Shredded Chilli Pork

Shredded Chilli Pork is a very easy one-pot dish that produces gorgeously tender pork in a super flavourful chilli sauce.

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My blogging has become erratic again. I blame the fact that my work space is affectionately referred to as ‘The Black Hole’. It’s basically in the store room – a room created in what was the garage (and not particularly well, it’s got to be said – not by us I may add). So it has no natural light and is full of crap. I’ve tried to prettify it by adding fairy lights (obvs) but really, there is no polishing a turd. So now that the nights are getting lighter, and the weather better (allegedly), holing myself up in the arse-end of the house is not so appealing.

But we’re currently in the middle of decorating the living room, so have removed the doors separating the kitchen from said room. This means I have no escape from the deafening volume of my children. Hence even the Black Hole is appealing.

Shredded Chilli Pork - Gorgeously tender and flavourful pork in a chilli sauce | thehecticcook.com

And thus here I am. With a recipe I’ve had waiting to blog for several weeks. It’s a real ‘throw-it-all-in-a-pot’ type of recipe, and the result is really tasty. It isn’t complicated (when are my recipes ever complicated?) and uses mostly stuff you’ll have in the kitchen cupboard already. I’m a big fan of shredded meat, so this ticked that box too. Give it a go, I promise its worth it.

I made this for 4 adults and 4 kids, hence used almost 1kg of meat. If you don’t want to make this much, just halve all quantities (it will freeze really well too though).

Shredded Chilli Pork - Gorgeously tender and flavourful pork in a chilli sauce | thehecticcook.com

Ingredients

2 x 450g pork fillets
1 stick of celery, finely diced; 1 onion, finely chopped; 1 carrot, finely diced (or just use the frozen bag from Sainsburys, about half a bag)
4 cloves of garlic, crushed / 4 tsp of garlic paste
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of beans (kidney, black eye, cannellini – whatever your choice), drained and rinsed
1 oxo cube
1 heaped tsp of ground coriander
2 heaped tsp of ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
150ml water

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

1. Place the meat into the slow cooker or ovenproof casserole dish (that looks fairly unappealing doesn’t it?!)

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

2. Top with the veg.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

3. Add the garlic and the tomatoes.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

4. Throw in the beans.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

5. Top with the oxo cube, spices, salt and sugar.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

6. Add in the water and give it all a good stir/moosh around. Cook in the slow cooker on low for 7-8 hours (halve the time on high if necessary), or in the oven at about 150°C for 2 hours.

Basically, chuck everything into the pot, stir, and leave to cook until done.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

7. Once the meat is lovely and tender, remove it from the sauce and shred it using a couple of forks.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

Pop it back into the sauce and mix it through.

Shredded Chilli Pork - Gorgeously tender and flavourful pork in a chilli sauce | thehecticcook.com

Serve it up with rice, bread, salad, cheese, soured cream… whatever takes your fancy. Or all of the above.

Shredded Chilli Pork - Gorgeously tender and flavourful pork in a chilli sauce | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:50]

 

 

Healthy Crustless Quiche

This crustless quiche is absolutely full of flavour, and super filling. You won’t miss the pastry but will save a tonne of calories!

I’m all about balance. For every half dozen recipes I give you containing a gazzilion calories, I’ll give you one with a more modest amount. That’s balance right? It’s how I live my life anyway. Can’t understand why I’m not losing any weight…

Healthy Crustless Quiche - A delicious quiche style dish without the crust and thus the calories, but all the taste! | thehecticcook.com

This Crustless Quiche recipe is based on an age-old Slimming World recipe that I’ve seen do the rounds in a manner of guises. It uses cottage cheese to bulk it out, where you’d be using milk or cream in a normal quiche. Luckily I love cottage cheese. I genuinely do. I eat it on toast even when I’m not ‘trying to be good’. But I know a lot of folk are a bit wary of the stuff. If that’s you, you can always blend the cottage cheese before adding it to smooth it down. I think it adds texture and extra cheesy flavour, so you definitely should shove it in.

Healthy Crustless Quiche | thehecticcook.com

Obviously this doesn’t have a crust either. Pastry and healthy eating don’t tend to go hand-in-hand. But you actually don’t miss it. Honest. You can fill it with whatever you like too – bacon, sausage, onion, peppers, tomatoes etc – whatever takes your fancy. Below is just what I fancied at the time. This is a really filling dish, with lots of flavour, and well worth giving a go even if you’re not watching the waistline.

