10 Minute Mushroom Stroganoff

The rounds of Christmas disco's, parties and concerts have started this week. After school today we're off to a Christingle service at our local church and then a Brownies party later on for my eldest daughter! In busy times like this I love homecooked meals that can be made quickly and you wont find many meals as quick to make as this creamy mushroom stroganoff. It takes all of 10 minutes but is so tasty that people will genuinely think you've been slaving over a hot stove for hours.

If you wanted to make it more meaty, fry some thin strips of steak with the mushrooms and add another spoon of creme fraiche at the end. A sprinkling of chopped parsley would be a nice garnish but not for my kids!

By Beth Sachs, 1st December 2015

  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 1 TBSP Smoked Paprika
  • 350g Chestnut Mushrooms, sliced
  • Rich Beef Stock Pot - I used Knorr
  • 4 TBSP Creme Fraiche
  • Step 1: Fry the onion, garlic and smoked paprika for 2 minutes.
  • Step 2: Turn the heat up and add the mushrooms, fry for a further 2 minutes
  • Step 3: Add the stock pot and creme fraiche, mix together. Allow to warm through then serve on a bed of rice.
Yield: Serves 2 adults
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes

John Lewis Christmas Elegance Afternoon Tea Hamper

John Lewis Christmas Elegance Hamper

I'm a bit smug. I've wrapped all of the Christmas presents before December...every single last one of them.  This is usually a job I don't particularly enjoy and tend to leave until the last minute, but this year I had a helper. My hubby, who wouldn't normally be seen within a mile of a roll of sellotape was enticed to help with the promise of treats from this wonderful Christmas Elegance Afternoon Tea Hamper.

We waited until the kids were in bed then crept around the house pulling out the presents from their various hiding places - I hope I remembered everything! We opened a bottle of chilled Prosecco from the hamper and sat down in front of the fire, glass in hand, nibbling on lots of lovely edible treats - the Macarons were a particular favourite. It was a lovely evening and helped get us into the Christmas spirit - so much so that I agreed to put the Christmas decorations up today! Wrapping understandably took longer than usual and the last of the wrapping may have been a little bit wonky thanks to the effects of the prosecco but the kids wont notice will they!

The hamper retails at £125 and contains the following products:
Rosato Vino Spumante
Prosecco Alessandro
Belvoir Elderflower and Rose Presse
Cartwright and Butler Strawberry and Raspberry Preserve
Handmade Marshmallows
Chocolate Truffles
Chocolate and Raspberry Biscuits
Honey and Almond Biscuits
Cheese Biscuits
House of Dorchester Milk Chocolate Bar
Genoa Cake
Chococo White Chocolate and Raspberry Slabs
Loose Tea

John Lewis Hamper

Thank-you to John Lewis who sent the hamper - it made wrapping a whole lot easier this year! #JohnLewisChristmas

Meal Plan 30th November - 6th December 2015

Ummmm, I've somehow been persuaded to put the Christmas decorations up today. Never before have they been up in November and I vowed I would never be one of 'those' people...but here I am. The kids and hubby wore me down. In my defence next weekend is busy...that's what I'm telling myself. And it is the start of Advent today.

This week also brings the first of the Christmas concerts, parties, School disco's and a Christingle service so I want easy but filling food. Here's what's cooking!

Monday 30th November

Spaghetti Bolognese with Garlic Bread

Tuesday 1st December
Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Pasta with a Creamy Pesto Sauce

Wednesday 2nd December
Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole

Thursday 3rd December
Leftover Sausage Casserole

Friday 4th December
Ham and Cheese Panini's

Saturday 5th December
Eating out with friends at a local pub - The Bay View at Widemouth Bay

Sunday 6th December
Spaghetti Carbonara

Baked Meatballs in a Rich Tomato and Basil Sauce

Baked Meatballs
Comfort food at its best and a recipe the whole family will love. I cheated and used Lidls Italian style meatballs which were very tasty and beautifully seasoned - they will most definitely be going on the shopping list again!

I find meatballs tend to break up if I fry them so in this recipe I oven baked the meatballs separately before adding them to the tomato sauce just before serving. The kids enjoyed the baked meatballs with spaghetti but mashed potatoes or rice would be good as alternatives.

