Roast Tomato Soup

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After a recent trip to see my Dad in N Ireland, I came back to Scotland laden with produce from my Dad’s garden, including an array of Dad’s own jams and marmalades, cucumbers, green peppers, and some plump, and beautifully red tomatoes from his greenhouse. I knew I wanted to make a tomato soup with the tomatoes. There is something so comforting about a bowl of tomato soup, especially at this time of year – it really is like a hug in a bowl!

I have tried a couple of recipes for tomato soup over the years, but have not really found a winner, until now…

I came across a recipe by Rachel Allen in her book Home Cooking. I love how simple this recipe is. The oven does all the work for you, roasting off all the dry ingredients before adding in some stock and blending. Roasting the vegetables brings out the most beautiful rich and sweet flavours from the tomatoes, onions and garlic, and fills your kitchen with a heavenly aroma. I have adapted the recipe a little to my own liking. I hope you like it as much as I do…

NB – this recipe works best when your tomatoes are very ripe. 

The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1.5kg ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • leaves from 6 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 300ml vegetable stock
Method
Preheat the oven to 180ºC, and grease a large tray with some olive oil to prevent the vegetables sticking to the tray.
Remove the skin from the tomatoes, then halve them, and place in the baking tray with the sliced onions, garlic cloves, and thyme leaves.
NB – the best way to skin the tomatoes is to make a small nick on the base of each tomato using a sharp knife, and place in a large bowl. Cover the tomatoes with boiling water, leave for 1 minute, or until you see the skin starting to peel away from the flesh, then transfer to a bowl of cold water. Once cool enough to handle the skin should just slip away from the flesh.
Sprinkle over the sugar, and then drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and the extra virgin olive oil.
Place the tray in your preheated oven for 30 mins, until the vegetables are softened.
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Decant the contents of the baking tray in to a liquidiser, including any juices from the pan. Add in the stock, blend until smooth, and pour in to a large saucepan.
Enjoy!
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Sweet & Sour Chicken Fakeaway

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This has to be one of my favourite dishes to make at the minute. I love sweet & sour chicken, but this just tastes fresher and healthier than sweet & sour dishes from your local Chinese takeaway. This is surprisingly easy to make, and just tastes so good. My little ones love it too, and are learning to use chopsticks, making it a fun dish for them to enjoy.

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Little Squirrels mastering the art of chopsticks with the help of Typhoon Rookie Stix

The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, diced into bite-sized chunks
  • 1/2 cup cornflour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • approx 250g pineapple chunks
  • 1 green pepper and 1 red pepper, chopped in to large pieces
  • 6 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • sprinkling of sesame seeds
Method
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat.
Place the cornflour and the beaten eggs into two separate wide, shallow dishes.
Coat the chicken pieces in the cornflour, then coat in egg, before browning in the hot frying pan.
Transfer the browned chicken pieces into a deep oven-proof casserole dish.
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In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, ketchup, rice vinegar, soya sauce, crushed garlic, and 1 tbsp cornflour. Add the pineapple chunks, peppers, and spring onion and mix. Pour this over the chicken, and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes to coat the chicken evenly in the sauce.
To serve, sprinkle over some sesame seeds.
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Enjoy!

Blueberry & Banana Muffins

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The Little Squirrels love banana muffins, and I love blueberry muffins, so I decided to experiment with a banana muffin recipe I have been using, and throw some blueberries in. The result is a deliciously moist muffin, bursting with juicy blueberry goodness.

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Since posting the picture above on Instagram and Facebook a few of you have been asking for the recipe, so here you go…

The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 250g (1½ cups) self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 100g (1/2 cup) golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 large bananas mashed
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 75g (1/3 cup) melted butter
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 150g (1 cup) blueberries
  • a sprinkling of Demerara sugar
Method

Prehat the oven to 180°C.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Add in the salt, caster sugar, and cinnamon and stir with a large metal spoon until all ingredients mixed evenly.

In a separate large bowl mix the mashed bananas, beaten eggs, melted butter, milk and vanilla extract. Pour this mix into the dry ingredients and fold in gently with a large metal spoon. Be careful not to overwork the batter. Gently stir in the blueberries.

Set paper cases into a deep muffin tin, and then spoon in the mixture so that each case is almost full.
If you like a little crunch on the top of your muffin, sprinkle each one with a little Demerara sugar before putting in the oven.

