minced beef and vegetable parcels

In a moment back then I was taking part in the Great Bloggers Bake Off and making cakes like they were going out of fashion. Then I ran out of time so never got this one posted in time for week 7 and then the remits got very difficult and I couldn’t see myself fathoming out strange recipes with foreign names and cakes of 20 layers baked under the grill. So I stepped back and let the professionals continue.

However I was pleased with our savoury parcels. They were easy to make, economical and on top of that really tasty so I thought I’d share the recipe with you just in case you were inspired too. I used ready to roll puff pastry which saves me colossal amounts of time (does anyone make their own these days?) and minced beef is the base of my filling. I used the vegetables that I found in my fridge, feel free to alter as it’s a great way of getting children to eat them without realising they’re there. ;)

Minced beef and vegetable puff parcels


Olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 carrot chopped into small dice
1 clove of garlic chopped
celery, finely chopped
1 pepper chopped
500g minced beef
fresh rosemary chopped
salt and pepper
1 egg beaten


  • Heat the oven to 180C/ Gas 4 / 350F
  • Dust a baking tray with flour and set to one side
  • Fry the onion, carrot, garlic, celery and pepper over a medium heat until softened and lightly coloured.
  • Place the vegetable mix into a large bowl, add the minced beef, rosemary, salt and pepper and mix with your hands.
  • Roll out the pastry to the shape and size of a tea towel and cut into four rectangles.
  • Place a large dollop of minced beef mixture along the short side of the pastry leaving a 2 cm edge all around.
  • Brush the edge of the pastry with the beaten egg

minced beef and savoury parcels

  • Tuck in the sides and roll the pastry so the minced beef becomes a savoury parcel.
  • Seal the pastry by using the beaten egg along the edges and place on the baking tray
  • Bake in the oven for 25 minutes circa.

We ate ours hot out of the oven with mashed swede and fresh garden peas but they would be just as tasty for a picnic.

Note: The two smaller ones were actually a little on the big side for our 6 year olds so you could go even smaller.

If making for adults only you could spice up with a teaspoon of chilli powder to add a kick.

macaroni cheese with bacon

There are certain recipes that take me right back to my childhood. I can see us sitting around the round kitchen table in Forge Lane and waiting for mum to pull the macaroni cheese out of the grill and serve it to us.

We’d all squirt a bit of ketchup on top as that was ‘before Italy’ and it tasted good anyway.

I decided to try the recipe on the girls to see if they liked it as much as we did as kids and they did, asking for seconds! The only difference I made was to add in a bit of bacon I had lying around in the fridge and I’m glad I did as it added colour and texture to this already delicious meal.

In fact I’ve made it since and chopped in a few sausages that had been cooked previously and cooled and it had equally good results.

Another time I added some roasted vegetables I had leftover which would make the perfect veggie dish for tea one evening.

Here’s the basic recipe – you decide how you’re going to pimp yours

5.0 from 1 reviews
Macaroni cheese with bacon and chives
A quick and easy pasta using cheese and bacon but can be substituted with sausages or roasted vegetables with equally good results
Recipe type: Supper
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
  • 300g macaroni (penne and fusilli work just as well)
  • ⅚ slices of smokey bacon rinds cut off and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 25g butter
  • 25g flour
  • pinch of pepper
  • 450ml milk
  • ½ tsp English mustard
  • 125g Cheddar cheese (or a mixture of cheeses) grated
  • Chopped chives to sprinkle on top
  • Black pepper freshly ground
  • Parmesan and bread to serve
  1. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water for about 8 minutes until al dente. drain and rinse under a hot tap
  2. Gently fry the bacon in a non stick pan - no oil should be needed as it will sweat it's own out, remove to one side.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and pepper and stir for 1 minute.
  4. Gradually add the milk stirring all the time to avoid lumps.
  5. Continue stirring whilst simmering for about 2 minutes and feel the sauce thickening.
  6. Add the mustard.
  7. Stir ⅔ of the grated cheese into the sauce. Add the bacon and most of the chives keeping back a little for garnish.
  8. Add the pasta, season with black pepper and transfer to an ovenproof dish.
  9. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over and place under a preheated grill on its highest setting.
  10. Grill until the top is brown and crispy.
  11. Snip some chives over the top with scissors and serve with parmesan cheese and fresh bread
  12. Can be made in advance and reheated to serve.


