Classic Chocolate Tiffin

Classic Chocolate Tiffin – Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey buttery chocolate mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous!

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I love traybakes. Especially ones that require no baking. Simplicity. Always good. If I have to throw together a quick cake for something, I’ll usually make my Mars Bar Slice – in fact that’s exactly what I had to do for a Halloween party the other day when my Oreo Truffle Ghosts were looking a bit pathetic. But I chucked together some Mars Bar Slice as well, and dressed it up as a Mummy (of the Egyptian kind) to claim a Halloween theme.

Classic Chocolate Tiffin - Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey chocolatey syrup mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous! | thehecticcook.com

Tiffin is another super simple traybake that can be thrown together at the drop of a hat. If, like me, you have memories of tiffin from your childhood – biscuity, chocolatey, basically yummy – then hopefully this recipe will make you happy. It’s fairly classic tiffin. I have thrown some marshmallows in, which technically aren’t in the original, but seriously, who’s going to grumble at marshmallows?? However this is classic tiffin in that it doesn’t use melted chocolate like a fridge cake. The chocolate taste is purely from cocoa. So use decent cocoa.

Classic Chocolate Tiffin - Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey chocolatey syrup mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous! | thehecticcook.com

Ingredients

300g digestive biscuits
175g unsalted butter
50g sugar (caster or granulated)
100g (5tbsp) golden syrup
75g cocoa
75g sultanas
40g mini marshmallows
300g milk chocolate
100g white chocolate (optional, if that’s possible)

Note: I use supermarket chocolate for my tiffin as, despite being an ardent Cadbury’s fan, I feel it has too strong a taste to top this traybake. It detracts from the actual tiffin. Obviously this is down to personal taste, but thought I’d mention it 🙂

1. Start by preparing your tin. I used a 9×9″ tin which produced a nice thick tiffin (I’m not in to weedy thin tiffin). Double layer it with clingfilm. I do this for a bit of extra strength, and also because my clingfilm wasn’t quite wide enough, so I laid the first piece horizontal, then the 2nd piece vertical in order to cover the tin completely. This will make removing your tiffin later really easy.

Classic Chocolate Tiffin - Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey chocolatey syrup mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous! | thehecticcook.com

2. Next, place the digestives in a large bowl or plastic bag, and bash them into small pieces.

Classic Chocolate Tiffin - Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey chocolatey syrup mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous! | thehecticcook.com

I used the end of my rolling pin to bash them down, which works really well.

Classic Chocolate Tiffin - Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey chocolatey syrup mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous! | thehecticcook.com

I’m not a fan of large lumps of biscuit in my tiffin, so I crushed them pretty small, but this is totally up to you.

Classic Chocolate Tiffin - Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey chocolatey syrup mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous! | thehecticcook.com

3. Next, place the butter, sugar, syrup and cocoa in a small pan over a low heat.

Classic Chocolate Tiffin - Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey chocolatey syrup mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous! | thehecticcook.com

Let the mixture melt slowly, stirring often until everything is fully melted – the sugar will dissolve, just be patient.

Classic Chocolate Tiffin - Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey chocolatey syrup mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous! | thehecticcook.com

4. Add the chocolatey mixture to your bowl of crushed biscuit and stir really well until the biscuit is fully covered in mixture.

Classic Chocolate Tiffin - Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey chocolatey syrup mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous! | thehecticcook.com

5. Add the sultanas and marshmallows, and again stir really well.

Classic Chocolate Tiffin - Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey chocolatey syrup mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous! | thehecticcook.com

Classic Chocolate Tiffin - Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey chocolatey syrup mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous! | thehecticcook.com

6. Pour this into your prepared tin and press down well. This will ensure it sticks together nicely. A metal spoon is best for this as the mixture won’t stick to it too much.

Classic Chocolate Tiffin - Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey chocolatey syrup mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous! | thehecticcook.com

Pop this in the fridge for at least an hour to come together.

