Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Cauliflower cheese

It's half term soon and I'm making plans for keeping everyone sane.  The usual venues tend to be ridiculously crowded (which, quite personally, is filling me with dread for next year when Master Chief will be at school and the only time we can go to Sealife, soft play, etc will be the busy times) and also we're pretty skint.  It's the end of October so trips to the park are possible but not for as long as in the summer.  Wet woods walks are always a winner, followed by a bath and hot chocolate.  Mmmm.  Lovely idea.  The reality is sharing a bath with two wriggly splashing toddlers and either necking the hot chocolate so quickly it burns my mouth or finding it cold an hour later!

The colder, darker days are also luring me to comfort food.  So I remembered an old family favourite that I haven't made for months.  Cauliflower cheese, easy to make, a hit with the kids, hurrah for that then.

1 large cauliflower
500ml milk
4 tbsp flour
50g butter
100g cheddar, grated

What to do
Heat the oven to 220C / Gas Mark 7.
Take the cauliflower leaves off and break the white bits into pieces.
Get a large saucepan, half fill it with water and heat it on the hob until it's boiling.  Put the cauliflower in and boil it for about 5 minutes.  Drain the cauliflower and then put it in a large ovenproof dish or tray.
Put the milk, flour and butter in the empty saucepan and whisk while heating until it's really well mixed and is bubbling nicely.  Turn of the heat and stir in most of the cheese (leave a small handful for sprinkling over the top).
Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower and scatter a bit of cheese on top.

Then stick the dish in the oven for about 20 minutes.  When it looks done take it out and sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top, it'll melt on and give a really cheesy smell and taste.

Eat.  I'd recommend waiting until it cools a bit but I often burn my mouth because I don't wait so who am I to preach?  You'd think I'd learn.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Really easy bolognese

So, I used to write about stuff here, in this blog.  Then, the summer holidays hit us and I found I was overtaken in a world of holiday activities, trying to keep sane, soothing a teething toddler (those ghastly molars!) and dealing with loads of other stuff.  We lost a family friend, she was taken from us by cancer.  It hit us hard.  Maybe I'll write about that some other time.
I have also been involved a lot in a local funding bid to bring a lot of money into the area for pregnancy and the early years, really exciting stuff, so that's involved time and effort.
Excuses, excuses.  I'm back now and hoping to get going again.
So, teething.  How unfair is teething?  Lots of pain, lots of tears and sleepless nights.  I'm still breastfeeding and that seems to be the only thing that comforts Miss Chief.  I am trying to eat healthy and lose some weight but I need to focus more on cooking and not just groaning "Let's get a takeaway" as we sink into the couch after the ninth trip upstairs.
I've been using the slow cooker a lot more, both Master and Miss Chief seem to accept these meals as edible.  I don't like mince but I've been making some meals for the rest of the family and they are going down well.  Here's a  very simple bolognese recipe that can be made quite quickly and was yummed up.  This would feed four adults or make a lot of portions for small people. 

The pirate plate is optional.  This is Mr Chief's portion because he's trying to stay off carbs but I made pasta to go with it as well.

Mince, any type (I used a 500g pack minced beef but turkey or lamb will do just as well)
Peppers, chopped (I used a yellow pepper because that's what I had in the fridge)
Onions, chopped (I used 2 red onions)
Mushrooms, chopped (I used 3 large ones)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Mixed herbs

What to do
Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan.  Bung in the mince and stir it round, breaking it up, until it's all browned, then add the peppers, onions and mushrooms.  Stir round for a bit until they seem a bit softer and then pour in the tomatoes.  Stir until everything is really well mixed and then sprinkle on some mixed herbs and stir them in.
That's it really.  Just leave it bubbling gently away for a while, stirring it occasionally .  A while can be ten minutes while you make tomorrow's lunches or half an hour/an hour while you persuade the children that sleep really IS an option.  As long as it's on a low, gentle heat then it should be fine.
Alternatively, you can fry up the mince and veggies and then chuck them in the slow cooker with the tomatoes and herbs and leave it to do it's stuff.
Cook some pasta and then serve it all up with an enormous glass of wine.  Or water, whatever's your poison.