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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Chicken and Smoked Sausage Alfredo Pasta

It’s been quite a while my last post, and I thought it was about time I started blogging again.  I don’t think I could have chosen a better time than to post a new recipe!

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts

1 smoked pork sausage

1 courgette (for those who live in the USA, you would call this a zucchini)

1 small(ish) unsweetened double cream (Elmlea is perfect.  Again, if you’re in the US, you may call this heavy, or whipping cream)

A couple of handfuls of cheese – I used 1 handful of white Cheddar, and 1 handful of red Cheddar

1 small pot of garlic paste, or if unavailable, 2 garlic cloves – crushed / chopped…  Whatever your preference

A good shaking of smoked paprika

Pasta – I used five handfuls of fusilli

Tablespoon of olive oil – for frying

Method

  • Dice your chicken breasts, slice your sausage, and ‘stick’ your courgette.

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  • Add your pasta to a pan, and cover with water.  Put on the heat, on the hob.

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  • Warm your wok / frying pan up, and add the oil just as the pan begins to smoke.
  • Add the chicken, and fry until fully cooked, stirring occasionally.

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  • When the chicken has cooked, add a decent shaking of your smoked paprika, and add your garlic paste / cloves.

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  • Stir thoroughly, and allow the paprika & garlic to be absorbed just a little.
  • Add the sliced smoked sausage and sticked courgette, and allow to fry – stirring occasionally – until the courgette has started to soften slightly.

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  • Pour in the cream, and stir thoroughly.

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  • Ignore the look of it now…  It’s gone from “pretty” to a mess in less than 5 seconds.
  • Add the cheese – about half a handful at a time – and use the ‘lift & stir’ technique.  (If you don’t know what this is, it’s simple.  Push your wooden spoon / spatula under the mixture, then lift – as if you’re folding the mixture – then stir around, until all the cheese has melted.)

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  • Turn down the heat completely, and sort out your pasta…  I usually drain off the pasta, pour boiling water over it, then redrain.  Add a small amount of butter (small – ha ha!!) and stir until the butter has melted.

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  • Turn off the heat to the cheese sauce & meat mix, and add the pasta directly to the pan.

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  • Give it a good stir, then turn out in to a fancy (if you have one) serving dish.

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  • Help yourself, and enjoy 🙂  I served this with a couple of garlic baguettes, straight from the oven.  Yummy.

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Shortbread & Coconut Shortbread

It’s Gnings’ last day in school tomorrow, as he is breaking up for Christmas.  I can’t believe how quickly it has come around!

I’ve been struggling for ideas on what he should give to his teacher, and two teaching assistants, as a gift for Christmas; and with money being a bit tight too (I’m still on maternity leave), I didn’t really want to spend a lot.  So I thought, everyone loves biscuits, so that’s what we’ll do.  And that’s what we did!

I think I managed to make about 50 stars, and 35 “gingerbread” biscuits.  The stars cost approx. 50p, and the “gingerbread” ones about 75p.

Here’s the recipe:~

125g butter, softened

55g caster sugar

180g plain flour (all-purpose)

OPTIONAL – (1tbsp desiccated coconut)

Drop of water

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C (170C for fan assisted).
  2. Line a baking tray (or two) with greaseproof paper.
  3. Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and cream together, using the back of a large, wooden spoon.
  4. Sift in all of the flour, in one go, and stir it all together using the spoon (this is also the part where you will add the coconut – if you are going to.  This worked absolutely wonderfully).  When you’re unable to stir any more, use one of your hands to start “bringing the mixture together”, in to a dough.
  5. Add just a drop or two of water – just enough so the mixture starts to meld nicely.  Don’t add too much, otherwise it’ll end up all sticky, and icky.
  6. Once the dough has formed a lovely ball, turn out on to a work surface, that has had a ‘scattering’ of icing sugar (powdered / confectioners sugar), and roll out with a rolling pin, so that it’s about 1cm thick.
  7. Cut out your required shape(s) – squares, rectangles, circles, stars, etc. – and place on the lined baking tray.
  8. Lightly prick the top of the biscuits with a fork, and sprinkle a little more caster sugar on the top of each.
  9. Throw them in the oven (well, not literally) for 15-20 minutes, or until a golden brown colour.
  10. Allow to cool fully before digging in.  Be careful though!  They are incredibly moreish.

Excuse the pics – my camera is playing up a little 😦

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And this is how I packaged them up – all ready for Gningy to take in to school tomorrow:

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Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart

This, was rather an easy make, and I am VERY impressed with how it turned out.  For one full tart, it cost me about £3 to make…  I suppose you can say that this was a frugal make, because the richness of the chocolate and caramel meant that you can only have a small piece!  Ha ha.

I had my little Gning help me make this…  He broke up the chocolate for me, and because the final result had lots of chocolate, he loved eating it afterwards!

