Spaghetti and meatballs is one of our favourite family dinners (‘spagerder!’). You just can’t beat tender, savoury meatballs in a silky tomato sauce with mounds of freshly cooked pasta. Of course, there are a hundred different variations out there: some meatballs use pork and beef, some add Parmigiano to the mixture, some bake, some cook in the sauce… the possibilities are endless. My take on it uses a pretty standard beef meatball, baked in the oven first, then cooked in a rich tomato sauce with a hint of sweetness from the balsamic vinegar and a hint of chilli spice too. Of course you can use a jar of tomato sauce, which I often do too, and linguine instead of spaghetti if you don’t have it. Here, then, especially for you, is my own, well-loved recipe for spaghetti and meatballs with tomato balsamic sauce.
I love to travel, but it’s also really lovely to get home and do a bit of nesting. I miss being in our kitchen, cooking for everyone while we all chat, catch up and have a giggle – there’s nothing quite like a house full of people (and quite a bit of mess at the moment – I need to do some decluttering). Charlie is home from uni and Sam has finished uni (I’m so old!) so doing a bit of part time stuff until he can get something more permanent, so often there’ll be all of us – plus girlfriends and often the odd friend too. I love it. The more the merrier, and these easy spiced lamb kofta meatballs are perfect for feeding a crowd. I guess you wouldn’t really look at meatballs as sunny day food, but, if you’re anything like me, there’s only so many salads you can eat when the weather is warm.
Last week I was in San Diego (I know! I’ve got loads to tell you about it – coming very soon), and one of the meals we all completely loved was a visit to Galaxy Taco in La Jolla. San Diego is really close to the border with the Baja Californian Peninsula, so it makes sense that a lot of the cuisine has a Mexican influence. I loved my beef taco but had massive food envy for the crispy fish tacos that a couple of the others had ordered. The fish has a Baja spiced crispy coating and is served on soft tacos with a zingy tomato salsa laced with green chilli and heavenly fresh guacamole. I decided to recreate the dish for the boys when I got home and this is the result – I’m sure it’s not 100% authentic – especially the spicing, but it tastes pretty good! If you read my last post, you’ll know that Crisp ‘n Dry are supporting RNLI’s Fish Supper fundraising event this weekend and I thought that a whole bunch of these yummy Baja fish tacos with fresh tomato salsa and guacamole on the side would be perfect if you’re joining in (more of that on my creamy fish pie recipe here).
As Charlie goes off to university very soon (sob), and as we all know, being a student means living on a pretty limited budget. I want to make sure that he has loads of recipes that he can refer to here so that he can make himself a few decent meals without resorting to expensive takeaways. For a Friday night treat, is there anything better than pizza? It’s horrendously expensive to buy, but incredibly easy – and much cheaper – to make at home. Step forward my favourite essential Waitrose range which stocks all the products you need at great prices (and great welfare standards) without compromising on quality. Charlie loves halloumi, so I’ve created this pizza especially for him, piled high with all the ingredients he likes: here’s how to make my halloumi, olive and mint pizzas at home:
Ahhh leftover turkey. I know people moan about it, but we always buy an extra mahoosive turkey, even if there’s just the four of us on Christmas day, as we love our turkey leftovers! This easy leftover turkey nachos recipe takes no time to put together, has some proper fresh, zingy flavours, and is a fabulous sharing dish – basically everything you want from Boxing Day and beyond. And for the rest of the year, well, just make it with chicken!
I’m home!! Oh we had such a lovely time on our cruise (if you’ve been following me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you’ll have seen all the fun), and I’m literally back for one day before Erica and I head out to Walt Disney World Resort, Florida to check out everything new in the world of Disney dining (and to whizz around on a few rides, of course). I was delighted to come back to a fabulous delivery in the shape of new Ryvita Lunch Packs, so as Erica’s staying before we head off to Gatwick, we though we’d have a little play and concoct some quick and healthy snackage to set us up for our long flight.
