Chilli with Black Beans


Over the years my chilli recipe has altered to accommodate children’s taste buds and what ingredients were available.

This is a flavoursome chilli but not hot so, if you like your chilli hot maybe up the red chilli and chipotle chilli powder.

Unfortunately, at the moment I can’t get chipotle chillis in adobe sauce, if I could I would probably add three chillies  plus the adobe sauce and omit the chipotle powder and liquid smoke.

The quantity of beans has increased over the years too, tinned black beans are expensive and can be hard to come by here so I now buy dried beans , soak them overnight and then boil them for an hour and a half. I tend to cook 500g at a time, we get through them very quickly!

I like to roast my own capsicums but to be honest, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day, this is when jars of roasted capsicum in the pantry are so handy!

I have used Manchego cheese in the pic, left over from a family lunch, as the boys had eaten me out of Cheddar and mozzarella, they would both work just as well!


60mls olive oil

2 onions, diced

1 red chilli, deseeded and diced finely

5 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons chipotle chilli powder

1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika

1kg ground minced beef

4 fire roasted capsicum, peeled, cored and deseeded

600g black beans

750mls sieved tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato purée

500mls water

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 tablespoon liquid smoke

salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 170degrees Centigrade.

In a large heavy based pan or casserole, suitable to go in the oven, heat the oil over medium heat.

Once hot, add the onion and cook until soft.

Add the red chilli and garlic, cook for 1min until fragrant.

Add the coriander, chilli powder and smoked paprika, stir through.

Turn the heat to high and add the mince, stir over high heat until browned.

Add the capsicum, beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, water, cocoa, liquid smoke and season with salt and pepper.

Bring up to the boil and pop in the oven, uncovered, for two and a half to three hours. Stirring occasionally.

Check the seasoning.

I serve this with rice, avocado salsa, a little grated cheese, Manchego is nice,  and sour cream.





Blood Orange Cupcakes


Cupcakes are always popular with the boys and their friends!

These are smaller than muffins so suitable for smaller appetites I think. Also, perfect for school lunch boxes as there is no “wet” icing to go everywhere!

Blood oranges are in season just now and the boys love the colour and taste of them, I used a small orange for this, around 100g in weight.


110g butter, softened

110g caster sugar

2 eggs, beaten

110g self raising flour, sieved

1 blood orange

50g granulated sugar


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade.

Line a 12 hole muffin tin with small paper cases.

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar.

Slowly beat in the egg, just a little at a time.

Zest the orange and add to the cake batter.

Gently fold in the sieved flour.

Divide the mixture between the cases and bake for 15-18mins.

While baking the cakes, juice the orange and combine with the granulated sugar.

Remove cakes from the oven and take them out of the tin.

Place on a wire cooling rack.

While still hot, spoon over the orange juice topping.

Allow to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Lamb Shoulder With Garlic and Rosemary and Easy Roast Potatoes


This is a favourite roast. Left to its own devices for 4 hours and then potatoes roasted in the tin, saves on washing up and they taste yum!

Depending on your appetites you may want to up the size of your shoulder and the number of potatoes. This easily feeds my family of five with a leftover portion for lunch the next day.

Serves 4-6.


2kg lamb shoulder

3 cloves garlic, sliced

3 sprigs rosemary

olive oil

salt and pepper

1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into 5cm wedges


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Centigrade.

Take a sharp knife and stab the top of the roast all over.

In each hole slip a slice of garlic and a few rosemary leaves.

Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Cover and bake for 4 hours.

After four hours, remove the lamb, set aside.

Drain all but 1-2 tablespoons of fat.

Turn the oven up to 200degrees Centigrade.

Add the potatoes, toss in the fat and pop in the oven.

After 30mins, turn the potatoes and return to the oven for 20mins.

Now turn the potatoes, move them to the sides of the roasting tin.

Return the lamb to the tin, cover the lamb loosely with foil.

Roast for a further 20mins and then serve.

Cranberry Scones


I find scones such a handy thing to have in the cake tin or freezer! Best eaten on the day they are baked I also freeze them that day for quick lunch box treats for later in the week.


