St Patrick’s Day Party Food – Recipes!

March 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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If you’re celebrating St Patrick’s Day at home with family and friends this weekend chances are you’ll be making some party nibbles for them to enjoy. As its St Patrick’s Day it only seems appropriate to lay on a feast on Irish delights. So I’m sharing with you my favourite Irish party nibbles- all are easy to make, distinctively Irish and delicious. Enjoy!

Classic Irish Coffee-

Irish Coffee Recipe

Guinness Cupcakes-

Guinness Cupcakes recipe

British Pie Week- Filo Fish Pie

March 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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British Pie Week is coming to an end and I’ve decided to finish my week of pies with a recipe that is both healthy and incredibly easy to make.

Filo Fish Pie is perfect for a Friday supper as it uses fish. I tend to use a mixture of salmon, prawns and haddock but any assortment of your favourite fish will work just fine. Some supermarkets sell ready-assorted bags which would be perfect and often they are cheaper than buying individual pieces of fish.

The pastry topping consists of sheets of filo pastry buttered and scrunched together, instead of making your own use my cheats favourite Jus-Rol. Lots of chefs use this ready-prepared filo pastry as an alternative to making their own so it’s a great (and tasty) short-cut.

British Pie Week filo fish pie

British Pie Week- Cherry Pie

March 8, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As today is International Women’s Day I’ve decided to share a flavoursome dessert pie which I imagine lots of women used to make at family suppers.

This cherry pie is a real treat and tastes even better is you use cherries which you’ve picked yourself. But don’t worry about this too much as any well sourced cherry will be fine- you might have to wait until summer for perfectly ripe cherries.

I like to serve my cherry pie with cream but I know other prefer ice cream- the choice is yours. Enjoy!

British Pie Week Cherry Pie

British Pie Week 2012- Cheese and Onion Pie

March 7, 2012 at 11:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Today I’m sharing a pie recipe which everyone will enjoy, a classic cheese and onion pie with wholemeal pastry. This pie is perfect if you’re feeding vegetarians or looking for a simple dish for a family supper.

Make the recipe your own by adding a variety of cheeses- the cheese selection is totally up to you.

I like to serve my cheese and onion pie warm with a selection of seasonal veggies but if you’ve got grandchildren around serve with a helping of baked beans. To me the beauty of this pie is that it can be served cold too. I wrap up any left over for lunch and enjoy with a hearty chutney- yum!

Read more about British Pie Week here.

British Pie Week Cheese and onion pie

British Pie Week- Levi Roots Spicy Caribbean Cottage Pie

March 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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To celebrate British Pie Week today I’m sharing a recipe which takes a spicy twist on a British classic.

Levi Roots’ Spicy Caribbean Cottage Pie is the ultimate fiery pie as his famous Reggae Reggae sauce adds a kick of Caribbean flavour to the family favourite giving the dish a new lease of life.

I thought that this Caribbean inspired pie was very fitting as Prince Harry is currently in Jamaica carrying out royal duties to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I hope that you enjoy and if you’re feeling brave may I suggest sprinkling a few dry chilli flakes into the potatoes topping for extra zing.

British Pie Week Caribbean cottage pie

British Pie Week 2012

March 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It’s British Pie Week and to celebrate I’ll be sharing some of my favourite pie recipes this week- I did the same last year and it was a great success, you can read 2011’s recipes here. For British Pie Week 2012 I’m hoping to share classic pie recipes which are firm family favourites alongside recipes that are a little bit more adventurous. Spicy pies, veggie pies and even pies with a splash of alcohol.

Before I open my recipe book I have to comment on how well loved British Pie Week has become. Quite astonishing the simple supper of pie and mash has been reinvented into a trendy and fashionable meal of choice. Fancy pie and mash has even become the selling point of many newly established eateries.

Pieminister kenneth

My favourite is Pieminister, a Bristol based company who have cleverly crafted a menu of signature pies which they serve with creamy mash and silky gravy. I regularly visit their Pie Minister branch in Trentham Garden’s which is only a stone’s throw away from home and guaranteed to be delicious.

Capitalising on their love of pie the Pieminister team are celebrating British Pie Week 2012 by travelling across the country (from Bristol to London and back) in their ice cream turned pie van called Kenneth. Generously they will be dishing out scrummy pies to passers-by.

