Cowboy Casserole – recipe

It’s been a little while since I last posted, so I decided to come back with another classic type of post…  A recipe.  This recipe is called a “Cowboy Casserole” by my two boys, but others may call it a simple sausage casserole.  It’s super simple to prepare, and makes for a filling and beautiful belly-warmer of a meal – especially now that it’s starting to get colder!

This whole recipe cost me £3.50 to make, and easily serves 4 or 5 people, meaning each serving is between 70p and 87p.  What a cracker!

Ingredients

16 sausages (I bought a double pack of Richmond’s)

1 tin of peeled, plum tomatoes (I used Asda’s own)

2 tins of beans (I used Asda’s own)

1tsp dried chilli flakes

1tsp paprika

Splash of oil (for frying)

Method

  • Add a splash of oil to a frying pan, and part-fry the sausages.  I managed to fit 8 sausages in my pan, so this took me two “goes”.  Once the sausages are almost cooked, and are a browny colour, transfer them on to some kitchen roll to remove any excess grease from the pan.
  • Chop each sausage in to a “mouthful” sized piece.  I cut each sausage in to four.

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  • Leave the cut sausages on your chopping board, and add two tins of baked beans in tomato sauce, the tin of peeled, plum tomatoes, the chilli flakes and paprika to your slow cooker.  Add the sausages, and stir the mixture with a large spoon until all the sausages have been coated.

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  • Set your slow cooker to “HIGH”, and set the timer for 5 hours.  Don’t forget to put the lid on the slow cooker.

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  • You can serve your Cowboy Casserole on its’ own, or (my recommendation) mashed potatoes.

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  • Enjoy!!
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Merseyside Bucket List

From the moment I was born, up until 2009, I lived in the borough of St Helens, Merseyside (north-west England).  In 2009, I moved to Huyton village (in the outskirts of Liverpool).  I have lived within this 6 mile radius all of my life.

Last night I decided to start making a list of all the important, and wonderful places to visit in the area.  Museums, historical buildings, green spaces, and more.  I have visited many, thanks to my dad who loved to teach me the history of where I live, but there are still so many places that I have not been.

If you live in, or know the county of Merseyside, I would love to hear about your favourite places.  Do you have a favourite park?  Is there a particular building, or museum that you enjoyed visiting?  Do you know of any “hidden gems” in the area?  Please comment with one, two or more of your favourite Merseyside places, so I can add them to my list.

As soon as I have compiled my list, I shall post it here.

My Nan’s Bread & Butter Pudding – Recipe

Talk about a comfort food!  This is a perfect pudding to make and enjoy, whilst waiting for Spring to turn up.  I know, I know – it’s officially Spring already, but it’s still chilly out there!

This recipe takes about 15 minutes to make, and then a further 45 minutes to “bake”.  I asked for the help of Gning with this one…

Ingredients

100g sugar

3-4 tsp sweet mixed spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.)

4 eggs

1l milk (whole / full fat works best)

A few handfuls of sultanas

8 rounds of bread (approximately…  You may need more, depending on the size of the ovenproof dish you use)

Butter – to grease the ovenproof dish

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 190ºC (170ºC for fan assisted ovens).
  • Grease your ovenproof dish with butter.
  • Measure out your sugar, and combine the sweet mixed spice, stirring thoroughly.  I assigned this task to Gning.
  • Measure out your milk, and crack the eggs straight in to it.  Use a whisk to combine it…  This was another task assigned to Gning.

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  • (Optional) cut all the crusts off the bread.
  • Butter one side of each round of bread, and slice in half – side or diagonally, your choice.  Fill the bottom of the ovenproof dish with the sliced bread (butter “up”).
  • I asked Gning to sprinkle some of the sugar mix over the bread, followed by a handful of sultanas.  Repeat this step until the ovenproof dish is full.
  • Pour the egg-milk mixture over the top of the layered bread, and allow to “soak” for 10-15 minutes.  Don’t worry if it looks like you have too much milk…  You don’t.  It will all set wonderfully.

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  • Place in the middle of the oven, and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Your pudding should be ready when it is a lovely golden colour.
  • Serve immediately – with or without cream; or you can leave the pudding to “set”, and serve it cold.  Yummy!

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Book Review – “The Tower”, by Simon Toyne

I never make New Year Resolutions, as I never keep them.  However, in a previous blog post, I stated that I have made two for 2018, and I was determined to keep them.  The first was to read more.  Books, that is.  I would aim to read at least one book per month.  Some times that’s easier said than done – so should I aim for “12 books in 2018” instead?  No.  That would just put more pressure on me if I don’t finish a book by the end of the month.

Anyway, I can confirm that today (31 January), I have just finished my first book of the year.

The Tower, by Simon Toyne.  First published 2013.  498 pages.  ISBN 978 0 00 739208 7.

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When I bought this book, I didn’t know that this was actually the third of a trilogy (I will point out here that this makes no difference to the reading.  I have not read the previous two books, nor do I intend to…  This book was perfectly readable on its’ own).  Whenever I buy a book, it’s the cover design that grabs my attention first.  If I am drawn to the cover, I will read the description on the back.

REVELATION OR DEVASTATION?