7. Melt your milk chocolate and white chocolate (if using) either in the microwave – in 15-20 second bursts, stirring in between to avoid it burning – or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Pour the milk chocolate over the tiffin and spread evenly to the edges, covering every inch. Then drizzle the white chocolate on top.

Classic Chocolate Tiffin - Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey chocolatey syrup mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous! | thehecticcook.com

Classic Chocolate Tiffin - Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey chocolatey syrup mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous! | thehecticcook.com

I then used a skewer to swirl the white chocolate into a pretty pattern. Because I was taking photos of my tiffin for the blog, I’ve gone all pretty with the white chocolate because it looks nice. You don’t have to do this, and your tiffin will be just as tasty with only a milk chocolate topping. It’s totally up to you.

8. Pop your tray back into the fridge until the chocolate has solidified – at least an hour. Remove from the fridge and, using the clingfilm, take the tiffin out of the tin. Remove the clingfilm and slice your tiffin into square.

Classic Chocolate Tiffin - Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey chocolatey syrup mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous! | thehecticcook.com

Obviously you can add whatever you like to your tiffin. If you don’t like marshmallows, don’t add them. Crush up some Maltesers and add them in. Chopped up Mars Bar, Smarties, whatever your favourite chocolate is, can all be added. Just don’t go too overboard or your tiffin won’t hold together.

Classic Chocolate Tiffin - Crushed biscuit, sultanas and marshmallows mixed with a gooey chocolatey syrup mixture, then smothered in milk and white chocolate. Absolutely gorgeous! | thehecticcook.com

This doesn’t have to be kept in the fridge once made. Indeed it actually tastes better at room temperature. Super simple and super tasty. Tiffin is a classic and rightly so.

Happy cooking!

Why not try one of these other traybakes? Flapjack, Nutella Magic Bars and Mint Chocolate Brownie Slice 🙂

Chewy Flapjacks - These are possibly the best flapjacks you will ever find. Chewy, buttery, syrupy, delicious! | thehecticcook.comNutella Magic Bars - A biscuit base topped with Nutella and chocolate morsels, encased in a gooey caramel, these Nutella Magic Bars are sublime! | thehecticcook.comChocolate Mint Brownie Slice - Rich chocolate brownie topped with a delicious mint layer, topped with more chocolate = heaven | thehecticcook.com

 

Quick & Easy Tuna Pasta Bake

Quick and Simple Tuna Pasta Bake – A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family.

I realise this isn’t my first recipe for Tuna Pasta Bake. If I’m going to be completely honest though, this version is just as good as my other recipe, Not Just Another Tuna Pasta Bake (I was breaking the mould with that title 😛 ) and is quicker to make. I do love the other version, the cheese sauce made separately adds a gorgeous cheesy creaminess to the dish. But this version is more my go-to. It ticks every box – quick, simple and everyone eats it. And I mean ‘everyone eats it’. We sit down as a family of 6 to this for dinner, and I get 6 clean plates back. Pretty much the Holy Grail of dinners.

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

But before we get to the nitty-gritty (i.e. the recipe) I need to over-share a bit. This happened today:

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

Yup, the girls started school!!! This may very well be the most exciting day of my (somewhat unexciting) life! I’m a tad happy about this.

Quick & Easy Tuna Pasta Bake

Ingredients (Serves 4 adults)

400-450g pasta
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp garlic paste (or 2 cloves of garlic, crushed)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh basil (or 1 tsp of dried basil)
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
3 tins of tuna chunks, drained
1 small tin of sweetcorn (or frozen sweetcorn)
100g soft (cream) cheese
100g cheddar cheese, grated

Notes:

• I used 450g to serve 2 adults and 4 kids, but we eat a lot! Use what you think you’ll need.
• I add some chilli flakes as it adds an extra warmth to the dish, but it’ll be absolutely fine to skip this ingredient. 
• I love the frozen fresh basil you can buy from Waitrose (see pic below) and use it in practically every Italian dish. I’ve not found similar anywhere else. If you don’t have fresh basil, dried is fine, just ensure it’s in-date as out-of-date basil has no flavour at all.

