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June 28, 2015 / mintcustard

Barbecue roasted spatchcock chicken and a walk through lavender.

Spatchcocked chicken fresh from the BBQ.

Spatchcocked chicken fresh from the BBQ.

Roast chicken has to be one of this family’s favourite meals. I love roast chicken as you can add such a variety of flavours. Spices, smoked or plain and simple, roast chicken rules. Not only do you get the most wonderful plate of food but you also get leftovers. Tonights chicken was flavoured with lemon, garlic and oregano, it was then barbecued. Delicious.

Spatchcocking a chicken is easy, poultry shears are used to remove the backbone and then you press the chicken flat with the heal of your hand. You can of course ask your butcher to do this for you.

Spatchcock the chicken before you marinade it as the flavours can penetrate inside and out far faster.


juice and zest of a lemon

a handful of fresh oregano

1 garlic clove crushed

salt and pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

How to….

  • Mix the marinade ingredients together in a non metalic bowl.
  • Add in the chicken and massage the marinade in well. Leave to infuse for between and hour and four hours.
  • Light the BBQ and leave to come up to temperature. Look at the temp gauge or wait until your coals become white hot.
  • Place chicken on the grill cut side down and leave to roast. You need to turn the chicken every 15 minutes for an hour. After the hour check the thickest part of the chciken and if the juices run clear then the chicken is cooked through. Rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Carve and serve. You can have roasties and traditional veg, rice and peas or cous cous and salad. It is up to you and ring the changes.
Mayfield lavender

Mayfield lavender

You may know I’m trying hard to change the way I view food and my diet. I’m not denying myself anything. Nothing is bad, everything is good. It is the balance that makes the difference. I’m also increasing my level of positive exercise. Exercise that does me good both in body and in spirit. So my most recent walk was around a local lavender field. Wonderful colours, amazing fragrances and the sheer joy of others sharing the experience.

June 26, 2015 / mintcustard

Turkey meatballs in a garden sauce.

Turkey meatballs with a garden sauce.

Turkey meatballs with a garden sauce.

Garden sauce! Garden sauce? What is the woman on about? The meatballs are in a tomato and whatever you need to use up in the fridge that works together sauce.

Turkey mince is one staple you will almost always find in the fridge. It can be used in almost every mince dish imaginable, has less fat, carries flavours brilliantly and is cheap!

Last night I made turkey meatballs. Quick, easy, tasty and filling. In short an ideal family meal. If you have little ones just make the meatballs smaller and puree their sauce to hide the vegetables if that’s what you need to do.


400g lean turkey mince

1 onion finely chopped

1 pepper (you choose the colour!) finely chopped

half a dozen mushrooms, quartered

300 ml of passata

garlic crushed

salt and pepper

2 tsp olive oil

How to….

  • Season the turkey mince with salt and pepper and form into walnut sized balls. Put into the fridge covered to set up a little before cooking.
  • Heat the oil in a pan and saute off the vegetables. Add in the turkey meatballs and cook until browned on all sides.
  • Pour in the passata. Cook until thickened and reduced.Taste and season.
  • Serve over large tube pasta.

This is another meal of my fat to fitter campaign. After eating I went for a walk, just a half an hour stroll and saw this beautiful poppy. So pretty I just had to share it with you.

Beautiful poppy. See worth going for a walk.

Beautiful poppy. See worth going for a walk.

June 25, 2015 / mintcustard

Summer spring rolls Fat to fitter day 2.

Messy summer spring rolls but it is my actual lunch!

Messy summer spring rolls but it is my actual lunch!

I have already mentioned that a teacher’s lunch needs to be portable. Lunches often needs to remain edible until 4pm because that is usually when it finally gets consumed. If you have ever gone into a school staffroom you will see the staff are mostly fuelled by caffeine and cake. This is the habit I’m in. Skip lunch, have a couple of coffees, eat a snack late afternoon and then not really feel like much dinner.

Whilst I’m bored rigid being at home, (I’ve embarked on a mission to read all the Harry Potter books back to back, that is how fed up I am) at least I get to have a proper lunch.

