Thursday, 26 February 2015

Cheesy Chorizo Gnocchi Bake

Have you ever dreamed about what it would be like to immerse yourself within a gooey spicy vat of melty cheese? No, nor me either but after making this bake it honestly doesn't seem like a bad option in the middle of winter and all its snowy grey and drizzle ridden dreariness! I know I will melt come summer and its humid fly filled evenings but I hate being cold, my body hates being cold so it really cannot come around soon enough! Cold is bad unless it involves ice cream and lots of it!
As much as my stretchy work trousers are suddenly feeling much more snug than I would like, winter is simply not made for salad and when the evenings are lighter, evening walks will re-commence and hopefully those trousers will become slightly less snug! Sometimes you just need a comforting, warming dish that gives you a well needed hug, and my Cheesy Chorizo Gnocchi Bake gives you a lovely sleep inducing cuddling up on the sofa with your loved one kinda hug.
When planning our meals they are a mixture of tried and trusted, random things I snag online or in my overflowing collection of torn out recipes and the rest I imagine ingredients I would like to eat but this dish came to me in a dream. I have only ever baked gnocchi once in a rather nice prawn dish but some reason its not an ingredient I really think of and when I was recently carrying out the reverse dad taxi role, and taking my dad shopping following some surgery I spotted a packet of Gnocchi. Then the image in my dream formed and this dish was born a few nights later! I did once attempt to make my own but its better to just buy them unless you are gnocchi master perhaps.
Serves 3-4 with a side
125g mozzarella, torn into chunks
500g prepared gnocchi, boiled and drained.
120g spicy chorizo, sliced into thin half moons
400g tin cherry tomatoes
2 heaped tbsp grated cheddar
1 onion, finely chopped
75ml milk
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil and gently fry the onion for 3 minutes, or until starting to become translucent, add the garlic and chorizo and fry for a further 3 minutes, or until the chorizo has released its fragrant oils and has lightly browned. Stir through the tomatoes, rosemary and add the milk, gently simmer, covered for ten minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 200o
Stir the prepared gnocchi into the sauce, being careful not to break the tomatoes, and transfer into a small baking dish - I used my pie dish which is multi versatile! 
Sprinkle over the grated cheddar, transfer to the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until all lovely, golden and bubbling.
Serve hot with buttered greens:

As delicious as the bake was I would suggest its eaten all in one sitting - we kept some back for lunches...but the gnocchi kinda soak up the sauce and its edible but not quite as good the next day...

Monday, 23 February 2015

Monday Meal Plan W/c 23/02/15

Once again the week has seemingly flown by and Monday has rolled around again! Though I have been so engrossed in colouring in my creative therapy book I have lost all track of time and retreated into my own little world, briefly leaving for tea! Its a brilliant distraction technique from pain, stress and worry! Fortunately for B I did manage to drag myself away to make some food in-between otherwise we may have been that bit more svelte this week!
For once we stuck to most of the meal plan last week! Tuesday's baked pancakes were heavenly and I had to blog them to share their love! I used some fabulous Polish ham and cheese that thanks to one of my lovely readers Sylvia discovered its actually called Twaróg! I have bought more yesterday to do some more experiment with further this week! It feels good to try and use some more authentic ingredients and explore my heritage that bit further!

The only night that had a major shift was Friday - I was so looking forward to our meatballs and spaghetti -made with some delicious sausages that my dad had brought over- but was horrified to find they had grown a fur coat! B tried persuading me to go for a Chinese but I actually really wanted to eat meatballs and spaghetti - luckily I remembered my tuna meatballs recipe and I daresay I think I enjoyed them more than the sausage ones!
So for this week I have actually been food shopping - and spent a small fortune for us it felt on Saturday but as I hadn't shopped for over a week other than buying milk I was pretty happy to restock the fridge and cupboards! Plus we also picked up some lovely sparkling rose on offer - will be perfect for our upcoming Mothers day meal! I think we will manage most of this weeks plan - B is out friday night for some cricket club do so its me and my friend Ces to cook - I've had a rummage through the cupboards and as we made chickpea burgers fairly successfully last time, this time its bean burgers!
 Salmon fillets, jacket bites, leeks and petit pois
Pasta squares with Polish sausage, cheese and kale bake
Tuna meatballs with courgette risotto
Kale and artichoke pesto spaghetti
Beanburgers and rice