450g plain flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

110g butter, cubed to 1cm

75g sugar

100g dried cranberries

300mls milk

1 egg, beaten


Preheat the oven to 210degrees Centigrade.

Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, pour the flour and add the cubed butter.

With your fingers, rub the butter in, it will take a while! By the end it should look like breadcrumbs.

Add the sugar and cranberries and mix through.

Add the milk and mix gently to form a dough.

Flour a surface and very lightly form the dough to 3-4cm thickness.

Either use a cutter or cut potions with a knife.

Place on the baking sheet and brush with a little egg.

Bake for 7-10mins, keep an eye on them!

Eat warm or allow to cool on a wire rack.

Basil Pesto

Cooking Up The Pantry


The quickest meal in a family of five often involves pasta for 4 and a Gluten Free option for one.

I always have jars of pesto in the fridge  not just for pasta, spooned into a baked potato, smeared on to fish and chicken, used as a dip and there’s alway potato gnocchi!

Possibly the best reason for making this is it’s fridge life……. A year lurking, hopefully labelled, and it will still be good to go!

Leftover pasta? Great for school lunch boxes cold or hot or, stir through some drained, tinned beans, butter beans  work well, and you have another meal happening!

Makes 3 x 375g jars. One jar covers 500g dry pasta which serves 4-6 depending on appetite!


180g basil leaves

500mls olive oil, plus extra for sealing

200g pine nuts

8 cloves garlic, crushed

250g Parmesan, finely grated

salt and pepper


Process the basil…

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Gluten Free Chocolate and Coconut Muffins


Light gluten free muffins with a little coconut to help them keep their shape!

The boys love them as a school lunch treat!

This recipe makes 12 muffins.


80g tapioca/arrowroot flour

80g glutinous rice flour

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

150g brown sugar

100g desiccated coconut

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 eggs, beaten

140mls milk

140mls vegetable oil


Preheat the oven to 170degrees Centigrade.

Line a twelve hole muffin tin with paper cases.

In a food processor, measure in the flours, cocoa, sugar, coconut, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.

Give it a whizz to get some air into it.

Add the eggs and then with the motor running, add the milk and oil.

You will have quite a runny batter! Don’t panic!

Now pour into the prepared cases.

Bake for 20mins until risen.

Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Roast Tomato and Paprika Pasta Sauce with Garlic and Basil


The tomatoes don’t need to be pretty, I often use seconds, their flavour is fab and I just cut off any nasty bits!

If you have lots of tomatoes, consider roasting them all, making the sauce and then freezing it in zip lock bags, labelled of course, until you need a fast dinner. Alternatively, sterilise jars and lids, bring the sauce up to the boil in a pan and then pour, carefully, into the jars and seal.

If you don’t have fresh  paprika, don’t worry, capsicum works too or just do tomato sauce.

Makes 1-1.2 litres of sauce. 200mls will cover 400g dried pasta.


2kg ripe tomatoes, halved and cores removed

2 red paprika, halved, cored and cut into 5cm pieces

3 cloves garlic, sliced

a few basil leaves

1 tablespoon caster sugar

salt and pepper

olive oil to drizzle

1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


Preheat the oven to 140 degrees Centigrade.

Line two baking sheets with baking parchment, coming up the sides to catch any juice.

Place the tomatoes on the sheets, cut side up.

Top the tomatoes with a slice of garlic and a piece of basil leaf.

Add the paprika to the tray, sprinkle with a pinch of sugar.

Add the parsley to the tray.

Drizzle with a little olive oil, just a drop or two on each tomato half.

Season with salt and pepper.

Pop in the oven and roast for one and a half hours.

Allow to cool completely.

Scrape everything on the trays into the food processor and process until smooth.

Add balsamic vinegar and sugar, process again.

Have a taste, you may need more sugar and more salt or pepper.

Keep some sauce aside for dinner tonight and bag or jar the rest.

Serve mixed through cooked pasta and top with a little grated Parmesan cheese.


Cheese and Onion Bread and Butter Pudding


One of the boys came back from Scout camp recently with an entire loaf of white bread un eaten. As white bread is classed as a huge treat I wonder if he had just forgotten that it was stuffed down the side of his bag with a box of egg?

