Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Banana and Rum Chocolate Brownies

I must really start this with a disclaimer. Anne's Kitchen holds zero responsibility for you not fitting into your Christmas Party Dress if you end up eating them all. Sorry. I know they call out in the small hours with their enchanting songs but you really must just say no!!

Anyway, back to brownieville! And ohmigod good brownies these babies were the kings of brownieville! You know the perfect amount of fudginess to chocolatelyness and then the added hum of vanilla from the brownies and a cheeky shot of spiced rum!! 

Like a sweet dream!
To make these bad boys I took a much loved brownie cake recipe from the BBC Good Food site, and then pretty much adjusted everything! By adding banana, I reduced the amount of sugar and butter in them, a bit like when I make my banana flapjacks. They make a great substitute! I won't pretend they are healthy but you can delude yourself briefly if you like!

Makes as many slices as you feel you need - between 8 and 16!

You will need a lined square cake pan - I used a silicon but lined with parchment paper to make easier removal from the pan


60g butter
150g golden caster sugar
50g light brown sugar
115g plain chocolate, broken up
2 eggs
2 tbsp spiced rum
1tbsp golden syrup
100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
50g milk chocolate chunks
1/2 tsp baking powder
250g banana (one large or two small approx) mashed up

Pre-heat oven to 180o

1) Melt in a saucepan the butter, syrup and sugars. Stir in the cocoa and baking powder and remove from the heat. 

2) Meanwhile mix the flour, egg, rum, banana together. Fold into the melted chocolate mixture. Scatter over the chocolate chunks.

3) Turn into the lined pan, and bake for 35-45 minutes - my oven is quite slow but modern ovens are faster! A skewer should come out fairly clean, not as clean as cake mix but enough to show its just cooked!

4) Leave to cool in the pan for ten minutes then transfer on the liner to a cooling rack. Place in either your mouth or an airtight container when cool. 

Thanks to Fruitdrop who supplied me a lot of fruit including my banana! I might just have to make some more brownies....

I am sending my Brownies over to the BakeFest #25 round-up:

Disclaimer: I was provided with the fruit by Fruitdrop and reimbursed for my expenses. Photo's and recipe remain the property of Anne's Kitchen

Monday, 25 November 2013

Meal Planning Monday

Just in the nick of time this week to count as Monday! Due to a busy weekend spent with friends and with no time to plan this weeks meals, plus last minute changes to my work rota means I am in every night this week, very rare indeed! It will be nice to do day shifts for a while as I can't say I was too enthralled to be doing night's yet again! My feet have been particularly upset so will be good to sit down a while at least on shift!

Last week we did pretty well with the meal plan, only marginal changes! Friday's planned Lamb was not bought due to me being unable to make it to the shops as B had the car, and I kinda forgot to ask him to pick it up... In the end the Tomato Risotto I was sent from Black Dog Deli was pretty darn tasty so it wasn't missed at least, and I had made garlic doughballs to make up for it! I did make some awesome brownies too and possibly the finest lasagne I have ever made and will post them up in the next couple of days!

So this week...will as always be subject to change normally when I find something lurking at the back of the fridge that needs eating! Tonight that was definitely the case when spotting the sad looking cauliflower!

Tonight - Random but delicious as been out finishing the Christmas shopping - was fish fingers (they are still in the freezer lol) with spicy fried cauliflower and kale, with the last of some home made bread.

Tuesday - Baked fish fillets with kale. And quite possibly the remaining cauliflower!

Wednesday - We have B's friends over...(who I have never cooked for before - always a bit scary!) but digging out an old favourite - Nigella's Chicken and Chorizo bake thingy

Thursday - Sicilian Squash stew (from the freezer)

Friday - Pork Noodles again. B's favourite dish! 

Please see Mrs M's Meal Planning Post for everyone elses plans!

Have a great week everyone!


Friday, 22 November 2013

His and Her's Advent Calenders from M&S

Sorry if you are not quite ready for the 'C' word just yet but in bloggerville we start early - I started getting Christmassy themed emails and attended press shows back in July has been very surreal... however along with lots of other emails, I get the odd email from M&S and recently spotted their upcoming Advent Calenders – and they had a Hello Kitty one! I don’t care if I am a fully grown adult of ahem, 31, but I love Hello Kitty. And Chocolate. And I am rather partial to Christmas… so…. Of course I had to have one! And fortunately M&S were very obliging so roll on the 1st of December! Oh actually the 2nd as of course I had to 'test' it for you.. Its been years since both of us had an advent calender its like reverting to our childhoods!

