Saturday, 13 October 2012

Black bean and corn quesadillas

With moving house and things up and down on the job front, most of this year has been - to say the least - quite trying! Its taught me to live a more frugal lifestyle and to be honest, once you start to do that - you wonder why you spent so much money wastefully in the first place! 

I've just found work again but have been trying out different recipes over the past couple of months whilst I was off work - which is just as well because it has stood me in good stead now when I have to work full time! 

One of these fantastic recipes, I found over at Budget Bytes. This is my new favourite blog - Beth does some awesome recipes on a budget - inventive cooking is so much fun!

The only change I made to mine was that I didn't use any cayenne pepper in the taco seasoning - just because I didn't have any! Other than that, these were super easy and taste amazing.

You can find the original recipe here. They freeze beautifully - perfect for a quick lunch or snack!


Friday, 7 September 2012

Lil Miss J turns Lil Miss Helper!

Lil Miss J enjoys helping out  - it started out when she was younger, as a means of getting her involved in doing things around the house so that I could get the housework done with  her about.  But I have also realised along the way that children do not view things as chores.  With a little bit of fun injected into it, there is nothing a child loves more than being involved and helping mum out! 

I tend to buy fresh coriander a lot as it gets used in plenty at home.  Lately I've also been buying some fresh mint.  The best way to keep these fresh for long is to pick the leaves and store them in an airtight container lined with a paper towel and then place the container in the fridge.   Coriander stalks have loads of flavour, so don't throw these out.  In my house they get used in a mint coriander chutney and also to flavour soups. 

I got Lil Miss J to help me pick the leaves.  I find this is a good concentration activity for her and since I'm with her doing it, she enjoys it a lot. She is usually far more fussy than I am - usually saying "we can't have this leaf mummy - its brown!" or more recently - "mummy look at the leaves properly before you put them in!!!".  She can now recognise the difference between the leaves and knows both  herbs by name.  

I got her to smell the mint leaves and asked her what they smelled of.  "Toothpaste" came the prompt reply! A great way for children to build associations.

We talked about how different the leaves looked, how they smelled different, how  the stalks were different , how they felt different to touch and even how they were slightly different shades of green. 

It took us the better part of 40 minutes to do this and I could have possibly done it in 15 myself.  But not only did a job that needed doing get done, she enjoyed killing some time with mum, she learnt to recognise shapes, colours, smells, touch all in one activity!  

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Hair clip holders

I've been thinking for a while, trying to come up with a creative way to store Lil Miss J's hairclips - she usually loses one of the pair and then we're left with all these single ones swimming about.  Anyways, we were sorting through her stuff this morning and came up with the idea of using toilet roll tubes to create hair clip holders! 

I've been on a crafting sabbatical - I'd forgotten how therapeutic it is.  Not only was it a morning activity we both enjoyed, I didn't have to spend a single penny on it as I already had the materials on hand! Recycled crafts are the best!

Toilet roll tube, some nice craft paper and some mod podge.  Cut paper to the size of the tube.  Cover the tube with mod podge and then stick the paper on smoothing out any air pockets.

Once the paper is on, brush mod podge over to create a protective coat and then let dry.

Add the hair clips! Don't they look cute? 

Friday, 10 August 2012

Lemony veggie & prawn pasta

A simple dinner with lots of yummy flavour.  This is the link to the original recipe.

I made a few tiny tweaks. I sauteed two spring onions, 3 cloves of garlic, some cherry tomatoes and the prawns in a little olive oil, adding some dried thyme and chilli flakes to give it a bit of oomph. I also used the juice of a whole lemon as I like the sauce very lemony!!!!

Lots of flavour and very quick to prepare! 


Monday, 30 July 2012

Hummus Melts

I found these on Pinterest and our peckishness yesterday provided the perfect opportunity to try them out.

Here is the link to the original recipe.  I made a couple of tiny changes.  I added a basil leaf torn into two on top of each muffin and since I didn't have mozarella, I used cheddar.  Of course, cheddar is saltier than mozarella, so if you're using shop bought hummus, keep the salt quotient in mind and use mozarella instead.

These are very yummy and make a filling snack or mini meal.


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Vegetable Quiche

This was my first attempt at quiche and I am pleased to say that it turned out awesome (well the pastry crust was a bit soggy but that didn't stop it from being awesome!)

