Category Archives: My Recipes

A collection of recipes I’ve come up with

Pork and Cider Stew

I’ve made this stew in many variations, but today’s attempt was definitely one of the best. It’s especially good served up with some freshly cooked white bread. Probably. I kinda undercooked the bread a little. (shhhh, the other post thinks it was successful!)

Serves 3-4 people depending on portion size. I generally find it serves as many people as are sitting around the table!


500g pork (diced)

2 Potatoes

2 Parsnips

2 Carrots

1 onion

1 tin baked beans

1 stock cube

1 bottle cider

Various seasonings


Chop all the veg and pork and put into a large saucepan with the baked beans. Dissolve the stock cube in the cider and add to the pan. Add seasonings to taste. I used rosemary, parsley, a pinch of Tesco Cajun spices and a big squirt of tomato purée  I also used the cheapest cider that Tesco sells – given that you’re cooking it in with a whole load of other flavours, you don’t really need to splash out here. You can add some cooking apples if you like, it adds to both the flavour and texture. I would have done, but I forgot that we had a bunch in.

Simmer for about an hour, or until it goes gloopy.


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Today is Halloween, and I decided to have a bit of fun this year.

To start with I made some spooky gingerbread using a simple recipe I found online, and some halloween cutters I bought from Hobbycraft for a pound. They came out very well and went very quickly in the office!


Preparation method

  1. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in clingfim and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  4. Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. When cooled decorate with the writing icing and cake decorations.


As we were likely to be getting Trick-or-Treaters this year, I thought a few decorations at the front wouldn’t go amiss. I made some silhouetttes from Black and white card and popped them in our front window. (I’ll admit I drew around the cookie cutters for some of them!) Put an LED torch behind the window for an extra spooky effect and ta-daa! The perfect Halloween setting! I couldn’t get a good photo of the window, so here are my silhouettes before I put them up.

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Spicy Crispy Beef

Whilst in the States with work, I visited the Cheesecake Factory one evening for dinner. I had the Spicy Crispy Beef and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to try it again the next time I was in town. So 3 weeks later I went back only to find that it had been taken off the menu!

Not to be deterred by such small setbacks, I started searching for recipes on-line. I found a few references and they all seemed to point to a pair of very similar recipes. It looks like one is a simplified version of the other, and this is the one I chose to try out, as I have more of the ingredients in.


1/4 cup (30g) cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
12 ounces flank steak, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon chili paste
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon ginger
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup sliced onion
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper


Heat oil to 375 degrees F.

In a resealable plastic bag, combine cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Add steak slices to cornstarch mixture and shake bag to lightly coat.

Place one layer of breaded steak strips into the fryer basket and carefully lower basket into the preheated oil. Deep fry steak slices until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from oil and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine soy sauce, vinegar, honey, sugar, chili powder, water, and ginger. Mix well and cook over medium heat until sugar has dissolved.

Heat a wok or deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of oil and quickly saute the onion, garlic, and red pepper for 30 seconds.

Add sauce mixture and cook another 30 seconds. Add strips of fried steak and toss to heat through and coat with sauce.


This was a fantastic dish, but there’s definitely room for improvement. Mostly in my cooking though. I don’t have a deep fat fryer, so I used a small amount of oil in the bottom of a saucepan. I also didn’t have a pair of tongs and knew I’d be fishing the bits of beef out with a pair of forks, so I wan’t prepared to heat the oil up as much as it should have been. This meant the beef strips didn’t come out as crispy as they should have – although the flavour was very good.

I misread the recipe and put in more salt and pepper than required, but the alternative recipe suggests more, and I agree. It wasn’t too much. The flour mixture didn’t stick to the beef strips particularly well, but I think this is most likely another symptom of not hot enough oil.

The sauce was good, but rather than all the different flavours combining, they were in little pockets. I think it’s not enough to heat the sauce and stir, a more thorough mixing is definitely required. It also needed a touch less sugar. I only put in 5 tablespoons, and next time I will put that down to 2 or 3 and maybe add a bit more honey instead. And finally, I think it needed to cook for longer to thicken up a bit more. but by this time I was starting to get a bit rushed as I’d had no idea of how long it would take. It took just over an hour in the end, because I was trying to do everything separately as I fumbled my way through unfamiliar territory!