A decent lunch will stop me from snacking too. Lots of vegetables for crunch and texture but I am aware I need some fat and protein too.

This was lunch Day 2. Quorn and vegetable stuffed summer spring rolls. Summer spring rolls are NOT deep fried. Transparent, gossamer thin and seemingly ephemeral rice paper wrappers barely contain the delights within. You can get away without any cooking here if you used ready cooked meats. These are an ideal way to use up sunday lunch leftovers the following day too.



Quorn and vegetable stuffed summer spring rolls. (serves 1)

3 rice paper wrappers, water to rehydrate.

75g quorn chicken pieces, frozen

1 tsp oil

1 tsp curry paste

1 tbsp yogurt


a variety of vegetables cut into julienne. I had peppers, spring onions, carrots, lettuce and cucumber.

mango chutney

Dipping sauce

soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chopped green chilli and a dash of sesame oil, pepper. Lime if you have it.

How to …..

  • In a frying pan heat the oil and cook off the curry paste, add in the quorn pieces, yogurt and a splash or two of water. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until cooked through. You may need to add more water if the pan gets very dry.
  • Julienne your vegetables and lay them out.
  • Mix together the dipping sauce ingredients.
  • Fill a dinner plate with water – humour me, this is to rehydrate the wrappers.
  • Lay the wrappers one at a time into the water, make sure both sides get wet. Once pliable place on a plate and fill.
Filling the rolls.

Filling the rolls.

  • I popped a thin smear of mango chutney on, then the vegetables and finally the quorn.
  • Tuck in the ends of the wrapper, dip into the dip and tuck into your lunch.

Wash down with plenty of water and give yourself time to enjoy your meal. if you want to take this to school then use iceberg lettuce leaves to wrap up the filling and take the sauce in a small, resealable pot.


June 24, 2015 / mintcustard

Spicy carrot and lentil soup. From fat to fitter, a wake up call.

Spiced carrot and lentil soup.

Spiced carrot and lentil soup.

Hmmm. You know when a doctor looks you in the eye, takes a deep breath and says “ahh, right, well.” You pretty much know they are not going to be asking you for a chocolate fudge cake recipe.

This happened to me yesterday.

I went into the surgery with a filthy summer cold that had morphed into a chest infection. I came out with a script for blood pressure medication, a letter signing me off work for 10 days and dire warnings that if I got a headache I had to call and ambulance and go to A & E. My doctor is fantastic and I really appreciate his straight talking about my blood pressure, but I have much to think about.

Things need to change in my life if I want to fulfil all my dreams and ambitions. I will still be baking and cooking, I will still be creating recipes however alongside all this I hope to document my journey. Come along with me if you wish. I can’t promise it will be interesting but it will be tasty, (just lower in calories, fat and salt.)

I’ll let you know how I’m doing on the weight and exercise front, just generally you understand. I’d like to keep some secrets.  I hope to show you where I walk, when I walk and what I find on my travels. A dodgy knee has hampered me recently but I’m not giving myself excuses.

I’m tracking my diet using an app on my phone as I find if I don’t write a food I’ve consumed down it probably didn’t exist.In all honesty I know how to improve my well being, I simply need to get on with it. This takes time and I seem to give a great deal of my time to others. Writing these posts will help me claim time back for me.

Once again come along with me, share recipes you use that have helped you and generally be a cheerleader waving your pompoms on the days I’m going to find it tough.

Lunch as a primary teacher has to be filling and eaten with one hand as inevitably you will be marking, answering emails or acting as a referree in some dispute. Soup is portable, nutritious and if all else fails you can drink it from a mug. I used chicken stock but with vegetable stock this is a vegetarian or vegan dish.

Spiced carrot and lentil soup.

Spiced carrot and lentil soup.

Spicy carrot and lentil soup.

400g carrots grated

1 onion finely chopped

1 garlic clove finely chopped

150 g red lentils

1 tbsp curry paste (you choose, whatever is knocking about the fridge) or a chilli chopped

1 lt stock

1 tsp olive oil

How to….