1. Boil a large pan of salted water and get your pasta on to cook – different shapes cook at different rates, just check it (i.e. taste it) to find out when it’s done. Once it has cooked, before you drain it, add your sweetcorn in (this is really if you’re using frozen sweetcorn, to defrost it, but it’ll make no difference if you’re using tinned)

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

Drain the pasta and return to the pan.

2. Whilst the pasta is cooking, in a separate pan gently warm the oil and add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes but be careful not to let it burn.

3. Add the tomatoes, salt, basil and chilli (if using), then the tuna. Stir and let cook gently for a few minutes. This isn’t cordon bleu cooking (and nothing is cooking from raw in the sauce), so timing is fairly flexible.

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

4. Add the soft cheese and slowly let it melt into the sauce whilst stirring. At this point, preheat your grill to medium.

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

5. Add your sauce to the cooked pasta (in the big pan is a good idea), mix it all together then pour the lot into a large dish. Top with cheese and pop under the preheated grill until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

Once you’ve removed this from the grill, serve it straight away. I’m sure it would reheat, but I’ve never had any left to test that theory.

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

This is apparently so tasty that Alice was eating it off the floor whilst uttering the words “…pasta on the floor is so yummy…’. Erm, ok. Lovely child. Seriously though, if you were paying me money for this recipe (which considering its simplicity is, let’s face it, unlikely) I’d be tempted to offer money back guarantees if your family doesn’t like it. So let me know either way 😀

Happy cooking!

If you like this recipe you might also like my Sausage Meatball Spaghetti and Cheats Tuna Pie.

Sausage Meatball Spaghetti - Super simple midweek dinner that the whole family will enjoy | thehecticcook.com Cheats Tuna Pie - a really simple dish that goes down well with the kids | thehecticcook.com

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!

 

Slutty Brownies

Erm what diet…?

I was first introduced to these brownies by my lovely friend Sarah, who shares both my passion for cooking, and my love of eating. This sometimes gets us into trouble. A typical ‘Girls Night’ usually includes a bottle (or two) of Prosecco, several tubs of Ben & Jerry’s, and multiple bags of Cadbury chocolate. She’s such a bad influence…

I was, however very grateful for this introduction. The original idea was that of a blogger by the name of The Londoner (the woman is a culinary mastermind). The name comes from the fact that these brownies are oh so easy, and a good bit filthy. And boy are they easy. Now, I like to make life simpler at every opportunity. However, I’m a bit of a baking snob, and think the instant mixes you can buy from the supermarkets are a waste of money. Baking is generally not that difficult, and not actually a great deal more effort than these mixes require.

However. In the case of Slutty Brownies, much of the attraction to the recipe – apart from the promise of a truly decadent cookie/brownie combo – was the use of the instant mixes. The original recipe is a layer of cookie dough, a layer of Oreo cookies, and a layer of chocolate brownie. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t make the cookie and brownie from scratch. If that’s what you want to do, go for your life (I have a damn good cookie recipe, and an equally good brownie recipe on this blog). I just couldn’t be bothered. That’s a fair amount of work, and the whole allure of this slice is its simplicity.

This recipe has been added to a little – it was Sarah’s suggestion to add the caramel (see what I mean about a bad influence??). And I had a tub of Marshmallow Fluff so I had to throw that in for good measure. Feel free to leave these out if you’d rather (although why you would…?).

Ingredients

1 packet of cookie mix
1 packet of brownie mix
2 packets of Oreos (double stuffed are even better!)
1/2 tin of caramel
‘some’ marshmallow fluff
1-2 eggs
oil/butter

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

1. Preheat your oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3. Make up the cookie mix as per the packet instructions, but add a little more butter/oil (depending on make). About 5g/1tsp more will suffice, enough to keep the cookie moist as it is baked for longer.

