Schwartz Sausage Casserole

schwartz sausage casserole (700x438) I like to make most of my meals from scratch.  I get a real sense of satisfaction from mixing together different herbs and spices and getting the flavours I’m looking for. However, there  are times when I just don’t want to spend long getting dinner ready.  I want something quick to prepare, easy and tasty, without taking the really lazy option of a ready meal (although I am often guilty of that too!).  With a newborn baby in the house as well as a toddler, I am increasingly looking for ways of making mealtimes easier, while still eating fairly healthily.

Sleep deprived, and with the reality of how busy life with two children can be beginning to hit home, it seemed like ideal timing to try out the Schwartz Sausage Casserole Recipe Mix.  Casseroles are perfect for anyone with a busy lifestyle. With this recipe, as long as you can find some time to chop some vegetables, it’s almost no work at all to actually put the casserole together.   Exactly what I needed.

The Schwartz Sausage Casserole Mix is flavoured with tomato, paprika and oregano. It comes as a powder that you mix with water and pour on top of the rest of the casserole.  I followed the recipe on the pack but slightly adapted it by adding a sliced red pepper as I knew that would go well with the flavours in the sauce.  You could add any vegetables you wanted though.   I served it with jacket potatoes as I could then just cook everything in the oven at the same time.   Although mashed potato would be lovely too, why give yourself the extra work?

We really enjoyed the casserole.   The sauce has a lovely paprika flavour that goes well with sausages and for a packet sauce mix it is very tasty.   My  husband even licked the plate clean!

schwartz sausage casserole mix

Ingredients – serves 4

450g pack of sausages

1 onion, sliced

1 red pepper, sliced into strips

175g mushrooms, sliced

1 sachet of Schwartz Sausage Casserole Recipe Mix

300ml water

How to Make Schwartz Sausage Casserole

1. Heat the oven to 180C, 350F, Gas mark 4.

2. Heat a little oil in an ovenproof casserole dish and add the sausages.   Cook for about 4 minutes, turning them so they brown on each side.

3. Add the onions and cook for another 3 minutes.

4. Add the peppers and mushrooms.  Mix the sachet of casserole mix into the water and pour over the top of the dish.

5. Transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour.

This is a featured post.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are by far the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever made. In fact, I don’t know if I will ever want to use another recipe now I have discovered how good these are.   They are crisp and chewy just around the edges but the inside is soft, rich and doughy, a bit like a brownie.  If you love soft cookies then these are definitely ones you should try.  I love cookies but don’t often make them.   Until now I was more likely to just buy the very occasional bag when I was out somewhere.   Now I’ve found this recipe I think it might just tempt me to make them more often.   I have even frozen about half of the cookie dough in nice walnut sized balls, just ready to bake, and because they bake so quickly, you can easily bake just one or two whenever you fancy them.

I am sending these to Alphabakes which is hosted this month by Caroline Makes, and on alternate months by The More Than Occasional Baker. The letter is D.

double choc chip cookie (500x355)

Ingredients – Makes about 18

125g butter at room temperature

100g soft light brown sugar

125g caster sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

175g self-raising flour

50g cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

200g chocolate, chopped

How to Make Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

1. If the butter is not room temperature, put it in the microwave for 30 seconds.   Then put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and cream together.

2. Beat the egg slightly then add it to the butter and sugar along with the vanilla extract.   Mix together.

3. Sift the flour, cocoa and salt into the bowl.   Mix it together.   You should get quite a stiff cookie dough.   Add the chocolate chips and stir in.

4. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.   Roll the dough into balls and place them on the parchment paper, with plenty of space around each ball of cookie dough.  Some of the balls of cookie dough can be frozen at this point to bake later.

5. Bake the cookies in the oven at 180C for 8-9 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

I am also linking to Sweets for a Saturday and Sugar and Slice Sunday Link Party.

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Tomato and Chorizo Pasta

There is nothing more guaranteed to make a tomatoey meal tastier than a little bit of chorizo.  I love it and almost always have it in the fridge ready to add to a quick meal at a moment’s notice.  This pasta dish is a variation on my everyday pasta with tomato and chilli sauce, which I make every couple of weeks, sometimes even weekly.   I can easily prepare it at the last minute if I haven’t thought about what to make for dinner that day.   I always have pasta, onions and tinned tomatoes in the cupboard and tomatoes, chillies and peppers in the fridge.   I love the chunks of fresh tomato in this but you could miss them out, and even miss out the red pepper and the chilli pepper.  It’s the chorizo that is the key ingredient and gives the sauce its distinctive taste.  The oil leaks out of the chorizo and flavours the whole dish with paprika, but I also like to add a little extra smoked paprika for an even more intense flavour.

I am linking this to Pantry Party at the Law Student’s Cookbook.   The December theme is Anything Goes.

chorizo pasta (500x387)

Ingredients – serves 2

1 small red onion, diced

1/2 red pepper, diced

2 small cooking chorizo sausages, diced

400g tinned tomatoes

2 tomatoes, sliced

1 red chilli pepper, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Enough pasta for 2 people

Cheese to serve (optional)

How to Make Tomato and Chorizo Pasta

1. Heat a little oil in a wok or saucepan.   Add the diced chorizo and fry until beginning to brown.   Add the onion, red pepper, crushed garlic and chilli pepper and continue to cook until softened.

2. Add the fresh and tinned tomatoes along with the paprika and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Serve the sauce with the pasta.  Sprinkle grated cheese on the top if you like.

Chicken in Red Wine Vinegar Sauce

I’m always looking out for new chicken dishes to make and the easier the better.   This recipe is based on one for Spicy Chicken Thighs, which I bookmarked a long time ago at Thyme for Cooking.   I changed the name as I felt the overwhelming taste was of fruity vinegar rather than spice.  If you’re not a vinegar fan then that might not sound appealing but red wine vinegar is not as strong as some other vinegars and doesn’t give an overly sharp taste.  I would describe the sauce as sweet and fruity tasting.  It is, however, not a mild tasting sauce, so if you think the amount of vinegar might be too much for you, you can always reduce it a little.  I used breasts rather than thighs as that is what I usually cook with, but I also feel this sauce would go well with pork or turkey.  So it could be a way of using up leftover turkey from Christmas dinner.

Chicken in Red wine vinegar sauce (500x408)

Ingredients – Serves 2

2 chicken breasts

1 tbsp plain flour

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp tomato puree

60ml chicken stock

30ml red wine vinegar

1 tsp cornflour

How to Make Chicken in Red Wine Vinegar Sauce

1. Combine the flour, paprika and cumin.  Press the chicken down onto the flour so it has a coating of flour all over.

2. Heat a little oil in a saucepan.   Cook the chicken briefly on all sides to seal the juices in.  Then, remove it from the pan.

3. Add the onions to the pan.  Cook until softened then add the garlic, tomato puree and the remainder of the flour that was used to coat the chicken.  Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring, then stir in the stock and vinegar.

4. Return the chicken to the pan.  Bring the sauce up to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes

5. If you feel the sauce is too runny, remove the chicken, mix the cornflour with a little water and stir it in to thicken.   Serve with rice or potatoes and vegetables.

 

Onion Bhajis

For a long time I had planned to make onion bhajis.   I love Indian food and often get them whenever I am getting a takeaway, but somehow, I’d never actually made them myself.   Until this month when I was given Samayalarai Cooking is Divine as my assignment for the Secret Recipe Club.  Now, it’s not the first time I’ve made something from this blog.  A year and a half ago we were paired up for a similar cooking event, Taste and Create.   That time I made lime pickle, another takeaway favourite.

I looked at many recipes this time and for a long time I couldn’t decide what to make.  I was considering making a bread recipe as I love naan breads but as soon as I found the recipe for onion pakoras I knew it was the one.

I was really pleased with how they turned out.   They tasted just like I expect onion bhajis to taste.  That may sound a bit weird, but often when you try to recreate something you know well it doesn’t quite match up to how you were expecting – even if it still tastes good. Not these – they were just how I wanted them to be.   I had to adapt the recipe slightly as I didn’t have any rice flour so I used all gram flour.  The recipe was a little different to any onion bhajis I’d ever had before as they also contained whole cashew nuts in the batter.   As there were so few I decided to chop them but I didn’t really feel they added anything so next time I would keep them whole or miss them out altogether.  All in all though, this was a lovely recipe and something I will definitely be making again.  Please also have a look at athe original recipe on Samayalarai Cooking is Divine.

Ingredients – Makes 6

1 large onion, sliced lengthwise

Small handful of cashew nuts – about 8

About 10 dry curry leaves, crushed (or a few fresh ones, sliced)

4 tbsp gram flour

1/4 tsp chilli powder

1 green chilli pepper, thinly sliced

Small knob of ginger, finely diced

Pinch salt

Pinch of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

How to Make Onion Bhajis

1. Put the onions, green chillies, ginger, curry leaves, chilli powder and salt into a bowl and mix together.   Leave to stand for a few minutes.

2. Add the cashew nuts and sift in the flour and bicarb.  Add a small amount of water at a time, mixing it in until a thick batter is formed.

3. Heat oil in a saucepan.   Take a spoon and carefully drop spoonfuls of the batter into the oil.  Deep fry until they are golden and crispy on the outside.

4. Serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over them.

Click on the link below to see what other Secret Recipe Club participants have made:



Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia in the Breadmaker

I have had a breadmaker for a long time, maybe 4 years, and in that time I have used it constantly to make my everyday bread.  It has lots of settings on it and I’m sure I can do lots of fancy things in it if I wanted.  It also came with a recipe book but I only used it a couple of times at the beginning when working out how it worked.  Unfortunately I don’t know where it is now and that has also stopped me experimenting.   I have even made more interesting breads a couple of times by hand, when using the breadmaker would probably have saved me time.   However, the demands of looking after a baby during the day mean that being able to spend time kneading by hand in the kitchen is probably an unrealistic expectation.   I decided therefore to be brave and just press the dough setting to make this foccacia and hope for the best.   I took the basic foccacia dough recipe from Working London Mummy and adapted the flavourings a bit and so the finished bread is quite different.

Ingredients

350g strong white flour

7g sachet of fast action yeast

210ml lukewarm water

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried rosemary (I didn’t have fresh but you could definitely use fresh instead)

1tbsp olive oil for the dough

1tbsp olive oil for the topping

1 clove garlic

How to make Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia

1. Put all the ingredients, except the garlic and olive oil for the topping, in the breadmaker.   Put on the dough setting.   When the programme finishes, remove and put the dough in a lightly oiled dish.   Cover with a damp tea towel or cling film.   Leave to rise for about an hour.

2. Oil a baking tray. Knead the dough for about a minute and use your hands to press it flat onto the baking tray.  Cover with cling film and leave to rise for another hour.

3. Crush the garlic clove and mix it into a tablespoon of olive oil.   Dip the end of a wooden spoon into the oil and use it to make indentations in the dough.   Then drizzle the oil over the bread and use a pastry brush to spread it around a bit.

4. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes at about 200C.

 

I am linking this to the Bake Fest, hosted this month by The Mad Scientist’s Kitchen. I am also llinking to Bake Your Own Bread, hosted by Girlichef.

