Cookbooks: April 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, as we have moved further into spring and enjoyed some milder weather (plus a mini-heatwave over the Easter weekend), I tried these comforting but lighter recipes:

Jool’s Sweet Pea & Prawn Pasta Shells
Save With Jamie by Jamie Oliver
Fish – Page 240

Perfect for a busy, weekday this can be easily rustled up last-minute from store cupboard and freezer essentials: dried pasta, tomato puree, frozen peas and frozen prawns. The only fresh ingredients called for are garlic and one red chilli, although I think you could probably substitute for dried chilli flakes. So a super quick, super tasty dish, which I served up with a lightly dressed green salad. Yum! Great recipe.


Cheddar & Pea Omelette
Save With Jamie by Jamie Oliver
Bonus Recipes – Page 260

I love an omelette because let’s face it, it is like the best, healthy fast food. For this one, you simply soften half a finely chopped onion, add some frozen peas, mix in your beaten eggs, and finish with grated cheddar cheese, fold and serve! Simple, quick and tasty. I served with a side of salad and pickles, which made a lovely meal for one. Great recipe.


Home-Made Fishcakes
The Hairy Dieters (2) Eat For Life by Si King & Dave Myers
Family Favourites – Page 52

After making the White Bean and Tuna Fishcakes, I thought I would try these more traditional ones made with white fish, smoked haddock and potato. With more fish and less potato these are less calorific and even tastier. Win, win! There are quite a few steps to making these, but they are relatively simple. However one of these wouldn’t satisfy our larger appetites, so I cheekily made two each. Good recipe.


Garlicky Green Beans
Save With Jamie by Jamie Oliver
Beef – Page 150

As I invited my grandad round to celebrate Easter Sunday, I thought this might be a nice, new accompaniment for my favourite, stress-free One-Pan Lamb Roast. And this kept things easy, as it only involved me frying green beans (from frozen) with some garlic! It went well with our roast, which we enjoyed al fresco on the patio in the stunning Easter sunshine. Good recipe.


So altogether that’s four tasty, new recipes tried. I also remade The Hairy Dieters’ Veggie Bean Burgers and Sausages and Rich Onion Gravy (both from Book 2). All in all another good month of cooking and eating.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

What cookbooks are you reading? Have you tried any new recipes?

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Cookbooks: March – April 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, as we have moved from winter into spring, I tried these new, comforting, one-pot recipes:

Four Seasons Minestrone (Winter)
Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver
Soups – Page 212

A recipe that makes use of beautiful seasonal vegetables and guarantees you will get your 5-a-day portions in just one serving of this! On top of the basic soup base, there are the wintry additions of beetroot, cavolo nero and kale, also this time I added the optional rashers of bacon. This was a delicious wintry take on this classic Italian soup and I look forward to trying the final spring twist. Great recipe.

(Actually cooked in February, but forgot to post about it!)


Italian Meatballs with Chunky Tomato Sauce
The Hairy Dieters (1) by Si King & Dave Myers
Pasta & Rice – Page 160

Having mastered a good Bolognese, I thought I would have a go at making my own meatballs. This recipe has been slimmed down by using pork mince and adding onion and carrot to the mixture. Once the balls are formed they are gently cooked in a simple tomato sauce. Only problem was my meatballs barely held together – I am blaming the carrot. However they tasted just fine even if they looked ‘rustic’ to say the least! Good recipe.


Sausage Casserole
The Hairy Dieters (6) Make It Easy by Si King & Dave Myers
One-Pot Wonders – Page 114

I whole heartedly agree with King & Myers when they say ‘everyone loves sausages and beans’, and this recipe sees them cooked in one big pot with lots of good veg (onion, celery, carrot and garlic) to make a hearty and comforting dish. Once the ingredients are all in the pot, put the lid on and let it gently simmer away – Easy, peasy. I served it with some fresh, steamed greens for a delicious, healthy family meal. Great recipe.


Hotdog Hotpot
The Hairy Dieters (6) Make It Easy by Si King & Dave Myers
One-Pot Wonders – Page 117

We love Frankfurter hotdogs and we always have a jar or two in the house, so this recipe looked like it would be the perfect, healthier way for us to enjoy them. It joins our favourite frankfurters with onion, potatoes, apple, sage and savoy cabbage to cook together in chicken stock. Another simple recipe, which once all the ingredients were in the pot, I could leave to simmer gently on the hob. However we seemed to lose a lot of liquid – I will try it again in a pot with a heavier lid. Good recipe.


