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Meal Plan 21st December - 27th December 2015


Meal

We're off to my parents for lunch on Christmas Day and at the in-laws on Boxing Day so it feels a bit strange this year not to be prepping and buying food for the 'main event' - I'm not complaining mind you and nor is my bank balance! Nevertheless there is still lots of cooking to be done as we are having family over after our village Crib Service on Christmas Eve. I'm doing a Cola glazed gammon that I'm hoping will see us good for sandwiches until New Year...and maybe a ham and leek pie. I'm serving the gammon with mashed potato and lots of veggies. Dessert is going to be a Baked Raspberry Cheesecake with Clotted Cream.

The rest of the week looks something like this....

Monday 21st December
Out with family

Tuesday 22nd December
Baked Meatballs with Pasta

Wednesday 23rd December
BBQ Pulled Pork in Rolls with Coleslaw and Salad

Thursday 24th December
Cola Glazed Gammon, Creamy Mash, Red Cabbage, Peas and Carrots. Baked Raspberry Cheesecake for dessert

Christmas Day
At my Parents

Boxing Day
At the in-laws

Sunday 27th December
Leftover Gammon and Leek Pie
Beth Sachs
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Maple Roasted Carrots with Pecans


Maple Roasted Carrots
These Maple Roasted Carrots with Pecans are the perfect side dish to your Christmas lunch. Just pop them into the oven with your potatoes whilst your Turkey is resting - and don't forget you can prep them the night before and stash them in the fridge. I love how the maple syrup makes the carrots go sticky and caramelise.... and the nuts give the dish a lovely contrasting crunch!

I'll let you into a little secret - If you've got any leftover they are really good in a wrap with hummus!
Maple Roasted Carrots

MAPLE ROASTED CARROTS WITH PECANS

| Serves: 6 | Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cook Time: 25 Minutes | Total Time: 35 Minutes |


Ingredients:

  • 1kg Chantenay Carrots, quartered
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 4 TBSP Maple Syrup - I used Amber Maple Syrup from We Love Maple
  • 25g Pecans, chopped

Instructions:

  • Step 1: Preheat oven to 220c.
  • Step 2: On a baking tray lay the carrots in a single layer, drizzle with oil and cover with a sheet of foil. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven.
  • Step 3: Take off the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes.
  • Step 4: Take out of the oven then drizzle with the maple syrup and scatter over pecans. Return to oven for 5 minutes.

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 18th December 2015 |

Beth Sachs
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Parsley and Thyme Stuffing for Christmas


Parsley and Thyme Stuffing
There are a few vegetarians and pescatarians in our wider family so I always try and make a vegetarian friendly stuffing on Christmas Day (along with my favourite sausagemeat one of course!). This Thyme and Parsley stuffing recipe has been developed by the chefs at Schwartz and uses mainly store cupboard ingredients you will have to hand. I've put my own twist on it with the addition of some fruity dried cranberries, which add colour and a sweet tang as well as some gently softened onion. These two ingredients work wonderfully with the herbs and ensures a tasty, robust stuffing that goes brilliantly with either turkey or whatever vegetarian option you are serving to your guests.

If you aren't making this recipe specifically for vegetarians you can use it to stuff the turkey itself, otherwise roll the mixture into balls or press into an oven proof dish and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Parsley and Thyme Stuffing

THYME AND PARSLEY STUFFING

| Serves: 6 | Prep Time: 15 Minutes | Cook Time: 30 Minutes | Total Time: 45 Minutes |


Ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP Schwartz Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 2 TSP Schwartz Thyme
  • 1/4 TSP Schwartz Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 TSP Schwartz Season All
  • 50g Butter melted
  • 1 small onion, chopped 
  • 50g Dried Cranberries
  • 1 Egg
  • 225g Fresh Breadcrumbs
  • Zest of 1 Lemon

Instructions:

  • Step 1: Preheat oven to 180c.  In a small frying pan, soften the chopped onion for 5 minutes in a little oil. 
  • Step 2: Place all of the ingredients, including the onion, in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  • Step 3: Use the stuffing to either stuff your Turkey, roll into balls or press into an oven proof dish and bake in the oven for around 30 minutes.