BYOB 125 x 125

Chicken in a Creamy Bacon and Mushroom Sauce

At the moment I’m trying to make quick and easy meals and that is why this chicken dish appealed.  I also hate to waste things and I had a pot of cream that needed to be used up from making the chocolate pots, which is why I went for such a creamy sauce.  As I don’t cook with cream very often it feels very indulgent.  Nothing is wrong with that occasionally, but if you wanted to use less cream, you could use half cream and half chicken stock.   And if you wanted more sauce, you could just add a little stock anyway.  I had some stock ready to add but there were enough juices from the chicken so I didn’t actually need it.  It’s a very easy and tasty dish  to make as it cooks in the oven and needs almost no preparation.    The bacon flavours the chicken and keeps it moist as it is cooking and as the juices go into the sauce, it also has a lovely bacony flavour.  I adapted the recipe from one on All Recipes.

Ingredients – serves 2

2 chicken breasts

2 cloves of garlic

3 rashers of bacon

Handful of mushrooms

Black pepper

100ml double cream

1/2 tsp cornflour

Chicken stock (optional)

How to Make Chicken in Creamy Bacon and Mushroom Sauce

1. Oil an ovenproof dish. Lay the chicken breasts in the dish. Cover each one with a rasher of bacon.

2. Cut the other rasher up and put the pieces around the chicken. Chop the mushrooms in half and also place around the chicken. Peel the garlic cloves but leave whole and place between the chicken breasts.  Put in the oven for 30 minutes at approx 200c.

3. Take out of the oven. Remove the chicken but keep it warm.   Add the cream to the pan juices and heat through. If necessary add a little cornflour and stir to thicken it.  Optionally add some chicken stock to make more sauce and if you do, you will need the cornflour to stop it being too thin.

4. Serve with vegetables and potatoes.

Mediterranean Meatballs

For the past seven weeks I haven’t had time to cook anything new or blogworthy and as a result the blog has been completely neglected. So, it was a shock (although it shouldn’t have been) when I received my Secret Recipe Club assignment and I realized I was going to have to cook something new from another blog and somehow find time to write about it – all before 11 June.  Before I had the baby I hadn’t quite realized how little time there would be left for blogging and how full my brain would be of baby things that there would be almost no space left to think about food.  Although I would like to, I just don’t seem to be able to think about food any more so in some senses the SRC has been a good way of getting back into blogging as it has focused me on one blog, Thru the Bugs on my Windshield, and forced me to find a recipe I wanted to cook and then given me a deadline in which to do it.  Without it, I doubt I would be writing this right now and I wouldn’t have discovered a delicious new dish.  Thru the Bugs on my Windshield is written by Suzanne, who is the group B SRC host.  She does a fantastic job each month and has a wonderful blog with beautiful pictures as well.  Lots of her more recent posts are her own Secret Recipe Club assignments so I searched for a recipe that was her own and soon Mai’s Meatballs and Spaghetti Sauce stood out.  Mai is what Suzanne’s grandchildren call her and I can imagine they love this recipe.  I have to admit I made a few changes, mainly due to lack of time and organisation.  I didn’t have fresh parsley or dried basil so the herbs are not exactly the same and I used chorizo instead of hot Italian sausage. I also didn’t bother to properly convert the quantities into metric and so guessed all the amounts. Even so, I’m sure the result was fairly similar and it tasted fantastic. I loved the chorizo in the meatballs and the depth of flavour in the sauce.   Usually I am lazy and don’t cook my tomato sauces for as long as recipes state, but this time I did (well, longer than normal anyway) and I could tell that it really made a difference to the richness of the sauce.   As I made a few changes, have a look at Suzanne’s blog for the original recipe.   My version is below.

I am also linking this to Food of the Month Club hosted by Leslie of La Cocina de Leslie.  The food this month is ground (minced) beef.

