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Helloooo ūüôā

I hope you are all well!

In my last post, I spoke about how I would blog every Wednesday from now on.¬† And what happened?¬† I missed my first Wednesday!¬† Normal service has resumed, however.¬† I was just too busy last week, getting prepared for the T in the Park festival.¬† Yes, we had a wonderful time, thanks for asking! ūüėÄ

(Everyone apart from my Bro, who is taking the pic!)

Today’s recipe is one that I made up myself,¬†after browsing many (hundred) chilli recipes and deciding which ingredients I liked best.¬† I’m not a big fan of spiciness; this is a nice, tame version that would be good for children!

You may think I’m weird for what I’m about to say… but I’ve only ever¬†eaten chilli once before.¬† Even then, it was only a small bit, with the kidney beans picked out.¬† I’m so sheltered!¬† Colin is a fan of chilli, so I made it my business to get it learned!

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

500g lean beef mince

2 large onions, diced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 sweet pointed peppers (any peppers will be fine though, I just thought they looked good)

250g mushrooms, sliced

2tbsp chilli powder

2tbsp dried oregano

1tbsp ground cinnamon

2tbsp paprika

3 bay leaves

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes, drained

3tbsp tomato puree

1tbsp dark brown muscovado sugar

150ml (1/2 pint) beef stock (I used a stock cube)

1tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly

First I browned the mince, then added the onions.  After 5 mins, I then popped the garlic, mushrooms and peppers into the pot. 

Next, I added my herbs & spices, my tomatoes, puree, brown sugar, Worcester sauce and stock. 

I seasoned it well, with salt and pepper.  In went the bay leaves, then I simmered for 1 hour (stirring occasionally).

Next, I removed the bay leaves and put my kidney beans into the pot for 10 more minutes.

I served this with brown rice and a little side salad.  Very healthy indeed!  I could be doing with some healthy food after all that crappy (and hideously overpriced) festival food.

I really enjoyed this chilli, and would recommend it to anyone who is tentative, like me, about spicy food.¬† I have two tubs¬†of it¬†in the freezer, and I plan to have one of them over a baked potato, with a sprinkling of cheddar over the top… mmmh!

Next time, I’m going to replace the kidney beans with normal baked beans, like my big Brother’s girlfriend Lindsay does with her chilli.¬† Aside from that, the recipe will stay the same; Colin said it tastes like chilli, so thats good enough for me!

See you next Wednesday ūüôā x

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Hellooooo hope you are all well.¬† It’s good to be back ūüôā

I’ve been dying to share this meaty recipe with you all.¬† Before I made this, I had only associated Meatloaf with The Simpsons¬†cartoon, where the kids and Homer moan about how boring it is!¬† But, reading the ingredients, it didn’t sound boring to me!

I was given¬†Nigella Lawson’s¬†“Kitchen” cookbook as a Xmas gift (thanks Colin :D)¬†and this is the first thing I’ve made from it (although I’ve got my eye on the chicken, chorizo & potato bake llarrr!).¬† When I’m looking through recipes, I usually look for one that will use up the things I already have at home (waste not, want not and all that jazz).¬† So this one was perfect.

The recipe calls for beef mince, but I used half¬†beef, half¬†pork (I got the pork for ¬£1 out of Asda, in the “reduced” aisle as it was nearing its sell-by date.¬† I froze it on day of purchase and let it defrost overnight.¬† Bargain!).¬† Here’s what else I used:

Ingredients (Serves 8, apparently. I’d say 6…):

4 eggs

4 onions, diced as finely as you can

500g beef mince

500g pork mince

1 pack of smoked bacon (the recipe calls for 225g¬†thin cut streaky bacon, but I had the thick cut bacon…)

100g breadcrumbs

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

First, I boiled 3 of the eggs (leaving one remaining) and fried the onions till translucent, then allowed to cool.  I also preheated the oven to 200 degrees.