I had spotted cheaper versions of the Hello Kitty one in discount stores but consider the cheaper advent calenders chocolate cheap and a bit nasty so this is a nice, grown up treat! This is my Advent Calender:

And on the inside - a little snowman..I as kinda hoping for a cat but I guess a snowman is more festive! The chocolate is fairly standard milky one, I do prefer something a bit darker but think milk chocolate is more popular! Will be a nice treat between the 2nd and 25th of December anyway! I love the design of my calender, its gorgeously festive red and has pride of place on top of the fridge.

Of course, there are two of us here, and B would not be as impressed with Hello Kitty so very kindly he has also from M&S a really quite awesome 'Where’s Wally' one! I have found Wally! But B hasn’t yet…
Its behind you!! :-D
Behind each window is not only chocolate but something to find to! Slight calendar envy now writing this but I do adore my one. Its so much fun just trying to find the ‘1’ we were both searching for ages! Inside was same as mine - a chocolate snowman, though B is much more a milk fan than me so its perfect for him!

Both calenders retail at £2.50 and are available in stores now.

Thanks to M&S and Julie at Grayling. This post was not sponsored and I was provided with both calenders free of charge for my review which is unbiased. All opinions and photography remain the property of Anne's Kitchen.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Honey and Toasted Almond no-bake Cheesecake

Back in September, Sainsbury’s sent me some nice organic goodies but I only just got around to playing with them now, and the result was this delicious, light no-bake cheesecake. For our main course I was cooking slow roasted lamb that had been marinated with mint, cumin and coriander, sort of down the Greek route and wanted something tasty for dessert but without being too heavy. By using the ricotta, it lightens the cream nicely with an almost hint of lemon to it and the honey used for sweetening gives it a completely different taste to sugar but in a totally good way! I experimented a few months back with the ricotta and mascarpone mixture with a Maple and Pecan version and it’s a definite keeper!

The cheesecake was sweet enough for the majority of us though dad would have liked it a tad sweeter but he does have a sweet tooth! You could add more icing sugar or honey if desired – taste the mixture as you make it is the best way! Just remember there is extra honey on top so less is more!

My cheesecake was a real hit and was demolished by 4 greedy adults. I had hoped for leftovers but starting to know that when my brother and dad are over, leftovers are not an option no matter how much I cook..

Serves 4-8


3 tbsp organic flaked almonds
125g ricotta cheese
50g butter unsalted
250g reduced fat mascarpone
2 tbsp icing sugar
12 digestives
6tsp Organic clear honey (or just your favourite!)

You will need a circular 7 inch loose bottom tin. To make removal easier, line the bottom with parchment paper.

1) Start by making the base, place the biscuits in a seal-able food bag and bash their lights out with a rolling pin. Toast the almonds in a dry pan and reserve to one side

2) Melt the butter, stir in the crumbs and press into an even layer in the prepared tin. Chill for a good 20 minutes to firm up.

3) Beat the cheeses together, icing sugar and half the honey until smooth, spoon over the biscuit base. Scatter over the almonds and drizzle with the remaining honey.

4) Chill overnight in the fridge and to serve; very carefully push the middle up and the tin sides down, place on a pretty plate or appropriate object – in this case my mezzaluna turned upside down and a gorgeous vintage style polkadot doily!

This was such an easy but delicious dessert - do try and let me know what you think!

Disclaimer - the honey and almonds were sent to me by Sainsbury's but I was under no obligation to review. The recipe is my own invention and remains the property of Anne's Kitchen. 

Monday, 18 November 2013

Meal Planning Monday ...and why you should not drink bubbly before grocery shopping

Sorry for abstaining last week from the Meal Planning Monday, lots of days were 'up in the air' as we busy making dinner plans and my shift pattern involved lots of nights and late's - B is still at beginners stage in the kitchen and so I have to remember to buy easy things for him to cook for us but he is doing well, and coming home from a long day at work to find dinner cooked is always a nice treat!

We had some fabulous meals though - Slow roasted Lamb shoulder - Grown up 'spaghetti hoops' and a lush honey and almond cheesecake - recipes to follow!

Some wonderful news came through in the form of my December rota - I am off this Christmas! Its going to be lovely to spend time with my friends and family on Christmas day and now we are busy making foodie plans! My brother has talked about beef wellingtons for Boxing day but I've never made before neither has he - any tips?

So on to this weeks meal plan - going to be using a few things from the freezer - we only have two shelves so no hoarding here! We have lots of fresh veggies in the fridge too and I'm expecting a few deliveries of goodies midweek so it may well change as always!

Tonight's meal was chosen by B and it involves a reduced garlic pizza bread, rocket and chorizo . A lesson perhaps why you should not go round Sainsbury's on both empty stomach and after two glasses of Cava at a friends' house...on a positive note I bought two bottles of wine for Christmas! Managed to spend £26 which is a lot considering we only went in for chorizo....