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 16th December 2015 |

Beth Sachs
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Double Chocolate Cranberry Brownies


Double Chocolate Cranberry Brownies
These happened by accident but my goodness I'm glad they did. I had a little bit of cranberry sauce leftover in a jar as well as half a packet of dried cranberries, so decided to develop this naughty chocolate brownie recipe full of festive flavour.

The brownies turned out moist and fudgy - helped by the cranberry sauce I'm sure - and were gobbled up by hubby's work colleagues in minutes. I'm going to be making some more for Boxing Day! They really were THAT GOOD.
Double Chocolate Cranberry Brownies


DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY BROWNIES

| Serves: makes 12 squares | Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cook Time: 25 Minutes | Total Time: 35 Minutes |


Ingredients:

  • 150g Dark Chooclate
  • 200g Butter
  • 200g Soft Brown Sugar
  • 150g Self Raising Flour
  • 40g Cocoa Powder, sifted
  • 3 Large Eggs, beaten
  • 50g Dried Cranberries
  • 100g White Chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 60g Cranberry Sauce

Instructions:

  • Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180c and line a 20 x 20cm tin with baking paper.
  • Step 2: In a large microwavable bowl melt the chocolate and butter  - I zap it for 20 seconds at a time so it doesn't overcook. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • Step 3: In another bowl mix together the sugar, cocoa and flour then pour in the melted chocolate mix and stir to combine.
  • Step 4: Beat in the eggs then fold through the cranberry sauce, dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.
  • Step 4: Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Leave to cool overnight before cutting into squares.

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 16th December 2015 |

Beth Sachs
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Mincemeat Crumble Slices


Mincemeat Crumble Slices

I like Mince Pies but I don't love them - I've never been a massive fan of pastry if I'm honest. What I definitely do love however are these Mincemeat Crumble Slices. Moreish, buttery crumble sandwiching moist fruity mincemeat - yum!

You can make the crumble really quickly in a food processor but I prefer to rub in the butter and flour by hand. Once cooked and cooled I pop the whole tin in the fridge overnight to firm up, before cutting into large squares. A dollop of clotted cream on top is lovely, or you could reheat slices in the microwave and serve it as a warm pudding with custard.

TIPS FOR MAKING THE MINCEMEAT SLICE


  1. Add some extra fruit into the mincemeat for added fruitiness - dried cranberries would be nice.
  2. Stir some chopped nuts into the crumble mixture for added texture and taste.
  3. Serve warm with custard for an easy dessert

OTHER MINCEMEAT RECIPES YOU MIGHT LIKE

  1. Mincemeat and Marzipan Cake from Lucy Loves
  2. Easy Mince Pies for the freezer from me Jam and Clotted Cream
  3. Easiest Ever Mince Pies from Taming Twins

Mincemeat Crumble Slices

Pin the Mincemeat Slices for later...

Mincemeat Crumble Slices
Mincemeat Slices

MINCEMEAT CRUMBLE SLICES





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Mincemeat Slices
Mincemeat Crumble Slices
A sweet festive traybake using mincemeat. The mincemeat slices make a great alternative to traditional mince pies.
Ingredients
  • 250g Self Raising Flour
  • 225g Butter
  • 50g Light Muscavado Sugar
  • 1 TSP Mixed Spice
  • 400g Jar of Mincemeat
Instructions
Step 1: Preheat oven to 180°c (160°c Fan) and line a 20x30cm baking tray with baking paper.Step 2: In a large bowl rub together the flour and butter until you get fine breadcrumbs.Step 3: Stir in the sugar and mixed spice.Step 4: Spread half the mixture onto the baking sheet and press down, spoon over the mincemeat and then sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on top (press down lightly).Step 5: Bake for 30-35 minutes and cool before slicing.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time:
Yield 20
Beth Sachs
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Meal Plan 14th - 20th December 2015



Last week of School - Hooray! We're counting down the days until Friday but before we get there we've got the School Christmas Concert, a birthday party, haircuts .... as well as lots of Christmas cooking to do. I've got more festive recipes on the blog this week starting with Mincemeat Crumble Slices tomorrow. Have a good week.