Here's what you will need: -

2 peppers, sliced
3 large mushrooms, sliced
3 spring onions, both white and green parts sliced
Dried herbs (I used oregano and thyme) - a pinch
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Bunch of fresh coriander, chopped (you can use parsley)
Ready rolled shortcrust pastry
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

1. In a flan tin, lay the pastry out and cut off the excess.  (I saved these to make jam tarts with Lil Miss J - food doesn't get wasted in my house - no sirree!!).  Now I didn't do this, but you should probably brush the pastry with some egg and let it blind bake for about 5 minutes so that it hardens and doesn't get soggy from the filling you will put in later.  I put a layer of grated cheddar cheese on the base.

2. In a pan, heat the oil and saute your veggies until they are soft. Add the dried herbs, salt and pepper to season.  Then transfer this to the pastry base. Sprinkle with chopped coriander.

Look at all that gorgeous colour!

3.  Mix together the eggs, milk and melted butter.  Pour this mixture on to the base, sprinkle on some grated cheddar and bake at 190 degrees for approximately 40 minutes. 

And this is what you'll end up with! Now that is gorgeousness on a plate - even if I say so myself!

You don't have to stick with these veggies - use whatever you have lying about and if you don't want a veggie version, you can always chuck in some bacon or ham! 

Happy eating!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Cinnamon Toast Muffins

We've just moved house a couple of weeks ago and are slowly settling in to life outside of boxes again! I have some time on my hands now as I've yet to begin job hunting - so am making the most of this time with Lil Miss J!

We made these oh so yummy Cinnamon Toast Muffins that I found on Pinterest to donate to a bake sale this morning. Here is the link to the recipe.  They are super quick to make and taste very yummy for such little effort.

My kitchen was filled with the most gorgeous aroma as these were baking merrily in the oven :)

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Caramelised onion and goat's cheese tart

I think I found this recipe a magazine somewhere recently and really wanted to try them.  I love simple easy dinners and ready rolled puff pastry is my new best friend! 

Here's what you need:-

Sheet of ready rolled puff pastry
Onion - sliced
Tomato - sliced
Goat's cheese
Parmesan or Cheddar cheese
Splash of wine (I didn't have any so I used red wine vinegar instead!)
Thyme - fresh is good  - I didn't have any so I used dried and it still tasted yum
Chilli Flakes (optional)


1.  Get your rolled puff pastry out from the fridge.  Cut into squares.  Rounds look better but squares make less wastage and I don't like wasting food!  With a knife scour a 1 cm line around the edges and prick the centre with a fork.  Return pastry to fridge.

2. In a tiny bit of oil, saute the onions until nice and browned.  Add a splash of wine (or wine vinegar) to deglaze the pan and let it reduce.  Add dried thyme.  I put in some red chilli flakes too - this is optional.  Remove from heat. Season with salt.

3. Get your pastry out of the fridge.  Place some grated parmesan or cheddar on the pastry making sure to leave that 1 cm edge which you scoured the knife on. This will allow your pastry to puff up nicely around the edges.  Place the caramelised onion mixture, sliced tomato and some pieces of goats cheese.  Bake at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes until the pastry is done!

4.  Dish up with some salad greens.  

For a healthier version, I grilled some aubergine and courgettes and turned this into Lil Miss J's dinner.  She loved doing it all herself.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Father's Day albeit a bit late

I wanted to share what Lil Miss J made for daddy on Father's Day but never got around to posting it, so although its now a tad bit late, here it is anyway.  She wanted to make him a card and post it to him. I didn't have loads of crafty bits on hand, so a few buttons and some stickers had to do!  But it turned out pretty nice :)

And she was most thrilled to put it into an envelope, stamp it and we went off hand in hand to the post office! Oh the simple pleasures of childhood! :)

Monday, 18 June 2012

Honey nougat & Orange brownie cake

That title certainly sounds like a mouthful! This is one of the best brownie cake recipes you will ever make and trust me, one mouthful won't be enough! Undoubtedly! Even if it sounds like I'm tooting my own horn! 

I was given the original recipe for it by my friend's Mum.  The version below is my tweaked one as the original does not call for the addition of orange.

185 g caster sugar
125 g unsalted butter
125 g margarine
300 g toblerone
125 g self raising flour
30 g plain flour
30 g dark cocoa
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Rind of 1 orange
3 tbsp orange juice


1. Line a 20 cm x 30 cm shallow tin with baking paper.  Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius.

2. Place sugar, butter, a third of the toblerone and 125 ml of hot water in a bowl.  Place the bowl over a pan with boiling water until the contents have melted. Take it off the heat and cool. 

