Quick and Easy Tasty Dinners

Easy dinners

1. Stir fry. The easiest has got to be a stir fry. for the one below I used a garlic and hoisin sauce from Aldi, a Chinese stir fry mix from Tesco, mushrooms and dried egg noodles. It’s super easy to boil the noodles and stir fry the vegetables.

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2. At home Indian. For this one I shopped at Asda. I bought a saag aloo side for me, a chicken tikka masala for rob and a pack of 8 mini vegetable samosas and onion Bhajis. Boiling rice and warming up naan breads was simple enough and the other bits were microwaveable

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3. Shepherds pie. To make this one easier I use frozen mashed potato. Frying the meat and your choice of vegetables and adding gravy is quick and this can be prepared in advance and warmed in the oven before serving. I usually top mine with grated cheese

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4. Of course there has to be easy to make and delicious puddings too. One of my favourite is these double chocolate cookies. These are good for little fingers too. Find the recipe – one of my cookie in a jar gift ideas – here.

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Last Minute Homemade Gifts

Last Minute Christmas Gifts

Run out of time to order presents? Only got evenings left when the shops you want aren’t open?

Home made gifts are brilliant! Here are a few ideas.

Cookie mix in a jar:
Put the following dry ingredients in a jar.
* 210g plain flour
* 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 100g caster sugar
* 340g milk or white chocolate chips
* 110g dark brown soft sugar

Add a ribbon and attach a card with the following instructions:
In a bowl mix 170g butter, 1 1/2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract together. Add the dry mixture. Put tablespoons of the mix onto baking trays. Bake in a preheated 190 C / Gas 5 oven for 8 – 10 minutes.

Shortbread biscuits
Preheat oven to 190 C or gas 5. Beat 125g butter and 55g of sugar together. Stir in 180g of plain flour.
Roll out the dough and use cookie cutters to make the biscuit shapes. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes and then bake for 15-20 minutes.
Wrap the cooled biscuits in brown paper and decorate with red ribbon.

Flowery Soaps
Line ice cube trays with cling film.
Melt as many bars of clear soap in a Pyrex bowl over a pan of hot water. Pour the melted soap into the ice cube trays. Decorate them with small flowers, bits of lavender and other fresh smelling herbs.
Set the soaps in the fridge or freezer. Once set, turn out of the ice cube trays and wrap them in tissue paper.

Have fun getting creative!

Salt dough and cookies

December the 2nd and it’s finally the weekend. Today has gone quickly and as I write this our tree is sparkling, illuminated by the fairy lights. Our living room and kitchen are open plan and as I have had the cooker on for most of the day it’s toasty warm.

To start the day off Amelia and I made salt dough decorations. I managed to make two prints of Amelia’s hands and used the rest to cut out stars for on the tree. (Its extremely easy to make: 1 cup salt, 1 cup water and 2 cups flour. Bake for 5 minutes at 180. Credit for the recipe and idea go to the wonderful mummy deer. Head on over to her blog here.) We haven’t finished decorating them yet but I started painting the hand prints.

The second baking activity of the day involved lots of chocolate chips. We made some wonderful soft chocolatey cookies. The recipe is pretty easy:
80g caster sugar
80g brown sugar
225g plain flour
200g choc chips (I used half white chocolate and half milk chocolate)
2tsp vanilla essence
Pinch of salt
150g butter
1 egg

Mix the sugars and butter together and then add the egg, vanilla essence, salt and flour. Add the choc chips and then spoon teaspoons onto baking trays (makes around 30)

They taste delicious warm and just as good once they’ve cooled down. We now have a tin full.