Monday, 11 June 2012

Bacon & Corn Griddle Pancakes

I got this recipe courtesy of Recipe Girl. I like to pretend that this breakfast is moderately healthy because it contains sweetcorn and chives, but I think the bacon and maple syrup offset it!

Bacon & Corn Griddle Pancakes

Serves: 2
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes


8 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 a chopped onion
1 cup (125g) of all-purpose (plain) flour
2 tablespoon of chopped, fresh chives
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (can substitute crushed chilli flakes if necessary)
2/3 of a cup of milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon of oil (I used olive oil as that's all we had)
1 cup of sweetcorn
1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, grated
Maple syrup, for serving


1. Fry the bacon until they begin to brown. Add the onion and cook until the bacon is crisp and the onion is softened. Put a heaping tablespoon of bacon aside for topping the griddle cakes with.

2. While the bacon is cooking, combine the flour, chives, baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Stir in the milk, egg and oil until moistened. Then add the bacon mixture, corn and cheese. The mixture should be thick.

3. Heat and grease a griddle or large skillet. Pour a heaping 1/4 cup of batter on to the griddle and cook until golden brown, then flip and repeat until all of the batter is used.

Please ignore the sorry state of our cooker,
someone hasn't been doing his chores!
4. Stack the finished pancakes on top of each other.

5. Serve stacks of griddle cakes topped with the reserved bacon and a good dose of maple syrup.

— Rachel

Friday, 23 March 2012

Slow Cooker Pinto Bean & Chorizo Stew

Pinto beans and chorizo? Yes please! My recipe is mostly based on this one from, but as usual, I had to adapt it to work with ingredients that can be purchased easily in the UK. For example, I had to figure out what "ranch style beans" were, and add the spices mentioned in this recipe to my stew. This is a very tasty, rich stew. Try it!

Slow Cooker Pinto Bean & Chorizo Stew

Serves: 4 - 6
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Evidently, I forgot to photograph my ingredients
before I emptied the pinto bean cans.
Cooking Time: 5 - 7 hours on High, 9 - 10 on Low


2 slices of bacon, or 2 tablespoons of bacon powder
3 (300g) cans of pinto beans 
1 chorizo sausage, chopped
1 (500g) carton of passata
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons of cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of pickled jalapeno peppers
2 tablespoons of white sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of paprika
2 teaspoons of crushed red chilli flakes
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of oregano
1 green pepper, chopped
4 spring onions, chopped


1. Unless you have an awesome fiancĂ© who happened to make bacon powder a couple of days prior to you cooking this meal, you'll need to fry the bacon in a frying pan or skillet until evenly browned. Let it cool, then crumble the bacon. 
2. Drain and rinse pinto beans and place in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the all of the rest of ingredients, except the green pepper and spring onion, and mix together.

3. If the passata doesn't completely cover the ingredients, fill one of the pinto bean cans with water and add to the slow cooker. Then stir everything together and cook on High for 5 - 7 hours or on Low for 9 - 10 hours.
4. About five minutes before serving, stir in the green pepper and spring onions. 

5. Serve on top of warm flour tortillas.

— Rachel

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast can get pretty boring after a while. At least, in the UK, that is. I'm fairly certain this is one of the few countries where cereal is considered a substantial enough morning meal. After  seeing some American meal plans and realising that people in other countries actually put some thought into what they eat for breakfast, rather than chucking a box of cornflakes on the table every morning, I decided to try some more creative breakfast ideas. For now, we're only having cooked breakfasts on Saturdays, but that might change in the future. Here's one of the first recipes I tried: Amish Breakfast Casserole. I first spotted this on Beth Wiseman's blog, but I think she actually stole it from Taste of Home. I've edited it slightly, and reduced it so that it serves four.

Breakfast Casserole

Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 - 40 minutes

4 slices of bacon, diced
1/2 of an onion, chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 frozen hash browns, thawed and shredded with a fork
1 1/2 cups (150g) of grated cheddar cheese
3/4 cup (170g) of cottage cheese

1. Fry the bacon in a skillet or frying pan with some oil until the bacon is crisp.
2. Meanwhile, combine the onion, eggs, shredded hash browns, cheddar and cottage cheese in a large bowl. 

3. Stir in the bacon.
4. Transfer to a greased baking dish.

5. Bake uncovered for 35 - 40 minutes at 350 degrees C/180 degrees F/Gas 4. You'll know that it's ready when you can insert a skewer in the centre and it comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

— Rachel 

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Cinnamon Rolls

I endeavour to bake something every week, partly because it saves us having to buy sweet snacks, and partly because it provides a productive distraction from studying. Simon requested Danish Pastries (which I call Cinnamon Rolls, probably because I read too many Amish novels) but it took me a while to get around to making them as I was cautious of using yeast. Thankfully I found this wonderful recipe, which omits yeast entirely but still works out perfectly. I didn't change anything about this recipe, except the frosting, so credit is owed entirely to

Cinnamon Rolls
The margarine is featured as I was worried I
wouldn't have enough butter

Makes: 6 - 8
Preparation Time: 20 - 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 - 25 minutes

