Friday, 31 January 2014

Justin and the Knights of Valour Cupcakes

Whilst I love to bake, I never claim to do fancy icing and when a recent opportunity presented to make some Knightly themed food, I managed made some cute cupcakes that I am super proud of! I initially designed some ideas on paper with colouring pens (I will never grow up!) and they are fairly similar to the finished results so maybe I should learn to gain some confidence in both my design and decorating skills!

The cupcakes we made are to celebrate the launch of a new animated movie called 'Justin and the Knights of Valour', which is out on DVD/Blu-ray from 3rd February 2014. I have not managed yet to watch it all the way through owing to my shift patterns this week in the real world but hopefully will manage it this weekend, is very funny from what I have seen so far and I am looking forward to watching it! 
Picture courtsey of DNA PR
We had lots of fun making them, getting dyed various shades of green and grey making up the tiny batches of icing and improvising mini icing bags out of greaseproof paper, plus the cakes were delicious too, which always helps! A glass of chilled white wine also played a part in keeping us calm thoughout! It was very therapeutic experience and I am so glad we had a dishwasher after!

As I was baking these someone elses house, I enlisted some of their son's toys to set the scene with this shot! Though I am sure he was a little surprised as to why I was trying to steal them out of his toybox..

I never knew how fiddly a castle would be to make out of fondant but it was worth it for the finished result! I let my neighbour's son choose a cake and unsurprisingly he chose the castle, though I think secretly to B’s horror as he had his eyes on it!! 

My basic sponge mix involved a new item – Extra fine cake flour, it was a little more expensive but gave the sponge a more lighter texture and definitely worth it for a special occasion! I always weigh my eggs as its cheaper to buy a mixed tray and my other ingredients weights are based on them.

Basic fairy cake mix:
Makes 12

120g Extra fine cake flour
2 eggs
120g caster sugar
120g soft butter/ margarine
Tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk

Heat oven to 180o

Beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, milk and vanilla. Fold through the flour and mixed in and spoon the batter into cake cases.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden and a skewer comes away clean.

Allow to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before icing

We used a mixture of butter icing and fondant icing to decorate the cakes, gel colour food dyes, along with a vivid imagination and silver and gold sugar balls. We started with 12 cakes but some were er, sacrificed to make castles and provide snacks!

If you fancy some more Knightly themed food do check out Helen's gorgeously crispy Knights of Valour Castle Cake

Many thanks to DNA Pr and of course my lovely girl friend for lending her support, icing skills and wine to the day!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with DNA Pr.
All images and content remain the property of Anne’s Kitchen

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Chargrilled Pepper Stuffed Mushrooms

One of my favourite easy meals for one is making stuffed mushrooms, either as a simple starter with some nice leaves or making a larger portion into a more substantial meal. This particular one was somewhere in-between, the mushrooms needed using up and I ate them over two nights alongside dinner. Any excuse really!

The chargrilled red pepper paste is from Sainsbury's and its addictive stuff! Add's a real depth to dishes especially when chargrilling peppers on an electric hob is a bit of a no-no! I love the earthiness from mushrooms and the the tangy, tasty filling with a delicious cheesy crunch is a winning combination! I first discovered it late last year at a cookery event and its a regular ingredient now, I just wish it came in bigger jars!


2 large flat mushrooms
2 heaped tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tsp chargrilled red pepper paste
1 tsp basil paste or a few fresh leaves shredded up
2 tbsp mature cheddar grated

Pre-heat the Oven to 200o 

Trim and destalk the mushrooms, zap for a minute in the microwave to soften.

Place the cooked mushrooms with the remaining ingredients in a bowl, combine and stuff into the mushrooms.

Spray a little oil on foil lined tray and and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until cooked through and it smells delicious in your kitchen!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Meal Planning Monday

Last week has simply flown by! We managed to cook nearly everything as per last weeks plan which was good but I realised during the week that one of the new meds my GP gave me was proving detrimental to my mental health and upsetting my insides- when I go off my food I can tell something is up and so I have weaned off them till I can sort out a suitable replacement... got the usual mixture of nights and day shifts this week so some easy meals on the planner.

There were several great meals last week and recipes will follow soon - the chorizo stuffed squash was so tasty and appears again this week! I also got very messy on Saturday making something involving food dyes and that should be up by the end of the week!

Monday - Fish fingers, new potatoes, green beans 

Tuesday - Sausage casserole, made with chopped tomatoes, veg stock, carrots, pearl barley and leftover potato chunks. Cheesy bread to dunk

Wednesday - leftover casserole and leftover bread

Thursday - Tuna fishcakes, garlicky courgettes 

Friday - Chorizo and pistachio herb stuffed Butternut squash with harissa couscous  OR possibly a naughty takeaway!