Pastry Ingredients

225g plain flour

100g butter

pinch salt

2-3 tbsp water

Caramel Ingredients

210g caster sugar

112.5ml (or there abouts) water

112.5ml (or there abouts) double cream

70g butter

1tsp salt

Chocolate Ingredients

112.5ml (or there abouts) double cream

120g dark or milk chocolate (dark works best, but it’s up to you)

Sea salt crystals

Method

  1. Make your pastry by sifting the flour in to a large bowl.  Add the butter, and rub in with your fingertips, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Stir in the salt, then add a little water at a time to mix in to a firm dough.
  3. Knead the dough slightly, on a floured board, wrap in cling film, and place in the fridge for half an hour or so.
  4. Roll out the dough to a size to fit your tart tin, and about a pound coin thickness.  Place in your greased tin, with a slight overhang on the sides…  Don’t bother to trim, as the pastry will shrink a little when in the oven.
  5. Lightly prick all over the bottom of the dough with a fork, and line with baking / greaseproof paper.  Add baking beans, and “blind bake” on 170C (fan assisted) for 20 minutes.  After this time, remove from the oven, remove the beans and paper, then return to the oven for a further 10 minutes, or until the pastry is a golden colour.
  6. Wait until the pastry has completely cooled before turning it out on to a serving plate.  Place this out the way…  You won’t need it for a little while now.
  7. To make the caramel, add the caster sugar and water to a heavy-bottomed pan, and slowly bring to the boil – WITHOUT STIRRING.  When the sugar water has started to boil, turn the temperature down a little, and “swirl” the pan around – still without stirring.
  8. Now it is time for a fair amount of patience…  You have to wait for the sugar water to turn in to a caramel colour…  This can take 10-15 minutes.  Do not stir!
  9. When the sugar water has turned in to a lovely golden colour, remove from the heat, and stir in the cream.  Return to the heat for a further 2 minutes, constantly stirring.  Be careful at this point, as the mixture will bubble up and may “spit” when you add the cream.
  10. Remove from the heat again, and stir in the butter until fully melted.
  11. Allow to cool slightly (about 5 minutes), before pouring in to the pastry that you made earlier.
  12. Place the caramel tart in the fridge for about 3-5 hours, or so, until the caramel has ‘set’.
  13. When your caramel has set, it’s time to make the chocolate!  Break the chocolate up in to a bowl, and leave to one side.
  14. Place the cream in a heavy-bottomed pan, and slowly bring to the boil.  Allow to simmer gently for about 2 minutes or so…  You don’t really want to ‘cook’ the cream, so don’t have a high temperature.
  15. Pour the cream over the chocolate, and leave for about a minute.  After a minute, stir the cream and chocolate together…
  16. Allow to settle slightly, then pour over the top of the caramel tart.  You may need to scrape, and smooth out the chocolate.
  17. Return to the fridge for a further 1-2 hours, or until set.  Please be aware that the chocolate will NOT fully set.
  18. Before serving, sprinkle a small amount of coarse sea salt on the top of the tart, and serve any which way you like.  Good enough to eat on its’ own, or with a strawberry and mint leaf!

Enjoy!

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Lush Fudge – Pic heavy

This is a very easy recipe, but can be rather tricky to master (as you can see in the photo documentation!!).

**WARNING – NOT recommended for diabetics!**

Ingredients:

397g can of condensed milk

150ml full fat (blue top) milk

450g brown sugar

115g butter

Optional –

Flavouring of your choice

Chocolate chips

Fruit of your choice

Nuts of your choice

Method:

1.  Line a 20cm square tin with baking / greaseproof paper.

2.  Put the condensed milk, milk, sugar and butter in to a large pan, on a low heat.  Stir constantly until all the sugar has melted.  (It doesn’t look very nice at this point, but don’t worry).  Blue nails are optional in this recipe 🙂

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3.  Turn the heat up and bring to the boil…  Do not stir at this point.

4.  Turn the heat down, so the mixture is now simmering, and stir constantly for 10 – 15 minutes.  Make sure that you are constantly scraping the bottom of the pan, as you don’t want the sugar mix to burn.DSCN0383

***WARNING – This mixture can be VERY hot, and WILL burn you if it touches you when it spits.  I speak from experience***

5.  If you have a sugar thermometer, test the temp for 118C.  If you do not have one, it’s still easy to check.  Simply put a drop of the mixture in to a jug of ICE COLD water – a soft ball of fudge should form.

6.  If you want to add any of the optional ingredients, do it now.

7.  When it’s ready, remove from the heat, and beat constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens and begins to set.  This should take approximately 10 minutes.

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8.  You now have to work VERY quickly, and pour the mixture in to the prepared tin.

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9.   Leave to cool before cutting in to squares.  The cooling and setting should take approx 1 hour.

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As you can see, mine didn’t turn out quite as I would have liked it to.  However…  It still tasted nice – the hubby and the Gning certainly like it – and it was my first time!