Ingredients

4 large / 5 medium eggs
approx. 60 g cheddar cheese, grated
1 tub (300g) cottage cheese (full or low fat, it’s your call)
seasoning

Filling:

4 rashers of smoked bacon, diced
vegetables of choice (I used mushrooms and some frozen chargrilled veg I picked up in the freezer section of Sainsburys)

Healthy Crustless Quiche | thehecticcook.com

1. Preheat your oven to 190°C (fan).

2. Either add a tsp of oil to your frying pan, or spray it with oil. Add the bacon and begin to fry over a medium heat.

Healthy Crustless Quiche | thehecticcook.com

3. After about 5 minutes of frying the bacon, add the veg and cook until soft.

Healthy Crustless Quiche | thehecticcook.com

4. In a bowl add the eggs, the cottage cheese and the grated cheddar. Season well.

Healthy Crustless Quiche | thehecticcook.com

Healthy Crustless Quiche | thehecticcook.com

Healthy Crustless Quiche | thehecticcook.com

5. Mix this all together really well (I use a whisk to get it all really mixed up and break down the cottage cheese slightly).

Healthy Crustless Quiche | thehecticcook.com

6. Place the cooked bacon and veg mixture into a medium casserole dish. I don’t tend to bother greasing this at all.

Healthy Crustless Quiche | thehecticcook.com

7. Pour over the egg mixture and give it a wee shake to even the mixture out (don’t worry about mixing it in or anything).

Healthy Crustless Quiche | thehecticcook.com

8. Pop this in the oven for about 40-45 minutes, until it is fully set and the top is golden.

Healthy Crustless Quiche - A delicious quiche style dish without the crust and thus the calories, but all the taste! | thehecticcook.com

9. Take it out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Then slice and serve.

Healthy Crustless Quiche - A delicious quiche style dish without the crust and thus the calories, but all the taste! | thehecticcook.com

This is lovely warm, straight out of the oven, but it’s also really nice cold from the fridge. So if you have leftovers, you have a tasty healthy snack on-hand too. My intentions are always good…

Happy cooking!

If you’re looking for healthy dishes you might also like my Spaghetti Carbonara and Pork Chow Mein.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:49]

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Healthy Crustless Quich - Full of taste and flavour but without the calories, this crustless quick is perfect for lunch or a quick snack. | thehecticcook.com

Millionaire Cookie Cups

Millionaire Cookie Cups – Gorgeously moreish cookie cups filled with gooey caramel and topped with chocolate. Absolutely sublime!

I don’t know why I do this to myself. I convince myself that it’s “for the blog…”. But then I’m left eating 42 caramel filled cookie cups. A hardship, I know. The Husband and I are complete opposites when it comes to caramel. As much as he hates it, I adore it. And I mean, adore it. Anything with caramel in it attracts my attention. You could slap it over some fish and chips and I’d have a go. I basically made this recipe so I could lick out the pan afterwards. Seriously. I made 42 caramel filled cookie cups pretty much for me. There’s a problem there somewhere.

Millionaire Cookie Cups - cookie cups filled with gooey caramel and topped with chocolate! | thehecticcook.com

But these are so worth it. Even the day I managed to eat 5 (that’s over 1000 calories, I did the maths) can’t detract from the fact that these were worth it. Millionaires shortbread is my most favourite traybake. Ever. So to transfer the caramel and chocolate topping into a cookie cup, a wonderful bitesized morsel of deliciousness, seemed like the best idea ever. And it wasn’t far off. Next time I’ll just plan to get rid of them better so I’m not left eating all the cookie cups….

Millionaire Cookie Cups - cookie cups filled with gooey caramel and topped with chocolate! | thehecticcook.com

These are based on the same cookie base as my Nutella Cookie Cups. You can pretty much fill them with anything.

Ingredients

For the Cookie Cups:

220g unsalted butter, softened
200g granulated sugar
220g brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
380g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat your oven to 160°C (fan)/350°F/Gas 4.

2. Cream the butter and both sugars together in a bowl. Beat this for a couple of minutes until the mixture lightens slightly.

Millionaire Cookie Cups | thehecticcook.com

3. Beat in the eggs, and then the vanilla until completely incorporated.

4. Add in the flour, baking powder and salt, and mix in thoroughly.

5. Take small spoonfuls of the mixture and roll it into balls before placing them into a mini muffin tray (this gets a bit messy).

Millionaire Cookie Cups | thehecticcook.com

I used both a silicone mini muffin tray, and a metal one. I’d strongly recommend using a silicone one. Despite buttering the metal tray thoroughly, the cookie cups didn’t exactly come out easily:

Millionaire Cookie Cups | thehecticcook.com

(*sob *sob – I still ate them the same though. No waste. Ever)

6. Pop the trays in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to brown. Take them out, leave them for a couple of minutes, then make the holes in the middle of each cookie using an appropriate device – I used the bottom of an ice-cream scoop as it was nicely rounded. Just find something slightly smaller than the cookies. Don’t use your fingers. They will burn. It will hurt.