Friday, 24 January 2014

Thai Turkey with Coconut Coriander Sauce - Random Recipe #36

This months Random Recipe #36 - New Year, New Book was set as always by Belleau Kitchen, was actually chosen by B – he had no idea what he was doing it for at the time but I gave him the most recent cookbook I was given (though admittedly was a slight cheat as I was given this particular book and the ‘Reggae Reggae’ cookbook together but nothing really appealed in there when I had previously looked!) I just simply handed the book over and told him to flick it open to a recipe – and with a slight sigh of relief Thai Pork with Coconut Coriander Sauce was read out! If you just noticed the deliberate change from the title to the reference above then well done – we did switch the meat from Pork to Turkey, mainly as I had bought reduced some Turkey breast steaks, and as the recipe called originally for Pork Fillet which is equally pretty lean it made an excellent and economical substitute!

So the book in question this month … its Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home (by Rachel Allen), and the Thai Pork is also the first recipe cooked from it. Dad gave me the book late last year after managing to source it for I think something like a measly 99p brand new in a clearance shop! I do like a bargain but really lack bookshelf space now (in fact a boxful linger sadly in the loft softly calling at night..either that or we’ve got pigeons!) and now I’ve actually had a proper look through it there are some rather tasty looking recipes including some Fruity Breakfast Muffins that the page just opened on as I got the book out to type it up!

This also reminded me once again (and the second time that week oops) to READ A RECIPE FROM START TO FINISH as we completely cacked up the timings and wasted precious time and energy making it! Dinner was finally served about 9pm! I have written the recipe out to make it easier for those with similar brain programming to me!

Many moons back I attended evening classes for a Thai Cookery course, it had been initially advertised in the local paper as South East Asian Cookery but I think Thai food was becoming popular and there must have been requests made and it was changed to just Thai cookery. To this day ashamedly I note that I have never looked up the difference! I am no expert by any means on Thai cusine and not really sure how authentic this is either but it has all the elements of a Thai meal, and despite our attempts to ruin it piece by piece, it actually turned out pretty tasty and can see us definitely making again.

The original recipe serves a whopping 10-12 so I have scaled it down somewhat to suit 2-3 adults. I also opted for using Gourmet Garden’s fresh herb and spice pastes as er its easier and I had them in! I left out the lemon zest as I er forgot to buy one. I’ve never used lemon zest in Thai recipes before either so wasn’t too concerned missing it out!


400g Turkey breast, into 1x2cm chunks


2tbsp fresh coriander leaves chopped up
3 spring onions, roughly chopped
½ tbsp ginger paste
2 cloves garlic
Squeeze of lemon juice (I use bottled)
½ tps red chilli paste
½ tbsp lemongrass paste
1 heaped tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp Nam Pla (fish sauce)
1 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tin coconut milk (in hindsight next time use ¾ tin)
2 tsp Nam Pla
3 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves and stalks roughly chopped
S&p to taste

Some of the ingredients!

This is the bit I we-wrote completely - there are two options for making the marinade– option one is if you have a liquidizer or similar gadget. Option two is if you only have a food processor (I don’t this is how book states it?!)

Option one – whack all the marinade ingredients together in a liquidizer till nicely combined, mix with the Turkey and reserve for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Option two – In the food processor add the coriander, spring onions, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, chilli and lemon juice, blitz and combine with the remaining marinade ingredients mix with the Turkey and reserve for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Mmm soo good!
1) Heat a large frying pan until very hot (but not so hot the alarm goes ping ping ping) and lift the turkey bits out of the marinade (a slotted spoon in great here) and fry in a single layer for about 2 minutes, turn over and cook through – should be at the most 3-4 minutes and lovely and sticky and your kitchen smells fab. Keep warm

2) Meanwhile place the leftover marinade in a small pan and bring to the boil uncovered, and boil until slightly thickened, then add the sauce ingredients. (We were a little impatient having mis-read original instructions and added cornflour shh!)  It may well not need much seasoning – the soy and nam pla are quite salty on their own so do check first!

