27 March 2013

Working Lunch Wednesday - Hand Pies

Today has been one of those days where I have been running around like an absolute loony.  The car has been in for a service, it was parents evening for the youngest and the oldest has 4 dance classes.  Still for only the second time this year, the sun was out, and although it was freezing, I managed to get out for an ickle run with the dog.

As I have been on the go all day, I needed something that would be filling enough to fuel all my galavanting, but portable enough to just eat on the fly without needing a plate or anything.

These hand pies are from foodfanatic.com and although they seem to use a lot of ingredients, they were really easy to make.  I threw all the filling ingredients into the slow cooker this morning and the pies were ready to assemble after I got home from work at lunchtime.  The measurements do make LOADS of filling, so make sure you have got lots of pastry - I now have loads in the freezer for the future - which makes me feel all efficient and warm inside :)

Beef and Vegetable Hand Pies Recipe

These Beef and Vegetable Hand Pies make for a hearty snack and/or appetizer any time of the year, but especially on St. Patrick's Day!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • clove garlic, minced
  • 1 large red onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup parsnips, diced
  • 1 cup russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups green cabbage
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup guinness beer
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 4 pie crusts


In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute or until just fragrant. Add onion, carrot, and celery; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables start to become soft. Add parsnip, potato and cabbage and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until potatoes and cabbage begin to brown. Add ground sirloin and stir, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until it is evenly browned; about 5 more minutes.
To the pan, add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme. Cook for 2 minutes or until tomato paste begins to take on a golden hue. Pour in Guinness and beef broth; cover and allow mixture to simmer for 15 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and use a potato masher to mash the mixture slightly. Allow the beef mixture to cool slightly while you prepare the crust.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make sure oven racks are positioned in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the first pie crust until you have about a 14 inch circle. Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut rounds out of the dough, re-rolling the dough as needed. You should be able to get about 12-15 rounds out of each pie crust. Repeat with remaining pie crusts. Keep small rounds of dough under a slightly damp kitchen towel until ready to use.
Assemble the Pies:
Place a heaping tablespoon (close to two tablespoons) of beef mixture in the center of one dough round. Using a wet finger, lightly wet the edges of the dough. Place a second dough round on top of the mixture and gently press dough around and down to meet the bottom crust. Use your fingers or a fork to crimp the edges of the two dough rounds together, sealing in the beef filling. Repeat with remaining dough rounds and beef filling. Place assembled pies on prepared baking sheets. Using the sharp tip of a pairing knife, make three small slits or vents in the top of each pie.
Bake pies for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown, rotating sheets half way through baking time.


  • Get all of the dough rolled and cut into rounds and keep it pliable under a damp kitchen towel. This allows you to work in an assembly line fashion and get all of the pies made quickly.
  • These pies freeze beautifully. If planning to freeze the pies, complete pies all the way through the assembly, but do not bake. Place unbaked pies on a baking sheet, making sure they are not touching one another, and freeze until firm about 1-2 hours. Remove pies from the freezer and wrap individually in aluminum foil. Place foil wrapped pies in freezer bags and freeze up to 2 months. To bake from frozen, simply place frozen pies on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 27-30 minutes.
  • Extra beef and vegetable filling makes a perfect baked potato topping for a quick and easy meal.

Rate This Recipe!

Rating: 3.5 / 5.0 (6 Votes)

26 March 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - Easter is coming...

Pinterest is alive with really great easter cooking and craft activities so I thought I would share some with you.  

1.How delicious do these easter cupcakes look?
2. I really wish that I could learn how to knit one of these easter bunnies.
3. I love the milk bottle ears on these easter bunny cake pops.
4. The Italians seem to do everything right - especially this Italian Easter Pie.
5. These easter images are to die for, right?
6. Take the hassle out of planning and use the easter menu on this site.
7. I would love to have these flowers on my easter table.
8. The children need to eat something other than chocolate this weekend.
9. I have never decorated an easter egg in my life, but this site make me want to start right now.
10. I would definitely want to put my eggs in this basket.

25 March 2013

Monday Munch & Muse - Corn-Dog Muffins

The weather here in England is still RUBBISH.  It is so cold here that we can't leave the house without wearing layers and layers of clothes.  My son has been trying to fish, but it is so cold that we can't spend too much time outside.  

Being stuck indoors is starting to take its toll and we have all been ill over the past week - I am sure that this is a result of the general lack of fresh air.

Today Ollie was off school with stomach pains and I am still recovering from a mystery virus, so I decided that I would make him a snack that would be comforting but gentle on his tummy, as well as being not too taxing for me and my fuzzy head.

I have had these muffins on my pinterest board for ages now and I finally decided to make them.  I am not a hot-dog fan at all, (in fact I am completely freaked out by what might be in them), but the kids love them.  

They were super easy to pull together and only used a few ingredients.

I was able to use the lovely new measuring cups that I got for mother's day.  They are great, especially as so many recipes measure in cups rather than grammes (us englishies don't understand how much a cup is).

And they looked really funny as you put the in the oven with their little hot-dog pieces sticking up through the batter.

But once they were cooked they were absolutely delicious. ( I didn't eat the hot-dog bit though ).

I pinned my recipe from iowagirleats.com  - so thank you.