So altogether that was four new recipes tried over the last month or so. Over that time, I also remade new favourites: Trish Sebben-Krupka’s Meaty Mushroom Stew (Plant Based Cookbook) and The Hairy Dieters’ Lean Lamb Hotpot (Book 1), and I have served my family’s firm favourite: Minty Cabbage several times.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

What cookbooks are you reading? Have you tried any new recipes?

Cookbooks: January 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, rather belatedly, due to my being so behind on my book reviews, here are the comforting new dishes I tried over the cold month of January:

Chicken Turkey and Ham Tangle Pie
The Hairy Dieters (1) by Si King & Dave Myers
Pies – Page 80-82

On New Year’s Day, I had my grandad round for lunch and decided to use up the leftover Christmas turkey in this new pie. Made with smoked ham, leeks, white wine, half-fat crème fraiche and cooked turkey (instead of chicken), this pie tastes so rich and creamy you’d never know it was low-fat. Rather than one large pie, I prepared three small individual pies with puff pastry lids, and served with new potatoes and Brussel sprouts. Yum! Great recipe.


Baked Bananas With Chocolate Rum Sauce
The Hairy Dieters (4) Fast Food by Si King & Dave Myers
Speedy Sweets – Page 182

In the comments for my last cookbooks posts, I discussed how I never try new dessert recipes – Something I thought needed remedying. So for dessert on New Year’s Day, I decided to try these bananas, baked with a little rum and demerara sugar, with this divine, homemade dark chocolate and rum sauce. Which I served with a small, naughty scoop of vanilla ice cream. Super easy, super quick and super tasty. Great recipe.


Sweet Carrot Smash
Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver
The Meals – Page 92

With carrots not being a particular favourite in my family, I have to be canny about how I serve them. So this delicious yet simple side dish recipe was perfect for me. The carrots are simply sliced and boiled, with some olive oil, seasoning and thyme, then roughly mashed. That good it has already been lapped up several times by my non-carrot-loving father. Good recipe.


Courgette, Mint and Lemon Soup
The Hairy Dieters (5) Go Veggie by Si King & Dave Myers
Soups and Salads – Page 56

I absolutely love courgettes, so I was thrilled to find this lighter, Vegan-friendly recipe not made with milk or cream, as many other courgette soups are. Instead King & Myers have kept this simple with a healthy blend of courgette, peas, baby spinach and a little potato to thicken it. All given a fresh tang with a touch of lemon and mint to. All in all a tasty, super green soup, which should help keep us lean! Good recipe.


So altogether that was four new recipes tried back in January. Over the month, I also remade Jamie Oliver’s Veggie Bolognese and Super Leek & Potato Soup (Super Food Family Classics), and Minty Cabbage (30 Minute Meals) several times. As well as The Hairy Bikers’ Quick Cod and Prawn Gratin (Hairy Dieters 1).

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

What cookbooks are you reading? Have you tried any new recipes?

My Top 10 Books of 2018

As 2018 comes to an end, it is time to start reflecting back on another great year of reading. First up is my round-up of my favourite new-to-me books. After a long, hard think here are my top ten books (ordered alphabetically by author) I have read this year:

~ 1 ~

God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew (1968)

This classic of Christian literature was an inspiring and thrilling tale of one man’s truly awesome faith and mission, which also made for a wonderful discussion point at my church’s book club meeting.

~ 2 ~

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë (1848)

A beautifully written classic from the third Brontë sister, with engaging characters, which cleverly explores the societal troubles, strifes and wrongs of its time.

~ 3 ~

Cauldstane by Linda Gillard (2014)

Another beautiful written tale, from one of my favourite authors, with all the things I love: mystery; romance; history; a big, old house and a touch of the paranormal.

~ 4 ~

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory (2010)

After The White Queen made my list last year, it was brilliant to discover that this was another well written and researched piece of historical fiction from Gregory, which gripped me from beginning to end this year!

~ 5 ~

Kin by Snorri Kristjansson (2018)

An excellent historical fiction, which is also a fast, gripping and twisting murder mystery, that shows a very different side to the raiding and pillaging Vikings.

~ 6 ~

The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier (1969)

A superb, time-travelling horror, from the gothic queen, du Maurier, that had me gripped from beginning to end. A precursor/inspiration perhaps for those newer dual narrative novels that I enjoy so much.

~ 7 ~

Queen of Hearts, Volume 3: War of the Cards by Colleen Oakes (2017)

After Volume 1 and 2 made the list back in 2014, it is great that this fitting and very satisfying ending to this clever and refreshing re-imagining of Wonderland made it this year. It was worth the wait!

