Mum’s Chicken Noodle and Veg soup

Most people will say their mum makes the best chicken soup. I’m no different.

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We grew up with the smell of this soup wafting out to greet us as we were coming home from school. It was always such a welcoming smell, especially with the celery and cinnamon.

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Mum used to put some diced potato in the soup as well, to bulk it out, there was a lot of hungry mouths to feed.

We used to sit around the table, hovering over our bowls, dipping in rolled up pieces of Lebanese bread and shovelling the whole lot into our mouths.

I’d like to think that we’ve grown a little and developed some sort of decorum…..

But………

This recipe should feed four, so I’ve used four pieces of free range chicken. (Drumsticks and thighs with the bone still in are best, lots of flavour.)

Put the chicken in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Be sure to put in plenty of water because you’ll be throwing all the veggies and noodles in there as well.  Cover and bring to the boil on a medium heat.  Skim the scum that floats to the top of the pot. Turn the heat down a little and let the chicken simmer for about 40 minutes.

Next throw in 1 medium brown onion that you’ve peeled, halved and thinly sliced, 1 small carrot – sliced, 1 stalk celery – sliced (stalk and leaves), 1 medium ripe tomato – cubed, and I add a little piece of ginger, but that’s optional, as is chilli. Season with salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

imageCover and leave it to simmer for 30 minutes.  Lightly crush a couple of vermicelli egg noodle nests into the soup and stir them in. Cook for 10 minutes.

Finely slice some flat leaf parsley, and stir into the soup. (The parsley isn’t just a garnish, it’s a part of the soup and lends a really good flavour to the whole dish. And it’s very good for you)

Turn the heat off and it’s ready to serve.

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Cottage Pie

ImageI don’t always want to be the one who decides what we’re having for dinner.

Don’t get me wrong..I love to cook whatever, but sometimes I don’t know what I actually feel like so it’s up to my husband to decide what is going on the plates.

The questions is….”what does your stomach feel like????”

And this time around it was good old cottage pie……

It may seem like a lot of stuff, but it all goes in the pot to simmer, then put in oven proof serving dishes, smothered with smashed potato and baked for 40 minutes.

pie 1So…..in a saucepan throw in 2 tablespoons olive oil, 4 cloves crushed garlic, 1 small diced onion, 1 diced celery stalk, 1 dice small carrot. Cook this on a medium high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring.  Tip in 2 tablespoons flour, salt and pepper (to taste), and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Cook this for 3 minutes, stirring so it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan.

In goes 250g  lean beef mince and stir it in the veggies until brown, breaking up any lumps with a spoon.

pie 2Throw in 1 large tomato that you’ve  diced, 1/2 cup red wine, 4-5 sprigs thyme, 1/2 cup water or stock, 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce (I love worcestershire sauce, so I put in lots, you can put less ), 1 cup frozen peas.  Stir really well, turn heat down to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.pie 3

In another saucepan boil up 400g potato and 300g sweet potato that you’ve peeled and chopped, until they’re cooked through.

Strain well and mash with 1 tablespoon butter, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons milk.  It doesn’t have to be a smooth puree, a few small lumps of potato give the finished dish a nice texture.pie 7

These amounts made 4 single serve dishes, but you can make 1 big one if you like.

Evenly spoon the meat mixture into your oven proof serving dishes,  top them with your mash, rough up the top with a fork (you get crunchy bits that way),pie9 and bake at 180 degrees for 40 minutes.

pie 10 I served with tomato  wedges, thin slices of onion and some freshly picked rocket leaves from the garden. Oh, and tomato sauce of course.

This dish went down really well…pie 13

Enjoy…

Fruity Coconut oat slice

ImageHow about a semi healthy slice to go with your cup of tea…….

Melt 125g butter with 1 tablespoon honey.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup rolled oats, 2/3 cup sultanas, 1/2 cup coconut, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 2 tablespoons linseed, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup self raising flour.

Pour in the butter honey mix and stir it well until everything is really well mixed.

