Monday, 20 October 2014

Quick, Cheap and Easy Keema Fusilli Pasta Bake

I was asked to design my own recipe for a dish to make with keema. Once you have made a batch of keema you'll find that its a brilliantly simple dish which is incredibly versatile. The challenge posed me with a problem, i'm not that good at cooking, well, at least i'm not all that interested in cooking. However, I know how to do all the basics and nearly everything we eat at home is cooked from scratch. I fancied doing keema meatballs or keema with home made Naan Breads. Then it struck me that in our house we are time limited and the basics work just as well for us as anything else and above all, my kids love pasta. So I've decided to cook a quick and easy Fusilli Pasta bake which can be frozen in batches so out of one keema cooking session, you'll get 2 family meals which will feed four people easily and wont break the bank. If you like my recipe you'll be able to vote for it over on the www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk website.

Ingredients:
450 g lean lamb mince
2tsp sunflower of vegetable oil
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
1 x 2.5cm piece of fresh root ginger peeled and finely chopped
1-2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp garam masala or medium curry powder
4 medium potatoes, chopped
5- 10 ml white sugar
2 tbsp tomato puree
salt and freshly milled black pepper
1000g Wholewheat Fusilli Pasta
1 tin Cannellini beans
I packet of grated Mozerella

Method:
1. Heat the old in a large non-stick frying pan and cook the onion and garlic over a low heat for 10 minutes or until soft and lightly golden.

2. Add the ginger, chillies, cumin and garam masala or curry powder. Cook over a moderate heat for 1- 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the lamb and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato puree, cannellini beans and bring to the boil. Season, reduce the hear and cook uncovered for 20- 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little water, if needed.
4. Cook the pasta so its al dente
5. Once the pasta is cooked mix the keema with the pasta and tin of chopped tomatoes, mix through the mozzarella cheese.

6. Divide evenly into three oven proof dishes and top with grated cheddar.
7. Pop the dish you want to eat tonight into the oven for about 15 minutes at 180 degrees. Or until the cheddar on top is nice and crsipy. Leave the other dishes to cool then freeze for use later on!

Enjoy! 

Readers of Being a Mummy can be in with a chance to win £50 by posting a picture of their own keema dish with the hashtag #CookWithKeema on Facebook or Twitter. So get voting for me and cooking yourself!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Ready, Steady, Cook Fish! Simple Creamy Pasta and Asparagus with Trout




I was asked to design a fish dish for a new campaign from Seafish which is the national authority on fish called Ready. Steady, Cook Fish! The challenge was to design a recipe in 30 minutes using fish. I'm all for quick, easy, uncomplicated healthy dishes which are economical to make, so I thought I'd make up this pasta and Trout dish. This quick and easy dish is a perfect comfort food for those winter nights at home. You could serve it with come lovely fresh home-made bread but its equally as nice on its own. My children loved it, I hope you'll enjoy it too.

Ingredients
1 packet of Trout (250 g)
3/4 packet pasta bronze fusilli pasta
Cream cheese
one teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
grated rind of about 1/5 of a lemon
half teaspoon of dried oregano
a handful of frozen peas
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method (overall cooking time 20 minutes):

1. Place the Trout into a frying pan and cook it lightly, not entirely (the trout will finish cooking when mixed with the pasta).
2. Cook the Pasta al dente
3. Flake the trout
4. Drain the pasta and stir in the cream cheese, lemon juice and rind and oregano. This should mix together and coat the pasta
5. Meanwhile pop the frozen peas in a dish and cover with water and a lid. Then cook for about 2 minutes.
6. Stir in the peas to the pasta.
7. Stir in the flaked trout and season with black pepper.

Serve with steamed asparagus stalks.

If you'd like to find lots more healthy fish recipes have a look at Fish is the Dish which is chock full of amazing recipes and inspiration.

Disclaimer: I was sent some ingredients to provide inspiration, but in the end did my own thing!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Cooking with Keema

Rather excitingly I've been asked to design my own Keema dish to be entered into a competition. I'm sure I won't win the competition, but hey, little old me has been asked to do something cookery related. With my track record of cooking this suggests that I'm improving!