Monday - garlic pizza bread, rocket and chorizo surprise

Tuesday - Daal from freezer, spicy cabbage and chickpea pancakes

Wednesday - Meatballs with spaghetti

Thursday - Honey and Soy Pork with stir fried veggies and noodles

Friday - Sun-dried tomato risotto with either lamb steaks or 

Weekend - possibly spending weekend with friends and family so leaving blank for now!

As always - my plan can be seen with lots of lovely other ones over at Mrs M's Meal Planning Monday

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A glass of wine with my Gammon, Pea and Cos Lettuce Risotto

To my regular readers, apologies if this recipe sounds a little familiar ....for I am re-posting this recipe from my Arrancini thread, as I missed out an essential part - the wine!

Recently Sainsbury's sent me a little selection of their single serve wines, which I find great if you just fancy a glass of wine with dinner...or whenever without feeling compelled to drink the rest... something that age and shift patterns do not mix with! Its also a great way to discover new wines or indeed revisit old favourites!

I am more a red wine drinker if anything, as I find a lot of white wines to acidic to drink or so sweet my teeth go brr at but I was very pleased to find one of the bottles was their Macon Villages. I had not bought it in a long time but it reminded me that its one of the few whites I really like - dry, crisp maybe a hint of lemon and the tartness of Chardonnay without being a footballers wife! (I know its trashy but I still miss that show!) As I also had work the next morning, my large glass  was more than enough to enjoy with the meal! 

Whilst the wine was a bit of a treat with dinner, it was a fairly frugal recipe as you have come to expect with me - the lettuce was withering in the salad draw making its escape plan (Salad and Winter are not best buddies!) and the small amount of gammon was left from a large joint we had a few weeks back everything else was in the store cupboard.

Risotto recipe:

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 finely chopped onion
50ml vermouth
225g arborio rice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 slices cooked gammon finely chopped
2 heaped tbsp grana padano (or parmesan) grated
2 cos lettuce leaves, shredded
1 knorr herb stock pot into 1.5 pints boiling water

1) Melt the butter and oil, gently cook the onion and garlic without colouring, stir in the vermouth and allow to evaporate. 

2) Stir in the rice and allow it to fully coat in the liquid, add a small amount of the stock to coat and allow to cook, once the liquid has evaporated, repeat the process gently stirring through until its almost cooked through. 

3) Meanwhile place the peas in a jug with some of the remaining stock and cook for 3-4 minutes, stir it all into the risotto with the gammon pieces and lettuce, it should of absorbed most of the liquid now and be slightly loose in consistency. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese leaving a little for garnish.

Serve either on its own or with garlic bread if you like to break the rules...

The tang of Macon Villages wine worked really well with the creaminess of the risotto, they didn't compete and made a very tasty pairing! Unfortuntely winter is here with its dark nights and I resorted to going out onto the landing in an attempt to get a picture. The things us bloggers do...

Many thanks to Kate at Sainsbury's for my wine!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Mushroom, Ricotta and Leek Wholewheat Pasta

Pasta is such a great cupboard item that with a little fairy dust transforms into a delicious, comforting dinner. This particular variety I bought on offer was called Mafalda Corta, which as a rough description as I said to a friend was rectangles with frilly egdes! I am terrible for buying any new pasta I see, even our local Polish shop strangely enough has some great varieties which I am sure will be featuring in the future here! 

I unfortunately regularly work night shifts and do try to have an afternoon nap (though failed today as had late lunch and too much coffee!) which leaves a shorter time for meal prep and this recent pasta dish was quickly assembled in the time it took to cook the pasta - ideal for busy days too! I did admittedly eat it all. And it was huge but it kept me fuelled all night so was ideal - I think it would serve two for lunch next time!

Mushrooms are one of my favourite vegetables but sadly not of my boyfriend and so this dish of pasta was very much all for me! To be honest it was so tasty I wouldn't have wanted to share it anyway! This months Pasta Please #11 challenge is also Mushroom themed so I have sent it over for the round-up!

In my pasta dish I used one of my new favourite cheat items that was leftover from the Chickpea burgers recipe last month in the form of Sundried tomato paste. It seems to keep for ages and is great when you only need a small amount, ideal for when cooking smaller portions and for one! Additionally I tested out Divo Italiano's new vegetarian friendly grated parmesan style cheese which worked really well. I am not vegetarian but make a large amount of veggie food so its good to find something I can recommend as a substitute to regular parmesan! The ready toasted pine nuts are great too for speed, I'd not seen them before but my boyfriends mum left them here and needless to say - this was their last goodbye! A great send-off I think!