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

Also add about 5ml more water. I used a 275g packet mix from Morrisons, to give you an idea of quantity.

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

2. Line an 8×8″ tin (or equivalent size) with greaseproof paper (i.e. place paper in the tin, nothing fancy).

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

3. Flatten the cookie dough into the tin with your hands. It’ll be quite thin, but that’s how it should be.

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

4. Arrange the Oreos on top of the cookie dough. Sixteen Oreos will fit perfectly in an 8×8″ tin, so requires 2 packets. If you just have one packet, space the biscuits out a bit more.

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

5. Splurge the caramel over the Oreos – I filled the holes between biscuits then spread over the top. Half a tin will be enough.

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

 

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

6. I then added dods of marshmallow fluff. This was pretty superfluous, you don’t need to. But I have a serious addiction to marshmallow, so this seemed like a good idea (and it was). It’s completely up to you though if you follow this.

 

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

 

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

7. In the same bowl as before (lets not make more washing up than we need to) make the brownies exactly as per the packet instructions – mine required 30ml of oil, 45ml of water and 1 egg).

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

Cover the caramel coated Oreos with the brownie mix, smooth it over and than pop this into your preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Slutty Brownies | thehecticcook.com

If at all possible, leave the brownie in the tin until it has completely cooled, then pop it in the fridge for at least an hour to firm up before trying to cut it. Alternatively you can just go at it with a spoon straight from the oven. Add some ice-cream and you have a winning dessert!

Slutty Brownies - ridiculously easy and unbelievably delicious, these Slutty Brownies need to be tried! | thehecticcook.com

The first time I made this I actually had to make half with caramel and half without. Have I mentioned the Husband’s weird dislike of caramel? Anyway, in my humble opinion the caramel takes it to a whole different level (thank you Sarah!).

Happy cooking!

Slutty Brownies - ridiculously easy and unbelievably delicious, these Slutty Brownies need to be tried! | thehecticcook.com

 

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:13]

 

 

 

 

Turkey & Bacon Pie

This turkey and bacon pie is a lovely warming dish for the cold winter evenings. This is a highly versatile pie, great for using up leftovers, that won’t have you slaving away in the kitchen for hours.

I’ve decided that the going success rate of my dishes (obviously with the kids) is 50%. Two out of four will undoubtedly not eat whatever I’ve dished up. Unless it’s covered in cheese, encased in pastry, or all of the above (see tonight’s Facebook post). I’m learning not to take this personally. So what if I’ve slaved away in the kitchen for an hour? Selflessly creating some gastronomic masterpiece that would be received with rapture by most? Giving my heart and soul into these dinners…?

Ok, so maybe overplaying this slightly. But it’s slightly depressing when you find yourself binning a substantial amount of the meal you’ve just made. And they’re not consistent. Oh the little buggers don’t even give me that. Lucy doesn’t eat potatoes. Alice doesn’t eat chicken. Oh wait a minute, no that’s Hannah not eating potatoes tonight. And Alice has just polished off a plate of chicken. I give up. Henry is my little soldier, mostly eating what I give him. Apart from onions. And sometimes chicken. Give me friggin strength.

This dish was a ’50 percenter’. However, they did all eat some of it at least. And in my book that’s a success. It’s a HC household staple (oh yeah I just keep on making the same shit, whether they eat it or not, they’ll never drag me down…). It’s a hugely versatile dish. For this occasion I made it with turkey, bacon and mashed potato topping. But you can easily substitute chicken for the turkey; leave out the bacon; use pastry to top it. I often make this with a puff pastry base and top – a true pie. Your hips will never forgive you, but your belly will love you.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
2 turkey breasts  
4 slices of back bacon 
green pepper, diced
potatoes, peeled and cubed
50g butter
50g plain flour
400ml hot chicken stock
1 tsp tarragon
white pepper
dash of lemon juice

Note:

The turkey breast weighed approx 700g – those things are friggin massive! I used smoke back bacon, but it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t actually add the green pepper this time as it was for the kids, and they’re fussy little buggars. I tend to use one medium potato per child, two per adult – but use however many you think you’ll need.