3. Sift together the dry ingredients and add them to the melted chocolate mixture.  

4. Stir in the two beaten eggs. Do not overbeat. 

5. Add the orange rind and orange juice.  Pour into the prepared tin and sprinkle over the remaining toblerone which has been chopped into pieces.  Bake for 40 - 50 minutes until done.  Do not overbake, once the top starts cracking, insert a skewer in the center and if it comes out clean, take your cake out of the oven and let it cool in the tin.

The margarine gives it a very moist, melt in the mouth texture. If you prefer a firmer texture, use 250 g butter instead. 

This is one dessert that will not disappoint - a guaranteed hit if you have friends around :)

Sunday, 17 June 2012

White chocolate basil cream with sticky balsamic strawberries

I am very much a cake person and not so much a dessert person! When it comes to making them, I mean - when it comes to eating, I'll eat it all :)

I found this recipe on BBC Good Food and was very intrigued by it as I've never used white chocolate and basil together.  The only change I made was to use just two or three sprigs of basil as opposed to a whole bunch.  This allowed for a subtle flavour of basil to come through.  I think a whole bunch would have been very overpowering .

The tang of the balsamic counteracts the sweetness of the white chocolate.  This dessert is very easy to do and I really liked it.  It received mixed reactions from the people I served it one of my friends said "once you get used to the strangeness of it, its very nice".   I'm taking that as a compliment!!! :)

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

So long Farewell!

Ever so often, I find my mind swimming with thoughts and constantly running in overdrive and the only way to get it to slow down is to pour those thoughts out on paper (or in this case, virtually on a screen!).  Life has been in a state of flux for the last month as hubby took up a new job role and of course, hot on its heels came the decision to move to a new part of the country. Whilst this is something to look forward to, bringing with it both excitement and apprehension, to me it is also a time to reflect on what Plymouth has given us in the past five years.

We moved to Plymouth in May 2007 when hubby was offered a job here. We made the decision to move on a train journey back to London after he'd had an interview.  We didn't research whether the city was a good place to live or not - we just took a gamble - I'd prefer to call it a calculated risk but in truth it was still a gamble.  One that paid off nevertheless.  Plymouth has been good to us.  This is where hubby climbed his career ladder.  This is where we bought our first car.  This is where Lil Miss J was born.   This is where we were so close the sea, so close to the mountains and so close to nature - something we had never experienced, having lived in big cities most of our adult life.  This is the place we took Lil Miss J to the beach for the first time.   This is where I changed my career path. Plymouth has been a city of many firsts.

We have met some wonderful people here and made some great friends.  We have shared lots of good times together and I will always be thankful that we got a chance to meet all these lovely people and that our paths had a chance to cross.  Whilst it makes me sad to think that I don't know when I will see some of them again, perhaps their purpose in our lives and our in theirs has been fulfilled and the time has come to move on.   And perhaps we will see them again - never say never.  But whether we do or not, we will always cherish the memories that have been created in the time we have lived here. 

Five years is a long time and I've come to call this home.  Now whilst I get to grips with the idea of having to call someplace else home, I know that Plymouth will always be a close friend along with the many friends that it has given us.

So long, farewell - be welll!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Herb crusted salmon

After a complete blogging sabbatical, I have to share this recipe with you all as it is absolutely brilliant.  Having recently fallen in love with salmon, I am trying every recipe that takes my fancy, but this one is an absolute keeper. Its Ina Garten's Panko crusted salmon and it is truly divine!

I did make a few changes, purely to use what was at hand. I used normal breadcrumbs as I didn't want to go out and buy Panko just to make this dish, but I will get it when I'm next at the world food shop as I've heard such rave reviews about it.  I substituted coriander for parsley and I did not fry the salmon - baked it in the oven for 15 mins.  

The salmon was deliciously moist and the flavours just come together so beautifully. I served it on a bed of dressed greens and this is one healthy meal that scores maximum points on the taste meter too! If you like salmon, give this a go - you won't be disappointed!

Friday, 6 April 2012

Easter bonnet fun and still crafting a year on

Today, Lil Miss J and I spent the afternoon making her Easter bonnet.  I had never thought of myself as having enough patience to sit and craft something from scratch, but this is what got me into crafting precisely one year ago when I had to make her an Easter bonnet. You can see what I made last year here. What can I say - having children changes you in ways you never imagined!

