Food

Recipes I try and love and that above all are easy and not time consuming – great for family meals.

…and not just pasta, it can be used for hundreds of dishes. This is an easy tomato sauce recipe, a kitchen basic to learn off by heart and adapt as you go.

Being a busy mum I always get to about 11.30am and think uh-oh they’re going to be hungry any time now. My usual lunch menu involves pasta – 1. they love it, 2. it’s good for you and 3. it can be served in a million different ways.

I do have shop bought tomato sauces in the cupboard as sometimes I am in a hurry and they come in handy however I also make my own which can be varied.

If I want to increase the girls vegetables, I’ll add a few to my sauce and blitz it all up before serving on pasta, sausages, meatballs…even with fish.

Here’s the sauce and I think you’ll find you already have most of the ingredients in your cupboard

Easy tomato sauce recipe

Ingredients – makes 3/4 litre

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder or flaked (optional)

How to make a tomato sauce for pasta

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan add the onions and garlic and cook over a low heat stirring frequently until they are soft. Important they are soft otherwise they’ll be ‘crunchy’ in your sauce.
  2. Add the tin of tomatoes (you can use fresh tomatoes  in the summer), puree, stock, mixed herbs and seasoning. If acidic add a tsp of sugar.
  3. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 mins stirring occasionally.
  4. Can be served as it is or can be blitzed for a smoother consistency.
  5. Serve on pasta with grated parmesan.

Variants on classic tomato sauce

Quantity of one batch of basic sauceVariants

Vegetable sauce – add your vegetables (carrot, courgette, celery, broccoli etc) chopped up very finely or grated after softening the onion and allow extra cooking time to soften the vegetables. I find using a lid helps to keep the moisture in which in turn softens the veg more.

Tuna – ‘al tonno’ – after adding your tomatoes, puree, stock etc add also a can of drained tuna to the sauce and allow the same cooking time as the basic recipe. an anchovy or two chopped up finely adds a delicious taste too.

Salmon – ‘al salmone’ – I use the salmon trimmings which can be found in large supermarkets. Again add at the end of the cooking process and serve.

Bolognese – Minced beef, fry off in a pan and add your sauce to make as ‘wet’ as you please, allow to cook for 30 mins so as to draw out the taste of the mince. I have also tried this with turkey mince for the girls and they love it!

Hot ‘n spicy – with or without mince meat. Just add chilli powder or peperoncino to taste. Start with a teaspoon and add as you go. (I haven’t offered the girls this yet but they do eat some off daddy’s plate when he has it!)

tomato sauce recipe for pasta

Ideas for recipes for your basic tomato sauce

Sausage casserole – grill off your favourite sausages leaving the fat to drip out. Pop your sausages into a pan and add sufficient sauce to cover. Simmer over a low heat for 20 mins and serve with mash.

Chilli con carne – Cook off your minced beef, sprinkle with a tbsp of chilli powder add the basic tomato sauce , a tin of kidney beans and cook over a low heat for 15 mins. Serve with boiled rice.

Meatballs – grill or bake the meatballs to allow the fat to drip out. Add to your basic tomato sauce and cook for 15 mins. serve on pasta, with rice or with potatoes.

Two happy customers :) Buon appetito girls

Simples, I follow the chart of Superfoods given with the November issue of Good Housekeeping and after a short while I become a super human being. 100% healthy, with energy levels that put my toddlers to shame and above all witty, intelligent and beautiful. That about rounds it up right?

Well, I have been peeking through the mini book and I’m impressed, lots of recipes in there are easy, quick and sound delicious. I’ll go as far as to say I’ve even tried a few now – shame I forgot to take photos of them otherwise I’d share that with you too. I have tried the pork and sweet potato stew, the turkey Trimmed-down burgers and the sweet potato chips.

You see Andrew Flemming, the editor of this baby has it that  by following a diet of Superfoods you will boost your energy (need to do that) you will fight disease (still wary of the Swine Flu that’s troubling the nation) and you will look younger….now that is interesting… I eat = I look younger. I just have to give it a go. But I am not a greedy person and I like to share my finds with everyone so we can all benefit from this. In the season of bad health which usually reigns from November through to March we need to protect ourselves, so here I give you Andrew’s Top 25 products..

