Pork, Chicken & Pear Wrap

Ingredients:

4 thin cut pork steaks, fat removed

2 chicken breasts

2 pears (peeled, cored and halved)

Slices of Red Leicester cheese

Method:

On a chopping board bash the living daylights out of the pork loin steaks until they are fairly thin and spread out, I have a wooden meat mallet that I use but a rolling pin or a small flat saucepan works equally well!dscf7791-2

Slice the chicken lengthways to produce four pieces.

Lay a piece of chicken on each of the four flattened pork loin steaks, top with half a pear and a slice of Red Leicester.

Wrap the pork around the filling, don’t worry if there are gaps, and place in a baking dish.

Cook in the oven for about 40 minutes at about 180oC until cooked through and serve.

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Upside-down Pear Cake

Remember I said I joined ‘The Orchard at Tesco’, their latest project is ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ and this is something I dreamt up using Tesco Perfectly Imperfect Pears.  It is such a quick and tasty cake to make and I served it for pudding with my version of a healthy Chantilly cream.

Ingredients:

2 large eggs (weighing approx 130g in the shells)

Self-raising flour (same amount as eggs weigh)

Margarine or butter (same amount as eggs weigh)

Sugar (roughly half the amount of what the eggs weigh or just a little more if you want extra sweetness)

1 heaped teaspoon of Tesco’s no added sugar Apricot Jam

4 Tesco Perfectly Imperfect Pears (peeled and core removed)

Teaspoon of Vanilla extract

Method:

Pre-heated oven to 170oC

Put the eggs, margarine, sugar and Vanilla extract into a food processor and blitz, add the flour and blitz again until everything is combined.

Line a baking tin, approx 18cm (8”) with baking parchment or a cake tin liner.

Spread the teaspoon of jam over the parchment, then slice the prepared pears and arrange in the bottom of the tin.

Dollop the mixture over to cover the pears and then bake in a pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes until the sponge is light brown in colour and springy to the touch.

Remove from oven but leave in the tin for a few minutes to cool slightly before findscf7796ishing cooling on a rack.

Once completely cool turn the cake over onto a plate and store in an airtight tin.

To make my Chantilly cream, dollop about 4 heaped tablespoons of Tesco Half-fat Crème Fraiche into a bowl; add about a teaspoon of icing sugar and a teaspoon of Vanilla extract.  Mix thoroughly and it’s ready to serve.

The Orchard at Tesco

This year I signed up to something called “The Orchard at Tesco” they simply want honest opinions about their products, whether it’s food or flowers, or something else.

To sign up follow this link https://orchard.tesco.com/, you’ll be required to answer a few questions, nothing too personal, and then from time to time they’ll email you with details of programmes they think you might be interested in.  Whether you take part is entirely up to you.

At the moment they are promoting ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ which is something I wholeheartedly support.  Rarely does any food product get put into the bin in my home; if it does then something must be really wrong with it! img_20161117_152807-1

Everything from leftover Sunday lunch to Chinese takeaways either gets frozen or turned into something else for dinner the next day.

There are so many people in the world that simply can’t get enough food to eat so when anyone wastes food I do get annoyed.

Rant over you’ll be pleased to hear!

The coupons I received for this particular programme enabled me to purchase two chicken breasts and a large bag of slightly wonky but perfectly edible pears.

In my next post I’ll show you what I made with them.

Passion Fruit and Apricot Cake – No Added Sugar

My husband, as you may have guessed is a bit of a cake-aholic! Unfortunately he has type II diabetes (very mild and I keep it under control by diet), therefore, I’m continually having to make cakes without sugar and the best alternative is fruit.

I know specialists say dried fruit is full of sugar but at least it’s naturally derived.

A while ago I published my recipe for a boiled fruit cake using mango pulp as the base and it worked really well and is deliciously moist (Mango Fruit Cake – No Added Sugar).

I didn’t have any mango pulp in the cupboard so what to use instead? In the fridge I had a carton on natural passion fruit juice that I’d bought for my daughter to try but she wasn’t keen on it so continuing on my no-waste theme I thought I’d use it to make a cake for Geoff.

The recipe is more or less the same as before but I used dried apricots as the main fruit as I thought they’d go well with passion fruit and they do, the cake is lovely and I honestly could eat loads of it but I daren’t!

Ingredients:
340g Natural Passion Fruit juice
115g Butter or Margarine
250g Dried Apricots
150g Sultanas
2 heaped teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
250g Self-Raising Flour
2 Eggs

Method:
Preheat oven to 170oC.

Put all the ingredients except the flour and eggs into a saucepan, bring to the boil and cook for about 3 minutes. The fruit needs to soak up some of the juice and become plump and re-hydrated.DSCF6993

Remove from the heat and allow to cool, tip in the flour and beaten eggs and mix thoroughly until everything is combined.

Grease and line a 20cm cake tin, pour mixture in and bake in oven for about 1- 1½ hr until a skewer inserted in middle comes out clean.

A Quick and Easy Low-Sugar Cake

This is such an easy cake to make, very quick and with few ingredients and perfect for anyone trying to cut down on sugar.

All you’ll need is a mixing bowl, electric hand whisk (or some elbow grease and a wooden spoon), scales and a baking tin approximately 7” diameter.

Ingredients:
2 large eggs
100g margarine or butter
25g sugar
140g self raising flour
2 tablespoons of home-made – see my recipe (or shop bought mincemeat)
Handful of extra raisins

Method:
Put everything, except the mincemeat and raisins, into the bowl and mix thoroughly until all the ingredients are combined.

Add mincemeat and raisins and give another good mix.

Line your cake tin with baking parchment, greaseproof paper or a baking pan liner and fill with the cake mixture.

Pre-heat the oven to 170oC, 325oF or Gas Mark 3-4.

Bake for about 35 – 40 mins.

The cake is cooked when a skewer inserted into the middle of a cake comes out clean.

Delicious served warm straight from the oven with cream or cold with a nice hot cup of tea. However you choose to eat it I hope you enjoy.

Sweet Christmas Mincemeat without added sugar

My trusty old slow cooker came in handy for this recipe; I mixed and cooked everything in the one dish so need to use lots of mixing bowls.

This is really easy to make and was enough to fill two small Kilner jars (mine are 0.35L) but jam jars are just as good. Just make sure that whatever you use the jars and lids are sterilised.

Into the slow cooker weigh the following Ingredients:
150g peeled, cored and chopped apples
75g vegetable suet
350g mixed dried fruit (I used raisins, sultanas, cranberries and blueberries)
20g chopped almonds
Zest and juice of 2 oranges and 1 lemon
1 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg

Give everything a good mix and switch the slow cooker onto low heat, leave it for about 2 or 3hours stirring from time to time. The juices will plump up the dried fruit and make them luscious again.DSCF6982

After 2 to 3 hours switch off the slow cooker, at this point if you want to add a glug of brandy or dark rum feel free, this is a Christmas treat after all.

Put into jars and then use whenever you want.

Unlike shop bought mincemeat this is not sickly sweet, but obviously if you do have diabetes still use carefully as the dried fruit has lots of natural sugar in it.

It’s time for the C-word (or the X-word depending on how you spell Christmas!) Christmas Pudding

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the pudding is so delightful, so if you’ve no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let snow…. or words something like that.

Christmas pudding is like Marmite; you either love it or hate it. Well I love both!

My Nan

Lily The Christmas Pudding Queen

My Nan always made our Christmas puddings; she’d wrap silver sixpenny coins in tinfoil and dot them in the mixture, the lucky person who found the sixpence would be guaranteed good luck all year (or at the worst a broken tooth!).

Another ritual in our family was for everyone to stir the pudding and make a wish and hopefully it would come true.

The puddings were always made at the beginning of November so the flavours could develop and the pudding would taste as rich as it could on Christmas Day.

I have always eaten Christmas pudding, but as a child I soon discovered that I hated the taste of mixed dried peel, so my lovely Nan, accommodating as ever, made our puddings without the dreaded peel.

I took over making the puddings when my Nan was no longer able and continue with the ritual of stirring and making wishes, although I no longer put coins in the pud as only my husband, mum and myself enjoy eating Christmas pudding these days.

Sadly the recipe that my Nan used was lost long ago but I’ve adapted an old Delia Smith recipe (it’s from her book Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course published 1983) and it tastes just as good. I no longer add sugar because of my husband’s diabetes but to be perfectly honest with all the dried fruit, sugar really isn’t necessary.

For those making Christmas pudding for the first time, it can seem a little daunting with an ingredient list almost as long as your arm! But please don’t be put off, it really is simple to make and if you have a slow-cooker (Crock-Pot) steaming the pudding is an absolute doddle.

My recipe makes 2 and bit 1.3 pint puddings (the extra bit can be steamed and eaten as an early treat – well you have to check it tastes okay!!).

What you’ll need:
A large mixing bowl
A sturdy wooden spoon (or metal)
Scales
2 x 1.3 pint basins
Baking parchment – cut to fit the top of the basins
Tin foil – to cover baking parchment over the basins
A strong arm!

Ingredients:
113g shredded vegetable suet
1 tsp mixed spice
¼ tspn cinnamon
¼ tspn nutmeg
60g self-raising flour
113g breadcrumbs (easily whizzed up in a food processor)
530g mixed dried fruit (I used sultanas, raisins, currants, and cranberries)
25g chopped almonds
Zest and juice from 1 orange and 1 lemon
1 large apple, peeled, cored and grated
2 medium sized carrots, peeled and grated
2 large eggs – whisked
150ml Guinness (or any stout will do)
A good slug of brandy or dark rum

Method:
Put all the ingredients into the bowl in the order I’ve listed them and mix well until everything is combined – a bit of muscle is required but this is where you get other family members to help with the stirring by asking them to make a wish as they stir!

Lots of people say you should put them into the bowl bit by bit and mix thoroughly as you go along, but I promise you my version works just as well.

Once everything is combined cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave it overnight – this way the flavours develop and the booze soaks into the fruit. Incidentally if you don’t drink alcohol I would imagine that fruit juice would work just as well, perhaps a mixture of apple and orange would be good.

Next day, remove the cloth and give another good stir – the mixture shouldn’t be too dry or too wet. If it plops off the spoon with a tap then the consistency should be okay.

Grease the two pudding basins and fill to the top with the mixture, you only need to leave a small gap below the rim.

Cover with your baking parchment and cover this with tin foil, making sure you scrunch the foil firmly around the outside of the basin.

Place one of the prepared pudding basins into a slow cooker and top up with water; it should be about halfway up the basin – no more.

Cover with a lid and set the temperature to low and leave to cook all day – about 8 hours should be fine. In the evening, remove the first pudding and simply replace it with the next and leave that to cook overnight.

When cooled down I like to re-cover the puddings with baking parchment and tin foil, that way I can check the puddings have cooDSCF6979ked through (they should be firm to the touch) and I know they are dry for storage, I then pop them into a cool dark cupboard until Christmas Day.

I hope you try the recipe and I’d love to hear any feedback you might have.