~ 8 ~

Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver (2016)

A great collection of new and traditional recipes for all the family with a super food twist. So far I have made Jamie’s Sag Aloo Korma, Veggie Bolognese and Four Seasons Minestrone (Summer & Autumn).

~ 9 ~

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi (2014)

This award winning, international bestseller was an eye-opening look at Islam and an inspiring tale of finding true peace in the love of Jesus.

~ 10 ~

Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen by Alison Weir (2016)

The first book in Weir’s ambitious Six Tudor Queens series, is a powerful tale of a courageous woman, that completely immersed me into tumultuous Tudor England.


Honorary mentions must also go to fictions: Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier and Anne Boleyn, A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir, and cookbooks: The Hairy Dieters (5) Go Veggie by Si King & Dave Myers and The Hairy Dieters (6) Make It Easy by Si King & Dave Myers. I also loved re-reading The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, and audiobook Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling & read by Stephen Fry.

Have you read any of these? What were your favourite books in 2018?

Tomorrow, I will continue my reflection on 2018 with a round-up of my favourite new-to-me adaptations I have watched, and then, on New Year’s day, I will finish with some reading statistics.

Cookbooks: November 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, as the days have turned cooler, I have found myself craving comforting, traditional food. So I gave these new recipes a go:

Creamy Mash
The Hairy Dieters (2) Eat For Life by Si King & Dave Myers
Along Sides – Page 180

As, like Si & Dave, I couldn’t possibly live without mashed potato, especially now the days are getting colder, it is great that they have come up with a couple of different ways to serve it without overdoing it on the calories. This one is simply potatoes boiled and then mashed with half-fat crème fraiche, instead of butter or milk. It was yummy and very creamy. Good recipe.


Mashy Peas
Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver
The Meals – Page 142

A delicious yet simple side dish made by cooking and then mashing potatoes, broccoli and regular, garden peas together, and then finished off with some seasoning and mint. I also stole from The Hairy Bikers above by replacing the butter here with half-fat crème fraiche. My only issue with this recipe was there was no timings, as I wasn’t cooking the whole recipe just picking out one of the sides. However I managed well enough. Good recipe.


Four Seasons Minestrone (Autumn)
Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver
Soups – Page 212

A recipe that makes use of beautiful seasonal vegetables and guarantees you will get your 5-a-day portions in just one serving of this! On top of the basic soup base, there were the autumnal additions of butternut squash and fresh and dried mushrooms. I enjoyed this autumnal take on this classic Italian soup even more than the summer! I look forward to trying the winter twist next. Great recipe.


Pork Chops, Crushed Potatoes and Minty Cabbage
Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver
The Meals – Page 242

With a couple of batches of pork chops in the freezer, I thought I would try this. Instead of going straight to the grill, Jamie had me fry the chops to crisp the fat and then pop them in the oven, with garlic, sage and honey, to finish. Served with crushed, mustard potatoes and minty savoy cabbage. Yum! Relatively simple to make and no timing issues this time, as I was following the whole recipe. Great recipe.


That’s four tasty, new recipes tried over the last month. During that time, I remade new favourites: Jamie Oliver’s Hungover Noodles (Save With Jamie), Trish Sebben-Krupka’s Curried Cauliflower Coconut Soup (Plant Based) and The Hairy Bikers’ Gammon with Parsley Sauce (Book 1), which made a nice change when we had my granddad round for Sunday lunch. I also finished reading The Hairy Dieters (6) Make It Easy by Si King & Dave Myers, so lots more new, healthy recipes to look forward to!

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

What cookbooks are you reading? Have you tried any new recipes?

Cookbooks: October 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, as we have transitioned from the UK’s glorious summer to chillier days of autumn, here are the new recipes I have tried:

Hungover Noodles
Save With Jamie by Jamie Oliver
Veg – Page 32

A quick and tasty recipe Jamie says is perfect for when you’re feeling a little down or, ahem, hung over! And this big bowl of Asian dressed egg noodles, broccoli and mangetout, topped with a runny fried egg and hot chilli sauce, certainly was definitely a great pick me up. I just need a bit more practice to make this quicker. Good recipe.


All-in-One-Pot Summery Chicken
The Co-operative Magazine

Having previously enjoyed three of the Co-op’s rice based recipes, I thought I would try this comforting, one-pot chicken and rice recipe, that I had cut out and saved. A super simple dish that had me cooking chicken thighs with onions, peppers, spices, chilli, chickpeas and risotto rice in one big pot in the oven. Although it says ‘summery’ in the name, I think this was an ideal recipe for sunny but cooler days, served with some fresh greens. Great recipe.


