Potato, Sausage, and Apple Skillet

I love a quick dinner after a long day when standing cooking holds little appeal. If you can be organised enough to cook extra potatoes for dinner the day or two before this makes this even quicker.

My sort of comfort food

Nothing says comfort food to me like spuds. Crispy fried potatoes, meaty pork sausages and hot sweet apples makes a really dreamy combination. On a chilly Autumn evening this makes a perfect dinner, it’s also really good with fried egg on top.

Serves 4

Ingredients

500 Grams Cooked potatoes cut into chunks (I like to leave the skins on)

8 Pork sausages (cut into chunks)

2 Red onions (thinly sliced)

2 Dessert apples (cut into chunks)

2 Tbsps Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet or heavy frying pan
  2. Add the cut up sausages and onions, and stir occasionally until browned
  3. Remove from the pan and set to one side. Add the other tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the potatoes, cooking until brown
  4. Add the sausages, onions, and apple to the pan, cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and if you’re feeling really fancy you could sprinkle over some chopped herbs like parsley, or sage

Plum Crumble

Autumn is my favourite time of year, not just because of the colours and dark nights. What I really love are the fantastic fruit and vegetables that come into their own.

Sweet and juicy Victoria plums

I love warming, stick to your ribs comfort food at this time of year. I’ve had some really bland apple crumbles, so for a while I experimented with different versions and this is my favourite. I’ve used cinnamon, but cardamom also works really well.

Crunchy crumble and jammy fruity base.

I also added chopped dates, which adds a lovely toffee back note. The crumble has oats and nuts to add flavour and texture. It comes out of the oven with a crunchy topping and gooey jammy fruit base. I like mine with custard, but it also works well with ice cream.

Ingredients

600 Grams Plums (stones removed)

75 Grams Dates (finely chopped)

1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

100 Grams Brown Sugar

200 Grams Plain flour

100 Grams Porridge oats

50 Grams Almonds (chopped)

100 Grams Butter (cut into cubes)

Method

  1. Cut the plums in half and remove the stones
  2. Put the plums in an oven proof dish, and mix with the cinnamon and chopped dates
  3. For the crumble, you can add the flour, and butter to a food processor and mix. I couldn’t be bothered with the faff of getting the food processor out and then cleaning it. Instead I added the ingredients to a bowl and rubbed the flour and butter together
  4. When the flour, and butter are combined, add the sugar, oats and nuts and mix well
  5. Sprinkle the crumble over the fruit. Put the dish in an oven preheated to 180 degrees. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until brown and delicious

Ditch the Diet Chicken Pie

I know what you’re thinking, big woo chicken pie, but trust me this is delicious. Yes, there is a lot of wine and cream, but it also has a lot of vegetables (in my mind that sort of balances it out).

This is a pie to make when you have plenty of people to feed, and it is really satisfying. Serve it with salad in the Summer, or if you’re making it in colder weather it’s fantastic with buttery mashed potatoes and greens. I used shop bought pastry (there I’ve said it, and I’m not even sorry, sometimes life is just too short)

Rich and unctuous, you’re definitely going to want a big slice if this.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 Sheet ready made short crust pastry (you can also use puff pastry if you prefer_

500 Grams Butternut squash

2 Tbsps Vegetable oil

500 Grams Chicken thighs (bones and skins removed)

2 Red peppers

1 Green pepper

2 Sticks of celery

150 Grams Green beans

150 Grams Sweet Corn

Half bottle of white wine ( this was the amount of wine I had hanging around the kitchen, you can reduce this, or remove it and add 250 ml of chicken stock if you would rather not use wine)

2 Tsps Dijon mustard

1 Egg

2 Tbsp Sesame seeds (optional)

Salt and Pepper

The pie filling is so delicious, you’ll have to stop yourself eating it all before you top it with pastry.

Method

  1. Chop the butternut squash into 3-4cm chunks add to a baking tray and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil before baking for 20 mins in an oven preheated to 200 degree
  2. While the butternut squash is roasting, chop your chicken, peppers, celery, and onion into 3-4 cm pieces (I like the filing fairly chunky)
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pan, and on a high heat cook your chicken until its sealed. Remove the chicken from the pan, reduce the heat and add the onions, peppers and celery and cook for 5 minutes
  4. Add the green beans, corn, butternut squash and chicken to the pan and add the white wine
  5. Cook on a high heat for 5 minutes until the alcohol has burned of the wine (you can tell this by having a could sniff of the pan, and if it doesn’t make your nose tingle the alcohol has burned off)
  6. Now add the cream and mustard and stir well, it will seem like there is a lot of liquid, but trust me if you continue to cook over a medium heat for another 15 minutes it will thicken into a really delicious sauce
  7. Once the sauce has thickened check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if you think it needs it. Transfer the contents of the pan into a large baking dish, and allow to cool
  8. When the pie filling is cool, pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and drape your sheet of pastry over the filling. Brush with a beaten egg to get a nice glaze. I also sprinkled mine with sesame seeds because I love them, but don’t stress if you don’t have them, the pie will still be delicious. Cook for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is a deep golden brown

Mediterranean Chicken Traybake

If you like quick easy mid week dinners then check this out. An easy delicious dish that’s is good enough to crack out for company.

