Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Homemade burgers

Master Chief has decided he wants to cook again - hurrah!

We decided to make some burgers.  We've done this before but I put so much chopped up veg in them that they just fell apart, oops.

500g mince (I used a fairly lean mince)
1 small onion, diced
1 egg
Oil (I used olive oil)

What to do
Dice the onions, you can cut them as small as you like or leave them chunky if you want a good bite of onion in your burger.
Mix the egg and onion together in a bowl and then add the mince and mix it all up.
Wet your hands slightly and grab a handful of the mince mix.  Roll it into a ball and then flatten it a bit to make it look more burger shaped.  When I had squashed it, my burger was about the size of my palm but you can make them any size you like, obviously the bigger they are the more likely they are to fall apart.
Put the shaped burgers on a plate, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for half an hour to chill and firm up.

The recipe I looked at said to cook them on a barbeque - I obviously ignored this and fried them but I guess that means you could cook them any way you like.
I sprayed the burger itself with oil - mostly because I bought an oil sprayer when I was on holiday and now use it for everything.  Seriously, don't come round to the Chief house and stand still for too long!
I then cooked the burger in a frying pan on a fairly gentle heat.  I cooked it until I couldn't see any pink left, turning it occasionally.

Not brilliant pictures, sorry, but hopefully you get the gist.

You could go sophisticated and serve them with some creamed horseradish in a toasted brioche bun, however, I served these to two small children so obviously they were smothered in tomato ketchup.  

Homemade food - check.  Sophistication - ummm, yeah, I'll get back to you on that one!

You could also chuck some other veg in - I've done red pepper, mushroom, spring onion.  Just don't put too much in or you'll be serving up crumbled mince veg mix.  The veg obviously adds water so if you feel the mix is too wet then you could always add some flour to unmoisten (is that a word?!?) the whole thing up.


Friday, 11 September 2015

Baked spaghetti

Master Chief was inspired by a recipe he saw on television and wanted to make it for dinner.

I obviously cheered him on and fully encouraged this interest, and was happy to find out that we had most of the ingredients - sort of.  In true Chief style I made do with what I did have and he was happy after I explained that this meant that he could make it right now.  There was a little bit of "But Mummy, we need sun-dried tomatoes" but we overcame that.

The recipe was basically for a pasta bake but it used spaghetti which he and Miss Chief had huge fun breaking in pieces (some of which are probably still behind my cooker!) instead of the usual twists. 

Spaghetti, snapped into small pieces (we made them a couple of inches or so)
Ham, cut into small pieces
Tomato puree (this is what I used instead of the sundried tomatoes)
6 olives, cut into small pieces
1 tin of tomatoes (I used chopped toms)
Stock cube
Paprika (just a sprinkle)

What to do
Turn on the oven and set it at about gas mark 6 (around 200 for electric).
Put the ham and olives into an ovenproof dish (or small dishes if you want to do individual ones) and add a generous squeeze of tomato puree.
Snap the spaghetti into small pieces.  This isn't entirely necessary but it makes it a lot easier if it's small mouths eating.  Put the pieces in with the ham and tip the tin of tomatoes on top.
Add some water.  This is very vague but I added about half a tin and it turned out saucy but not too wet.
Crumble on the stock cube and give it all a good mix.
Sprinkle a little paprika on top and then cover with tin foil and put it in the oven.
I checked it after about 20 minutes but it needed a bit longer so I gave it a stir and then put it back in for another 10 minutes or so.  If you're using individual dishes then it'll cook quicker so my advice is to just check it regularly.

I sprinkled a bit of grated cheese on top before I served it.  I also served it in these glass dishes and it was gobbled up.
There were no "Dinner or bed" fights that night - bliss!

I'll try to keep Master Chief's interest going though, I think it's a great idea to learn to cook at a young age and hopefully he'll get experimental in the kitchen again soon!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

A is for apple

A memory from when Master Chief was much smaller...

Master Chief was playing with his alphabet twisty toy.

Grandma Chief said "A is for....?" and my boy said "Apple".