Millionaire Cookie Cups | thehecticcook.com

Some of my cookies towards the centre of the trays were still very soft in the middle. Don’t worry, they’ll harden up as they cool.

Caramel & Topping

150g unsalted butter
150g brown sugar
1 tin of condensed milk (approx. 400g)
200g milk chocolate

Note:

I used soft dark brown sugar this time, because that’s what I had (call it bad-planning). This resulted in quite a dark caramel. If you’d prefer a lighter caramel use soft light brown sugar, same quantities.

1. Gently melt the butter and sugar in a pan over a low heat.

Millionaire Cookie Cups | thehecticcook.com

2. Once melted, add the condensed milk and bring gently to the boil (don’t rush this). Once it has come to the boil, let it continue to gently boil for around 5 minutes, until the caramel deepens in colour and looks thick and ‘caramelly’.

Millionaire Cookie Cups | thehecticcook.com

3. Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool slightly for a few minutes.

4. Fill your cookie cups up to the tops with the caramel, being careful not to burn yourself (especially your tongue as you try to lick the spoon…or is that just me…?).

Millionaire Cookie Cups | thehecticcook.com

5. Melt the milk chocolate, either in the microwave (30 second bursts, stirring in between) or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.

Millionaire Cookie Cups | thehecticcook.com

6. Top the cookie cups with the chocolate, and either leave to set, or refrigerate to harden.

Millionaire Cookie Cups | thehecticcook.com

7. Remove the cookie cups from the tray and serve.

Millionaire Cookie Cups - cookie cups filled with gooey caramel and topped with chocolate! | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:44]

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Mini Egg Skillet Cookie

Chocolate Mini Egg Skillet Cookie – A gorgeously soft and chewy cookie filled with chocolate Mini Eggs, perfect served straight from the oven.

This is definitely the last of the Easter baking recipes, on my part certainly. I’d forgotten how friggin’ moreish Mini Eggs were until I bought, and fairly swiftly consumed, several packets. I had to ‘re-buy’ the Mini Eggs on a couple of separate occasions to ensure enough for this blog post. Those things are evil.

Chocolate Mini Egg Skillet Cookie - A gorgeously soft and chewy cookie filled with chocolate Mini Eggs, perfect served straight from the oven | thehecticcook.com

I’d been eyeing up skillet cookies on Pinterest for some time now. Then whilst wandering round our local garden centre found a Hairy Bikers skillet half price. Fate was clearly at work. I figured I’d give them an Easter feel by replacing the chocolate chips with Mini Eggs. This was a good decision. For whatever reason, baking Mini Eggs into the cookie mixture is truly bloody tasty. Honestly. I would not lie about something so pivotal. Do not scrimp on the Mini Eggs either. That would be a crying shame. It also gave my kids great delight counting how many Mini Eggs they’d gotten in their portion.

Chocolate Mini Egg Skillet Cookie - A gorgeously soft and chewy cookie filled with chocolate Mini Eggs, perfect served straight from the oven | thehecticcook.com

Don’t be put off if you don’t own a skillet. You can easily make this in any ovenproof frying pan, or even a cake pan (about 8″ will be perfect). Just grease them up and the end result should be same.

Chocolate Mini Egg Skillet Cookie - A gorgeously soft and chewy cookie filled with chocolate Mini Eggs, perfect served straight from the oven | thehecticcook.com

I served this cookie as pudding. It comes out the oven still a bit gooey in the middle and gorgeously soft, so spoonfuls of cookie topped with ice-cream is a fairly mega dessert. If you have some left though (really?) just let it cool and you can cut it up and eat it like normal cookie.

Ingredients

120g unsalted butter, softened
100g granulated sugar
85g soft light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
180g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
180g chocolate mini eggs (2 small packets)

1. Preheat your oven to 160°C (fan) / 350°F / Gas 4.

2. Grease/butter your skillet well (or ovenproof frying pan/baking tin). I used groundnut oil.

Chocolate Mini Egg Skillet Cookie | thehecticcook.com

3. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugars. I used my stand mixer, but a hand mixer would work too. Or elbow grease. It’ll obviously just take longer. Give the mixture a good beating until it is slightly paler in colour (a good few minutes).

Chocolate Mini Egg Skillet Cookie | thehecticcook.com

4. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat again to fully combine.

Chocolate Mini Egg Skillet Cookie | thehecticcook.com

5. Add the flour, baking powder and salt, and stir in slowly. Then add the mini eggs. My stand mixer struggled a bit once I added the eggs, and it’s fairly industrial, so you may have to do this by hand. I wouldn’t recommend trying to stir in the eggs using a hand mixer. 

Chocolate Mini Egg Skillet Cookie | thehecticcook.com

6. Flatten the mixture into your skillet/pan. It’s a pretty thick mixture so probably easier if you use your hands to spread it out. Try not to eat the cookie mixture (good luck ’cause it’s bloody moreish).

