces, shake off any extra before, dipping in the milk and egg mixture, then put them back into the bag and shake again…. Let the chicken pieces stand for about 5 minutes.
     2.  In a large skillet, fry the chicken on a high heat until golden brown, then reduce the heat and carry on cooking for about 15 minutes

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lemony Yummy Lamb

I swear by this recipe, it’s an absolute corker, the meat is melt in your mouth, everything just works perfectly together, the recipe requires a minimum of 2 hours marinating time, so a little preplanning…. To be honest it is best left over night. It’s great served with fries (chips for my English friends) and a salad – or equally new potatoes and vegetables. Serve the vegetables with a little butter though if you must, you don’t want to being smothering the lamb with sauce.  

Lemony Lamb

¼ cup evoo, extra virgin olive oil.
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp grated lemon peel
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp rosemary
¼ tsp pepper
2 lamb loin chops 6oz or 1" thick

1. In a large resealable plastic bag, add all the ingredients except the lamb, mix well and then add the lamb. Marinate, for at least two hours, preferably over night.

2. Drain and discard marinade then broil the lamb to desired doneness.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Messy Sausage and more pasta!

Right I’ll be perfectly honest, unless you are American you may find some of the ingredients, for this next one a little obscure and hard to get, although alternatives are possible – manicotti is cannelloni pasta shells, while in America I found manicotti to be almost toblerone shaped and ridged, where as cannelloni is cylindrical and smooth, either will work equally well though. Sausage meat in Germany, from what I can tell doesn’t exist….. and if it does I haven’t found it yet, although always keeping my eyes peeled for that all elusive ingredient. So I sort of make my own, this is a perfect way round the inability to find sausage meat, it’s simple but messy – buy your favourite sausages, and squeeze the meat out of it’s skin… Hey Presto…. Sausage meat…. How cool am I?

Sausage Pasta

1lb sausage meat (that’s an awful lot of sausage squeezing)
2 cups cottage cheese
1 package manicotti or cannelloni shells
1 (26 oz) jar tomato sauce (whichever type you like)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tsp sage

1, Preheat your oven to 350˚F (180˚C), and grease a baking dish big enough for all you pasta. In a large mixing bowl, mix together, the sausage meat, cottage cheese and sage. Once it’s well mixed, stuff it into the pasta shells, then place in your baking dish. Top with the tomato sauce.

2, Cover and bake, for about an hour, or if you have a thermometer the centre to the shell should have reached 160˚F (80˚C).

3, Uncover the pasta bake and sprinkle with the mozzarella, and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and bubbling.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

American Biscuits...........!!!

We love American biscuits, I’ll be perfectly honest, we used to buy the frozen Pilsbury ones all the time, but I also realised that eventually we would be leaving the States, that meant either no more biscuits or I had to learn to make them from scratch. This is the first recipe I tried and again it’s a baking thing, so minimum ingredients was key. To be honest they weren’t bad but not of the Pilsbury quality either, slightly disappointed, but I emphasise the fact that I am not a very good baker….
I have since found one that is pretty close to the Pilsbury style that my husband and I, know and love so much, but that comes later….. For now try these and let me know what you think.

Cornmeal Biscuits

1 & 1/3 cups all purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
2 ½ tsps baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup shortening
½ cup grated cheddar
1 cup milk

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, cut in the shortening until it looks crumbly, stir in the cheese and milk, until just moist.
  2. Drop ¼ cupfuls onto a greased baking sheet about 2” apart and bake in the oven at 375˚F (190˚C) for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Moooohahahahaha....... She tries to bake...

I am a self professed rubbish baker, I mean like all out really, really, hit or miss, super rubbish, crazy bad. I choose baking recipes depending on ingredients, the fewer the better, this was an all out, hit, hit, hit. Oh my goodness calorific, my, oh my, brilliant – no exaggeration – cheesecake factory fantastic. Thankfully it tastes so good that the few minor mishaps, and I always have some minor mishap or other, don't matter too much. With my cheesecakes they tend to split – the first time because I didn’t use a water bath, then I did use a water bath but not very well – my baking pan didn’t fit in the receptacle that I was using very well. The other time I got it spot on, other than the fact that I was really, really drunk, so it was perfect right up until the point, I forgot to peel the edges of the cheesecake off the side of the baking pan, as it cooled and retracted, the edges pulled and it in turn split the cheesecake anyway, I was really upset about it, mostly because my alcohol consumption caused a really silly mistake on what should have been a perfect cheesecake!........ Like I said though thankfully taste negates from the fact I ruined it.