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Polish Ham and Cheese baked Pancakes with Hardy's

First things first - before cooking this delightful dish make sure you have allocated enough time – it doesn’t take that long to actually cook but rushing around to make twelve pancakes, one by one is awfully time consuming whilst also crumbling up cheese, slicing ham, along with preparing a tray of potatoes and squash, and it results in a lovely, rather messy cheese splattered kitchen!
You see normally I am quite organised in the kitchen but I had got home late from work, and really fancied a cup of tea. So that’s what I did. So in turn I ran late, though in the end it all worked out fairly fine except for some slightly soggy broccoli. No one complained anyway that it was a bit late and we all had seconds, so I am not sure really why I get into such a tizz! I do like being punctual even if I am working to my own little schedule in my head! Though I may at one point declared if I were to offer pancakes again presume I have gone crazy!

I think I may have mentioned before that my roots are a little bit Polish but I have never really explored Polish cuisine other than picking up the odd packet of ready made Pierogi (and the fun time I accidentally bought sweet cheese ones and served with a garlic butter sauce!) and this recipe by no means is particularly Polish in origin, though it does use a rather tasty ham called Szynka Swojska, which was wrapped in some kind of netting and proved fun to remove, plus a cheese that was labelled as being a soft cheese, but on opening it was actually rather crumbly upon touch and more resembled a cottage type cheese but without the watery gloop part! I will have to look next time in the Polish shop more closely to find its other name! Fortunately it also melted into the ham fairly well! I think next time I would add more cheese - as the last few pancakes were on the skinny side!
Recently I was sent a bottle of Hardy's 'Stamp of Australia' Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir - its a new variety on me and I am a fan! When it comes to sparkling wines I do like Champagne but I can't afford it and normally we tend to buy Prosecco for special occasions, though this sparkling Chardonnay is definitely a serious competitor! I am no wine buff but I really liked the lightness of this one, its small bubbles bursting with a light citrus note on the tongue with an almost creamy, smooth roundness to it makes it most drinkable for all tastes! My boyfriend is not normally a fan of chardonnay as it tends to be drier (perfect for me!) but even he enjoyed this without adding a splash of raspberry syrup! It complements the smoked ham and slightly sour cheese flavours very well but even on its own its a very pleasant glass of bubbly. A keeper!

Serves 4-6


180g plain flour
5 eggs
400ml milk
Pinch salt


250ml milk
250ml water
1 heaped tsp vegetable bouillon powder
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
6 tbsp grated extra mature cheddar
2 tbsp cornflour
6 cherry tomatoes, halved


500g diced Szynka Swojska (cooked ham) cut into small strips
275g Polish soft cheese  - crumbled

For frying - butter or spray oil

A large sheet of greaseproof paper -

Start by making the pancakes. Sift together the flour, salt and beat in the eggs. Add the milk bit by bit to form a smooth batter. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a heavy based frying pan and add a little butter or spray oil, add a ladleful of batter and swirl around quickly to form a thin pancake. Cook for about two minutes then flip, and cook for a further minute or until cooked through. Place on the prepared baking paper, and repeat with remaining batter to form roughly 12 pancakes.  Alternate the cooked pancakes with the greasing paper to stop them sticking to each other.

When your pancakes are all prepared, pre-heat oven to 200o. Lightly grease two large baking dishes.

Place a pancake on a board or clean counter. Spoon over ham and a litte cheese, roll up and place seal side down in the dish. Repeat with remaining until all filled.