3) Serve the cooked turkey on top of rice if desired and lather a little sauce over the top or on the side. We actually poured most of the sauce back over the turkey to warm through! It most likely lost some marks at this point in the looks department but it tasted great! As you can see we didn't have rice - I used up some leftover chapati's and made a dry sweet potato curry on the side. Garnish with a little extra corinader and spring onions to hide the dodgy colour if you like.
No stake in the beauty contest but wins on taste! 
As I managed to make the recipe more economical by substituting Turkey breast for the Pork Fillet, and it was reduced to a purse friendly £1.78 I am sending over this to Credit Crunch Munch set up by Fuss Free Flavours and held by Fab Food 4 All this month:

The trio of tasty cheats!
Disclaimer: Gourmet Garden provided me with the spice/ herb pastes for my own review and I was under no obligation to feature on Anne’s Kitchen

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Spicy Toasted Cauliflower Spaghetti Hoops

Late last year a genuine highlight was spotting Pasta Hoops, aka spaghetti hoops in a lovely little local Italian deli, which is a little ray of sunshine in a rather small town consisting mostly of takeaways and charity shops! Shortly before spotting them, I had spotted a recipe back on Green Gourmet Giraffe but she is the other side of the world and hadn't thought I would find my hoops so quickly! How wrong was I! ...Whilst its a little embarrassing I do secretly crave those tins of spaghetti hoops and to find I can make my own but an even better grown up version is rather good for the old self esteem!

Its funny as I found out after dancing my own little secret jig in the shop that with a very small friend profiling I could tell who had grown up with spaghetti hoops. Most of my friends saw the pasta hoops and theirs eyes lit up with childhood recollection of meal times, however it took more explaining to my Polish flatmate who didn’t quite understand our excitement.. I have since had to supply friends with bags of these too for their own experiments!

The night this dinner got made, one of my girlfriends was over for dinner, and despite normally being quite organised I hadn’t really quite planned our dinner, my friend is veggie and fortunately not fussy at all (love you Miss F!) and we kinda made this up as we went along. A fully stocked fridge thanks to Dad's recent visit also helped!

Another new discovery for me was tinned cherry tomatoes, I don’t think I’d ever bought them before but I had a tin going spare from a goody bag after attending an Italian themed night with Sainsbury's last year and I really liked them! I am not sure as to why I was so surprised they were exactly like cherry tomatoes but I was...the mind boggles!!

If there is any part of this recipe I urge you to keep is that by pan frying cauliflower first, it takes up a level flavour wise, producing an almost nutty flavour and so please do not skip the frying step! Trust me once you go no go back…! I have since moved cauliflower from bottom of my favourite veggies to at least a high middle!

Serves 4


2tbsp olive oil
1 medium sized cauliflower
Approx 250g Pasta hoops
1 Courgette, sliced into ½ cm dice
1 Red pepper, halved and sliced
1 tin cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1 red onion, finely sliced
½ - to 1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 large garlic aka 3 regular cloves
2 tbsp Italian herb seasoning
s&p to taste


Cook the pasta as per instructions – I was surprised that despite the hoops being relatively small it suggested 18 minutes!

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of the oil on a moderate heat in a large sauté pan and fry the cauliflower for about 5 minutes, turning regularly until softened and lightly browned, spoon into a bowl.

Heat the remaining oil in the same pan and fry the onion until softened, stir in the pepper and courgette and fry for a further 4-5 minutes or until lightly coloured and softened. Stir in the garlic and chilli for about 30 seconds and add the tomatoes, swirl out the tin with a little water to catch any remainders, add the reserved cauliflower and herbs, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer, lightly covered, for about 15 minutes. Add the pine nuts at the end and season to taste.

Drain the pasta, and stir through the sauce. Smother with grated cheese if desired too!

Textually the pasta was great, I love the crunch of the pine nuts and cauliflower, plus the mediterranean vegetables made me think of warmer climbs, not cold and wet Surrey! Enjoy using your fork to collect up the hoops!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Monday Meal Plan

Mrs M is so right in her opening line this week over at her meal planning post- it does feel like January is dragging itself out! And there are still 11 days to go..!  I am not sure if its lack of sunlight or that the Dr upped my painkillers but I am finding meal planning essential as some days I just cannot make decisions!! Fortunately there have been some good things to break up the month! Last week saw a belated Christmas Meal with a girlfriend - with a surprise 25% off our food too - I was given a voucher in December, and it was only to be opened when the bill came so it was quite exciting waiting to find out how much of our feast we would be paying for!

At the weekend me and B spent a leisurely day up in London, a quick spin around the National Gallery before a tasty Dim Sum lunch with friends in Chinatown, stocking up on groceries then doing battle with a tube map and bus stops navigating to Camden (oh the joy of weekend engineering work..) and whilst there we bought some nice pictures for the walls after probably driving the poor sales assistant insane as I kept changing my mind what pieces I wanted put together! I'm very pleased with my final choice though!