 Chocolate Brownie Caramel Cheesecake

 9oz Brownie Mix
3 eggs
1 tbsp cold water
1 can sweetened condensed milk (nestle stuff super thick and sweet)
16 oz whipped cream cheese
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate sauce for drizzling

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and grease a 9” spring form pan.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the brownie mix, 1 egg and water, spread into your spring form pan and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Open your condensed milk and pour the contents into a pan, over a low heat and stirring continuously, cook for 10 – 15 minutes or until,  you can turn a cooled tablespoon of it upside down without it falling off.  The other way to do this is slightly more time consuming, but may give better results. Place the can of sweetened condensed milk in a pan of simmering water, for 2 – 2 ½ hours, you need to remember to keep toping up the water level, if it dries out the can could explode. When it’s done, let it cool before you open it, it should be very thick and caramel coloured.
  4. Keep some of the caramel to one side, you are going to need it to drizzle over the top of the cheesecake, use the rest over your warm brownie crust.
  5. Next you need to beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl until smooth. Then in a separate bowl, beat 1 egg and then mix it in with the cream cheese, making sure that it is well combined and then do the same again with the 2nd egg. Pour your cream cheese mixture over the caramel and brownie crust.
  6. Using a water bath bake the cheesecake for about 40 minutes, chill in the pan, don’t forget to run a knife around the outside edge to peel the cheesecake off the sides… Heat the saved caramel and drizzle over the cheesecake along with chocolate sauce.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Chicken and Bacon Burgers

After I moved to America, I was suddenly unemployed, housewife it was then….. I had always been told that I was a really bad “housewife,” so to be honest I felt as though I had something to prove, anxious that I wouldn’t live up to a perceived expectation, that I thought, Glen would have of me, I was scared. I am so in love with him and so desperate, not to let him down, or fail him. I still don’t want to, but not in the same way as I felt then… To begin with I was genuinely worried, that being at home all the time and being responsible for the housework, that he would realise that I wasn’t what he thought of me at all. We had never lived together before, a few weeks here and there, but this was us, together, forever and always.

 I didn’t have any reason to worry. Turns out I’m not rubbish like everyone had said for years, that I was….  I do have OCD and given the right circumstances, it breeds and manifests itself into something ugly, with help I had got it under control, I was given techniques in which to find another place, as it were, and block out the feelings causing tension and anxiety that would feed my OCD… When I lived with my Ex, to a certain extent I could block out a lot of the MESS that bothered me, I was told to find other things to occupy my mind, work, the children, dogs, reading or keeping a journal. To begin with after I moved in with Glen, it got a little “ugly” I cleaned everything, even though it didn’t need cleaning, top to bottom, every room in the apartment, drawers got emptied and reorganised, his clothes cupboard got a complete overhaul, colour co-ordinated, including his pants…. I admit I still get a little upset, if I put his boxers away and he has messed up the draw, especially if I am in one of “those anxious states.” In some ways this is a good thing, I have a mop, but if I am on my hands and knees, with a toothbrush, scrubbing the kitchen floor, he knows I am upset about something. Who needs words, when you have a husband that knows when something is wrong, will pick you up off the floor and give you one of those reassuring hugs that says, “It’s going to be ok, I’m here?” I am not saying we don’t talk because we do, but sometimes I am just not able to express myself.

Anyway I badly digress, as usual. I used to wake up most mornings, with Glen, made his coffee and breakfast, turned on the computer, took the dog out and made sure his lunch was ready for work. After he left I would do the chores. After my initial clean I had a routine, and everything would been done usually in time for Regis and Kelly, daytime T.V. Martha Stewart….. Not so much, her, but sometimes. My favourite was Rachel Ray, I love her and Glen bought me her “Book of 10.” This is one of hers.

