After footie pie - football pie.

After footie pie                   .......Boost their spirits whatever the result.

Saturday afternoon Football means starving Son & Papa  tea time . This hearty pie fills the hunger gap in a most delicious and nutritious manner. My son loves this pie so much I almost didn’t get chance to take a picture. His spoon was poised ready to pounce and he wasn’t very happy at having to wait. I even made him take the photo to increase his anticipation. It’s great to see a young lad looking so forward to good food. This is a traditional cottage pie but I add some extras to boost the nutrient content and make it even tastier. The added chickpeas and sweet potato increases the overall fibre intake and adds lovely texture to this well loved dish. It’s a great way of getting kids and big folk too to eat different foods.

500gm lean minced beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 beef stock cube (Knorr Swiss I like)
1 large onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon Steak seasoning
1/2 tin chickpeas (drained)
2 carrots peeled and chopped into very small pieces
For the Mash
2 large sweet potatoes peeled and chopped in to chunks
2-3 lbs potatoes peeled and chopped into chunks
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons marg or butter plus some for dotting on mash
milk or soya milk to loosen spuds
salt & pepper to taste
In a large pan place the potatoes in and bring to the boil. Cook until tender. Rinse and drain. Add butter, milk(add bit by bit until texture you like) salt & pepper. Mash until smooth.
Preheat oven to 200c/gas mark4
In a large frying pan add the olive oil and heat. Over a medium high heat start frying the onions and garlic until soft. Add the mince and brown the lot. Add the puree and steak seasoning stirring well. Add the stock cube and gently swish some water into the mix to create a liquid,just enough to make it moist. Add the carrots & chickpeas and keep stirring. It should be a rich tomato colour with a nice beefy gravy. Remove from heat and place the entire mixture into a large ovenproof dish. Spoon the mash over the top and dot with some small pieces of butter. Pop into the oven for 30-40 minutes until the top is nicely browned. I served it up with some green beans to boost the Folic Acid and VitaminC nutrient but it’s just as nice with big side salad ( and a large glass of red for Mama). Enjoy!
*The leftover 1/2 tin of chickpeas
Place the chickpeas on to a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Place in the oven underneath the pie and cook for around 30 minutes until crispy. A fantastic snack, just wait until they have cooled before munching as they are hot little minxes. I speak from experience!

Berry Bars

Berry Bars

Berry Cereal Bars
To help with quick breakfast ideas and the in between meal hunger pangs these highly nutritious bars are quick and easy to prepare. I’ve tried several recipes for cereal bars and have found them dry and brittle and not wishing to be revisited. Now, it could have been my particular cooking skills that interrupted the texture and flavour, as I’m only just gathering confidence in the sweet baking department. My family are brutally honest with me when it comes to rating my baking and I rely heavily upon their input. Rather than having to endure it again they tell me the truth. Not to say it doesn’t hurt sometimes. They do however enjoy this one. The bars are light and moist and most importantly provide a healthy snack to get them through to the next meal. The walnuts provide a source of Vitamin E, the oats and cinnamon are great for steady blood sugar levels and the berries and seeds are a great source of fibre. Super foodboost!
100 gms butter plus a little extra for greasing
200 gms porridge oats
50 gms sunflower seeds
50 gms milled flaxseeds
50 gms sesame seeds
50 gms chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons honey
100gms light muscavado sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
100 gms dried blueberries, cranberries, cherries or a mix of all.
Heat the oven to 160c/Gas 3. Butter and line the base of 18 x 25 cm tin. Mix the oats, seeds, nuts onto a large baking tray. Then place in the oven for 5-10 minutes to toast. In another large pan, warm the butter, honey and sugar stirring until the butter has melted. Add the oat mix, cinnamon and dried fruit and mix it well. Place the mixture into the tin and press it down lightly. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool and cut into bars. Should make 12 bars.

Chinese Adzuki Bean & Rice Noodles

1 tin adzuki Beans
1 apple finely chopped
1 red onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger finely chopped
1 tablespoon Chinese 5spice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soya sauce
2 green onions finely sliced(garnish)
handful frozen sweetcorn
handful chopped coriander(garnish)
Rice noodles* cook according to pack

In a large fry pan heat the olive oil and over a medium heat saute the onions,garlic & ginger.
Add the apple and 5 spice and cook for further 2-3 minutes.
Add the beans & sweetcorn and mix together gently.
Finally dizzle in the honey & soya sauce and reduce the heat to low for a further 5 minutes.
Prepare the noodles.
Drain well.
Place noodles in a large serving bowl and top with bean mixture.
Garnish with green onion strips and fresh coriander.
Should serve 2.

Three bean burger meal

This is one of my families favourite summer suppers.It's very easy,cheap and nourishing and always gets eaten up.It's a great way of using up any left over vegetables cooked or not and boosting the nutrient content for your family.
Three bean burgers.....
  • 1/2 can Kidney beans drained
    1/2 can Cannellini beans drained
    1/2 can Butter beans drained
    3-4 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
    1 clove garlic
    1/2 vegetable stock cube
  • (dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water)
    1 tablespoon tomato puree
    2 spears of fresh broccoli- chopped
    (Olive oil to cook the burgers)

  • Bean salad ....