I put the beef, pork, onions and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl, then squished it all together with my hands.  I added the remaining raw egg and breadcrumbs then mixed again.

I took half the mixture and moulded it into a long oval shape, and placed my wee boiled eggs on top.

I moulded the rest of the mixture over the top, pressing down gently to get in all the nooks of the eggs.  I wrapped the lot with my bacon, tucking in at the bottom.

I put in the oven for 1 hour, then let rest for 15 minutes.

I clearly didn’t tuck it in enough, as it started curling up during cooking.¬† It’s probably because I used the wrong type of bacon, but I wasn’t bothering.¬† It’s all getting cut up anyway!

I was so impressed when I cut it open! ūüôā

I served this in big, hearty chunks with creamy mash, roasted parsnips, marrowfat¬†peas (I HATE garden peas), and smothered it in a gravy I made up using: a glass of¬†red wine and an Oxo¬†cube dissolved in about 200ml¬†water, boiled till reduced slightly,¬†then¬†added a¬†tsp of¬†beef gravy granules,¬†giving it the consistency I wanted (it doesn’t sound like much, but mmmmm¬†it was flavoursome!).

Definitely a lovely, comforting dinner for a miserable day!

Nigella says she likes to put her leftovers in a sandwich the next day.  I wrapped mines up in foil, put in the fridge and completely forgot about them!  Oops!  What was that I was saying about waste not, want not?

In other news…

I follow a wonderful blog called A Glug of Oil, and one day she posted¬†about a Fairy Hobmother doing the rounds.¬† He was granting wishes to food bloggers and he gave her an Ice Cream Maker!¬† I commented on her blog (chanced my arm), and look what came my way…

I’m so unbelievably chuffed with my teeny food processor; it’s so cute!

Anyway, it was lovely posting again.¬† Now time to go and visit all the food blogs and drool over food (I’ve missed it so!).

Enjoy ūüôā x

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This post is dedicated to my Glamorous Gran and namesake, Catherine Noble, who just turned 78 on Wednesday! 

(What… don’t all pensioners have drum-kits at their birthday party?)

My darling Grandmother is a wonderful human being, and I’m not just saying that out of some kind of grand-daughterly obligation. ¬†She’s the only person I know who can have such grace, style and elegance, whilst simultaneously taking the crown for the most riotous party animal I know. ¬† And, being from Glasgow, I know a fair few people who can handle their “bevvy”.¬†

For example, I remember we sat up all night, gabbing away at a family house party.  I had to give up at 7:30am, completely partied out.  Gran was (and is always) the last one standing, with not a hair out of place on her perfectly styled bouffant.

A lot of people (especially food bloggers) talk about how they used to bake cakes with their granny as a child, or learned everything they knew about cooking from them.¬† I don’t fall within that category.¬†¬† My Gran doesn’t have much time for cooking.¬† As someone who has a blatant food obsession, this should fill me with complete dismay.

But, aside from her home-made Tablet (which I must try soon!), I have inherited one gorgeous recipe from her.  Something that she used to make for my Dad growing up, which was then passed down to become a favourite of ours.

It’s a simple enough stew-type dish, but in order to make it sound more exciting to my Dad and his brothers when they were wee, she gave it the name: Americans.

I doubt that would wash with today’s youth.¬† Nevertheless, the name has stuck and is used regularly in our particular branch of the Noble family.¬† Please humour me and overlook the fact that there is nothing remotely American about the dish. ūüôā

Dad is a veggie-phobe, so the original version was just sausages, potatoes and Oxo¬†cubes.¬† I like to add carrots and onions to mines.¬† My brother likes to use Cumberland sausages with his and add mixed herbs.¬† Since I’m the one with the blog, I get to write about my version of events. Naturally. ūüėČ

Here are the ingredients, in all their splendour:

Serves 4:

12 skinless pork sausages, cut in half

3 carrots, sliced

2 onions, diced

3 large potatoes, cut into 3″-ish chunks

3 Oxo cubes

Dont cut the potatoes and sausages too small, or they will disintegrate.