 Bacon and Ranch, Chicken Burgers With Scallion Sticks.                                Serves 4

 8 bacon rashers (slices)
1 ½ lbs ground chicken
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ small onion
¼ cup parsley
¼ lb havarti cheese
2 tsp poultry seasoning
2 lemons
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil
2 cups butter milk
1 tsp paprika
Flour for dredging
16 scallions
4 English muffins
Creamy ranch dressing

  1. Cook the bacon over a medium-high heat until crisp.
  2. In a large bowl combine the chicken, garlic onion, parsley, havarti chunks, poultry seasoning, the zest and lemon juice of half a lemon, salt, and pepper. Then form large patties. Coat them with vegetable oil.
  3.  Remove the crispy bacon from the pan to a towel-lined plate and keep to one side. Then cook the chicken burgers, until done all the way through.
  4. In a large skillet, heat about 1 ½ inches of vegetable oil. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, mix together the buttermilk, paprika, and the rest of zest and juice from the lemons.
  5. Put the flour in another mixing bowl, toss the scallions in the buttermilk and then the flour and then repeat the process. Fry the scallions until golden on each side. Put them on kitchen paper and season with salt.
  6. Toast the muffins, and coat with a lot of ranch, then layer the bottoms of the muffins with the burgers, then the bacon and then place on the muffin tops.. Serve with your scallion sticks.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Story Behind Vodka Cream

Glen and I got married, on New Years Eve 2009, I can’t think of anything more romantic, or more fitting for that matter. We get to start a New Year, symbolically in our marriage every year. You tend to start fresh every New Year I think, and we get to do that with our marriage at the same time… Sounds kinda, kooky, I know, but it’s, how I feel.

The way in which we got married, is incredibly special for us, and a story I love to tell. I must be honest it always puts a smile on my face, I am smiling now. We’d been planning to get married since 08, looking at rings and possible wedding locations, Mexico, Bahamas, Caribbean, Vegas, the choices where endless and at the time financially not constrained, I could have gotten married anywhere! Something inside me though didn’t sit right, I wasn’t after something massive or outrageous, but I did want something different – If it’s not in a registry office or a massive church wedding everyone gets married on the beach or in Vegas (well everyone I know anyway) so we started looking for an alternative. Glen found a website and sent me a link and I loved what I saw – New York – We talked about Central Park if it was summer and he Empire State building if it was winter, with our minds made up over rings, location and my dress which my mother made, all we had to do was wait, for the minor complication of my divorce to come through, which should have be finalized in November 08. It took a year longer than expected and the court date came through for my Ex’s birthday.. 03 November 2009…… In theory I had been divorced since July 2008, everything was agreed (he got EVERYTHING), any paperwork that needed signing had been signed I just needed a judge to date stamp it. I had already moved to America to be with my husband, so I had to fly back for the court date, I was in the court room less than 15 minutes! Some poetic justice, in the date though, I feel. A few days later I returned to the States.

Christmas was looming, and I was keeping myself busy with new recipes, ice hockey, Christmas parties, the cinema and coffee dates with friends and my Aunt.

On the 29th of December, Glen and I went down to the town hall and filed for our marriage licence, once in the building, it took longer to find the office than it did to get the licence. I had changed my mind about where I wanted to get married and opted for the DC area, instead, Virginia is where my heart is and had been for 22 years since my very first visit, it feels like home. I had contacted a Rev. Dan a few months before and he was prepared to do the ceremony for us as soon as we were ready. As soon as we got home from the town hall, I emailed him and said we wanted to get married as soon as possible, he responded within the hour “How about Thursday, call me” Oh my, Monday we were talking about getting a marriage licence, Tuesday we get it, Thursday we’re getting married, talk about a whirl wind. Rev. Dan suggested his house due to the weather and we had no venue. So at 1630 we turned up at his house with a friend in accidental last minute tow, she drove me to his house. I got married in a man’s house who I had never met, in Springfield….. How cool is that?

That night we went to the Union Jack in Balston, with some friends of ours. We went round to theirs for a few nibbles and drinks before we went, and we arrived, to a bottle of champagne, a wedding cake, and I photo of Glen and I, which, we love and always has pride of place in our home.

In the Union Jack we danced and drank, and ate….. Appetizers were being served, including Vodka cream – Yum yum… My tipple of choice and I tried to recreate the recipe this is what I came up with….