    1/2 can kidney beans
    1/2 can cannellini beans
    1/2 can butter beans
    2-3 sprigs flat leaf parsley
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    Pinch sea salt
    Place all ingredients in a large bowl and give it a stir.Chill
    until ready to serve.
  • Place all the ingredients (not the olive oil) in a food processor and whizz until slighty chunky.
  • Prep..

                            Heat a fry pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.Form the mixture into small burger shapes and place in frying pan.

    • Cook for approx 3-4 minutes on each side,they should turn a golden brown.You need to be gentle in the flipping of these as they are delicate and can fall apart if too rough.Serve them hot or cold with mayo or a good mustard!I like to add a tasty bean salad and fresh corn on the cob to complete the summer look . Great for picnics or simply sitting outside in youer gardens.Put them into buns,wraps or simply with fresh salad .No worry about meat in the heat!


    To make this process as smooth as possible it is vital to eat foods with a naturally high fibre content. The recommended amount per day is 18gms but realistically most people consume around12gms. It would be hard to try and count the fibre grams of everything we eat, time consuming and personally I'd simply forget where I left off. Simple additions like sprinkling flaxseeds onto cereals & soups and choosing wholegrains over white processed muck can greatly increase fibre intake which can improve overall health. Give your food a Boost!
    Here is a rough guide to roughage!
    We get fibre from plant based food but the body cannot absorb this. We need fibre to help digest food and absorb nutrients which is essential to well being. Fibre also helps lower and maintain cholesterol and it is really important for healthy blood sugar levels which controls appetite. So fibre is great for making you feel fuller for longer but it also plays a really important role in the body too.
    Insoluble fibre is the type that prevents constipation and is found in the following:
    • Beans
    • Brown rice
    • Lentils
    • Corn
    • Wholewheat cereals & breads
    • Wholegrain cereals & breads
    • Oats
    • Pulses & lentils
    • Fruits with seeds
    • Milled Flaxseeds
    Soluble Fibre is the one that helps with blood sugar and cholesterol and is found in all fruits and vegetables.The following foods have a high fibre content.
    Apples,pears & strawberries
    Legumes(beans,peas & lentils)
    Milled Flaxseeds 

    Mixed Bean Feast & Root Vegetable Mash

    2 Tablespoons of olive oil
    2 onions chopped
    1 clove garlic chopped
    1 clove garlic left whole for the mash
    Fresh rosemary or thyme chopped

    1 vegetable stock cube
    3 tablespoons tomato puree
    4-5 cups boiling water
    1 cup of sweet corn

    4-5 carrots (for the feast)-(peeled and cut into bite sized pieces)

    6-7 carrots (for the mash)-(peeled and cut into even chunks)

    1 medium swede (for the mash)-(peeled and cut into even sized chunks)

    2 large sweet potato (for the mash)-( peeled and cut into even chunks)

    1 cup of passata (fine sieved tomato)
    1 can drained (in water) kidney beans
    1 can drained (in water) pinto beans
    1 can drained (in water) cannelini beans

    Drop of milk or soya milk

    1Tablespoon of butter or soya butter.

    Place large pot of water on to boil and place the carrots, swede and sweet potatoes and garlic clove in it. Boil until soft. As it boils ......
    Turn stove/oven on to a medium high temperature to preheat.

    For the Bean Feast
    Pan fry onions & garlic in olive oil until soft. Add the chopped herbs of choice. Stir in puree and mix well. Transfer this mixture into a large pot big enough for the remaining vegetables .Add the corn, carrots, all the beans ,stock cube ,passata and water. Cook on a high heat for approximately 10- 15 minutes. Turn the heat down and simmer for a further 15-20 minutes. As the feast cooks out the colour will change to a lovely russet reddish hue and become quite thick and saucy. Season to taste. I love Maldon sea salt and freshly milled black pepper.
    Meanwhile back at the mash ....once the root vegetables are tender drain off the water AND save the water if you are making the lentil soup. Add the milk, butter and season to taste with salt and pepper and madly mash with your mashing tool.

    Once you’re happy with the flavour and thickness of your Bean Feast turn it out into a casserole dish. Place the Mash on top and spread it to create an even topping. You can place a few more knobs of butter on the top if you wish. Place in oven for a further 15 minutes to crisp up the top.
    Serve with a nice green side salad to ensure full absorption of vitamins and nutrients.
    P. S. This dish does freeze well

    Adzuki bean burgers

    2 x tins of adzuki beans drained (mashed,
    or coarsely blended in a food processor)

    1 small sweet potato, grated
    2 small carrots, grated
    2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
    1 red onion, finely chopped
    2 cloves of garlic, crushed,
    1/2 cup of grated cheese (we like Monterey Jack)
    3 tablespoons of sesame seeds
    1 cup of fresh rye bread crumbs

    pinch of salt (Maldon)& Pepper

    Make the bread crumbs out of 100% rye bread and process them in the food processor.
    I use rye to bind the burgers as it has a lo GI content and it all helps to keep the old sugars under control.
    Mix all the ingredients together, keeping a small amount of bread crumbs aside to roll the burgers in before cooking.
    Roll the mixture into balls and then press to form patties.
    Dab them in the leftover bread crumbs.
    Heat 2 tablespoons of olive/canola oil in a large fry pan & cook them over a medium heat.
    Cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, until the look crispy.
    I like to serve these with a scoop of creme fraiche & a big spinach salad dressed in oil & balsamic vinegar.

