Archive | Fast and Fabulous RSS feed for this section

Award winning (!) Kiwi, Lime and Ginger Cheesecake

28 Jul

The cheesecake (minus the kiwis!!)

This recipe (save for some tweaking) appeared on my blog when it started, just over 3 months ago.

When I saw the Ocado World Recipe Challenge (to celebrate the world cup) I just had to enter this recipe which is a delicious and easy crowd pleaser. And I am pleased to say, that with the help of some friends, my lovely blog readers, and the enduring love affair that most of us have with cheesecake, the recipe ‘won’ the challenge, and was the most popular recipe out of the finalists. If, like me you are an Ocado shopper, then click the link here to the recipe, and in one easy click, you can add the ingredients to your shopping basket.

My reward, apart from bringing the secret of a quick and easy dessert to the time-pressed, is £200 to spend on a Virgin Experience Day.  I am currently debating between a chocolate making workshop, a case of wine or a day at a spa. Decisions decisions.!

In case you missed the recipe the first time around, I have published it again here. If you do give it a try, and I would love your comments letting me know how you got on.

For this recipe you will need

A round 23cm springform tin, greased and lined

250g ginger nut biscuits or 100g digestives or shortbread biscuits and 150g ginger nuts

100g melted butter

1 tin condensed milk (yes really – condensed milk. Just trust me on this one)

2 x 250g tubs mascarpone cheese

5 unwaxed limes

Method

Make biscuits into crumbs either in the processor, or by placing them in a large (strong) clean plastic food bag and pulverizing them mercilessly with a heavy implement, like a rolling-pin. This can be quite satisfying. Mix with the melted butter. Press into base of tin, then put in fridge to set for at least half an hour, or if you are running late, try 10 minutes in the freezer.

While that is chilling, zest 2 of the limes (I use the microplane) and then extract the juice from them all. Limes can be awkward little devils, and reluctant to give up their juice. When they are warm, you get more juice out, so I often pop them in the microwave to warm them up.5 or 10 seconds per lime. I would probably put them all in and zap for 30 seconds altogether.

Empty mascarpone into a large bowl. Add condensed milk and lime juice and zest. Mix until combined and smooth (do not overmix or it becomes a little thin). You can do this by hand or with the electric beaters (about half a minute works for me).

Empty mixture into the tin, over the biscuit base. Cover with clingfilm, then place in fridge for at least 4 hours. Remove from tin once set and place on serving plate (I often leave it on the tin base, rather than risking a collapse).

Serve

Stand back and wait for the compliments. They will come. I promise..

Alternatives

If you don’t like limes you can make this the traditional way, using lemon juice and lemon zest (juice of 2 lemons, zest of 1), and plain digestives.

The gingernut biscuits are quite hard and make the subsequent base quite hard. As a result I tend to combine them with digestives or shortbread biscuits to alter the texture but retain the ginger taste, which contrasts well with the lime.

If like me, you make the mistake of only buying one tub of mascarpone, I have used half cream cheese. The result is a bit less firm, but still delicious.

Taste the mixture before you place it in on to the base. If you prefer a bit more zing, add the juice of another lemon or lime.

Go on, treat yourself. You deserve it

Mature Cheddar, Shallot and Sage Crusted Chicken

15 Jul

In preparation for our house move, I have been running down the store cupboards and freezer. I had rescued 2 lonely and forlorn chicken looking breasts from the freezer, along with the breadcrumbs and shallots, and a small cube of mature cheddar from the fridge, that was threatening to sport a mouldy cloak if ignored any longer. And the fresh sage was courtesy of the plant that I abandoned last year in the garden, that has defeated the perils of garden pests, children, and the elements to survive and flourish. I love garden herbs. Fresh, fabulous, and free. What more could you ask for?

INGREDIENTS

Serves two teenies and a greedy mummy.

  • 2 chicken breast fillets (approx 250g)
  • 2 or 3 slices of bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs
  • small chunk of cheese, finely grated
  • small handful of fresh sage, chopped
  • small handful of pre-chopped shallots from freezer
  • 60g butter melted (or an oil/butter mix)

METHOD

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees.

Step 1. Slicing up the fillets

Slice fillets in half horizontally (so they are thinner and cook more quickly), then into small ish pieces. I turned 2 fillets into 5 small pieces that look like 1/2 fillets.

Mix together breadcrumbs, shallots, sage and cheese. Add melted butter and mix until combined.

