Pancakes… yum

So I know Pancake Tuesday isn’t until next week – but for pretty much all of February my kids request pancakes, on a pretty much daily basis.

I have two types of pancakes I make, one is the little round “American Style” pancakes, and then these, the bigger thinner ones.

I found this recipe on the Delia Smith website and it makes perfect pancakes, always!

For our family of two adults and three kids, and whoever happens to be here, I always make a triple batch. It also keeps in the fridge for a few days.

Ingredients (for the triple batch):

  • 330g plain flour
  • big pinch of salt
  • 600ml milk and 225ml water
  • 6 eggs
  • a big spoon of butter (over 50g)

On her website, she has the proper method outlined for mixing this. I just throw the first four ingredients into a bowl and whizz up with a hand food mixer. Then on the pancake pan I melt the butter and pour a small bit into the batter, but most into a bowl to use on the pan between each pancake. So they all get the buttery goodness!

I also think that my pancake pan and ladle are big parts of the success of the pancakes. I bought the flat pan in lidl about 2 years ago, to replace the one I had bought years before that. It was definitely less than 20euro and it came with a ladle. I was in a fancy pants pots and pans shop at the weekend and saw a pancake pan on sale for 65euro. My pan is perfect so keep an eye out for when they come into your local Lidl!

When it comes to frying the pancakes, rub the melted butter (on a piece of kitchen roll) onto the hot pan, pour on a ladle full of pancake (depending on how thick you like them – experiment!!) and roll it around to cover the pan fully. When the edges start to curl up off the pan, it means the bottom of the pan is starting to cook. After another minute, turn the pancake and cook the second side too.

Depending on who the pancake is for and what they want on it, I sometimes put a bit of butter on the cooked side of the pancake after I turn it, and when its melted I’ll put a spoon of sugar on while still on the pan so it melts into the butter a bit. Yum! And then the lemon when it comes off the pan.

The kids love golden syrup or chocolate spread (my homemade one, so at least it feels healthier!). I’ve tried savoury pancakes but they don’t go down very well here. If you’ve any ideas for easy toppings that could become family favourites, please let me know! 🙂

 

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Taco Fries

Tonights dinner is one of our favourite here in this house. Homemade Taco Fries.

I love making homemade fries, and often used to use the deep fat fryer. Then in January I finally splashed out on a Tefal Actifry, after lusting after one for about 2 years! And I love it. I use it at least once or twice a week. It does take a good bit longer to cook the chips – but just means we have to be more organised!

The Taco spice mix is a blend that I found when doing Slimming World. I love the fact that Slimming World teaches people to cook from scratch using herbs and spices. I have always done most things from scratch but I used to use a taco spice mix that I bought. Now I always use this recipe.

What I did a few weeks ago was to mix a larger quantity – same proportions but just about 10 times as much so that I could have the spices premixed to make the prep even quicker. I now have that sitting up on my shelf in a jar and can just use a few spoons of that (to taste) when cooking the taco mince.

  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne chilli powser
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sweetner (I use sugar because I hate artificial sweetner)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

I add the spice mix into the mince, and vegetable that are already cooked, along with two tins of tomatoes, and leave simmer for about 20 minutes. I use onions, garlic, peppers, celery (finely chopped) and mushrooms. You could add as much vegetables in here as you wanted. I am also going to try this with lentils and red kidney beans as a vegetarian version.

And then for serving we use a shop bought taco sauce and grated cheese.

Each of us in the house has a different way they want their taco fries served. I am traditional with the fries, mince, cheese, taco sauce. The hubby likes his taco sauce and mince mixed together first, and then put on his chips and doesn’t mind whether there’s any cheese or not. The boy is mince, then fries, cheese, taco sauce. Miss Q likes her mince topped with cheese and taco sauce on one side and fries on the other. And Little Miss Z likes her chips on a plate with some taco sauce to dip in – no mince or cheese!

Lentil Curry

As part of our recent discussions into healthy eating and after watching the Forks Over Knives documentary a few weeks ago, we decided we would try to add some vegetarian meals into our diets.

About two weeks ago I decided to try a lentil curry because I had lentils, so I stuck it into Google and found a recipe I liked the look off. It was this one here from  Simple Vegan Blog

A really easy recipe to put together. I had all the ingredients. Simple. Well, it didn’t turn out well. And I found out why.

So on the evening I was making it, I was busy and rushing and grabbed down my jar of lentils…

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See them there – top left!

And popped them in water to cook. Now I didn’t have enough water in the pot and they boiled almost dry – so for a week I blamed the failure of the recipe on that. Because in my curry the lentils were hard and chalky, and not tasty at all.

It was only the other day I was digging around at the back of another shelf of jars – when I found the real reason my lentil curry didn’t work out. Can you see now why?

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Yep – my lentils weren’t lentils. They were split yellow peas. And because I was only paying half attention, I thought yes that’s them and threw them in. I found it very amusing when I realised, and had a good laugh at myself!

So now that I’d worked out the reason, I decided I wanted to try the lentil curry again. But this time I knew my kids wouldn’t humour me and eat it – because they’d already tried it and didn’t like it – so I decided to go a slight different route. Instead tonight I made a “Vegetable Curry” – I added extra onion and finely chopped celery and a yellow pepper to the curry mix and that camouflaged the lentils a bit. And they ate it. While they didn’t wolf it down and ask for more, they did clear their plates without complaint. So that’s a win in my books.

I’ve got to say that the mix of spices in this curry recipe are lovely, really very tasty, and very easy to have all the ingredients on hand. I have frozen portions of coconut milk in my freezer so I just throw a portion into the pot and it defrosts while its cooking. Definitely worth trying it out.

 

Paprika Potatoes!