If your sausages aren’t skinless, I would boil them¬†in water for 5-10 mins, then drain before adding the rest of the¬†ingredients.¬†¬†It will be really oily otherwise.¬†¬†You can use¬†beef if you like; I prefer¬†the pork.

Simply bung all the ingredients in a big pot, fill with enough water to cover it all, then crumble your Oxo cubes in.

Season with a little salt (the Oxo cubes make it salty too), give it a stir then bring to the boil.

Once boiling, bring it to a simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

And that’s it!¬† It’s ridiculously tasty, especially with¬†lots of bread to soak up the delicious gravy.¬† I bought some of that “hedgehog” bread the other day, and it was perfect with this!¬†

It’s such a simple dish, which can be prepared in minutes and quickly fills the house with a wonderful, homely aroma.¬† Even though there’s¬†nothing particularly remarkable about the recipe itself, it was always regarded as a treat when Mum made it, when we were growing up.¬† Perhaps the Americanisation of it thrilled us as much as it did my Dad and his brothers!

It freezes really well, as long as you don’t make the pieces too small (then it would go a bit mushy!).¬† So if there’s a “Buy One Get One Free” deal in your local supermarket for sausages, I would thoroughly recommend doubling up the recipe and freezing half of it.¬† If you have a microwave in work, then this is a perfect comfort-food lunch to break up a busy day!

It’s one of those dishes that will most definitely result in you sneaking back to the kitchen every now and again, for a sneaky ladlefull or two!

And if you happen to find yourself feeling rather fragile after a certain someone’s 78th birthday party, it is fabulous hangover food! ūüėČ

Enjoy! ūüôā x

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This little gem of a dish I present to¬†you,¬†was discovered on the increasingly life-critical entity that is Facebook, or as I affectionately refer to it:¬†Procrastination’s Playground!¬† I¬†hadn’t realised (until now)¬†quite how much Facebook has completely and utterly indulged my food obsession (honestly, anyone who loves food will love this).¬†¬†And after trying this stupendously tasty dish, I am eternally grateful. ūüėÄ

Although¬†I occasionally¬†whine about my¬†Facebook page being dominated by needless weather reports or commentaries on TV programmes that I don’t watch, there is one topic that¬†my friends¬†consistently update (much to my joy):¬† what they’re having for their dinner!¬†

Some people get their kicks from finding out celebrity gossip, or who’s being booted off the X Factor stage (or jungle, or dance-floor, or ice-rink…).¬† But if one of my friends post about their Sunday Roast, you will be sure to find a wee comment from myself underneath, enquiring about the juicy details.¬† Sad, perhaps.¬†¬†Even somewhat perverse,¬†but I love it. ūüôā

My friend Heather recently posted a status update about having made a big pot of Marsetti.¬† I’d never heard of it before (so googled it, of course!) and found loads of different recipes for it.¬† Heather was kind enough to give me her version, and I will certainly not be looking to adapt it; it’s perfect and ridiculously tasty.

Heather¬†doesn’t use measurements, but here’s what I used if you need a guideline:

Ingredients (serves 4):

Penne pasta shells (enough for 4 people; I used about 400g)

2 onions, diced finely

250g button mushrooms, sliced thinly (for the mushie-phobes out there!)

500g lean beef steak mince

1 tin condensed tomato soup

1 tin condensed chicken soup

2 tbsp dried mixed herbs (a mix of thyme, marjoram, parsley, oregano, sage & basil)

2 bay leaves

50g mature cheddar, grated

First brown the mince, then add the onions.

Once the onions start looking transparent, add the two tins of soup, the mixed herbs and the bay leaves.¬† Let it simmer for 30 mins, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn at the bottom!

Cook¬†your pasta according to the packet instructions in some well-salted, boiling water (I’ve started adding a touch of olive oil to the water too, after seeing Ina Garten do it on Barefoot Contessa.¬† I forget the reasoning behind it, but it’s your call whether you want to or not).