Step 2. The breadcrumb mixture

Line a baking dish with foil (just to save on washing up). Press mixture onto the chicken breasts. Cook for approx 15 mins, checking that it is cooked through once removed from oven. Leave to rest for 5/10 mins.

Step 3. After a short hot burst in the oven

Serve with broccoli and cream cheese (kids) or salad (big kids).

Step 4. Going, going, gone

Roast Beef and Horseradish ‘Kebab’

12 Jul

The idea for this ‘combo’ came to me after my childfree bliss weekend away, upon reading YummyMummyNo1s post on her parenting dilemma after her son’s kebab and horror film all nighter at a friend’s house.

I had been away for the weekend (a miracle, I might add, not a regular event) and left a number of easy to assemble ingredients for Mr Mummyinahurry over the weekend. When I returned the near empty fridge contained the following haul.

The Ingredients

  • Cooked sliced beef
  • Salad
  • Tomatoes
  • Horseradish Sauce
  • 1/2 fat creme fraiche
  • Pack of Pitta bread (I know it should be in the bread bin, but then it goes off when its hot)

So, the dinner dilemma was solved with a simple warm up and assembly job, and was greeted by silence punctuated with  satisfied ‘mmm, mmm, mmm’  noises from  Mr Mummyinahurry.

METHOD

Put a grill pan on the hob and leave to warm up for a few minutes. Toast the pittas on it (or just use the toaster if you dont have one)

Mix horseradish sauce with crème fraîche (or yoghurt) until you have a dressing consistency. While pitta is warming up, slice tomatoes and salad. Stuff warmed pittas with the beef, salad and tomatoes and dressing. Voila, probably the healthiest kebab in town!

The Healthiest Kebab in town?

Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins. An essential component of your five-a-day?!

5 Jul

You know you want me!!

Today’s mouth-watering and seasonal recipe is provided by one of my new blogging friends, Sian, who is helping me out while I am wondering how we are going to get packed up by this time next week! Over to you Sian.

Hi Mummy in a Hurry readers, I’m Sian from Pumpkin and Piglet. Firstly I would like to thank Natalie for having me here. I’ve been reading Natalie’s blog for a while now and love her tips and quick, easy but yummy recipes so it’s a real pleasure to be here!

One of my passions is baking. For me, there is nothing more comforting than a big slice of cake, a fluffy, moist muffin or a lovely cupcake with a sweet swirl of frosting. Sometimes though, time is limited and spending too long in the kitchen is not an option.

For those days, muffins are a good answer. No faffing about making sure everything is combined just so, quick to bake and scrumptious. If time is seriously tight then you can weigh out the ingredients the day before, dry in one bowl and the wet in a jug covered in the fridge, ready to mixed together and taken out of the oven within half an hour.

There as many flavours of muffins as you can think of but I would like to share a recipe with you for Raspberry and White Chocolate muffins. This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

INGREDIENTS

  • 60g butter, melted
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 150g caster sugar
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Approx 120ml milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 150g raspberries
  • 100g white chocolate chunks

METHOD

Preheat oven to 200oC and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

In a largish bowl combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, salt and zest.

In a measuring jug pour in the lemon juice and then enough milk to come up to the 200 mil level (it will curdle, this is fine), then beat in the egg and butter.

Pour into the dry ingredients and stir briefly. The batter should scarcely be combined and should appear lumpy. Don’t worry if there are still streaks of flour.

Fold in the raspberries and chocolate, dollop into the muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes.

Once baked, leave in the tray for 5 minutes and then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.

There you go, 12 muffins! They are best eaten the same day but will keep for another day in an air tight tin.

Sweltering Summers Day Lunch

27 Jun

Salmon with Asparagus and Spinach

In years gone by, the asparagus season would have been long over by now. I am sure that British Asparagus will be running out soon, but I am enjoying it while I am around. I prepared this dish with the assistance of my friend Matt, who conveniently is a chef, and his wife Helen.

This happened to be my birthday lunch, and as I was anticipating a delicious restaurant dinner with my husband, I wanted an easy, quick and healthy lunch.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 fillet of salmon per person
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus per person
  • 1 bag of spinach (will serve 2/3)
  • chopped garlic
  • butter
  • pesto or lemon and mayo to serve

METHOD

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.While it is heating up, place the salmon fillets in a ovenproof dish. You want to poach them, so fill the dish with some water (or white wine if you are feeling extravagant), to about 1 cm depth and cover with foil.Trim the ends from the asparagus, place in a ovenproof dish, drizzle with oil, adding a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper. Leave uncovered.Both dishes will take 8/10 minutes. The trick with salmon is not to overcook it, or it becomes dry. You want the fish to still be slightly pink in the middle. Check after 8 minutes, and if it’s not quite there stick it back in the oven. My advice is to use a timer for those last couple of minutes, as its so easy to be distracted and overcook the fish by accident.