Ingredients for Rolls
2 1/2 cups (320g) of plain (all-purpose) flour 
2 tablespoons of white (granulated) sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking (bicarbonate) soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/4 cups (295ml) of buttermilk (the Dale Farm Lakeland Buttermilk contains the exact quantity needed for this recipe)
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F/220 degrees C/Gas 7. Grease a 9-inch cake tin.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 
3. In a separate bowl whisk the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons of melted butter together.
4. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until it is all absorbed, for about 30 seconds. The dough should look shaggy. (This description sounds weird but it makes perfect sense once you've made this).
5. Turn the dough out on to a generously floured counter or board and knead until smooth, for about 1 minute. 
6. Roll the dough out into a rectangle of 9 x 12 inches. 
7. Brush the dough with 2 tablespoons of melted butter.
8. Prepare the cinnamon filling.

Ingredients for Cinnamon Filling
3/4 cup (165g) of packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (50g) of white (granulated) sugar
3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, melted

9. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the butter until the mixture resembles wet sand. (I'm not sure if mine entirely looked like wet sand, but it did the job.)

This is the mixture before I added the butter. Doesn't the reflection of my camera's flash off the inside of the metallic bowl make it look like there's a heart in the sugar mixture? I thought this was sweet. 

10. Sprinkle the filling evenly across the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. (Seriously, make sure you leave a border or a lot of the mixture falls out and makes a mess when you roll it up, so expect cinnamon and sugar all over your counter if you ignore this instruction, as I did...)
11. Starting at the long side, roll the dough, pressing lightly, to form a tight log. If you struggle to get the dough off the board/counter then use a metal spatula or bench scraper. 
12. Pinch the seam to seal then slice the dough into 8 even pieces. (Mine made 8 but 2 of them were really small, so figure out what works best for your dough, it may only be 6 or 7)

As you can see, my rectangle wasn't terribly even, hence the
very small rolls at either end of my log.

13. Place the slices in the greased pan and brush them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. 

14. Bake until the edges are golden brown, which should take 20 - 25 minutes. 

15. Use a knife to loosen the rolls from the pan, and flip them on to a wire cooking rack. Turn the rolls the right way up and let them cool for 10 minutes before frosting them. 

The recipe I used recommended a cheese cream frosting, but I used a simple icing sugar frosting instead. Here's what I'd suggest, although you may want to check out the original recipe for their take on the frosting.

Ingredients for Frosting
1 cup (128g) of icing (confectioner's) sugar
1 tablespoon of milk or water

1. Sift sugar into a bowl.
2. Mix in milk or water until it forms a paste with the sugar.
3. Coat on top of cinnamon rolls with a knife or spoon. 
4. Wait for frosting to set and then EAT.

— Rachel 

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie

Either I was a deprived child, or chicken pot pie simply isn't popular in the UK. I'd heard of it several times in American novels, but up until I stumbled across this recipe on Stephanie O'Dea's blog, I hadn't been able to find a recipe that appealed to me. In fact, the first chicken pot pie recipe I found was in a Debbie Macomber novel and featured canned chicken, which did not appeal to me in the slightest.

I'm glad I wasn't put off by the ingredients in the original recipe as my version turned out really well. I've made it twice so far and it's definitely becoming a family favourite.

Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie

Serves: 4 - 6
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 - 5 hours on High or 6 - 7 on Low

4 chicken breasts, chopped into chunks
1 cup of peeled, chopped carrots (or approx. three medium sized carrots)
1 (326g) can of sweetcorn
1 cup of frozen peas (or fill the empty sweetcorn can with peas to get approx. 1 cup)
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of celery seed
1 onion, chopped (we prefer red onions)
2 cans of Bachelor's Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (MUST be condensed)
A couple of tablespoons of milk (to add to the cans of soup and squish around to get the dregs of the soup out as condensed soup is pretty stodgy and sticks to the can)

1. Preheat slow cooker. Chop up (and peel, where necessary) chicken, carrots and onion.
2. Add chicken to slow cooker, then add all of the vegetables and herbs.

As you can see, we chose to add brussell sprouts to ours.
Also, while the red onion gives the pie a good colour at this stage,
it loses its colour in the cooking process. 
3. Add soup and stir well until everything is covered with the soup. Don't worry of the soup looks thick to begin with, it'll thin out during the cooking process.

Yum. Appetising? Not so much at this stage.

We topped ours with biscuit, which may be unfamiliar to British readers. It's hard to describe, but basically came out as a mixture between scone and bread in this recipe. I used this recipe to make my biscuits topping, but altered it slightly as I found the milk made it too watery. You may choose to top your pie with mashed potatoes or pastry, but I do recommend trying it with biscuit. It's worth the work.

Biscuit Topping Ingredients
2 cups (250g) of plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of white (granulated) sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup (70g) of margarine
3/4 cup (180ml) of milk

Biscuit Topping Directions

1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
2. Cut the margarine into the mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
3. Gradually stir in the milk until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.

And now, back to our original chicken pot pie instructions...

