Date and Banana Oaty Bars

Date and Banana Oaty Bars

These date and banana oaty bars are perfect if you’re looking for healthy homemade recipes for after school snacks.  With no added sugar and just naturally sweetened by the dates and banana they are a tasty alternative to traditional sugar-laden flapjacks.

Date and Banana Oaty Bars

As I write this Little Miss Spice is beginning her first week of doing full days at school and like many mums one of the things I’m worried about is whether she will actually eat the school lunches!

Her fussy eating has improved a lot over the summer and she is a lot more willing to try new foods which is great.  At least I know she will have eaten something!   Even so, one of the things I do know is that she will be hungry when I go to pick her up.   I really want her to have a healthy diet and so I’m now planning to start making a lot more healthy homemade bars and savoury snacks that I can take to school at pick up time.

Date and Banana Oaty Bars

We made these bars together last week and she loved them.  Dates and overripe bananas are very sweet and so the bars really are sweet enough without you needing to add any extra sugar at all.   I’ve also added some sunflower and chia seeds which provide a bit of protein.   You could substitute these for other seed or nuts to use whatever you have at home.  I’m thinking of substituting some of the dates for chopped dried apricot next time but I haven’t tried this yet.   I’m sure it will work but the bars will be slightly less sweet.

In texture the bars are soft and chewy but with a little caramelised crispier bit around the edges that were touching the tin.   The seeds also give them a lovely bit of crunchiness too.

Date and Banana Oaty Bars

If you have young children or toddlers then making these bars together is a great easy baking activity.   My children absolutely love taking turns to mash the banana and I can be getting all the other ingredients ready while they do that.  They then love stirring it all up and patting it down into the tin.

I adapted the bars from this basic recipe for sugar free banana and date flapjacks.



Date and Banana Oaty Bars

Yield: Makes 16

These vegan homemade date and banana oaty bars make a perfect post-workout or after school snack


  • 2 bananas
  • 170g dates, chopped
  • 180g oats
  • 40g oil (I used vegetable but coconut oil would be great)
  • 40g sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Mash up the bananas with a fork.
  2. Mix in all the other ingredients and press into a greased cake tin.
  3. Bake in the oven at 170c for 25 minutes.
  4. When the bars come out of the oven, cut them into squares but leave in the tin to cool.
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These date and banana oaty bars are a great way of using up blackened bananas so I am linking them up to the No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.  They are also much cheaper than bought snacks so I am linking them to Credit Crunch Munch, hosted this month by Utterly Scrummy and on alternate months by Fuss Free Flavours.

No waste food challengeCredit Crunch Munch

Date and Banana Oaty Bars

Mince and Tomato Crumble

This savoury mince and tomato crumble is an old favourite of mine.   With a layer of mince covered with sliced tomatoes and topped with a cheesey crumble, it’s easy to make and great for a midweek dinner as you can make it in advance then just bake in the oven before serving.

Mince and Tomato Crumble

This healthy mince and tomato crumble is my choice for this month’s Recipe Redux challenge.   The theme was First Cooking Recollections.   Now,  I have to admit that I haven’t always been as keen on cooking as I am now.  Rather embarassingly I was struggling to remember any early cooking recollections, only cooking avoidance ones!

My mum was a good cook and I have an older sister and as a child she was the one who liked to help out in the kitchen.   With two women already in the kitchen, there wasn’t really room for a third and why would I need to be in the kitchen anyway?  I think at the time there were a lot more interesting things to think about than cooking.

Mince and tomato crumble

When I went away to university I did allow my mum to teach me a a couple of simple meals and for years I ate easy pasta and rice dishes, often involving simple stews and stir fries.   These meals were healthy but not especially adventurous.   You see, I have always been a healthy eater and did at least pick that up from my mum!

When I was growing up, one of the meals my mum made regularly was her savoury mince and tomato crumble.   I remember her making it when I was a child and she still makes it now when I go to visit.  My sister has the recipe and I know she makes it for her family too.   Until now, I’ve never made it.   After all, they are making it for me when I visit, so I can make other things at home, can’t I?

Mince and Tomato Crumble

Well, earlier this month I visited my parents for a few days and while I was there, sure enough my mum made her mince and tomato crumble.   I had a few ideas in mind for my Recipe Redux challenge but then I started to think maybe it was time for me to start making a few of my mum’s old recipes.  This may not be a recipe I remember making with my mum, but I do remember her making it for me.

Here’s her recipe:


I haven’t changed this much from my mum’s recipe.   She also uses a mix of plain and wholemeal flour and although the recipe she gave me says to use lard to cook the mince, she also no longer uses lard in cooking.  I like to serve lots of vegetables alongside this but if you want you could add more vegetables to the mince too.  I added a little finely diced red pepper but didn’t want to change the dish too much.

For another easy minced beef recipe then do check out my Beef and Tomato Bake as well.