Brilliant. The child is obviously a genius.  At only a year and a half he knows the entire alphabet (ahem - sorry, totally OTT proud parent exaggeration!).

Then Grandma Chief said "B is for....?"

Master Chief paused, and looked at her and then he said "Bapple"

Cue hysteria. 

I correct myself, the child is obviously a comedy genius.

Thursday, 3 September 2015


A serious post.

Regarding the refugees - please give whatever you can.  Money, clothes, books, toiletries, bedding.

These people REALLY need our help.  We are the ones who can make a difference.  Today.

And imagine the horror if that was someone you love.

Please, just do it.  Make sure you are not the one who turns away.


Social media photo bashing

My eldest is about to start school.  Big moment.  Scary stuff (for me, not him - Master Chief is ITCHING to go to school!)

There are also a lot of my friends in the same position, about to send their child off to school and understandably both proud and a little nervous.
There are a lot of posts on facebook regarding this at the moment.  Half of them are photos of children in their new school uniform.  The other half are slating the parents who post these photos.

Leave. Them. Alone.

If a parent wants to post a photo of their child at this momentous time then let them be.  They may be posting it for far away friends or relatives, they may want to mark the occasion, or they may just be posting it because they love their child.  Any problem with that?

You don't have to poke fun at them, mock them or downright be an arse about it - just keep scrolling through your newsfeed until you get to something you do want to see.

And, while we're on the subject, anyone who posts photos of their new baby is also fine - leave them be too.  They are proud parents who love their child and don't give a toss who knows.  Would it be better if the parents didn't give a shit about their child and ignored milestones?  And it's not up to you to decide what is a milestone in a babies life, that's up to the parents.  So what if you've seen seventeen photos of a baby grinning?  The most important thing is that this is THEIR baby grinning and it's the most beautiful thing in the world.

Find some love in the world - and if you can't do that then find some tolerance.  And if you can't do that then just keep your opinions to yourself.

No recipe this time, just the rant.  Sorry about that, I'll cook something soon!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Frozen yoghurt drops (or pieces)

A big fave in our family are frozen yoghurt drops (or pieces).
Master & Miss Chief think they're getting frozen sweets and I'm happy they're not being filled with sugar.

So very easy, all you need is some yoghurt or fromage frais, a freezer, and a tray or plate that can be frozen.

   The first time I did this I used a plastic plate and dolloped bits of yoghurt onto it so they were more like drops, this time I used a plastic tray and poured the yoghurt in.

Then I spread it out a bit so it was fairly flat and put it in the freezer.

Voila! Frozen yoghurt.  I broke it up into pieces and put it in a lidded tub in the freezer.  I'd like to tell you how long it would last for but in this house that equals 10 minutes after I open the tub!

Things like this that make the children happy and make me feel like I'm doing a good job are important, sometimes you need the boost.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Gingerbread Elephants

Master Chief wanted to make Gingerbread Men.  This seemed like a really good plan until I realised a vital flaw - I don't have any person shaped cutters.  I rummaged around in the baking drawer, discarding square and round cutters and managed to unearth an elephant shaped cutter.  With some trepidation I suggested we could make gingerbread elephants.... to my delight this suggestion was met with approval from the world's harshest judges - my children.
So gingerbread elephants it was.  Master Chief helped me weigh and measure the ingredients while Miss Chief had an almighty tantrum because I wouldn't let her put her hand in the toaster (yes, we're going through that stage!)
We used a recipe that I found in an old book of my Mother's, unusually I didn't have to make any substitutions as I had all the ingredients.


350g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g butter
175g light soft brown sugar
1 egg
4 tbsp golden syrup


Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon together into a bowl.
Add the butter and mix until it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together (don't worry, it will work even though it seems that the golden syrup will never leave the sides of the bowl when you first put it in).
Add this to the flour mixture and mix it until the whole thing clumps together and looks like a proper dough. 

Tip the dough out, knead it briefly until it's smooth.  
Wrap the dough in clingfim 

and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. 
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Roll the dough out to a half centimetre thickness on a lightly (or thickly if you're Master Chief!) floured surface. 

Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread elephant shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them.

I would recommend leaving a bit more of a gap than I have here as my elephants got very friendly with each other in the oven!

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.

They were delicious, and the first ones didn't even get decorated before they were devoured.

Maybe I'll buy some people shaped cutters too, but our elephants looked really cute.

I've had a good few days, been making some decisions about life (the universe & everything).  I don't want to miss out on my babies while they're so small, I want to be there for them, I want to be at the school gates when Master Chief finishes school.  I've been running around trying to sort out breakfast club and after school club for him and what I want to do is be there to pick him up myself.  I've got a lot of thinking to do but I had my first session with a counsellor today and it's helped to clarify some things in my mind.

I'll keep you posted.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Beef stew - a down day recipe

It was hammering down with rain today and it seemed like it was one of those rainy autumn days again.  So, the slow cooker made another appearance.  Beef stew this time.
It was one of those "what have I got in the fridge/larder" dinners.  On this occasion I had beef, tinned tomatoes and mushrooms.  I also had half a tin of baked beans from Miss Chief's lunch of beans on toast so I thought I'd chuck them in too - it worked well!
This is the final result and it was devoured by Mr Chief, and also explored with interest by Master and Miss Chief.

Beef, cut into bite sized pieces
Mushrooms (I had huge ones so I just quartered them)
1 tin of tomatoes (I used chopped toms)
Baked beans (as said, it was what was left over)
Plain four
Garlic (crushed or cut into small pieces)

What to do
Mix the flour in a bowl with some paprika (or any other herbs or spices you fancy using) and then mix the beef in until it seems coated.
Fry the beef in a frying pan for a few minutes to seal it and then bung it in the slow cooker.
Add the tin of tomatoes, the mushrooms, the beans and the garlic.  Cook on low for 6 - 8 hours (depending on your cooker).

I served it with mashed potatoes which worked well.  You could add any vegetables that you have, it'll work well but obviously taste different.

This dinner was made while I was at home, as I've recently been signed off sick due to what the doctor calls stress - I call it exhaustion but it's still being looked at.  Basically, I'm having a really hard time dealing with the constant rushing around that comes with two jobs and tow children - it's really tough at the moment.  I know there are people out there who are dealing with so much more and that makes me reluctant to face it but it would seem that I am suffering from some sort of burnout.  
I plan on writing about this honestly while sharing time saving, realistic recipes that I am serving to a very real family, I hope that it might help someone and who knows?  That someone might even be me.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Poor Man's Eggs Mornay (or diet Eggs a la Laughing Cow!!)

A quick and easy lunch/supper (which Mr Chief thinks is weird but I love) is my Poor Man's Eggs Mornay.  Eggs Mornay is a spin on Eggs Benedict using Mornay sauce (a cheese sauce) instead of Hollandaise.
I don't use Mornay sauce - I use a cheese triangle.  Classy huh?  To be exact, I use a Laughing Cow Extra Light cheese triangle.  They're only 19 calories each and if you ignore the fact that I slathered my toast with butter then it's low cal, right?

It's so easy, especially as I've got those rubber egg poacher things (I've never got the hang of the swirly water technique).

One point to remember is to oil the poachers (otherwise the egg doesn't come out and it all goes a bit wrong).  I use spray oil because I find it easier to coat the inside.  Get a pan of water boiling and then crack the eggs into the poachers and lower them gently into the water.  You don't want the water to be boiling too vigorously or the egg poachers will get flooded.  You'll know when the eggs are done as the white will turn from clear to, well, white.  While the eggs are cooking you can make the toast.  Upturn the poached eggs onto the toast and then you can add the cheese.  If you want to go for presentation (ie if you're making these for someone else!) then you could mash the cheese up a bit an dollop if on top of the eggs - as you can see, I went for the "balance the triangle precariously on top" method.

It may look a little odd but I assure you it's delicious.
I made this for myself and found that I was swatting the kids off my plate - maybe I'll make it for them too!