Beef Stroganoff Slow Cooker Style

I’m always looking for an easy to prepare meal which is tasty and filling.  One of my families favourite beef meals in slow cooker beef stroganoff.  This is a great recipe as I can start it before I go to work and its already when I return from home.  Slow cooking the beef mans it is always tender and melts in the mouth.  It also means you can buy cheaper cuts of meats from your butcher as the beef is cooked slowly meaning it isn’t tough.

This beef stroganoff is a very filling meal and the paprika gives a lovely warming taste to the meal.  We find it not to be over spiced and has just the right amount of warmth for children to enjoy too.  I find this recipe easy to make and love to double up the ingredients and freeze half for a future meal.  The strognaoff will freeze for a month and is best warmed by allowing to defrost completely then either warming thoroughly in the oven or in a microwave.

Ingredients

    • 1kg steak
    • 2 sliced white onions
    • 3 cloves of garlic
    • 500g of button mushrooms
    • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
    • 250ml of passata
    • 2 tsp paprika
    • 200ml sour cream
    • 250ml beef stock
    • Tablespoon of French mustard
    • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

    • Cut the steak in to bite size chunks and brown in a little oil.
    • Place all of the ingredients apart from the mushroom and the sour cream in the slow cooker.
    • Stir well
    • Cook the beef stoganoff for 7 to 9 hours using your slow cookers auto setting or for 4 to 5 hours on the high setting.
    • Add the mushrooms to the beef stroganoff and cook for a further 40 minutes.
    • Add sour cream and stir well cooking for another 20 minutes.

To Serve

We like to serve our beef stroganoff with wild rice or you could serve with pasta.

Beef Stroganoff

Keeping Chickens

When I hear the phrase keeping chickens my heart just grows.  You see we are a chicken keeping family.  We are in fact owned by the lovely ladies who are certainly part of our family.

chickens


Sometimes I feel they are the only ones listening to me when I speak but then I remember that’s because I’m stood there with a bag of golden corn in my hand.  A little daily treat for  my girls for producing such yummy eyes for us.  Golden corn that adds to the most amazing gold colour of their yolks.

At the moment we have 7 chickens, 3 of which are rescue hens; Ex Commercial barn hens that have spent their whole life in a crowded barn.  Our 3 girls were from a huge 2,118 hens rescued from a farm outside Sheffield.

chickens

The girls love their freedom and have The girls love their freedom and have taken really well to outdoor life since they came to live with us.  When they arrived the actual health of the birds surprised me as I was expecting lots of missing feather which they’re weren’t.  Sadly this is not always the case with ex commercial hens.  Although our did have a covering of feather there overall health was quite run down as they had spent the last 18 months of their lives in a cage with no daylight and no opportunity to scratch around in the dirt and take dirt baths.

This sort of behaviour is vital for chickens well being as they need to scratch for bugs and plants to eat to enrich their diet and not ever having the chance to be out in sunlight is not fair on any animal.  In order to keep the oils on their feather healthy chickens naturally bath is dirt baths.  Basically this means dry dirt/dust is rolled in and pushed over their feather to regulate the natural oils.

chickens

Having your own chickens means you get lots of eggs.  That means it’s often baking day!  With this constant influx of eggs into the house, some time 7 a day, I use a lot of recipes that contain eggs.  Especially cakes.  Cakes are always a favourite here!

Its always a good day when it’s baking day in our house! Apart from their personalities it the best part about keeping chickens.   Favourite recipes for the kids are coca cola cakes, where as I am a huge fan of gooey butter cakes.  We are also big fans of egg mayo on toast for a Sunday morning treat.

Do you keep chickens or know anybody who does?  Is keeping chickens something you have ever considered doing?