Anyway, not being a fan of waste, I couldn’t just throw it away, it was a little stale so sandwiches were out of the question, hence, savoury bread and butter pudding came about!

This is blatant comfort food, not particularly good for your health but very nourishing for the soul!

Make this ahead of time to allow it to soak up all the eggy mixture.

I keep the crusts and heels from the bread, process it to breadcrumbs and freeze it in a labelled bag.

Serves 6, it rises out of the dish like a soufflé so show off, serve it at the table!


1 x 750g loaf of white bread, sliced

8 eggs

400mls cream

500mls milk

250g Cheddar, grated

1 onion, peeled and very finely sliced

salt and pepper

pinch of cayenne


Butter a 24x20cm deep baking dish.

Cut the crusts off the bread, and cut in half to make triangles,set aside.

Slice the onion, I use a mandolin on a thin setting.

In a large jug combine the eggs, cream and milk, whisk really well.

Now you just assemble!

Pour enough egg mixture to cover the base of the baking dish.

Using one third of the bread, place it on it’s long side, standing slightly upwards in the egg.

Top with one third of onion, one third of cheese, salt, pepper and one third of the egg.

Repeat for two more layers, ending with  cheese, salt, pepper and the egg mix.

Use a fork to gently push the bread right down into the egg.

Sprinkle with a pinch of cayenne.

Cover and set aside for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Centigrade.

Remove the cover.

Place baking dish on a baking sheet, just incase it leaks.

Bake for 60mins.


Lemon and Ginger Pie


This tastes delicious and is really easy to make.

The slice of pie in the picture is from a HUGE pie I made, 30cm diameter. That pie served 16-18! It is quite rich so thinner slices are the way to go, you can always come back for more!

I use gluten free ginger biscuits, if you don’t need to use them just use regular ginger snaps.

This recipe makes a 22.5cm diameter pie in a loose bottomed tin, that should serve 8-10.


155g packet gluten free ginger biscuits

75g butter, melted

150mls whipping cream

395g tin sweetened condensed milk

90mls fresh lemon juice

rind of 1 lemon, finely grated


Crush the biscuits in a plastic bag, I like to whack them with the rolling pin, very satisfying!

Pour the biscuit crumbs into a bowl, add the butter and mix very well.

Line the tin base with the biscuit mix, push well down using the back of a spoon.

In a large bowl  whip the cream until forming stiff peaks.

Now fold in the condensed milk, it will look very runny!

Add the lemon juice and rind, fold in gently, it will thicken.

Pour the lemon cream on to the biscuit base.

Chill for at least 6 hours, overnight is even better.

To serve, remove the tin side.

Gently slide off the base onto your serving plate or to be honest, I quite often leave the base in place and just apologise for the metal being visible! All will be forgiven once your diners have had a taste of this!

Lamb, Leek and Feta Burgers


Not your traditional burgers but absolutely delicious!

They are full of flavour so I don’t put any sauce in the buns or rolls, instead an avocado adds moisture with some sliced tomato on top.

The boys often add different vegetables to their rolls, capsicum and carrot sticks are popular!

For the gluten free option I serve the burger on avocado with a green salad and a tomato and onion salad.

Serves 4-6.


500g minced lamb

1 leek

2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon ground cumin

10g chopped parsley

5g chopped dill

2 cloves garlic, crushed

100g feta

salt and pepper


Prepare the leek, top and tail, cut into quarters lengthwise and then chop into 1cm pieces.

Wash and drain, set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the lamb, yogurt, leek, cumin, parsley, dill, garlic and salt and pepper.

Us your hands to mix it all well.

Now crumble the feta into the bowl and again, using your hands, mix well.

Cover and set aside for 1-4hours in the fridge if you have time.

Heat the barbecue or frying pan to a medium to high heat.

Take the meat and form into burger shapes, depending on size you should have 4-6 patties.

Place on the barbecue or pan and cook for 5-8mins depending on thickness.

Turn the patties over and cook for 5-8mins again until cooked through.

Serve in buns with avocado and tomato.