Spanish-Style Chicken Bake
The Hairy Dieters (1) by Si King & Dave Myers
One-Pan Dishes – Page 45

Another one-tray chicken recipe this month, that recreated the taste of sunny Spain, with chicken thighs roasted with chorizo, tomatoes, new potatoes, onion, peppers and lots of garlic! Took a little more work than the previous recipe, but this was still a yummy meal all cooked altogether and ready to serve up immediately. Good recipe.


Baked Fish with Chorizo Crust
The Hairy Dieters (2) Eat For Life by Si King & Dave Myers
Real Food Fast – Page 35

Based on a recipe they first cooked on a beach in Patagonia, but with a lower calorie count. A little naughty chorizo goes a long way, when blitzed with garlic and bread to create a crumb for white fish fillets. I popped the crusted fish in the oven to roast, with some Mediterranean-style vegetables and returned to a delicious, healthy family meal. Definitely be making this again, maybe with some creamy, mashed potato as it gets colder. Great recipe.


That’s four more fabulous recipes tried altogether over the month. I also remade new favourites: Trish Sebben-Krupka’s Hearty Chilli with The Co-op’s Mexican Rice and old favourites: The Hairy Bikers’ A Big Soup and Minted Pea and Feta Omelette. Recently, I got my hands on a copy of The Hairy Dieters (6) Make It Easy by Si King & Dave Myers too, so I am really looking forward to delving into that soon to discover more new recipes!

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

What cookbooks are you reading? Have you tried any new recipes?

Cookbooks: August – September 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, in the last month or so of summer here are the new recipes I have tried:

Spinach and Rice Stuffed Tomatoes
Plant Based Cookbook by Trish Sebben-Krupka
Vegetables – Page 141

When I came home from my uncle’s farm with some of his home-grown large, juicy beef tomatoes I just had to try this recipe. Which had me stuffing them with a cheesy rice, spinach and pine nuts filling and then baking them until they were tender and sweet. Simply served with a large, dressed green salad this made for the perfect taste of summer. Great recipe.


Marinated Fish With Stir-Fried Greens
The Hairy Dieters (4) Fast Food by Si King & Dave Myers
Fuller Faster – Page 94

I also came home with a home-grown cabbage from my uncle’s which was stir-fried with spring onions, green pepper and chilli, to accompany fresh salmon fillets cooked in a sticky Chinese style marinade. A refreshing, tasty new take on fish and greens, but I did also need to cook some rice to serve with it, because this wouldn’t have been filling enough for my family’s appetites otherwise! Good recipe.


Four Seasons Minestrone (Summer)
Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver
Soups – Page 212

A recipe that makes use of beautiful seasonal veggies and guarantees you will get all of your 5-a-day portions with just one serving of this! On top of the basic soup base there are suggested veg for each season to top it up – I used baby artichokes, fresh tomatoes* and runner beans* (*brought back from my uncle’s farm). I enjoyed this seasonal take on this classic Italian soup and I look forward to trying the other seasons’ twists. Good recipe.


Pasta with Summer Vegetables and Parma Ham
The Hairy Dieters (3) Good Eating by Si King & Dave Myers
Comfort Classics – Page 112

This deliciously summery dish is made by gently cooking leek, asparagus, peas and runner beans in a light white wine and low-fat crème fraiche sauce. Then cooked pasta and ripped pieces of Parma ham are simply tossed in to finish it off. A super simple but super tasty pasta dish, which made for a refreshing change from the usual tomato-based pasta dishes. Great recipe.


Roasted Cod with Parma Ham and Peppers
The Hairy Dieters (1) by Si King & Dave Myers
One-Pan Dishes – Page 43

Another colourful one-tray meal which is easy to prep and even easier to cook. Consisting of cod fillets wrapped in parma ham, cooked nestled within a tray of roughly chopped peppers, courgettes and onion. I popped it in the oven and returned to a delicious, healthy family meal. However I did serve it with some boiled new potatoes, because this wouldn’t have been filling enough for my family’s appetites otherwise! Good recipe


That’s five new summery recipes tried altogether. I also remade the Co-op’s rich, spicy Summer Veg Pilaf and The Hairy Dieters’ gutsy Chilli Salad Bowls. Although I enjoyed our blistering summer, I am now looking forward to trying some new, comforting autumnal recipes.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

What cookbooks are you reading? Have you tried any new recipes?