Serves One 
Under 15 minutes


75g Mafalda Corta pasta shapes
1 heaped tbsp ricotta cheese
1 dsp Sundried tomato paste
2 tbsp veggie grated hard cheese
1 scant tbsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
4 large sliced chestnut mushrooms
3 inch portion of leek, halved lengthways and sliced
1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
s&p to taste

1) Start by heating the oil and butter together to a moderate heat and gently fry the mushrooms and leeks. Meanwhile cook the pasta as per packet instructions, mine was 11 minutes.

 2) Once the leeks have softened and the mushrooms lightly browned, stir in the paste and ricotta.

 3) When the pasta has cooked through, add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water to loosen and gently warm through - if like me you have a electric cooker its best to remove from the heat to stir it all together and then place back on the heat to warm through gently. Add more pasta water if you prefer more sauce. Season to taste and add half the cheese and the pinenuts.

 4) Once warmed through, pile onto a plate or pasta bowl and serve immediately and garnish with  the remaining cheese.

Buon appetito!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Frugal Sausage and Bean Casserole

On Sunday night, after an early start for work and then a few hours on the sofa relaxing when I got back I wanted to make something nice and warming for dinner but fairly easy at the same time.. B was helping fiddle about with the neighbour's car and definitely needed something to thaw him out it was so cold I honestly don't know how he didn't ice up but he was happy getting greasy with oil so that's the main thing! 

I like to pride myself regularly on making delicious meals but without an equally delicious price tag! Yes I love the odd treat like smoked salmon or fine champagne but its only doable on a lower income if you make cutbacks else where. I don’t like cutting back ever on taste though and it has to be enjoyable, if not why bother eating? 

I roughly costed the whole dish, considering I made three healthy portions at about 63p in total. Yes that is in pence! My secret? Always check the frozen and fresh reduced sections at your supermarket! The sausages were Butchers Selection Pork and Herb, I picked up 12 for £1 reduced to clear. The 3 Bean casserole pack was 10p, and got stashed in the freezer without ill effects! The stock pots I have a seemingly lifetime supply of from doing some bits with Knorr over the past few years. The vegetable puree is 'Taste the Difference' branded but I got two tubes for a pound, so works out pennies per squirt, and the handful of pasta shapes despite being utterly cute Alphabet shaped from an Italian deli for the small amount I used also doesn't amount to much. and that was it apart from good old friends Mr Salt and Mr Pepper!


4 frozen pork and herb sausages
One bag 3 bean casserole mix
1 knorr herb stock pot
1 large squirt roasted vegetable and tomato puree
Handful small pasta shapes
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1) In a large lidded saute pan heat the oil and fry the sausages until nicely browned all over, add the veg pack and fry for a further five minutes. Meanwhile boil the kettle.

2) Add the stock pot to the pan along with the tomato puree, mix well and cover with boiling water Simmer for 20 minutes, covered.

3) The sausages should by now be cooked through and soft enough to cut, either use your spatula to cut into small pieces or remove and slice seperately, then return to the pan along with a nice sprinkle of pasta over. Top up with boiling water and simmer until the pasta has cooked through and there is your desired amount of liquid - great for mopping with bread after!

Sausages are great for dicing up into dishes like mine, stretching out cheaper ingredients at the same time as well as providing a tasty bit of protein too!


I am sending my bargain Sausage Casserole over to Credit Crunch Munch for November, over at Dinner With Crayons, which was created by Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All

Monday, 4 November 2013

Here comes Monday..with its Meal Plan!

Hello All....I was planning originally to post another recipe type post, but then realised Monday had come around again, honestly there are just too many of them to fit around other blogging don't you find?!.. So that post will wait until tomorrow, maybe Wednesday as I am in the process of attempting to book a bank shift tomorrow..we shall see! Always nice to have extra pennies for December..

And talking of December, is it to early to mention the C word? No? Excellent... I bought some gorgeous new sprinkles last week to adorn all sorts of festive treats with!

This weeks' plan see's a regular suspect...the ubiquitous Fish Fingers! Seriously, the pack remains in the freezer unopened - they were a yellow sticker special - 30 for £1.50 and Omega 3 enhanced, no less. They appear again but who know's whether they will escape their frozen lair.....we also have a new house share person, which as a friend kindly put 'it sounds like Eastenders around there' so the future shall no doubt be interesting......

Monday - tonight we are going out for a Chinese, for a family celebration

Tuesday - Most likely sweet potato burgers

Wednesday - The frozen fishy fiends..

Thursday - Sundried Tomato and Pesto Frittata 

Friday - Bruce is out for dinner..I am on a long day..most likely noodles or omelette

Saturday - Slow braised pork shoulder Chinese style, with rice

Sunday - Leftover pork shredded into noodles

As always - my plan is sent over to Mrs M's Meal Planning Monday

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