Anyway, like me, you're probably wondering what Keema actually is: Keema is inspired by South Asian cuisine and is used all over the world quite often as a base for many recipes. Its made with lamb mince and spices and is easy to cook. Surprisingly so, because on my first attempt I was simultaneously having a phone conversation, looking after the kids and cooking...

This is the recipe for Lamb Keema:

Serves 4

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: Under 40 minutes

Ingredients:
450 g lean lamb mince
2tsp sunflower of vegetable oil
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
1 x 2.5cm piece of fresh root ginger peeled and finely chopped
1-2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp garam masala or medium curry powder
4 medium potatoes, chopped
5- 10 ml white sugar
2 tbsp tomato puree
salt and freshly milled black pepper
4 oz frozen peas
large handful of freshly chopped coriander

Method:
1. Heat the old in a large non-stick frying pan and cook the onion and garlic over a low heat for 10 minutes or until soft and lightly golden.

2. Add the ginger, chillies, cumin and garam masala or curry powder. Cook over a moderate heat for 1- 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the lamb and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the tomatoes, sugar tomato puree and bring to the boil. Season, reduce the hear and cook uncovered for 20- 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little water, if needed.
4. 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time add the peas.
5. Garnish with the coriander and serve with flat or naan bread, plain basmati rice or poppadoms and a selection of relishes.


Earlier this year Stacey Solomon met up with Indian chef Nisha Katona and learnt how to cook it. This is a really interesting video as it not only shows you how to cook and more importantly when Keema is cooked, but there is also a discussion about how to tailor it for kids. I'm converted, if you give it a go i'm sure you will be too. Keema is REALLY yummy, without doubt it will become a family basic regular dish.



Disclaimer: I was sent a kit to learn how to cook Keema from EBLEX

Book Review: A Treasury of Animal Stories by Holly Webb

Holly Webb's animal stories are brilliant for little readers and also to read to primary school aged children. Over the years we have built up a few of them individually so it was lovely to receive this collection of 11 of them all nicely presented in a soft cover book.

The stories speak for themselves and are a lovely collection perfectly pitched at primary school aged readers. I enjoy reading them to my children and the older ones (7 and 5) like reading them to themselves. One of the things which she seems particularly good at is writing a story which the children can use to develop their comprehension, there are lots of opportunities to discuss different emotions and situations alongside the general threads of the stories and I think this is very valuable.

This book benefits from lots of little additional interviews and information panels. Even I learnt something from the Did You Know? panel about hedgehogs!

This is a really lovely gift for a little reader and to be honest I'd much rather my children received something like this than an annual this Christmas. Its a bargain at £9:99 and I think I've enjoyed it as much as the children.

You can find out more about the book here.

Book Review: Sloth Slept On Written and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon

We really enjoyed Frann Preston- Gannon's previous offerings How to Lose a Lemur  and Dinosaur Beach so it was with much excitement that we received Sloth Slept On.

This is a story about discovery and identification, teamwork and the value of books. Personally I think its a really charming book with fantastic illustrations and a great story. I really enjoyed reading it to the children, especially the part of the story where the children try to engage their dad to help!

The children loved it, especially my daughter (aged 5) who can actually recount it, saying that it really made her laugh. I've been hearing her say 'which way to the zoo?' (the ending) as a little catchphrase to her friends as they all giggle. I know its struck the right nerve with her because, for one thing, she's not usually all that good at recapping stories.

If you like your children's books to be works of art with great stories and a classic yet modern feel then Frann Preston-Gannon's books are for you. They take pride of place on my bookshelf and this one is very special indeed. A book which touches upon children's imaginations, sense of discovery and also looks wonderful is a joy to own.

You can find out more about all of Frann Preston-Gannon's book's here. Sloth Slept On is published on 16th October by Pavillion Children's Books and is £10.99 in hardback.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Learning to Cook with Miele


Fantastic table layout for decorating cupcakes!
I'm not very good at cooking, the trouble is that I'm constantly trying to multitask and so I don't really concentrate with the cookery and inevitably I burn stuff or miss out a vital step. I have a sort of passing interest in cookery, but I think that the problem is both a lack of time and a lack of patience. Maybe surprisingly I do actually cook all the children's meals completely from scratch, we never eat ready meals and we do eat healthily. Its just I've managed to get a series of signature dishes which I can cook quickly, cheaply and easily. I need to expand my repertoire, to slow down and to be a bit braver. I really need some cookery classes!