Are you a fan of keema? If you haven’t discovered it yet, think shepherd’s pie filling, but with a delicious, warm, spicy kick. We adore it. I first started making a similar version as a party nibble, stuffed into little lettuce cups, but we also just have it with rice. It’s a really easy, yummy way to spice up lamb mince (if you’re only using it in your shepherd’s pies, you’re missing a trick), and it’s a great, affordable way to feed the whole family. We don’t seem to eat at the same time as much on weekdays, so I sometimes knock up a big pan of keema, then Mr E and I will eat ours with rice, and the boys will heat theirs up later, which I think is where the whole stuffed chapatis/quesadilla idea came about (I’ve got to be honest, I was going to call these quesadillas, but y’know, it almost seems a fusion dish too far, plus since I decided to write this recipe up, we’ve started buying chapatis and they’re delicious).
This last week before we head off on our long-awaited cruise has been a bit strange. We’ve barely seen the boys as they’ve been spending time making the most of their last few days of freedom before education beckons again, and I feel a bit like I’m in limbo: like I know that this really is the last of our English summer and that when I come home it will properly be autumn. Already, as we’re walking the dog, the blackberries are ripe and ready to pick, and even on a really hot day, there’s that little nip in the air when the sun goes in. I’m still loving quick, healthy eating and we’ve been packing away easy summer dinners of warm salads, fish and stir fries. Read more
Have you seen the new Cathedral City advert with David Jason? I love the ‘cheese rules’, especially the one about when the cheese gets too small to grate, you get to eat the last bit. That always happens in our house. Cathedral City asked us about our own ‘cheese rules’ and it immediately made me think of the bubbly bits left on the pan after making cheese on toast. We always fight over them, but clearly I win as I’m the cook. Talking of cheese on toast, here’s my version of Welsh rarebit – alcohol free and with the addition of a few herbs. It’s absolutely delicious and moreish and makes the perfect working from home lunch or easy supper:
Those lovely bags of fries. They’re the nation’s favourite, aren’t they? A staple for any classic British meal. Quick, easy and tasty, the faithful oven chip has never let us down. It’s simplicity is its strength, because it goes so well with so much. Steak and chips, egg and chips, fish and chips, and so on.
However, chips are still far from reaching their full potential, and there are, it seems, plenty of quick, easy and mouthwatering ways of preparing a bag of McCain fries that we need to try. Some of these may seem unexpected, but they may just be your new favourite way of eating Britain’s favourite side dish. Here’s how I got on with my research:
Ages ago when I was on Nick Coffer’s Weekend Kitchen at BBC Three Counties radio, a lovely lady called Polly had this delicious recipe for this fresh and crunchy winter slaw made with shredded sprouts that was such a lovely mix of textures and flavours: fresh and crunchy, spicy and sweet.
I promised you a while ago that I’d give you an update on my favourite lentil curry recipe. This is our absolute fave – a really simple, healthy one pot dinner. I’m always messing with it – adding leftover roast chicken, or a tin of chickpeas, or some veg that’s a bit past its best: sweet potato, cauliflower, etc. I’ve always listed the ingredients separately before, but now I actually make the spice mix up in bigger quantities and it’s much easier to spoon into the curry.
This salad came about a little by accident, which, of course, is how all the best things happen. The very lovely people at John Ross Jr sent me some of their rather delicious smoked salmon (it’s traditionally smoked in red brick kilns) and it was in the fridge when I happened to be making a salad and rootling about for something yummy to put in it. I was going to add a poached egg, but then on a whim decided to warm the salmon through and – wow – that little bit of warmth brings out all the glorious, salty, smoky sweetness of the salmon. Do give this a go, it’s rather good (even though I say so myself).
So recently. The Organic Trade Board challenged us to take the Thrifty Organic Challenge and switch our usual weekly shop for organic. The average grocery shopping budget for a UK family of four is £83 a week. Could I switch everything we usually buy to organic , stay on budget, and still produce yummy, healthy food for my family? Here’s how we got on.
Oh isn’t it just heavenly to see the sunshine? I’ve been waking really early, the sun streaming through the curtains (this makes Mr E really grumpy but I LOVE it), making myself a cup of honey and lemon in hot water (current obsession) and wandering around the garden, watching Tails the cat hiding under the delicious-smelling jasmine (by the way, look at the size of him – will he ever stop growing?), watering my little terracotta pots of herbs and other bits and pieces, playing tug of war with Lyra…
Sam came home from uni the other day and completely randomly had a craving for loaded potato skins. They’re not something I ever cook, but I had a go and wow, they’re pretty moreish. I can see them being our Saturday evening TV viewing snackage of choice from now on. Here’s how I did it:
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