4. Spread the biscuit dough on top of the pie as best you can, attempting to cover as much of the contents as possible.

I love how a random pea somehow escaped
and made on to the top of the  biscuit topping.

5. Cook on High for 3 - 5 hours or on Low for 6 - 7. Because of the topping, this recipe is impossible to add to or adjust while it's cooking, although I would occasionally lift the lid to check on how the biscuit mixture was cooking and spot some soup bubbling up the sides.

Suggested Variations:

- Add 10 brussell sprouts with the ends chopped off
- Add 1/2 cup of white wine

— Rachel

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Meal-Planning Wednesday - 8th Feb, 2012

Most families make meal-plans or menu-plans at the weekend, or on Mondays. Our day for planning what we're going to eat for the next week depends on our timetable. Last semester, we did our grocery shopping on a Thursday because we both have the afternoon off. (Being students and not owning a car, we have to plan in the 20 minute walk to and from the supermarket). This semester it's Wednesday, for the same reason. So while I'd love to jump in with the various blogs that feature menu-planning topics, I'm totally breaking the rules as everyone else on the planet seems to plan their meals on a Monday!

So, I'm a rule-breaker. I'm also probably one of the few students that makes a specific plan of what meals I'm going to eat every day. When I first came to university I'd outline meals for the week, but not give them specific days. But I've found that planning what I eat on each day means that I do actually eat what I planned, and not go hunting in the freezer for emergency chicken kievs because I'm too lazy to make the last remaining meal on my list. And now that Simon and I cook and budget together, meal planning has been a massive help. Meals that would previously have fed me for four days and still had leftovers now feed us for one meal and maybe enough for one person to eat for lunch the next day. He eats a LOT! So now we cook more meals, or in bigger quantities so that we have more for leftovers. We're starting to freeze leftovers to eat the next week rather than the next day so that we have more variety to our weekly meals. And we're experimenting a lot, thanks to Pinterest and Gojee. 

Typically, we try to have one meal including fish, one vegetarian meal, one chicken dish and something involving red meat. Then we fill the rest in with frozen leftovers, slow cooker experiments and typically more chicken, as it's cheap. We also try to eat vegetables with every meal, particularly those high in soluble fibre because of my dietary restrictions. We tend to avoid most pork for the same reasons.

Here's our meal plan for this week:

Wednesday - Chicken in white wine sauce with rice and steamed carrots
I recently called my mum and asked her for the white wine sauce recipe that I remembered from my childhood. She laughed and told me that it came out of a can! I went searching in Tesco and discovered the very same can hidden away on the bottom shelf, so we've decided to try it. I'll post our results of this experiment later this week, since Simon isn't keen on using jarred sauces, let alone canned ones!

Thursday - Borscht with sour cream and part-baked rolls
This is our "leftover" meal for the week, as we made a large quantity of this last week and froze half of it.

Our vegetarian meal for the week, high in fibre and relatively cheap. We both love chili and sweet potato and it gives me a chance to experiment with our slow cooker more. It also means I can cook in the morning and study in the afternoon, which I prefer.

Saturday is date night and Simon usually cooks. This was his choice, which I approve of as we both love Mexican-inspired food.

We were struggling to come up with an unusual fish recipe for me to cook (normally we have egg fried rice with mackerel or salmon mixed in, which is quick and easy but not very inspiring) and came across this. Looks like I'm using the slow cooker three time this week! But it allows me to get dinner ready before we go to church. We'll probably leave out the shrimp and add some more herbs.

Our red meat meal. Typically we use some sort of mince as it's cheaper but brisket isn't too expensive and we both loved the look of this recipe. We'll serve it with a salad as there's no veggies in the recipe. This is another slow cooker meal, which is perfect as I'm in classes from 2 - 4pm every Monday.

Tuesday - Chrorizo Hash Browns with roasted courgette/zucchini 
We forgot it was Valentine's Day until after we made this menu but this meal looks pretty posh. This is Simon's second choice. There's courgette in another meal so we figured we could use some more for this one, and it uses up the venison chorizo we received as a gift.

Breakfasts - We normally eat cereal for breakfast, except on Saturdays, when I cook something a bit more substantial. This week, Simon has requested scones, which we'll eat with margarine and jam.

Lunch - This is normally a combination of leftovers (if there's not enough for another full meal), noodles or toasties. I want to become more inventive with lunches, though, just without costing us too much extra!

— Rachel

Monday, 6 February 2012

Spicy Borscht

Great winter meal; very warming and great with hot rolls. Also very easy to make.

Serves 4 hungry students
4-5 small beetroots (either pre-cooked, or you can roast them in olive oil, rosemary and thyme)
4 large carrots
3 red onions
4 garlic cloves
1 ltr beef stock
4 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary
1 tsp sage
Chilli to taste
1 tsp smoked paprika
Sour cream to serve

Chop the onions and garlic. Heat some oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions and garlic on a medium heat until soft. Dice the beetroot and chop the carrots. Add to the saucepan. Cook for 5 minutes on a medium heat. Add the stock, herbs and spices and stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for half an hour, or until the carrots are soft. Ladle into bowls and put a dollop of sour cream on top.

— Simon