So all in all, not up to cheesecake factory standards but still very tasty. I will definitely be having another go and enlisting Tom’s help in the kitchen to deal with the hot oil!

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In search of the perfect cookie

Oatmeal and Raisin is definitely my favourte cookie flavour. Of course I love a good chocolate chip same as anyone, but to me the epitome of a cookie is the oatmeal and rasin. Crisp on the outside with the oats giving a chewy texture on the inside interspersed with a bunch of juicy raisin flavour.

Whenver I have a classic cookie craving, I turn to the internet for a recipe. Often they turn out more cake like than cookie like, a sort of oaty flavoured rock bun. And alwasy, always, I forget to save the recipe when I’m done. But now I have a baking blog – where better to store a collection of cookie recipes along with notes until I have found the perfect specimen!

This weekend’s cookie experimentations came from the Smitten Kitchen website. I’ve avoided this recipe before because it looks much more complicated than others. Now I am a master baker, I decided to give it a go! I have repeated the recipe below in case the website ever mysteriously disappears in a puff of baking powder. Stranger things have happened on the web.


115 grams butter

125 grams light brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

95 grams plain flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon table salt

120 grams rolled oats

120 grams raisins


Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts, if using them.

At this point you can either chill the dough for a bit in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet and then chill the whole tray before baking them. You could also bake them right away, if you’re impatient, but I do find that they end up slighly less thick.

The cookies should be two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (your baking time will vary, depending on your oven and how cold the cookies were going in), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.


Yum. Very tasty cookies, as demonstrated by the fact that they didn’t last long enough to take a photo. I have half the batch still in the freezer though, for a later resampling. They are not the cookies I’m looking for, but I think they might get closer if I squash them down to make them flat before baking. I will try this technique next time!

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Sweet Chilli Salad Dressing

This recipe is one of my own that I adapted from one I found on the internet. It was originally sweet chilli sauce but a quick drizzle of olive oil and ta-daa! You have a rather tasty salad dressing. 


40g Sugar

60ml White Wine Vinegar

Chilli powder to taste

30ml Water

1tbsp Olive Oil as virgin as you like


Heat the vinegar and sugar until the sugar fully dissolves and allow to boil. Add the chilli powder and stir until it is fully dissolved. Don’t let it cool at this point, it will caramelise. (If this happens, just put on the hob again and use boiling water from the kettle instead of the cold water and keep stirring until the hard candy-like substances softens and melts into the water.)

Add the cold water to the mixture, and then leave on the side to cool down to room temperature. When it has cooled add the olive oil and decant to a small pot with a lid. Pass to your husband, and request that he shakes vigourously.

To Serve:

Drizzle lightly over a simple salad. We found it went very nicely with tuna and egg. This batch lasted us for 3 salads. It keeps fine in the fridge for pretty much as long as you like.

 Probably cheap depending on what oil and vinegar you use.

Calories per batch: 290


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Wild and Nutty Rice

Tom found this recipe in the metro and brought it home. We’ve adapted it to suit our ingredients cupboard, and here it is! We had half for dinner and then half for lunch the next day, which worked really well.

Tom found a mint plant on yellow sticker at Tesco a while back, and it’s been slowly turning into a mint jungle. So we gave it a good pruning for this recipe. When he’s grown back, then we’l have it again! It’s shown me how nice it is to grow things and use them in your own kitchen. When we’ve bought a house, I’ll be sure to have a whole range of herbs on the windowsill in the kitchen. And hopefully a green house outside too. I intend to grow salad veg like Dad used to!


240g Risotto Rice (because we had some that needed using up!

100g chopped walnuts

125g chopped, dried apricots

1 Apple

1/2 Onion

Fresh Mint

2tbsp White Wine Vinegar

3tbsp Olive Oil


Cook the rice first. Lightly fry the walnuts in 1tbsp olive oil until they go all brawn and cripsy. Mix everything in together.


Price: A bit pricey compared to our usual fare. The walnuts, risotto rice and apricots are the expensive ingredients.

Calories per serving: 600


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