Go Beyond The BBQ This Summer

It’s the season to be outside as much as possible and naturally we’re not going to want to starve. But will throwing a few sausages on the bbq and opening a couple of beers really tip us over into bliss this summer? Or is it time to freshen up the eating out experience and steal a few ideas from others who (admit it) do everything with a whole lot more élan than we seem to manage most of the time? From long, lazy Sunday lunch on the terrace to the art of aperitif and proper afternoon tea, here are some easy cheats and long term plans to make being outdoors with food a little more meaningful than kitchen roll, charred meat and warm wine.

Setting the scene

Before we look at what and how to eat, let’s think about where. Putting some plastic chairs out on the patio and hoping for the best can work brilliantly, but it leaves too much to chance for our taste. The folks of the world who do eating outside beautifully, have the space all prepped and ready without it seeming that way. The trick is to flow the inside out and one of the simplest ways to do that now is with folding patio doors. The best have slim frames so they almost disappear to create the illusion of a seamless outdoor room. These bi-folds from Vufold are more glass and less door so they’re a good fit whether you’re going for Mediterranean Sunday lunch or LA breakfast brainstorming.

Summer BBQ

Creating atmosphere (in a good way)

One of the fastest ways to pretty up an outdoor space this summer is to invest in some trailers, climbers and, especially, vines. Vineyards pack plants in, so they clearly don’t demand a lot of space to grow. If you think about it that makes them perfect for containers on the patio. Feeling ambitious and have a patio wall? Put up a lightweight trellis and a vine will cling lovingly to it for years with the right care. The RHS describe growing vines as ‘moderately difficult’. We say, with a bit of sun and a little viticulture know-how, that’s nonsense. But those who like it easiest of all could go for climbing cherry tomatoes or enormous wigwams of runner beans instead. They won’t flourish year-in-year-out, but for instant impact and next to no effort they win hands down. The trick to getting your space lush and lavish, is to group pots to create a sense of abundance and fill the spaces between your big, summery numbers with smaller evergreens as contrast.

Climbing Vines

Raising the comfort levels

Nobody’s going to linger over lunch or spin out cocktail hour if they’re made to sit on unforgiving, moulded plastic. Cheap stacking chairs are great backup for parties. Put them out for a big, Italian style family meal on the terrace and you might as well go the whole way and serve up sandwiches, to go. You don’t need to spend a lot on garden furniture, most of it’s overpriced anyway and relies on panic buying at the first sign of sun. Scout flea markets for old fashioned wooden chairs, paint them soft greys and greens, add some inexpensive cushions and you’re set. A few outdoor pieces can be a good investment for small, intimate parties, easy going teatime or if you’re keen to get everyone into the idea of civilised aperitif (not Happy Hour). Again, cushions, lots of them, hide a multitude of tatty chair flaws and make everything more alluring and charming – that’s what you want. And if you’re setting the table, keep it natural but do it properly, with a tablecloth, real plates and gleaming glasses.

BBQ

Simple is always best

About to make a fuss about food? Stop. Chill some Provencal rosé, make a batch of socca and you’ve tied down summer evening aperitif in Vieux Nice, perfectly. Pitcher cocktails, fantastic olives and pretty candles to light the terrace, makes cocktail hour. Hunt down some interesting china plates and tea cups, get baking and set a sweet table on the patio – add a game of croquet for extra authenticity – and traditional afternoon tea is flawlessly done. And if you’re aiming for the full, sit-down, no holds-barred family lunch, informal is best. Go for big bowls of salad, pasta, fresh bread, lots of wine and set a gorgeous table with just the right balance of sun and shade for comfort. And don’t forget to cluster those plants and vines for a true, leafy arbour atmosphere.

bbq

So now you know how. Step away from the BBQ and get creative about eating outdoors this summer.

Candaces Kitchen

Steak And Kidney Pie

Steak and Kidney Pie has to be one of my favourite savoury dishes to make.  If I’m being honest its one of my favourite to eat too.  Big chunks of meat cooked in stock and Guinness topped with golden puff pastry.  My mouth is watering at the very thought of it!

