Treated Like a Princess for the Night

Most days, I spend hours in the kitchen either cooking or cleaning. With four children, a husband, a dog, and various people popping in and out, there is always food to prepare and pots to wash.

This week, my children were away on a camping trip and my husband and I were in the house on our own. On our last night without the children, he locked me out of the kitchen and told me to have a nice bath and relax. 

When I got out of the bath and redressed, I couldn’t believe what he had done. He had prepared a steak, chips, mushrooms, tomatoes, and pepper sauce with a side salad. The table was set up with glasses of red wine and roses that he had bought for me. He had also lit candles all the way around the dining room. He even did the washing up and cleaned all the kitchen. 

My husband had decided I deserved a night off from the cooking and wanted to treat me like a princess. I felt well and truly spoiled. I am a very lucky woman to have a man like him who wants to give me a break and take care of me the way he does. 

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RECIPE: Spinach and Roasted Cauliflower Curry

Although not a vegetarian, I occasionally like to eat vegetarian food. I love to experiment with different variations of curry, including this spinach and roasted cauliflower curry which is entirely of my own creation. It’s easy to make and totally delicious. Here is a simple recipe for spinach and roasted cauliflower curry. 

Ingredients for Spinach and Roasted Cauliflower Curry

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 4 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 chillies
  • 2-inch piece of ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 5 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp dried cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

How to Make Spinach and Roasted Cauliflower Curry

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
  2. Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and break into florets. Cut any larger florets in half.
  3. Put the florets on a baking tray, drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and black pepper.
  4. Put in the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until cauliflower is beginning to turn golden.
  5. Roughly chop the chillies, ginger, garlic cloves and onion before putting in a food processor with the dried spices and a little water. 
  6. Blitz in the food processor until a paste is created.
  7. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. 
  8. Add the paste and cook for five minutes. 
  9. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree.
  10. Stir and turn down the heat of the pan so the mixture simmers.
  11. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and add to the pan.
  12. Add the spinach and stir through to ensure the cauliflower is completely coated in the curry sauce and the spinach is wilted. 
  13. Serve with pilau rice, raita, and flatbreads.

RECIPE: Oven-Baked Salmon with Lemon Butter

salmon with lemon

When it comes to fish dishes, salmon is the most popular choice in my household. While I often like to cook with lots of herbs and spices, I prefer to keep things simple when cooking with fish so that the delicate flavour of fish is complemented rather than overpowered with other flavours. One of the simplest and most delicious options is oven-baked salmon with lemon butter. Fish and lemon is a classic combination and even a novice in the kitchen can make this dish. Here is a simple recipe for oven-baked salmon with lemon butter.

ServesPrep Time 10 minutes Cooking Time 20 Minutes

Ingredients for Oven-Baked Salmon with Lemon Butter

4 skinless and boned salmon fillets

  • 1 lemon
  • 4 oz butter
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • Salt and black pepper

How to Make Oven-Baked Salmon with Lemon Butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Tear off a strip of baking foil and divide into four sections that are large enough to create a parcel around each salmon fillet.
  3. Lie one salmon fillet on each piece of baking foil. 
  4. Season each fillet with salt and black pepper.
  5. Sprinkle the parsley equally over the salmon fillets.
  6. Cut the lemon in half and cut two slices from each half.
  7. Add one slice of lemon to the top of each salmon fillet.
  8. Take the remaining lemon pieces and squeeze the juice over the salmon. 
  9. Cut the butter into small pieces and sprinkle over the salmon.
  10. Create a parcel around the salmon with foil. Scrunch the foil over the top of the salmon to prevent the juices from leaking.
  11. Put the salmon parcels on a baking tray and put in the oven.
  12. Cook for 20 minutes and remove from the oven. WARNING: When unfastening the salmon from their foil parcels, hot steam is released.
  13. Serve with fresh vegetables, new potatoes, or salad. 

RECIPE: Cinnamon Apple Crisps

cinnamon apple crisps

My children love eating fruit and I am always looking for interesting ways to include fruit in their diet other than simply allowing them to help themselves out of the fruit bowl. They also love to help out in the kitchen and I believe that it is important that children learn how to cook. One simple snack that we have been making together recently is cinnamon apple crisps. Not only is this a really simple recipe, it is also a healthy and delicious snack. I have really enjoyed eating these while I have been trying to lose weight. Here is how to make cinnamon apple crisps. 

Ingredients for Cinnamon Apple Crisps

  • 4 apples
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • (Optional sugar if you do not want a healthy snack)

How to Make Cinnamon Apple Crisps

  1. Preheat the oven to 110C.
  2. Decore the apples- see tips’
  3. Thinly slice the apples so the slices measure approximately 5mm thickness.
  4. Lie the slices of apples on baking trays.
  5. Sprinkle over the cinnamon. If you prefer the apples sweeter and you are not concerned about this being a healthy snack, you can also sprinkle over a little sugar.
  6. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before eating. 