Chocolate Mini Egg Skillet Cookie | thehecticcook.com

7. Pop this into your preheated oven for about 25 minutes until it has turned a lovely golden colour.

Chocolate Mini Egg Skillet Cookie - A gorgeously soft and chewy cookie filled with chocolate Mini Eggs, perfect served straight from the oven | thehecticcook.com

8. Remove from the oven and let rest for a couple of minutes before serving.

Chocolate Mini Egg Skillet Cookie - A gorgeously soft and chewy cookie filled with chocolate Mini Eggs, perfect served straight from the oven | thehecticcook.com

You can spoon onto individual plates and top with a scoop of ice-cream, or just add the ice-cream directly to the pan and (let everyone) dig in.

Chocolate Mini Egg Skillet Cookie - A gorgeously soft and chewy cookie filled with chocolate Mini Eggs, perfect served straight from the oven | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:43]

 

Healthy Pork Chow Mein

This Pork Chow Mein is not only healthy, the gorgeous fusion of flavours make it super tasty too.

I’ve already ‘Face-bragged’ so now I’m going to ‘Blog-brag’ – I’m just back from a weekend away. A whole weekend sans children (trumpets, fanfare). The Husband did the necessary childcare letting me escape for 2 whole nights (he’s a keeper). I went to see one of my best friends in the whole world – she knows way too much about me to piss off now. We drank copious amounts of alcohol, ate diet-unfriendly food, and spent an afternoon wandering around Ikea. We know how to live. It was awesome. So now I’m home feeling refreshed, and ready to take on the world – well my kids at least. I’ve already broken a couple of nails trying to scrape stickers off the new rug thanks to Lucy. But even still, I am a happy-mother-of-four-including-triplets.

So this recipe is a really old Slimming World recipe I came across yonks ago. I’ve followed Slimming World intermittently for the past 6 years. I really rate it as a diet-plan, I just can’t seem to follow it. Oh well. But this is a recipe I make a lot. It has a nice lightness to it, but is still really filling. You can use any meat you like. I often use chicken, but on this occasion had pork in the freezer. Beef would also work really well.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

8 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp white wine vinegar
4 garlic cloves, crushed / 4 tsp garlic paste
1 heaped tsp ginger paste
1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
600g pork loin steaks, thinly sliced
4 dry egg noodle nests
1 tbsp oil (I used groundnut, but use whatever you have in the cupboard; vegetable, sunflower etc)
stir-fry veg of choice
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

It looks like quite a few ingredients, but it honestly takes no time to make, so don’t be put off.

1. Mix the light soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and 5 spice in a bowl.

Pork Chow Mein | thehecticcook.com

2. Add the pork and leave to marinate for around 20 minutes (use the time to chop your veg).

Pork Chow Mein | thehecticcook.com

3. Cook the egg noodles according to the packet instructions. I’ve stated a quantity, but use as many noodles as you think you need, depending on the appetites you’re feeding.

Pork Chow Mein | thehecticcook.com

4. Heat the 1 tbsp of oil in a large wok. Add the pork (including the sauce) and cook over a medium high heat until almost cooked through (about 5 minutes).

Note:

The only thing I’ve changed from the original recipe is the 1 tbsp oil. Slimming World use the spray oils you get, which are ‘syn’ free, to reduce calories . Use whatever you’d rather – 1 tbsp oil is 6 syns. 

Pork Chow Mein | thehecticcook.com

5. Add your veg – I used carrots, courgette, pepper and mushrooms – and cook for a further 5 minutes (or until the veg is as cooked as you like it).

Pork Chow Mein | thehecticcook.com

6. Add the cooked noodles to the wok, plus the oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and sesame oil (this was in the original SW recipe and counts as 2 syns, so 1/2 syn per person). Stir through (2 forks are good for this) and cook for a further few minutes until everything is piping hot.

Pork Chow Mein | thehecticcook.com

Pork Chow Mein | thehecticcook.com

7. Serve straight away.

Pork Chow Mein - Gorgeous flavours make this healthy pork dish a dinner favourite | thehecticcook.com

This is a really good dish to make on those weeknights when you don’t have much time, but fancy something healthy. You can change the quantities of meat and noodles to satisfy any size of appetite, and still keep it pretty healthy.

Pork Chow Mein - Gorgeous flavours make this healthy pork dish a dinner favourite | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

 

Pork Chow Mein - Gorgeous flavours make this healthy pork dish a dinner favourite | thehecticcook.com

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:42]

Filling Lentil Curry

This filling lentil curry is a substantial vegetarian dish that will satisfy any appetite, and is super simple to make.

So after all the sharing of cake recipes and last weeks Fudgy Easter Egg Brownies, not to mention the abundance of chocolate everywhere, I figured perhaps a healthier recipe was the order of the day.