This is the time of year my husband is his happiest, with the sun shining, trips to the beach, sleepovers in the caravan and a barbecue.

Give him a barbecue and he is the happiest man alive. In fact I’ve been checking out Barbeques Galore which have a ton of ideas for barbecue season.

This year I’ve been aiming to get a collection of recipes together ready for the summer I’ve focused a lot on side salads recently as although the men would eat meat and only meat I like to have something else on my plate to make me feel healthier.

Salads and sides


Coleslaw is an old favourite, available in all supermarkets as regular or low fat but it’s so simple to make, especially if you have a food processor. Remember you can change the ingredients and make a fennel slaw or a red cabbage slaw, you can also add to the dressing and make a Thai coleslaw, a Mexican or just alter the flavour with mustard, pesto or ? You tell me!

Tomato salad


Tomato salad – I recently bought lots of different sized and coloured tomatoes using the orange ones too. I chopped them all up and added a little spring onion, olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing

Insalata Caprese A classic Italian summer lunch but can also be offered as a side.

Jersey potato, asparagus and three leaf salad Makes a one stop side that appeals to everyone and is so easy to do

Ratatouille or peperonata are two delicious sides that add lots of flavour to any meal. Don’t forget any leftovers can be warmed to serve with meat, cheese or salamis for another meal.

Ratatouille slow cooker recipe

Spicy potato wedges Tell me who doesn’t like a potato wedge? Can be used to dip in Hummus or as a side to your meal

Caramelised onion tarte tatin as this one made here by Helen of The Crazy Kitchen fame

Quiche ideas

I love a bit of quiche and if it’s on the table will always pick up a slice. Great for vegetarians too, here are some of my favourite tried and tested recipes

Cheeseboard quiche

English breakfast quiche

Mediterranean Quiche

Quattro formaggi and chorizo quiche

Dips and nibbles

Usually some dipping crisps and dips will do but a couple of extras that might catch your eye are

Bacon, cheese and courgette frittatas

Cheese straws

Hummus dip

More than a burger

Ranch pulled pork this is one of my favourite recipes and for an evening barbecue can be put in the slow cooker at 9am and served on the table at 5pm. The delicious rub makes it and make sure it’s pulled with two forks so it’s easy to pick up and place in a bun

pulled pork slow cooker recipe

Tex Mex grill steaks – WeightWatchers recipe. A super recipe if anyone is watching their weight as the perfect portion and very tasty with the added spices.

Meatloaf Never forget the humble meatloaf which can be served cold with salads. This was most likely one of my first ever recipes from school days and the Home Economic classes.

meatloaf recipe


I know everyone is usually stuffed by this pint but guests will always find room for a bit of pudding. Here are some of my personal favourites all tried and tested on my family and extended family too.

Banoffee Cheesecake

Cranachan trifle with forest fruits

Key Lime Pie

Strawberry and blueberry Pavlova

Peach melba

Tiramisu plus Tiramisu video how to

 peach melba dessert

Disclosure: This has been written in collaboration with Barbecues Galore


fusilli with prawns salmon and peas

If you are a fan of pasta alla carbonara and you like fish then chances are you’ll be tempted to make this quick, pasta with prawns recipe which is perfect for all the family and economical too.

By choosing the basic range of prawns, which are the tiny ones – perfect for sandwiches, tarts and pasta, and selecting the salmon trimmings this economical pasta with prawns recipe is on the plate in 15 minutes and is high in omega 3 too.

Did you know that the properties of fish are renowned for concentration? In Italy when it is exam time the mammas serve up lots and lots of fish to their children under stress.

Whilst the pasta is boiling you simply beat the eggs, cream and cheese together, you pop the frozen peas into the boiling water that’s cooking the pasta for the last few minutes and throw the prawns salmon and basil leaves on at the end, it really is a no fuss delicious meal.