Monday 14th December
Leftover Roast

Tuesday 15th December
Chicken Stir Fry and Noodles

Wednesday 16th December
Macaroni Cheese

Thursday 17th December
Chicken Kievs, Sweet Potato Mash and Veg

Friday 18th December
Panini's, Coleslaw and Salad

Saturday 19th December
Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken with Rice

Sunday 20th December
Leftover Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken
Beth Sachs
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Kitchen Design for Small Spaces



We  all covet a large and sociable kitchen diner but the reality is that sometimes it's a case of making the most of what we have. Since we moved house last year I'm now lucky enough to have a fairly big kitchen but for many people space is at a premium. I've recently been helping my Brother in Law design his new compact kitchen and I've learnt a lot in the process! If you are short of space and thinking about redesigning your small kitchen, here are my top tips to make sure diminutive doesn't mean dull.

Tip 1: Plan the layout and accessibility of your space first. U shape designs work particularly well in small kitchens and enables you to achieve the perfect working triangle with cooker, sink and fridge on opposite sides of the U. If your space is narrow and long, a double galley style kitchen will still enable that classic working triangle.

Tip 2: Use light and reflective materials where possible for your cabinets, worktops and shelves. White paint on the walls and ceiling is also a must. In our old house we utilised white hi gloss units to great effect - reflecting the light and making the room look instantly brighter and bigger.

Tip 3: Utilise the full height of the room making sure your wall cabinets go as high as possible...the only use for the space between the top of cabinets and the ceiling is collecting dust anyway!

Tip 4: Integrated appliances help to create that sleek clean look. Hide your dishwasher, washing machine, fridge and freezer behind clean lines.

Tip 5: Lighting can create the illusion of space too. Make sure the hob and work surfaces are well lit by small LED spotlights under wall hung cabinets in addition to bright LED ceiling lighting. Lighting on kick plates is also very effective.

Tip 6: Clear away the clutter. If there are too many items cluttering up the worktops consider clever solutions like wall mounted magnetic knife strips and rails to hang your most used utensils. You could even consider hanging pots and pans from the ceiling!

Do you have any tips to add?
Beth Sachs
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Bake Box Subscription


Bake Box is a brand new subscription gift which provides budding bakers with the tool kit and recipes to develop their baking talents. Bake Box is the first of its kind in the UK with each box containing 6 recipe cards and the tools needed to transform any cake into a show stopper.

Boxes are delivered bi-monthly (the first boxes are due for delivery in January 2016) and subscription gives you automatic access to the Bake Club Live website where you can check out Masterclass video's and bonus recipes. The Bake Box subscription is £14.99 every two months, with each box containing at least £40 of equipment.

I was sent a trial box recently which included a gingerbread mould and we'll be attempting to recreate a fantastic Gingerbread House this weekend. I'll let you know how we get on!

I was sent a trial Bake Box to review, all thoughts are my own.

Beth Sachs
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Festive Chocolate Truffles


Festive Chocolate Truffles
The kids and I made these truffles as Christmas presents for their school teachers the other day. We made a big batch of the truffle mixture then rolled them in a variety of different ingredients - cocoa, dessicated coconut and chopped nuts (thank you Whitworths for sending these to us to try) before packaging them up in festive boxes.

I wont lie, the kids will get very messy and this is from a person who absolutely cannot abide mess. In fact I got quite agitated watching the chaos unfold but I somehow managed to contain the urge to keep washing their hands and cleaning up behind them! They had a huge amount of fun though and that's what matters ...although I'm still finding dessicated coconut and chopped nuts in every crevice in my kitchen and probably will be for the next month.
Festive Chocolate Truffles

FESTIVE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

| Serves: makes 50 | Prep Time: 4 hours 10 Minutes (includes chilling) | 


Ingredients:

  • 300g Dark Chocolate
  • 300ml Double Cream
  • 50g Unsalted Butter
  • To decorate:
  • 25g Chopped Nuts
  • 25g Dessicated Coconut
  • 25g Cocoa

Instructions:

  • Step 1: Break up the chocolate and put into a large heatproof bowl.
  • Step 2: Put the cream and butter in a saucepan and heat until the butter melts and the the mixture reaches simmering point. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate.
  • Step 3: Mix everything together until all the chocolate has been melted. Chill the mixture for 4 hours.
  • Step 4: Dip a melon baller (or just use a teaspoon) in hot water then roll the truffles into shape with the palms of your hands (make sure you coat your hands in sunflower oil before doing this).
  • Step 5: Coat the truffles in the topping of your choice. We used cocoa, dessicated coconut and chopped nuts.
  • Step 6: These keep in the fridge for 5 days (or you can freeze them).