While the fish and asparagus are cooking, grab a jar of good quality mayo, decant some into a dish and mix in the zest of a lemon. Alternatively, put some fresh pesto out to serve on the fish. Melt 50/50 butter and oil (about 1 tbsp) in a pan then add garlic on a gently heat for 1/2 minutes until it starts to soften. Add fresh spinach and allow it to wilt (keep turning). Turn heat off once wilted. If I serve this with lemon mayo, I cut the zested lemon into wedges to serve on the side.

Lay the table and pour yourself a glass of chilled rose (or whatever tipple takes your fancy). By now the fish should be done, so all you need to do, is serve, then relax and enjoy.

Spicy Sausage Casserole

24 Jun

Spicy Sausage Casserole

This dish is a total cheat. Not quite a Delia, ‘let’s assemble our shepherds pie from a tin and the freezer’ sort of cheat, more of a ‘lets tweak the dinner I made 2 nights ago’ and tell everyone its something else, kind of dish.

The clock is running and we are now less than 3 weeks away from our house move and still not much further along with the packing.  This means I am a bit pre-occupied and not able to drift along into mealtimes without a plan.

Cous Cous on the side

So when I made my ‘Chilli non Carne‘, there was enough left over for the beginnings of another meal. To transform the ‘Chilli Non Carne’ into ‘Spicy Sausage Casserole’  I simply cooked some sausages on the hob. My favoured method of cooking them is to do it so slowly that there is almost no chance of them burning. Place in a non-stick frying pan with a gentle dash of olive oil, then simply jiggle the pan every now and then when you happen to be passing. Takes 45 mins to an hour, and the resulting sausages are gloriously  caramelised and sticky.  I cooked some couscous on the side (and you really don’t need instructions for that).  For the children I chopped the sausages and mixed into the chilli, and for us just piled the sausages on top.  Result, a happy, well fed family, with no more effort than occasional stove tending and the boiling of the kettle for the cous cous. Leaving me enough time in the evening to tend to my blog and engage in some twittering do some packing and paperwork in the study!

Birthday Party for a 4 year old boy. Part 2. The food

21 Jun

Food at a child’s party can be a social minefield these days. Everyone has their own ideals and standards about what is ‘appropriate’ fare for a child’s party, and I am no exception. (How much easier our parents had it, in the days when crisps, fizzy drinks and hydrogenated fats were all the rage!!)

Not everyone has the time, or the inclination to prepare the food themselves.  In the light of our current ‘how on earth are we going to pack up this house in 4 weeks status’ I was almost tempted to make a mad dash to M&S myself. However, there is something truly satisfying about putting something home-made and personal.  I find the trick is to keep it simple, and to try not to do too much. A little advance planning, and a shopping delivery, meant that the preparation took about the same amount of time as if I had ventured out to the supermarket to buy everything.

MENU

  • Sandwiches – Ham, Cream cheese, Cheese, Marmite (about 4 rounds of each type)
  • Cocktail Sausages
  • Sausage Rolls
  • Breadsticks
  • Cucumber
  • Grapes
  • Watermelon
  • Skips and Hula Hoops
  • Fairy Cakes
  • Vanilla Ice cream in cones with sprinkles or a flake
  • Fruit Juice drinks or mini- bottles of water

    cookie cutter sandwiches

You may wonder if it is possible to give a ‘recipe’ for sandwiches. Not really. But there are a couple of tips and tricks I have picked up along the way, that make life easier. The first is to get the butter out the night before you need it, so it is very soft and spreadable.  Also, the quality of the bread matters. I tend to buy a premium brand, medium sliced loaf. It’s not what we have usually but is perfect for these type of sandwiches.  And here is a tip I learned from Mary Berry. You can make the sandwiches up to 2 days in advance. I didn’t on this occasion but I have been known to make them the day before. To keep them fresh, cover the sandwiches in damp (not wet) kitchen towel, then double wrap in cling film. Keep them refrigerated. The damp kitchen towel and cling film will stop them drying out. I like to get the children involved with the cookie cutters (saves cutting the crusts off) so we usually offer a variety of shapes and sizes.

Stars and circles

Cocktail Sausages. On this occasion I bought them ready cooked. Don’t send me to the gallows just yet. I usually prefer to cook them myself as I find the pre-cooked ones a little dry, but on this occasion time was short, so needs must.