A meal that is perfect for those evenings or lunches when you’re hungry and you want your meal now but don’t have any energy to cook up something elaborate. That’s enough chat here’s the recipe

Fusilli with prawns salmon and peas
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A very economical and delicious way of serving fish to youngsters, any pasta shape can be used.
Recipe type: Easy
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
  • 400g fusilli for 4 adults (100 g for adult portion, 50 g for small child)
  • 2 large eggs - yolks only
  • 75ml cream
  • ½ lemon juice only
  • 25g Parmesan cheese
  • black pepper
  • 300g frozen peas
  • 150g prawns
  • 150 g salmon trimmings chopped into small pieces
  • a few fresh basil leaves
  • more Parmesan to serve and black pepper too
  1. Put on a pan of boiling salted water for the pasta.
  2. Beat the egg yolks, cream, lemon juice, cheese and black pepper together in a bowl
  3. Cook the fusilli and when two minutes from being ready add the frozen peas to the water, bring back to the boil and drain after a couple of minutes when the pasta is soft but firm and the peas are cooked.
  4. Return to the pan, add the prawns, salmon and basil leaves and toss through evenly add the yolk mixture and stir thoroughly, the heat of the pasta will be enough to cook the sauce.
  5. Serve in bowls with freshly grated Parmesan and black pepper.

sea bass lime kaffir leaves and chilliWaitrose Cellar have sent me a box of their Ultimate Cellar Case. An amazing collection of top quality super wines including two of my favourites Barolo and Chablis but I was asked to come up with an unusual pairing and serve it with

Cune Rioja Reserva, Spain

1 x Cune Rioja Reserva, Spain

Soft and supple on the palate, with good integration of wood and attractive fruit character. This Reserva Rioja, from a very well-respected traditional bodega, is made from a careful blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano grapes.

A wine that would make a good partner for lamb or duck.

Inspired by the World Cup I was thinking along the lines of a south American number, something hot and spicy.

I drew Costa Rica and Holland in my blogging sweepstake so I started to search the internet for recipes from Costa Rica. I looked at Brazil too and other south American countries as the continent is on my bucket list and draws me like a bear to a honey pot.

I finally decided on some sea bass and the kaffir lime leaves are the ingredient that kicked off my recipe. I had been sidetracked by a Caipirinha recipe if you must know.

I decided to add slices of lime inside the cavity of the sea bass and sprinkle with freshly ground sea salt and chilli flakes to give the fish a kick.

I wrapped it in tin foil and baked it for a good half an hour, opening the foil up for the last 5 minutes.

sea bass with lime, kaffir leaves and chilli


The unusual pairing worked as the Rioja is a soft wine with a woody, fruity flavour that counteracted the chilli well and added substance to the delicate flavour of the fish.

You can find my recipe along with other unusual pairings on the Waitrose Cellar website

We really enjoyed this recipe so I’ve added the recipe card if you’d like to give it a go which you can print or download and some more of my fish recipes to choose from too.

Caribbean Fish

Tomato fish curry

Italian fish stew

Spaghetti alla pescatore

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Adding lime and chilli to the sea bass brings out a fabulous soft meal with a kick at the end that bursts flavour.
Author: Marianne Weekes
  • 1 sea bass per person, gutted and cleaned
  • 1 lime cut into slices
  • a handful of kaffir leaves crumbled into pieces
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • Sea salt
  • tin foil for wrapping
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Lay the sea bass on a sheet of foil large enough to be able to wrap the fish in and seal tightly.
  3. Add a couple of slices of lime to the cavity of the fish.
  4. Mix the Kaffir leaves, chilli flakes and freshly grounded sea salt together and place in the cavity leaving some to sprinkle on top.
  5. Wrap the fish in the foil sealing the edges to keep the flavours in and place in the oven for 30 minutes
  6. Unwrap the foil for the last five minutes.
  7. Serve with salad and sautè potatoes.
I baked my sea bass but this would work equally well grilled or barbecued
If you don’t have kaffir leaves, thyme or mint would work wonderfully too
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 Calories: 76 Fat: 2g Saturated fat: 0g Unsaturated fat: 1g Trans fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 4g Sugar: 1g Sodium: 144mg Fiber: 1g Protein: 12g Cholesterol: 27mg