Since then, I have been introduced to a whole new world of crafts out there, visited so many blogs, got so much inspiration, discovered Pinterest (how I love that site!) and generally had a whale of a time.  I'd like to say thank you to my friend Marisa, who blogs over at The M Chart for getting me into this and still continuing to inspire me!

This was a budget project - hat from the 99p shop, as were the little chickies.  The flowers were cut out from felt I had on hand and I had the feathers to hand too. The little pink streamers came out of a gift bag that someone had given me!! This was the final result and Lil Miss J will get a chance to wear it for an Easter bonnet parade tomorrow :)

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Very scrumptious roast chicken

This is a very nice roast chicken recipe I picked up from Kay's blog and its a keeper. Mr. J isn't too keen on chicken skin, so I did my version on skinless chicken legs.  Kay is a great photographer and her post will give you step by step instructions.

The sun-dried tomatoes combine beautifully with the feta for a burst of flavour to the marinade. I also totally adore rosemary and it complements the other flavours in this beautifully. Very delicious and certainly worth giving a go. Enjoy. 

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Orange almond loaf

Sunday afternoons have turned into baking afternoons at the Jacob house.  Its quite becoming a little tradition - baking with Little Miss J!  Today we tried an Orange Almond Loaf...yum yum....even if I say so myself! Very moist and very moreish.

I really do need to get better at photography!!!

190 g plain flour
190 g caster sugar
60 g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
190 g unsalted butter
Rind of two oranges, grated
2 tbsp orange juice (can be reduced as per taste - I like my cakes really orangey!!)
25 g plain yoghurt
Flaked almonds to sprinkle on top

1.  Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees celsius and grease and line a loaf tin. 

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and ground almonds.

3. Cream butter, caster sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly.  

4. Fold in the flour mixture until it is fully incorporated.  Stir in the yoghurt and orange juice. 

5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle the top with flaked almonds. 

6. Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 60 minutes.  You can check on the cake in about 40 minutes and if you feel the top is getting too brown then cover it with foil.  Check to see if it is done by inserting a skewer into the center.  If it comes out clean, the cake is ready. 

7. Let it cool in the tin and then cool completely before you slice it.  Perfect with a hot cup of tea!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Pancakes with strawberries

Brunch at the Jacob house today was pancakes with strawberries by popular demand!

A picture is worth a thousand words so I won't say any more :)


270 g all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp caster sugar
260 ml milk
4 tbsp olive oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
Rind of one orange, grated (optional)

To serve
Maple syrup
1/2 punnet strawberries,cut up and sprinkled with a little caster sugar (this helps them macerate and really brings out their taste)

1. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar in a bowl. 

2. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients together,  milk, egg, vanilla essence and olive oil.  Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and mix together with a whisk to get rid of any lumps.

3. Heat a pan.  Pour a ladleful of batter.  Once bubbles start appearing on the top, flip the pancake and let it cook - these are best done on a low flame as they burn easily.  

4. You can keep them in a warm oven to maintain temperature until you're ready to eat. 

5. Stack up on a place, dish out some strawberries on top and pour a generous serving of maple syrup (hey I didn't say it was a healthy recipe!!!!).    


Sunday, 4 March 2012

Honey and Walnut Loaf

This is a new recipe Lil Miss J and I tried out when we had some friends over for tea yesterday.  The cake is lovely and moist, not too sweet - just right with a cup of tea :)

190 g unsalted butter at room temperature
190 g plain flour
190 g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
25 g plain yoghurt
1 tbsp honey
60 g walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped

For syrup
1 tbsp honey
50 ml water

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees celsius.  Line a loaf tin. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

2. Cream together butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. 

3. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well incorporated.

4. Fold in the flour mixture lightly.  Add yoghurt, vanilla essence, honey and mix lightly.  Lastly add the chopped walnuts.  (To toast the walnuts, just warm a pan and toss them around.  Be careful as they burn easily).

5. Pour into prepared tin and bake in a hot oven for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.   

6. While the cake is cooking, prepare the syrup by placing 1 tbsp honey and 50 ml water in a pan.  Bring it to a boil till it is reduced by half. 

7.  Once cake is cooked, remove from oven and while it is still in the tin, pour the syrup over.  Let the cake cool in tin for a few minutes, then turn out to a rack to cool.  When thoroughly cooled, slice and serve. 

Saturday, 18 February 2012

An afternoon of baking - carrot cake

Just sharing a picture of a carrot cake I made recently - okay so its not the neatest icing in the world, but little miss J and I had fun making it and it sure did taste yummy! You can view the complete recipe here.

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