Homemade Christmas

This year, partly for environmental reasons, but also mainly because of my reduced salary while on maternity leave, I am trying to do a mostly homemade Christmas (with a few small exceptions).

In order to do a good homemade Christmas you need to plan ahead and not leave it to the last minute – there’s never any time in December! But also I’ve got more time on my hands than I used to at the moment so with that in mind I have been busy making all sorts of things!

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More crafty things

You may have noticed my blog has become utterly dominated with adoption stuff, because, you know, becoming a mum is the single biggest thing to ever happen to me. It’s fairly monotonous and dull, which is not unlike my life at the moment – very little else going on in my life so there’s less to write about.
However in my boredom I have been missing my pottery classes and so have set about doing some more knitting and sewing and crafting in the evenings to keep myself busy and less bored.

So to break up the monotony of talking about adoption and being a mum here are some of my recent crafty projects instead!

Pork Stroganoff

Felt like trying something new, and a friend had recently been talking about a mushroom stroganoff, so I had a little browse for recipes and decided to try this one out.


Very simple, quick and easy, and utterly scrumptious. I prefer it with rice instead of mashed potato, and my favourite is a mixture of brown rice and wild rice, which goes really well with this.

Funnily enough I hardly ever cook with pork, (aside from bacon or sausages) as I have memories from school of eating incredibly tough and chewy overcooked pork stir-fries and stews, so never really loved it that much. However the nice thing about this recipe is that it’s quick, but cooking the pork first allows it to rest and tenderise before eating it – it was really tender and juicy! Continue reading

Cheese, Wine, and some delicious new recipes

This year a few things have happened to me in relation to food, resulting in some new experiments in the kitchen.

The first thing is that my palate appears to have suddenly matured, and I discovered that after 35 years of hating blue cheese, suddenly my tastebuds think it’s pretty much the best thing ever. Weird, but also delicious.

Secondly, my appreciation for red wine has suddenly soared, leaving me keen to try and taste lots of new and different red wines, in order to learn what I like (previously my only knowledge on the subject was that I liked Rioja, and all other red wines were a bit “meh”, But this is no longer the case! I also now have a fabulous book on wines which is helping me to learn and navigate the differences.

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Thai lime and coconut chicken

This is a dish that my sister made for me recently, which was pretty much one of the best things I’ve ever had in my mouth. Apparently it’s an old Delia Smith recipe, and I have used my sister’s variation on this, rather than the original, which has more coconut milk and the addition of peanuts, which only makes it more delicious.

It’s very quick and easy to make, however you’ll need to prep the chicken the night before for the best effect. Continue reading

Toblerone Cheesecake

Ok, so this one is NOT for those of you on a diet.

It is utterly delicious and it is so full of naughty things it’s not worth counting the calories.

The recipe comes from BBC GoodFood, although I first discovered it at a friend’s BBQ, and it was just unbelievably good. I have experimented with this recipe, and made it both in individual ramekins as well as one large one.  Continue reading

Kao Soi

Another new favourite from my travels – this one is a sort of hot and sour chicken noodle soup. It’s yellow – presumably heavy on the turmeric and very delicious!

The key ingredient I use is a cheater’s pre-mixed spice packet to make the sauce, although I’m sure google would probably be able to tell you what combination of spices would do…

The traditional version has chicken, noodles, soup, and often some fresh greens on top and crispy noodles. However I like to add all sorts of veggies so this is my somewhat altered version!

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Creamy chicken, leek and ham pie

Ok, this is a new recipe I tried from my Jamie Oliver app on my phone, so absolutely no credit due to me, and all of the credit goes to Jamie. (Get the app, it’s amazing). I made a few additions/substitutions here or there, but not many.

It was delicious and I will definitely make it again – next time I may even add pastry to the bottom too, who knows? Or possibly I might try it with shortcrust pastry instead….

Sadly I got too excited about eating it once it comes out of the oven and I therefore don’t have any pictures of it with the puff pastry top on!

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Time for another recipe, and this time it’s a craving for one of my favourite Korean dishes, Bibimbap that had me reminiscing about my time in South Korea. Even though I left South Korea over 10 years ago, I still get cravings for some of my favourite dishes! I can’t make Sam-gyap-Sal (BBQ pork belly) very easily at home, but I frequently make both Bibimbap and Dok-boggi (another comfort food favourite of mine!) at home. A trip to your local Chinese supermarket will help you to find the hot pepper paste required, and many other delicious things as well no doubt!

Bibimbap literally means “mixed-up rice” and is very easy to make, very delicious and super filling. One of my favourite things about Bibimbap is that it is always presented looking beautifully arranged, but in order to eat it, you have to immediately mix it all up into a tasty and delicious mess!

There’s a good recipe here on the Guardian website, and it’s a great way to use up leftovers. I tend to make mine with hot rice and a hot cooked egg, but cold/raw vegetables, almost like a salad with hot rice, however you can mix it up any way you like, and can make the whole thing hot or cold depending on your mood. I’ve listed my standard version that I tend to make at home below, but I do encourage you to try it lots of different ways, with different veg, hot and cold, and play around with it until you find something you love! Continue reading

Smoked Mackerel Pate

On a recent weekend to visit my mum, I was able to steal her amazing recipe for Smoked Mackerel Pate. Honestly it’s so delicious, and so stupidly easy to make, it’s ri-donk-culous.

Here it is, about to make it to the big time!

You’ll need:

  • 1 packet of smoked mackerel (we like the type with peppercorns, but it doesn’t matter much). Make sure you remove the skin from the fillets!
  • 1 regular tub of Philadelphia cream cheese (or equivalent) – you can also use the light version if you want it to be lower fat.
  • 1-2 fresh lemons
  • 2 teaspoons of creamy horseradish
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • A food processor

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