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the turkey and brown.

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Add the bacon and cook through. If you’re using green pepper, add it at this point and let it soften. Move the meat (and green pepper) into your ovenproof dish that you’ll be using to assemble the pie – this is simply to save on dishes as it’s all going to end up here anyway. Make sure you save all the juices that will have come off the meat.
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2. Whilst you cook the base of the pie, get your potatoes on to boil. Once they are soft (about 10 minutes) drain them well, then leave them to dry out a bit (without a lid). Mash them really well (the more you mash, the smoother the mash) adding a little butter and milk, plus some seasoning. Set this aside (if you have time, usually I’m juggling both pans at similar times).

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3. To make the sauce, melt the butter over a medium heat, in the same pan as before (you’ll pick up any tasty bits that might have been left from the meat).

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Add the flour, and let cook for a few minutes to cook the flour.

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4. Start adding the hot stock gradually, using a whisk to stir (this gets rid of any lumps). Once you’ve added all of the stock, ensure there’s not lumps – if there are any just keep whisking – then switch to stirring with a wooden spoon (this makes sure you get into the edges of the pan). The sauce shouldn’t take long to thicken.

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5. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat and add the tarragon, white pepper and a splash of lemon juice (I always have bottled lemon juice in the fridge for recipes like this). Return the meat (and green pepper) to the pan and stir it through the sauce.

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Pour this into your ovenproof dish (a casserole dish works fine) and top with the mashed potato – I tend to dollop it on in bits then smooth it out with a fork.
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It does look better with a bit of lovely green pepper through the base – mine looks a bit anaemic, thanks kids.

6. Pop your pie into the oven (180°C/350ºF/Gas 4) and cook it for about 20 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the sauce is bubbling.

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Serve with some nice bright veg to make your plate look less beige. For an added spot of colour you could add some sweetcorn or peas to the sauce just before pouring it into your ovenproof dish. You can also make this with leftovers. If you have turkey leftover from Christmas, just add it straight into the sauce and warm through. Add cooked ham in the same way, just miss out the first stage of cooking the meat. Play about with the ingredients and make a pie that suits you. The sauce is the key to this dish, and it’s bloody scrummy.

Turkey and Ham Pie

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:6]

 

Macaroni Cheese

A step-by-step guide to cooking this simple and delish family staple.

My girls turned four at the weekend. Four! Woo bloody hoo!! Four just seems better; more independent; almost human. Life is definitely getting easier. Let’s not get carried away, it’s not easy. Three young children constantly asking questions, wanting your attention simultaneously, fighting and squabbling over trivia. But we’re getting there (fist pumps the air).

We had a bit of a get-together to celebrate. I cooked some stovies and made a cake. The kids played pass-the-parcel (20 friggin layers of paper). And the adults drank wine. We didn’t take many photos, but the Husband took some of the girls blowing out the candles on their cake.

The Hectic Cook | thehecticcook.com

That’s the best one. Seriously. We do have 3 daughters. What’s that saying about if you want something doing right…?

Talking of my kids (seamless link), macaroni cheese is one of those dishes they get a fair bit. It’s an old faithful. Plus I always have the ingredients in the cupboard. There is absolutely nothing fancy about this recipe. Many of you will have your own recipe, it’s a classic, and you’ll possibly make it differently. But this is how my mum taught me to make macaroni cheese. So this is how I do it.

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Ingredients (Serves 2 adults / 4 kids)

200g macaroni
30g butter
30g plain flour
300ml milk
80g grated cheddar cheese, plus a little extra for the top
White pepper (optional)

Note:

These quantities can be easily doubled.

1. Cook the macaroni (or whatever type of pasta you wish/have). I find I have to add the macaroni to a boiling pan of slightly salted water, then give it a stir every few minutes to stop it all sticking to the bottom of the pan. It’ll take around 15 minutes.