Meanwhile boil together the milk, water and bouillon. Slacken the cornflour with a little water and when the milk mixture is boiling, stir in the prepared cornflour paste, whisking all the time until thickened. Add the rosemary and 2 tbsp of the cheese. Pour over the prepared pancakes and sprinkle over the remaining cheese and tomato halves.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Sorry there are no pictures of it plated it - it was gobbled up fast by my family and lovely neighbour who popped around for her share as she had never had them baked before! For the record I served mine with broccoli, and a tray of roasted new potatoes with cubes of butternut squash.

Many thanks to Hardy's for the wine samples. All opinions, text and photography remain the property of Anne's Kitchen and prior permission must be sought before use elsewhere. 

Monday, 16 February 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Monday has come around so fast and has been so full! Me and a girlfriend went to the cinema, also had a cheeky pint in the pub beforehand which is always good! Also I am up to week 5 of my Pain Management course, which has also flown by and hopefully I am learning a few things along the way. One is not to be in denial, so when I decided to not look where I was going on Friday and fall over a sofa in reception I have openly now laughed about it and been reassured I am not the only one to fall over in public. It makes me feel human again.

Feeling human is also very food based, for me at least anyway! Rating good food is so important to both physical and mental health and sometimes I can let go of my reins and relax a little more in the kitchen. Obviously unless you were hiding under a rock Saturday just gone was Valentines Day - and it was a lovely relaxing one too. Breakfast involved assisting my dear friend C as her sous chef as we created a Filipino breakfast called Tapsilog -lots of lovely garlic fried rice - afterall what is more romantic than frying 8 clove of garlic on a Saturday morning - (thank god for dry shampoo that smells of coconut) -along with tasty strips of beef and a fried egg - it was delicious!
Then dinner was so flexible I am surprised we cooked at all! At the last minute we were going to visit our favourite Chinese but as I'd already thawed the sausages we ended up staying in and cracking open a bottle of bubbly we were given for Christmas! We had our favourite shared starter - spicy avocado toasts, then had some lovely heart shaped sausages called Peck, along with homemade crispy red onion rings, petit pois, roasted cherry tomatoes and roasted new potatoes. Pudding became two custard doughnuts we bought - I felt like I should of baked but if I had, then we wouldn't of had our lovely walk through Eton and a shivery stroll around Windsor together. Life's all about balance at the end of the day, maybe I am learning afterall?
Anyway enough of my ramblings, despite never really celebrating Shrove Tuesday on a random whim we've invited family over to join us for dinner. My dad bought over last week a joint of smoked ham which I think will work nicely...Pancakes are scary business when you have horrible batter history but I feel fairly confident about them...! Last week went a little off plan as the butternut squash is still hiding in the fridge - this week it will get used! Oh and we didn't eat the planned meatballs either last week as I forgot to thaw the mince, oops!
Salmon with noodles and veggies
Baked pancakes filled with smoked ham and cheese
Squash falafel with red rice
Smoked mackerel with jacket potatoes and salad
Meatballs and Spaghetti
Have a good week everyone!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Banana, Sultana and Chia Drop Scones

Ever since we watched, well repeatedly watched the trailer for the next Minions movie we seem obsessed with the word bananas, said in a Minion dialect to the point we seem to entirely communicate with Minion language. This should be somewhat embarrassing for two thirty-something's but alas, we do not care! It can surely only get worse when the film does get released... Fortunately we are rather fond of bananas but even at the rate we eat them there are often a few 'deaded' ones come the weekend and as much as I adore making banana bread, it takes time, however these pancakes takes minutes in comparison!
For many years I have been making drop scones aka mini pancakes and had fairly stuck rigid to the recipe, after all there is the if its not broke why fix it theory... but then my friend C made me some of her mothers recipe banana pancakes, stupidly I mislaid the recipe but decided to play around and made these Banana ones, with a nutritional boost of chia seeds and a handful of sultanas to make them a little more complete, and satisfying too! I have admitted now to her I mislaid it - after I let her try mine, luckily she enjoyed my version too!
We have been enjoying the drop scones with all sorts of different toppings over three weekends of experimenting! B's favourite undoubtingly was to smother them with Nutella! Though I am rather fond of my homemade Spiced Kiwi and Apple Jam, which I really must get around to blogging about!

