Slow Cooker Bolognese and Potato Hash

Slow Cooker Bolognese and Potato Hash raw ingredients in the slow cooker

I spent quite a while coming up with a name for the recipe I'm sharing today- Slow Cooker Bolognese and Potato Hash. In the end my friend came up with the name, when she was visiting last weekend. What do you call something that's essentially a traditional beef bolognese made in the slow cooker with potato? We toyed with Bake, but it's not baked. She suggested hash, which resulted in some pondering about what hash means in the foodie sense. Corned Beef Hash has potato in, and is sort of thrown together, so that must work, right? Let's hope so, because that's what I've gone for!

I decided to do a spin on spaghetti bolognese, because it has so much flavour. All that rich sauce- it must surely be a good idea to put potato in it? Excellent comfort food! Beef Bolognese works beautifully in the slow cooker. It allows the sauce to really develop a deep, rich flavour. What you do need to be careful of however, is how much liquid you add. It's tempting to put in as much stock as you would in a saucepan, but you must resist! The mince will end up stewing in the stock if you do, plus liquid doesn't evaporate quickly in a slow cooker.

What you get when you make this Slow Cooker Beef Bolognese and Potato Hash, is a big bowl of delicious bolognese with nice chunks of skin-on potato which have cooked in the juices. You can leave the skins on, because slow cooking doesn't cause them to separate like boiling would. Top the whole thing off with some grated cheese, serve with garlic bread and a side salad and you have the perfect bowl of home-cooked deliciousness. 

Slow Cooker Bolognese and Potato Hash is syn-free on Slimming World Friendly and fairly light on the calorie front at around 370 per portion.

Slow Cooker Bolognese and Potato Hash pinnable image with text

Easy Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake (No Bake)

Whole chocolate hazelnut cheesecake in a white dish with text

Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake is an indulgent Summer dessert so, on a surprisingly, scorching hot Bank Holiday Monday, it seemed just the right dessert to make.

Most of my favourite desserts are rather traditionally British and wintery. (Check out my three fruit crumble recipes for evidence! Apple Crumble, Rhubarb Crumble and Summer Fruits crumble) A big old bowl of something deliciously stodgy slathered in custard isn't really what you want after a summer BBQ though is it?

Cheesecake is much more summery and if you add chocolate to it, so much the better! This recipe for Easy Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake is the no-bake variety of cheesecake, so no need to put the oven on in the hot weather. It has chopped hazelnuts in the base as well as sprinkled on top, so it has a slightly Nutella like taste but without the overpowering levels of sweetness. Instead, the chocolate flavour comes from good quality, dark chocolate and just a touch of sugar.

I will warn you though that the dark chocolate makes the cheesecake very rich. It's not something you will want to cut a large slice of. If dark chocolate is too much for you, you could switch half of it out for milk chocolate.

If nuts aren't your thing, you can leave the hazelnuts out of the base and sprinkle honeycomb or white chocolate shavings over the top instead. I used light cream cheese in an attempt to pull back some calories, and as I mentioned before, I cut back on the amount of sugar that most cheesecake recipes require.

The recipe for this Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake is incredibly easy. You'll need two or three bowls (or a helper to wash one up in between) but there's no fancy skills required. It would be a great dessert to make with children. I'm pretty sure they would be keen to lick the bowl at the very least!

Apart from being easy, it's also very impressive to look at when finished and even better, can be made the day before and kept in the fridge. A no-stress dessert!

Whole Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake  in a white dish with text

Hot Cross Bun Cupcakes

Close up of 4 hot cross bun cupcakes with text.

This recipe for Hot Cross Bun Cupcakes is skirting on the edge of Easter as I've unfortunately been ill for a couple of weeks and then been without a laptop. Hey, ho- better a bit late than never. Publishing on Easter Monday is just within the realms of seasonal. At least, that's what I'm telling myself!

How much do you love Hot Cross Buns? They're a real seasonal treat (although seasonal for Easter seems to start straight after Christmas now!). There are so many varieties these days, chocolate, apple, ginger etc. I love the apple ones personally, if I'm veering from the traditional. So, I thought, why not add Hot Cross Bun Cupcakes to the mix? 

My Hot Cross Bun Cupcakes have all the spice and flavour of a hot cross bun, but with a cake base. They have a plain cupcake base with the hot cross bun spices and raisins added. The spices make the cake taste almost as though it's been made with wholemeal flour. I tend to go heavier on the cinnamon than the other spices, because I love that flavour more than the others, but you can play with the balance of spices however you prefer.

So if you've had enough of all the Easter eggs and chocolate, bake yourself a batch of these for a different type of Easter treat.

