Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Proper English Cottage Pie

So, I know I once posted a recipe and called it "British," which I suppose it is since it is a recipe from a BRITISH can. However, I would never call that a "proper" British pie (though I did like it). THIS recipe however actually TASTED British to me and it's good! I even got both of my little boys to eat it. My 15 month old ate it without a problem, but it took a lot more coaxing for my 3 year old. But he did eventually eat it ALL up! As an aside, when I lived in America, I often heard dishes like this called "shepherds pie." Here in the UK, I've learned that a shepherds pie has minced lamb. If you use minced (ground) beef, it's cottage pie. Just a little random fact for you! Enjoy!

Original recipe, here.

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (the reviews said the original 1/2 a tsp was a bit much, so I did a little less and liked the flavour)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning 
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth (I did closer to 2 cups based on the size of my bouillon cube over here, since you let the water boil off, it doesn't seem to matter too much)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (I used ketchup because I didn't have tomato paste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup milk (you may want to try a little less depending on the consistency you want)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 pound shredded Cheddar cheese 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C or gas mark 6). 
  2. To Make Meat Filling: Place a large skillet over medium heat. Crumble in ground beef and sauté 1 minute. Add onion and carrot, then continue to sauté until meat is no longer pink and onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Mix in flour, cinnamon, mixed herbs, and parsley. 
  3. In a small bowl, combine beef broth and tomato paste. Mix together, then add to beef mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Lower heat and simmer mixture for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until almost all of liquid has been absorbed. Spoon mixture into a 9 inch pie plate or similar sized pyrex.
  4. To Make Potato Topping: Place diced potatoes in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and place over high heat. Allow to come to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Drain.
    Mash potatoes until smooth, then add butter or margarine, followed by milk. Whip until fluffy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread potatoes over beef filling. Sprinkle with grated Cheddar cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, until top is browned and cheese is bubbly.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chicken Continental

Another recipe without a picture, but it's still a keeper! Tonight I was feeling way too tired to cook and I needed something fast. Some people have elaborate Sunday meals, but Sunday's tend to wipe me out and since I do a lot of intense cooking during the week, Sunday tends to be a "lazier" day. Well, tonight I was looking for something quick to cook based on the ingredients I had on hand in my bare cupboards and found this. Jeff pointed out that it tastes A LOT like rice-a-roni and I'd have to agree with him, BUT it's made from scratch so it's a lot healthier. (Really, I don't cook from a box...ever, unless you count brownies). Plus, it's easy and my boys LOVED it, which is a big plus! I modified the recipe slightly based on other reviews, but it was great! I just served it with some cooked carrots and fruit (I use fruit to bribe my 3 year old to eat, though he didn't need it for this meal!).

Original recipe, here.

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (I cubed them first)
  • 2 Tb butter
  • 1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch ground break pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups rice
  1. In a large skillet, brown the chicken in the butter. Stir in the soup, 1 1/2 cups of water, parsley, garlic, celery, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  2. Add remaining 1 cup of water and stir in uncooked rice.  Simmer (covered) for an additional 10 minutes, or until liquid has been absorbed.
    Mmmm...I love quick, easy meals that my boys will eat! I make really involved meals way TOO often. Like the lasagna the other day that took THREE intensive hours to make and then my toddler refused to eat!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Creamy Jalapeno Dressing

I've REALLY been slacking at posting on here, even though we've made loads of new recipes. Jeff reminded me the other day that I really need to post this dressing because we LOVED it and want to have an easy place to find it when we want it again. So, although I don't have a picture, here goes:

Original recipe, here. When we lived in Austin, this was our CSA farm, so we still get emails and love to check out the recipes. This recipe was originally meant to go with pulled pork tostadas also from that link (which we liked, but not really a killer recipe in my mind, but we LOVED the dressing and it works well with any TexMex type meal.)


¾ cup ranch dressing
2-3 tablespoons pickled jalapenos, chopped, with juice
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Pinch garlic powder
Kosher salt and black pepper


Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend well (we sadly don't have a food processor or blender in this country, but basically just chop everything up and mix it together). Allow to sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Super easy. And super delish! Like I said above, it goes well with any TexMex dishes!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

General Tsao's Chicken

My husband has been making this dish for several years now. I refuse to make it because it's less-than-healthy AND time consuming (and besides, he'll cook it, so why should I?! :)  However, I will admit this is an excellent recipe and definitely a keeper! For variety, you can even make the fried chicken pieces using this recipe and then use a different sauce.

Original recipe, here.