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2. Whilst the pasta is cooking, grate the cheese ready to go before you start to make the sauce, then there’s no fear of sauces burning.

3. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the flour and stir to fully incorporate (to make a roux).

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

Let this cook for a few minutes to cook the flour.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

4. Start to add the milk. I tend to add a bit at a time and stir it into the roux. Use a whisk to stir your sauce as it’ll get rid of any lumps that might arise, but take a spoon once around the edge of the pan after you’ve added all of the milk in case there’s some solid mixture lurking at the bottom.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

Keep whisking until the sauce begins to thicken. This should all be done on a medium heat, and don’t leave it for any length of time as the sauce will burn to the bottom of the pot fairly quickly (if WW3 breaks out in the living room whilst making the sauce, just let them get on with it).

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

5. Once the sauce has thickened, take your pan off the heat and add the cheese. The amount of cheese is subjective. We like our macaroni cheese fairly cheesy, so 80g works for us. But add some and taste. Work out for yourself how cheesy you like it.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

Stir in the cheese until it has melted, then add a little white pepper if desired (I often leave this out because if I’m heavy handed with it, the kids aren’t happy). Stir the pasta into the cheese sauce and transfer to a heatproof dish. Top with some extra grated cheese.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

6. Pop this under a hot grill for about 5-10 minutes until the cheese on top has melted and started to turn golden.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

And serve.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

I love the simplicity of macaroni cheese. And yet it’s bloody tasty. You can serve it with sausages; with fish fingers; stir through gammon or bacon; or eat it blissfully on its own. However you serve it, just one word of warning. Don’t save leftovers. Second day macaroni cheese is totally boggin’.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

 

Happy cooking!

 

Cheese & Bean Pastry Pie

Cheese and bean pastry pie is incredibly quick and surprisingly delicious, just don’t consider the calorie content!

So it’s been hotter than the sun here today. No exaggeration. I’m Scottish. I don’t do heat. I’ve spent the whole of today sweating. No, that’s not a pretty look. On days like today, spending a lot of time in the kitchen is to be avoided. Unfortunately should you have children, there is a certain requirement still to feed them – seemingly not to is regarded as neglect?

This recipe is not going to win me any prizes. It’s neither cordon bleu cooking, nor is it particularly nutritionally virtuous. But it is stupidly quick and simple. If you can bear to put the oven on in this heat, you’ll be spending minimal amounts of time in the kitchen preparing this dish. But the kids should be happy with the result. As a ‘go-to’ meal, this ticks a lot of boxes. Just maybe don’t feed it to them every day.

Ingredients

500g block of puff pastry 
1 tin of baked beans
∼ 100g cheddar cheese

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1. Flour your surface and roll out the pastry into a large square until it’s about 0.5cm thick. I tend to keep a block of puff pastry in my freezer as it comes in useful. Just remember to take it out to defrost if you’re planning on making this.

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2. Transfer this to a lightly oiled baking tray and prick it all over with a fork, leaving about a centimetre around the edge. This should stop the middle from rising too much, although it’ll probably rise a bit.

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3. Cover the pastry with the tin of beans, spreading it out all over, again leaving a border around the edge. Choice of beans is not important. Honestly. Use whatever beans you want. Don’t feel any ‘bean pressure’ to use a particular brand.

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4. Sprinkle the cheese over the beans and then bake in a preheated over, 180°C/350ºF/Gas 4, for about 20-25 minutes until the pastry has turned golden and the cheese is bubbling. You could egg-wash the edge, but I didn’t, and it’s just adding more faff to an otherwise faff-less meal.

