Monday, 30 April 2012

Spring Beef Casserole

spring beef casserole

It's done nothing but rain here lately. We had a beautiful March, and now we're having a very wet April. I have to admit, I kind of love it - not least because I get to wear my wellies often!

Last week seemed to just rain constantly. I didn't feel like going out, so I stayed cosy indoors catching up on some work and lots of snuggles with Izzy. I wanted to make something delicious and warming for dinner, but also something easy and using ingredients that I just had in, and that's how I came up with this recipe. You can substitue whatever veggies you have on hand.

Spring Beef Casserole


400g stewing steak
1 turnip
1 shallot
2 carrots
Half courgette
Handful sugar snap peas
3 garlic cloves (
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp mustard
100ml red wine
3 oxo or beef stock cubes
1 tsp Hendersons Relish or worcestershire sauce
Black pepper


Gently soften shallot and garlic in a little olive oil, taking care not to brown them, you want them just to be soft and translucent. Cut steak into bitesize pieces. Toss to coat in the plain flour. Cut all veggies into bitesize pieces. Add to a casserole or oven proof dish along with all other ingredients, add water to just cover all the ingredients and give it a good stir. Cover with casserole dish lid or tin foil. Add to a 180 degree oven for 3-4 hours, until meat is tender and sauce has thickened. Serve with mashed potatoes or fresh bread.

This really couldn't be simpler. I'm a big fan of dishes that you just combine all the ingredients, and leave them to cook on their own!

spring beef casserole

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Mini Apple Pies

Adam and I are quite good at not wasting food. We try not to throw much away. If something is on the brink of being past it's best, I try and use it in something. Meat gets made into a stew or curry or pasta sauce and frozen, old veg is hurriedly added to that night's dinner or juiced, bananas become banana bread and apples generally get thrown into a crumble.

Last night, we had two apples that were past their prime. No good for just biting into, but still good enough to bake with! I decided to depart with my usual norm of apple crumble, and make apple pie instead. I have to admit, I'm not brilliant with pastry though. Tastes good, but I always manage to break the crusts. So I decided to make mini apple pies, in the hopes that would be easier!


Makes six mini pies


130g self raising flour
50g icing sugar
70g butter
1 egg yolk


2 medium apples
1 tbsp brown sugar
Pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon


Prepare the pastry. Add the flour, butter and icing sugar to a food processor and pulse until combined and resembles breadcrumbs. Alternatively, using a knife cut the butter into the flour. Lightly beat the egg yolk, add to the crumbs and stir to combine. Shape into a ball, cover and put in the fridge to rest for about 30 minutes.

Core and peel the apples and add to a small saucepan with the sugar and nutmeg or cinnamon (I used nutmeg but either are good!). Add about a quarter cup of water and simmer over low heat, stirring often, until the apples have softened and the water has pretty much gone - you don't want the mixture to be too soggy. I like apples in baked goods to still have a bit of bite but if you prefer softer apples, double the amount of water and cook for longer.

Grease the pie dish, I used a Yorkshire pudding tin for mini apple pies, you could also use a bun/cupcake tin. Roll out the pastry to about half a centimetre thick. Using a pastry cutter or the top of a glass, cut out circles from the dough, you'll need two for each pie. Put the first circles in the bottom, spoon in the apple pie filling (I heaped mine a little, I like a lot of apple!). Prick holes into the pastry lids, then use them to cover the pies. Take a fork and press down the edges.

Bake at 170 for about 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them, you want the pastry to be golden brown but they can burn quickly!

And as if that wasn't enough, you could always add a little cream:

apple pie

Monday, 23 April 2012

Bye Bye Bertie

On Saturday, we heartbreakingly had to put our beautiful Boston Terrier to sleep. He had a fit, which caused massive brain damage. We're devastated. He was only about 18 months old.

I normally like to keep things positive on the blog but I had to post something in memory of Bert. This is the last video I took of him, a few days before. We loved him and will miss him so much.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Where did all the fruit and veg go?

There isn't a single fresh vegetable or piece of fruit left in my kitchen. Those carrots in my fridge that are so old they started growing roots and shoots? Gone. That apple that has been rolling about in Adams van for the past week that he eventually brought in, deeming it too bruised to eat? Gone. That lime in the fruit bowl that I don't even remember buying? Gone. Heck, not even the weeds in my garden are safe. Since I ran out of kale, I've been wandering outside and bringing back handfuls of dandelion.

The culprit of the vanishing produce:


A juicer! I've been wanting one for ages, and decided to finally take the plunge when I saw one on sale for £8.


Some juice combinations I've tried (and liked!) so far:


  • Kale, celery and orange
  • Kale or dandelion, apple, kiwi and lime
  • Orange, carrot and spinach
  • Spinach, apple, carrot and blackberry

    Do you juice? If so, what are your favourite combinations
  • Sunday, 1 April 2012

    Can you tell what it is yet?

    I happened across this when I came home from work today:

    chicken coop

    We're getting chickens! This is the beginning of our chicken coop, in case you couldn't tell.

    Can't wait to eat fresh, organic, free range eggs!


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