Photo of 4 Hot Cross Bun Cupcakes from above with text

Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Bake

Close up of Mediterranean vegetable pasta bake

I am so in love with aubergines right now. I can't get enough of them, especially when they're roasted. I love the way they caramelise and get that creamy texture and nutty flavour. I just want to put them in everything!

It was this obsession with trying to get aubergine into lots of meals and our commitment to Meat-free Mondays, that got me thinking about making a Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Bake.  The most recent pasta bake I have posted on the blog is a rather delicious Chicken and Sweetcorn version.That has a lovely rich cheesy sauce, so it's a little on the naughty side. Whereas, this Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Bake is jam packed full of veggies and has a tomato based sauce for days when you want to eat a little lighter. Aubergine, courgette, yellow pepper, tomatoes, onion- all very good for you and full of flavour.

There is a bit of prep work required but a lot of the processes happen simultaneously, so it's not as much work as it might seem at first. Once it's assembled, like most pasta bakes, you just top it with cheese, whack it in the oven and wait for the magic to happen. When it comes out, the absolute best part of the whole dish is the crispy, cheesy top layer, so make sure you get a big spoonful of that in your portion!

Selection of images and text saying Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Bake

Parsnip and Rosemary Risotto with Parsnip Crisps

Close up of a bowl of parsnip risotto with parsnip crisps standing in the risotto

I made parsnip risotto this week, something I have been meaning to do again for quite some time. The very first time I made it, I was inspired by a Christmas meal I had in a restaurant. I didn't really like anything else that was on the menu so I ordered the parsnip risotto. I was wowed when I tried it. It had a delicious, nutty, sweet taste and was topped with parsnip crisps. Honestly the nicest risotto I had ever eaten. With our 2018 commitment to Meat Free Mondays, it seemed the perfect excuse to update the recipe.

The parsnip and rosemary risotto I am sharing today, has a base of garlic and rosemary with roasted parsnip stirred through. Roasting the parsnip gives it more of a nutty taste. Ideally, you want it golden and well-softened so that it breaks up a little when it's stirred through the rice. I use cheddar because my husband is not a fan of Parmesan. In any case, Parmesan would stop the dish from being vegetarian. if that's not a concern for you, by all means use the cheese that you love.

What really makes the whole dish, is the parsnip crisps. They are crunchy, slightly sweet and they add some lovely texture. The key for making parsnip crisps is to avoid using too much oil. I brush them with a pastry brush so they have enough to crisp up, but they're not dripping with oil after they cook.

Parsnip and rosemary risotto makes a great winter meal for dinner and is  perfect in smaller portions as a starter.

Pinnable image with the text of the recipe name, chopped parsnip and a bowl of risotto

Lime and Ginger Cod with Giant Couscous

Lime and Ginger Cod with Giant Couscous is a recipe that I have been fiddling with for a couple of weeks. The cous cous was delicious first time, but the marinade for the cod needed some work. It was just a touch too much on the citrus side and needed a wee bit of sweetness to balance it out.

I'm a huge fan of lime and ginger. It's one of my favourite flavour combinations. I have used it with turkey steaks for a long time so, one day when I was pondering how to jazz up cod fillets, I thought why not? The problem is that cod is such a delicately flavoured fish that the lime overwhelmed it a little. A teaspoon of honey did the trick and took the edge off the sharpness. Honey, lime, ginger and some chilli flakes worked really well as a marinade.

Having the cod with couscous is a welcome change from rice. I absolutely love giant couscous (sometimes called Israeli couscous). In this recipe, it's combined with tomato, peppers, onion and garlic. I like it served with this fish, but it would make a nice side-dish to a lot of different recipes.

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

A white bowl of beef stroganoff with rice

Last week I made beef stroganoff, something I haven't eaten for years. I had mushrooms leftover in the fridge and was looking for inspiration on what to use them for, when I remembered stroganoff. The first time I ever had it was at a friend's house when I was a teenager and I remember being very worried when they told me that's what we were having. It sounded strange and unfamiliar! I needn't have worried- it was creamy and delicious. 

Beef Stroganoff is a rich, creamy stew, originally from Russia. The main thing that most people associate with stroganoff is mushrooms, but they weren't in the traditional Russian recipe. It was all about the beef! My slow cooker version of beef stroganoff uses beef stewing steak, onions and mushrooms with beef stock, paprika, thyme and sour cream. I also use a little onion powder but if you don't have it, don't worry, it's not essential.

It's a very simple recipe and perfect served with rice. It's apparently also quite popular to serve over jacket potatoes and, for some reason, in America they love it with egg noodles. My husband is keen to have it with mash, so it seems that it must go with almost anything!

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff can be syn-free on Slimming World if you switch the sour cream for Philadelphia Extra Light and use it for your Hex A.

Pinnable image- Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff