March’s Recipes for Life challenge: what can you do with beetroot, carrot and cheese?

Take part in the Recipes for Life food bloggers challenge for your chance to see your recipe featured in a new charity cookbook!

With such a great response to the first Recipes for Life challenge, I really can’t wait to see what dishes come in this month.

Your mission for March – should you choose to accept it – is to show us what tasty and tempting dishes you can create using beetroot, carrot and cheese.

As you’ll recall from last month, this challenge is run in conjunction with a fantastic charity called SWALLOW, which supports adults with learning disabilities to lead more independent lives. SWALLOW is looking for new recipes for its members to make in their cookery lessons, and ultimately to include in its new cookbook coming out later this year. Therefore it’s important entries to Recipes for Life focus as much as possible on the three key ingredients and aren’t too complicated to make.

This month your dishes featuring beetroot, carrot and cheese can be either savoury or sweet, raw or cooked and you can use any kind of soft or hard cheese you like, just so long as it’s widely available.

Recipes for Life: how to enter

  1. Display the Recipes for Life badge (shown above) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.
  2. You may enter as many recipe links as you like, so long as they are based on the three main ingredients selected for this month and accompanied only by basic store cupboard items.
  3. Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Tuesday 26 March 2013.
  4. If you tweet your post, please mention #recipesforlife, @BangerMashChat and @SWALLOWcharity in your tweet and we will retweet each one we see.
  5. Feel free to republish old recipe posts, but please add the information about this challenge and the Recipes for Life badge.
  6. As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page and at the end of the month there will be a round-up of all entries received.
  7. SWALLOW staff and members will choose their favourite recipe at the end of each month, and the winner will receive a small prize.
  8. A selection of recipes entered each month will be featured in the SWALLOW cookbook to be published later this year, helping the charity to raise much needed funds for its ongoing work.

Any questions, please feel free to email or tweet me and best of luck with your dishes!

March’s entries

  1. Carrot and Beetroot Soup with Cheesy Croutons from The Garden Deli
  2. Beetroot and Carrot Pancakes with Herby Mascarpone from Bangers & Mash
  3. Roasted Roots and an Easy Roasted Roots Pizza from Chez Foti
  4. Baked Cheesy Meatballs with Beetroot Sauce from The Crazy Kitchen
  5. Roasted Vegetable and Goat’s Cheese Risotto from Under The Blue Gum Tree
  6. Two-of-your-five-a-day Chocolate Cake from The Crazy Kitchen
  7. Beetroot, Carrot and Cottage Cheese Salad from The Crazy Kitchen
  8. Beetroot, Carrot and Goat’s Cheese Tatin from Martin at The Tempest Arms
  9. Beetroot, Carrot and Goat’s Cheese Muffins from Chocolate Log Blog
  10. Beetroot, Carrot and Feta Cheese Salad from Bangers & Mash
  11. Carrot and beetroot cake with a cream cheese topping from Lucy at The Bell Inn

Magic chicken korma from The Good Stuff

Since becoming a food blogger, my family and I have been eating a much more varied and interesting diet. It’s partly due to wanting to try out new things to keep the blog fresh, but also because I’m reading so many other food blogs and being inspired to test out their offerings. It’s this sharing aspect I think I enjoy most about becoming part of a food blogging community.

And this ethos of sharing good food is what I like so much about a new blog I’ve recently discovered called The Good Stuff. Written by two dads with young children, Matt and Corpy describe their blog as “a swap shop for new parents with a passion for good, healthy food”. It’s great too to hear some male voices out there amongst the cacophony of us mummy bloggers, plus they’re both from the West Country – my favourite part of the country. As well as posting their own scrummy recipes – take a look at this pair of risottos, for example, for kids and for dads – they also share tasty recipes offered by others. I was very chuffed when they recently featured my simple fish pie recipe.

Now I’m very excited to be able to return the favour. Here is a guest post from The Good Stuff’s Corpy for his Magic Chicken Korma, which I know my family are going to love when I try it out on them very soon. Over to Corpy!

Magic Chicken Korma

Way back when we first started telling friends that we were expecting a baby, a really wise friend of mine called Oli said “one of the great things about becoming a parent is that you get to experience all the stuff about being a kid that you forget when you get older”.  He doesn’t have kids, as it happens, but he was so right.  In many ways it is exactly this sharing a journey with our kids as they discover food that got us into writing The Good Stuff to start with.

Now we’ve progressed to a stage where our baby is a toddler – old enough to get involved with stirring, mixing, tasting and generally enjoying being in the kitchen – a new insight has emerged.  Witnessing how he gets a thrill out of dough coming together or solid veg turning puree has shone a massive light on what it is I love about cooking.  When you see it through a toddler’s eyes cookery is base magic, nothing short of alchemy.  Raw ingredients, herbs and spices spell cast together into tasty meals.  Although I’d long forgotten it – it’s this wizardry that explains why cooking continues to make me smile.

So what – you might well ask – has all that got to do with the good old fashioned Chicken Korma?   Well in short there is real magic in them, there spices.

The ingredients list (although full of cupboard staples) reads like a witches brew – stick of cinnamon, cardamom pods, milk of coconut – and the way it comes together into a rich, tasty wholeness is worthy of Hogwarts.  But like all good spells, its easy if you know how…

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 150ml single cream
  • 160ml coconut milk
  • 2 carrots
  • handful of frozen peas
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 handful of fresh coriander
  • 1 glug of vegetable oil
  • 125ml vegetable stock

This is going to make about four adult portions and is perfectly freezable.

  1. Start by prepping everything.  Cut the chicken and carrots into small cubes, peel & grate the ginger, finely chop the onion and garlic.
  2. Heat a dry frying pan (with high-ish sides) over a medium heat and when it is hot add the cumin seeds.  Cook them in the dry pan for a couple of minutes – they’ll smell lovely and pungent.  If you have a pestle and mortar pour the seeds in there and smash with the other ground spices until a fine-ish powder.  If you don’t use a flat surface and a heavy rolling pin.  Next smash the cardamom pods and add them to the spice mix.
  3. Put the pan back on the hob and heat the oil.  Once hot add the garlic, onion and ginger and soften a little before stirring in the spice mix and cinnamon stick. Keep the heat moderate, try not to burn the onion or garlic, and stir into a nice paste.
  4. Add the chicken and carrots.  Cook until the chicken is browned and the carrots softened a little then add the stock, coconut milk and bay leaf,  bringing it all to the boil.
  5. Simmer for 20 minutes until the liquid has reduced down, the chicken is cooked through and the carrots are soft.  Add the frozen peas and cook for another few minutes until they are soft and tasty.
  6. Add the cream and fresh coriander, stirring all the while and trying not to let it boil too much.  Take it off the heat and carefully remove the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cardamom without burning your fingers!

Serve warm with rice or freeze for later.

What brunch dish will you bring to the Breakfast Club?

Breakfast Club: because breakfast should be more interesting than tea & toast or coffee & cereal.

During December, I am delighted to be hosting Breakfast Club, a bloggers challenge created by the very talented Helen at Fuss Free Flavours to encourage more creativity in the kitchen for that all important first meal of the day. I really hope you’ll join in the fun by entering a dish or two.

Let’s do brunch!

The theme for Breakfast Club this month is Brunch. According to Marge Simpson’s charming Casanova of a bowling instructor, the über smooth Jacques, brunch is…

…not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don’t get completely what you would at breakfast, but you get a good meal!

Brunch is my idea of a perfect breakfast. The kind of lazy breakfast you cook and eat at leisure on a relaxed Sunday, when you’re not in a rush to get to work or school. The kind of laid back breakfast you take your time over with a large pot of coffee and a selection of papers.

So no, not the kind of breakfast I get to eat all that often, but I always make sure I indulge when the opportunity presents itself. And a very good idea to have a stock of good brunch recipes up your sleeve for when it does.

It’s very easy to enter a brunch dish into this month’s Breakfast Club:

  • Email me with the URL for your brunch recipe blog post
  • Mention in your post you are entering your dish into Breakfast Club, include the logo above, and add links back to both this post and the Breakfast Club page at Fuss Free Flavours
  • Entries can be submitted to other events
  • You are welcome to enter old posts/recipes but they must be republished with the logo and links above
  • If you use Twitter please use #blogbreakfastclub and tweet your entry, and I’ll retweet everyone I see
  • The closing date is Friday 28 December 2012.

Hopefully, that all makes sense but if you do have any questions, please comment below. I can’t wait to see your entries!

Oh and before I forget, Helen at Fuss Free Flavours is always on the look out for new guest hosts for the Breakfast Club, and last month’s round up is here.

To get things started, I thought I’d give you my brunch recipe. I found it hard to choose which one as I have so many brunch favourites. I love pancakes and did think about entering these indulgent lemon and ricotta pancakes.

Or how about a more virtuous start to the day with some homemade granola?

But then I do also find it hard to resist a good fry up, but really – who needs a recipe for that? And so I’ve decided on…

The full English pizza

I know it sounds a little crazy. Or maybe a lot crazy. But this is a perfect and fun weekend brunch, particularly when you’ve had a few drinks the night before and need some stodge to sort you out. It’s essentially all the usual suspects you’d find in a cooked English breakfast but on top of a pizza. Gorgeous. And you probably won’t need to eat for the rest of the day.

I get up early to make the pizza dough. Then go back to bed for a bit with a cup of tea while the dough rises. But if that sounds to you like too much of a palaver, then ready-made pizza bases would make life a little easier.

Makes 4 pizzas

For the dough:

400g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 x 7g sachet fast action dried yeast
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
250ml luke warm water
1 tbsp olive oil

For the topping:

200g spinach
knob of butter
passata, about half a jar
4 pork sausages, grilled and sliced
4 rashers bacon, grilled and chopped
mozzarella, 2 x 250g balls
4 free range eggs

To make the pizza dough, put the flour, salt, dried yeast and oregano into a large mixing bowl and mix well.

Make a well in the middle and pour in the lukewarm water and oil. Gradually work the flour into the liquid, making a soft dough. If it’s too dry, add a drop more water. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour.

Flour your surface before tipping the dough onto it. Knead the dough by stretching it away from you, then pulling back into a ball. Do this for five minutes or so, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover loosely with cling film and put in a warm place for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. This is when I retire back to bed for a while.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 or use the middle of the top oven of an Aga.

Uncover the risen dough and punch it back down. Flour the surface again and divide the dough into four balls. Stretch or roll out each ball until you have a thin circle about 22cm across. Place the pizzas onto slightly oiled baking sheets.

Melt the butter in a frying pan. Add the spinach and cook gently until wilted.

Pour a couple of tablespoons of passata onto each pizza, smoothing out with the back of the spoon. Spread some spinach over each base (squeeze out any excess butter), followed by the pieces of sausage and bacon, and finish with torn pieces of mozzarella. Be careful not to overload the centre of the pizza, where you’ll be cooking your egg later.

Bake the pizzas in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully break an egg into the middle of each pizza. Return to the oven for 3 to 4 minutes until the white is just cooked but the yolk is still soft. Enjoy at your leisure!

December’s entries for Breakfast Club:

  1. Turkey, Cranberry & Stilton Christmas Brunch Muffins from Fuss Free Flavours
  2. Beet Greens & Red Pepper Frittata from On Top of Spaghetti
  3. White Chocolate &  Cranberry Christmas Cookies from Chez Foti
  4. Buck Rarebit from Credit Munched
  5. Courgette and Mushroom Omelette with Garlic and Parsley from Bangers & Mash
  6. Swiss Scrambled Eggs, Croissants and Shakes from Fabulicious Food
  7. Mushrooms on Rye Toast from The Garden Deli
  8. Minestrone Soup from Divine Foods Living
  9. Nduja Potato Cakes from Foodycat
  10. Christmas Breakfast Muffins from Elizabeth’s Kitchen
  11. Speculoos & Mascarpone Pancake Cake from Kavey Eats
  12. Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins from Mondomulia
  13. Brunch Quesadillas – Fab Food 4 All

Birthday bangers

This time last year I had absolutely no idea what I was about to launch myself head first into.

Yes, it’s a year ago to the very day that I summoned the courage to hit the Publish button for the first time and with it created Bangers & Mash, complete with hand drawn pictures and dubious photography. (I do cringe a little when I look back at those early food shots.)

So I would like to take this opportunity to wish Bangers & Mash a very happy first birthday! I hope you like my little cake in honour of the occasion.

In my first post, I attempted to justify why we need another food blog? If you’re interested, and I haven’t already bored you senseless on the subject, you’ll find this post lays out my ethos of cooking wholesome, family food using good quality, seasonal ingredients, without it costing you a fortune. I also talk at length, as I am prone to do in a verging on obsessive way about meal planning, particularly how it has helped dramatically reduce our shopping bills and food waste and encouraged us to eat a much more varied, healthy and adventurous diet.

The first recipe I posted on Bangers & Mash wasn’t actually one of mine. It was my husband’s fabulous carrot cake. But in a way, that’s very appropriate, as I hadn’t a clue about cooking until I moved in with my other half. It’s funny to think back to my early 20s when I had no idea how to cook anything really and no inclination to really bother. How things change!

While I would by no stretch of the imagination consider myself a fully fledged food blogger quite yet, I do believe I have come a long way over the last 12 months.

My recipes and photography are improving all the time. The main reason for that is the feedback and support I get from friends and family, but perhaps most importantly other bloggers. That’s what has surprised and impressed me most – the support network provided by the enormous blogging community out there, through both our blogs and Twitter (a platform I avoided like the plague for quite a long time).

When I started out, I pictured blogging as a rather solitary pastime, sitting alone at a PC and broadcasting thoughts and ideas to an invisible audience. But what I’ve discovered I enjoy most about blogging is the interaction and conversation. I didn’t realise just how much I would learn from others as a result of writing a blog.

But that’s enough of that. The children will be getting up soon – as usual, I’m writing this in the early hours of the morning when the house is still and quiet – and my day must start properly. I’ll be back soon with my latest concoction. And I look forward to hearing about yours!

Praise You!

Hit PLAY and read on…

I promise this is the last time I mention it, but you will have to excuse me for making the most of this. In case you hadn’t heard already last week I won an award. A MAD (Mum & Dad) Blog award. And yes, I am still grinning.

This time last week I was in a posh hotel in London with the many of the UK’s best parenting bloggers, dressed up to the nines, quaffing bubbly, and pondering how on earth I’d got here.  And then, I was being invited up on stage to pick up the gong for best food blog. A huge thank you to everyone that voted for me. I owe you one. Big time.

The event was an amazing celebration of what I’m fast learning is a very unique and supportive community, and so this post is in praise of all the winners and finalists of the 2012 MAD Blog Awards. So sit back and listen to a little Fatboy while you look through a few snapshots…

Chris Mosler aka Thinly Spread – my fellow Somerset Frome blogger who drove us to London in our courtesy sexy Skoda. She’s been blogging much longer than me, and I’m indebted for all her words of advice during our journey

And that’ll be me and the Skoda. I’m rather excited as it’s so much shinier than my own car…

The drive took longer than anticipated, so we missed our make up appointments but managed to fit in a hair styling.

Finalists congregating around the large red deer, the unmissable focal point of the hotel’s lobby

With Cathy Winston (Mummy Travels) and her lovely fluffy shrug

The lovely Marleene Klass was there to present an award and look! I got my picture taken with her!

And then the whole of Table 6 (the place to be) were joined by the lovely MK

That crazy Table 6 again giving it some noise… “And the winner of Best Food Blog is… Bangers & Mash!”

That’s me, receiving my award from Aime Southgate of Brabantia – sponsor of the category

There it is. Isn’t it grand?

Liz from Table 6 (and The Baby Wears Prada) collecting her award for Best Fashion Blog

The wonderful Lexi from Mammywoo picking up her award for Blog Post of the Year

Kat from Slugs on the Refrigerator receiving the award for Best Blog of the Year – and very well deserved too!

And finally back home to Miss Mash, who loves this woolly hat from my MAD goody bag

 

Here are the winners of the MAD Blog Awards 2012 in all their glory. I praise you all! Please sit back with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and have a read. I guarantee you’ll be both laughing and crying before  you’re done…

MAD Blog of the Year: Slugs on the Refrigerator

MAD Blog Post of the Year: Mammywoo

Best Family Travel Blog: It’s a Small World After All

Best MAD Baby Blog: SAHM Loving It

Best Blog Photography: Slugs on the Refrigerator

Best MAD Writer: Northern Mum

Best Craft Blog: Red Ted Art

Best Family Fun Blog: Multiple Mummy

Best Family Life Blog: Adventures of an Unfit Mother

Best Food Blog: Bangers and Mash

Best Home Blog: Growing Spaces

Best Schooldays Blog: Actually Mummy

Best Small Business Blog: Coombe Mill

Best Fashion Blog: Baby Wears Prada

Best Thrifty Blog: Frugal in Cornwall

Best New Blog: Mammasaurus

Best Pregnancy Blog: Me, the Man and the Baby

Most Helpful MAD Blogger: Mammasaurus

Most Inspirational Blog: A Boy with Asperger’s

Most Innovative MAD Blog: Science Sparks

And a huge thank you to the marvellous Sally Whittle and everyone behind the scenes at the MAD awards – you guys rock!

The MAD Blog Awards ‘Create’ Carnival

The finalists in this year’s MAD Blog Awards are a pretty creative bunch. Just take a look through the fabulous posts submitted for this latest MAD Blog Carnival and I defy you not to end up itching to try out some of these delicious dishes or crafty creations for yourself…

Creative Makes

Finally I have a use for all those boxfuls of manky old broken bits of crayon thanks to the wonderful Actually Mummy. Aren’t these crayon hearts clever? But Actually Mummy doesn’t stop there; she has lots of great ideas on how to do Valentine’s when you’ve got kids.

My daughter Jessie is a budding artist and I can’t wait to try out this Klimt-inspired project with her from Red Ted Art. Maggie’s step-by-step guide is so useful, giving you lots of great ideas to develop with your kids without being overly prescriptive.

Hama beads are a firm favourite in our house and I know my two girls will love the ideas over at Little Sheep Learning for some new things to create, particularly those Angry Birds! And I can’t believe I’d never thought of using ice-cube trays before for sorting out the beads. My kids nick my muffin trays, which can be quite infuriating come baking day!

Every child I know is fascinated by shadows and how they are made, which is why this Shadow Puppets post from Science Sparks is going to be popular with kids everywhere. Create clever shadows and some pretty puppets to boot.

Dorky Mum has the perfect craft activity for anyone with too much time on their hands: the champagne cork chair. Come on, you know you want to make one. You do, you really do. And as there will undoubtedly be quite a few corks popping at the MAD Awards ceremony at the end of the month, it’s the perfect time for all the finalists to give it a go. Just remember to bring your little Lego man with you!

Papier mache is a very messy affair. And so of course for children everywhere that equates with great fun. I look forward to trying out these papier-mache animals from Susan K Mann; just so long as I’m in that go-with-the-flow kind of mood, rather than my usual don’t-you-dare-drop-any-glitter-on-the-floor kind of mood of course…

Kitchen Creations

Ice cream making is a truly family affair in Geek Mummy’s house and this video recipe is sure to put a smile on your face. I love the appearance of the cat in the background towards the end. And it’s also lovely to know that other people’s kitchens are as messy as mine!

How about this for a quick and easy treat from Becky at Family Budgeting? With just three ingredients, this easy shortbread is definitely the kind of recipe that appeals to me!

I love the look of this egg-free lemon shortbread with lemon frosting from Transatlantic Blonde. Perfect for little (and large) spoon-lickers everywhere. And just how cute is Blondie Boy?

When Emma over at A Bavarian Sojourn was little, her mum had to trick her into eating gooseberries. Can’t understand that myself as I’ve always loved them. But now she’s living in Bavaria she’s discovered a new-found taste for them and is making up for lost time. And so here she presents her very English recipe for gooseberry crumble – yum!

And finally here’s the Bangers & Mash take on cooking with kids

So there you have it. If there isn’t an idea or two here that gets your creative juices flowing, well I’ll eat my hat. A paper hat festooned with sequins and glitter and feathers and googly eyes and Moshi stickers, naturally.

Vote for Bangers & Mash!

Did I mention I’m a finalist for in an exciting UK parent bloggers award? Well, it’s true!

I’m very, very excited. Only I feel a bit uncomfortable shouting about it. I’m hoping people will just vote for me without me having to do a big song and dance about it. That there are enough people who like what I do on Bangers & Mash.

But the thing is, I’d really, really like to win. So I’m going to have a quick shout if you don’t mind. If you like this blog, would you mind doing me a very lovely favour and vote for me? There’s only one week left til voting closes at 5pm (British Summertime) on Wednesday 6 June.

You can vote for Bangers & Mash in the Best Food Blog category of the MAD Blog Awards here. It only takes a couple of minutes. Please? Pretty please? OK now, I’m begging. That’s more than enough of that…

The aim of the MAD Blog Awards is to raise the profile of parenting blogs and bloggers, so please do take a look at the other finalists’ blogs – there is some amazing writing here – funny, helpful, thought-provoking, moving and inspiring. I’m only just realising how many incredible parent bloggers there are in the UK, and I feel very humble and priveledged to find myself in their company.

Finally if you fancy a laugh, here’s a great video put together by the MAD Awards organisers, featuring many of the finalists – including me. I’m the one in the hammock, paddling pool and trampoline! The theme of the video is parenting isn’t perfect – but blogging it can be.