Take out the bay leaves and add your mushrooms to the mince:

Drain your cooked pasta, and take the heat off¬†the mince.¬† Stir in the grated cheese (mmm… cheesy goodness), and season well with salt and pepper.

Stir in the pasta shells and mix thoroughly.¬† Then prepare your taste-buds for a treat. ūüôā

This is so tasty, words do not do it justice!¬† It set me up nicely before attending my cousin Claire’s 18th birthday party (Happy Birthday, honey bunch!), and it was even more comforting the next day, when I was feeling rather tender and wanting to stuff my face!

Heather, I’ve got my eye on your “Chicken Divan” recipe next!

Enjoy ūüėÄ

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Cream of Broccoli Soup

A few weeks ago, my¬†colleague Kris emailed me; he asked if I’d like to do a soup trade with him once a week.¬† He would bring in soup for lunch one day a week and I would do the same.¬† You know how much I love my soups, therefore you wont be surprised that I immediately agreed!

So far, Kris has made¬†Cock-A-Leekie soup, Spicy Tomato & Veg soup, then Squash & Parsnip soup.¬† To add to the collection, I have made Yellow Split Pea soup,¬† Leek & Potato soup¬†and this marvellous Cream of Broccoli soup.¬† Kris said it’s been the nicest soup yet, and I’ve had so much good feedback from all who tasted it, so I thought I’d post it (If you want the recipes for the other soups I mentioned, please feel free to ask!).

I found the recipe and video instruction¬†here on Videojug – I swear I’m getting addicted to that site!

Anyone who reads this blog regularly, knows that I can’t help but deviate from the original recipes…

My version consists of this:

3 medium heads of broccoli, cut into florets

3 x small onions, diced

2  x cloves of garlic, minced

3  x medium potatoes, cubed

1ltr x veg stock

250ml x single cream 

50ml x milk (I used whole)

1tsp x ground nutmeg

I didn’t bother with the toasted almonds; I don’t think the dish missed them at all!

I gently fried the onions, potatoes and garlic in some olive oil, for 10 mins.

I then added the broccoli, stock and cream.

After seasoning well with salt, pepper & nutmeg, I gave it all a good stir and simmered for 10 mins.

I used my hand blender to give it a smooth, creamy consistency.

I had some oatcakes and dairylea slices with this, as I didn’t imagine it would be very filling.¬† How wrong I was!¬† It’s deceptively filling, surprisingly rich (yet delicately¬†flavoured)¬†and deliciously creamy (ok enough of the M&S chat).

This was my first time using Nutmeg in a dish, and the subtle hint of it in the soup was really nice.¬† I’m a new fan of Nutmeg!¬† What other dishes do you like to¬†use nutmeg in?¬† Do you do any soup/lunch trades with your colleagues?

Enjoy ūüôā

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Courgette Frittata

When I was food shopping the other day, I decided to pick up a 3 pack of courgettes.¬† I’d never tasted them before, and they seem to be in every recipe I look at right now!¬† Making a frittata has been on my “to do” list for some time, so it seemed like fate when I came across this little gem¬†on BBC Good Food.¬† This recipe wasn’t used, but it provided the inspiration.¬†¬†This one is¬†loosely based on a recipe card I found on a Tesco checkout in Carnforth last week!!

I had all the ingredients; the plan was in place.

I didn’t, however, bank on coming home absolutely exhausted yesterday.¬† I’d been working from 7am, then straight to the gym for a major workout (have to burn off all those indulgences!).¬† I know a frittata is considered a quick meal, but I felt weak and tired; the freezer food was whispering to me.

My sister Irene was huffy…¬†I’d lured her over to my house with the promise of frittata.¬† She even offered to help chop the vegetables.¬† She doesn’t get to cook very much, since I’m always feeding her!¬† But I asked her if she would like to try making the frittata and she was up for it; I’m so glad, because she did an amazing job!! ūüôā

(Irene, brandishing a knife and looking manic.  Nothing new there then.)