    Red Lentil & Vegetable Soup

    2 tablespoons of Olive oil
    2 Onions chopped
    1 clove garlic chopped
    1 vegetable stock cube
    1 tablespoon of tomato puree
    1 sweet potato peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
    2-3 carrots peeled and chopped and cut into bite sized chunks
    250 gm of washed red lentils or 2 cans of Lentils drained
    3 cups of boiling water Or your saved vegetable water from MASH

    Pan fry the onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft. Transfer into a large pot big enough for the rest of the ingredients. Place the boiling water in the pot and add the vegetables ,lentils, puree and stock cube and cook on a high heat for 15-20 minutes. Once the vegetables are soft take off the heat. Put through food processor or blitz with hand held kitchen tool . The soup should be smooth and thick to your taste, if you find it’s too thick then add a little extra water to loosen. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    Serve with raw carrot sticks and a chunk of wholemeal bread and butter.

    This freezes well.

    Plum & ginger cake

    1 kg dark plums
    125 ml red wine
    1 cinnamon stick
    1/2 inch fresh ginger grated
    1 piece of orange peel
    300g caster sugar
    150g unsalted butter softened (extra for greasing)
    3 eggs
    170ml soured cream (I used cream fraiche)
    350g plain flour sifted
    25g baking powder
    120g walnut pieces (optional)
    Greek yoghurt


    Put the plums, ginger, wine, cinnamon, orange peel and 120 g of sugar into a large saucepan.
    Pour in enough water to just cover the fruit, then cook over a low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
    Poach for about 10 minutes or so until the plums are soft.
    Transfer the plums to a bowl and return the liquid to a high heat. Bring to the boil and reduce until it is a runny but slightly sticky sauce. Be careful as it will be very hot.
    Preheat the oven to 170c/325F/Gas mark 3. Grease and line the base of a 26cm springform pan.
    Remove the stalks and stones and chop the plums into small pieces, keep 150g in reserve.
    Cream the butter and remaining sugar until pale and then add the eggs one at a time.
    Stir in the sour cream; fold in the flour, baking powder and nuts.
    Carefully fold in the plums.
    Spoon into the pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
    Set aside to cool in the pan.
    Fold the reserved plums through the yoghurt and serve on the side of the cake.
    Drizzle the cake slice with the plum and ginger syrup. Enjoy with mug of something warm.

    Aunt Junebugs’ Favourite Onion Bhajias

    Onion Bhajias

  • 1 3/4 cups chick pea flour

  • 2tsp garam masala

  • 2tsp ground coriander seeds

  • 2 tsp ground cumin

  • 2 tsp tumeric

  • 1 tsp chili powder

  • 3/4 tsp salt plus more for seasoning

  • 2/3 cup water

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantror(fresh)

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 3 large onions,thinly sliced (about 2 1/4 lbs)

  • additional vegetable oil for deep frying

  • cilantro sprigs for garnish *
  • Yogurt dipping sauce
    1 1/2 cups yogurt
    3 tbsp finely chopped fresh mintmix and set aside-let it mellow for half an hour while making bhajias.
    *Cilantro is the same herb as coriander.

    In a medium to large mixing bowl whisk dry ingredients to blend, slowly add water and whisk to a smooth and thick batter then stir in chopped cilantro.
    Set batter aside.

    Heat 2 tbsp oil in wok or heavy pot, add onions and cook over medium heat and saute until onions are slightly softened -about 15 minutes

    Transfer onions to a colander over a bowl to let cool and drain excess oil and liquid.
    Mix cooled onions through batter.

    Make each bhajias the size of a golf ball and cook in oil for about 5 minutes-until golden brown.
    Use slotted spoon to remove and drain on paper towel and season with salt while hot.
    Serve with yogurt dipping sauce.This batter would be yummy on fish too.
    This recipe comes via Aunt Junebug in Canada who got it from a programme called Take Home Cooks. It’s an easy follow the recipe get results kind of dish. Our family loves onions in pretty much every form in which they come, raw ( my father eats them like apples, but I think he just likes to freak out the grandkids), pickled, fried and now in this round spicy little delicacy. I made it on Friday night for the first time as a starter to a big old curry feast. It was well received by my posse of hungry dinner guests and they politely requested that I make them again soon. Always a good marker for me.