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

Makes 48 mini muffins
Corn bread recipe adapted from AllRecipes.com
1/2 cup melted butter (or 1/4 cup butter + 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8-10 all-beef hot dogs, cut into 1″ bites
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine butter and sugar in a bowl, and whisk to combine. Add eggs and whisk to incorporate. Add buttermilk and whisk to incorporate.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine baking soda, cornmeal, flour, and salt, and stir to combine. Whisk into wet ingredients in two batches.
  3. Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray, and spoon 1 Tablespoon of batter into each mini muffin cup. Place one hot dog bite into the middle of each cup.
  4. Bake for 8-12 minutes (oven temperatures vary), or until cornbread is golden brown. Cool in mini muffin tin for 5 minutes before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator, and re-heat for 20-30 seconds before serving.
1 March 2013

Lamb, Prune and Almond Tagine

For Christmas my wonderful mummy bought me the Good Housekeeping Slow Cook book.  I love to cook from recipes and will often get up super early to prep ingredients or load the slow cooker.
I try and get my children to try new flavours and textures as often as possible as I want them to embrace new and interesting foods rather than be terrified of them.  When I saw this recipe I nearly skipped straight past it – the thought of either me or the boys eating prunes filled me with dread.  Also, I figured that tagines needs to be cooked in those weird triangular pans which people spend a fortune on and then leave in the back of the cupboard with the breadmaker and juicer.  However knowing that this blog is about healthy easy cooking from fresh ingredients, I decided to give it a go – on your behalf
This recipe for lamb, prune and almond tagine was not only delicious but also really warming on such a wintry grey english day.  The oldest loved it and even ate the prunes (don’t tell him).  My youngest was not so keen, but I think that had more to do with the couscous than the lamb – he has never really liked it.

Lamb, Prune and Almond Tagine

2tsp coriander seeds (I only had the ground stuff)
2tsp cumin seeds
2tsp chilli powder (I used chilli sauce as I had run out of chilli powder)
1tbsp paprika
1tbsp ground turmeric
5 garlic cloves, chopped
6tbsp olive oil
1.4kg lamb leg steaks
75g butter
2 large onions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
900ml beef stock
300g prunes (I used canned prunes and then found the ready-to-eat pack in the cupboard )
4 cinnamon sticks (I only had 2 left)
4 bay leaves
50g ground almonds
12 shallots
1tbsp honey
Toasted almonds and flat leaf parsley to garnish
Couscous to serve

  • Using a pestle and mortar combine the coriander, cumin, chilli, paprika, turmeric, garlic and 4tbsp oil.  Coat the lamb with the paste and marinate for 5 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 170®c.  Melt 25g butter in a large flameproof casserole.  Add the onions and carrot and cook until soft.  Remove and put to one side.  Fry the lamb in the remaining butter.  Add a little of the stock and bring to the boil, scraping the sediment from the bottom of the pan.  Put the onions and carrot back in the casserole and add 100g prunes.  Add the remaining stock with the cinnamon, bay leaves and ground almonds.  Season, cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours or until the meat is really tender.
  • Meanwhile, fry the shallots in the remaining oil and the honey until golden brown.  Add to the casserole 30-40 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
  • Take the lamb out of the sauce and put to one side.  Put  the casserole over the heat, bring to the boil and reduce to t a thick consistency. Put the lamb back in the casserole, add the remaining prunes and bubble for 3-4 minutes. Garnish with the almonds and parsley. Serve hot with couscous.

ps cooking this many onions will make you cry!

Pinterest picks

I LOVE Pinterest and have squillions of pins and boards.  I thought I would start a new Friday fave activity and share with you some of my favourite pins from the past week:

My cookery board is filled with endless mouthwatering opportunities but this Mushroom, onion and garlic cream sauce for pasta from Sweet Paul looks to die for.

These chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes would certainly hit the spot. Smells like home is my kind of blog :)

I actually made this french toast bake this week.  Really delicious way to cope with a wednesday.  Thank you Rach's blog

This healthy chicken curry couscous would make a great lunchbox filler for me and the children this week.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares

So, I have decided to make things really hard for myself.  In reaction to the news that all sorts of rubbish is in our supermarket foods, I am trying to completely avoid anything pre-packaged.  Now I know that this will not be completely manageable, but surely I can try?  I figured that I would start with our everyday food.  I am not really a ready-meal sort of girl, so the main dinners wont be too hard, but it is all the other snacks and stuff that need to change.
I make a packed lunch for my boys every day, and whilst I think lots about the sandwich filling, I have not really thought about the other bits.  Usually I throw in some fruit, yoghurt and either crisps or a chocolate/biscuit bar - not great I know, but hey I am a real woman!  Avoiding the ready made snack is my first big challenge.  I want something easy to make, tasty and fun for the kids and can be transported in a lunch box - what to make?

Now I have LOTS of recipe books so I started flicking through Tana Ramsay's Family Kitchen and stumbled across her recipe for chocolate peanut butter squares.  Perfect...

Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares

150g milk chocolate
2 giant tablespoons peanut butter (more if your LOVE it)
3 cups rice crispies

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.
Stir in the peanut butter (this will be pretty stiff to stir)
Add the rice crispies making sure that all of them are covered by the chocolatey, peanut butter yummy goo.

Tip the mixture into a shallow square dish and press down hard.
Pop into the fridge for 2 hours to set and keep telling your children to stop checking to see if they are ready and no they cant put their finger in it yet.
When set, cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week (yeh, right they will last this long!)

A lovely healthy (ish) lunchbox snack.  Or you can eat it at the dinner table with flowers in a vase to make you feel like a wonder woman.


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