Garlic Red Cabbage

I made Garlic Red Cabbage to have with roast dinner recently. It was so nice that I ate it before the roast potatoes- I know, unthinkable! 

In winter, I usually get quite lazy about vegetables, rotating between carrots, peas and broccoli, carrots, peas, broccoli. Occasionally adding some sweetcorn to the peas doesn't really qualify as changing things up, does it? In the summer, there's all sorts of excitement with different types of salad, avocado, spring onions, so many colourful veggies! But in winter, I am often totally lacking in vegetable inspiration.

One way of having a bit more variety, is to look at what's in season. The supermarkets tend to have everything in stock all year round, so it can be hard to eat seasonally. I find the Great Grub Club website as well as the  BBC Good Food Seasonal section good for info on this subject.

Red cabbage is coming into season now and will last into December, so it's a great choice as a dinner vegetable. It really brightens up a plate of food, so why not buy some in your next shop and try this simple Garlic Red Cabbage recipe with your next roast dinner?

Red cabbage is a beautiful shade of deep purple. The only problem with such a dark pigmentation is that it 'bleeds' into anything liquid that's put with it and, when cooked, it turns a rather disturbing shade of blue! To stop the red cabbage from changing colour so dramatically,  a little red wine vinegar is essential. Make sure that you don't get a bit slap dash with it  though, as it will ruin the flavour if you use too much. If you don't have vegetable stock handy, you can substitute it with chicken.

If you couldn't get a small red cabbage and you have ended up with some leftover, shred it and make some home-made coleslaw!

Hearty Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Stew

Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Stew

When you ask someone what they make in their slow cooker, invariably they say 'stew'. It's a slow cooking staple. I make it quite rarely myself though. I think have been so determined to find other things to make in my slow cooker that I have rather neglected the humble stew! 

This week I decided to remedy the situation and make a Hearty Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Stew. I had a late meeting coming up and took the chance to put this stew on overnight and portion it out in the morning. It was so nice to walk through the door at 7pm and know that it only needed a quick zap in the micro and it would be ready. I call this beef and bean stew hearty because it's so filling. As you're using a cheap cut of beef and packing the stew with veg and beans, it's also very low cost to make. Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Stew is also  perfect to make in big batches for the freezer too.

I used carrots and haricot beans as the main bulk of the stew, but you could easily swap them out for parsnips and borlotti beans, for example. Whichever beans take your fancy! I also included potatoes, but if I was intending to make a big batch for lunch, rather than dinner, I'd be tempted to leave out the potatoes and serve it with a big hunk of crusty bread instead. 

I can see this Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Stew recipe becoming a bit of a winter staple for me. Hope it will be for you too!

This recipe is syn-free if you are following Slimming World. If you are using My Fitness Pal, it's approx 350 calories per person for a dinner portion.

Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Stew- image for Pinterest

Banana Toad in the Hole

Banana Toad in the Hole

It was the first ever Batter Week on GBBO last week, and after a great deal of umming and aahing, I have made a Banana Toad in the Hole as my contribution to the #GBBOTwitterBakeAlong

Batter is a tricky beast. I have great success with pancakes, but home-made Yorkshire puddings are a bit scary. It's partly because my mum is the absolute Queen of Yorkshire Puds. Hers rise to epic proportions and everyone fights over the last one. Her Yorkshire tin got a bit past its best after so many years of use, so she threw it out and bought a new one. She claims that her Yorkshires have never ever been as good again, but they taste pretty great to me!

As I had chickened out of doing individual Yorkshire puds, I decided to go for what is effectively one giant Yorkshire and make Banana Toad in the Hole. I sweetened the batter with caster sugar, added cinnamon and laid sliced bananas in the batter. Yum! It's a bit like a pre-built pancake. Even better when you pour some of the chocolate sauce over it! Ideally, you need bananas that are not over-ripe if you want to successfully slice them lengthways. If you really need to use up over-ripe banana, you might get away with slicing it in circles and tipping them into the batter once it's in the dish.

Like all oven-baked batter, it's important that the batter is really well whisked and that the oil is sizzling hot in the dish before you pour the batter in. That helps you get a nice rise and crispy edges.

If you want to have a delicious chocolate sauce poured over your Banana Toad in the Hole- there's a nice one here: BBC Good Food Simple Chocolate Sauce Otherwise, vanilla ice cream works well.

Banana Toad in the Hole Pinterest Image

Chocolate Brioche Twist

Chocolate Brioche Twist

This week, for the #GBBOTwitterBakeAlong,  I have made a Chocolate Brioche Twist.

My heart sank a little when I saw the challenges in last week's GBBO. I love watching Bread Week and I love making bread in my breadmaker but I have little to no experience of any kind of fancy breadmaking. So when I saw twists and sweet dough and showstoppers using 3 different types of flour, I wasn't sure how I would get on with trying something similar out for myself.

I decided to make a Chocolate Brioche Twist as it didn't seem too scary or complicated and I was very pleased with how it turned out. It's absolutely delicious for one thing, and it looks pretty impressive when it's baked.

Brioche is made of an enriched dough using eggs, sugar and butter which gives it a slightly more cakey, buttery texture. As you'd expect from the name, it's French, but you'll also see it baked in Greece as a traditional Easter food.