Now I am aware I might be late to the party, but I have just made these, and they are so easy and so delicious!

The other day I was making a Spanish Omelette and I wasn’t using chorizo (it’s not free on Slimming World, and I had none anyway!) – so I wanted to add some extra flavour. So I decided to add salt and paprika to the potatoes while cooking. And Wow! I think they are my new obsession! I bought more salad potatoes and cooked them up so they’d be ready for me to make these again (which I already have)!

They are so simple:

Slice the (cooked) salad potatoes
Spray with fry light
Sprinkle on salt and paprika
Spray the frying pan with fry light and heat
Put the potatoes into the pan, with the sprayed and seasoned side facing down
Spray the tops of the potatoes and sprinkle on salt and paprika
After 1-2mins, turn over the potatoes and fry the other side for another 1-2mins
Then you’re ready to go!

They are really simple and really tasty. Usually potatoes need to be fried in butter, or have butter melting in while you’re eating them – but these really add such a flavour that you don’t miss the butter.

Spinach Cannelloni (Slimming World Friendly!)

I’ve realised that I need to have decent food on hand throughout the day, or else I pick at anything I can find – so I’ve been making up batches of this spinach cannelloni.

Because on Slimming World you eat 1/3 “superfree” (fruit or veg) with everything you eat, I’ve been trying to beef up the original recipe by adding more vegetables, such as onions, celery and peppers all chopped up small and added to the spinach mix inside the tubes!

I buy a box of cannelloni tubes, a packet of fresh spinach leaves and a tub of Quark (extra low fat soft cheese) – and then whatever extra veg, garlic, tins of tomatoes and cheese that I usually have.

The way to cook the spinach is to put it into a pot with a tablespoon or two of water (I actually just wash it and put it straight in to the pot without drying it)  and pop on the lid and let it cook down for about two minutes until its gone soft and limp. Then I take it out of the pot, put it on a plate and drain all the excess liquid off it and chop it up.

Next is to cook up whatever other veg you’re adding – lets say an onion, a stick of celery and a pepper, all chopped up small. Fry these up (in Frylight if you’re on Slimming World!). Once they’re cooked, I normally let them cool down a bit, before adding in the chopped spinach, and then the full tub of Quark. This is the mix that you’re going to fill your cannelloni tubes with.

Usually while the veg is all cooling down, I make a tomato sauce – just fry up a bit of garlic and add a few tins of tomato (or passata) and some fresh basil. I do try and almost squeeze the tomatoes with the spoon while they’re in the pot – because you really do need as much liquid as possible.

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The next step is quite messy – filling your tubes. You basically just have to roll up your sleeves and dive in 🙂 Make sure that you fill them as much as you can, I usually put my thumb over the base of the tube and push the filling down until it fills up completely.

When you have all the tubes filled, you put a layer of the tomato sauce (about half the sauce) across the bottom of the dish you’re cooking them in. In this case I decided to use a roast pan because I was making a large batch!

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On top of the sauce, put your filled tubes, and then top them all with the rest of the tomato sauce and add a scattering of grated cheese. If you’re doing Slimming World, you will need to use the cheese as a Healthy Extra, or syn it.

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Put it into the oven to bake for about 40 minutes, at around 180 degrees. You will need to make sure there’s enough liquid on top of them for the cannelloni tubes to cook properly. At times I have had to add a bit of water to help soften them up properly.

Of course I forgot to take an “after” picture of it cooked, I happily started eating it! 🙂 But it is delicious, and very handy to have in portions the fridge (or freezer) to take out and snack on (or have as a lunch or dinner!).

Chocolate Biscuit Cake!

I’ve made this chocolate biscuit cake a few times now, for special occasions. It is really simple to make, and so delicious! Friends and family have got the recipe from me and have been making it since, so I decided I’d share it here.

Here is a picture of the most recent one that I made for Princess P’s communion last week, this was much thinner than usual because I used a larger tin!

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I used the Odlums recipe http://odlums.ie/recipes/chocolate-biscuit-cake/ as a base recipe, and then made some changes (used a bit extra chocolate used a mix of digestives, bourbon creams and a few rich tea, my kids don’t eat raisins and I wasn’t sure who’d eat nuts – so I used the raisin allowance in crunchies, and I used the nuts allowance on mars bar and I added a few extra maltesers too!

Below is the rough recipe that I used after changing the base recipe:

275g  Butter

150ml  Golden Syrup

250g Good Quality Chocolate

200g Packet of Digestive Biscuits (roughly crushed)

200g Packet of Bourbon Biscuits (roughly crushed)

125g Crunchies (roughly broken)

125g Mars Bars (chopped)

120g Packet of Maltesers (chopped in half)

METHOD:

Base recipe recommends to line a 15cms/6″ round cake tin or a 2lb loaf tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper, but I’ve tried it in different size tins with no problem. Because you’re not baking it, the tin size doesn’t matter as much.

Melt the butter, syrup and chocolate in a pan over a low heat. Stir to make sure all the ingredients are well mixed together. Add in the chopped mars bars so they soften slightly.

Add the crushed biscuits, maltesers and crunchies. Stir well.

Transfer to prepared tin. Level it on top and press down well to avoid “air gaps”. Allow to get cold and hard.

Again the original recipe said wrap completely in greaseproof paper and store in a fridge, however I was told that if the cake was iced (in a sugarpaste icing) that it would be good kept out of the fridge for up to two weeks. (I also discovered that you don’t store a cake covered in sugarpaste icing in the fridge because it goes sticky)

This cake is just delicious. Even before it sets – I have a big problem keeping my spoon out of the pot when the butter, syrup and chocolate are melted together. Mmmm.

Here’s one I made for Baba Z’s christening, so you can see they can be decorated any way!

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