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 9th December 2015 |


Whitworths also have a Gooey Truffle recipe on their website which uses chopped dates!
Beth Sachs
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Christmas Spiced Red Cabbage


Christmas Spiced Red Cabbage
The festive season is now well and truly upon us and throughout December Waitrose are asking their social followers what #MakesChristmas for them. Whether it be opening presents, seeing family, listening to Christmas songs or eating that first mince pie, they are asking people to post their favourite festive moment on Twitter and Instagram, with one lucky person winning a Christmas Dinner for 12 people.

What #MakesChristmas for me is smelling those lovely heady Christmassy aroma's for the first time. Think cinnamon, clementines, cloves and ginger... and this year Waitrose have rather handily incorporated them into their Signature Spice mix.

Now, you probably already know I love getting ahead with my Christmas food preparations!  My freezer is already stashed with lots of festive treats like homemade mince pies, cheese straws and decadent desserts, but did you know you can make and freeze some of the traditional Christmas side dishes too? Freezing this Christmas Spiced Red Cabbage takes a load of pressure off on Christmas Day because all you need to do is pull it out of the freezer on Christmas Eve and reheat it in the microwave - making more room on the hob for those sprouts! I used the signature spice mix in the recipe and it filled the room with a lovely Christmassy scent. I might even try rubbing it on the gammon joint this year!
Christmas Spiced Red Cabbage

CHRISTMAS SPICED RED CABBAGE

| Serves: 6 | Prep Time: 15 Minutes | Cook Time: 30 Minutes | Total Time: 45 Minutes |


Ingredients:

  • 1 TBSP Oil
  • 1 Red Cabbage, quartered, cored and shredded
  • 1 finger size piece of fresh Ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 Onions, sliced
  • 1 TBSP Waitrose Signature Spice Mix
  • 1 TBSP Mustard Seeds
  • 100g Light Brown Sugar
  • 150ml Red Wine Vinegar

Instructions:

  • Step 1: Heat oil in large lidded pan then fry the red cabbage, onions, ginger, spice mix and mustard seeds for 5 minutes
  • Step 2: Add the sugar and vinegar - stir well then put the lid on and cook on a medium heat for 15 minutes.
  • Step 3: Take the lid off and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes until the cabbage is cooked. Cool and freeze if not eating straight away

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 7th December 2015 |

I was sent a pot of the spice mix, vouchers and a hamper for creating this recipe. All thoughts are my own.
Beth Sachs
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Meal Plan 7th - 13th December 2015


Meal Plan
The weeks are motoring along aren't they? Most of the kids after school clubs have either finished or are finishing this week, which makes things a little more relaxed at feeding time. I'm utilising my big slow cooker this week to batch cook a few meals for us. I can't believe there is just 2 more weeks left of term...and 3 weeks until Christmas Day!

Monday 7th December
Slow Cooker Butter Chicken with Rice and Poppadoms

Tuesday 8th December
Christmas Parties

Wednesday 9th December
Slow Cooker Chilli

Thursday 10th December
Leftover Chilli pasta Bake

Friday 11th December
Build a Burger Night

Saturday 12th December
Sweet Potato Tagine

Sunday 13th December
Roast Pork and all the trimmings.
Beth Sachs
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10 Minute Mushroom Stroganoff



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!
10 Minute Mushroom Stroganoff

10 MINUTE MUSHROOM STROGANOFF

| Serves: 2 | Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: 5 Minutes | Total Time: 10 Minutes |


Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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.

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 1st December 2015 |

Beth Sachs
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