I’m one of those people who kids themselves that because I eat pretty healthy meals most of the time, I’m doing myself a favour. I tend to cook from scratch and more-often-than-not stick to meals that are generally classed as healthy. I then conveniently ‘forget’ about the kilo of chocolate I’ll have eaten to get me over the mid-afternoon slump. Or the gallon of ice-cream I packed away whilst home alone of an evening. I do genuinely love healthy food. I also genuinely love cake and chocolate. Oh well.

This is a good example of one of those healthy meals. I love this. If you’re looking for a good vegetarian meal, this is substantial and filling. It’s also really simple. Enjoy it with some fluffy basmati rice and naan bread, and you honestly won’t be disappointed. Add in a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and follow it with a slab of chocolate fudge cake. Winner!

Filling Lentil Curry - A really substantial and filling vegetarian curry that is simple to make and won't disappoint | thehecticcook.com

 

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp garlic paste / 2 garlic cloves, crushed 
1 heaped tbsp medium curry powder
1 heaped tsp garam masala
200g red lentils
700ml vegetable stock
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp salt

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and soften gently (about 10 minutes).

Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.

2. Add the curry powder and garam masala, stir and cook for a few minutes more.

Note:

Don’t misread the quantities of curry powder and garam masala, one is a tablespoon, one is a teaspoon!


Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

3. Add the lentils and stir to coat.

Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

4. Pour in the stock and tomatoes, add the salt and stir.

Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

5. Pop the lid on the pan and cook for 30-40 minutes over a medium low heat, stirring often to avoid the lentils sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

The curry is ready once the lentils have absorbed most of the liquid and are soft. If it looks like the pan is drying out before the lentils are cooked, add a little bit more water to the pan.

Filling Lentil Curry - A really substantial and filling vegetarian curry that is simple to make and won't disappoint | thehecticcook.com

6. Serve with rice and/or naan.

I had a bit of a mare with the naan on this occasion. I often make it in the bread machine, and it turns out fine. Not this time for some reason. It was a gloopy, unmixed mess. So cue sending the Husband to Tesco for some naan bread (it’s imperative I serve this dish to the kids with naan bread as Hannah doesn’t eat rice, at all, and at least I know they’ll all have eaten something if naan bread is included – as a parent do you ever feel like a short-order cook?). So I went to take the naan breads from Tesco out of the oven, and promptly dropped them all over the floor. Oh well, dirt is good for kids.

Happy cooking!

If you’re looking for some more vegetarian meals there’s also my Quorn Chilli Burritos, Mushroom Stroganoff, Skinny Veggie Lasagne (excuse the photos, it’s an oldie), and Garlic Tomato & Basil Risotto.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:38]

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownies – Fudgy, chocolatey brownie filled with mini chocolate eggs. A perfect Easter treat!

Easter is a fairly horrendous time of year for anyone trying to lose a few pounds. For a nation struggling with an obesity problem, I find it somewhat ironic that you can’t move for chocolate at this time of year. Every shop is laden. And not just the supermarkets. Clothes shops. Chemists. Even home improvement shops. The Malteaster Bunnies were throwing themselves into my basket in Homebase. Honestly. There’s no escape.

Facebook and Pinterest are awash with Easter treats you can make at home. I can’t log in to Facebook without seeing some ridiculously luscious looking baked creation, dripping in chocolate and Easter eggs. This is doing my battle with the bulge no good at all. So bollocks to it. If you can’t beat them, join them.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie - Gorgeously fudgy chocolate brownie filled with mini chocolate Easter eggs. | thehecticcook.com

This brownie is very rich and chocolatey. If you’re more a ‘lightweight’ brownie kind of person, these may not be for you. But they’re gooey. And fudgy. And very very chocolatey. So if that’s how you like your brownies, you should give these a whirl. And I’ve chucked some mini chocolate Easter eggs in to make them seasonal.

Ingredients

200g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa)
250g unsalted butter
300g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
65g plain flour
65g cocoa, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
about 16 mini chocolate eggs

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan) / 350°F / Gas 4.

2. Line and grease a 9″ square tin (or equivalent) – I used my silicon tin so I didn’t have to line it, just grease it (with groundnut oil, but butter is good too). By ‘line it’, just plonk a piece of greaseproof paper in the tray. Don’t bother cutting anything.

3. Melt the dark chocolate either in the microwave (in 30 second bursts, stirring in between) or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (bain marie).