  • Gently saute the onion and garlic in the oil.
  • Tip in the grated carrot and sweat down for a few minutes.
  • Stir in the curry paste, add the stock and lentils. Stir again.
  • Bring slowly to a simmer and leave to plop away under a lid for 15 minutes.
  • Allow to cool a little, use a stick blender until smooth.
  • Serve with little blob of low fat yogurt swirled in – well I can’t eat ugly food!


June 23, 2015 / mintcustard

Trail mix twists.

Trail mix twists.

Trail mix twists.

Trail mix is delicious, enriched dough pastries are also delicious. Combine the two together and I am in heaven. Well, that may be a slight overstatement but I’m certainly pleased with how well they turned our, the crunch they provide and the fact that they are a lighter version too.


325g strong white bread flour

30g caster sugar

35g butter

1/2 egg

1/2 tsp salt

90ml warm milk

75ml warm water

1 tsp dried yeast or small thumb of fresh yeast


25g softened butter

25g soft brown sugar

75g trail mix

Trail mix ready to sprinkle.

Trail mix ready to sprinkle.

How to …….

Pre heat oven to 375f / 190C

  1. Place the warm water in a jug and stir in a sprinkle of sugar and the yeast. Leave out of any drafts until the yeast has doubled in size.
  2. Into a large bowl sieve the flour and stir in the sugar and salt. Cut the butter into the flour and rub in until the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs
  3. Pour in the warm milk and stir to begin to incorporate, now add the beaten egg and the yeast mixture. Using a round bladed knife mix until the dough comes together.
  4. Using your hands knead the dough gently but effectively for 5 minutes or so until the dough becomes smooth and silky. The dough is very soft and “loose” you may need more flour on your work surface as you work it.
  5. Make the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a damp cloth. Leave for an hour and a half until well risen.
  6. Knock back (punch the dough in the middle to deflate it) and let it rise again for another 45 minutes.
  7. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to approximately 15cm x 20 cm.
  8. Cover the lower half of the dough with the butter and brown sugar mixture. Sprinkle the dough with the trail mix.
  9. Fold the dough over to form and envelope.
  10. Cut the dough into 12 thin strips, twist and lay on a baking tray and allow to rise for a further 30 minutes.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.
  12. Once cool, drizzle with icing. Put on the kettle and treat yourself to elevensies.
June 15, 2015 / mintcustard

Chocolate orange drizzle cakes for #LiberTeas

Chocolate orange drizzle cakes.

Chocolate orange drizzle cakes.

Monday 15 June marks the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta, which was the document that laid the foundations for the rights and representation that we enjoy today.

To commemorate, LiberTeas asked the nation to take a moment to celebrate, debate and reflect on those rights which we very often take for granted but which people throughout history have campaigned to make happen or fought to preserve.

Cheam Rotary, along with the staff of Whitehall (Cheam’s Tudor house) held a LiberTeas event on the War Memorial green outside Cheam Library. As well as discussing topics ranging from “who is your role model?”to “Does the UK need a written constitution?” All with the help of Sutton and Cheam’s newly elected MP Paul Scully. We also had cake!

LiberTeas event.

LiberTeas event.

Crumbly and delicious rock buns and buttery crisp shortbread were washed down with copious cups of tea. I took along a rosemary madeira cake. Rosemary for remembrance I thought.

Rosemary madiera cake.

Rosemary madiera cake.

As I was baking an idea popped into my head. Chocolate orange drizzle cakes. Time to play.

Chocolate orange drizzle cakes

3 large free range eggs weighed.

weight of eggs in self raising flour minus 50g

50g cocoa

weight of eggs in butter

weight of eggs in caster sugar

1 orange zested and juiced

2 tbsp milk

4 tbsp sugar

How to…

  • Preheat the oven to 190c
  • Line a 12 hole muffin tin or individual tray bake tins with baking parchment squares.
  • Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time with a spoonful of flour.
  • Once all the eggs are beaten in fold in the remaining flour and cocoa.
  • Slacken the mixture with 2 tbsp milk and 1 tbsp orange juice.
  • Fill each paper two thirds full.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • combine the 4 tbsp sugar, orange zest and 4 tbsp of juice. Spoon the orange syrup over the warm cakes and leave to cool.
  • Put the kettle on and discuss.
June 13, 2015 / mintcustard

Citrus honey chicken wraps.