TIPS

The easiest way to core an apple is to use an apple corer. However, if you do not have one of these, it is not the only option. You can carefully remove the core with a sharp knife. If you are not confident about your knife skills, then you can slice the apples first and then cut the core section out of the individual slices. 

WATCH: Fun Food Hacks for Vegans

Although I am not a vegan, I am a fan of eating plenty of fruit and vegetables in my diet and trying new things. I also make a couple of meals per week that are plant-based meals and am always on the lookout for new ideas. Today, I came across this interesting video of food hacks for vegans. I thought it may interest not only vegans but also people who enjoy vegetarian food and those who are trying to reduce the amount of meat they include in their diet. 

Developments in My Garden- A Space for All the Family

garden 8

A few months ago, I wrote about starting a small herb garden in my garden and attempting to grow a few fruit and vegetables, too. I only wish that I had some before photographs to show you of how my back garden looked before. It was all concreted over with a few overgrown shrubs in the borders. There wasn’t a proper area to play for my children and it generally looked unkempt. My amazing partner has completely transformed the space.

He removed all the overgrown shrubs and created proper borders with raised wooden areas in one corner and around the tree. He then added canes and built boxes in which I could grow herbs. I have parsley, coriander, mint, basil, thyme, rosemary, strawberries, peas, and tomatoes growing at the moment. I have used all of these in my cooking. 

He created a play area for the children by designing and building a climbing frame with a den and monkey bars. Below this, he added astroturf and rubber matting for safety. There is even a ramp from the decking to the play area for them to play on their scooters, bikes, and skateboards. They play on it every single night after school and all day at the weekends. 

So that we could all eat outside together as a family, he created a small decking area with a fence and dining set just out from our conservatory. We have already eaten in this space many times as there has been fantastic weather in the UK in recent months. As a freelance writer who works from home, I have also started using this as what I call my ‘afternoon office’, which means I take my laptop outside with me to work. 

The garden is a practical space for my partner and my eldest son, too. Nathan, my eldest son, is a bicycle, car, and motorcycle fanatic and loves to tinker with parts while my partner does odd jobs for people and enjoy building things out of wooden pallets. He has made two separate sheds for each of their hobbies and built a small playhouse for my younger boys from the side of one shed.

The photos show the amazing work he has done and they do not do justice to how hard he has worked or the fantastic transformation he has made of such a small space. Thank you Mike x.

RECIPE: Ham, Mushroom, Cheese and Leek Pie

 

ham pie 3

When I cook a ham joint, I make a joint large enough to last for two meals. I use the leftover ham in lots of different ways and this week, I created a new dish that I have mot made for my family before. It was a hit with everyone and my teenager even described it as restaurant quality. Therefore, it is a dish that I will make again and wanted to share on my blog. It is a ham, mushroom, cheese and leek pie. This might start a bit of a debate about what constitutes a pie; whether it should be completely encased in pastry or just have a pastry lid. Strictly speaking, I would argue that the former is true, but this recipe just has a pastry lid as it is quicker to make and I am a busy working mum. However, you can adapt this recipe by making more pastry and creating a pie that encompasses the filling with the pastry. Here is my simple recipe for how to make ham, mushroom, cheese, and leek pie.

Recipe for Shortcrust Pastry

  • 8 oz plain flour
  • 4 oz lard
  • 4 oz butter
  • Salt
  • 1 beaten egg for glaze

Recipe for Ham, Mushroom, Cheese, and Leek Pie Filling

  • Leftover ham- approximately three slices, shredded
  • 10 button mushrooms, quartered or sliced
  • I leek, finely sliced
  • 4 oz cheese, grated
  • 1 x 400g tin of condensed mushroom soup
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 oz butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Black pepper to season

How to Make Ham, Mushroom, Cheese, and Leek Pie

  1. Prepare the pastry using this recipe (see here) and then keep in the fridge until ready to roll.
  2. Preheat the over to 180/ gas mark 4.
  3. Add the butter and olive oil to a large pan and put over a medium heat.
  4. Add the sliced leeks and mushrooms to the pan and cook until softened.
  5. Add the condensed soup and milk and bring to the simmer.
  6. Add the shredded ham, parsley, cheese, and black pepper.
  7. Cook for a further five minutes.
  8. Transfer the mixture to a large oven dish.
  9. Roll out the pastry and then cover the dish.
  10. Use a pastry brush to glaze the pastry with the beaten egg.
  11. Transfer the pie to the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the pie is golden brown.
  12. Serve with your choice of potatoes and veg.

I served this with princess potatoes, broccoli and carrots.