This enthusiasm and love of such a traditional meal is brilliant to see and will hopefully encourage people to make their own delicious pies at home. One of my favourite homemade pies is a classic Chicken and Mushroom pie. This hearty classic is easy to make and reasonably cheap- perfect for families. My top tip is to ensure you use chunky pieces of chicken and plenty of seasoning.

British Pie Week Chicken and Mushroom Pie

National Chip Week 2012

February 23, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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As its National Chip Week it only seems appropriate to indulge in a bag of delicious chips.

Heston's triple cooked chips

National Chip Week

Content with staying healthy I’ll be indulging in “syn-free” chips from Slimming World. The homemade chips are especially easy to make and a real family favourite. The recipe swops deep fat frying for oven baking taking all the guilt out of eating chips. My top tip is to shake then bake, leave then in the oven until they get crispy round the edges.

In stark contrast the ultimate chippy chips have to be celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal’s triple cooked chips. Fluffy on the inside and crispy on the out these are the crème de la crème of chips and one of his ‘proudest legacies’.

As you can imagine the process of cooking these chips is classic Heston- a little more technical than usual, but there is a recipe which you can follow to create the TCC’s at home. Failing that treat yourself to some pub grub for scrumptious chips – Heston’s Fat Duck restaurant is the best!

Winter Warmers – The best ways to stay warm this winter!

January 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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After a period of mild weather I’m sure that many of you will have noticed the sudden drop in temperature this week. As its still January it’s important to remember that it is in fact still winter so we should be prepared for cold spells. This week it’s predicted to be particularly chilly and the Met Office has issued a serve cold weather warming which runs right until Friday morning.

As the Met Office set out precautions it’s important to do the same, insuring maximum personal safety and wellbeing. I know that for many older and elderly people getting out of the house can be difficult in the winter so call on the help of friends and family to bring around essentials.

drinking tea

Whilst at home ensure you’re as warm as possible by layering clothing, I find that wearing thinly layers garments  such as a vest with one or two thin t-shirts on top and then a cardigan is much more effective than one large jumper, the thin layers trap in body heat keeping you warmer for longer. I’d suggest the same for night ware too.  Change an hour or so before you’re planning to get into bed this way you’ll already be snug and warm. 

So how else can you beat the cold? Alongside drinking plenty of warm drinks and ensuring that windows and doors are closed a tip taken from last night’s SuperScrimpers: Waste Not Want Not was to put your heating on constant but turn the thermostat down. This way warm heat will always be circulating the house but won’t build a huge bill. If you feel a chill during the evening pop the fire on for an hour or so. Easy!


Get creative- make draught excluders

For anyone who is crafty like me why not make a draught excluder (there are plenty on the high street if you’d prefer to buy one). The beauty about making your own is they are easy and quick to make, plus it give you something fun to do for an afternoon, and you can choose any design which you like. I’d suggest following this ‘How to…’ guide from The Guardian.

Despite all of these wonderful ways to stay warm my favourite thing to do during the winter months is to eat fabulous comfort foods all which are hearty and full of goodness.  Winter warmers like soups, stews, homemade pies and one pot casseroles are all perfect to make for winter as they can be made in advance and frozen for convenience.

My favourite winter pick me up is good old fashioned Shepherd’s pie, which may sound a little old hat but it’s a fantastic winter recipe. Not only is it easy to prepare, filling and full of healthy veggies it’s also incredibly cheap. I like a sprinkle of cheese on top and a good helping of gravy!


Annette’s Website of the Week 23rd -27th January 2012

January 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Annette's websites of the week – I’m a keen patchwork quilter and whenever I get a weekend to myself I’ll often be stitching away or cutting fabric swatches to add to a quilt. But my love of crafts goes further as I’ve always knitted, and even tried my hand at crochet.

Craft ClubTo my delight a new campaign called ‘Craft Club’ is hitting schools in Britain in a bid to get children crafting. Produced by The WI, UK Hand Knitting Association and Craft Council, the Craft Club is run and developed by volunteers who are passing on their knitting (and other crafty skills) to youngsters in the hopes that learning to knit will help in other areas too.