First she chopped up all the veg, as promised (as well as some chorizo for good measure!)

Ingredients (Serves 4):

1 onion, diced

1 courgette, diced

2 yellow bell peppers, chopped

75g chorizo, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

6 eggs, beaten

100ml whole milk, stirred into the beaten egg.

50g mild cheddar (or whatever cheese you want)

Preheat the grill.

After frying the vegetables & chorizo in some olive oil for 5-10 mins (until they softened), she set them aside and wiped the pan clean with some kitchen towel.

She then returned the pan to a low/medium heat and poured in enough olive oil to coat the bottom and sides of the pan.

She added the vegetables to the bowl of beaten eggs and gently stirred, before pouring it into the frying pan again.

After a few minutes, we could tell the egg was beginning to set, from the way it was detaching at the sides.

She grated some cheese over the top, then placed the pan under the grill.

After about 8-10 mins, the frittata had set on the top, and the cheese had turned a gorgeous brown.

Here are some more photos of this joyous occasion (yes, I’m like a proud mother hen with my camera out):

I know for some people, making a frittata isn’t a big deal.¬† But I dont care; I could burst with pride, because¬†Irene never really cooks and this was DELICIOUS.¬†¬†Plus, there are a million different variations on frittata, so it’s a wonderful basic dish to make.¬† Whats more, there was plenty leftover here; perfect for lunch the next day!

I just hope Irene will cook with me in future ūüėÄ

What do you like to put in your frittatas?

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When I made¬†the grande announcement that I was going to make couscous, I was met with confused stares, followed by… “what¬†is couscous?”

I thought I was the only one ignorant to the ways of couscous, so the blank looks were fairly comforting.  Trying to answer their question, however, was a different matter.  So I did what I always do.  I Googled it.

According to Wikipedia: “Couscous is a grain dish of spherical granules made by rolling and shaping moistened semolina wheat and then coating them with finely ground wheat flour.”

I simplified this explanation by saying “it’s a semolina thingy that you can use as an alternative to pasta or potatoes (got the last bit from the packet :P).¬† Just wait and taste it”.

It all started with a trip to Tesco to pick up some red lentils last week.¬† I saw the couscous next to it for 67p for 500g!!!¬† Most individual portions of 100g are the same price, if not more expensive!¬† So I figured I’d compete with the likes of Ainsley Harriott and do my own version ūüôā

I’ve tasted couscous only¬†once before, and that was ages ago.¬† So I was relying on my twinny to tell me if I’d made it correctly.¬† Heres what I did:

I chopped up:

250g closed cup mushrooms

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

1 onion

And I measured out 200g couscous (serves 4)

I put 1 veg stock cube into 250ml boiled water and kept aside till needed.

I fried the onion and mushrooms for around 5 mins, added the peppers, then fried for another 5 mins.

I then added the couscous, followed by the stock.¬† I added some crushed black pepper and a few tsps of sweet paprika at this point too.¬† I gave it a good stir then removed the pan from the heat.¬† The packet says to leave for 5 minutes, but I’d left it for half an hour (till my sis got here), then reheated it quickly.¬† I added about 50ml of water at this point, so it wasn’t too dry.¬†

I’d originally planned to add a smoked sausage to this and have it as a main dish.¬† But mum had made a “salad”, so I just put small amounts on our plates and there was plenty leftover for lunch the next day (the packet says you can’t freeze it though, only refrigerate then heat up in the microwave for a couple of minutes).

I used inverted commas to describe the salad, as I’ve yet to meet anyone else who puts waffles and piles of grated cheese on theirs.¬† But it was damn tasty, and the addition of the couscous made it very filling indeed!

Eat your heart out Ainsley (what a weird phrase).

What do you like to have couscous with?¬† I need more ideas, now that I have 300g lurking in my cupboard…

ūüėÄ

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