This can be made in advance and reheated if you fancy some weekend cooking. I usually serve with rice or crusty bread to soak up all the yummy juices this cooks in. It’s colourful, tasty and smells fantastic,

Mediterranean Chicken Traybake

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 Large chicken thighs ( I used ones that still had the bone in, and left the skin on. But you can use the boneless skinless ones if you prefer)

100 Grams Green beans (I use frozen ones that I have defrosted)

100 Grams button mushrooms (halved)

1 Red pepper (Cut into chunks)

1 Yellow pepper (Cut into chunks)

1 Red onion (cut into quarters)

12 Black olives, (optional)

8 Cherry tomatoes

1 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Tsp Smoked paprika

1 Tbsp White wine vinegar

2 Cloves of garlic

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. In a baking dish, mix the olive oil and smoked paprika and put into an oven that has been preheated to 200 degrees, for 5 minutes
  2. Add the vegetables and garlic to the dish and coat with the oil and paprika mix, and bake for 10 minutes
  3. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper
  4. Remove the vegetables from the oven add the white wine vinegar and stir, set the chicken thighs on top and bake for a further 25 minutes
  5. Remove from the oven and check that chicken is fully cooked, serve when ready.

Mushroom, hazelnut and gorgonzla tart

A bit more “rustic” than I planned, but I put it down to me trying to make pastry with nuts in it. Save yourself the time and energy and use shop bought short crust pastry. It’s what I plan to do next time.  This recipe might be best saved for the weekend, as it’s a bit more labour intensive, but it’s well worth the trouble, (I had to stop myself eating half of it).

If you’re a vegetarian cooking for meat eaters, they’ll love this. The rich and unctuous filling feels really meaty, and unlike a lot of tarts isn’t too eggy.  This is delicious hot or cold.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 Sheet of ready made short crust pastry

2 Onions (thinly sliced)

1 Tbsp Chopped rosemary

3 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

1 Tbsp Olive oil

25 Grams Dried porcini mushrooms, (soaked in 50 ml of hot water)

200 Grams Button mushrooms (sliced)

50 Grams Gorgonzola (sliced)

50 Grams Hazelnuts (chopped)

2 Eggs

150 Ml Double Cream

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Grease a 23 cm loose based flan tin, roll you pastry until thin and line the tin, (chill in the fridge for 30 minutes)
  2. Put the porcini mushrooms in a bowl with 50ml of warm water and allow to soak
  3. Take your flan tin out of the fridge and over the base with grease proof paper and add baking beans on top, (I use old lentils that had been hanging about). Bake blind in an oven heated to 180 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove the grease proof paper and baking beans, and bake for a further 5 minutes, before removing from the oven
  4. While the pastry is baking add the olive oil and onions to a large heated frying pan. Turn down the heat and cook gently for 10 minutes
  5. Add the button mushrooms, garlic and rosemary to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  6. Add the porcini mushrooms and the water they were soaking in to the pan. Cook over a medium heat until all the liquid has evaporated, and leave to cool
  7. Put a baking sheet in the oven to heat (the temperature should be 180 degrees again)
  8. When the mushroom mix is completely cool, spread it evenly across the pastry base
  9. Distribute the gorgonzola on top of the mushroom mix
  10. Beat 2 Eggs, and add to the cream, season with salt and pepper, pour into the tart case and sprinkle chopped hazelnuts across the top
  11. Put the filled tart tin on to the heated baking sheet in the oven and bake for 35 minutes until the centre is set
  12. Allow to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before cutting

Gnocchi with bacon and broccoli

My little sister made this for me, and now I have to stop myself making it more than once a week.

A quick and easy starter or midweek dinner. This recipe makes enough for four people as a starter or two hungry people for dinner.

Serves 2

500 gram Pack of gnocchi

4 Slices of bacon

1 Small head of broccoli

2 Tbsp Olive oil

150 grams Crème fraiche

2 Cloves of garlic

Method

  1. Chop the broccoli into bite sized pieces, blanch in boiling for two minutes, and then drain
  2. Chop the the bacon into pieces (about 2cm, but bigger if you prefer)
  3. Cook the bacon in large frying pan (without oil) until crispy, and set to on side
  4. In the same pan and the olive oil and heat before adding the gnocchi, and allow the to cook until they start go golden brown
  5. Add minced garlic to the gnocchi and cook for a further minute
  6. Add the bacon and broccoli and stir in the crème fraiche. Stir until all the all the ingredients are coated and then serve

Butternut Squash and Pea Curry

This is an easy, healthy curry that even the most ardent meat lovers can enjoy.

Don’t be put off, if it seems that there are a lot of ingredients.  I know I prattle on about how good Asian supermarkets are, but you can build up a good stock of cheap spices that will help change how you cook.

Ingredients

500gms Butternut Squash (peeled, deseeded, and diced)

200gms Frozen Peas

150gms Red Lentils

1 Large onion (chopped)

2 Tbsp Coconut or other oil

1 Red chilli pepper

4 Cloves of garlic

1 Tsp Fennel seeds

1 Thumb sized piece of ginger

2 Tsp Garam Masala

2 Cardamom pods

500ml Vegetable stock

2 Tbsp Chopped coriander

Serves 4

Method

  1. Add the fennel seeds and cardamom pods to a dry pan and toast until you can spell the spices.
  2. Add the coconut oil and once heated add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The onions should be cooked gently until they caramelise and turn brown.  Taking the time to do this might seem like a bit of a faff, but it does help improve the depth of flavour
  3. Add the butternut squash (which has been diced in 1.5cm cubes), and continue to cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes
  4. Grate the ginger and add to the pan along with finely chopped chilli, garam masala, red lentils, and vegetable stock, cook for a further 10 minutes
  5. Add finely chopped garlic to the pan, along with frozen peas, and cook 5 more minutes
  6. Check that the butternut squash is tender, and check the seasoning and adjust to your taste. (I usually go easy when adding chilli, as it’s always easier to add more, but if you like a super hot then go nuts)
  7. Serve with basmati rice or naan bread (or both if you’re a total carb junkie like me).  This curry reheats really well, and will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days

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