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Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven, leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then set on a wire rack to cool.

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These are best eaten on the day of baking and I think they are at their most delicious while still warm! Enjoy…

Easy-Peasy Pizza Recipe

Hawaiian pizza

Those of you that follow me on Instagram will have seen quite a few pizza shots lately. I have recently rediscovered the joy of homemade pizza… I used to make my own pizzas quite regularly before I had the Little Squirrels, but for some reason (Motherhood!) I had completely forgotten how easy and tasty these cheese and tomato covered sheets of light and fluffy dough were.

A few of you have been asking me for my recipe so I thought I would share it here…

The pizza dough recipe is actually a Lorraine Pascale recipe. I use this quantity to make 2 good sized pizzas (a vegetarian one for Mr Hungry Squirrel and a meaty one for me and the girls).

I give credit to my biggest brother for the pizza sauce recipe. He makes a great pizza sauce, though he likes to add capers and anchovies… I prefer the plainer version below, but slow cooking the sauce yields a lovely rich and tasty flavour.

The Recipe

Ingredients

Pizza Sauce

  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar
Pizza Dough

  • 300g strong white bread flour
  • 7g fast-action dried yeast
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 175ml warm water
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

Pizza Sauce

Sauté the chopped onion until soft, then add the rest of the ingredients.
Once simmering, reduce the heat and allow to simmer gently for between 1 and 1.5 hours until most of the liquid has reduced, leaving you with a thick rich pizza sauce with the consistency of tomato puree.

Pizza sauce

Pizza Dough

Put the flour, yeast and salt in to a large bowl and stir to combine.
Add the oil to the warm water.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and gradually stir in the oil and water using a knife, until you have a soft, slightly sticky, ball of dough.
Using the dough hook on your free standing mixer work the dough for 5 minutes. (If you don’t have a mixer, roll up your sleeves and knead on a floured surface for 10 minutes).
Place the dough on a lightly floured board and cover with lightly oiled cling film.
Leave in a warm room for at least 1 hour until you have a nice rise on the dough.

Pizza dough

When ready to prepare your pizzas for the oven, put the oven on to heat to 240ºC (fan oven) and roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface.
I split the dough into two and make two oblong pizzas.
The dough should be nice and thin when rolled out. Prick all over with a fork to prevent bubbles from forming in the base.

Cover with your pizza sauce, sliced mozzarella, and your favourite toppings… For me pepperoni or ham and pineapple.
To prevent a soggy pizza dry out your mozzarella by placing on absorbent kitchen towel after slicing.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Put into a hot oven (220ºC fan oven) for 10-15 minutes until the base and toppings are just starting to brown.

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Left – Mixed veg and Pepperoni pizzas ready for the oven
Middle -Saigon Charlie’s Vietnam Smoked Chilli Sauce
Right – Pizza party

Remove from the oven, and place on a board to cool a little before slicing and serving.

We love our pizza with some hot sauce, and we can’t get enough of Saigon Charlie’s range of hot sauces… sooooo good! We are lucky enough to have family living in Vietnam, so Thanks Andrew and Gill for keeping us stocked up on this sauce on your trips home!

 

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Coconut Chilli Chicken

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Just recently I have finally unboxed some of our wedding presents that had been in storage at my in-laws house until we moved in to our new home. Amongst these was a Tefal slow cooker – what a revelation! It is so satisfying to prep all the ingredients in the morning, quite literally dump them in to the slow cooker, and then at dinner time a super tasty meal is ready for the family with minimal effort required. Perfect for a busy Mum of two like me!

The first slow cooker meal I made was a delicious Boeuf Bourguignon using a delicious recipe from Sorted Food. This was so tasty – proper comfort food… try it!

I then stumbled across this recipe for Coconut Chilli Chicken Slow Cooker Dump Bag by Mrs Meldrum. I love the idea of the dump bag – all ingredients prepped and dumped in a freezer bag, ready to go in the slow cooker on those busy, no hands-free, days. I love coconut and chilli so had to give this one a go, however I have modified the recipe by adding in some more fragrant ingredients such as fresh chilli, fresh ginger, lime, and fresh coriander.

