Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Chocolate and Crème De Menthe Cherry Loaf Cake

Sometime last year on a day trip out, I think possibly Huntingdon way with my dad if my brain remembers correctly, I found in a little off licence these gorgeous almost glow in the dark green Crème de Menthe flavoured cocktail cherries! I had never seen them before or since then on the high street but I have found on the internet at least for when these run out! Though I probably need to order several jars to make my delivery charge more palatable! However I have spotted some others in the range that look intriguing so isn't too much of a hardship!

I spent a long time since buying them deciding what on earth I was going to actually do with them, and whilst the finished result was delicious it didn't really show off the e numbered glow but I still have half a jar left so a little more experimentation to be done I think!

The cake came out perfectly with a delicate hint of mint and a soft crumb - I had got B to drop a wedge off to my mum on his way to work and not long after had a text back asking for the recipe! Even without the cherries its a great bake and I hope you enjoy it as much too! I adapted from a recipe in one of favourite books titled 'Baking' which is sadly no longer in print but my go to book!

Makes one loaf cake
You will need a 2lb loaf tin, lined


2 eggs beaten

8 Crème de Menthe flavoured cocktail cherries, sliced
1 tbsp of the Crème de Menthe cherries liquid
125g butter or soft margarine
125g caster sugar
125g self raising flour
1 tbsp Cocoa powder
50g plain chocolate, melted
Soft butter/ margarine

Pre-heat the oven to 180o/350f/ Gas 4

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs and cherry liquid, fold through the flour until combined. Separate the mixture into two bowls and add the cocoa powder, cherries and melted chocolate to one of the mixes and combine. 

Using alternate spoons fill the lined tin with both mixtures and swirl lightly. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes away cleanly when inserted.

Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool fully.

Our golden rule is everything tastes better with custard but its also delicious without! The little pockets of chocolate mintyness makes for a delicious cake!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Monday Meal Planning

Apologies for skipping the meal plan last week, I had done a rough plan but was feeling overwhelmed by buying too much food in without a proper plan and I found myself staring into the fridge and my brain racing, wanting to make all sorts of things but struggling to settle on just one dish each night! I think some of it is maybe the last of some awful medication I had been on finally getting out of my system that induced temporary but hideous anxiety, good riddance to it too!! I also really like to plan on a Sunday for the week ahead but we had my mum over after finally the flood waters had gone down enough to get through to her 

Anyway last week despite the constant indecision we had some pretty decent dishes including another vat of Curried Beetroot soup - finally B is convinced soup really isn't so bad, especially when croutons are present and I am trying to make soup weekly, to fill us up cheaply and healthily! This winter we have been quite indulgent and I know in the blink of an eye spring is almost upon us, and hopefully can we can get out in the fresh air, when my knees decide to behave anyway that is! Last week mainly involved finishing off a glorious South African Milktart we made on Valentine's Day, which was a taste of home for B - its a bit like a milkier version of an Egg Custard, though topped with cinnamon instead of nutmeg, and its lush. Very lush!

So this week is mainly running down the fridge and freezer - planning a big shop at the weekend so I need to make space! My weeks shifts are a mixed bag as always with lates, nights and earlies, along with 4 various medical appointments and so it fits around them too!

Harissa pork kebabs. Butternut Squash Israeli couscous with sultanas and almonds. 
Spicy Sweet potato wedges

Spag bol or leftovers (if there are any!)

Slow cooked Chinese Pork with wild rice. 

Pancakes filled with leftovers 

Satay Chicken noodles or very similar!


Have a great week everyone! Anne x

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Beetroot Bhaji’s

Since first tasting Indian food many, many years back I have always loved onion bhajis and over the last few years gone a bit more experimental with making my own – we all adore my aubergine bhaji’s and they are a regular make in our house but sometimes its nice to try something new and I’d had a packet of beetroot in the fridge lurking in the hope of a sunnier today but as the weather has been so utterly vile this winter, salad has not been on the menu and I found myself looking for alternative uses..

These really were made up essentially as I went along and a nod towards the aubergine ones I make, and despite making a separate batch of red onion bhajis for beetroot hating dad – he actually ending up enjoying the beetroot ones! You can make them gluten free by using an alternative flour to the plain flour - I've used Dove's farm in the past with excellent results.

The beetroot is earthy and sweet but given a lift with the aromatic mint and spices and the crispy batter makes them rather moreish! You have been warned! Bhaji’s are very easy to make, and you can re-heat them in a warm oven so are handy to make ahead of your meal. They are also very cheap to make and are a great, easy little starter or a side to your dinner!

Makes about 18 bhaji's depending on your spoon size!


260g diced cooked beetroot
½ red onion, diced
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp dried mint
150g gram flour
50g plain flour
250ml ice cold water
Sunflower oil for frying


Dice the beetoot and onion into 1/2cm cubes, place in a bowl with all the spices and toss together.

Seperately sieve the flours together, and mix in the water to form a batter, whisk well and mix in the vegetables.

Heat 1 inch of sunflower oil in a deep saucepan (or deep fat fryer) and once a little drop of batter browns within 30 seconds, place spoonfuls of the mixture carefully into the hot oil. Ideally wear an apron as they can spit! Fry them for about 3 minutes, then gently flip over for a further 2-3 minutes or until bubbling and the batter has cooked through. Use a heatproof spoon to occasionally spoon the hot oil over the bhajis to help cook through but very carefully - it will be very hot!

If the oil starts getting too hot and the mixture is burning then turn down the temperature a little. Place the cooked bhaji's onto kitchen paper and repeat with the remaining mixture.

Serve with raita to dunk into.

I have sent my recipe over to the 'Inspired Fakeaway's #Recipe of The Week' post held at A Mummy Too this week:

And over to Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary 'No Waste Food Challenge' held by London Unattached this month - as the Beetroot literally had one day left on the sell by date when I used it! What a waste if I had not made the bhaji's!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Chocolate and Mincemeat Pudding Cake

Dear Readers. I have a secret. Well not anymore really ..maybe I shouldn’t post this at all as next year I might miss out.. hmm.. well I am sure there is enough to go round…. I digress… so you know everyone buys mincemeat for Christmas? ....

...Well after all the tinsel is packed away, the stray confetti occasionally showing its shiny face and you kinda know deep down that you should be looking at healthy recipes but secretly still eating the last of the endless tin of chocolates, there is normally a lot of mincemeat leftover… and if you are eagle eyed like me then you might just pick up a bargain – I managed to get 4 jars of mincemeat for a paltry 10p a jar! 

I love the stuff and could eat it all year round happily but mince pies in January feels a little bit wrong, however there is so much more you can do with it! And this gorgeous cake is no exception. B gave it 8/10 and had a wedge and seconds of it, I agree and if I had to change anything I might add a cheeky jot of rum or something like amaretto to finish it off! Saying that we both just thought a little stem ginger wouldn’t go amiss – I can see the next version being concocted soon! Custard is an excellent accompaniment!

Bananas may be a bit of a surprise ingredient but I bake with them a lot and it helps add moisture and keep the cake that way for a few days – we are having family over later in the week and wanted to get ahead! (despite B’s best efforts to demolish it!) Also the bananas were about to march their own way out of the fruit bowl so was high time they got disposed of well!


I tsp vanilla extract
150g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
120g golden caster sugar
2 medium eggs (approx 120g)
120g soft margarine/ butter
2 tbsp flaked almonds
2 heaped tbsp + 100g mincemeat
2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
2 small very ripe bananas, mashed

Beat the sugar and butter until fluffy, beat in the eggs, banana and vanilla, stir through the 2 tbsp of mincemeat. Fold in the flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix until fully combined and you have a light batter

Place the 100g of mincemeat in a microwaveable bowl and warm to melt the goo. Scatter the almonds over the bottom of a lined sandwich pan, and sprinkle over the melted mincemeat evenly. 

Top with the batter and bake for 45-50 minutes at 180o or until cooked through and a skewer comes away clean. 

Allow to cool for 15 minutes in the tine, then carefully turn onto your serving plate:

And after a gentle press all over, peel away very carefully the liner – use a fork to push back any rogue almonds!

And voila! The picture doesn't really do it justice but it was beautifully glossy on top!


Monday, 10 February 2014

Monday Meal Plan - Revolving around the sofa!

For some bizarre reason last night I thought this weeks meal plan would be easy as somewhere in the recesses of my mind I thought I had at least started it... however it would appear my mind was playing tricks as apart from writing down that I will be making some Filipino bread called Pandesal with my lovely neighbour as she wants to try making it and I am always up for trying new recipes, there was erm, precisely nothing!! 

This week has to be a good one really - I can't moan about my shifts as I have the whole week off! All 7 days of it!! However the stupid joints that hold my body just about together seem to have gone on strike and whilst most days I grin and bear things with a smile it really is quite frustrating, even kneading bread hurts and the sofa becomes my friend so I can rest my weary knees! Oh well enough complaining from me - food wise last week was pretty good and we discovered salted caramel and clotted cream topped scones are pretty much the best thing ever to pass our lips!

Glorious scones!
We are planning a small shopping trip out tomorrow to re-stock the fridge/ freezer / cupboards as I have been fairly good working through the stash of dried goods but the local flooding is proving very problematic and will involve me having to drop B at work at the crack of dawn via the joyous M25 as he can't cycle as everywhere is under water and I need the car! I am praying it goes down soon as my family and close friends are all badly affected with it and their gardens slowly being overtaken by the river Thames! Very worrying times!

So this week's plan, the freezer is low - hence tomorrow's needed trip out and I need to use up some bits that are threatening to walk out of the fridge! Valentines is also almost upon us too and B is cooking, with me making pudding - I do believe chocolate fondants will be featuring! We managed to stick mostly to last weeks plan which is always good! There were a few new recipes conjoured up too and when I decipher my scribbled in code notes I will blog about them!

Monday - Tuna Pasta bake with green beans and spinach 

Tuesday - Hoisin quorn 'chicken' noodles with stir fried courgettes and peppers

Wednesday - Potato Rosti with fried eggs

Thursday - Pizza and rocket salad

Friday - Creamy pepper chicken Pasta, followed by chocolate fondants!