Honey citrus wrap

Honey citrus wrap

The weather this week has been really odd. Everything from rain coming down in stair rods to blazing hot and humid. Planning what to eat with Uni girl, a teenager and a husband on a diet is a nightmare. Popping on the bbq usually satisfies everyone but this week’s weather has put a spanner in the works.

I had planned to use this marinade to slather over some chicken kebabs or turkey steaks on the bbq but sadly not. A griddle pan is an adequate substitute, albeit without the sun on your back as you grill.

I served up the citrus honey chicken in wraps and everyone could then customise the dish as they wished. No tomatoes, extra mayo, no leaves (salad!), griddles peppers and onion etc etc. You get the picture.

Honey citrus chicken wraps

500g chicken thighs or turkey breast pieces.

zest and juice of half an orange

zest and juice of half a lemon

zest and juice of a lime

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp olive oil

plenty of salt and pepper.

wraps and fixings of your choice.

How to…

Combine all the marinade ingredients together. BEFORE you add the chicken or turkey taste the marinade and adjust the seasoning.

Place cubes of the meat into the marinade and leave for 30 minutes.

Either pop on skewers and grill on the BBQ or if the weather is really vile griddle on a griddle pan or almost dry frying pan. The marinade will caramelise beautifully and taste something like marmalade.

Slide into a wrap and dress as you wish.

Watch BBC weather and weep!


May 30, 2015 / mintcustard

Summer berry and granola parfait.

Summer berries and granola parfait.

Summer berries and granola parfait.

My absolute favourite way to start a summer’s day is to have breakfast outside in the sunshine. On a patio or balcony if you have one or a local park picnic bench if not. I love to indulge in a summer berries and granola parfait. Alternating layers of berries, yogurt and a home made granola packed with oats, nuts and seeds. Serve this summer berries and granola parfait in a recycled/repurposed glass jar. Just a little drizzle of honey or maple syrup on top too. If you want to  you could screw on a lid and take the parfait to the park.  A lazy weekend breakfast should always be accompanied by a coffee and the papers of course.

When Sainsbury’s asked for a dish that would kick start summer, if it eventually decides to turn up that is,  I immediately thought of a summer berry and granola parfait.

Quick and easy to put together from ingredients already prepared, the only organisation involved is making the granola. Once baked the granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. Make the granola one drizzly afternoon and when the sun finally makes an appearance you can put the summer berry and granola parfait together in the time it takes to brew the coffee to go with it.

I used a selection of Sainsbury’s nut and seed mixes to give the granola a rich variety without leaving me with too many half used packs in the cupboard. If there is a particular nut or seed you prefer then you can of course add more of them.

Summer berry and granola parfait.

Granola ingredients.

Granola ingredients.

Granola ingredients

200g Taste the difference oats

1 x 100g pack of mixed nuts by Sainsburys

1 x 100g seed mix by Sainsburys

1 x 30g almond medley pack by Sainsburys

1x 100g pistachio kernels by Sainsburys

2 tbsp honey

3 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp flavourless oil.

Granola mixture.

Granola mixture.

parfait ingredients

1 tub natural yogurt

1pack mixed summer berries


1 baking tray lined with parchment

1 jar per person

How to……

  • Preheat the oven to 150c
  • Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.
  • Spread out on the lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the granola mix with a spatula and bake for a further 10 minutes.
  • Allow to cool. This can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
  • To make the parfait place a layer of yogurt in the bottom of each jar.
  • Top with a layer of granola.
  • Add a layer of berries of your choice.
Layers of parfait.

Layers of parfait.