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Cheese and bean pastry pie - incredibly quick and easy, just don't worry about the calorie content | thehecticcook.com

5. Slice up and serve.

Cheese and bean pastry pie - incredibly quick and easy, just don't worry about the calorie content! | thehecticcook.com

Like I said, this recipe is not going to win prizes. If you haven’t thought of this dish already, you’ll wonder why not. But with only 3 ingredients, and minimal effort, it’s the kind of meal to keep in the back pocket for days when you really can’t be bothered – and don’t really care about the nutritional intake of your kids. Oh and this tastes pretty good, so if you don’t have kids, make this for yourself and don’t think about the calories 😛

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:2]

Traditional Scottish Stovies

So this could be a highly contentious post. I once read that if you asked one hundred Scots folk how to make stovies, you’d get one hundred different recipes. This is so very true. Stovies are a dish that probably every Scottish person recognises. It’s a national dish, but one that gets less international attention than the likes of haggis or battered mars bars. You get stovies served at parties; at weddings; basically any Scottish social gathering. They’re that awesome.

Traditional Scottish Stovies - The ultimate comfort food, Scottish Stovies are loved by a nation for good reason. So simple to make and really delicious | thehecticcook.com

I always think of stovies as the perfect comfort food. It’s a potato based dish, to which you can add pretty much any type of meat, although mince or corned beef are most popular. My recipe is not traditional. But it uses what I tend to have to hand in the cupboard, and is pretty bloody tasty (if I do say so myself). The kids lap it up and it always results in empty plates. So it’s a staple meal in the HC house. Just please don’t lynch me because its not ‘how mummy used to make it’ (it’s not even how my mum makes stovies, it’s just how I’ve come to make them).

Traditional Scottish Stovies - The ultimate comfort food, Scottish Stovies are loved by a nation for good reason. So simple to make and really delicious | thehecticcook.com
 Ingredients

potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp oil
1 beef stock cube / stock pot
1 beef oxo cube
1 tin of corned beef, cubed
salt & pepper

I’ve not given a quantity for the potatoes as I tend to go by how many I’m cooking for. I’ll assign a small potato each to the kids, then a couple for every adult, plus an extra couple to be safe. If I’m just cooking for the kids I’ll only need half an onion and half a tin of corned beef. You can freeze corned beef. If there’s leftovers (not including what I eat whilst I’m dishing out) then that’s a billy-bonus.

1. Heat your oil in a large pan then add the onion, and cook it really well so that it gets nicely browned. It’s important you add lots of flavour to your onion so don’t be afraid to overcook it.

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2. Add the sliced potato, the stock cube, the oxo cube and about 300ml of water. Give a good stir.

Note: Traditional stovies are made using beef dripping. This isn’t something I normally have to hand, so I’ve had to add the meaty taste from elsewhere. I find the stock pots really good for this (either the normal beef one or the rich beef – both are good), but a regular beef stock cube would also work. The oxo cube adds colour and extra flavour – I add beef oxo cubes to pretty much everything meaty, it’s kind of my secret ingredient (just not that secret). I love them and think they add a lovely rich flavour to any kind of meat dish (bolognese; stew; I even add them to chicken gravy!). They always feature in my cupboard supplies.

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3. Put the lid of the pan on and let it simmer. Every so often give it a good stir. The potatoes will start to stick to the bottom, so with every stir, scrape the bottom of the pan. This is good, it all adds flavour. As you stir, the potatoes will begin to break up which is what you want.

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4. Once the potatoes have softened and absorbed most of the stock, add your meat. Give it a good stir so everything is combined and check your seasoning. The corned beef can be quite salty, so it’s best to check the seasoning once it’s been added. Season as required.

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This is not a pretty dish. Indeed, I’m sure some out there could be quite inventive in describing just what it looks like. But it’s tasty. It truly is. And its simple. If you like potatoes and corned beef, do give this a go. And let me know how you get on – I love hearing when folk have made anything from the blog! 😀

Traditional Scottish Stovies - The ultimate comfort food, Scottish Stovies are loved by a nation for good reason. So simple to make and really delicious | thehecticcook.com

 

Oh and serve it with a good splodge of ketchup.

Happy cooking!

Traditional Scottish Stovies - The ultimate comfort food, Scottish Stovies are loved by a nation for good reason. So simple to make and really delicious | thehecticcook.com