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

4. Beat the butter with the sugar until pale and creamy – I used my hand mixer for this.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

5. Crack in the eggs and beat again to combine.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

6. Gently fold into this the melted chocolate plus the vanilla extract.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

7. Fold in the flour, cocoa and baking powder.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

This is a really thick mixture. It isn’t a runny brownie mix at all. It’s also extremely chocolatey.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

8. Spoon half of the mixture into your prepared tin. I’ll not lie, this isn’t the easiest job. The mixture is very thick, and doesn’t really want to be spread out.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

9. Remove the foil from all of your mini eggs (sorry if this seems obvious, but just in case, you never know…) and arrange them over the brownie layer in the tin. I used 16 and arranged them fairly regularly. You can arrange them however you like. I used the mixed bags of Cadbury eggs, but use whatever you fancy.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

Then dot the remainder of the brownie mix over the mini eggs and smooth it out so the eggs are covered. It’ll look a bit bumpy, but that’s ok.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie | thehecticcook.com

10. Pop the brownie into your preheated oven for 30 minutes (no more, no less – there’s no checking for done-ness here, simply remove it after exactly 30 minutes). Take it out of the oven and let it cool completely, in the tin.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie - Gorgeously fudgy chocolate brownie filled with mini chocolate Easter eggs. | thehecticcook.com

Once it has cooled, pop it into the fridge for at least an hour – it needs this time in the fridge to bring it together so you can then cut it into squares.

11. Remove the brownie from the tin and cut into squares.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie - Gorgeously fudgy chocolate brownie filled with mini chocolate Easter eggs. | thehecticcook.com

I make these brownies for the Husband who has a real soft spot for them. I’ll then find brownie crumbs all over the house every time he’s been into the box. He’s hardly subtle.

You can use this brownie recipe and chuck anything in to it. The rest of the year I add 100g chopped milk chocolate, and 100g chopped white chocolate. I love it with huge chunks of chocolate throughout. I hope you like it too.

Fudgy Easter Egg Brownie - Gorgeously fudgy chocolate brownie filled with mini chocolate Easter eggs. | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:37]

Toad In The Hole

Toad In The Hole – Gorgeous little patties of sausage meat, apple and sage, cocooned within soft pillows of Yorkshire pudding. Winner!

We eat a lot of sausages in the HC house. The kids like them, so it’s a no-brainer. I say the kids like them – Lucy doesn’t eat sausages. But then Lucy doesn’t eat a lot of things at the moment. I’m hoping it’s just a phase. What they do all eat is Yorkshire pudding. They’d eat it by the bucket-load, given half a chance. Thus toad-in-the-hole features quite a bit on our dinner plates. Yes, I feel like a middling-to-poor parent for feeding my kids processed meat and what’s practically cake, but meh. Needs must. And at the moment, with the fussy little buggers that are my triplets, I’ll take any meal that they’ll eat without leaving quantities of food that would keep a pig happy.

Toad In The Hole - Gorgeous little patties of sausage meat, apple and sage, cocooned within soft pillows of Yorkshire pudding. Winner! | thehecticcook.com

This recipe is slightly different to the usual TITH in that you make little patties out of the sausages with a couple more ingredients. You don’t have to. You can make this recipe with sausages, it won’t make any difference. But I like this recipe as the little sausage patties seem to flavour the Yorkshire pudding. I thought Princess Lucy might actually eat them (she eats cocktail sausages FFS) but it was not to be.

Toad In The Hole - Gorgeous little patties of sausage meat, apple and sage, cocooned within soft pillows of Yorkshire pudding. Winner! | thehecticcook.com

Ingredients (Serves 6)

200g plain flour
4 eggs
200ml milk
8 sausages (500g sausagemeat)
1 apple, grated
1 tsp dried sage
seasoning

1. Preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas 6.

2. Skin the sausages (if not using sausagemeat) and place in a bowl with the grated apple, sage and plenty of seasoning. I don’t bother peeling the apple, but you can if you’d like.

Toad-In-The-Hole | thehecticcook.com

3. Mix this well (use your hands) and then form into small patties.

Toad-In-The-Hole | thehecticcook.com

You can do this some time ahead, then place the patties on a plate, covered, in the fridge until needed.

4. Make the Yorkshire pudding batter by measuring the flour into a bowl/jug, season well, then break in the eggs and pour in half the milk. Stir this all together, then add more milk until you have a mixture the consistency of thick double cream. If you don’t need all the milk, leave it. You be the judge. Give it a jolly good whisk (a fork will do, but a whisk is better) then pop this in the fridge until needed. The colder the YP mixture is before cooking, the more it will rise.

Toad-In-The-Hole | thehecticcook.com

5. Add a good glug (technical term) of oil to an ovenproof dish/tray. Pop this in your preheated oven for about 5 minutes to heat. Then add the patties and shove back in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until starting to brown. Depending on your sausages (sausage meat), if a fair bit of water comes out of them, drain this off, add a bit more oil and shove them back in the oven for 5 minutes until the oil is hot.