Moving onto this weeks meal plans, I have not finalised Thursday yet - we have put out dinner invites but waiting for confirmation so that may well change! I also have a few night shifts to contend with and in no doubt the Chocolate Creme De Menthe cake I baked yesterday will vanish by dusk tonight!

Pollock and Sunblush tomato Crustless pizza with Rocket Salad
Bacon Chops with Cauliflower cheese, Roasted tomatoes and part baked rolls
Chorizo stuffed Butternut Squash With Couscous
So far its Pork. 
Leftover Pork into Noodles

Mrs M Linky

Friday, 17 January 2014

Creamy Sweet potato and Bacon Linguine

Whilst doing the very first meal planner of 2014, I remembered that I had bought a bag of sweet potatoes and a random tub of crème fraiche on a slight whim whilst driving back from our blissful week on holiday in Devon, knowing they both had a relatively good shelf life and could create something good later…. Once sadly home and back in the real world the brain got thinking after I had also bought some bacon on offer a few days later, and somewhere in the recesses of my mind I remembered how much I enjoyed the last dish I had made with bacon and sweet potatoes in and thought how well they might suit a creamy sauce…and I set about creating this fabulous pasta for our dinner! 

It was everything a great pasta dinner should be, full of delicious flavour's dancing harmoniously together and whilst it takes some effort to make a dish twice I really can't wait to make this again! I had originally planned spaghetti but after a rummage through to cupboard found a packet of linguine and fancied that instead so it became Creamy Sweet potato and Bacon Linguine instead! I do love how the sauce clings to the silky linguine and reminded me to buy it more often as I had clearly forgotten how good it is! It is also ready in 15 minutes, which is just wonderful as I have misbehaving feet and standing any longer at the moment is often agonizing! I so wish I could be a lady of leisure!

By trimming the bacon and using half fat creme fraiche it makes dinner become a lit bit healthier too with zero compromise on taste, all very welcome in January!

Serves Two:


175g dried Linguine 
3 rashers smoked bacon, trimmed and diced roughly
25g grated parmesan + extra for garnish
250g half fat creme fraiche
135g sweet potato peeled, cut into 1/2 cm dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
Good quality extra virgin olive oil for garnish
1 tsp basil paste (I used Gourmet Garden)

Start by bringing a pan of salted water to the boil and heat the olive oil in a large saute pan and prep your ingredients. Check the cooking times for the pasta, mine was 9 minutes and begin cooking it - the sauce will take about the same time.

Gently fry the onion until softened, add the sweet potato chunks and cook for about 3 minutes - you don't want to be browning but keep the pan hot enough to cook through, make a well in the middle and add the bacon pieces and fry for a further five minutes or until cooked through, stirring from time to time.

When the bacon is cooked and the sweet potato soft enough to pierce with a knife, stir in the garlic and cook for about a minute. Add a cupful of the pasta water along with the basil, simmer gently and then lower the heat and stir through the creme fraiche.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir through the parmesan and season to taste. Serve in pasta bowls with a generous sprinkling of parmesan and a drizzle of your good extra virgin olive oil.

Tuck in with glee!! I really didn't want this to end! I know I still have a few sweet potatoes spare but lacking bacon and the creme fraiche..must go shopping!!

And whilst I had some naughty but nice ingredients, I actually only used small amounts of them and the remainders got stretched into several more meals, plus it was pretty healthy too as Pasta dishes go and so its also going into Kick at the Pantry Door's January's Feel Good Food

Monday, 13 January 2014

Monday Meal Plan..with a makeover!

Well we have a whole new week ... a semi-whole new menu (some of last week's rolled over) and a whole new look! I had been meaning to have a proper clean up and re-prettifying for ages but life gets in the way and brain gets forgetful ...but somehow a fellow friend and blogger Jac kindly kicked me in the right direction and designed me a brand new logo, and I've given it a new background after several hours messing around with many different colour's, uploaded photos and themes! I so deserve a nice pint of ale right now!! I hope you like it!!

Last week in recap - flew by! Worked a mixture of days and nights... Highlight was meeting our friends gorgeous new teeny weeny baby boy!! Food wise was very good - we made several new dishes - including the Creamy Sweet Potato and Bacon spaghetti became linguine, and it was soo delicious! Will blog it very soon for you! The flavour's were amazing together and was craving it afterwards!