These jumbo sized ones came about after Bruce spotted some biggish ones in ASDA and wanted to buy them-  I quickly tutted and plotted to surprise him with these frying pan sized ones instead!! Needless to say he was pretty impressed!! Also size is purely optional - the mixture makes about 12 palm sized ones. 

Makes 12 Drop scones


2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 large egg
150g self raising flour
150ml milk
1 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
25g sultanas
1 heaped tsp sugar
pinch salt

Butter/ spray oil (I like lately the Lurpak spray but its quite pricey!)


Sift the flour, cinnamon, salt and sugar into a bowl. Break the egg into the middle, use a fork to beat together, adding the milk slowly to form a batter.

Stir in the mashed banana, sultanas and chia to form a thick-ish batter.

Heat a thick based frying pan with a good spray of oil/ butter or a knob of butter - if you don't have one just use a general one but be careful with the heat as they can burn quickly!

Use a large spoon to add the batter to the pan, smoothing over lightly if needed. Flip when little bubbles start appearing and cook for a further minute.

Remove to a warm plate, cover with kitchen paper to keep them warm, and repeat with the remaining batter, greasing a little in between batches.

Here is one of the batches - these were cooked in my lighter based pan and as you can see they got tanned quicker so be cautious! They were still of course all eaten! I have found turning the heat down after the first batch helps to keep the temperature in range - I do use a hideous ancient electric hob which has questionable thermometer levels at the best of time so cooking is always a challenge!

This was my second favourite topping - mocha spread! I have about 1/4 left in the prized jar which is brilliant as I am the only one who loves it, and I am eeking it out slowly as I doubt I will be able to find it again! As you will also notice my drop scones are not exactly perfectly round - there is really no need to aim for perfection, just enjoy them!
Overall I adore these drop scones so much! The thicker the better really and don't worry if you have a lumps of banana - they are all the better for it! I think if anything we purposely over buying bananas now to ensure we have deaded ones to make these at the weekend!
As my drop scones used up some super manky bananas I am sending them over to this months Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary's No waste Food Challenge - see if you can spot the 2nd banana in the picture!!
And as they saved money by not throwing away the bananas, plus they made a very tasty and cheap breakfast I have also sent these in to this months Credit Crunch Munch - also held by a very busy Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary for February, which was set up by Camilla of Fab Food 4 All and Helen of Fuss Free Flavours to promote making tasty dishes from cheaper cuts, leftovers and more!

*This post is no endorsement of Minions, we just are huge fans!*

Monday, 9 February 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Last weeks plan became merely that - a plan! After spending what felt like forever deciding what to put on the actual meal plan, Monday nights noodles became cappellini pasta instead, and I omitted the peanuts and added the last wedge of Huntsman blue stilton I found hiding in some foil. At least it used up the mushrooms! Tuesday looked promising and it actually did fit the plan - Chorizo, Mozzarella Gnocchi bake with Garlicky greens - and it was delicious! Like a giant cheesy tomato spicy meaty potato heaven with fresh garlic spiked greens and courgettes - recipe to follow!

After that it was kinda downhill ... Wednesday became a takeaway - my fibro flared and my hands felt like they were clutching balls of hot coals, just to add the left shoulder/ neck/ arm also being slightly argumentativie - though I wont deny I rather enjoyed my naughty kebab n chips! We opted to share a small portion this time with a nod to being a bit more healthier but they still managed to give us a giant portion oops! Plus who can really say no to hot salty chips?!
Thursdays veggie burgers became dust as when my boyfriend popped out to get the kebab he also picked up a rather tasty Maple Bacon quiche for 35p so that became dinner! Friday night neither of us fancied the frittata, and weirdly neither us of felt hungry and pretty much just nibbled on prawn crackers all night! Not the healthiest of weeks!!

