41 articles Articles posted in Cooking and Recipes

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef

The beauty of slow cooking is that it’s often cheaper cuts of meat which respond really well to “low and slow”, which means that we can enjoy healthy, protein-rich meals without having to spend a fortune. I’m still using the slow cooker, on average, about 2-3 times a week so as well as saving on the actual meals, the cost of cooking is lower too as it’s much cheaper to run a slow cooker, even for 8 hours, than a conventional cooker.

Today’s experiment is Mongolian Beef; I’ve seen a few different recipes for this around the internet and they all call for brown sugar (a whole cup of it, no less…), which is something that Husband and I are trying to avoid at the moment, so as with the Pulled Pork, I replaced the sugar with erythritol to get the sweetness without adding sugar, although you can also use a little agave nectar. Find the best ones at Monica’s Health Mag.

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef

Here’s how I made it:

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef
 
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A slow cooked beef dish with ginger, garlic and carrots.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 800g diced beef
  • 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • ¾ cup soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 cup erythritol
  • ¼ cup corn flour
  • 2 grated carrots
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
Instructions
  1. Place the beef into a ziplock bag with the corn flour and shake to completely coat the meat
  2. Place the meat in the slow cooker with the oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chilli flakes, water and sweetener
  3. Cook on low for 6 hours
  4. Add the grated carrots half an hour before serving
  5. Serve with egg noodles or a side of your choice and garnish with the chopped spring onions

This is exactly my kind of slow cooker recipe – aside from a minimal amount of prep, it really is a kind of “chuck it all in and wait” dish, which makes it perfect for busy days. It’s really cold here today so getting through the door after a chilly school run and smelling our beef cooking away was truly dreamy!

I’ve never tried it with the brown sugar instead of the sweetener, so I can’t compare, but I have to say it was absolutely delicious, even without the sugar and I certainly wouldn’t ever bother making it the original way. The meat was incredibly tender after being cooked for so long and the depth of flavour was really impressive for such a simple recipe. The girls and Husband really loved it and overall, it was pretty cheap to make, if you’ve got a few basics in the store cupboard. This will definitely be one that we add to our regular dinners.

Have you tried Mongolian Beef? Let me know what you think!

Slow Cooker Pork Stacks

One of the things which has surprised me the most about using a slow cooker is that it isn’t all stews, soups and casseroles. Of course, I have made stews, soups and casseroles, but I’ve also made meatballs, cake, melt-in-the-mouth meat and even a ‘fakeaway‘ (which, to you and I, is basically a replica of a doner kebab!). Today, I’m doing something which is even more of a departure from what you’d expect of slow cooked fayre – pork stacks.

Here’s how you make slow cooker pork stacks:

Slow Cooker Pork Stacks
 
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Slow cooked pork stack with stuffing, apple, cheese and onion.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • Pork steaks or chops (2 per person)
  • Stuffing, made up as per the instructions
  • 1 cooking apple, sliced into rounds
  • One onion, sliced
  • Cheddar cheese, 1 or 2 slices per stack
  • Tin foil for wrapping and making foil balls
Instructions
  1. (Before you begin, unless you have the type of slow cooker which can cook dry ingredients, it's wise to ball up some tin foil and place a cup of water in the bottom of your slow cooker, to prevent the pot from cracking which can sometimes happen with recipes with no moisture)
  2. Tear a square of tin foil off of the roll and place one pork steak in the centre
  3. Place a slice of apple on top of your steak
  4. Place a few rings of onion on top of the apple
  5. Place a couple of spoonfuls of stuffing mixture on top of the onions
  6. Top with a slice of cheese
  7. Place another pork steak on top and wrap the edges of the tin foil over to create a sealed parcel
  8. Repeat with the remaining ingredients
  9. Place the parcels in the slow cooker and cook for 6 hours on low
  10. Serve with mashed potato and veg of your choice

Because of the slow cooking, the meat is incredibly tender and the flavours of everything almost melt together. One pork stack is more than enough for one person and the girls shared one, which makes this a pretty cheap meal – even from Waitrose, the meat (which is the most expensive part of the recipe) was only £4 for a pack of six, which was enough to feed us four. It takes only a little bit of effort to make a really tasty meal, which is something I seem to find every time I try something new in the slow cooker.

To me, this is the perfect family meal – tasty, pretty well balanced and something that all of us really enjoy. What’s not to love about that?!

Slow Cooker Pork Stacks

Date Night at Home – Healthy Snack Ideas

Now that we live in the middle of nowhere, a full-on night out with Husband has become something of a rarity. We’ve had to be a lot more inventive when it comes to spending quality time together  and one of our current favourite things to do is to stick some music on, cook together, prepare some healthy snacks and play some online casino games. There’s nothing like a few spins of a roulette wheel to get the adrenaline going and obviously winning makes it even better! We also love the fruit machines – it’s like being in a pub without having to leave the comfort of our living room! Eating healthily at the moment means we have to think outside the box when it comes to finding fun snacks which are also good for us, but we’ve come across a few lately which have become firm favourites.

Topped Rice Cakes

Topped Rice Cakes

When we think of rice cakes, we often think of a dry, uninspiring cracker with little flavour and even less pleasure. However, if you change the way you view rice crackers, you can start seeing them in a whole new light and a great way to do this is to add toppings! Peanut butter with desiccated coconut and dried cherries will take your boring crackers from gross to gourmet with very little effort!

Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

It may seem a little odd to suggest chocolate as a healthy snack, but you’re free to indulge if you make the RIGHT choices. For instance, a slab of Dairy Milk isn’t going to be a great choice as there’s a ton of added fat and sugar. However, something of the dark chocolate variety, preferable 70% cocoa solids or higher and you’re on to a winner.

Popcorn

popcorn

Okay, so popcorn which is slathered in butter or toffee obviously isn’t the way to go if you’re trying to keep things healthy. However, if you buy plain kernels which you then pop and season yourself, you’ll massively reduce your fat intake and take this snack to a new level. Sea salt is tasty, as is a little smoked paprika if you like a hit of spice. We’d also recommend sprinkling cinnamon and a little granulated sweetener for a low-cal sweet alternative.

Wasabi Peas

Wasabi Peas

Wasabi Peas are an excellent snacking option because not only are they low calorie, but they’re also packed with protein, which means you’re potentially helping to build muscle while you play! The spice isn’t to everyone’s taste, but there’s also research to show that spicy food releases endorphins, so you’re actively making yourself happier on a chemical level by indulging in this green delicacy!

Guacamole

Guacamole

We’re huge fans of guacamole here, and we’d happily eat it with just about every meal, but it’s also great as a dip and contains a whole load of the good fats that our bodies need to function well. Opt for a wholemeal cracker or wholemeal pitta slices as a guacamole-delivery-system rather than high-cal corn chips and you’ll also be getting a much needed hit of wholegrain in your diet, too. If you were interested in finding some lovely healthy snacks check out matcha powder from Clearspring.

Slow Cooker Lamb Shank (Agnello Brasato)

About three years ago, before BB was even a person, Husband, Sausage and I went to Strada for dinner after a shopping trip. Strada is a chain of restaurants which serves modern Italian cuisine and on this particular trip, I had something called Agnello Brasato, which was basically a lamb shank which had been slow cooked in a tomato and red wine sauce and served with creamy mash and broccoli. For ages, I’ve been craving the meal again, so I decided to try to recreate it myself, with lovely results (although, as usual, my food presentation and photography leaves a lot to be desired!).

Slow Cooker Lamb Shank in Red Wine and Tomato Sauce (Agnello Brasato)

Here’s how I made Slow Cooker Lamb Shank in Red Wine and Tomato Sauce (Agnello Brasato):

Slow Cooker Lamb Shank in Red Wine and Tomato Sauce (Agnello Brasato)
 
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Slow cooked lamb shank, stewed slowly in tomatoes, red wine and herbs.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 4 (400g) tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 glass red wine
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 medium onions, chopped
  • A pinch salt and pepper, for seasoning
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • About 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying
  • 2 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 150ml chicken stock
Instructions
  1. Brown each of your lamb shanks before placing in your slow cooker (this step is optional)
  2. In a pan, add the onions and garlic and fry until translucent
  3. Add the red wine, rosemary, thyme and stock and bring to the boil
  4. Add the salt and pepper and allow to simmer for 2 minutes and then pour over the lamb shanks in the slow cooker
  5. Cook on low for 6 hours or until lamb is falling off of the bone
  6. Serve with mashed potatoes and greens of your choice (we went for broccoli, but asparagus would also work well) and a few spoonfuls of the tomato stew

 

I can honestly say that this was just as nice (if not nicer!) than the one that I had a Strada all those years ago and definitely satisfied my cravings. The lamb came out so incredibly tender and the sauce was wonderfully rich and flavoursome. There was a load of sauce left in the pot after cooking and I froze it to use at a later date as a ragu to have with pasta. Let me know if you give this a go, I’d love to hear how yours turns out.

Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked Potatoes

Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked PotatoesAnother week, another slow cooker experiment! Today, we’re having slow cooker Hunters Chicken and I kinda devised the idea myself from a few other things I’ve seen on slow cooker forums and the like. Husband is still being really disciplined with what he eats and sugar is one of the main things that he’s trying to avoid, so instead of using a barbecue sauce from a bottle which is absolutely LADEN with sugar, I’m using the same recipe that Kate at WitWitWoo uses for her slow cooker pulled pork, but slightly modified for our tastes. As a sweetener, we use erythritol, which is granular like sugar and about 40% less sweet.

In terms of baked potatoes, I’m pretty fussy. The insides need to be super fluffy and soft, while the skins should be firm and crunchy so this method of cooking has been tried and tested over the last few years. I’m serving ours with sour cream and chives as it goes beautifully with both the chicken and the barbecue sauce.

Anyway, here’s the recipe and method for Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked Potatoes:

5.0 from 2 reviews
Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked Potatoes
 
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A slow-cooker, low-sugar version of Hunters Chicken.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For the chicken:
  • 5 Chicken Breasts (or one per person)
  • 100g Cheddar Cheese
  • 14 rashers of streaky bacon
  • ___________________________________________________________
  • For the sauce:
  • 500ml passata
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 5 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce (I subbed this with 10 teaspoons of Soy Sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of sweetener
  • 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ___________________________________________________________
  • For the potatoes:
  • One baking potato per person
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
Instructions
  1. Slice the cheese, allowing one large slice per chicken breast
  2. Slice each chicken breast lengthways, almost all the way through, creating a flap
  3. Place the cheese inside the flap and close
  4. Wrap 3 rashers of streaky bacon around each chicken breast, fairly firmly
  5. Place in the bottom of the slow cooker
  6. In a saucepan, add all of the sauce ingredients and stir whilst bringing to a simmer
  7. Once the sauce has started to simmer, give it a good stir and pour over the chicken breasts
  8. Cook on low for 2-3 hours
  9. Place your baking potatoes in a mixing bowl
  10. Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes
  11. Give the oily potatoes a healthy sprinkle of salt
  12. Get your hands in the bolw and rub the oil and salt all over the skin of the potatoes
  13. Place in an oven at around 120°C (about gas mark 1 or 2)
  14. Cook for about 2-3 hours or until you're ready to serve

 

Here’s the finished result, although I took the photo before I put the sour cream and corn on the cob on the plate, hence it looking a little plain!

Slow Cooked Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked Potatoq

Slow Cooker Creamy Garlic Chicken with Mushrooms & Bacon

 photo 20160213_131317_HDR_zps6y4d4xt3.jpg

We’re off out to a party for my friend’s 40th birthday this evening and we had a whole bunch of stuff in the fridge, including some chicken breasts, which needed eating by today, so I decided to try this little concoction of the various different things! I don’t know about you, but I hate going on a night out feeling bloated and full, so on the rare occasion that I go, we tend to eat our main meal at lunch time, so I’ve chucked all of this in the slow cooker at 9am, to be ready for around 1pm.

Here’s how I did it:

Slow Cooker Creamy Garlic Chicken with Mushrooms and Bacon
 
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Slow cooked chicken in a creamy garlic sauce with mushrooms and bacon, perfect served with pasta or potatoes.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 500g chicken breast
  • Mushrooms (around half a punnet)
  • One pack of unsmoked bacon lardons
  • One tub of Philadelphia (or other cream cheese)
  • Garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken breasts in the slow cooker
  2. Chop the mushrooms into quarters and layer on top of the chicken
  3. Brown the lardons in a pan until lightly golden then place in the slow cooker
  4. Sprinkle garlic powder over the chicken, bacon and mushrooms, a little or a lot depending on your taste (we like a lot!)
  5. Gently spread the cream cheese across the top of the rest of the ingredients
  6. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours
  7. Serve with pasta or potatoes of your choice

 photo Slow Cooker Creamy Garlic Chicken with Mushrooms and Bacon_zps7ezg4sgm.png

Given the fact that this was basically just a “chuck it all in and hope for the best” recipe, it actually came out really well and was stupidly easy to make. The girls absolutely loved it (Sausage said “Mum, is this your secret sauce because it is DELICIOUS!”) and it’s definitely one that will make it into our regular rotation. We had ours with pasta as it was the quickest option for today, but it would also go really nicely with new potatoes or even mash and possbily some broccoli or asparagus on the side.

Slow Cooker Lava Cake

I have to say it: I am becoming a slow-cooker obsessive. Since Husband bought a Crock Potfor me about a month ago, I’ve cooked about a dozen meals in it, getting slightly more adventurous each time. Last night, I tried making dessert in it for the first time and I was so impressed with how easy it was and how well it turned out that I thought I’d share it with you. Behold, the LAVA CAKE!

slow cooker lava cake

What this picture is not showing you is that although it looks like a humble sponge cake, there is actually molten goodness inside (hence lava cake…), like a low-effort chocolate fondant, if you will. But, I cannot stress how easy this is to make.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 package of chocolate sponge mix (we used Betty Crocker as it was all they had in the Co-Op at 4pm on a Saturday) plus the wet ingredients stated on the box (I think it’s eggs, oil and water)

1 package of Angel Delight (we used butterscotch and it worked SO well!) plus 300ml milk

Chocolate chips or chunks (I used a bag of milk and a bag of white chocolate chunks)

  • Grease your slow cooker with a little oil spray or butter
  • Mix up your cake batter and pour it into the slow cooker
  • Mix up your Angel Delight, leave to thicken for 5 minutes and then pour directly on top of your cake batter in the slow cooker
  • Sprinkle you chocolate chips evenly over the top of the mixtures
  • Cook on high for 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Serve with custard or ice cream and try not to make inappropriately lustful noises whilst eating.

It really is as simple as “chuck it all in and wait”, which is my favourite type of dessert. We got 6 massive portions out of ours, or 8 reasonable portions, and although it may not be the best looking dish once it’s served up, I’d be more than happy serving it to guests as it’s so damn tasty! I’m going to experiment with different flavours too; I’m thinking vanilla sponge and strawberry Angel Delight next time!

Have you made this before? What flavours did you use? Leave me a comment below!

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Slow Cooker Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs (recipe)

Just after Christmas, Husband bought me a slow cooker. I’ve been wanting one for absolutely ages, so I was super thrilled, especially as be bought me one which is 6.5l, meaning I can cook large meals and freeze some or feed a lot of people at once. I’ve been perusing various slow cooker groups on Facebook and found lots of recipes that I wanted to try, with slow cooker meatballs being one of the main ones, but a lot of the recipes I found have been American ones with ingredients that aren’t that common here in the UK, so I thought I’d modify the recipes and come up with my own! Bear in mind that this recipe makes 32-33 pretty large meatballs (I managed 5 and I have a HUGE appetite!) so you could easily halve the recipe if you’re cooking for few people or make the full batch and freeze what you don’t use.

Slow Cooker Meatballs

Slow Cooker Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs
 
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These slow-cooked meatballs are full of flavour and oozy, melted mozzarella!
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 32 meatballs
Ingredients
  • 750g beef mince
  • 300g pork sausage meat
  • 2 balls of mozzarella
  • 2 slices of bread, blended to make breadcrumbs (I used the knobbies from a loaf)
  • 2 eggs
  • salt
  • basil
  • oregano
  • garlic powder
  • pepper
  • 2 jars of your favourite 800g tomato-based pasta sauce (or your own home-made sauce, whichever you have time for)
  • Pasta of your choice to serve
Instructions
  1. Place the mince and sausage meat into a large bowl and start to combine using your hands (you might want to remove your rings at this point!)
  2. Add in the breadcrumbs and eggs and continue to mash it all together with your hands, adding in about a teaspoon of each herb as you go (more or less, depending on your tastes)
  3. Squeeze your mozzarella inside a clean tea towel to remove any excess moisture and chop into cubes around half an inch square
  4. Take a dollop of your well-combined mixture and make a patty about the size of your palm and 1cm deep
  5. Place a square of mozzarella in the middle of the patty and bring the edges in, squashing the meat together to form the ball.
  6. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to help the balls retain their shape
  7. If you want to eat at around 6pm, I'd recommend starting to cook them at 2pm
  8. Place a layer of meatballs in the bottom of your slow cooker and cover in the first jar of sauce.
  9. Add another layer of meatballs and add the next jar of sauce. I dont recommend stirring at this point because you risk damaging the meatballs, but gently using a spoon you can distribute the sauce evenly to make sure everything is covered. There's no need to brown them first.
  10. Cook on LOW for 4 hours
  11. Once you're ready to serve, you may find a layer of fat which has come from the cooking meat and cheese and I just skimmed this off with a spoon before serving.

Without withing to sound SUPER arrogant, these meatballs were AMAZING! Husband declared it the best thing I’ve cooked in the slow cooker to date and the kids absolutely wolfed it down. Husband and I even had a midnight snack of meatball subs made from the leftovers (DON’T JUDGE US!!), and I’d totally recommend that as an alternative serving suggestion to pasta. If you shop around and find good deals, this is a relatively cheap meal given the yield and you can season the meatballs exactly to your tastes, which is handy if you’ve got fussy eaters – Husband has requested jalapenos in his ones next time I make them!

Let me know if you use my recipe to give these a go and how they turn out, I’d love to hear about it and see your pictures.

Mum’s the Word’s Mega Mince Pies

About 10 years ago, I went to a work Christmas get together where someone had put on a little spread of festive nibbles. One of the things that was on offer was mince pies (obviously!), but these mince pies were a little different. Instead of a fully enclosed pie, the top was nestled on a dollop of brandy butter and it made them taste incredible – like Christmas on steroids!! I decided that I’d try to recreate something similar and thought I’d share them with you here:

Mum's the Word's Mega Mince Pies
 
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Mince pies with added kick!
Author:
Recipe type: Christmas Baking
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • One pack of chilled JusRoll shortcrust pastry
  • One jar of mincemeat
  • Small pot of brandy butter
  • Icing sugar to dust
  • (You'll also need a dimpled baking tray, a 2.5" pastry cutter and a star-shaped pastry cutter - we also placed a pastry holly leaf on the top of each star but these aren't absolutely essential if you don't have a holly leaf cutter)
Instructions
  1. (Before you start, take the JusRoll out of the fridge and leave for half an hour to reach room temperature)
  2. Cut out 12 cirlcles of JusRoll and place in your baking tray
  3. Place a moderate teaspoon of mincemeat in each pastry case
  4. Bake at 160c (fan oven) for 25 minutes
  5. Cut out 12 stars and place on a flat, non-stick baking tray
  6. Bake at 160c for around 15-18 minutes
  7. Allow everything to cool completely
  8. Place a dollop of brandy butter (about half a teaspoon) on top of each mince pie and top with a pastry star
  9. Dust with icing sugar before serving

mega mince pies
It’s a super simple recipe which the kids will probably love to help with and it takes a really short time to prep and cook, but the result is fantastic and takes your mince pies to the next level.

Merry Christmas!

BKD London Baking Kits Review and Discount Code #bkdbakes

If there’s one thing that Sausage and I love to do together, it’s baking. We’re never happier than when we’re in the kitchen, working together to make something tasty for the family, so when the lovely folk at BKD London got in touch and asked if we’d like to try one of their baking kits for kids, we agreed straight away. Even the boxes they come in are gorgeous!

BKD London Gingerbread Kit

The kits contain everything you need to make gingerbread men, apart from butter and golden syrup, including the cutter and everything to decorate them. The instructions were really clear – so much so that I basically stood back and let Sausage do everything herself (minus a little help with measuring and weighing).

BKD London Gingerbread Kit

The whole process from beginning to end was super simple – the only part that Sausage didn’t like was having to wait for her gingerbread dough to chill before she could roll it out! Here’s the finished product:

BKD London cookies

They tasted absolutely delicious!

These kits come in a number of varieties (I’ve got my eye on the unicorns!) and would make an amazing sticking filler for any kid who loves baking. The best news is that we’ve got a 10% off code for all Mum’s the Word readers. Just enter the code MUMSTHEWORD10 at the checkout. Happy baking!