Toad-In-The-Hole | thehecticcook.comNote:

You can make this in anything really. I’ve used baking trays, pie dishes and casserole dishes. Just add plenty of oil (around 100ml) to prevent the TITH from sticking.


Toad-In-The-Hole | thehecticcook.com

6. Remove the YP batter from the fridge and give it another stir. Then take the patties out of the oven and add the batter to your tray. Pop it straight back in to the oven.

Toad-In-The-Hole | thehecticcook.com

Whatever you do now, DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR. If you open the oven door in the first 20 minutes of cooking, the YP won’t rise as well. So leave it.

7. Cook for 30-40 minutes – you’ll know it’s done because it’ll be gorgeously golden and look solid in the middle. Cooking time depends on the dish you’ve used, and how thick your batter is.

Toad In The Hole - Gorgeous little patties of sausage meat, apple and sage, cocooned within soft pillows of Yorkshire pudding. Winner! | thehecticcook.com

I always serve TITH with mash, veg and gravy. You could go to the lengths of making your own lovely onion gravy. However, on a weeknight (and even at the weekend if I’m going to be totally honest) I can’t be bothered, so I use this:

Toad-In-The-Hole | thehecticcook.com

It’s super quick, and simple, and in my humble opinion, tastes pretty damn good. The star of the show is the TITH, so I think that this does the job nicely.

Toad In The Hole - Gorgeous little patties of sausage meat, apple and sage, cocooned within soft pillows of Yorkshire pudding. Winner! | thehecticcook.com

In summary, my top tips for really god-damn-good Yorkshire pudding are:

  • Use enough eggs – this is what makes the YP richer. I tend to use 1 egg per 50g of flour.
  • Whisk the mixture thoroughly to remove lumps.
  • If possible, refrigerate the batter for at least 30 minutes – cold batter + hot oil = good YP
  • Do not open the oven door for at least the first 20 minutes of cooking.

This applies to any YP you’re making.

Happy cooking!

Toad In The Hole - Gorgeous little patties of sausage meat, apple and sage, cocooned within soft pillows of Yorkshire pudding. Winner! | thehecticcook.com

 

Fancy some other sausage recipes? Why not try my Sausage Meatball Spaghetti, or Simple Sausage Casserole 🙂

Sausage Meatball Spaghetti - Super simple midweek dinner that the whole family will enjoy | thehecticcook.com  Simple Sausage Casserole - such a simple one pot dish that is gorgeously comforting and really tasty | thehecticcook.com

 

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:30]

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Toad In The Hole - Gorgeous little patties of sausage meat, apple and sage, cocooned within soft pillows of Yorkshire pudding. Winner! | thehecticcook.com

 

 

Simple Stew & Dumplings

Deliciously warming, this classic stew and dumplings dish is super simple and well worthy of Sunday dinner.

I tend to cook a lot more in the winter. I especially love Sunday cooking. I’ll spend most of the day in the kitchen given half the chance. The Husband appears to think that I use cooking as an excuse to dodge childcare. I have no idea what he means.

There are certain meals that I tend to make a lot of for Sunday dinner. We love a roast in the HC house. My favourite is gammon – pair it with cheesy tatties and I’m in food heaven. A warming casserole or stew always goes down well too. This stew is the basic stew I always return to. I just love it. It’s the stew my Mum taught me to make. And even the family seem to appreciate it. The dumplings are not essential, but it would be like having the fish without the chips. The balti without the naan. The treacle sponge without the custard. You get the idea.

I made this stew in the slow cooker, but if I don’t have all day, I’ll cook it on the hob for a couple of hours. The recipe is exactly the same, just cook it over a low heat on the hob for about 2 hours.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 tbsp plain flour
500g stewing steak
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
400ml beef stock
seasoning

1. In a bowl (or a plastic freezer bag works well) tip in the flour and season. Add the beef and toss to coat – I tend to do this in 2 batches.

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.comNote:

I buy whatever beef is cheapest for this, whether it be stewing steak, a joint, skirt, shin, whatever. It’s going to be slow cooked so will tenderise really well during cooking. You don’t need anything fancy.
Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

2. In a frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat and add the meat to brown (do this in a couple of batches if you have a fair bit of meat so as not to overcrowd the pan).

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

3. Once browned set the meat aside and in the same pan add the onions to soften. If there’s any meaty goodness left in the pan the onions will help to scrape these up.

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

4. Add everything to the slow cooker (or pan if cooking on the hob) – I added some carrot too – and pour in the stock. I tend to use the Stock Pots you can buy as they’ve got a lot of flavour.

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

Season well (there’s nothing worse than tasteless stew) and cook on low for about 6-7 hours.

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

5. To make the dumplings I simply follow the instructions on the side of the suet box. They’re good, so why bother overcomplicating the issue? Make sure to season well so your dumplings aren’t tasteless.