Ingredients for Meatballs

300g minced beef

Approx 8cm chorizo, diced into small cubes

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/4 onion,finely diced

1/2 cup of breadcrumbs

1 egg, beaten

Generous grind of black pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp dried sage

1 tsp dried parsley

Ingredients for Sauce

400g  can chopped tomatoes

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 onion,diced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

Black pepper

1/2 tsp sugar

100ml beef stock

2 bay leaves

Freshly grated parmesan (to serve)

How to Make Mediterranean Meatballs

1. First make the sauce.  Put a little olive oil in a saucepan and cook the onion till softened.  Add the garlic.  Cook for a couple of minutes then add the tomatoes and all the other ingredients.  Simmer very gently for at least an hour.

2. To make the meatballs put all the ingredients into a bowl. Mix together with your hands and then form into meatballs.

3. Heat a little oil in a frying pan.  Add the meatballs.  Cook for five minutes then turn. Cook for another five minutes.

4. Transfer the meatballs to the tomato sauce. Stir so the sauce coats all the meatballs.  Continue to cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Serve with pasta and grated parmesan.

Click below to see what other SCR participants have made.



Rhubarb Crumble

Rhubarb crumble has to be one of my favourite desserts.   It’s just about impossible to get it wrong.  Unfortunately my husband doesn’t like rhubarb so making any dessert to share is just a waste of time.   What I do instead is make a big bowl of stewed rhubarb with cinnamon, which keeps in the fridge for a few days and then just eat it when I feel like it.   Often Nigella-style I just eat a few spoonfuls straight out of the fridge.   Sometimes I mix it with plain yoghurt.   Sometimes I heat some of it again in the microwave.   Because it’s just for me I don’t tend to do anything too adventurous with it.  In fact, I would say that making an individual-sized crumble is about as adventurous as it gets for me and rhubarb.   As a crumble is usually made in a big dish to share It also feels nicely indulgent to make a crumble just for yourself, but if you do have people to share your rhubarb with, the ingredients could easily be increased to serve more people.    Personally, there are some things I am quite happy not to share, and this is one of them.

I am linking this to How to Cook Good Food and Working London Mummy’s One Ingredient challenge which this month is rhubarb.

Ingredients – Serves 1

2 tbsp stewed rhubarb

1 tbsp flour

1 tbsp porridge oats

1/4 tsp mixed spice

1/2 tbsp caster sugar

1/2 tsp soft brown sugar

1 tbsp roughly chopped pecans

How to Make Rhubarb Crumble

1. Grease the sides of a ramekin.   Put the rhubarb in the bottom.

2. To make the crumble topping, rub all the ingredients, except the pecans and soft brown sugar, between your fingers so it resembles breadcrumbs.   Stir in the pecans and then put on top of the rhubarb.   Sprinkle the brown sugar on top.

3. Bake in the oven at about 180C for approximately 25 minutes or until the topping has browned.

4. Serve with yoghurt, custard, ice cream or cream.

Sweet Potato, Lentil and Tahini Soup

Well, it’s still soup weather out there and after my success with carrot and tahini soup,  I was eager to experiment more with tahini in soups.  The vegetables were basically what I had left in the fridge so could easily be changed for whatever you have.   It’s amazing that just a little bit of tahini makes the lentils taste really creamy.  I know it doesn’t look that pretty or appetizing in the picture, but if you like lentils and tahini then I’m sure you would love this.   For a slight variation peanut butter would work really well too.

I’m linking this to Souper Sundays hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.

Ingredients – serves 1

1 tbsp red lentils, rinsed

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced

1/2 tbsp tahini

1/2 green pepper, diced

1 onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 chilli pepper, thinly sliced

1 tsp curry powder

How to make Sweet Potato, Lentil and Tahini Soup

1. Put a little oil in a sauce pan and fry the onion until soft.

2. Add the green pepper, chilli, garlic and curry powder.   Stir and cook for a minute and then add the lentils and sweet potato.   Cover with water, bring to the boil and then lower to a simmer.   Cover the pan and leave for 20 minutes.

3. Check the lentils and sweet potato are cooked.   Leave for a bit longer if necessary.   Stir in the tahini until it dissolves and then serve.