Mince and Tomato Crumble

Savoury Mince and Tomato Crumble

Yield: Serves 4


  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 450g lean minced beef
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 280ml beef stock
  • 4-5 tomatoes
  • For the crumble topping
  • 180g flour (I used half white and half wholemeal)
  • 90g butter (Or use an alternative spread)
  • 35g grated cheese (I used Red Leicester)


  1. Put a little oil in a sauce pan and cook the onion and red pepper gently until softened then add the crushed garlic.
  2. Cook for a minute then add the mince. Keep stirring and breaking it up with a spoon until it is slightly browned.
  3. Stir in the flour, paprika, thyme, black pepper, salt and tomato puree. Add the stock then bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. While the mince is cooking, make the crumble topping. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips then mix in the cheese. Season with a little salt and black pepper.
  5. Lightly oil the sides of a casserole dish. Add the minced beef. Cover with a layer of sliced tomatoes. Top with the crumble mixture.
  6. Bake in the oven at 190C for about 30 minutes.


The seasonings can be altered. For a spicy version of this dish, add some hot sauce to the mince.

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I am also linking this to my own #CookOnceEatTwice challenge as well as Cook Blog Share hosted by Hijacked by Twins and Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mum.

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Mince and Tomato Crumble
September Foodie Review

September Foodie Review

Welcome to this month’s Foodie Review.  I have been busy trying lots of new products this month and have selected some of my favourites to share with you.

Santa Maria Pulled Pork Dinner Kit

Santa Maria Pulled Pork Dinner KitWe love Mexican food here and pulled pork is one of our favourite meals, especially as both children will now eat it as long as it’s not too spicy!   So, as 16th September is Mexican Independence Day why not make some Mexican food?  I often make pulled pork in the slow cooker but this month I’ve tried the Santa Maria Pulled Pork Dinner Kit and made pulled pork in the oven after just 90 minutes.   The kit contains 8 small tortillas, a sachet of bbq sauce, a sachet of pulled pork seasoning, a sachet of red onion seasoning and a cooking bag.  You still need to buy the pork, the red onions and any salad items you want in the tortillas.  We especially loved the red onion seasoning mix on the red onions.  It makes them slightly pickled and the children were happy to eat them too so I’ll definitely be remaking onion salad this way. The pulled pork tasted great although it was saltier than if I’d made my own seasoning.  Even so, I’m always looking for meals that all our family will eat and this turned out to be one of them.    Although it still takes some time to cook in the oven, the hands on time needed is very short so it’s a good choice if you are at home but don’t have much time to prepare anything.

The meal kits are available from Morrisons and Ocado for £3.99

Santa Maria Pulled Pork Dinner Kit

Streamline Strawberry and Blackcurrant Jams

I didn’t use to eat much jam but recently I get through a lot more of it as Master Spice loves it. He seems to have American tastes as he loves peanut butter and jam on toast but I tend to stick with jam on scones or swirled into natural yoghurt.   It’s a much healthier way of flavouring yoghurt than buying ready flavoured yoghurts as they are usually packed with sugar.  Although there are some flavoured yoghurts that I can’t resist!   This month I tried Streamline blackcurrant and strawberry jams for the first time.   They have 30% less sugar than traditional jams and are full of whole pieces of fruit, in fact they have 40% more fruit than traditional jams!  You can buy them in most supermarkets RRP £1.45
Streamline blackcurrant jam and scone

Bahlsen Pick Up! Minis

I try to eat healthy snacks when I can but I cannot resist a little chocolate every now and again.  I tried these Bahlsen Pick Up! Minis and was hooked.   It was so so difficult to stop myself taking another and another and yet another!  They are just simple biscuits but with a slab of real chocolate sandwiched in the middle.   I have to say I resorted to hiding these from the children! And Mr SearchingforSpice was extremely disappointed when he found out that they had eaten the last one that he was hoping to eat!  Currently £1.29 from Waitrose.

pick up mini biscuits

Ombar Centres Raw Chocolate Bars

More chocolate!  And if you’re going to eat chocolate then it doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure with these Ombar raw cacao chocolate bars.  I tried 2 flavours: raspberry and coconut as well as coconut and vanilla.  I love chocolate and raspberries together and have to say that that was my favourite flavour! The bars are just the right size for a snack and have a delightfully creamy centre coated in raw chocolate, which contains 6 times more flavanols than other comparable chocolate as well as being 100% organic.

They are available from Ocado for £2.39

ombar centres

Ford Farm Crofter Sheep Cheese

I am a big fan of cheese.  By itself, on toast, in a salad, on pizza.   Well, there are all sorts of ways to enjoy cheese and this month I’ve tried a cheese that was new to me, Ford Farm Crofter Sheep Cheese.   It’s a British cheese made in Dorset but similar to a Spanish Manchego.  As Spain is one of my favourite food destinations I was keen to try this.  It’s quite strong and goes incredibly well with a little chorizo, tomatoes and bread.  It tastes very similar to Manchego although in texture it’s a little less hard, more like cheddar and it’s already won a gold medal at the World Cheese Awards.

You can buy it online from the Ford Farm shop for £2.80 for 200g

Crofter Sheep Cheese

Clearspring Umami Paste

This month I’ve tried two Clearspring Organic Japanese Umami Pastes, one flavoured with chilli and one with ginger.  I find it hard to put my finger on exactly what umami is but literally it means, ‘savoury deliciousness’ and these pastes are great for adding more depth of flavour to stews and stir fries and I’ve been enjoying them as a dipping sauce with vegetable sticks.  Overall they’re an easy way to add flavour to the type of quick and easy meals you might make when you don’t have much time.   A little goes a long way and they keep for 8 months once opened.

The pastes are £4.49 and are available from Clearspring, Holland & Barrett  and some supermarkets.

Clearspring umami paste


Disclosure: These products were provided for review but the opinions are my own.

September Foodie Review

September Foodie Review

couscous stuffed aubergine with tahini sauce

Couscous Stuffed Aubergine with Tahini Sauce

This couscous stuffed aubergine recipe makes a tasty vegan meal.  The aubergine is stuffed with a filling of couscous, tomatoes, chickpeas and fresh herbs and is great eaten warm and freshly roasted as well as cold the next day.   You can also eat the couscous stuffing as a salad.

couscous stuffed aubergine with tahini sauce

Welcome to another month of Secret Recipe Club, the fantastic club where we are assigned to another food blog and can read and try out their recipes and finally pick one of their best ones to remake and showcase on our own blog.

This month for Secret Recipe Club my blog assignment was Smells Like Brownies.   Well with a name like that I at first expected to find a blog full of baking and sweet treats.   Imagine my delight when I immediatley saw a really great savoury recipe.   And another .   And another.  I soon discovered that Smells Like Brownies is the absolute best kind of food blog.   There are some really really enticing looking desserts but luckily there are just as many, in fact more equally enticing healthy and savoury recipes.

You see, I love desserts but I don’t make a lot of them and what I really love to make for my family every day are simple healthy but delicious meals.     This blog definitely satisfied that craving and allowed me to feast my eyes on desserts too, even if I wasn’t going to make them!

Smells Like Brownies is written by Melissa and in many ways she is a lot like me.   She is a stay at home mum to 2 beautiful children and we both know the joys of playing with lego, doing artwork and baking with our children.

couscous stuffed aubergine with tahini sauce

I chose to make these couscous stuffed aubergines /eggplants as the picture just jumped out at me when I saw it.   I love roasted aubergines and I knew I wanted to eat this!   Some of the flesh is removed from the aubergines and they are roasted in the oven while the filling of aubergine, onion, garlic, tomatoes and chickpeas is stir fried before being mixed with the couscous and some fresh herbs and served inside the roasted aubergines.  The tahini sauce is then drizzled over the top.

Melissa’s original recipe for the couscous stuffed aubergines contains black beans  but I had some chickpeas leftover from another recipe and so it seemed a good way to  use them.    I’d happily eat any kind of bean in these!  I have to admit I made extra filling rather than discarding some of the flesh.   I love aubergines and it seemed a shame to waste any of it.   It turned out to be a wise move.   The filling is gorgeous inside the roasted aubergines but it is just as yummy when it isn’t stuffed inside anything.   You could eat is as a meal in itself or as a side dish for fish, chicken or lamb.

If you are just as tempted as I am by beautiful pictures of delicious vegetarian food then do take a look at Melissa’s blog and especially at these Red-Handed Beet Burgers and these Monster Green Pea Burgers with Roots and Greens.   Yes, I know they are both burgers but just take a look and then you’ll understand why I was tempted!

And if you are still reading and you are wondering when it’s time for dessert then look no further than Melissa’s Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Gingersnap Crust!

couscous stuffed aubergine with tahini sauce

Couscous Stuffed Aubergine with Tahini Sauce

Yield: Serves 4


  • 2 aubergines
  • 100g uncooked couscous
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 3 medium-sized tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 of a 400g tin of chickpeas, black beans or beans
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • For the Tahini Sauce
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • 50ml water
  • Black Pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  1. Cut each aubergine in half. Score and then scoop out the flesh from the inside leaving about 1cm left attached to the skin.
  2. Brush the aubergines with a little oil, place them cut side down on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 200C.
  3. While the aubergines are roasting, cover the couscous with boiling water and leave it to soak it up.
  4. Heat a little oil in a sauce pan and cook the onion over a gentle heat until softened then add the garlic. Cook for another minute then add the tomatoes, diced aubergine flesh and chickpeas. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes until the aubergine pieces are cooked through.
  5. Make the sauce by whisking together all the sauce ingredients. I just used a fork but you could use a food processor.
  6. Stir the couscous into the vegetables mixture along with the coriander. Spoon this mixture into the aubergines halves.
  7. Serve the tahini sauce drizzled over the aubergines .
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I am linking this to #CookBlogShare hosted this week by Sneaky Veg,  to #RecipeoftheWeek hosted by A mummy Too, to Meat Free Mondays hosted by Tinned Tomatoes and to Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mum.

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Couscous Stuffed Aubergines
Brazilian Fish Bake from Jamie Oliver's Super Food Family Classics

Jamie Oliver’s Brazilian Fish Bake

This Brazilian Fish Bake recipe from Jamie Oliver’s Super Food Family Classics is an easy meal that the whole family can enjoy.   It’s a great healthy meal good enough for a dinner party but also easy enough for a simple midweek meal.

Brazilian Fish Bake from Jamie Oliver's Super Food Family Classics

I have been a huge fan of Jamie Oliver ever since I started cooking.   I love the fresh flavours, the down-to-earth approach and more recently, his focus on healthy recipes, first with Everyday Super Food and now his most recent book, Super Food Family Classics.

The Olympics was on when I made this dish and I was looking for a Brazilian recipe to make.   As soon as I saw the bright colours of the vegetables and the scattering of herbs over the fish I knew it would make me feel healthy and energetic.  Although unfortunately not quite turn me into an Olympic athlete!

There’s something about tomatoes, peppers, red onions and chilli peppers that just feels like summer and this Brazilian Fish Bake was the perfect summer traybake.  It’s so easy to prepare as you just need to slice the vegetables, layer everything up and put it in the oven.   My traybake was a little different from Jamie’s.   I’ve got a scallop allergy so of course I left them out and rather than using a mixture of fish and seafood I just used haddock fillets and I left them whole rather than chopping them up.  I’m sure any white fish or mixture of shellfish and fish would work well.    The other difference was mainly aesthetic.  My tomatoes were all red rather than mixed colours but I still got a lovely vibrant dish in the end.  We really enjoyed it and were almost licking the plates clean!

Brazilian Fish Bake from Jamie Oliver's Super Food Family Classics

The Brazilian fish bake recipe came from the traybakes section of the book and I did like this section.   As Little Miss Spice is about to start school, I know that traybakes are going to become very popular for tea as  I can prepare them in advance and then just put them in the oven at the right time.  And of course lots of these types of meals will have enough leftovers for another day too so are perfect for #CookOnceEatTwice.

Another recipe I made from the Traybakes chapter was the Chicken & Chorizo Bake.  It was the first recipe I made and I’m afraid I haven’t got a great picture of it but we loved it.   The chorizo sauce makes the chicken and potatoes so tasty and the children gobbled it up too.   The only issue I had was that some of the potatoes were still a little bit hard so I would cook it for a bit longer next time before adding the chicken.

chicken chorizo bake 1

One of the best things about this book is that my children were happy to try the recipes too.   They can both be quite picky and often they will just refuse to try something that I know they would like if only they would taste it.   It may be that this is just the right time and they are growing up a little.   As I said earlier, Little Miss Spice is about to start school and after the last few weeks and her growing adventurousness I am feeling quite positive that one day soon we might all be able to eat the same thing.

Another success was these smoked salmon poached eggs.   The children helped me wrap them in cling film before poaching and it was the first time in a long time that I’d been able to get Little Miss Spice to eat egg.

Salmon poached egg on toast 1

The only vegetable that Little Miss Spice will normally eat is tomatoes but she now loves chickpeas and will eat cauliflower if it’s in a curry sauce after I made this Veggie Gurkha Curry. The fact that both children will eat curries make me very happy indeed!

Veggie Gurkha Curry Jamie Oliver

From time to time I do buy rye bread but it’s not a real favourite of mine.  However, in Super Food Family Classics there are 18 variations for avocado on rye and so I did get some to make this lovely cream cheese, avocado, chilli pepper and toasted sunflower seeds combo.   I loved the topping and although I didn’t mind the rye bread, I think I’ll stick with putting it on top of my favourite seeded loaf in future.

Jamie Oliver avocado sunflower seeds and sliced chillli peppers on rye bread

These are the only recipes I’ve made so far but there are a lot more that I really do want to make. The pictures are drool-worthy and like many of Jamie Oliver’s books, I look through it and want to eat almost everything I see!

The ingredients for these recipes are easy to find in the supermarket and if you are trying to count calories or be aware of your sugar or fat intake then each recipe contains the nutritional information so you don’t have to work it out yourself.

There is also a Health and Happiness chapter at the end which explains Jamie Oliver’s philosophy and approach to healthy eating in a simple and straightforward way that makes healthy eating seem an achievable goal.

Finally I would just like to share the recipe for my slightly adapted version of Jamie Oliver’s Brazilian Fish Bake.

Brazilian Fish Bake from Jamie Oliver's Super Food Family Classics

Brazilian Fish Bake

Yield: Serves 2 - 3


  • 2/3 fillets of fish
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 lime
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 peppers (I used 1 red,1 yellow)
  • 1 red onion, sliced into rings
  • 3 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 chilli pepper
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • Small bunch of coriander, about 15g
  • Rice (to serve)
  • Yoghurt (to serve) optional


  1. Put the fish in a bowl and grate the zest of the lemon and lime over the fish. Then squeeze the juice over the top. Add the paprika and a little salt and pepper. Rub into the fish well.
  2. Lightly oil an ovenproof dish. Put a layer of tomatoes on the bottom then a layer of peppers and onions. Put the fish on top. Top with the remaining vegetables.
  3. Pour over the coconut milk and any of the extra lemon and lime juice from the dish the fish was in. Top with the sliced chilli pepper and some of the chopped coriander.
  4. Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 180C. Take the foil off and continue baking for another 15 minutes.
  5. Serve with rice, a little extra coriander and a dollop of yoghurt on the side.
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I am linking this to #CookBlogShare hosted this week by Eb at Easy Peasy Foodie and to Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mum.

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Brazilian Fish Bake - A Jamie Oliver Recipe
Carrot orange ginger salad #CookOnceEatTwice September 2016

Cook Once Eat Twice September 2016

Welcome to this month’s #CookOnceEatTwice and the August round up.   I’d expected that August would be a quiet month because of the summer holidays but in fact it’s been quite busy with twenty delicious entries.   I really will be spoilt for choice when I decide which of these lovely recipes to make this month!

Cook Once Eat Twice

The first delicious recipe was this Easy Brazilian Feijoada with Tomato and Orange Salsa from Eb at Easy Peasy Foodie.  It was such a lovely summery dish to welcome the start of the Olympics!


Next was Jhuls at The Not So Creative Cook with a healthy meal of Spicy Tomato Eggs!  This is a dish I would happily eat at any time of day!


Jhul’s next entry was a Roasted Eggplant Fan.   I think aubergines are fantastic roasted but I’ve never roasted them like this before and love the idea!


I haven’t eaten Korean food for a long while but the next entry reminded me that there are some lovely spicy Korean dishes.   This Bibimbap, also by The Not So Creative Cook has made me hanker after some hot and spicy Asian food.


Next was Kate, The Gluten Free Alchemist with a lovely Homemade Houmous.  I have to admit that houmous is one of those things I used to make all the time but now I’m a bit lazy and often buy it.   This post really has reminded me just how good it is to make your own!

homemade houmous

Next was Monika at Everyday Healthy Recipes with some beautiful Cauliflower Cheese Patties.  I’ve only recently learnt to appreciate cauliflower and this is a lovely original way of serving it.

Cauliflower cheese patties

The next two entries are both perfect for outdoor summer eating.   First was Caroline from Caroline Makes with these Mini Chicken and Ham Picnic Pasties.  I love anything made of pastry and these are also a great way of using up leftover roast chicken.

chicken and ham picnic pasties

The second picnic recipe was these Cheese and Olive Savoury Picnic Muffins from Helen at Family Friends Food.  I love making muffins and savoury muffins are a great way of getting the children to eat a few hidden vegetables!

cheese and olive muffins

The next recipe is also a great way of getting kids to eat a few more vegetables.   This Green Veg and Mint Risotto by Kirsty from Hijacked by Twins is a lovely lazy way of making a really tasty risotto!

green veg and mint risotto

Next was a beautifully presented Very Easy Ratatouille by Helen at Roast Chicken and a Country Walk.  With some crusty bread and a glass or red wine this would make a lovely simple summer evening meal.


This was followed by a gorgeous Escudella, a type of Catalan stew, by Kirsty at Hijacked by Twins.    I love all forms of Spanish food but I hadn’t heard of this before so I am delighted to have learnt something new! The post also contains a giveaway so if you visit now there’ll still be time to enter.

catalan stew

Next were some beautiful Stuffed Vine Leaves by Elaine at FoodBod.  I just love the sound of the chermoula inspired ones and if you fancy stuffing vine leaves then do take a read as I’m sure, like me, you’ll be tempted!

stuffed vine leaves

Then Eb  from Easy  Peasy Foodie linked up these  beautiful Turkey Tikka Masala Meatballs with Bombay New Potatoes.   We may not think of meatballs straightaway when we think of a curry but why not?   I’m sure they are amazing in this curry sauce.

turkey tikka masala meatballs

Eb also linked up this lovely Quick Aubergine and Chickpea Curry.   It looks beautiful and I am especially tempted by it as I discovered this week that Little Miss Spice will eat chickpeas in a curry sauce, which means I’ll certainly be making more recipes using chickpeas over the coming weeks!


My own entry was next.   My two little ones helped make these Caribbean Beef Patties for Caribbean Food Week and so they are not perfect but they are really tasty and filling and we ate them for the next couple of days too!

Caribbean Beef Patties

The next recipe was Kate at The Gluten Free Alchemist’s Legendary Vegetable Lasagne.   Now I absolutely love a good lasagne but I have only ever made one in my life.   I really don’t know why not as I look at this picture and I know I really really want to gobble it up!

veggie lasagne

The next recipe is from Shaheen at A Seasonal Veg Table.   Her Curried Anglo Italian Fenugreek Ratatouille really has my mouth watering.   And it also contains chickpeas!   Hooray!

fenugreek ratatouille

Then Eb from Easy Peasy Foodie was back with a more traditional Italian dish.   This Easy Sicilian Style Tuna Pasta sounds so full of glorious Italian flavours – olives, capers, anchovies to name just a few!  It definitely makes me want to be on holiday again!


Then Elizabeth from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary linked up these beautiful Courgette & Poppy Seed Muffins.   They looks amazing and I am quite honoured that they were inspired by my own humble Chocolate Chip and Chia Seed Muffins.


Finally there was a delicious Thai Curry Split Pea Soup from Johanna at Green Gourmet Giraffe. I have eaten far too many ice cream this summer and I’m hoping to eat more healthily in September so this would be a perfect choice for a tasty healthy meal!

split pea soup (6)

But the fun doesn’t end there.   Of course I also made one of the entries from last month.   With it being the middle of summer I went for something light that I knew I would love.   I’d just made my Spinach Citrus Salad and really fancied making another citrus salad and so  I had to choose the beautiful  Orange, Ginger and Carrot Salad contributed last month by Choclette at Tin and Thyme.   That’s the picture of my attempt below.   It’s really simple but so tasty and keeps really well in the fridge for a few days.

Carrot Orange & Ginger salad #CookOnceEatTwice

The linky for September is now open so please add your links below.   I can’t wait to see what recipes get added this time and of course, I am still trying to decide which of this month’s recipes to have a go at myself.

Cook Once Eat Twice

Here’s a reminder of the rules:

  • Include a link in your post to Searching for Spice and include the badge.  Add your link to the linky.
  • Tweet @Corinathecook using the hashtag #CookOnceEatTwice and I will retweet all that I see.
  • Include the source of any recipe if applicable and use your own photos.
  • I will pin all entries onto the Cook Once Eat Twice Pinterest board.  I also stumble and yum the entries.
  • It’s acceptable to link up old posts but please update them with the link and the badge so they fit the rules of the challenge.
  • Feel free to link up to other blogging events as well, as long as it is within their rules.
  • Please take the time to visit some of the other links that catch your eye.
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#CookOnceEatTwice September linky and August round up
Slow cooker Beef Bourguignon

Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

This slow cooker beef bourguignon may not be quite as rich as a bourguignon cooked slowly on the stove but it still has bags of flavour and is so convenient.   It’s just perfect for easy midweek meals when everyone is back at school or work.

Slow cooker Beef Bourguignon

This month has 5 Mondays and so welcome to a bonus Secret Recipe Club assignment.    This is actually the first bonus challenge I’ve taken part in but the theme was just perfect for me. The challenge was to find a recipe just right for making once the holidays come to an end and everyone is back at school or work, the type of recipe you can make quickly or with very little effort.  Well, that is exactly the type of recipe I love.  I could easily have made double of this so it would have lasted for more meals, making it a perfect #CookOnceEatTwice choice as well.

The blog I was assigned to was Life on Food, written by Emily.   Emily has a gorgeous little boy aged 1 and so she really appreciates meals that can be made quickly and with minimum effort so this theme certainly suits her too!

Slow cooker Beef Bourguignon

When I first looked at Emily’s blog I went straight to the slow cooker section.   I love my slow cooker and for me it really makes life easier in the evening when trying to juggle putting the children to bed, going out for a run and managing to get dinner ready for me and Mr SearchingforSpice before it gets too late!  Emily has a great selection of exactly the type of slow cooked meals I would choose to eat.   There was Slow Cooker Curry Chicken Wings, Crock Pot Curry Chicken and Slow Cooker Asian Beef Short Ribs and even Crock Pot Baked Apples for dessert!  I was spoilt for choice just in the slow cooker section!

I decided on the slow cooker beef bourguignon in the end as we all love beef bourguignon. What makes it so good is the little smoked bacon lardons as they add so much flavour to the sauce along with the red wine, stock and herbs.  It’s a real comfort meal and one that I’ll definitely want to make again once the weather turns colder too.

This is my second recipe for beef bourguignon.  This earlier recipe contains a lot more wine and is cooked in the oven instead of in the slow cooker.  After all, it’s certainly worth having more than one recipe for a classic such as this!

Slow cooker Beef Bourguignon

Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

Yield: Serves 4


  • 200g smoked bacon lardons
  • 450g stewing steak
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 200g mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into batons
  • 75ml red wine
  • 75ml beef stock
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1tsp parsley
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Put the bacon lardons in a saucepan and cook until browned. Empty them into the bottom of the slow cooker then brown the beef in the same pan.
  2. Empty the beef into the slow cooker and add all the other ingredients.
  3. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  4. Serve with baked or mashed potato or crusty bread.
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I am linking this to the Slow Cooked Challenge hosted by Baking Queen.


Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon
Mexican Scrambled eggs

Mexican Scrambled Eggs

These tasty Mexican scrambled eggs make a great healthy breakfast or light lunch.
Mexican Scrambled Eggs

A few years ago I went on holiday to Mexico.   I came back inspired to cook lots of Mexican dishes and I have enjoyed cooking Mexican recipes ever since.  I’ve tried stews, salads and of course huevos rancheros.

After unwittingly putting a whole habanero chilli pepper in my  mouth during one unforgettable breakfast,  I have to say that the breakfasts are the most memorable dishes from that particular holiday.

When I heard that the theme for this month’s Recipe Redux was a vacation inspired recipe, I decided it was time to revisit Mexican breakfasts and make a healthy and delicious Mexican scrambled eggs.

Mexican Scrambled Eggs

I used lots of spring onions and coriander to give the eggs a healthy fresh green vibe.  In case that wasn’t enough green, I also wilted a few handfuls of spinach to serve under the scrambled eggs. To give a bit of a kick I added some red chilli pepper, although not a traditional Mexican one – I am staying well away from habaneros at breakfast time these days!

I also grilled some halved cherry tomatoes and added them to the scrambled egg right at the end as I didn’t want the tomatoes to break up and make the dish watery.  By grilling them they were beautifully caramelised and gave a lovely juicy bite every time I ate one.

I just wish I had the motivation to make Mexican scrambled eggs every day for breakfast.   My normal breakfast is a couple of slices of toast with a little cream cheese, coffee and some fruit if I am not in too much of a rush.    This breakfast is definitely higher in protein and much more filling than just toast.   It’s also good to feel you’ve already eaten a portion of vegetables before the day has hardly started!

Mexican Scrambled Eggs

Mexican Scrambled Eggs

Yield: Serves 1


  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • A dash of milk
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red chilli pepper, sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaf
  • 20g hard cheese (I used Cheddar)
  • 3 large handfuls of spinach
  • Black pepper
  • 1 slice of toast


  1. Put the cherry tomatoes under the grill.
  2. Put the spinach in a saucepan with a little water and cook until it begins to wilt then take it off the heat and drain it in a colander.
  3. Add a little milk to the eggs and beat lightly with a fork.
  4. Put a little oil in a saucepan and cook half of the spring onion and most of the chilli pepper for about a minute then add the egg mixture.
  5. Stir the egg as it cooks. When it is nearly ready, stir in the rest of the spring onion and most of the coriander.
  6. When the egg is ready, take it off the heat and stir in the cheese and black pepper.
  7. Spray a little oil onto the toast. Push any remaining water out of the spinach and put it on top of the toast. Top that with the scrambled egg, cherry tomatoes and the remaining coriander and chilli slices.
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I am sharing this with Meat Free Mondays at Tinned Tomatoes.

Meat Free Mondays

Mexican Scrambled Eggs
Caribbean Beef Patties for Caribbean Food Week

Caribbean Beef Patties for Caribbean Food Week 2016

It’s time to celebrate Caribbean Food Week 2016 and what better way than to make some make some delicious Caribbean inspired recipes like my Caribbean beef patties, marinated chicken legs or spicy skinny curly fries.

caribbean pasties 1 (2)

In the UK Caribbean Food Week runs from 22nd to 29 August and so what better time is there to cook up some spicy Caribbean recipes?  And if you’re in or near London then why not head down to Brixton for the Caribbean Food Week Festival at Windrush Square on 26th-27th August? There’ll be loads of amazing Caribbean street food as well as live cookery demonstrations, music and other entertainment.

I won’t be able to get to the festival but  I’ve been lucky enough to receive a hamper full of lovely Caribbean products  from Grace Foods in order to create my own tasty street food party at home.

Caribbean Food Week Hamper 2016

I’ve created three easy recipes that would work just as well served from a street food stall as they would if you prepared them for a simple meal at home.

The first recipe is for Caribbean beef patties.   These are simply minced beef and potato pasties but with the addition of some hot pepper sauce in the filling.   You can make them as hot as you like and a little extra hot sauce on the side when you serve them just gives them an extra kick!

I have to admit that I allowed Little Miss Spice and Master Spice to help make the pasties and so they are a little rough around the edges and in the chaos of cooking with the children I forgot to glaze them.   Even so, they tasted great and make great street food! The recipe is at the end of this post.

Caribbean beef patties

The next  dish was the Jerk marinated chicken drumsticks.    They are so simple to prepare and cook that you don’t need a recipe.  I just marinated the chicken legs overnight in a couple of tablespoons of Dunn’s River Jamaican Jerk Seasoning.   The next day I baked them in the oven till they were cooked through (about 35 minutes).    If you can cook them on the barbecue they’d be fabulous too!

I must warn you though, these chicken legs were very very hot.   I think the marinade is almost completely made up of chilli peppers.  The little bits of charred marinade on the skin of the chicken are only for those who really can take the heat!

Jerk marinated chicken drumsticks - Caribbean Food Week 2016

If you want a slightly less fiery chicken dish then use the marinade a little more sparingly and mix it with some yoghurt.   You could also scrape the excess marinade off the drumsticks before cooking them.

The final dish was almost as simple as the chicken drumsticks and was a clear favourite with both Little Miss Spice and Master Spice.   It was these spicy skinny fries made from sweet potato and normal potato.

Skinny spicy fries

I got my spiraliser out to make the  fries  and so they are long and curly like spaghetti.   I then added a heaped teaspoon of Dunn’s River Hot and Spicy Jerk Chicken Mix and tossed it with the fries before deep frying them.