Baked Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

By Beth Sachs, 25th November 2015

  • 24 ready made meatballs - I used Lidls Italian Meatballs which have a lovely flavour
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 2 x 400g Tins of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 2 TBSP Sugar
  • 1 TBSP Tomato Ketchup
  • 1 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Handful of Basil, torn
  • Step 1: Preheat the oven to 200c. Place the meatballs in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with oil and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.
  • Step 2: Whilst the meatballs are cooking, gently fry the onion and garlic until soft and golden then add in the tomatoes, sugar, balsamic vinegar and ketchup. Simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes.
  • Step 3: Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce, along with the basil and then continue to cook for 10 minutes. Serve over your favourite pasta
Yield: 5 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Microwave Jambalaya

Microwave Jambalaya
Microwave meals are back and this is a fab bung it in the microwave recipe that's a real lifesaver when time is short...or when you don't have the use of an oven! People don't tend to use their microwaves for actually making meals but I've found I can do quite a lot in mine...veggie chilli, risotto's, as well as this really flavourful jambalaya with chorizo and red pepper.

I'll be posting more easy microwave meals in the coming weeks so keep an eye out on the blog.
Microwave Jambalaya

By Beth Sachs, 23rd November 2015

  • 400g Can of Chopped Tomatoes (with added chilli if you like it spicy)
  • Canful (empty can of tomatoes) of Easy Cook Long Grain Rice
  • 1 Red Pepper, chopped
  • 120g Chorizo Sausage, cut into chunks
  • 2 TSP Cajun Seasoning
  • Handful of grated cheddar
  • Step 1: Empty tin of tomatoes into a large microwaveable bowl. Fill the empty can with rice then add it to the bowl. Now fill the can with water and add this.
  • Step 2: Stir in the other ingredients, cover with clingfilm (pierce a few holes in it) and microwave for 10 minutes.
  • Step 3: Give it a good stir then return to the microwave for another 12 minutes, until the rice is cooked.
  • Step 4: Serve with some grated cheddar on top.
Yield: 4 portions
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 22 mins

Meal Plan 23rd - 29th November 2015

Monday 23rd November
Leftover Roast Pork with Spiced Red Cabbage, Cauliflower cheese, Sweet Potato Mash and Carrots

Tuesday 24th November
Meatballs in a Tomato and Basil Sauce with Pasta

Wednesday 25th November
Leftover Meatballs on Jacket Potatoes

Thursday 26th November
Chicken Kievs, Rice and Veg

Friday 27th November
Panini's with Coleslaw and Salad

Saturday 28th November
Prawn Stir Fry

Sunday 29th November
Pulled Pork Rolls with Apple Slaw

Oven Baked Chorizo and Cheddar Risotto

Oven Baked Chorizo and Cheddar Risotto
There's a cold snap on the way this weekend and I can't think of anything more comforting than tucking into a bowl of this chorizo and cheddar risotto on a cold November evening. I love oven baked risotto's as they can take care of them self, leaving you chance to get on with other stuff like bathing the kids, tidying up the toys and enjoying a nice glass of wine (well it is Friday!).

Enjoy the weekend whatever you are up to! We've got a birthday party, shopping for new school boots and anther trip to the brand new Lidls in Bude on the agenda, as well as lots of Christmas cooking for the freezer.

Oven Baked Chorizo and Cheddar Risotto

By Beth Sachs, 20th November 2015

  • 1 Onion
  • 150g Chorizo, cut into chunks
  • 300g Risotto Rice
  • Splash of White Wine
  • 700ml Chicken Stock
  • 100g Frozen Peas
  • 150g Cheddar, grated
  • Step 1: Preheat the oven to 200c.
  • Step 2: In an ovenproof lidded casserole gently fry the onion and chorizo in a little oil until softened.
  • Step 3: Stir in the Risotto Rice and make sure every grain gets coated in the oil.
  • Step 4: Add the splash of wine and let it reduce for a minute then pour in the stock. Bring it to the boil then put a lid on the risotto and pop it in the oven.
  • Step 5; After 20 minutes add the peas and cheddar and return (with the lid on) to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. If its looking a little dry add a little boiling water from a kettle.
  • Step 6: Give it a good stir before serving and sprinkle with extra grated cheddar if desired.
Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Spicy Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Spinach Curry

Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Spinach Curry

There's nothing better than a warming curry on a wet and windy evening. This is a lovely robust veggie version that will keep you feeling full until breakfast - and I even convinced hubby, who usually isn't satisfied unless there is meat on his plate (although he's still unconvinced by chickpeas).

If you wanted a milder curry then use Korma curry paste instead of Rogan Josh. I served this with naan breads and mango chutney but if you wanted to stretch it a bit further then serve some pilau rice alongside.

Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Spinach Curry
By Beth Sachs, 16th November 2015

  • 2 Red Onions, sliced
  • 3 heaped TBSP of Rogan Josh Curry Paste
  • 3cm Piece of Ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Red chilli
  • Bunch of Coriander, leaves removed (to use as garnish later), stalks chopped finely
  • 2 Sweet Potatoes, chopped into 2cm dice
  • 400g Tin of Chickpeas, drained
  • 400g Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 400g Tin Coconut Milk
  • Bag of Spinach
  • Step 1: Heat a glug of oil in a large pan and add the onion and curry paste. Cook for 10 minutes until the onion is soft.
  • Step 2: Add the ginger, chilli, coriander stalks, sweet potatoes and chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tin of tomatoes then cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Step 3: Remove the lid and cook for  a further 15 minutes then stir in the coconut milk and bag of spinach.
  • Step 4: Cook for a few minutes to wilt the spinach then serve with warmed naan bread and mango chutney.
Yield: serves 4 adults
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes

Meal Plan 16th - 22nd November 2015

Meal Plan

Horrible horrible weekend, with lots of explaining to a confused 6 and 8 year old. My thoughts go out to all those affected by the tragic events in Paris.

This week I'm still running the cupboards and freezer down ready for Christmas and I'm also looking forward to the long awaited (for me anyway) opening of Lidls in Bude. I'll be there bright and early on Thursday morning as they open their doors for the very first time.

Monday 16th November
Cheesy Tomato Pasta

Tuesday 17th November
Mushroom Omelette's

Wednesday 18th November
Chicken Breasts with Sweet Potato Mash and Frozen Veggies (peas and broccoli)

Thursday 19th November
Panini's with Coleslaw and Salad

Friday 20th November
Oven baked Risotto but with bacon instead of chicken

Saturday 21st November
Pulled Pork (which is a Lidls weekend offer this week) served in rolls with coleslaw

Sunday 22nd November
Leftover Pulled Pork Macaroni Cheese

Chocolate Orange Biscuit Cake: An Alternative Christmas Cake

Chocolate Orange Biscuit Cake
Every year I make a Christmas cake and every year I'm the one that ends up eating the damn thing. So in a concerted effort to maintain my waistline, this year, instead of a traditional Christmas cake I'll be making an alternative Chocolate Orange Biscuit Cake to enjoy. After all, who can resist the quintessentially festive chocolate orange combo?

The beauty of a biscuit cake is that it can be made 3 or 4 days ahead and left in the fridge until you want to serve it (or a cold garage if the fridge is bursting at the seams!). All you need is a dollop of clotted cream and you're sorted. If this is being made for an entirely adult audience I would use all dark chocolate in the topping.

An alternative Christmas Cake - Chocolate Orange Biscuit CakeCHOCOLATE ORANGE BISCUIT CAKE
By Beth Sachs, 13th November 2015

  • 350g Digestives
  • 100g Ginger Nuts
  • 100g Dried Fruit e.g. raisins, cherries
  • 50g Chocolate Candy - I used mini smarties
  • Zest 1 orange
  • 340g Butter
  • 240g Golden Syrup
  • 120g Dark Chocolate
  • 60g Cocoa powder
  • For the topping
  • 150g Milk Chocolate
  • 100g Dark Chocolate
  • 50g White Chocolate for drizzling
  • Chocolate Stars to decorate
  • Step 1: Line a 20cm springform tin with clingfilm so that it overhangs at the top.
  • Step 2: In a large bowl bash the digestives and gingernut biscuits with the end of a rolling pin. Add in the dried fruit, chocolate candy and orange zest. Set aside.
  • Step 3: In another large microwaveable bowl slowly melt the chocolate, butter and syrup (I do 30 second bursts then stir). Once melted whisk in the cocoa powder.
  • Step 4: Mix the melted chocolate with the crushed biscuits until combined. Tip into the prepared tin, level the top and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours to set (or overnight).
  • Step 5: Melt the topping chocolate (milk and dark chocolate), allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Step 6: Turn out the biscuit cake onto a large plate and peel off the clingfilm.
  • Step 7: Spread on the melted chocolate and use a palette knife to smooth the top.
  • Step 8: Melt the white chocolate and decorate with chocolate stars and drizzles of white chocolate.
Yield: 10 slices
Prep Time: 20 minutes, chilling time 2 hours+
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