I was delighted when I was invited along with the children to the Miele Gallery on Regent Street to have a look at all the amazing products and learn more about making healthy food for the kids which disguises lots of vegetables. We are big fans of Miele in our household, in fact, nearly all the big domestic products we have bought ourselves are Miele from our Cat and Dog vacuum cleaner through to our swanky gas hob. 

Looking around the Miele Gallery we were genuinely surprised at what you could get, from an induction wok hob which is frankly astonishing through to the brilliant convection steam oven. There are some amazing gadgets out there which can make a massive difference to your cooking. Personally i'm lusting over the steam oven which I think may just revolutionise my cooking given the experience we had at the gallery.
Making Pizza

The kids were given the chance to make their own pizza and decorate some cupcakes which they really enjoyed. However, even better we were treated to a sample of some of their Dinners in Disguise menu ideas. We tried pizza's with bases made from sweet potato and beetroot or cauliflower which were delicious. The children really enjoyed adding their toppings. I have to say I think child involvement in cooking really does encourage them to try things and eat stuff they normally wouldn't.
Pizza

If you want to have a go (using a Miele Steam oven):
Vegetable Crusted Pizza
For the base:
450 g of cauliflower 
or 225 g beetroot grated raw and excess liquid squeezed out
225g sweet potato, grated raw and excess liquid squeezed out
2 medium eggs
50g parmesan, grated

For the topping
50g cheddar grated
1 ball mozzarella
5 slices of ham
1 bunch basil

Method:
1. place the cauliflower into a food processor and blend till it looks like a grain. Then microwave for 5 minutes.
2. If you are using the beetroot/ sweet potato mic then mix them in a bowl.
3. depending on what you are using add the vegetable mix into a bowl along with the eggs and Parmesan. mix well.
4. preheat the oven on Intensive Bake 225 degrees C
5. Then place onto a baking sheet and spread out so that you are making small singular circles. Do not make too thin as it will break, about 1 cm thick.
6. Add toppings of choice.
7. Place into the oven on shelf position 1 and cook for 25- 30 minutes.

The children also had the chance to decorate some fab cupcakes. I'm trying really hard at the moment to get some vegetables into their cakes and I've actually made beetroot ones myself, which were delicious. They could choose from beetroot or courgette cupcakes and they were both great examples of a way of getting vegetables into children without them even realising.
Courgette and Carrot Spaghetti with Meatballs

At the event we got to sample a selection of food cooked in the Miele steam oven and I must say I'm completely sold on the oven. It seems like a brilliant way of cooking healthy food and the results were amazing. For me, the Meatballs with Courgette and Carrot Spaghetti were amazing and something I'd really love to make myself. Now I'm just waiting for my husband to buy me a steam oven...
@daddacool enjoying the food!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Book Review: Snow Day by Richard Curtis illustrated by Rebecca Cobb

Sometimes a children's book comes along which as an adult you enjoy as much as the children, if not more so and this is that book. A lovely story about a snowy day in a deserted school and a little boy and his least favourite teacher it touches a nerve and is genuinely quite magical. This is a story about finding friendship in the most unlikely people and its suitably seasonal which somehow makes it even more magical.

I cant speak more highly of this book, I loved reading it to the children and they loved listening to me and looking at the illustrations. So much so, in fact, that we read it twice and then the next night. It really is becoming a firm favourite in our household. I suspect it might become a modern classic.

One of the benefits of a book like this is that its perfect for encouraging your own little readers to read themselves to you. I found this pitched at exactly the right level to allow my seven year old to read it out aloud at bedtime to us all. This was great, as usually he isn't interested enough to tackle the picture books which little Fifi and Ned choose. Coupled with a topic which encourages discussion and requires slightly deeper levels of comprehension than the usual pictures books, it really is a worthwhile addition to your bookshelf.

You can find out more and have a look inside the book here.

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