Homemade Steak and Kidney Pie

When I am making steak and kidney pie I always purchase my steak and kidney from a butcher.  I purchase most of my meat from my local butcher.  I love how knowledgeable they are.  How they have such great quality and a much better range of cuts available.  they are knowledgeable on how best to cook each cute.  Yes, you may pay a little more than a supermarket but I think the quality comes through with the taste.  If I’m spending valuable time cooking, I want my meal to taste as good as it possibly can.

Homemade steak and kidney pie

I start by cutting my steak and kidney (about 800g to feed 4) in to bite size pieces.  Even from a butcher I tend to find I can cut the chunks of steak in to 2 or 3 pieces.  I then brown the meat in small batches until brown like the picture above.  I’m not cooking it at this point just sealing the juices in.  I added a little stock and 1/2 can of Guinness (boil to remove alcohol first) which I had mixed in some corn flour to thicken the gravy and teaspoon of mustard.  If you aren’t a fan of kidney this could be exchanged for mushrooms.

To make the steak and kidney pie I place the meat in an oven proof dish.  I find this wide rimmed enamel dish excellent for a family pie like this.  For me, I love home cooking everything but there are times when life is too short due to family and work conditions and I run to the ready made pastry!

Homemade steak and kidney pie

This is puff pastry and I love a flaky pastry topping on my steak and kidney pie.  I put water around the tin rim and placed the pastry on top adjusting it to the shape of the tin, curling the corners round then pinching the edge with my finger and thumb.  I then brushed the pastry with a fresh egg laid by our gorgeous hens.  Their yolks are so yellow from all the lovely rich corn they are feed as treats.

Homemade steak and kidney pie

Cook until the pastry is golden brown, about 30 minutes.  For me homemade steak and kidney pie just has to be served with chunky chips and a little gravy.

Homemade steak and kidney pie

Cola Cupcakes With Salted Peanut Frosting

Cola cupcakes. Sounds a little strange but oh my. How gorgeous they are. Last week I just needed an afternoon in the kitchen. I needed to mess around and play with a recipe until I had created a mouthful of yumminess. I think I ended up creating the yummy cupcakes I was looking for. It’s a recipe I’m really liking and can’t wait to make these little beauties again.

Not quite sure why I added cola to a chocolate cake recipe but it gave them s lovely caramel taste which complemented the salted peanut frosting rather well.
cola cake with salted peanut topping

To make these cupcakes you will need:

Ingredients

  • 220 ml Coca Cola (not diet)
  • 65g cocoa powder
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 140g granulated sugar
  • 70g dark brown sugar
  • 140g self raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg

Method

  • Heat oven at 170
  • Melt butter, cocoa powder and sugars with cola until sugar is dissolved.
  • Allow to cool
  • When cool, mix in egg
  • Mix all other ingredients together, added them but by big to liquid mix.
  • Mix well
  • Divide in to individual cupcake cakes
  • Cook for around 20 to 25 minutes until springy to the youth
  • All to cool fully before applying icing

For the frosting:

Ingredients

  • 280g of icing sugar
  • 140g unsalted butter
  • 70g smooth peanut butter
  • 4 tablespoon of double cream
  • 1/2 tea spoon of salt

To decorate

  • Sea salt
  • Chocolate sprinkles
  • Crushed salted peanuts

Method

  • Whisk butter and peanut butter until fluffy
  • Add icing sugar, cream and salt. Whisk well
  • If it seems a little thick you can add s few drops to cold water.
  • Pipe on to cooled cakes and sprinkle decorations

cola cake with salted peanut topping

These cakes didn’t last longer than 24 hours in our house but I’m sure if you kept them in an air tight container they would be still gorgeous to your taste buds 48 hours later.
They are delicious served as part of a traditional afternoon tea or a luxurious partner to good quality pot of tea. Made even better when served in china cups.

cola cake with salted peanut topping

Have you added unusual ingredients to cakes?  Was it a success or something you’d never attempt again?