  • 4 cups vegetable oil for fying
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 pinch pepper (the recipe calls for white pepper, but we've never had any, so we just use black)
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 Tb vegetable oil
  • 3 Tb chopped green onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 dried, whole red chilies
  • 1 strip orange zest
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 Tb chicken broth
  • 1 Tb rice vinegar
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 2 Tb sesame oil
  • 2 Tb peanut oil
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 c water
  1. Heat 4 cups vegetable oil in a large saucepan on high heat. 
  2. Beat the egg in a mixing bowl. Add the chicken cubes; sprinkle with salt, 1 tsp sugar, and pepper; mix well. Mix in 1 cup of cornstarch a little bit at a time until the chicken cubes are well coated.
  3. In batches, carefully drop the chicken cubes into the hot oil one by one, cooking until they turn golden brown and begin to float, about 3 minutes. Remove the chicken and allow to cool as you fry the next batch. Once all of the chicken has been fried, re-fry the chicken, starting with the batch that was cooked first. Cook until the chicken turns deep golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. Heat 2 Tb vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Stir in the green onion, garlic, whole chilies, and orange zest. Cook and stir a minute or two until the garlic has turned golden and the chilies brighten. Add 1/2 cup of sugar, the ginger, chicken broth, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and peanut oil; bring to a biol and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Dissolve 2 tsp of cornstarch into the water, and stir into the boiling sauce. Return to a boil and cook until the sauce thickens and is no longer cloudy from the cornstarch, about 1 minute. Stir the chicken into the boiling sauce. Reduce heat to low and cook for a few minutes until the chicken absorbs some of the sauce.

Turtle Bread

A few months ago I was making one of my favourite vegetarian dishes, ratatouille, and wanted to add a bit more to our meal. I thought bread would add a nice touch, but was short on time. Thanks to my favourite recipe website, allrecipes.com, I was able to find this quick, easy, and tasty recipe that also happens to be kid friendly. Although I will admit that the first time I made it, my son refused to eat it and was appalled that we were eating the turtle's body parts. Also, the original recipe suggests putting raisins for eyes. I tried this the first time I made it, but they fell off. My son got really upset because he thought they were chocolate and he wanted to eat them. Needless to say, now I make it without eyes! Still, I would recommend this to anyone! Quick, easy, and fun! Although it doesn't have to be shaped like a turtle... :)

Prep Time: 40 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Ready In: 1 hour 30 min
Original post, here

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package instant yeast
  • 1 Tb white sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 F - but I always just guesstimate)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. In a small mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Add the butter and stir until melted; let cool until lukewarm.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the cooled milk, butter, egg, 2 cups flour, and salt; beat well to combine. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 8 minutes. Cover dough and let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Divide dough into seven pieces. One round 2 inches in diameter, five rounds 1 inch in diameter and the remainder in one large round. 
  5. Place the large round on a lightly greased cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Shape four of the 1 inch rounds into 'feet' and one into a 'tail' for the turtle. Shape the two inch round into a 'head' for the turtle Attach each piece by flattening the end which attaches to the body, wetting it slightly with water and pinching it under the turtle's 'body'. 
  6. Cover the turtle with as damp cloth and let rise for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). 
  7. With a sharp knife, make crisscross cuts in the turtle's body to make the 'shell'. Finally, make a cut for the turtle's mouth. Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Rhubarb Bread

I haven't posted in a while, but that doesn't mean we haven't been busy trying new recipes and re-making old favourites! (Pardon my British spelling. I have no idea how to spell anymore!)

Jeff is definitely the baker in our house, so this is actually a recipe he found and has been making quite regularly. This bread is absolutely moist and delicious. Plus, as it uses rhubarb, I can easily rationalize that it's ok to eat half of a loaf in one sitting. I would definitely recommend it to anyone!

Original recipe, here.

Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 1 hour
Ready In: 1 hour 20 min 

  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk (whenever I cook with "buttermilk," I use 1 Tb lemon juice mixed with just under 1 cup of regular milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb (we've always used fresh, but you can use frozen as well)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tb cold butter

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar and oil. Add egg, mix well. Beat in buttermilk and vanilla. Add salt. Separately mix baking soda with a little bit of a water to make a paste. Then add baking soda paste, plus 1/2 cup of flour into batter and beat well at a high speed. Next, add remaining flour and mix well. Fold in rhubarb and nuts. Pour into two greased and floured 8in x 4in x 2 in loaf pans.
  3. For topping, combine sugar, cinnamon, and butter in a bowl until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.
  4. Bake for 60 - 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing pans to wire racks.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Creamy Artichoke Pasta in Saffron Sauce

This is really, REALLY good pasta. I apologize that the picture in no way does it justice.  When I was in Germany at the end of last year, my sister (who is a brilliant cook) made this for me and I had to pinch the recipe off of her.  I made it on my own (with a few modifications) when I returned home and it was still delicious!  Even my 2 year old loves it, which is really saying something!

  • 1 lb pasta (my sister used linguine, I used spaghetti since that is what I had)
  • 2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 big pinch Saffron (I would say this is an essential ingredient - it's fairly pricey, but you don't need a lot and it's definitely worth it)
  • salt & black pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup white wine (I don't have white wine hanging around my house, so I substituted 1/4 c of white wine vinegar and it worked nicely)
  • 1 1/4 cup vegetable stock (I used chicken stock instead since that is what I had available)
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 14 oz jar of artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup parsley, fresh (I didn't have fresh parsley, so I just substituted some other dry Italian seasonings)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Boil Pasta
  2. Meanwhile heat oil in a large skillet and add garlic, saffron, onion, slat, and pepper.  Cook until tender.  Add wine (or wine vinegar) and cook 3 minutes, until most has evaporated.  Add vegetable stock and cream.  Bring to a simmer for approximately 4 minutes.
  3. Add artichokes and heat through.
  4. Add parsley and pasta and turn off heat.  Add cheese and salt and pepper to taste.