Jazzed up 'home assembled' sausage rolls

Sausage rolls. I do not make these from scratch. Its more of an assembly job. I bought some sausage meat, added chopped sage (from garden) and shallots (from freezer) then wrapped in ready-made puff pastry. Cook for about 20/25 minutes on 190 degrees. I have also been known to squeeze out the contents of sausages onto the pastry as the filling. Tastes much nicer than the shop version, and really not an awful lot of effort. My 2yo happily joined in with this little exercise.

Breadsticks. Remove from wrapper and place in beakers

Crinkle cut cucumber

Cucumber – Peeled and cut with a crinkle cutter

Grapes – An abundant supply. Washed and de-stalked

Watermelon – Chopped into small pieces. I bought a mini- watermelon which has hardly any seeds. Served in a large trifle dish. This was a big hit with the little ones.

Fairy Cakes – I used the Hummingbird Bakery Vanilla Cupcake recipe and placed Disney Cars rice paper cutouts on top. I also helpfully forgot to take a picture! If you are short of time, then leave the uniced cakes out on the table with the icing and some sprinkles, and the kids can create their own.

Vanilla Ice Cream.  I have been known to make my own!  On this occasion it was shop bought. I still like to check the ingredients as many use Invert Sugar Syrup and other unappealing ingredients. I opted for a supermarket own brand Organic Vanilla type, which had a fairly innocuous ingredients list, and served it in a cone, with my childhood favourite flake 99.

This amount of food was enough to feed about 12 children, and a few hungry parents, and the leftovers were polished off by myself and the OH for dinner. A complete carb overload, but totally satisfying!

Watermelon Heaven!

Chilli Non Carne

16 Jun

Chilli with cheese on the side

For the past few weeks, I have been wondering what to do, with the collection of ‘mixed bean’ tins that I discovered lurking out of sight on the top shelf of one of my numerous cupboards.  This week I decided it was time for action, and my desire for health and thrift meant this is a vegetarian recipe. This created a huge pot which will easily feed us 2 adults and the children for 2 meals, if not more.

This is more a suggestion and was heavily influenced by the content of my fridge. If there had been garlic to hand I would have added some. And if I was missing one of the other ingredients I would probably have added some sweetcorn.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tins cooked mixed beans
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 red onions chopped
  • 2 red peppers chopped
  • 1/2 head celery chopped
  • 1 aubergine chopped
  • 5 medium carrots chopped
  • 1 courgette chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne chilli powder
  • 1 dessertspoon chopped jalapenos (from the freezer
  • Salt

I did the preparation and initial cooking of this dish just after clearing up from breakfast. Chop all the vegetables roughly (approx 1cm pieces, but don’t worry, no-one is getting the tape measure out!)

Heat the olive oil in a stock pot. Fry the vegetables (reserving the tinned tomatoes and beans) for a couple of minutes, then put lid on and leave to steam/fry for about 10/15 minutes, until they have started to soften. (I had a shower while this was on. but remember to put the time on, as you don’t want it to catch and burn) Add tomatoes, beans and spices and cook on a low heat until the vegetables are tender but not mushy (20/30 minutes depending on their size). The additional time while this was cooking was employed getting the children dressed and getting bags packed for a mini- shopping expedition.

Ready to serve. Or to save for later

SERVING IDEAS

The joy of this meal is you can serve it in so many ways, Tonight we had it with brown basmati rice, yoghurt and grated gruyere.  Alternatively I would use couscous. Flour tortillas work well either gently warmed and filled at the table,  or by encasing the mixture in the tortilla, covering with cheese and baking in the over (15 mins, check it doesn’t burn).  I am considering experimenting and blitzing it to see how it works as a soup. Watch this space.

For the children, I mushed the vegetables a little with a fork, and mixed in some cream cheese to tone down the spice. Mixed with grated cheese and the rice. Although there was some initial reluctance to try it, once they had a little extra sprinkle of cheese, they both started murmuring appreciative noises, and save for a couple of mouthfuls, plates were cleared. Total 10 mins prep, and minimal supervision while the chilli and rice cooked. Job done!

Chilli my way. With rice, yoghurt and coriander

Self-cook chicken, with asparagus and roasted tomatoes

14 Jun

I love asparagus, and while it’s in season, I add some to my basket every time I shop. My asparagus surplus led to an ‘open door at fridge’ moment on Saturday morning, as I was gazing at my stockpile wondering what to do next..