After centuries of secrecy, the forbidden Citadel in the historic Turkish city of Ruin opens its gates.  A deadly disease has ravaged everything within.  Charity worker Gabriel Mann is dying – but may also hold the only cure.

Without him, ex-journalist Liv Adamsen stands alone against those who want her silenced.  However, Liv soon has far bigger concerns than just her own life…

In America, FBI agent Joe Shepherd searches for NASA’s missing head scientist.  His investigation unearths a global conspiracy that is preparing for an event beyond all reckoning.

But nobody is ready for what is coming.  And when it does – it will change everything.

I’m a fussy reader, and the genres I choose are rather eclectic.  Ha ha, a bit like this blog really.  I enjoy reading chick lit; where the main character(s) are women, and is a bit of a romantic comedy.  On the other hand, I have really enjoyed reading conspiracy / thrillers; so the blurb on this book called to me.

I have to admit that it was a little slow in starting off.  It seemed all over the place, as the story focused on different “main” characters, who were in different parts of the world.  I couldn’t get my head around it, but perseverance paid off, as by about chapter 10, I was able to distinguish whose story line I was “playing out”.  10 chapters in may sound like a lot, but the chapters in this book are well written, and are about 3-5 pages long.

I found a lot of the characters likeable.  I was able to somewhat “see” what they were describing, and I did feel a lot of empathy for them.

There were a couple of chapters towards the end of the book that I think happened too fast…  I don’t want to give any spoilers here, but I think three characters story lines were ended rather abruptly.  There was no real build-up to it – it just sort of happened; and to me, there could have been more to it.

The whole book sort of ended quickly too.  All the characters, and the plot was closed, so it didn’t leave me with any unanswered questions, but it really felt like the author had just given up.  “I’m bored, let’s wrap this up”, type of thing.  Which was a shame – especially considering this was the final book in the trilogy.

Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who does like to read conspiracy novels.

My score:

6-out-of-10

2018: My New Years Resolutions

  • Read more.  Aim to read at least one book per month.  If you start a book, finish it.  Even if you don’t like it…
  • Write more.  You have such a creative mind, and you’re letting it go to waste.  Write at least one piece of poetry, and one short-story per month.  Get in to the habit of writing, then when you feel more confident, start writing that book…
  • Every night, write a bullet point list containing three things that you are grateful for on that day.
  • Teach Gning how to play chess and backgammon.  At least once a month, play a game of each.
  • Start keeping the house.  Properly.  No more “I’ll do it in a minute…” – if it needs doing, do it now.  Stop leaving everything until later – it’ll only pile up, and mean more work for you.

October is Boobies Month!

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Every October, I make a point of spamming my profile on facebook, so everyone on my friends list will be made aware of breast cancer – how to spot the signs, and what to do for support.  I do this in memory of my maternal grandmother, Lucy, who passed away from breast cancer in 1991, aged just 59.

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Did you know that 1 in 8 women, and 1 in 1,000 men will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer at some point in their lives?

Ladies; know the signs, know the symptoms. Gentlemen, please read this too… Breast Cancer doesn’t just affect women. Early detection can save lives. 

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Be brave; check your breasts often. Know what’s normal for YOU.  If you notice any changes, see your GP. Remember, many women have lumps, and 9 in every 10 are nothing to worry about.  Be brave; be strong.  Stand up and help fight the fight.

For more information, visit the Breast Cancer Care website here: http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/

Please share.

Recipe – French Toast (my version)

Looks fancy, tastes absolutely delicious, and is incredibly easy to make.

French toast is one of those “posh” breakfast items that you think will take too long to make, but really – I just made 8 rounds in 5 minutes (minus the clean up – which I’m going to do after I’ve finished this post).

I first had French toast when I went to stay with my fathers’ friends, in Wisconsin, USA, and it was sublime!  However, when I got home, I couldn’t remember exactly how my host made it, so I winged it…  It worked out well, because now it’s a family favourite – even Donut (aged 2) has just wolfed down two slices!

Ingredients

3 large eggs

A good splash of milk (whole / full fat milk is best)

White bread (this recipe accounts for 8 slices)

Sweet mixed spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, mace, allspice, etc. – readily available in supermarkets, such as Asda, Tesco, etc.)

Coconut oil – for frying

Toppings – golden syrup, honey, seasonal fruit, icing / powdered sugar…

Method

  1. Mix the eggs, milk, and a good shaking of the mixed spice in a bowl – ensure the bowl is big enough to fit a slice of bread, without bending it.
  2. Heat the coconut oil over a medium to high heat, in a frying pan.
  3. Place a single slice of bread in the egg mixture, and turn it over – make sure the round of bread is fully covered.
  4. Add the egg-mix covered bread to the frying pan, and give an extra little shake of the mixed spice.  Leave for 30 seconds or so, then turn it over – repeat the process by adding another little shaking of the mixed spice.  After another 30 seconds, turn the bread over for one final couple of seconds – just to allow the second shaking of mixed spice “cook” a little.
  5. Repeat the process with as many rounds of bread you can…
  6. Serve with a helping of syrup or honey, fruit, such as raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, or icing / powdered sugar.
  7. Best enjoyed hot / warm, although, rather lush cold too, ha ha.
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The French toast shown above is an image found on Google…  My French toast was scoffed before I could even think of getting my camera!