   Vodka Cream

1 tsp corn flour
1 Tbsp butter
250 ml cream
1/2 cup vodka
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. In a sauce pan over a low heat melt the butter, add the corn flour, slowly add the cream, stirring constantly, bring to a boil, to thicken.

2. Add the vodka and season to taste.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Vincent, my brave little dog

I know that I normally post about my kitchen antics.... But I felt the need to post about my dog. He had cryptoid testicles, which basically means that as a puppy they didn't descend and were sitting inside him, instead of outside, unfortunately having them removed was the only option, because they could become cancerous...... Today was that day.

We drove 2 and a ½  hours to get this done, I haven’t been overly impressed with the vet here in our local area and decided that my precious little man, despite his quirks, was too important to us to take him to a vet I don’t trust.

Watching him go under the aesthetic, was traumatic, convulsions (although having been told this was normal) left me feeling very anxious, and when he took that last deep breath, before going completely to sleep, made me look and feel to see if he was still breathing, for a second I thought he had died. For a moment there my heart was breaking. I remember yelling at my husband to get the vet… If he hadn’t been there right away I would have started giving him CPR, a thousand thoughts race through your mind in that moment…. Of course I was stressing for nothing but this is my baby
don’t, forget.

Let me tell you about a few of Vinny’s “antics.” My mother breeds Golden Retrievers, and because I was living with my mother at the time, and my inability to not become attached to the little puppies, I stayed well clear of Vinny’s litter, apart from the beginning, when I was there for the birth of the entire litter. Sat in my mother’s bathroom with an armful of towels, it was my job to dry and gently blow into the little puppies noses, sometimes giving them a vigorous rub to get them breathing. It was the 29th April 2009, 0515, my husbands birthday, what a way to wake up on your birthday, with your future wife sticking a puppy in your face, that had been born literally moments before. This was the extent of my involvement with the puppies though… After that moment on, my puppy duties required of me only to make up feeds later and help clean the poop, admittedly only on occasion. This changed though, when the litter was about 5 weeks old, I had been at work all day and for whatever reason, it was, my mother and father had to go out and no one was at home to take the nearly house trained puppies outside to do their business. Oh my goodness what a disgusting mess 8 puppies can make, to make matters worse we had 30 minutes in which to clean the mess and have 8 little puppies clean and smelling nice for prospective owners. I was left cleaning poopy pups. 7 got cleaned, to be honest I had quite a good system going, all the pups went in the bath, and in a very professional and detached matter, I grabbed a puppy, stuck it under the tap in the sink shampoo’d, rinsed, towelled dry and moved onto the next 6 with NO inkling of ooooh I sooo want you feelings. Then came Vinny, last but certainly not least.

Why I fell completely in love with a dog who, chewed my hair, tried to pierce my ear again, and would growl at me all of the time I have no idea, but I did, I should have taken this as a sign of things to come, after all I am a seasoned dog owner, years of experience.
The best place to start is his GOOD qualities, this should take seconds…. He ermmmm plays well with others.

He looks really cute… Yup I think that’s about it……
Here’s a list of what he managed to get up to in the last 2 years 10 months and why we can’t leave the house without him being crated.

  1. He ate a box of tissues…. $2.00
  2. He ate an xbox headset…. $5.00  - $19.99
  3. Jack Higgins books x4…… $6.95 each
  4. La Gastrominque 1976 edition….. $50.00
  5. Xbox controller…… $37.00
  6. 10 pairs of my shoes and a pair of slippers….. $250.00 maybe more.
  7. He ate 2 nail files $1.00
  8. Tube of ibuprofen gel (made his poo shiny) $5.00
  9. Husbands mess boots (shoe laces neatly removed and laid on the floor in straight lines) $100.10
  10. First note book with blog ideas. $5.00 (plus emotional trauma)
  11. Ran away and was gone for a total of 18 hours, found having a blast at vet….. Irreparable, trauma.
  12. Husbands brand new jumper, never been worn (chewed off the zip) $30.00
  13. $200-$300 worth of dog toys (turned into rags and bits within 5 minutes)
  14. Numerous, cleaning cloths, mop ends, blankets and towels (no major issue just a pain)

It’s impossible not to love this!!!!