 

Beetroot Chutney

This beetroot chutney is a homemade one that I love to keep at hand for adding to burgers and cold meat platters or as a simple dip for raw vegetables.

Beetroot Vhutney

To make the beetroot chutney you need:

  • 500g fresh beetroot (not ready peeled and pickled), peeled and finely chopped
  • 1kg cooking apples, peeled and chopped.
  • 275g of red onion, finely chopped
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger, grated,
  • 50g crystallised stem ginger, finely chopped.
  • 375g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1tsp Ground allspice
  • 750ml red wine vinegar.
  1. Place the beetroot, apple, red onion, gingers, sugar, salt and spice into a large pan.
  2. Add the vinegar and mix well.
  3. Bring to the boil and then simmer for around 60 to 70 minutes until the beetroot is tender.  Stir every 10 minutes.
  4. Whilst still warm pour in to sterilised jars and seal.  Keep in the fridge and use within 4 weeks.

My children don’t like the lumps of beetroot so I tend to sieve half of the beetroot chutney as I put it in the jars and they will then eat it as a dip.  Remember the chutney is very sweet (not good in large quantities if you are on a diet) and does stain clothing so don’t feed little ones too much as it’s high in sugar or let them drop it down them.

Beetroot Chutney

Gooey Butter Cake

There is nothing more satisfying than spending time baking something yummy and filling for my family and friends, especially when it is something as yummy as this gooey butter cake.  I adore cooking for others. Especially if it puts a smile on people’s faces. I’ll happily get involved with catering for other people’s events but only on the condition others stay out of my kitchen. I am not a fan of other people ‘meddling’ when I’m cooking. Cook do the washing up, oh yes please, but never meddle in the cooking part.

I hadn’t spent an afternoon cooking due to our house move for quite a while and it was just what I was craving.

gooey butter cake ingredients

 I gathered the ingredients together and in an instant my little helper (daughter) had arrived. It doesn’t taker her long to appear if she thinks there is some form of baking going on. Baking with my kids makes me even more happy and luckily both of them enjoy cooking.

Gooey butter cakes are a none traditional tray bake. The base is a bread dough and the top half is s very buttery cake. This is not a cake for someone on a low fat diet. The word butter in the name is a bit of an understatement for these yummy little bites. The slices are rich and this isn’t a cake you sit and eat in one sitting. For me, that’s great as usually I bake, I blink and the kids have eaten it all. I know with this cake they’ll be another slice for the next day.

Gooey Butter Cake

I’ll start by saying this gooey butter cake is not one you can whip up in 10 minutes. It takes a few hours but sometimes it good to take time and create yummy goodness.

Ingredients

For the dough base

  • 55ml milk
  • 55ml water
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 tsp dried yeast
  • 265g plain flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg

For the butter cake topping

  • 310g unsalted butter
  • 160ml condensed milk
  • 160g golden syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 90g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanila extract
  • pinch of salt

Icing sugar to decorate

Method

The cake is made in two parts. To make the dough base:

  • Preheat oven at 175.
  • Grease and flour a 23 x 32 cm loose bottomed tin.
  • In a saucepan gently heat milk, water and butter. Then add the yeast.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the flour, sugar and salt.  Add the liquid mix after 10 minutes.
  • Add the egg and mix well.
  • Using an electric mixer, preferably with a dough hook mix for a couple of minutes.
  • Scrap the dough down the bowl and mix for a further 10 minutes.
  • Push the dough in to the baking tin.
  • Place somewhere warm whilst you prepare the butter cake mix.