ImagePress into a 23cm square tin (which you’ve lined with greaseproof paper), sprinkle with 1/4 cup choc chips, and bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes or until brown.

ImageCool completely in tin before cutting into whatever size slices you like.

No nuts so  it makes a great lunch box treat.

Cabbage Salad

imageA variation on the classic coleslaw. This is a a fresh and zingy salad, which complements any meat or veggie dish. Very simple, and you’ll have people coming back for more….

I’ve got 2 cups of very finely sliced cabbage (any type of cabbage is good). 1 diced finely diced tomato (tomato is optional, but I like it), 2 cloves garlic – crushed, juice of 1/2 a lemon, a little salt, a little pepper, 2 tablespoons of olive oil.Image

Make the dressing by mixing together the garlic, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour it over the cabbage and tomato (if you’re using it), and toss it together, making sure it’s all really well combined.

Too easy…

Enjoy.

Slow Cook Lamb Shanks in Red Wine and Lentils

shanks10This is one I’ve made a few times and each time it tastes a little different, but that’s because each time I put in different herbs, depending on what I have.

Cooking this for as long  as possible is the key for a thick luscious sauce and meat that will fall of the bone.

This is the recipe as I made it a few days ago. We ended up with extra lentil gravy, but that went down well the next day for lunch over smashed potato .

Needed: 4 lamb shanks (1 per person) seasoned well with salt, pepper and cinnamon

3 tablespoons olive oil

5 cloves garlic – roughly chopped

1/2 leek – cut in half longways, rinsed and thinly sliced

2cm piece of fresh ginger – finely chopped

1 small carrot – diced

1 stalk celery – stalk and leaves diced

1 – 2 chillies (depending on how you like it) – finely sliced

1 cup lentils – par-boiled (bring just over 1/2 cup of  lentils to boil in lots of water, let them simmer for about 10 minutes, strain and they’re ready to use)

250ml red wine

250g canned diced tomato

salt, pepper,1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon sugar, 4-5 bay leaves, few sprigs lemon thyme, 3 sprigs rosemary

shanks 1Heat the oil in a large oven proof dish and brown the shanks on all sides.  Take them out, turn the heat down to medium and add the leek, carrot, celery, chilli, ginger, garlic, fennel and cumin seeds and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until soft.  Stir in the lentils, tomato, wine and about 1/2 cup of water.shanks2  Arrange the shanks in the sauce, making sure they’re nearly covered with the liquid, adding a little more water if you need to.shanks3

Cover with the lid and put in the oven at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes then turn down the heat down to 140 – 150 degrees and let it simmer away for 5 1/2 – 6 hours until the meat is tender or you can’t wait any more.

Take it out every now and again and stir it, turning the meat over in the sauce. Add more water if it’s looking too dry.

Lots of green beans and rice or potato on the side. Slices of crusty bread to mop up the sauce. A glass or two of your favourite red wine.

Perfect.

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Enjoy.

Scones….

ImageMy my parents-in-law love these scones. And what’s not to love???? They’re full of dates, ginger and honey….yum. Made these ones fresh this morning and they are on their way to my in-laws place as I write this. Chop 1/2 cup dates and 1/4 cup of glacé ginger into small pieces. Put them in a bowl with 2 cups of sifted self raising flour, 1 teaspoon ground ginger (less if you don’t like too much ginger), and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Mix well. In a small saucepan, gently heat  1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 cup milk (I use soy), and 1/4 cup cream till just hot enough to melt the honey. Add to the flour and lightly mix with a flat bladed knife until it all comes together to a soft dough. Tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and squash it down to about 2 cm thick. Cut out rounds and place them on a greased baking tray. Bring leftover dough back together and continue cutting out rounds until the dough is finished. Image Heat 1 tablespoon milk with 1 teaspoon honey and brush this over the top of your scones. Bake in a preheated oven, 210 degrees, for 15 minutes or until they are a lovely golden brown. Let them cool down for a few minutes before you try and shove them all in your mouth at once. Enjoy……Image