For my Chocoloate Brioche Twist, I made a basic brioche dough, risen once. I made it in the breadmaker, but if you don't have one, you could make your dough using a food processor with a dough hook. Once it had risen, I rolled it out, spread meted chocolate, mixed with butter across it, rolled it up, sliced it and twisted it. Much easier than it sounds! When baked, it perfect as a little something to have with a cuppa for elevenses, or as an after-school treat.

 Go ahead and give it a try- it's easier than you think!

Chocolate Brioche Twist- pinnable image

Maple and Thyme Roasted Carrots

I made Maple and Thyme Roasted Carrots to go along with dinner this week. Carrots are hands-down my favourite vegetable because they are so versatile. Grated on a salad? Cut into sticks and dip into houmous? Roasted? Boiled? Put them in a cake? All good. They also complement a lot of different flavours and are especially good when a little extra sweetness is added to them. 

These Maple and Thyme Roasted Carrots have that sweet edge to them from the maple syrup, complemented by the garlic and the thyme. When you roast them and they caramelise slightly, they taste even better! If you don't have maple syrup to hand (we've still got some of the really good stuff from our holiday in Canada), then you can easily substitute it with honey.

I served the carrots as an accompaniment to Lime and Ginger Turkey Steaks along with some new potatoes. They would also make a great side dish for Christmas dinner along with Brussell Sprout Hash.

Give them a try next time you cook a roast dinner!

Slow Cooker Carrot and Coriander Soup

Well, we're back to school after the long summer holiday and that means I have to start thinking in advance about what I want for lunch. No more deciding on a whim, no more choosing what I fancy at the time, no more lazy mornings with no lunch prep. I actually don't like getting my lunch ready in the morning, I find it strange thinking about lunch while I eat my breakfast!

Soup is my go-to lunch, especially for the Autumn and Winter. You can make it in big batches, it freezes well and you don't have to put much thought into it. This recipe is for Slow Cooker Carrot and Coriander Soup. Carrot and coriander is a classic flavour combination that works beautifully; the sweetness of the carrot and the spice of the coriander are perfect. It's full of veggie flavour and goodness with the bonus of not having to stand over it while it cooks. Thank you, slow cooker! I added an orange pepper for additional veg and some potato to bulk it out and make it go further.

This recipe makes enough for 4 people to eat for lunch possibly more if having as a starter. It freezes beautifully. If you're using Sistema Soup Cups, it will fill three about 2 thirds full for quite hefty portions.

It's gorgeous with a swirl of yoghurt and a crusty roll. Hope you enjoy!

This soup recipe is syn-free if you are following Slimming World. If you are following a calorie controlled programme like My Fitness Pal, it's approximately 100 calories per portion (400 calories in total).

How to make Viennese Whirls

A plate of Viennese Whirls

If you watched the Great British Bake Off last week, you'll have seen the group of bakers tackling Viennese Whirls with mixed results. I watched them myself, thinking that it looked pretty difficult. Actually, they are fairly easy if you tackle them with confidence! In today's post, I am going to show you how I got on with making Viennese Whirls using a slightly adapted recipe from The Hairy Bikers and give you some top tips for trying it yourself. So, if you are wondering how to make Viennese Whirls and want to have a go, keep reading!

Viennese Whirls

Viennese Whirls are an entirely British creation that get their name from being inspired by Austrian pastries. They are biscuits, very similar to shortbread but with a much lighter texture. What makes them distinctive is the fact that they are piped biscuits in a swirl pattern, which are then filled with buttercream and jam. Usually the jam is strawberry, but you can use whatever your favourite  is. I made half with strawberry and half with blackcurrant. Unlike other biscuit recipes, Viennese Whirls are made with corn flour and icing sugar, and, if done well, they should almost melt in you mouth.

There was a bit of trial and error involved when I made these Viennese Whirls. The trickiest parts of the process are the piping of the biscuit dough and then putting the filling inside. The rest really isn't a problem. My first tip would be that you need to get your butter out several hours before starting as, ideally, you want it as soft as possible.

I  managed to make my biscuits fairly uniform when I was making them, with a few rogue ones. Luckily, even the slightly mis-shapen ones had matching partners, so they still looked good when they were put together! 

For piping the icing, I used a small star icing nozzle, so I would have better control over the quantity going onto the biscuit, and I chilled the buttercream to make the biscuits more stable when assembled. I also found that less is more when it comes to the jam, and that it also benefited from being chilled.

For top tips on how to make your own Viennese Whirls, follow the recipe below.

How to make Viennese Whirls

For the Original recipe from the Hairy Bikers go to the BBC Food website: Hairy Bikers' Viennese Whirls Recipe

10 Quick Dinner Recipes for Busy Weeknights

So it's Back to School this week after the 6 week summer holiday. Back to timetables and strict bedtimes and homework and early get-ups and school runs! For the coming weeknights, I will definitely be relying on my go-to quick dinners, as I'm too tired usually to think of anything elaborate, and if I can make something that I don't need to stand over, so much the better! The absolute ultimate in easy cooking though, is a one dish meal, or a tray bake; less fuss, less washing up. Always a winner for me.

Have a look through my compilation of 10 Quick Dinner Recipes and you're sure to find something quick, easy and delicious to make for dinner on those really busy weeknights.

Ten Quick Dinner Recipes for Busy Weeknights