So this week I have come up with a plan, whilst I had already started it the previous week my dad had bought over some bits n bobs so I've adjusted things slightly, most meals will be doubled up for leftovers.. and of course its Valentines on Saturday! I have not fully decided ours - we might pick up one the supermarket meal deals and relax instead! Have you got anything special planned?

Cheese n bacon pasta bake with greens

Chorizo and pepper One pot Rice

Bratwurst casserole

Lentil filled pasta shells baked in tomato sauce, with roasted coconut squash

Meatballs and spaghetti

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Tuna Meatball and Courgette Risotto

A few years back I recall making some tuna meatballs but I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed and I never revisited them... they were kind of stodgy and er dense from memory… until one particular night recently... I had planned a risotto of some sort for dinner and I thought about using up the bacon lurking in the fridge but as we were planning sausages on the Thursday and my head started muttering too many nitrates in the week, I decided to cook something fishy instead but we only had tinned tuna, tinned mackerel or tinned salmon and nothing in the fridge or freezer.. and I wondered if could we dare brave tuna meatballs again? Plus the thought of tuna stirred through risotto didn’t exactly sound inviting at all yet alone the mental imagery and I thought about making tuna meatballs again but smaller this time and a completely different recipe – so I tweaked a few things and voila! Success! Apart from Mr B initially thinking the meatballs were actually made of chicken it was a resounding success!

Since making this courgette version, I also made another one with finely sliced leek, added at the same stage as the courgette in the original version and a cupful of petit pois near the end, along with roasting cherry tomatoes instead of peeling etc as basically they are less faffy to do, oh and I used some lovely fresh rosemary instead of Basil – both risottos were resounding successes and I am making mental note of both to remake! Don’t be shy with the parmesan – I have in the back of my mind somewhere that cheese and fish are not very Italian but I am part Polish and the rest a mixed English bag and well I don’t really care! It tastes great and surely that’s all that matters?!
The meatballs are easy to make - I have tried both with and without flour to roll in and providing you work quickly, the less flour the better! Its a fairly cheap dish to make as well - tinned tuna is so handy to keep on standby this makes a great week night or weekend meal to cook!

Serves Two – Easily doubled.


1 x tin tuna in spring water
1 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese
1 medium egg
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
1 tbsp finely chopped basil leaves
1tbsp olive oil


175g carnaroli rice
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 courgette, trimmed, cut into thin quarters
1 tbsp olive oil
Knob of butter
50ml dry white wine (or vermouth)
1 large tomato (or 6 cherry tomatoes)
1 heaped tsp vegetable stock powder, made up in 700ml boiling water
½ lemon, zest only
2 heaped tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese + more to serve
3 basil leaves, for garnish

Pre-heat the oven 10 low – about 80o

Start by preparing the meatballs. Mix lightly the tuna, basil. Egg, parmesan and breadcrumbs. Use a teaspoon and hands to create mini meatballs. Heat the olive oil, fry the meatballs for about a minute or so on each side until lightly crispy, place in a baking tray, cover loosely with foil and keep warm in the oven.

Place the pan back on the heat and melt the butter, gently sauté the onion until translucent, being cautious not to brown it then add the courgettes and fry for 5 minutes to lightly colour.
Add the white wine, allow to burn off then stir through the garlic and rice, fry for a minute then add a good splash of stock to loosen, reduce the heat slightly and when the stock has evaporated and starting to sizzle slightly, add a splash more and repeat until the rice has fluffed up - about 30 minutes give or take. You may choose to spend this time getting to know your wine better.
When its almost cooked through add the prepared tomato, and lemon zest. The texture should be slightly loose but not sloppy! Turn off the heat, season with salt and pepper and stir through the parmesan.

Serve in bowls with a good sprinkle of parmesan and a basil leaf

Risotto really is perfect comfort food – who can resist a big steaming bowl of hot creamy, fragrant rice on a chilly winters night? The flavours all worked so well together and it will definitely be made again soon!

