Taco Tuesday

After spending two days listening to the endless drones of a man-flu victim, there was nothing else for it. If it kept him quiet for half an hour, I was going to slave away at the stove for twenty minutes to prepare his fave dinner - Cheesy Beef Tacos.

This recipe is SO quick and easy, looks the part and tastes restaurant quality! If you want to try it, here's what you'll need:

  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1tsp ground Cumin, 1tsp Chilli flakes, 1tsp hot Paprika
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped into small chunks
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • Lettuce
  • A load of grated cheddar cheese
  • Ready made taco shells, I use Old El Paso, below

For the lettuce, I use baby gems as the leaves fit perfectly into the little taco shells...

Firstly, fry your onion and garlic in a little oil. Add the mince and brown all over. Then add your Cumin, Paprika, Chilli flakes, tomato puree and give it all a good stir.

Allow to cook for a few minutes to let the Mexican spices flavour the meat.

Meanwhile, prepare your taco shells so they are standing upright in an oven proof dish. Add the lettuce leaves something like this:

Pile the mince meat mixture into the taco shells. Sprinkle OVER-generously with your grated cheese, and pop in the oven till cheese is melted, glistening, and screaming out your name.

Add the chopped tomatoes and spring onion to the top of the tacos and stuff any gaps you can around the sides with spare tomato.

Grate on a little more cheese (one can never have too much). Place delicately on a plate with a lettuce leaf to make it look like a Ramsey creation and serve!

Oh, and don't forget to summon the flu patient before you polish them all off!



Millionaires Shortcake

This has to be one of my favourite puds and with the girls coming over for a little dinner party I shrugged my shoulders and headed off to Tesco deciding to give it a go. Needless to say the girls were suitably impressed and I beamed a little inside at my handiwork!

I have to say it was very easy to make but looked as though I could have been slaving away at it for hours which was exactly what I was hoping for. So for those of you who like myself enjoy 'moonlighting' as a domestic goddess I thoroughly recommend you try this!

This is what you will need ...

  • 250g plain flour
  • 75g Caster Sugar
  • 175g Butter softened
  • 1 tin carnation caramel
  • 200g plain chocolate
  • 80g white chocolate 

To make the shortbread base, mix the flour and caster sugar in a bowl. Rub in the butter with your hands until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Knead the mixture together until it forms a dough, then press into the base of the prepared tin. Prick the shortbread lightly with a fork and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20 min or until firm to the touch and very lightly browned. Cool in the tin.

After the base is cool (and this is the hard bit) open your tin of carnation caramel and using a spoon spread over the shortbread. Once this is done suck spoon to efficiently remove all traces of caramel (this part is essential to show thanks to the caramel god)

For the topping, melt the chocolate slowly in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Pour over the cold caramel and leave to set.

Finally melt down your white choc using the same method as before and then drizzle randomly all over cake to create a lovely Jackson pollock type effect!

Leave to set for at least an hour before your guests arrive, serve with ice cream and sit back and enjoy the praise!



Chicken Noodle Stir Fry

This fragrant stir fry dish takes about 20 minutes from start to finish - perfect if you're home late and just want a tasty dinner on the table as quickly as possible. It's really healthy but the best bit is that it tastes like it's straight from the Thai local take away!

These Thai flavours certainly pack a punch so if you're not a fan of spice go easy on the ginger and chilli.


To make this you'll need:

  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 clove garlic,sliced
  • 200g egg noodles
  • 1 limes, juice and zest
  • 4 spring onions , sliced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced with the peeler
  • 1 tbsp mint
  • 2 tbsp coriander
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 cm root ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 chicken breast fillets , skinless, sliced
  • 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce 

Mix your lime zest and juice with the sugar, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, chilli and 1 tbsp of the Sesame oil and set to one side.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of the Sesame oil in a large frying pan or wok and stir fry the chicken for 4-5 minutes until golden in places and cooked through.

Add the carrots, spring onions and noodles and stir fry until piping hot.

Using a peeler to slice your way through the carrots gives the perfect stir fry result!

Remove from the heat add the dressing you made earlier, the mint and the coriander then toss to mix and serve.  Delicious!


Break-up Brownies

These brownies were made for break ups!

Warmer, richer and sweeter than Channing Tatum's thigh!

When a friend is in crisis and nothing but the filthiest, chocolatiest, melt in the middle naughtiness will do.... Look no further, this recipe is The One. The best thing about these bad boys is that is you can bake them in 40mins thanks to our dear friend Betty Crocker.

All you need is:

  • 1 box of Betty's finest choc chip cookie mix
  • One Betty's Brownie mix (I like choc fudge but sticky choc, chewy choc or whatever floats your boat will do)
  • 6 regular sized mars Bars

So here goes..

  1. Line chosen baking dish with baking paper
  2. Make cookies according to Betty's instructions and pour into paper lined dish.
  3. Place Mars bars in a row on top of cookie mixture.
  4. Make brownies (again following easy peasy instructions) and then pour mixture on top of your cookie mars bar yumminess and pop in the oven for 30 mins.
  5. Wait for aroma to fill the room whilst staring at oven wishing time would pass more quickly!

Et Voila.... The most handsome filthiest brownie you will ever come across (better than any man)

Best served warm with lashings of Vanilla Haagen Dazs

If for some obscure reason you have any brownies left they will keep for a week in an air tight container (keep well hidden).

These brownies are not strictly for break ups, they can be used in any times of crisis!



A Taste of Cuba...

Whenever I'm cooking for a larger group, I always find it easier and more sociable to cook a gigantic pot of something tasty, that sits on the stove for people to help themselves as and when they fancy.

On this occasion, it was for the boyfriend and me, plus the 'rents, who were over from Spain for the week... so no need to impress with haute cuisine!

Reminiscing about childhood holidays in Cuba, where my family and I would sit on the beach by day, and tuck into a rich, spicy Jambalaya in the evening, got me in the mood to create an old family favourite. This spicy, rice dish originated in the Caribbean Islands. The Spanish culture mixed with the native foods and created what we know as Jambalaya - a mixture of meat, vegetables and seafood topped up with stock and plenty of rice. If you want to make this dish you'll need:

(serves around 8)
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 450g skinless chicken breast, cubed
  • 450g smoked pork (I used gammon steak)
  • 900g long grain rice
  • 20 odd prawns, raw
  • 2 tins plum tomatoes
  • 500g tomato puree
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 1/2 pints (2 litres) chicken stock
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves

In a large pot, brown the chicken cubes in the sunflower oil, seasoning with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides - about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Do the same with the gammon or smoked pork, (no need for salt and pepper) The smell of the cooking bacon may warrant an early taste.... just make sure it's cooked through! Set aside with the chicken.

Add chopped onions, celery and red pepper to the oil left in the pot. Cook for 5 minutes until onion and celery turn transulcent.

Add tomato puree, and stir for a few minutes. Then add the tins of plum tomatoes, the stock and scrape any tasty sticky bits on the side of the pan into the liquid, stirring until smooth.

Add cayenne (2 tsp is pretty spicy, you may want to start with 1 and see how you go), a bit of pepper, oregano, thyme and bay leaves.

Return the chicken and pork and then add the rice. Stir, cover and cook with the lid on for about 20 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the bottom isn't burning.

Once rice is tender and most liquid has been absorbed, add the prawns and cook it for another 10 minutes. When they're perfectly pink, grab some plates and forks, call in the crowds and enjoy!

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days. This dish gets tastier by the day as flavours marinade.

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