Sunday, 5 March 2017

Breakfast Bagels

To make the patties:
500g pork mince
4 1/2 tsp dried sage
2 1/4 tsp brown sugar
1/4    tsp salt
1/4    tsp pepper

Mix thoroughly in a bowl - this is really best done with your hands. Or get your OH to do it, if he's obliging.

Divide mixture between 10. We use a burger maker (our one gadgetry concession!), but you can roll into little meatballs and then flatten. Place the patties on a plate, separating with a layer of grease proof paper.

Refrigerate overnight, or for at least a few hours.

When you're ready to cook, fry over a low-medium heat and drain any excess fat off.

Serve as part of a bagel/muffin:
You will need:
5 bagels
10 cheese slices (NOT sliced cheese, but the cheapest processed cheese slices)
5 eggs
Butter, to spread
5 sheets of foil

Preheat the oven to its lowest setting BEFORE you start to cook the patties.

Split the bagels in two and toast lightly. Spread with butter and top each side with a cheese slice.

Scramble the eggs a make a small omelette with each egg.

When the patties are cooked, put one on one side of the bagel, top with one of the omelettes, top with another pork mine patty and finish the burger with the other half of the bagel. Wrap in foil and put in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until the  cheese is lovely and melty.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Granny's Fruit Loaf

This is, undoubtedly, the easiest little tea loaf that you could possibly come across. Such a delight that it's so simple, too! 

1 cup sultanas/raisins
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup margarine
2 cups self raising flour
1 egg

Heat the dried fruit, milk, sugar and margarine in a pan on the hob, but do not boil. Once the margarine and sugar are melted, allow the mixture to cool. 

When it is cooled, gently mix in the flour and 1 egg. 

Pour the mixture into a greased and lined 2lb loaf tin and bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes at 180C.

Cool on a wire rack and - if you're anything like me - slice, wrap individually in cling film and freeze as soon as the loaf is cool enough. This makes an ideal lunch time treat!

Friday, 3 February 2017

Sizzling Chicken Strips

Ok, so another favourite from me tonight... allow me to introduce you to sizzling chicken strips! This has been one of my favourite dinners since my mum started making it when I was a kid.

And the best bit? It couldn't be easier - we love those types of meals! 

Serves Four

400g chicken breast or turkey, cut into bitesized strips 
3 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 onion, sliced - or 4 spring onions, cut into little coins
1 pepper, sliced
200g mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp chinese five spice
2 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl or ziplock bag. Leave to marinade for as long as possible - 2-3 hours is fine, overnight is better.

When ready to cook, heat a big frying pan and add another tbsp of toasted sesame oil. Stir fry.

Enjoy. Immensely.

Serve with basmati rice* and/or flatbreads

*I serve 60g dried weight rice per portion.

As with most meals, if you don't have an ingredient, you can swap and/or omit the offending item. A handful of cashew nuts is quite a nice addition!

Linzi x

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Cauliflower Biryani

This is a recipe that I made and absolutely loved... until I lost it. I've been searching for it for years (I kid you not!) and have FINALLY found it again! I am so excited to finally be able to make it again and I'm putting it here... just in case.

It's SO quick to make and could scarcely be easier. It's also lovely with a few slices of leftover roast lamb (when I am able to rescue it from my daughter!) put in towards the end of cooking, to warm through. 

  1. 25g butter
  2. 1 onion , halved and thinly sliced
  3. 1 tsp ground coriander
  4. 1 tsp ground cumin
  5. 1 tsp turmeric
  6. 1 small head of cauliflower , broken into florets
  7. 75g basmati rice
  8. 150ml vegetable stock
  1. Heat the butter in a shallow pan with a lid. Cook the onion in the butter until completely softened. Stir in the spices and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cauliflower and toss and cook in the butter and spices for a minute.
  2. Stir in the rice then add the stock. Bring to a simmer, put on a lid then cook for 10-15 minutes until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is cooked (you might need to add a splash more stock or water).


Saturday, 7 January 2017

Happy New Year... and Pizza

Well hello, and a Happy New Year. 

We ended last year with my daughter, who is ten, wanting to learn how to cook. 

I thought an easy thing to do would be pizza - fully from scratch. 

I found the recipe for Jim Lahey's No Knead Pizza on epicurous and decided that this would be one of the perfect starter recipes for her to tackle. 

It is, without a doubt, the easiest pizza dough that I have ever made. Relying on fermentation rather than lots of kneading, the dough takes around 20 hours to create from scratch. It also costs around 36p for 6 very decently-sized bases; awesome!

The pizza below is topped with some cooked chicken breast, sliced mushrooms, sliced green peppers, sweetcorn, some slices of serrano ham and a sprinkling of mozzarella.

We have also decided that we are going to give her a budget each week for her to plan, budget for and prepare her own packed lunches for school. I am hoping that this will teach her not only how to be able to feed herself, and to a budget, but it will also help her mental arithmetic. It will also provide a creative outlet that will allow her to learn how to cook easy to prepare meals.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

How to... Fly Shorthaul

So, what this is not, is a glamourous insta-ready 'how to look stunning when travelling' guide. What it IS, is a collection of practical tips that I have found really help when in the airport and during the flight itself. Allow me...

The Case
I always recommend that, where possible, you fly with a soft bag rather than a hard-sided case. It is really handy if you have an item that may not fit inside the traditional case as the bag will more easily mould around it; However, the most important reason for packing a bag rather than a case is that once the first 90 or so passengers with cases have boarded, then rest will need to put their luggage in the hold. This not only increases the time taken at the arrivals airport (and possibly causing you to miss any connecting travel arrangements!) but the longer your baggage is away from you, the more chance it has to go missing. Using a bag means that you will be free to board the aircraft and leave the bag under the seat in front. I favour the rucksack-style and find these much easier to handle than a pull-along; I just need to throw it over my shoulders and I'm off... oh, and they don't tip over when handling corners!

Now that I've extolled the benefits of carrying a bag vs a case, it's important to get the right type of bag. You're looking for one that will adhere to the airlines' size requirements, fit all of your essentials and - very importantly - has a front pocket to keep your frequently used items in.

Getting through security
Everyone is aware of the security measures that we, very understandably, need to stick to when flying.

However, it would seem that not everyone is aware of security etiquette; hello extended and unnecessary queuing as we wait for people to trawl through their makeup cases to pull out all the liquids: to rummage through their cases to remove any items that must go through separately (electronic devices): the errant shampoo.

My advice is to separate all these items as you pack, pop them into a bag (ideal if you have one that will fit the security requirements, but a carrier will do until you get to the airport), and put them in the front pocket of your bag. As you're nearing the front of the queue at security, simply remove the bag so you're ready just to pop everything into the security tray.

My Front Pocket Essentials
I keep these in the aforementioned front pocket of my travel bag so that they are always easily to hand. I always have:

  • reading material or other entertainment, whether this be a book, a magazine, an e-reader, a tablet or an ipod. And headphones!
  • snacks; I tend to travel at what would be dinner time so to save relying on in-flight food (which on short haul, you tend to JUST be served as it's time for the stewards to come round and collect the rubbish - and god forbid you plump for something hot!), I make sure I have a ready supply of cereal bars. I've even taken chopped up fruit (this MUST be in an airtight container - unless you're into fruit-scented everything!) and sandwiches when collecting my daughter straight from school and then leaving. 
  • a portable powerbank - lesson learned from the time my phone switched itself off at 45% battery JUST as I was showing the flight attendant where I was sitting!
  • a little pack of sweets for sucking during take-off
  • lip balm
  • separate wallet with all travel documents. To take this a step further, I usually organise these into the order that I'll need them in! I then discard as appropriate, so as not to unnecessarily clutter my bag.
  • bottle of water - I buy this after passing through security. 
I also like to take a cardigan/jacket/blanket... it can get CHILLY on-board!

What Else to Pack in Hand Luggage
I do a lot of flying to visit family, so mostly pack clothes and/or small gifts. If you're going on a short-haul (within three hours) holiday, you're probably going to want a camera. You may also take checked-in luggage, but I would always pack the following items in hand luggage.

  • Underwear. We all know that, from time to time, luggage can go missing; imagine landing somewhere stunning... and only have one pair of knickers! I always pack underwear and other small items inside shoes. This has the dual benefit of helping the shoes/boots keep their shape and also maximising space for other items. 
  • Toiletries. Same as above. 
I try to pack as lightly as possible - a few tops, one of my boyfriend's t shirts for nightwear. I also prefer to roll my clothes, rather than fold them as I can fit more in this way!

Do you have any tips for when you fly? 

Happy Travels!

Linzi x

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Turkey and Butternut Squash Chilli

This was a first time try for my family - and it turned out to be a huge hit with everyone agreeing that they'd like it again. 

Neither my partner nor my daughter are fans of spicy food (as evidenced by paella-gate...) so  used a mild chilli powder, though feel free to use a spicier powder if you fancy it!

800g turkey mince
2 butternut squash necks, diced into 1cm cubes
A good squeeze of garlic puree (2-3 cloves?)
2 onions diced
1 box mushrooms, sliced
4 peppers, diced
1kg carrots, grated
130g red lentils

1 1/2 tbsp mild chilli powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tin butter beans

1 bag spinach

Salt and pepper to season


Brown the turkey mince and add the diced vegetables and lentils. Allow to cook down and soften. 

Add the spices, tomatoes and butter beans, using a quarter tin of boiled water rinse all the goodness from the tins. Bring to boil and reduce to a nice, thick sauce.

Add the spinach towards the end and wilt.

I season to taste throughout cooking.

I follow weightwatchers' smart points programme and the above sauce gave us 9 (massive!) portions, which worked out at 4 smart points each. We could easily have made it into far more portions!

I served with 60g dry weight brown rice, a dollop of greek yoghurt and 

It goes without saying that you can substitute where you need to - don't want to use lentils? You don't have to! No tinned beans, but plenty of dried? Go for it*! Fancy kidney beans rater than butter beans? Absolutely fine; I just didn't have any in the house!


*Just make sure that you cook them as per pack instructions before use.