Now to make the butter cake topping you need to:

  • Using an electric whisk beat the butter for 5 minutes until soft and fluffy
  • Add half of the condensed milk and whisk for a further 5 minutes.
  • Add the golden syrup and mix well
  • Add the salt to the flour
  • Add the egg and flour/salt mix a bit at a time
  • Mix in the remaining condensed milk and vanilla extract
  • Whisk until you have a light and fluffy batter
  • Pour over the dough base and cook for 30 minutes
  • The cake batter will still be a little spongy to the touch.  Don’t worry it will stiffen up once cooled.
  • Allow to cool then cut into squares
  • Dust with icing sugar

What I have found with this cake is it tastes best if left for 12/24 hours as the butter in the topping soaks into the dough. This cake should never be eaten warm. Sometimes s slight less warm co cake can taste so much better than a cooled cupcake but not with this cake. The topping can be greasy due to the amount of butter used so take my advice and be patient, you won’t regret waiting with this slice of goodness.

 gooey butter cake

Meal Planning (7 March 2016)

Wow, its hard to believe that another week has flown by so quickly.  we are going for simple meal planning this week as we have a lot on and to be honest I’m not feeling 100% which won’t help with the food preparation.

brinner cooked breakfast

This week as part of our family meal planning we will be having:

Monday – Meatballs

Tuesday – Brinner

Wednesday – Chicken Curry

Thursday – Pork Chops

Friday – Going out for a meal

Saturday – I’m away so kids will have takeaway

Sunday – Roast Chicken

Hope you have a lovely week.  Do you know what you will be eating this week?

Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate cream pie.

Just those three little words get my mouth watering.  This chocolate cream pie is so delicious and so easy to make.  I can assure you this chocolate cream pie will not disappoint.  It is so easy to make my 13 year old Son actually made it.  Last week The Boy Teen had a ‘make what you like’ cooking class.  Being a typical teen boy, he told me this at 8pm on Sunday night.  The cooking class was Monday.  He was unsure what he wanted to make but knew it had to be something with chocolate.

Everybody likes chocolate don’t they?  With this recipe it can be tailored to your guests.  Do you like a rich high cocoa chocolate?  Do you like milk chocolate?  Perhaps you are a fan of white chocolate or a more usual flavoured chocolate.  This chocolate cream pie recipe does not disappoint one little bit.

Ingredients

  • 150g melted butter
  • 2 packets of oreos
  • 2 large blocks of chocolate
  • 300ml of double cream
  • strawberries to decorate

Method

  • Crush the oreos with either a food processor or in a bag with a rolling pin.
  • Mix in the melted butter and stir well
  • Press down in to an 8″ tin with removable base
  • Place in a freezer to cool.
  • Gently warm the double cream but do not allow to boil.
  • Whilst the cream in warming break the chocolate up and place in a bowl.
  • Pour over the warmed cream and wait for 1 minute
  • Mix well
  • When all the chocolate has melted pour the mixture over the biscuit base and place in a fridge and allow to set overnight.
  • Cut the strawberries in half and place on the top of the chocolate cream pie.

chocolate cream pie

The brilliant thing about this recipe is that it requires no cooking at all.  The recipe really is simple and a child will be able to make this on their own.  As to whether a child will clean up after they have made this is an entirely different matter.

Meal Planning (29 February 2016)

Its not often you write that.  29 February.  Took a little thinking about if I’m honest but this year we are lucky and get an extra day.  An extra 24 hours of life.  An extra day to enjoy gorgeous home cooked food.  We are still in the middle of moving house from Wales back to the Midlands but one thing I have done is move all of the food.  This makes me happy as I know have all my gadgets, dishes and store cupboard ingredients at hand.  I’m not having to think have I got XYZ here.  This sadly makes me happy but I guess that’s what foodie lovers are like.

This week as part of our family meal planning we will be having:

Monday – Sausage Casserole

Tuesday – Steak

Wednesday – Roast Chicken

Thursday – I’m out, kids will have takeaway

Friday – Diet Coke Chicken

Saturday – Meatballs

Sunday – Cola Gammon

cola ham

Do you meal plan?  What are you planning on eating this week?