The Spice Trail: cumin round-up

spice trail badge long

It’s always so much fun deciding on a spice-theme for this challenge, and then sitting back and waiting for the entries to drop into my inbox. And last month in particular was a very exciting month, providing an awesome list of delicious cumin dishes to work my way through in the weeks ahead.

So if you’re up for a little cumin-based culinary inspiration, let’s take a look through those entries…


After hosting a brilliant vanilla-themed Spice Trail challenge back in May, Solange from Pebble Soup was quick off the mark with her gorgeously Crunchy Palak Paneer. I’m a big fan of paneer with spinach and this dish looks absolutely bursting with flavour, featuring lots of fresh ginger and garlic as well as a whole host of spices – including, of course, cumin.

potato and cumin curry
Next up we have Marwardi Aloo Pyaj ki Subji from Home Cook Food, which is a glorious Rajasthani style Potato and Onion Curry, and ideal served with puris, rotis or rice.
jamaican patty pie

I always love the way Seasonal Shaheen presents her food and these Jamaican Patty Pies are as pretty as a picture, and that pastry looks oh so good. They’re filled with summer vegetables and lightly spiced with cayenne, all-spice and of course cumin.

split white gram lentils

I try to use pulses as much as I can when I’m planning our meals as they’re such a cheap food and I think these Split White Gram Lentils from Home Cook Food might be appearing on one of our meal plans very soon. The spicing sounds absolutely heavenly.

mango curry

I’m intrigued by the idea of this Raw Mango Curry, a third entry from Home Cook Food, as it’s a dish I haven’t come across before. It sounds to me like a cross between a curry and a chutney and it sounds absolutely bursting with flavour. Definitely one to bookmark!


This dish of Cumin-roasted Beetroot and Chickpeas from Helen at Family-Friends-Food is exactly the kind of dish I like to experiment on my family with. And just like Helen, I’m likely to get a pretty mixed reaction. I think it looks absolutely delicious and I reckon my oldest would gobble it up, although I’m not so sure my youngest and my husband would be quite so keen. But the important thing is we keep experimenting and pushing their taste boundaries! I’ll certainly be giving this one a go.

toor dal curry

This Toor Dal Curry with Spinach from Janet at The Taste Space looks like such a healthy, hearty dish, and a beautiful combination of textures and flavours. And as ever, Janet’s photography is simply stunning.

I’ve only just discovered On The Flavour Road, a blog by Italian Ema who now lives in Sydney, Australia, but I know I’m going to be a frequent visitor. Ema has entered her Lamb & Eggplant Light Curry into this month’s cumin challenge, which is made using a curry-infused macadamia oil and served on coconut mashed potatoes. A very unusual dish and one I must try soon; I’m very curious to taste mashed potatoes with coconut milk!

Louisa from Eat Your Veg is a master at encouraging children to eat their greens, and her Feta & Courgette Fritters  are another wonderful example. She serves them with a yoghurt, mint and cumin dip, which sounds just gorgeous and I’m intrigued by her suggestion that you can also serve the dip with strawberries. That’s just got to be tried!

vegetable and chickpea tagine
Next up we have a gloriously vibrant and wonderfully healthy Vegetable & Chickpea Tagine from We Don’t Eat Anything With a Face. Piled high with tasty veggies and an array of herbs and spices, you know this dish is going to do you good as well as tasting good.

chicken satay
It’s the season for barbecues and my Chicken Satay  take just minutes to cook over the hot coals. They’re served with a delicious coconut rice that’s oh so easy to make, and an incredibly moreish peanut sauce.

Lamb with aubergine is one of my all-time favourite combinations and so I was thrilled when I saw this next entry appear in my inbox. It’s a Mint-Cumin Roast Lamb with Moutabal from the extremely talented Lass in the Apron. The lamb looks incredible tender, while I adore the sound of the nutty, earthy moutabal, a Lebanese puree of roasted eggplant (aubergine) with tahini, garlic, and lemon.

spicy falafel
Falafel are always my food of choice when we’re at a summer festival, but do you know what? I’ve never actually made my own at home. Such a travesty! But I have no excuse now, as I think I have discovered the perfect recipe. Don’t these Fabulously Spicy Falafel from Cooking for Kishore look fantastic? Emily describes them as a great “throw together meal” and I can’t wait to throw some together myself!

Dips are extremely popular in our house and we always seem to have a bag of carrots to use up, so this Roasted Carrot Dip from Searching for Spice is an ideal recipe for me. Especially as it also features lots of tahini, one of my all-time favourite ingredients, and lots of lovely spices and garlic. Yum!

Another delicious looking entry next from Helen at Family–Friends–Food. Here are her Spice-roasted Butternut Squash and Halloumi Fajitas and I so want to reach into my hand into the screen and grab myself a wrap. Roasted squash is a simply magical food, and Helen has smothered hers in lots of cumin, cumin seeds, coriander, oregano, cayenne, lime zest and olive oil to really pack it full of flavour. And I love the fact any leftovers taste great cold the next day.

cumin crackers
Last up are these beautiful Cumin Seed Crackers from Lapin d’or and More, flavoured of course with cumin and taken to extra heights of crispness with the addition of semolina flour. We work our way through boxes and boxes of shop-bought crackers and I think it’s high time I had a go at making some of my own. I know exactly which recipe to start with!

And the winner is…

anjumSo there you have the cumin recipe round-up; an inspiring selection, don’t you think? But who will be crowned the cumin queen? (No entries from potential kings this month.) Who will win this month’s prize: Anjum’s Quick & Easy Indian courtesy of Quadrille Publishing, a collection of 80 recipes from the fabulous Anjum Anand?

Well, the prize has to go to…

Helen at Family–Friends–Food for her Spice-roasted Butternut Squash and Halloumi Fajitas. We seem to be addicted to anything served in a wrap in the Bangers & Mash household and are on the lookout for new filling inspiration, and Helen’s spicy squash with halloumi is right up our street.

A copy of Anjum’s Quick & Easy Indian will be on its way to you very soon, Helen. Congratulations!

And thank you so much to everyone that took part in the cumin challenge. July’s Spice Trail is well underway, and the theme this month is Summer Spice. You can choose any spices you like, just so long as your dish has a seasonal summery feel! The closing date is 29 July 2014.


Family Foodies: chill out, baby!

chill out baby

It’s always hard to predict what the weather might have in store for us Brits in July. It ought to be a month of long, hot, lazy days, of trips to the seaside, cheering the kids on at their school sports days and keeping the ants off the sarnies on those impromptu picnics in the park.

In reality though, it’s very often about trying to the stop the children jumping in puddles wearing only sandals (I know, there’s really no point), countless games of cards to stop everyone getting cabin fever and spontaneous visits to museums and art galleries to escape the rain.

But ever the optimist, I’m holding out for July being a gloriously golden, sunshiny month where sunscreen and sun hats are the order of the day.

So that’s why this month’s Family Foodies challenge has the theme Chill Out, Baby! We’re calling for your tasty eats and drinks for chilling out and cooling down in the summer sun: tempting icy treats suitable for the whole family. From frozen ice creams and sorbets to refreshing salads and smoothies, we can’t wait to see your recipes for chilled and frosty delights to tantalise our taste buds while cooling our heated brows.

Recipes from my Mother for my DaughterAs usual, we have a prize for the overall winner and this month we are giving away a copy of Celebrity Masterchef winner, Lisa Faulkner’s fabulous cookbook Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter. Not bad, eh?

To get the ball rolling, I’m entering my elderflower cordial, which I posted on the blog a couple of days ago. Mixed with fizzy water and lots of ice, it’s my idea of the perfect summer cooler.

But it’s your ideas, we really want to hear about…

Family Foodie Entry Guidelines:

  • You may submit any recipe on your blog that fits this month’s theme, new or from the archive, and there is a limit of three entries per blogger. You’re also welcome to submit the post to other challenges too. If the recipe is not your own, please give the appropriate credit.
  • 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 29 July 2014.
  • Display the Family Foodies badge (below) on your recipe post, with a link back to both Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash, as well as details of this month’s challenge.
  • If you’re on Twitter, then please tweet your post to myself @BangerMashChat and Lou @Eat_Your_Veg and include the hashtag #FamilyFoodies. We’ll retweet all that we see.
  • You may enter from anywhere in the blogosphere, but prizes can only be posted out to UK addresses.
  • At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe. The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries. Winners will get to display a Family Foodie Winner annotated badge on their blog if they wish and their recipe will go through to the Family Foodies Hall of Fame on each of our sites.
  • All entries will be added to the Family Foodies Pinterest Group Board.

Any questions, do drop me an email at the address above.



July’s entries

  1. Elderflower Cordial from Bangers & Mash
  2. Lime Ice Cream in a Ginger Snap Crust from Selma’s Table
  3. No-churn Raspberry Swirl Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Fino Sherry from Selma’s Table 
  4. Banana Split Milkshake from Home Cook  Food
  5. Chickoo Kulfi – Sapota Indian Ice Cream from Home Cook Food
  6. Mango Coolatta and Pineapple Coolatta from Home Cook Food
  7. Four Fruity Frozen Treats from Family – Friends – Food
  8. Raspberry, Banana and Coconut Ice Lollies from Sneaky Veg
  9. Strawberry Mousse from Self Sufficient Cafe
  10. Salted Caramel Coffee Cooler from The Crafty Larder
  11. Quick and Easy Gazpacho from Bangers & Mash
  12. Frozen Peach Yoghurt & Oaty Crumb Topping from Tales From the Kitchen Shed
  13. Homemade Yoghurt from Tales from the Kitchen Shed
  14. Raspberry Ripple-White Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream Bars & Bites from The Gluten Free Alchemist
  15. Chicken, Goat’s Cheese & Avocado Salad from Mad Avocado
  16. Instant Choc-Ana Ice Cream from Eat Your Veg
  17. Vegan and Raw Raspberry Ice-cream from Allotment 2 Kitchen
  18. Strawberry & Rose Ice Cream Soda from Bangers & Mash
  19. Chocolate Blackcurrant Sundae from Chocolate Log Blog

The Spice Trail: your caraway recipes

carway Collage

We always receive such a diverse array of entries for The Spice Trail, and this month’s caraway challenge has been no exception.

Caraway is certainly one of the less commonly used spices used in our kitchens and this is reflected in the lower number of entries this month. But even so, I have been enormously impressed by all the delicious, and sometimes surprising, caraway dishes entered. Each and everyone is a winner in my eyes, although there can only be one winner – more on that later. For now it’s time to take a look through your caraway recipes…

caraway pretzels

Caraway Pretzels from GoodFoodSeeking

Jacqui from GoodFoodSeeking is working her way through a 1948 Good Housekeeping cookbook she inherited and is blogging as she goes. After seeing pretzels being made in the Great British Bake Off she rather fancied trying some herself and was delighted to come across a recipe in the Good Housekeeping cookbook as a German bake in the ‘world’ chapter. I think they look absolutely wonderful, especially with that sprinkling of caraway seeds on top.

heart shortbread

Dark Chocolate, Sea Salt & Caraway Shortbread Hearts from Tales from the Kitchen Shed

These shortbread hearts from Sarah at Tales from the Kitchen Shed are a perfect Valentine bake and look absolutely divine. I’ve never combined caraway with chocolate but it sounds like a wonderful match and, as I’m a sucker for salty-sweet foods, it’s a recipe I plan to try out very soon.


Kale & Caraway Crisps from Eat Your Veg

Lou from Eat Your Veg brings us these creative Kale and Caraway Crisps next. She says she often sautees kale or other greens as a side dish for Sunday lunch and throws in a generous pinch of caraway at the end. So when Lou was considering how to flavour her first ever batch of kale crisps, caraway was the obvious choice. “By heck they were good,” is Lou’s brilliant response to these surprisingly moreish, healthier-choice crisps.

pumpernickel tuile

Pumpernickel Tuiles from The Lass in the Apron

Although Alexandra from The Lass in the Apron disliked caraway as a youngster, it is one of those flavours that she has grown into over the years. After she graduated from pastry school, Alexandra worked in a German bakery where she  found herself eating lots of the stuff. Alexandra was keen to make something Scandinavian for this month’s Spice Trail and has adapted a havreflarn recipe, a sort of oat tuile, using caraway as well as cocoa and orange.  Don’t they look simply incredible?

spaghetti bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese from Bangers & Mash

I don’t always include caraway in my Bolognese. In fact every time I make spag bol the ingredients are different, all depending on my mood and what we have in the house. But caraway is a surprisingly good addition, and adds a beautifully intense and slightly sweet flavour to the sauce.

cauliflower cheese pasta bake
Cauliflower Cheese Pasta Bake from Spurs Cook

Martin from Spurs Cook has also used caraway to flavour a pasta dish, this time an ingenious hybrid of two classic comfort foods – pasta bake and cauliflower cheese. Also featuring leeks, red onion, garlic and bacon, I think this could rapidly turn into a family favourite in the Bangers & Mash household.

caraway and linseed bread
Caraway & Linseed Bread Bangers & Mash

I really should have baked rye bread for this month’s challenge, as it is of course the loaf synonymous with caraway, but I’m not sure I’d have persuaded the rest of my brood to eat rye bread just yet. I’ll be working on them. In the meantime, this caraway and linseed bread did go down very well, which is absolutely delicious served with soup or cold cuts and spread thickly with good, salty butter.

polish sausage sauerkraut
Polish Sausage & Sauerkraut Casserole with Beer from Lavender & Lovage

I find it impossible to look at this photograph from Karen at Lavender & Lovage of her Polish Sausage & Sauerkraut Casserole with Beer without drooling. This is my perfect kind of meal and I am just so thrilled Karen entered it into this month’s Spice Trail, as we really couldn’t have a caraway challenge without some sauerkraut in there. She made hers in the slow cooker but I know it will work just as well in my Aga or any conventional oven whacked right down low.

braised pig cheeks with carrot and parsnip mash
Braised Pig Cheeks from Bangers & Mash

Finally, I couldn’t run a caraway challenge without sharing (again) my Braised Pig Cheeks cooked slowly in red wine and vegetables and flavoured of course with caraway. It really is so good and is what I consider to be the ultimate in classy comfort food.

So there you have February’s fantastic recipe round-up. Huge thanks to everyone who entered their recipes; I have been genuinely inspired by your creativity with caraway!

And the winner is…

But who will take the crown as our caraway king or queen? That decision was made by Lara Light-McKelvaney from Bart Ingredients who are providing this month’s prize, a wonderful gift bag containing fabulous Bart’s goodies.

And Lara’s decision? It just had to go to Jacqui Gourlay from GoodFoodSeeking for her brilliant Caraway Pretzels, which Lara says look incredible. Congratulations to Jacqui – a very worthy winner, don’t you agree? A Bart Ingredients gift bag will be on its way to you very soon – enjoy!

bart spices

If you’d like to find out more about Bart Ingredients and shop online, do check out their new Bart Market, where all their products are now available, showcasing an impressive array of spice blends from around the world, spice infusions, individual herbs and spices and other associated cooking products. I feel like a child in a sweet shop whenever I’m on there!

Thanks again to everyone who got involved this month. March’s Spice Trail challenge will be announced very soon…

The Spice Trail: your favourite paprika recipes

Paprika Collage

Well, it seems I am not the only person who enjoys cooking with paprika. January’s Spice Trail challenge received a bumper bag of spicy paprika dishes, from bread and biscuits to meaty casseroles, tasty pasta, warming soups and a whole host of exciting vegetarian dishes. So let’s get this show on the road and take a look at this month’s round-up…

Cheese and Paprika biscuits

Savoury Cheese and Paprika Biscuits from Searching for Spice

Strong Cheddar cheese and paprika are a perfect match, as in these lovely savoury biscuits from Corina at Searching for Spice. Corina recently took these to a gathering at a friend’s house and, even though they weren’t the only cheesy biscuits on offer, hers were the first to go. I can see why!

vegetable burgers

Vegetable Burgers from The Crazy Kitchen

Helen from The Crazy Kitchen brings two dishes to this month’s paprika party. First up are her vibrant vegetable burgers, and while they might be cheap and cheerful, using a bag of frozen veg and a tin of baked beans as their main ingredients, I bet they taste a million dollars. The secret’s in the spicing, which features garam masala, chilli and fresh coriander as well as paprika.

veggie sausageless rolls

Veggie Sausageless Rolls from The Crazy Kitchen

Helen’s second entry come in the form of these cute little sausageless rolls, based on very similar ingredients to her vegetable burgers. As well as being beautifully spiced, these tempting little rolls are also an ideal way to sneak veggies into unsuspecting little ones. I know I’d have no arguments getting my girls to eat a plate of these.

couscous salad with chermoula dressing

Couscous Salad with Chermoula Dressing from Spices Galore

Gayathri from Spices Galore offers us this stunning couscous salad with a chermoula dressing, laden with gorgeous herbs and spices, such as cilantro, mint, cumin, coriander and, of course, lots of lovely paprika. This tasty salad has to be as good for you on this inside as it looks on the outside.

chermoula marinated halloumi

Chermoula Marinated Halloumi from Deena Kakaya

There’s more chermoula on the menu next, this time a sumptuous chermoula marinated halloumi from Deena Kakaya who I think is as much of an artist when it comes to preparing food as she is a cook. Her dishes always look incredible. The fresh Moroccan herb and spice mix sounds like a fabulous foil for the soft, salty halloumi and sweet apricot in this dish. As Deena says herself – lip-smacking!


Pan-fried Creole Cauliflower Fritters from Food to Glow

Paprika works wonderfully with cauliflower, as in this delightful Creole cauliflower fritters from Kellie at Food to Glow, which boasts no less than three types of paprika in its Creole blend seasoning. I’m really enjoying experimenting with cauliflower recipes at the moment, and these fritters are definitely next on my list to try.

Paprika and Cocoa Roasted Cauliflower

Paprika and Cocoa Roasted Cauliflower from Chocolate Log Blog

There’s more cauliflower up next from Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog and while I might be familiar with cauliflower teamed with paprika, throwing cocoa into the mix provides a much more unusual twist to the proceedings. But, of course, it wouldn’t be a Choclette recipe without a hint of chocolate in there somewhere. Cornish cauliflower is tossed in oil and dusted with Himalayan pink salt, black pepper, cocoa and paprika and simply roasted in the oven, resulting in a wonderful nutty flavour. I am absolutely intrigued and will have to try this out for myself very soon.

roasted brocolli

Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika Dressing from Selma’s Table

Selma from Selma’s Table has also been roasting vegetables – this time we’re served some delicious roasted broccoli with toasted almonds and a sexy smoked paprika dressing. This would be an excellent side dish but I think it looks good enough to eat on its own, and the dressing also makes a great marinade for chicken or fish, or can be used to “perk up” potatoes.

Vegetarian Lasagne

Vegetarian Lasagne from Nomsies Kitchen

Ai Lin from Nomsies Kitchen offers us a hearty winter warmer with her tasty vegetarian lasagne. Doesn’t that cooked cheese look so good on top of all those succulent, spiced vegetables? Ever since a little girl, lasagne has been one of my favourite meals, and Ai Lin’s veggie version looks a real treat.

Paprika Mushroom Pie

Deep Paprika Mushroom and Butter Bean Pies from Allotment 2 Kitchen

Shaheen from Allotment 2 Kitchen always makes beautiful pies and her rich and creamy mushroom and butter bean pie is no exception. Shaheen says she often makes paprika mushroom and potato pies but felt it was time to ring the changes and swapped the potato for butter beans, which she describes as “a lovely change from the stodge of the potatoes”. To be honest, I’d be more than happy eating either.

cheesy chickpea dip
Vegan Cheesy Chickpea Dip with Coconut Bacon from The Taste Space

I am totally intrigued by the coconut bacon topping this cheesy chickpea dip from Janet at The Taste Space; it’s something I’ve never come across before but does sound rather wonderful. Coconut flakes are flavoured with tamari (or soy sauce), liquid smoke, maple syrup and smoked paprika to create the wonderful smokey coconut bacon chips, which you can then use as a crunchy topping for all kinds of dips and I guess salads too. Janet’s chickpea dip sounds marvellous too.

fried eggs with paprika lapin d'or

Eggs and Paprika from Lapin d’Or and More

Lapin d’Or brings us not one, not two but three variations on eggs and paprika. As someone who could probably survive on eggs alone, I’m very happy about this. There’s paprika roast potatoes with fried egg, a classic egg mayonnaise spiced up with a good sprinkling of paprika, and eggs fried in bacon fat and seasoned with, well what else? Paprika.

roast cauliflower cheese soup

Roast Cauliflower Cheese Soup from Bangers & Mash

As I said earlier, paprika partners well with cauliflower and this pairing appears again here in my roast cauliflower cheese soup, a slightly different take on that winter warmer classic. And of course cheese and paprika is another winning combination, so this really is a bowl of comfort food at its best in my eyes.

chipotle black bean soupChipotle Black Bean Soup with Orange & Red Onion Salsa from Spices Galore

Gayathri from Spices Galore is back with another vibrant dish, this time a Mexican style black bean soup spiced with beautiful smoky chipotle chillies, paprika and cocoa – yes, another appearance! Served with a colourful orange and red onion salsa, this soup is as pleasing on the eye as I imagine it would be on the tastebuds.

spicy potatoes chorizo and sea bass

Spicy Potatoes, Chorizo and Peppers with Pan Fried Sea Bass from Julie’s Family Kitchen

This pan fried sea bass from Julie at Julie’s Family Kitchen brings us a fresh taste of summer despite the damp, chilly weather here in the UK right now. The Spanish style marriage of fish with chorizo and spices sounds just heavenly and a wonderful way to cheer up these grey days.

venison goulash

Venison Goulash with Herb Dumplings from Mrs Portly’s Kitchen

Think of paprika and one of the first dishes that comes to mind might well be a goulash. Linda from Mrs Portly’s Kitchen might not claim this to be an authentic Hungarian goulash perhaps, but it is extremely tasty and the perfect winter comfort food nonetheless. And I just love the sound of her light and fluffy herb dumplings.


Jacki’s Hungarian Goulash from Jacki Harrison-Stanley

Another helping of goulash next from Jacki Harrison-Stanley. As Jacki doesn’t blog herself, I volunteered to cook the recipe she entered into The Spice Trail and I can vouch for the fact this mildly spiced goulash with beautifully tender, slow cooked beef is a real crowd pleaser and my family scoffed the lot very happily.

pork fricassee

Easy Paprika Pork Fricassee from The Hedge Combers

This next dish, a pork fricassee from Janie at The Hedge Combers, is such a gregarious burst of colour on the plate, you know by looking at it how good it’s going make you feel and how good it’s going to taste. I think pork and paprika are perfect bed fellows but Janie reckons the smoked paprika sauce is also “man enough to stand up to a completely meat free dish”.

paprika beans and chorizo

Smoked Paprika Beans & Chorizo from Julie’s Family Kitchen

Julie from Julie’s Family Kitchen returns with another extremely pretty plate, this time smoked paprika beans and chorizo. The dish was inspired by a meal at an Italian restaurant, although after playing with the ingredients she has ended up with something a little more Spanish sounding. I love the way our experiments in the kitchen can do that sometimes.

chorizo and vegetable stromboli

Chorizo and Vegetable Stromboli from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families

Michelle from Utterly Scrummy presents us with another splendid splash of colour and another helping of chorizo in this glorious stromboli. I’d never heard of stromboli before but now understand it to be a “Swiss Roll type savoury filled bread thing” – Michelle’s words! The combination of soft, succulent roasted vegetables, herb, spices, oozy cheese and smoky chorizo sounds like heaven on a plate to me.

sausage stroganoff

Sausage Stroganoff from My Golden Pear

Having a slight penchant for sausages, you won’t be surprised that I’m rather taken with this sausage stroganoff from Angela at My Golden Pear. Sausages are a great budget alternative to more expensive cuts of meat when it comes to cooking stews and casseroles; the best quality sausages you can afford will always be cheaper than the equivalent weight of lamb or beef. As well as cheap, Angela’s stroganoff is also simple, quick, and tasty. Definitely my kind of food.


Pulled Pork with a Spicy Rub from Lavender & Lovage

I come over all Homer Simpson when I look at this incredible plate of pulled pork from Karen at Lavender & Lovage. Isn’t this just utterly droolsworthy? Karen says the secret to this recipe, which comes from the Ginger Pig Farmhouse Cookbook, is to use good quality free-range British pork, along with this delectable spicy rub made from a tantalising assortment of herbs, seasonings and spices, including mustard, garlic, chilli, cumin, celery and fennel seeds and, of course, smoked paprika.


Paprika Schnitzel from The Lass in the Apron

Here is another classic Hungarian paprika dish from Alexandra, aka The Lass in the Apron. Her fantastic veal schnitzels are served with a beautiful scarlet-hued sauce made from soured cream, onion and paprika, a trio common in Hungarian cookery. I haven’t eaten schnitzel for many years, but I think it is definitely time to remedy that and I think this might be just the recipe to try.

pork stroganoff thingy

Pork Stroganoff Kinda Thingy from Spurs Cook

Martin the Spurs Cook has brought another stroganoff to our paprika feast, featuring both sweet and smoked paprika and a whole host of fresh and dried herbs. I bet it tastes simply divine and just the kind of food I’m yearning for as the rain lashes our house here in Somerset.

sausage apple casserole

Sausage and Apple Casserole from JibberJabberUK

More sausages up next to keep me content, this time in the form of a wonderful sausage and apple casserole from Ness at JibberJabberUK. I love apples with my pork chops but I’ve never thought to add them to a sausage casserole, so I look forward to trying this out myself. And of course the paprika and wholegrain mustard in there help to make this a gorgeous winter warmer.

spicy sausage pasta

Spicy Sausage Pasta from Bangers & Mash

Yet more sausages on the menu, this time in a spicy sausage pasta from yours truly. This is one of my all-time favourite meals. It’s rich, tasty, spicy and incredibly easy to make. Perfect, in my eyes.


Chicken Paprika from My Golden Pear

Angela from My Golden Pear is treating us with another amazing paprika dish from her kitchen, along with more stunning photography. Her images always make me so hungry; I want to reach my hand into the computer screen and grab a taste. In Angela’s dish, succulent chicken thighs are coated in breadcrumbs, cheese, paprika and garlic, and then baked until golden and crispy.  She suggests they might be a kind of grown up version of chicken nuggets. Only so much more tempting.


Paprika and Parmesan Popcorn from Eat Your Veg

As I may well have said before, cheese and paprika go together very well, but I’ve never seen them brought together as flavouring for popcorn. But that’s exactly what Louisa from Eat Your Veg has done and the outcome sounds absolutely scrummy. I can’t wait to organise a movie night for my daughters and their friends so I can serve them some of this. I know they’re going to adore it.

paprika swirls

Sweet Paprika and Walnut Swirls from Tales from the Kitchen Shed

I wasn’t really expecting to receive any sweet entries to this month’s Spice Trail challenge, but are final two dishes provide a lovely sweet finale to our spicy paprika feast. These paprika and walnut swirls from Sarah at Tales from the Kitchen Shed look just gorgeous and are inspired by Hungarian Paprikas Kalacs, which translates as paprika bread. This traditional paprika bread is shaped like a Swiss roll and is flaky due to the high lard content. Sarah has cleverly adapted the idea, using her own sweet dough recipe, with a lovely tender crumb, as well as creating a sweet paprika flavoured sugar cream. I don’t believe I’ve ever tried paprika in a sweet dish but that’s about to change as I plan to make these pretty swirls very soon.

dark chocolate and paprika cookie

Dark Chocolate and Paprika Cookies from The Garden Deli

Last but most definitely not least, for the pudding course of our amazing paprika banquet, Sarah from The Garden Deli has baked us a big batch of these irresistibly naughty dark chocolate and paprika cookies. While I’m a big fan of chilli and chocolate, paprika and chocolate is a new one on me but I can imagine they taste fantastic together. Another recipe I will be having a go at very soon. And what a marvellous way to end our round-up.

This month’s winner

I was thrilled with the dishes entered for the paprika challenge, all of which look so delicious, and such a varied collection of dishes too. But there can only be one winner for this month’s Spice Trail. Or can there?

The winner is set to receive a very cool gift bag from the generous souls at The Cool Chile Co, and so I passed the tricky task of choosing a winner on to them. This is what Kelly from Cool Chile had to say:

“It was a really close call and we finally narrowed it down to two. So we would like to have two winners!

“The first winner is Food to Glow for her Pan-fried Creole Cauliflower Fritters. We really liked this recipe and loved the fact that the humble cauliflower was the star of the show. The idea of the crispy, crunchy cauliflower, with the well-balanced Creole seasoning, tucked in a soft bun with crispy lettuce is a real winner for us.

“We also liked the Chermoula Marinated Halloumi from Deena Kakaya. This recipe had great flavour combinations and the balance of salty, sweet and spicy made this dish a real contender.”

Huge congratulations to both Deena and Kellie from Food to Glow for their extremely well-deserved wins. Email me your addresses and Cool Chile will send out your fabulous gift bags very soon. And thanks so much to The Cool Chile Co for their wonderful generosity in offering up not one, but two prizes this month.

Our journey along The Spice Trail continues in February as we celebrate cooking with caraway. What dish will you enter next?

spice trail badge long

Family Foodies: your favourite ‘hidden goodies’ recipes

Hidden Goodies Collage

Now how’s that for a tempting array of food and drink? Would you believe each and every one of these is packed full of hidden goodies to tempt your children (and any other fussy eaters) to get some healthy stuff inside them?

If you are looking for cunning ways to sneak some extra fruit, vegetables, fibre, nuts or pulses into your family, then I’m sure you’ll find a tasty trick or two among this month’s fabulous Family Foodies round-up. So let’s get started…

Turkey Sliders

Turkey Sliders from Mamacook

As well as turkey, these sliders (aka mini burgers) from Heidi at Mamacook feature hidden vegetables in the form of grated courgette, along with fresh herbs and sweet chilli sauce – a great way to introduce a little mild spice to your little ones. I’m sure my children could put quite a few of these cute little burgers away. As indeed could I.

broccoli courgette and stilton soup

Broccoli, Courgette and Stilton Soup from Caroline Makes

I love the idea of Caroline from Caroline Makes sneaking vegetables into her own food! That’s exactly what she’s done with this tasty broccoli, courgette and Stilton soup. “I am a pretty fussy eater,” she writes, “and don’t like a lot of veg, so had an idea of sneaking some hidden veg… into my own food! My theory was that if I couldn’t see it, and hopefully couldn’t taste it, I wouldn’t mind eating it.” I definitely wouldn’t mind eating a big bowl of this – and I’m sure I’d be back for seconds.

Broccoli frittata

Broccoli Frittata from Mamacook

Heidi from Mamacook  is back with a beautiful broccoli frittata, which she says is ideal for babies, toddlers and indeed the whole family. And even though this is a pretty thrifty dish, Heidi’s tip to make it even thriftier is to make sure you cook the broccoli stalk as well as the florets, as it all tastes the same. Sound advice.

Baked spinach and potato bites

Spinach and Potato Bites from Mamacook

Heidi is a dab hand at this hidden goodies lark. Here’s her third entry; spinach and potato bites, and don’t though look so good? They’re a great way to use up leftover mashed potato and an ideal finger food for toddlers. Heidi’s son ate six of them in one sitting, even before he touched his fish fingers, which really is saying something.

spicy chicken burger

Spicy Chicken Burgers from Caroline Makes

There’s sneaky carrot in this healthy take on the chicken burger, a second entry from Caroline Makes, which originates from a Slimming World recipe. They are a great way to make chicken breasts go a little bit further, and Caroline promises you really can’t taste the carrot!

leftover rice balls

Leftover Rice Balls from My Tasty Adventures

Carrot is another hidden ingredient in these wonderful rice balls from My Tasty Adventures, together with peas, cheese, chicken, herbs and spices, and of course leftover rice. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, they are reminiscent of a falafel and I know my children would absolutely adore them.

roast vegetable sauce for pasta

Roast Vegetable Sauce for Pasta from Bangers & Mash

Pasta sauces are an easy way to disguise a whole host of vegetables and my roast vegetable sauce contains carrots, tomatoes, butternut squash, red onion, celery and courgettes. It’s incredibly easy to make and I’ve been cooking it for my two girls since they were toddlers and they still love it now.

vegetarian canneloni

Vegetarian Cannelloni from Spurs Cook

Martin from Spurs Cook brings us another pasta and vegetable dish with his warming cannelloni. There are all kinds of ingredients in this one from mushrooms, leeks, courgettes and carrots to chilli, fennel and anchovies and while it apparently involves quite a bit of preparation, Martin assures us it is well worth the effort. I bet – it sounds absolutely gorgeous.

parsnip, carrot and lentil soup

Parsnip, Carrot & Lentil Soup from Tinned Tomatoes

Just like pasta sauces, soups are another brilliant way to introduce vegetables and other goodies to your children. Jacqueline from Tinned Tomatoes offers this gorgeously wholesome parsnip, carrot and lentil soup, which as well as being a great tea for little ones is perfect for anyone on the 5:2 diet as it contains just 175 calories a portion.

slow cooker carrot and coriander soup

Slow Cooker Carrot & Coriander Soup from JibberJabberUK

Ness from JibberJabberUK brings us this delicious carrot and coriander soup, which happens to be the first soup she’s made in her slow cooker since her university days, when she managed to stink out her student flat with a particularly garlicky soup while she was out at her Saturday job. Personally, I’d never complain about the smell of garlic, but it definitely sounds like this soup was much more of a success.

roast cauliflower cheese soup

Roast Cauliflower Cheese Soup from Bangers & Mash

My roast cauliflower cheese soup is very simple to make and the ingredients list isn’t long, yet it tastes rich and luxurious all the same. It’s the ideal way to encourage people who normally steer clear of cauliflower to give it a go, and I’m convinced they’ll be persuaded to change their minds.

jeruslam soup+crisps

Jerusalem Artichoke and Rosemary Soup with Jerusalem Artichoke Crisps from Allotment 2 Kitchen

Jerusalem artichoke soup has to be one of my all-time favourites and I really like the addition of rosemary in this version from Shaheen from Allotment 2 Kitchen, along with the adornment of delicate Jerusalem artichoke crisps. I must admit I haven’t tried artichokes yet on my two girls, but I am very sure they would be tempted by this lovely soup.

Carrot-Courgette-Fritters-4 (1)

Carrot & Courgette Fritters from The Spicy Pear

Tina from The Spicy Pear says these delightful fritters were born out of necessity when she needed to use up some carrots and courgettes. They have become a regular feature in her house ever since, and I can certainly see why. They look like a restaurant-style hor d’oeuvre, rather than a meal of leftovers, and I bet they would get gobbled up by my clan within seconds.

Chicken cutlets with veggies

Chicken Cutlets with Veggies from Happiness is Homemade

Nor would these irresistible chicken cutlets from Sylvia at Happiness is Homemade look out-of-place in a smart restaurant. Sylvia says they were a staple dish of her childhood. Her mother would cook them while she was at school, as a clever way to sneak in some veggies of which she wasn’t the biggest fan at the time.

chorizo and vegetable stromboli

Chorizo and Vegetable Stromboli from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families

This stromboli, which Michelle from Utterly Scrummy helpfully explains is a Swiss roll type savoury filled bread thing, looks simply gorgeous. You can imagine how those roasted vegetables and spicy chorizo wrapped up in warm bread are going to come together in fabulously cheesy, oozy mouthfuls of utter scrumminess.


Green Olive & Date Breadsticks from How to Cook Good Food

Breadsticks are one of my daughters’ favourite snacks and we get through a fair few of them in our house, so it would probably be a good idea to have a go at making our own. This recipe from Laura at How to Cook Good Food looks perfect, bringing together the sweet and salty flavours of dates and green olive, which I know my girls would really go for.

Smoked Mackerel Fishcakes

Smoked Mackerel Fish Cakes from Mamacook

Fish cakes are another staple food in our house but I’m slightly embarrassed to admit they normally come out of a packet. This tasty recipe from Heidi at Mamacook shows just how easy it is to make your own fish cakes, particularly when you use ready-to-eat smoked mackerel, plus it gives you the opportunity to sneak in a few extra goodies: Heidi’s fish cakes feature butternut squash along with the mashed potato. I’ll be trying these on my girls very soon.

veggie sausageless rolls

Veggie Sausageless Rolls from The Crazy Kitchen

These yummy sausageless rolls from Helen in The Crazy Kitchen look so tempting, you’d never know they were packed full of all kinds of goodies – such as cauliflower, which Helen’s son Jack hates, yet he happily tucked into a plate of these. This recipe will make 24 mini sausageless rolls, plus you’ll have enough filling left over to make a few veggie burgers too.


Chicken, Pearl Barley and Veggie Stew from Eat Your Veg

My fellow host of the Family Foodies challenge, Louisa from Eat Your Veg brings this fabulous chicken stew to our table, featuring lovely pearl barley and a whole host of wholesome vegetables. Louisa has been making this stew for her “two monsters” since they were weaning and they always devoured it. Serve me a big bowl of this stew, and I’d devour it too.

Slow Cooker Turkey Supreme

Slow Cooker Turkey Supreme from JibberJabberUK

Ness from JibberJabberUK is back with another treat from her slow cooker, this time a turkey supreme, made from turkey thighs lurking at the back of her freezer and an assortment of vegetables that needed using up in the fridge. This included celery, which in her house only Ness actually likes. Her whole family enjoyed the turkey supreme, and not one noticed the celery. Nice work, Ness!

mini calzones

Mini Calzones with Asparagus from My Tasty Adventures

These mini calzones from My Tasty Adventures don’t just look good; they also taste good and you can feel good about eating them. They are a great snack for little ones, which you can pack to eat on the go and I’m sure they’d go down very well in your kid’s lunch box. These tasty morsels are filled with asparagus, mushrooms and mozzarella, while the beautiful pastry features turmeric powder and chia seeds.

creamy green chicken curry

Creamy Green Chicken Curry from Dip’s Diner

This vibrant chicken curry from Dip’s Diner gets its brilliant green colour from spinach puree and lots of coriander and is packed full of a wonderful assortment of fragrant spices. You just know this curry is going to taste divine, as well as being so good for you.

lamb and potato bake

Lamb & Potato Bake from JibberJabberUK

Ness from JibberJabberUK is back again with an ingenious cheat’s version of a shepherd’s pie in the form of this tasty, one-pot lamb and potato bake. It also features lots of vegetables, finely chopped up so they are barely noticeable. Plus Ness leaves the skins on the potatoes for even more hidden goodness.

beef pie with hidden carrot

Beef Pie with Hidden Carrot (and Other Vegetables) from Gluten Free Alchemist

My children go mad for a tasty, meaty pie and this beef pie from Kate (aka the Gluten Free Alchemist) looks like their dream dinner. Kate has a regular battle getting her daughter to eat vegetables and so she has become a bit of a dab hand at disguising them, as in this delicious pie, which is one of her daughter’s favourite meals. As well as the “evil carrot” as her daughter dubs them, Kate’s pie also contains a goodly quantity of parsley, onion, garlic, sweetcorn and tomato.

Beef Ragu from Feed My Family!

Jillian from Feed My Family offers us another beefy dish featuring all kinds of hidden vegetables in her beef ragu, perfect served up with either rice or pasta. She uses this ragu to smuggle vegetables into her husband as well as her children!

fig and honey smoothie

Fig and Honey Smoothie from Bangers & Mash

We’re moving onto sweet treats next and first up is my fig and honey smoothie, which my girls loved even though neither of them would ever normally go near a dried fig. They reckoned it tasted like a chocolate smoothie and were desperate for seconds. A definite result in my book.

beetroot and chocolate cupcakes

Chocolate and Beetroot Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting from Selma’s Table

In my eyes, chocolate and beetroot is an incredible combination , and don’t these lovely cupcakes from Selma of Selma’s Table look just so tempting? She recently managed to feed this to a friend’s husband who normally can’t even look at beetroot. And yes, he enjoyed them – you really can’t taste the beetroot. Instead they give the cake a marvellous moistness and a beautiful reddish hue.


Apricot, Coconut & Plain Chocolate Cookies from Eat Your Veg

Louisa from Eat Your Veg has sneaked a fair few goodies into this cheeky little cookies, with wholemeal flour, dark brown sugar, dried apricots, plain chocolate, hazelnuts, desiccated coconut and oats all on the ingredients list. What’s more, the dough keeps well in the fridge for a few days or can be frozen for a later, almost instant, sweet treat.


Avocado Oat Cookies with Raisins and Chocolate from Veggie Desserts

Kate from Veggie Desserts has also brought a batch of virtuous cookies to our Hidden Goodies party. Her gorgeously green cookies feature oats, raisins, chocolate and, rather unusually, avocado. They are super easy to make, can be whipped up in next to no time and make an ideal portable snack for children and grown ups alike.


Chocolate Avocado Mousse from Eat Your Veg

More hidden avocado is on the menu from my Hidden Goodies partner in crime, Louisa at Eat Your Veg. Her chocolate avocado mousse looks so good, what child (or adult) could resist? Taking just five minutes, yes FIVE minutes, to make, they must surely be the speediest pud ever, not to mention most nutritious.

Artichoke Cake Slice

Jerusalem Artichoke Cake from Chocolate Log Blog

Rounding off our inspired menu of hidden goody delights, Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog brings us this glorious Jerusalem artichoke cake. Choclette says you’d never know there were artichokes in the cake, but they successfully added to the overall nuttiness and moistness. It is similar to a carrot cake – but even nicer.

So if you are looking for new ways of getting your family to eat more of their five-a-day, a good place to start would be to work your way through this little lot. I’m sure you’ll agree, we received some fantastic entries to Family Foodies this month. But of course this is a challenge and, as ever, there can only be one winner. The unenviable task of judging falls to Trish Tucker-May from Passion for Juice, so without further ado I’ll hand over to Trish to announce the winner.

And the winner is…

Trish with sons Roary and Jackpot and husband Joe
Trish with sons Roary and Jackpot and husband Joe

Trish says, “I loved the fantastic pictures and have pinned many of these recipes to try in the future. I particularly liked the simplicity of all of Mamacook’s recipes. I loved the Polish translation from Happiness is Homemade’s recipe for the Chicken Cutlets with Veggies. Chocolate Avocado Mousse is close to my heart, as it is one I love to make myself. It is so easy, decadent and healthy. The Parsnip, Carrot and Lentil Soup by Tinned Tomatoes stood out as well, as I liked the amount of veg plus the nutritional information for the 5:2 diet was helpful and easy to follow.

“The Beef Pie with Hidden Carrot from Gluten Free Alchemist looks amazing and I will be making this over the weekend. Beautiful pictures and the pie looked delightful covered in stars. Eat Your Veg’s recipe for Apricot, Coconut and Plain Chocolate Cookies looks amazing and I thought the layout was very easy to follow with clear prep times and lovely pictures.

“So as you can see, it has been a very difficult decision but I had to narrow it down to one recipe that I thought was unusual. I would never have thought of putting avocado into biscuits and cooking it with oats. So my choice for the winner is Veggie Desserts’ Avocado, Oat Cookies with Raisins and Chocolate.  The photos look brilliant and I like the idea of green biscuits. They look very simple and intriguing. This is definitely a recipe I will be trying with my family. One of my boys hates avocado but if it is alongside raisins and chocolate it is a sure crowd pleaser.

“Congratulations to Veggie Deserts and to all the entrants. I am so inspired by so many clever cooks, writers and photographers. Thanks for letting me take part.”

Thanks to Trish for judging and providing this month’s prize. And well done again to Kate from Veggie Desserts on a very well deserved win. Your prize of a Passion 4 Juice recipe book will be in the post to you very soon.

Love is in the air with February’s Family Foodies challenge over at Eat Your Veg. This month we’re looking for your favourite recipes to cook for your family to show them just how much you love them! Can’t wait to see what you all come up with…


January’s Family Foodies challenge: hidden goodies


We all want to feed our little ones good, healthy food, and yet that isn’t always as easy as it sounds. As parents and carers, we play a huge role in shaping our children’s attitudes towards food but the individual child’s tastes and character play a big part too.

Take my two daughters, for instance. Our first daughter Jess is nearly nine, and will eat practically everything you put in front of her. Everything that is, except mushrooms for some reason. But overall she is an absolute joy to feed and cook for and she’s always been this way, ever since weaning. She has an adventurous and curious approach towards food and is always eager to try new things. A lover of strong, bold flavours, Jess delights in being able to eat chillies almost as hot as those my husband and I can eat.

So my husband and I were rather proud about this little foodie we assumed we had created. And then our second daughter comes along; Mia, who is now nearly six. While she will eat quite a varied diet, it is only after a great deal of coaxing and cajoling. And disguising. Mia likes meat and plain foods. Bangers and mash is one of her favourites, or a straightforward roast dinner; sweet puddings and chocolate. You can see the look of suspicion instantly appear in her eyes when I serve up anything different, or smelling of spices, or containing a heavy quota of vegetables.

Yet our children have had exactly the same influences, have grown up being fed the same foods and tasting the same tastes and yet their whole response to food is at such polar opposites.

That’s why I’m thrilled to be hosting this month’s Family Foodies challenge, calling for your favourite family recipes featuring Hidden Goodies.

HIDDEN GOODIESWhile I’m not a big believer of making special food for children and would much rather they ate the same good food as the rest of us, we do need to acknowledge that sometimes children need a little extra persuasion to enjoy new foods, tastes and flavours. And yes sometimes, at the end of the day, all we care about is making sure our kids get something nutritious inside them, whether they realise it or not.

So that’s this month challenge. What are your cunning ploys and devious devices for getting some of the good stuff into your kids – be it fruit, vegetables, fibre, nuts or pulses? What are your favourite recipes containing hidden goodies? At the end of this month’s challenge, it would be fantastic to have a store of ideas to share with other parents looking for creative ideas on how to tackle this age old problem.

Win a delicious juice and smoothie recipe book

At the end of the Hidden Goodies Family Foodies challenge, one lucky winner will receive a recipe book from Passion 4 Juice, featuring an inspiring collection of tempting juice and smoothie recipes created by Trish Tucker May. Trish launched her mobile juice bar at the Glastonbury Festival back in 2003 and since then thousands of festival goers have experienced her amazing taste sensations, both here in the UK and in her native Australia.

passion 4 juice

Family Foodie Entry Guidelines:

  • You may submit any recipe on your blog that fits this month’s theme, new or from the archive, and feel free to enter as many times as you wish. You’re also welcome to submit the post to other challenges too. If the recipe is not your own, please give the appropriate credit.
  • 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 28 January 2014.
  • Display the Family Foodies badge (below) on your recipe post, with a link back to both Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash, as well as details of this month’s challenge.
  • If you’re on Twitter, then please tweet your post to myself @BangerMashChatand Lou @Eat_Your_Veg and include the hashtag #FamilyFoodies. We’ll retweet all that we see.
  • You may enter from anywhere in the blogosphere, and we’ll happily post out any prizes.
  • At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe. The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries. Winners will get to display a Family Foodie Winner annotated badge on their blog if they wish and their recipe will go through to the Family Foodies Hall of Fame on each of our sites.
  • All entries will be added to the Family Foodies Pinterest Group Board.

I’m really looking forward to seeing your Hidden Goodies entries!

January’s entries…

  1. Turkey Sliders from Mamacook
  2. Spinach and Potato Bites from Mamacook
  3. Broccoli Frittata from Mamacook
  4. Chocolate and Beetroot Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting from Selma’s Table
  5. Spicy Chicken Burgers from Caroline Makes
  6. Chicken Cutlets with Veggies from Happiness is Homemade
  7. Chorizo and Vegetable Stromboli from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families
  8. Smoked Mackerel Fish Cakes from Mamacook
  9. Broccoli, Courgette and Stilton Soup from Caroline Makes
  10. Veggie Sausageless Rolls from The Crazy Kitchen
  11. Chicken, Pearl Barley and Veggie Stew from Eat Your Veg
  12. Slow Cooker Turkey Supreme from JibberJabberUK
  13. Chocolate Avocado Mousse from Eat Your Veg
  14. Mini Calzones with Asparagus from My Tasty Adventures
  15. Avocado Oat Cookies with Raisins and Chocolate from Veggie Desserts
  16. Creamy Green Chicken Curry from Dip’s Diner
  17. Roast Cauliflower Cheese Soup from Bangers & Mash
  18. Lamb & Potato Bake from JibberJabberUK
  19. Green Olive & Date Breadsticks from How to Cook Good Food
  20. Parsnip, Carrot & Lentil Soup from Tinned Tomatoes
  21. Beef Pie with Hidden Carrot (and Other Vegetables) from Gluten Free Alchemist
  22. Apricot, Coconut & Plain Chocolate Cookies from Eat Your Veg
  23. Carrot & Courgette Fritters from The Spicy Pear
  24. Jerusalem Artichoke Cake from Chocolate Log Blog
  25. Jerusalem Artichoke and Rosemary Soup with Jerusalem Artichoke Crisps from Allotment 2 Kitchen
  26. Leftover Rice Balls from My Tasty Adventures
  27. Roast Vegetable Sauce for Pasta from Bangers & Mash
  28. Slow Cooker Carrot & Coriander Soup from JibberJabberUK
  29. Vegetarian Canneloni from Spurs Cook
  30. Fig and Honey Smoothie from Bangers & Mash
  31. Beef Ragu from Feed My Family!


The Spice Trail: cooking with paprika


Share your paprika recipes to win a Cool Chile Co gift box

Here we are in a brand new year, and so The Spice Trail is taking us to a brand new spice destination. In January our challenge is to cook with paprika. Hopefully though it won’t prove too much of a challenge. I for one use paprika quite a bit in my cooking. It’s a favourite ingredient in warming sausage casseroles or for adding a spicy kick to a simple tomato sauce for pasta. It’s also great sprinkled over potato wedges and other root vegetables before roasting. But I want to know how you use paprika in your cooking? We had such a fantastic response to the chilli and cinnamon recipes at the end of last year, I can’t wait to see what paprika dishes you come up with.

A little bit about paprika

Paprika is a ground powder of dried sweet red peppers (seeds out first), which were said to have been taken to their spiritual home (Hungary) by the Turks, though as with all peppers they came originally from the New World. True Hungarian paprika is divided into different echelons of quality: noble sweet, semi-sweet, rose, strong and commercial. The Spanish make a wood-smoked (pimenton) that you can buy either sweet or hot. Indispensable in goulash, chorizo, devilling and fish dishes. Taken from Leon: Ingredient & Recipes by Allegra McEvedy

Win a Cool Chile Co gift box

At the end of the paprika challenge, one lucky winner will receive a super cool  gift box from the Cool Chile Co, featuring a range of Mexican herbs and spices, including their delicious smoked paprika from Spain and of course a selection of fantastic Mexican chillies. Cool Chile Co

The Cool Chile Co started in 1993, and the idea was simple: to import a wide variety of the best dried chillies, direct from Mexico, providing the UK with an exciting new range of flavours and heat sensations for real Mexican and home cooking. They have gone on to produce their own salsas, sauces and pastes, faithfully using traditional Mexican recipes and their delicious imported chillies. Personally, I’m a massive fan of their dried Ancho chilli and Mexican oregano.

How to enter The Spice Trail

spice trail badge square

Display the The Spice Trail badge on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post. You may enter as many recipe links as you like, so long as they feature this month’s key ingredient, paprika. 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 28 January 2014. If you tweet your post, please mention #TheSpiceTrail and me @BangerMashChat in your tweet and I’ll retweet each one I see. Feel free to republish old recipe posts, but please add the information about this challenge and The Spice Trail badge. As entries come in, links to these will be added to the bottom of this page. At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe and the winner this month will receive a tasty gift box from the Cool Chile Co. The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries. All entries will be added to The Spice Trail Pinterest Board. I can’t wait to see what paprika dishes you come up with this month for The Spice Trail. Any questions, please tweet or email me.

January’s entries

  1. Easy Paprika Pork Fricassee from The Hedge Combers
  2. Smoked Paprika Beans & Chorizo from Julie’s Family Kitchen
  3. Vegetable Burgers from The Crazy Kitchen
  4. Chorizo and Vegetable Stromboli from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families
  5. Dark Chocolate and Paprika Cookies from The Garden Deli
  6. Spicy Potatoes, Chorizo and Peppers with Pan Fried Sea Bass from Julie’s Family Kitchen
  7. Veggie Sausageless Rolls from The Crazy Kitchen
  8. Chicken Paprika from My Golden Pear
  9. Couscous Salad with Chermoula Dressing from Spices Galore
  10. Pan-fried Creole Cauliflower Fritters from Food to Glow
  11. Paprika and Cocoa Roasted Cauliflower from Chocolate Log Blog
  12. Savoury Cheese and Paprika Biscuits from Searching for Spice
  13. Roast Cauliflower Cheese Soup from Bangers & Mash
  14. Chipotle Black Bean Soup with Orange & Red Onion Salsa from Spices Galore
  15. Chermoula Marinated Halloumi from Deena Kakaya
  16. Sausage Stroganoff from My Golden Pear

  17. Vegetarian Lasagne from Nomsies Kitchen
  18. Deep Paprika Mushroom and Butter Bean Pies from Allotment 2 Kitchen
  19. Venison Goulash with Herb Dumplings from Mrs Portly’s Kitchen
  20. Pulled Pork with a Spicy Rub from Lavender & Lovage
  21. Paprika Schnitzel from The Lass in the Apron
  22. Jacki’s Hungarian Goulash from Jacki Harrison-Stanley
  23. Pork Stroganoff Kinda Thingy from Spurs Cook
  24. Vegan Cheesy Chickpea Dip with Coconut Bacon from The Tasty Space
  25. Eggs and Paprika from Lapin d’Or and More
  26. Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika Dressing from Selma’s Table
  27. Sausage and Apple Casserole from JibberJabberUK
  28. Sweet Paprika and Walnut Swirls from Tales from the Kitchen Shed
  29. Paprika and Parmesan Popcorn from Eat Your Veg
  30. Spicy Sausage Pasta from Bangers & Mash

spice trail badge long

Family Foodies: top lunchbox ideas

Lunchbox Collage

If you ever feel stuck in a rut when it comes to preparing your children’s lunchboxes, you’re sure to find a few new ideas here. I know my children would be over the moon to discover any one of these tasty treats in their packed lunches, and I’m sure they would be the envy of the school dining hall.

So without further ado, I have great pleasure in bringing you this month’s Family Foodies lunchbox round-up. We’ve lots of tasty savoury bakes to get things started, including some clever ways to sneak a few veggies into  the kids.

savoury vegetable cake

Savoury Vegetable Cake from Allotment 2 Kitchen

These savoury cakes from Shaheen at Allotment 2 Kitchen look just the ticket for satisfying growling tums and will ensure your little ones are well on their way to their five-a-day, with their filling of carrots, French beans and cauliflower florets.

Apple & Smoked Cheese Pasties from The Garden Deli

I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who doesn’t like a homemade pasty, and children in particular seem rather partial to a stuffed pastry creation or two. Smoked cheese is popular in our house, which happens to be the filling of these wholesome pasties from Sarah at The Garden Deli, along with her homegrown apples and sage for a fantastic flavour combination.

mini pasties

Mini Lunchbox Pasties from Bangers & Mash

More pasties, this time from me. These mini pasties are filled with minced beef, carrot and hard-boiled egg and flavoured with a dash or Worcestershire sauce and a little black treacle. I’m rather addicted to using treacle with beef, since discovering it recently in a Higgidy Pie recipe for chilli beef.

Chilli Corn Chocolate Muffins

Chilli Corn Chocolate Muffins from Chocolate Log Blog

When I first read the name of these, I have to admit I assumed they were going to be sweet muffins but I was completely wrong. These inventive bakes from Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog feature Cheddar cheese, manzano chilli, paprika, garlic, 100% dark chocolate (“for extra umami”) and sweetcorn for a gorgeously chewy texture. Intrigued? I certainly am.


Pumpkin, Walnut & Poppy Seed Muffins with Cheddar Cheese from Lavender & Lovage

More savoury muffins up next from Karen at Lavender & Lovage, and again featuring Cheddar cheese but this time with the seasonal addition of pumpkin with walnuts and poppy seeds. My girls would be thrilled to find these in their lunchboxes, although I can also see myself serving them up at home with a big bowl of hot soup.


Cheesy Pumpkin Scones from Eat Your Veg

Lou at Eat Your Veg uses more pumpkin in this next entry, and here she succeeds in sneaking it into these incredibly tempting cheese scones. I like the idea of scattering pumpkin seeds on top for a delightfully crunchy topping.

cheese and apple scones

Cheddar Cheese, Apple & Sage Scones from Bangers & Mash

Savoury scones are a regular lunchbox filler in our house, so here’s another scone idea from me. Like Sarah at The Garden Deli with her beautiful pasties, I’ve gone for a cheese, apple and sage combination. This recipe makes around 12 scones, which ought to see you through quite a few lunches, but in actual fact they were all eaten within the day here.

sausage plait

Honey Mustard Sausage Plaits from Mint Custard

I often have cravings for sausage rolls, and when I saw both these sausage plaits from Becky at Mint Custard (and the next entry) I couldn’t stop thinking about sausage rolls for ages. I’ve never thought to include sausage rolls in a lunchbox before, but what a sound idea, although I am thinking as much of my own lunchbox as my children’s.

sausage bacon apple rolls

 Gluten Free Sausage, Bacon and Apple Rolls from the Gluten Free Alchemist

Lunchboxes can be even more of a challenge when you have to stick to a gluten-free diet, so this recipe from Kate aka the Gluten Free Alchemist will be something of a Godsend for many. Made with homemade gluten-free shortcrust pastry (using potato and gram flour) and filled with bacon, apple (more apple – hurrah!) and gluten-free sausage meat, I am literally drooling as I include this entry…

mini tarts

Mini Tarts from Bangers & Mash

You might have gathered I’m rather fond of mini what-nots for lunchboxes. As well as mini pasties, these mini tarts always go down well with my children. They’re very versatile and you can fill them with just about anything you (or the children) fancy. Or whatever you happen to have lurking in the fridge.


Hedgehog Rolls from Eat Your Veg

I often find that when kids have helped to cook something, they’re much more likely to eat it and I can’t imagine many children not enjoying making and eating these cute little hedgehog rolls from Lou at Eat Your Veg. And not just hedgehogs, but tortoises, flowers and snails too!


Luchito Honey Glazed Ham from Eat Your Veg

Lou also offers us this majestic glazed ham, which I am definitely bookmarking to make at Christmas. Her children enjoyed thick slices of this to fill hedgehog rolls in their packed lunches. What incredibly lucky children!

bento sushi rice

Bento Sushi Rice Shapes from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary

Elizabeth offers us a whole array of lunchbox ideas in her entry, including ingenious ‘ants on a log’, but it is her sushi rice shapes that I can’t wait to try first. They’re so simple but so effective; my daughter’s response when I showed her the photo was “Wow! Can we have those?”

Sweet treats

And now it’s time for some sweet treats. I like to think when I include a little sweet homemade something in their lunchboxes, it’s as if I’m sending a hug to my children while they’re at school. A bit twee perhaps, but I can be like that sometimes.

bread pudding

Bread Pudding from The Crazy Kitchen

I’d never have thought of including bread pudding in a lunchbox but after seeing this post from Helen at The Crazy Kitchen it suddenly seems like a very good idea, and one that would keep the kids’ tummies full all afternoon. I’m not sure my bread pudding would end up looking quite this beautiful though…

choc orange cranberry cookies

Chocolate, Orange & Cranberry Cookies from Utterly Scrummy

Just looking at these cookies makes me feel all Christmassy – what a great idea of Michelle from Utterly Scrummy to use chocolate orange (from her husband’s not-so-secret stash I might add) along with cranberries for a fabulously festive flavour. Personally, I think these would be far too good for the children, and would probably end up hiding them away in my own secret stash…


Super-Fruity Banana Loaf Cake from Eat Your Veg

For someone who says she’s not a baker, I’m always so impressed by the cakes Louisa posts over at Eat Your Veg. Doesn’t this fruity loaf cake look delicious? Plus it’s pretty good for you too, featuring no less than three bananas, dried apricots, sultanas, wholemeal flour and she replaces the usual butter with coconut oil and yoghurt. A perfect sweet treat for the kids’ lunchboxes I reckon.


Spiced Muesli Cake from The Crazy Kitchen

More festive baking next, this time in the form of a spiced muesli cake – a second brilliant entry from Helen at The Crazy Kitchen. It’s great cold in lunchboxes, but also makes for a comforting pud served warm from the oven with ice cream or custard. This cake really wouldn’t last very long in our house!


Soul-Cakes from Lavender & Lovage

These pretty Soul-Cakes from Karen at Lavender & Lovage are a cake-cum-biscuit, traditionally made on All Soul’s Day (just after Halloween) and were distributed by the rich to the poor of the parish. They are very easy-to-make and would be perfect with your afternoon cuppa, but do make sure you save a one or two for the children’s lunches.

lime cake

Easy Iced Lime Cake from Fab Food 4 All

My children’s school provides hot meals twice a week and when I ask them on those days what the best thing they ate was, it’s invariably an iced sponge cake of some description. So what a good idea to include it in their packed lunches too, and this iced lime cake from Camilla at Fab Food 4 All looks just the recipe to try.

spiced pumpkin and chocolate cupcakes

Spiced Pumpkin and Chocolate Muffins from Leeks & Limoni

These muffins look really rather decadent but according to Katharine at Leeks & Limoni they’re actually quite virtuous. They contain no butter at all and only a little sunflower oil, and of course there’s the pumpkin too. What’s more they’re incredibly easy to make. I’m sold!

fruit and nut balls

Dried Fruit & Nut Balls from Bangers & Mash

These fruit and nut balls sound so virtuous, you really wouldn’t expect them to taste good but trust me, they really do. Although a little part of me is wondering how they’d taste if they were dipped in some gorgeously dark chocolate… By the way, my girls’ school is OK with nuts (as ingredients in cakes and biscuits etc) in packed lunches, but do check your school lunch policy before sending these in.

So there you have it, our Family Foodies’ round-up of tasty recipes to help you put some pizzazz in your lunchboxes. But there can only be one winner.

And the winner is…

Our guest judge this month is Caroline Job, the mum of three behind the inspiring website that is Lunchbox World. You should pay the site a visit as it’s packed full of lovely recipes and helpful hints and tips, plus lots of cool lunchbox-related products. So Caroline knows a thing or two about what makes a good lunchbox filler.

This is what Caroline had to say:

“I was delighted to be asked to judge this month’s round-up.  Having set up the Lunchbox World business back in 2009, when my three kids started having packed lunches at school, lunch boxes are never far from my thoughts. Helping you put the fun back into packed lunches has always been my mantra!

“When I look out for new lunch box ideas, I am always thinking: they have to be fun, something the kids will eat, nutritious and above all, attractive and easy for them to eat. If they can be bite-size or in their very own portion, I feel it goes down into their tummies that much quicker! If we think it’s boring, the kids will too, so it is always worth the time and effort to make it FUN! I aim for the kids to bring home those lunch boxes empty (ie eaten), which then puts a smile on my face, as I then think “job well done”.

“There were so many fun, tasty, and nutritious entries, it was a tough decision. It would have been great to taste them all! But there were three that jumped out at me. The hedgehog rolls from Eat Your Veg are such fun and I am sure any kid finding them in their lunch box would gobble them up immediately! But I hesitated as the prep/cooking time was a long one. I was also drawn to the bite-size mini tarts by Bangers and Mash, but I was looking for something a bit more festive for this time of year.

Then bingo! I saw the delicious cranberry, orange and chocolate cookies made by Michelle at Utterly Scrummy. These tick all the boxes for me and they’ve got the festive flavour too.


So because it’s Christmas, I have a fun prize for Michelle. Hopefully every time you use it you’ll think of Lunchbox World. A fun dotty lunch box with matching picnic mat, that folds up into approximately A4 size, so very portable. Don’t feel you have to wait until spring though, you can picnic indoors as well as outdoors!

Thanks again for inviting me to judge your competition. If you are looking for more lunch box ideas, tips, hints and recipe ideas, do have a look at the Lunchbox World blog, where there are posts on family fun too, and the main Lunchbox World website, which is all about the world of lunchboxes!”

Congratulations Michelle on your thoroughly deserved win. Drop me a line with your address and your prize will be winging its way to you very soon.

Thank you to all our bloggers for sharing their lunchbox recipes. December’s Family Foodies challenge is now open over at Eat Your Veg and the theme this month is, rather appropriately, Kids Christmas. Louisa and I look forward seeing your fun and festive family recipes!


The Spice Trail: cooking with cinnamon

spice trail badge long

Share your cinnamon recipes and win a Tasting Experience for two

Our next stop on The Spice Trail takes us to the world of cinnamon, one of the most evocative spices I know.

When I smell cinnamon, I immediately think of sweet, sugary things like apple pies and Danish pastries, or rich fruit cakes and mulled wine at Christmas time. But of course, cinnamon (and its close relative cassia) are also a glorious ingredient in many savoury dishes and you’ll find it widely used in Mexican, Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine.

cooking with cinnamon

So this month I’d love to hear how you like to cook with cinnamon. Share your recipe posts by 30 December and at the end of the month I’ll bring you a round-up of sensational dishes celebrating cinnamon.

Win a Tasting for Two Voucher from Buyagift

And at the end of the cinnamon challenge, one lucky winner selected by our guest judge will receive an amazing Tasting for Two voucher from the good people at Buyagift.


With this tasting experience, our lucky winner and their chosen companion will get to discover a whole world of new tastes, textures and exciting flavour combinations. Whether you love sweet or savoury, great British grub or international cuisine, there’s a great selection to choose from – including refined afternoon teas, olive oil tasting, sushi making, cookery classes, brewery tours and wine tasting experiences. What’s more they are available at a wide range of venues right across the UK.

How to enter The Spice Trail

spice trail badge squareDisplay the The Spice Trail badge (on the left and also available here) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.

You may enter as many recipe links as you like, so long as they feature this month’s key ingredient, cinnamon – be it stick or ground, and feel free to use cassia bark as well.

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 Monday 30 December 2013.

If you tweet your post, please mention #TheSpiceTrail and me @BangerMashChat in your tweet and I’ll retweet each one I see.

Feel free to republish old recipe posts, but please add the information about this challenge and The Spice Trail badge. As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page.

At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe and the winner this month will receive a brilliant Tasting for Two choice voucher from Buyagift. The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries.

All entries will be added to The Spice Trail Pinterest Board.

I can’t wait to see what dishes you come up with for The Spice Trail. Any questions, please tweet or email me.

December’s entries

  1. Low Sugar Parsnip Cake from Mamacook
  2. Wholemeal Apple Pancakes from Mamacook
  3. Spicy(ish) Lamb Meatballs from Mamacook
  4. Speculoos Shortbread from Blue Kitchen Bakes
  5. Christmas Trifle from How to Cook Good Food
  6. Cinnamon Butternut Squash and Chicken Stew from Recipes From a Pantry
  7. Leftover Turkey Chilli from Recipes From a Pantry
  8. Butternut Squash Muffins from Recipes From a Pantry
  9. Mince Pies with Spinach Pastry from Veggie Desserts
  10. Cinnamon Raisin Focaccia from The Lass in the Apron
  11. Festive Fruit Pies from Utterly Scrummy
  12. Chocolate Gingerbread Christmas Decorations from Eat Your Veg
  13. Cranberry & Cinnamon Swiss Roll from Blue Kitchen Bakes
  14. Jacki’s Moroccan Lamb Tagine from Jacki
  15. Snowflake Tear and Share Iced Buns from Bangers & Mash
  16. Gingerbread Cupcakes with Golden Syrup Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting from The More Than Occasional Baker
  17. Cinnamon and Date Cake from The More Than Occasional Baker
  18. Spiced Plum & Apple Eton Mess from Bangers & Mash
  19. Chocolate Brownies with a Hint of Orange & Cinnamon from Cook Eat Write
  20. Christmas Cupcakes from Caroline Makes
  21. Christmas Cinnamon Shortbread from Caroline Makes
  22. Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls from Caroline Makes
  23. Chewy Oatmeal Cran-Raisin Pecan Cookies from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary
  24. Spiced Stollen Tray Bake from How to Cook Good Food
  25. Low Calorie Rogan Josh from London Unattached
  26. Orange and Cinnamon White Chocolate Shortbread from Chocolate Log Blog
  27. Poached Pears with White Chocolate Cream from My Golden Pear
  28. Slow Roast Lamb with Chicory & Winter Vegetables from Bangers & Mash
  29. Gingerbread, Bramble & Lemon Trifle from Vohn’s Vittles
  30. Mulled Cider from Bangers & Mash