  • Repeat once more. Place the final layer of berries in well enough that the lid could be put on if needed.
Top with berries.

Top with berries.

  • Pick up your coffee, open the papers and dig in.
  • Let’s hope the sun shines.

All recipes and photographs in this post are my own. I was sent a voucher by Sainsburys to cover the cost of my ingredients.

May 28, 2015 / mintcustard

Raspberry and chocolate popovers.

Raspberry and chocolate chip popovers.

Raspberry and chocolate chip popovers.

There were a few raspberries lurking in a box in the fridge. I had offered them to people at breakfast but there were still a few around at dinnertime. Those raspberries wouldn’t last overnight so what to do?

Now, whenever I travel I love to poke around cookery and kitchenware stores. When in the US I have returned with bundt tins and popover tins have often inticed me but I’ve never given in. From what I’ve seen they are just like Yorkshire puddings and I use a muffin tin for those. Could I make a clafoutis? Well, no, not really enough raspberries but perhaps I could pimp a Yorkshire pud instead.

Raspberry and chocolate popovers (makes6).

1 egg

50g plain flour

1/4 pint milk

3 raspberries per muffin tin

sprinkle of chocolate chips per muffin tin

6 small cubes of butter

vegetable oil

muffin tin

How to….

  • Preheat the oven to 200c, place the muffin tin in the oven.
  • Beat together the egg, flour and milk. This will form a batter.
  • Once the oven is up to temperature slide the tin out of the oven, pop in the butter cubes and small drizzle of oil.
  • Bring back up to temperature.
  • Pour the batter evenly between the muffin tins, top with three raspberries and a scattering of chocolate chips.
Just out of the oven.

Just out of the oven.

  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until well rissen and puffed.
  • Serve still warm with a spoon of creme fraiche.
Half way though eating, sorry!!!!

Half way though eating, sorry!!!!


May 25, 2015 / mintcustard

Fairy bread biscuits.

Fairy bread biscuits

Fairy bread biscuits

Hello Vienna, London calling. In this house the Eurovision song contest reigns supreme. Both the semi finals and the finals are watched, discussed and generally loved to pieces. The length, intensity and sometimes downright wackiness of the whole event calls for snackage. Fairy bread cookies won out this year. Why Fairy bread cookies? To honour Australia’s entry that’s why. As Nigella was releasing her inner Katie Boyle and would be awarding douze points to one lucky country I almost went with Nigella’s Malteser traybake, however it was Australia’s debut. That needs celebrating, surely?

I thought meatpie? I thought Lamingtons? I even though shall I get those kangaroo burgers out of the freezer? Then I remembered being told about fairy bread, an iconic Australian children’s party dish. White sliced bread, buttered and dipped in hundreds and thousands. I really think this may be something you need to have eaten when small to then hanker after later in life. A biscuit version however……

Triangular fairy bread biscuits.

Triangular fairy bread biscuits.

Fairy bread biscuits (cookies) made 8

This is a ratio recipe that my Nan taught me. You can use cups, oz, 25g increments, whatever. I used ounces as it was Nan’s recipe!

1 oz caster sugar

2 oz soft butter

3 oz plain flour.

icing sugar

100s and 1000s

Preheat the oven to 160c. Cream the butter and the sugar, use you hands to work in the flour. Leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough to about 1/2  to 3/4 cm thickness. Cut into squares and then triangles, as you would for posh sandwiches. Place on parchment and bake for 10 to 14 minutes until golden at the edges. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Mix some icing sugar to a thickish paste. Placethe sprinkles on a saucer. Spread on the biscuits and then dip the biscuits in and press down to make sure every part is covered. Place back on the wire rack to harden a little.

I suppose if you wanted a little more authenticity butter cream would be better than water icing but I wanted the fairy bread cookies to remain crisp and the buttercream would have made them softer over time. Well done to Sweden for their winning entry. How did I celebrate? With a trip to IKEA of course!!!!

I’m adding this to the Treat Petite linky hosted by CakeyBoi this month but also run by The Baking Explorer as the theme is Eurovision!


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