So if you’ve got an unused spiraliser  hidden in a cupboard, this really should be the recipe to make you get it out.  I know it’s not the healthiest spiralised recipe but they really are so so worth it! I don’t very often deep fry anything but these spicy skinny fries are certainly going to get made again.   And again.

skinny spicy fries

Caribbean Beef Patties

Yield: Makes 4


  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250g beef mince
  • 1 potato, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1-2 tsp hot pepper sauce (Use more for really hot patties!)
  • For the shortcrust pastry
  • 450g plain flour (I used a mix of 100g wholemeal and 350g white flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 200g butter, diced


  1. Cook the onion gently in a little oil until softened. Add the crushed garlic and cook for a minute.
  2. Add the mince and cook, breaking it up until it is browned on the outside.
  3. Add the turmeric, the potatoes, the tomato puree and 200ml of water.
  4. Simmer for 15-20 minutes till the potatoes are cooked through and the sauce has reduced.
  5. Stir in the hot sauce. Add a little at a time and keep tasting so you get the level of heat just right.
  6. Leave to cool.
  7. Make the pastry. Mix the salt into the flour then either rub the butter into the flour using your finger tips or use a food processor. Stop as soon as it is rubbed in and the mixture is like breadcrumbs.
  8. Add a couple of tablespoons of cold water and knead the mixture together to form a dough. Add a little extra water if it is too dry.
  9. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and put in the fridge for half an hour.
  10. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each one out into a circle. Put a tablespoon of the mince mixture on one side and fold the other side over to form a parcel. Press the 2 sides together.
  11. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 200C.


I had quite a bit of leftover mince so you could easily make more patties by increasing the quantities of pastry. For a more attractive finish, brush the uncooked patties with a little beaten egg or milk before baking them.

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To find out more and join in with Caribbean Food Week 2016 then take a look at Caribbeanfoodweek on Facebook or Twitter @Caribbeanfoodwk #CFW2016

We ate these Caribbean beef patties the next day too so I am going to share them with my own #CookOnceEatTwice event as well as linking to the #TheFoodCalendar at Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen, #CookBlogShare at Sneaky Veg and Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mum.

Cook Once Eat Twicethefoodcalendar-august-2016Cook Blog Sharebrilliant blog posts

Caribbean Beef Patties
Banana fudge ice cream

Banana Fudge Ice Cream

This creamy homemade banana fudge ice cream is so good you’ll want to keep the recipe!

banana fudge ice cream

Last summer I made the best banana fudge ice cream ever.   It was simply a banana ice cream studded with little pieces of chocolate covered fudge.   It was so easy to make I could make it for guests and only needed to spend a few minutes getting it started in the ice cream maker and then 20 minutes later it was ready to eat.  I made it more than once too.

Of course I wanted to make it again this summer.   I definitely wanted to eat it again and so I did what any food blogger does when wanting to remake a favourite recipe.   I searched my blog for the recipe.

I knew I’d made it a couple of times so I was confident it would be there.   It wasn’t.   I wondered if maybe I’d noted the recipe down in my drafts folder but it wasn’t there either.  What could I do?  Well, I knew I had to make that ice cream again.   That banana fudge ice cream was so delicious that it could not just disappear like that!

I had to try to remember the recipe.   Well, luckily I knew the main ingredients were bananas, cream and chocolate covered fudge bars.  The quantities?   Well,  I tend to be quite flexible with quantities anyway.

Banana fudge ice cream

The important thing is to keep tasting the mixture as you’re blending the ingredients together.   If it tastes amazing  before it’s frozen, it should taste good when frozen too.  In fact, it’s hard to give exact quantities as the bananas can vary in sweetness.   For ice cream you can get away with using slightly overripe bananas and of course, the riper they are, the sweeter they’ll make the ice cream.   I still needed a little bit of icing sugar to get the right level of sweetness but you may find you’ll need more or less depending on taste.

You could easily adapt this recipe.   I’ve called it banana fudge ice cream as one of the main ingredients is chopped up fudge bars (I used Cadburys Fudge) but  you could make a completely different ice cream just by using a different chocolate or candy bar.   Personally I quite fancy adding a crumbled up chocolate Flake another time!

I used my ice cream maker to make this ice cream as it’s so easy to use but if you haven’t got an ice cream maker then don’t let that stop you, although I haven’t tried them, you can read here about 6 ways to make ice cream that don’t involve going out and buying a machine!

Banana fudge ice cream

Doesn’t it look tasty in these  Ravenhead sundae dishes?

Banana Fudge Ice Cream


  • 2 bananas (they weighed 210g after being peeled)
  • 300ml double cream
  • 110ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)
  • 60g icing sugar (feel free to use more or less depending on how sweet you want the ice cream to be)
  • 100g chocolate covered fudge, chopped
  • Extra sticks of fudge to serve (optional)


  1. Mash the bananas thoroughly with a fork until you have a puree.
  2. Add the cream, milk and icing sugar and mix together with the fork.
  3. Turn the ice cream maker on and pour the banana cream mixture into it.
  4. After about 10 minutes when the ice cream is beginning to set, add the chunks of fudge and let the ice cream maker continue beating for another 5 minutes.
  5. Scoop the ice cream into a container and put in the freezer until you're ready to eat it.
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If you’re looking for more easy ice cream maker recipes then do take a look at my recipes for gooseberry ice cream,  raspberry and white chocolate ice cream or  even kiwi fruit ice cream.

I am linking this to #CookBlogShare hosted this week for the first time by Eb at Easy Peasy Foodie.  I am also linking to #RecipeoftheWeek at A Mummy Too and Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mum.

Cook Blog ShareRecipe of the weekbrilliant blog posts

Banana Fudge Ice Cream