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The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts diced
  • 1 tin of coconut milk
  • 1 large onion cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4-5 spring onions chopped
  • 1/2 red chilli finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1/2 stock cube or 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
  • a large handful of chopped fresh coriander
Method
Ok, so this is simple…
Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker. Turn on, and cook for 6 hours.
Before serving stir in lashings of fresh coriander!
Serve with rice or noodles.
The sauce is quite thin, almost like a broth. I like it like this as the sauce soaks in to the rice, or if you add rice noodles is it similar to a laksa. If you like a thicker sauce, simply coat your diced chicken in some plain flour before you add it to your slow cooker.
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Pancakes – A Recipe For Crêpes

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Last month I shared the recipe my Mum passed on to me for Drop Scones, so today I am sharing the recipe my Mum used for crêpes.
I have really fond memories of the family gathered round the dining table eagerly awaiting Mum dishing up a big batch of crêpes. One batch was never enough, but Mum would happily whip up another and another batch for her hungry kids. She was always the last to sit down and had to make do with a couple of pancakes from the bottom of the pile after the rest of the family had demolished the pancake tower! I now feel like I am walking in her footsteps as I dish up the pancakes for my family of Hungry Squirrels. Little Squirrel is a big fan…

The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4oz sieved plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 7 fl oz milk mixed with 3 fl oz water
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  • a little extra melted butter for cooking the pancakes
Method
Place the flour and salt in to a large bowl, make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into it.
Start to whisk in the eggs (I use an electric whisk but can be done with a hand whisk too), and gradually add in the milk/water mixture (whisking continuously). Make sure to incorporate bits of flour from the edges as you go, and once all the milk and water has been added, use a rubber spatula to check the bowl for any rogue bits of flour, then whisk again so you are left with a smooth batter (with a consistency of single cream).
Add 2 tablespoon of melted butter to the batter and stir it in.
Place a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat, and then turn down to a medium heat. Add a little melted butter to the pan, swirling it around until the whole pan is covered. Very carefully use some kitchen roll to mop up any excess butter from the pan – the pan should be coated with butter, but the pancakes should not be cooked in fat.
I use a ladle to add the batter to the pan, and once again swirl the pan round so the base is evenly coated with batter.
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After 20-30 seconds lift the edge of the pancake to check that the underside is tinged golden, and then flip over with a palette knife. Cook for only 10 seconds or so.
Slide each cooked pancake out on to a plate placed over a pan of simmering water to keep them warm while you cook the batch, and cover with foil (or I use a large saucepan lid).
Serve, slather on Nutella, or drizzle with maple syrup, and enjoy!
This recipe yields around 8 pancakes.
Crêpe perfection!

Crêpe perfection!

Drop Scones

Pancakes

If you follow my Instagram account or are friends with me on Facebook you will have noticed that there have been a lot of pancakes being produced and consumed in the Squirrel household of late! Since we moved into our new home last year I have thoroughly enjoyed our first proper family kitchen. My favourite time of the week is weekend breakfast with the family, and the perfect breakfast for me is orange juice, coffee, and pancakes!

Dreamy drop scone with a generous slathering of butter and golden syrup!

Dreamy drop scone with a generous slathering of butter and golden syrup!

Growing up in the Møller household, my Mum’s pancakes were definitely a source of excitement for me and my brothers. Pancakes drizzled with syrup, maple syrup, or butter and sugar were a firm favourite and Mum would often whip up an extra batch when the first lot had been swiftly devoured! For me I struggle to choose between skinny crêpes or these fluffy drop scones. To make… these little drop scones are easy peasy, and lots of my friends have asked me to share the recipe so here goes.

The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6oz self-raising flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 1.5oz caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 200ml milk
Method
Heat a heavy-based frying pan and grease with oil (I use olive oil).
Measure the flour, baking powder and caster sugar out into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg and half the milk into a well in the centre, and using a balloon whisk beat until smooth. Gradually whisk in the remaining milk, and you will be left with a thick batter.
With your pan on a medium heat drop tablespoonfuls of the batter into the pan, spacing well apart. I usually cook four at a time. After 30 seconds you will see  little bubbles rising to the surface of your little pools of batter. At this point turn with a palette knife and cook on the other side for a further 20-30 seconds. Lift off on to a wire rack, and repeat until you have a beautiful batch of drop scones ready to serve.
Little bubbles - ready to turn over

Little bubbles – ready to turn over

Serve with a slathering of butter and a swirl of golden syrup – delicious!
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Little Squirrel enjoying her drop scones

These are definitely best fresh off the pan though my Little Squirrels are quite happy to finish them off later that day!