Mrs M's linky

Wishing all my lovely readers a happy Valentines and week ahead!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Slow roasted Apple and Ginger Pork Shoulder - and the beginning..

Nothing beats a good roast dinner, and all its trimmings however when you work an erratic shift pattern, including most weekends the traditional Sunday roast is a very rare feature for us! However we do still have roast dinners but on other nights and this Roasted Pork started life on a Friday night and initially fed me, B,  my dad and Brother. All 3 boys had seconds – though I had secretly squirreled away some cooked pork before presenting it all, mainly as leftovers are a rarity feeding them! I didn’t initially plan to buy a crackling joint but was all I could find late night shopping though the boys were more than happy to have a portion of crackling with their roast! My brother actually took a little foil wrapped piece for later too!!

Sainsbury's recently got in touch with me about making your leftover Roast work harder - One of the bonuses of cooking a larger roasting joint is all the lovely leftovers that you get to play with afterwards and in all honesty leftovers frequently result in some of my favourite meals! Cooking a large joint of Pork on this occasion took me a little out of my comfort zone – I never have cooked such a large piece before, yet alone used leftover pork and its only in the last few years I’ve really enjoyed eating Pork and I am really chuffed with not only the initial meal but all subsequent meals I got out of it!

In total from the 2.2kg joint of Pork we managed 11 servings, not including those who had seconds from the roast! We initially had a full roast dinner for four, then B had for lunch a wrap filled with apple sauce, roasted pork and a little veg, four portions of enchiladas and two portions of Chinese Pork noodles. Pretty impressive! The recipes will be up after this posting!

Apple and Ginger Roast Pork – The beginning

2.2kg shoulder of pork crackling joint
750ml apple juice (from concentrate, basics is fine for this)
3tsp dried ginger root
2 tbsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

*You will ideally need a roasting bag but if not well wrap with foil*

Start by drying the joint of meat with kitchen paper, sprinkle the top with salt and place in a bath of 500ml of the apple juice and allow to relax for 20-30 minutes, drain off the juice and rinse of the salt.

Pre-heat the oven to 210o. Place the pork in a roasting bag along with the remaining 250ml apple juice and sprinkle the ginger over the top of the joint and a little black pepper, seal the bag and roast for 3 hours.

Remove from the oven and carefully cut off the top of the bag, cut way the crackling and place on baking tray minus the string. Cover the joint with foil and allow to rest, meanwhile return the crackling to the oven and cook until crispy – about 15/20 minutes.

Going back to the meat, remove any excess fat (careful as it will be hot!), string and discard. Slice up as best as you can – my joint was no beauty sight wise so more a case of hacking into small chunks!

Serve up with your desired accompaniments, making sure you leave enough for later! We had roasted potatoes, swede mash, carrot mash, mustard creamed leeks, part-baked petit pains, stuffing balls and gravy.

Stuffing Ball's - I didn’t tell anyone it was Sainsbury's basics until they had eaten! The texture was perfectly acceptable alongside the roast dinner at 15p was excellent value. It didn't have the same chunky coarse texture of the regular one but very much edible. That whole ONE BALL out of twelve I had made – NB Men eat too much!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Monday and its Meal Plan time!

A little bit late tonight with the meal plan - I did a long day at work and after a rare treat - a relaxing bath chock full of Radox salts and a wee glass of Sherry and I am marginally human again and can relax for 15 minutes... before an early night to work again in the morning! Don't ya just love shift work ..though I am doing someone else's shift as a favour so I can only blame myself! My feet want to cry a little and both my knee's are something else altogether but gotta keep smiling, there's not much else one can do!!

Last week was relatively on plan, though the Tuna fishcakes got bumped entirely as I found an abandoned cauliflower at the back of the fridge and made Cauliflower cheese bakes instead, which were very tasty and at least we didn't waste anything! Friday's stuffed squash also became the potential takeaway - a chicken shish with twister fries, washed down with a few glasses of Cava!

So this week its been pay day but we are really trying to use things up, as I have a storecupboard full of food and its a waste to buy new things in - we also have family over one night and a variety of shifts to contend with.. I am sure stockpiling pasta isn't a good thing but I can't resist the good stuff when its on special offer!

To get ahead and save too our lunches are also mostly made - I had mushroom and cambazola soup today, B had Piri Piri pasties and he will be eating his way through them - tuna couscous is also planned later in the week for when my soup runs out. I also made a pretty decent chocolate mincemeat cake so that's pudding sorted for tomorrow night!

Monday - Fish fingers (the very last of the multi-size packet!) with new potatoes
 and green beans

Tueday - Spinach and lentil dal, chappatis, beetroot bhajis, cumin potatoes 
and spiced green beans

Wednesday - Possibly pizza..am out shopping all day and Dr Oetker have given 
me a voucher for a Spinaci one ..

Thursday - Sausage and lentil stew

Friday - leftovers

Weekend - Am working so will be easy meals, possibly spaghetti bolognese or pasta in some form!

As always - check out the rest of the mealplans via Mrs M!

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