We are mid-way through packing for a house move, so for the next few weeks, more than ever, speed of preparation is the over-riding priority of my cooking decisions. This is closely followed by my desire make the food as healthy as possible. I have a wedding to attend in 2 weeks time, and no funds to buy a new dress, so I need to pay my penance for the last few weeks of gluttony, and to exert just a modicum of self-control when it comes to meal time. To that end, the cake tin lies empty and abandoned at the rear of a dusty cupboard, and I seem to be eating my weight in fruit and vegetables on a daily basis (chocolate counts as a one of your five a day, doesn’t it?).

Back to the asparagus stockpile. If I had more time to spare I would have considered a risotto, but with a full schedule I had only 5 minutes to spare for the preparation. Luckily, the additional ingredients for this dish were all languishing in the fridge, teetering on the edge of their use by date, calling for a (fridge) search and rescue operation. I am pleased to report, that they were not only found and rescued, but revived with a little TLC and a 30 minute sauna in the oven!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 2 bunches of asparagus (1 would suffice)
  • 1/2 punnet cherry plum tomatoes
  • a few grinds of sea salt and pepper
  • a dessert spoon of shallots from the freezer
  • a dash of olive oil
  • a splash (maybe a glass) of white wine (or stock if you don’t have wine)
  • fresh rosemary (I am lucky to have some in the garden)

    Step 1 The Asparagus

To prepare the asparagus, bend the bottom half of the spear until it snaps. Discard the end, and keep the remainder. Chop the head off on the diagonal, then continue chopping the remaining spear on the diagonal. Lay the asparagus in the bottom of an oven proof dish.

Chop the tomatoes in half, lay them on top then sprinkle on the shallots. Season with salt and pepper and a few small drops of extra virgin olive oil if you have it.

Step 2. Add tomatoes, shallots and seasoning

Lay a couple of sprigs on top of the mixture. Add the wine. My top tip, whenever I have white wine left over (not that often!) I freeze it, to save opening a full bottle when just a little will do for a recipe.

Add the (frozen!!) wine

Place the chicken breasts on top and cover with tin foil.

Step 4. Adorn with the chicken breasts

Cook for approx 30 mins in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees.

Check that the chicken is cooked and the juices run clear. Then leave it to rest on the side for 5 minutes. Slice on the diagonal. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper, or as I did, with pesto on the chicken breast.

Serves 2 adults (and a couple of toddlers)

'Resting'. Almost ready!

Although I havent tried it, I suspect this would work even better with skin on chicken, and without the foil, which would allow the chicken and the asparagus to crisp up in the oven. One for another day perhaps?

Served with a drizzle of Pesto

Pink Soup

12 Jun

After my cake fest of the last couple of weeks, this week I have tried to reign in the cravings, and up the fruit and vegetable intake. I don’t ‘do’ diets. There is nothing like the lure of the forbidden to make me want something even more. I must be related to Eve!! Instead, I try to make choices that don’t feel like a sacrifice, and that sustain me without leading to hunger pangs.

One of the snippets of wisdom that i have found useful over the years, is that thirst is often mistaken for hunger.  However, I do not seem able to glug the ‘2 litres of water a day’ that seems to be the mantra of every health tipster.(Maybe if it was wine I would give it a try)  Instead, I look for alternative ways of upping the fluid intake to keep the hunger pangs and the cravings at bay.

One of my fast fix solutions to drop a few pounds quickly is to have soup for lunch. It’s quick to make. filling, and full of water.  This week I re-visted an old favourite, which is my twist on Borscht.  The preparation time for this dish is about 2 minutes, hardly a chore, even for the most committed sofa sloth.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 packet organic cooked beetroot (250g) roughly chopped
  • 250g approx plain yoghurt
  • Dessertspoon shallots (i use the pre-chopped frozen ones from the freezer)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • dollop of yoghurt and chives to serve

Mix ingredients then blitz in liquidizer or with a stick blender.

Spicy Beetroot Soup

The resulting soup has an almost smooth as velvet texture, and the spices gently compliment the earthy sweetness of the beets. The bonus is that it is virtually fat-free, without even giving the slightest impression of dietary restraint. I have successfully served this ‘pink soup’ to my little ones, (minus the cumin and cayenne). I don’t know if it is the colour or the sweetness of the beetroot, but they love it.

Garnish with a dollop of yoghurt and chives

The flavours of the spices intensify if you leave this in the fridge overnight and it can be served hot or cold. Take your pick…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 35 other followers