There is no doubt that making something from scratch offers a great sense of achievement, which is why I think Craft Club is a wonderful incentive. Plus Craft Club’s mantra of ‘Knit 1, Hook 1, Pass it on’ encourages children to pass on their skills and share them with others- something which I believe takes you a long way in life.

The Craft Club website is wonderfully vibrant and filled with pictures of what people have created so far. Plus it lists events which you may want to attend if you’re thinking about getting your own community involved. Craft Clubs don’t have to take place in schools, any local venue is suitable.

I remember learning how to knit from my mother and also teaching my children the art of ‘knit a row, pearl a row’. It’s fantastic to pass on a skill which really does last a life time. Myself and my mother knit teddies for charity Teddies for Tragedies, which highlights the positivity which crafting can create. – I often find myself on websites which people have recommended whether it be for an offer, advice or just a general nosey around. This week I came across The Good Web Guide on a site suggested by a colleague and I was really impressed with the huge selection of sites that it houses.

Working by categories The Good Web Guide is simple to use and runs in order of lifestyle, home and garden, food and wine, travel and for those who are more asserted with business on the net there are plenty of financial, business and news sites to choose from.

the good web guide logo

What I really like about this site is the sense of variety. The home page offers websites which would interest lots of different people. Set up somewhat like a blog it’s constantly changing, making way for new content and sites (always archiving older sites so that you can find them later).

My favourite section of the site is Lifestyle as here there is access to lots of links from blogs, forums, and fashion, beauty and wellbeing sites. Grannynet an online community site which I’ve visited previously to read and contribute to is listed; proving that no demographic goes unnoticed. – I’m always sharing recipes on my blog because I truly believe that any occasion can be made extra special with a delicious feast of occasional food. At home I’ve got mounds of recipes books, which I’ve collected over a number of years. But this doesn’t stop me from searching the web for inspiration from time to time.

bbc food

More often than not I’ll use recipes featured on BBC Food because the site archives hundreds, if not thousands, of recipes from all different chefs and cooks. Most recently I used recommended Burns Night supper recipes from The Hairy Bikers and authentic Chinese New Year cuisine from renowned Chinese chefs such as Ken Hom and Ching-He Huang.

The great thing about BBC Food is anything you see on a cookery programme aired by the BBC will most definitely be stored here. Simply use the search tool to find the dish or chef. Plus the user friendly website works largely around occasions and offers bucket loads of inspiration for upcoming events, which is handy if you’re planning dishes ahead of time.

Burns Night Celebrations

January 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Robert BurnsToday many people across the world will be celebrating Burns Night, a traditional Scottish celebration which commemorates the work and life of Scottish poet Robert Burns.

Since my daughter Lucy spent her university days studying at St Andrew’s we have taken an interest in the annual celebration. Not only because it’s steeped in good old Scottish tradition but because Burns Night celebrations are great fun bringing family and friends together for a feast of hearty Scottish food and drink.

Burns Night is a great celebration and one which I would recommend to all, even if you aren’t Scottish. However, the traditional Burns Night celebration runs far deeper than food and drink. The cultural and wealth of Robert Burns’ poetry and the impact that it has had on literature is rather remarkable.

I’ve attended Burns Night suppers where the host has recited poetry by Robert Burns and been astonished. Not only does it set the tone of the evening but wonderfully brings everyone together. It’s quite something to hear a Burns’ poems read in a strong Scottish accent.

With this in mind I thought it would be nice to share traditional recipes which are served over a Burns Supper- all easy to make and delicious.

Burns night supper menu

To start I’d opt for a good quality Scottish Smoked Salmon- Salmon Pate is easy to make and really tasty plus you can prepare in advance if you’re worried about making the main.

Traditional Haggis with tatties and boiled turnips is a must for the main. I’d suggest following a quality recipe for haggis especially if you’ve not cooked it before. My recommendation would be The Jones Family recipe which was featured in The Hairy Bikers Cook Off book. Alternatively try and persuade a Scottish friend (if you’ve got one) to part with their recipe or at least get some hint and tips!

Burns night dessert is all about Scottish berries, oat and cream. This Nigel Slater recipe couldn’t be easier and is delicious. Make sure you finish the evening with a glass of Scotch. It’s said that Robert Burns spend many evening mulling over his work with a scotch in hand.

…Don’t want to cook, check out Time Out for Burns Night events.

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