The Beef kofta curry also very good, despite having to sub the yoghurt for creme fraiche as the flooding is awful in our area and I didn't want to venture out - also to be blogged! I have a queue forming of posts! The only dish not made was the risotto..which moves on to this week...

Thai Turkey curry with sesame sweet potato chunks 
Turkey and Leek risotto (though this is for B - I am off out!)
Arrancini with tomato sauce and sauteed cabbage
Sicilian Squash with couscous
Either chilli con carne or burritos

As always my meal plan is joining Mrs M's Meal Planning Monday party!

Have a great week everyone - do let me know what you think of my makeover! 


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Sausage and Courgette Carbonara

One of my favourite Christmas presents was a pair of perfect porcelain pasta dishes, and my word they have had a lot of use already! Like a supermodel perhaps, these dishes would look good in everything! They are just the right size for two relatively greedy adults and whilst its winter and they are seeing lots of pasta, come summer I can see them being rather perfect for some nice salads too! I have decided I have had enough now of this winter and my body is craving some sunshine! 

This Carbonara was not only rather delicious but it was a also quite frugal and super easy dish to make to! Most of the time I do meal planning but with going away for Christmas and New Year’s half of December was a case of anything goes, and I cooked extra bits to up cycle into newer dishes – in this case the sausages were leftover from a sausage dish the night before, and also used leftover garlicky fried courgettes which are a regular make in my kitchen! Its a great way of stretching out a small quantity of good sausages too!

Its close to it but not a traditional carbonara, we had no cream but its fairly close and I am not one for tradition, I like to break the rules when it comes to cooking!

Ready in 10 minutes
Serves 2


150g egg Pasta Fettuccine
2 good quality pork sausages, cooked and sliced thinly
2 eggs
4 heaped tbsp Parmesan finely grated

1 courgette, halved length ways and sliced into 1/2cm moons
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp olive oil

Start by making the courgettes. Heat a frying pan with the olive oil, fry the courgette slices for about 8 minutes, add the garlic and fry for a further minute, stirring regularly. Either cool for use or cook with sausages.

1) In a bowl beat the eggs, parmesan, salt and pepper to taste and the cooled courgettes.

2) Heat a large saute pan, gently fry the sausage to warm through - add the cooked courgettes. Meanwhile boil the pasta as per packet instructions. 

3) When the pasta is cooked through, drain quickly, add the sausage and courgettes, then the egg mixture and mix well, allow to stand for a minute with the lid on.

4) Serve on your favourite plate and garnish with a little extra parmesan and drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

I am sending my dish over to Pasta Please, created by Tinned Tomatoes and  held by The Spicy Pear for January who's theme is garlic:

Also as its a perfect warming winter cheesy bowl of goodness its going to Cheese, Please! Over at Fromage Homage

As my dish used up both leftover cooked sausages and courgettes, I have also entered it over at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary No Waste Food Challenge

Monday, 6 January 2014

Meal Planning Monday Welcome January!

Wow this is my first post in 2014! Christmas and the New Year flew by, we had fabulous Christmas meals with assorted family over Christmas and Boxing day, then a lovely week with more family in Devon and saw in the New Year with them, and a glass of bubbly admiring the fireworks on tv (and Gary Barlow!) and now slowly easing back into our normal sort of routines! I am sadly back to work and during my time off decided I could easily become a lady of leisure but doubt that will ever really happen but its a nice thought!

This was one of favourite photo's taken from Shaldon, shortly before we stopped in a cosy little pub for a pint! It was freezing outside so was lovely to take refuge beside a toasty open fire!

The meal plan for this week begun on Friday night when jotting down ideas and I had nearly finalised it by yesterday morning until I realised tomatoes were in it virtually every day...I don't know for certain but I have read before about them being not very inflamation friendly vegetables, and what with having bad knee's not to mention a few other body issues decided to re-jig it around somewhat and move some dishes onto the following weeks plans.

So this is the plan, though as always subject to change - I am now onto night shifts but also have a few days off after to recover which is always nice! I picked up four jars of mincemeat for 10p each earlier so plan a little baking later this week as the cake tin is empty, how terrible!!

Monday - Salmon with new potatoes and creamed leeks 

Tuesday - Aubergine Parmigiana, courgette fritti 

Wednesday - Creamy sweet potato and bacon spaghetti 

Thursday - Beef kofta curry and rice, veg jalfrezi, saag aloo 

Friday - Pizza! We have a voucher.. 

Saturday - Turkey and leek risotto 

Sunday - Spicy Goan prawns with rice

Have a great week everyone, I hope you are all safe from the floods!


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