If my risotto has whetted your appetite why not check up this little round-up of deliciousness:
An intriguing sounding and gloriously golden Prawn Savoury from FabFood4All
This simple but delicious looking Tomato and Basil Risotto from Happiness is Homemade
If you have not tried using pearl barley instead of risotto rice it makes for a delicious risotto still - this Chorizo and pea one from What to Have For Dinner Tonight (I make a similar one myself and I agree the flavours work so well together!)
I adore the name of this newly discovered blog Knead Whine and her risotto of Butternut Squash and Sage looks scrumptious!
Seeing this lush looking Baked Wild Mushroom Risotto from Family-Friends-Food makes me pine for my old cast iron casserole.. which I regrettably sold to make space a few years day we will meet again!
There is also another lovely oozing Mushroom one - this tasty risotto from Munchies and Munchkins also contains black garlic - something I recall seeing at a food show with a morbid fascination!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Monday Meal Plan, hopefully back on track!

Apologies for the radio silence.. after the planned week of dads surgery and the blur that it was spending hours on motorways and petrol bills, we received some utterly sad news - my boyfriends Gran sadly moved on from this life, it was all rather sudden and left us in slight shock. Then more sad news in that a dear foodie friend of many years, who I shall refer to as K, also sadly passed away the same weekend. After the high of my dad being all well and recovering most excellently to two sudden deaths it really just swamped more fuel on to our existing emotional fires. Life is so short, we really must try our best to live our own to the best we can. Needless to say when I attended last weeks pain clinic and we had to discuss what we would want on our Eulogy at 80 years old it was not too welcome to my thoughts!
So, after two weeks of being here, there, and everywhere I am back to meal planning with a vengeance. Between thoroughly looking at my fridge, store cupboard and larder cupboard coinciding with catching some of food money saving programme on telly last week, I admit I have a tendency to over stock.... I feel some of it stems from long standing anxiety issues following on and off health issues for most of my adult life. First comes the fear of not being able to work, then not enough food, not well enough to cook and therefore I will be hungry and in a downward spiral, you get my drift of how those thoughts pan out.. however I am working, I have moderate savings in case of unexpected events and I need to let go of having everything I need in stock - I am after all not a supermarket and they exist for when I do of course need more supplies!
I have been perfecting Banana pancakes in an effort to make sure we don't waste anything - they are quick to cook and so easy to make - I will post up the recipe imminently! Here is one smothered in my homemade Spiced Kiwi & Apple Jam:
The time has now come to go back to thorough meal planning and stock control and so I have prepared the next two weeks following a detailed update of my excel supplies sheet. It allows a little flexibility still, as being too controlling will leave me in a wobbly state if it goes off plan! Also I am having issues again with my left arm, am pondering if its stemming from my neck or lower down as its all tingly and quite painful at times. After a brief flirt with the horrors of Dr Google I have booked a gp appointment to get it checked out! With the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia I do frequently wonder if its all in my head or untreatable pain but I suppose its best to always get a real Dr to diagnose!
So this weeks meal plan is after many hours of indecision is as follows - including our potential lunches - I seem to have in particular a rather large stock of crackers and rice cakes, which will form the basis of mine! My boyfriends lunches will be some chilli beef pasties I picked up on offer, then either sandwiches with pate or made up of leftovers.

Rice cakes, cottage cheese, mini sausages, sliced peppers
Mushroom, courgette and peanut noodles
Rice cakes, cottage cheese, mini sausages, sliced peppers
Chorizo, mozzarella gnocchi bake with garlicky greens
Baba ghanoush, crackers
Carrot, cashew and lentil burgers, courgetti spaghetti
Baba ghanoush, crackers
Bacon stuffed squash, courgette and cherry tomato stew
Pate and crackers, pickles
Chorizo frittata, petit pois
Hopefully the plan will make a dent in our supplies - my plan in my head is to get down to just having the kitchen cupboards as storage, no mean feat when you share a kitchen but I can at least try, and it will save me having to go up and down the stairs as frequently to find items for dinner!
Happy planning all!
Anne x
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