Dumplings (makes 8)

50g suet
100g self-raising flour
5 tbsp water
seasoning

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

I make 1.5 times the quantity on the box which produces 12 dumplings (75g suet, 150g self-raising flour, 8-10tbsp water).

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

Mix the suet with the flour, season well, then gradually add the water. It’s quite a sticky dough, so just add enough water to bring it all together.

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

Roll the mixture into balls and place on top of the stew. Pop the lid back on the slow cooker and leave for another hour.

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

It’s very hard to take an attractive photo of dumplings (especially without natural light), but believe me when I tell you that they are little balls of yumminess, and well worth popping on top of your stew.

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

You can also cook this in the oven, just cook your stew (covered) for at least 90 minutes at about 160°C, then top with the dumplings and cook (uncovered) for another 30 minutes.

Simple Stew & Dumplings - a super simple dish that epitomises comfort food | thehecticcook.com

This recipe makes quite a lot of gravy, because with dumplings, I don’t believe you can have too much gravy. It’s dead simple, but proper comfort food. I think that everyone (who isn’t vegetarian) should have stew and dumplings in their cooking repertoire.

Simple Stew & Dumplings - a super simple dish that epitomises comfort food | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:26]

 

 

Mars Bar Slice

Mars Bar slice – really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

The plague has come to the HC house. The plague I tell you. Well a crappy virus at least. My little germ factories (aka the children) brought it home originally. They all fell ill, one after the other, then both the Husband and I came down with it too. He’s been away with work though. I’m not sure what is worse. Being ill away from home, or being ill with 4 children to look after. I, at least had the cavalry (my mum) for a couple days which helped a lot. But all-in-all, it’s been a fairly miserable week for all of us.

So what could possibly make the week a little brighter? Well, lets start with this Mars Bar Slice. This is so friggin simple, but so ridiculously tasty. I can’t have this in the house as I tend to sneak a square every time I go into the kitchen (and I practically live in the kitchen). Aside: Does anyone else have to covertly eat sweet things, without their kids catching a whiff? – usually at the barest crinkle of a wrapper, or opening of a tupperware my 4 kids are on me like a pack of hyenas.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

This has become my favourite treat to take to parties and barbecues. I can throw it together in a morning, it’s so bloody simple, and yet folk seem to love it. It’s a crowd pleaser.

Before we start on the actual making of this slice, we need a serious chat about chocolate. Now I love most kinds of chocolate. I’m not really a chocolate snob. For baking I’ll use the supermarket own stuff because it is really tasty, cheap, and has no real distinctive flavour. As much as I love Cadbury, I find it’s unique flavour can be a bit overwhelming on certain cakes and traybakes. So more often than not, I would recommend using an unbranded milk chocolate. However. In this case I cannot over stress the need to use Galaxy chocolate to top this Mars Bar slice. Obviously both Mars Bar and Galaxy are the same brand, so using the same chocolate to add a thick chocolate coating to the top of the Mars Bar slice, properly takes them to the next level. It may sound insignificant. It is not. That is all.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

Ingredients

9 Mars Bars, cut into small slices
170g unsalted butter, cubed
1tbsp golden syrup
170g Rice Krispies
390g Galaxy chocolate

Note: I use 9 Mars Bars because you can buy a pack of 9. If it’s cheaper to buy two packs of 4, that will be fine. The amount of Mars Bars can be variable, just don’t vary too far from 9 as you want your Mars Bar slice nice and chewy. Also, I use the 390g bar of Galaxy, hence the random quantity.

1. Melt the Mars Bar slices with the butter in a large bowl in the microwave.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

I do this in 30 second blasts, stirring in between. The Mars Bar will remain a little lumpy due to the nougat, but as long as all the butter is melted, you’re done. Add the syrup and stir in.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

2. Add the Rice Krispies and mix well.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

Don’t do what I always do and forget that I need to use a bigger bowl.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

3. Once the mixture is mixed thoroughly (really mix it to ensure all the cereal is coated with chocolate), flatten the mixture into a lined tray. I use a 9″ square silicon tray, so I don’t have to line it. I find this is a good size for this amount of mixture.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

 

Refrigerate this for at least an hour to harden.

4. Break up the chocolate for the topping in a bowl, and melt it in the microwave (again, 30 second bursts).

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

 

Pour this over the tray of Mars Bar slice, sprinkle with some sprinkles to decorate if desired (who doesn’t need sprinkles in their life?), and pop back in the fridge to firm up – but not too long as it’s easier to slice if not rock solid.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

 

Slice and eat serve.

Mars Bar slice - really simple, incredibly tasty treat made from Mars Bars and rice cereal | thehecticcook.com

This tends to lose its ‘crunch’ the longer you keep it. So don’t keep it too long. Eat it. Eat it all.

Happy cooking!