  1. Salmon – in pole position just one portion a week for a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids helping to lower blood cholesterol, blood fat levels and cut your chances of having a stroke or heart attack.
  2. Blueberries – Outrank all other fruit for antioxidant activity
  3. Oats – Help lower cholesterol and prevent blood vessels furring up, the fibre makes you feel helping to control blood sugar levels and appetite (good for diets!)
  4. Broccoli – Powerful antioxidants disarm harmful free radicals
  5. Walnuts – Contribute to good brain and cardiovascular function
  6. Avocados – my favourite food of all, rich in anti-ageing Vitamin E
  7. Red Kidney beans – Help fill you up, control your blood sugar levels and prevent certain cancers
  8. Yogurt – Excellent for the digestive track boosting ‘friendly’ bacteria
  9. Olive Oil – high in vitamin E, and referred to as liquid gold by Homer (not Simpson!)
  10. Wholewheat pasta – contains 3 x more fibre, twice as much iron and has a low GI
  11. Almonds – Help stave off hunger and control appetite, source of Vitamin E (the one that makes you look younger!)
  12. Turkey – Get this – if you’re feeling low, eat some the body converts elements in turkey to feel-good serotonin!
  13. Tea – It’s as good as water for keeping you hydrated, may protect against cancer AND prevent age-related memory loss!
  14. Oranges – The vitamin C from one orange = 100% of our daily requirement, helps make collagen for younger looking skin also contains elements protecting eyes from age-related damage.
  15. Lentils – have a low GI, can help with menopausal symptoms and increases ‘friendly’ gut bacteria.
  16. Milk – Milk drinkers can have lower blood fat levels, lower blood pressure and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, may also help with weight loss
  17. Pumpkin seeds – Excellent for vegetarians as a good source of omega-3
  18. Spinach – (Popeye!) a 3 oz portion (90g) provides 50% of your daily vitamin C and 90% of your vitamin A helps protect against age-related deterioration.
  19. Garlic – An antioxidant which boosts heart health and wards off stomach and colon cancer, may reduce the risk of catching a cold.
  20. Watercress – needed for making thyroid hormones, it contributes to keeping your energy levels steady.
  21. Dark chocolate – the darker the better. May help lower blood pressure and heart disease risk but show restraint 25g has 138 calories.
  22. Sweet potatoes – contain twice as much vitamin C and fibre as ordinary potatoes with high levels of beta-carotene warding off certain cancers and heart disease.
  23. Blackberries – High levels of phenolic acids which help kill viruses and fight infection
  24. Tomatoes – men who eat tomatoes (juice, soup, pasta sauce) at least 10 times a week reduce their risk of prostate cancer by 35%! Powerful antioxidant
  25. Eggs – For most of us two a day has little effect on heart disease risk or cholesterol levels.

So there you have it. Incorporate these foods into your weekly diet and be sure you are looking after yourself and becoming super human…just like me :) In fact here is the Turkey Burger recipe I tried which is easy, quick and delicious…

I have been so quiet haven’t I? Well it’s not all entirely my fault, my dongle has been playing up again and I’ve been on the phone for hours trying to get me connected again! and Here I Am. I must admit I have enjoyed the break spending time with Paul and the girls and as much as I love blogging I do believe that a break does the brain the world of good, leaving me restored, refreshed and bursting with ideas to start off the New Year.

I quickly scanned a card I received years ago from mum which I love too much to throw away, the image is not the best but I hope you like the words. I want to wish everyone a marvellous 2011, packed full of joy, love and laughter, if we can have an easier time financially that would be good and if it’s my turn this year to win the lottery that would be fantastic!

Tonight I shall be spending the evening with friends at home, I am preparing a meal for the 9 of us and I am praying the girls will be in bed throughout! Here’s my menu

Nachos

Smoked Salmon

Posh prawn cocktail :)

Picky bits of chicken and Indian samosas, bahjis etc for non fish lovers

***

Roast Beef

Dauphinoise potatoes

Yorkshire puddings and gravy – lots mmmm

Brussle Sprouts (gotta be done!)

Carrots and peas

Lentils with sausages – Italians swear it brings good financial luck and I’m up for that!

***

desserts are kindly being provided by the guests but I am opening a Rubis brought from the Taste of Christmas fair,

 a fortified red wine with a premium chocolate flavour, we tried it and loved it! Of course wine and champagne to accompany are being provided too and special Bloom Gin and Tonics also found at the fair….in fact that’s quite a lot to get ready so I best get cracking.

So let me wish you all a wonderful evening and I look forward to chatting in 2011, Happy New Year everyone :)

Who remembers that slogan from years back? and what product was it related to?

Right difficult stuff over and done with and well done to all those who shouted at their computer screens The Honey Monster from Sugar Puffs. Breakfast cereal. It’s amazing isn’t it how a good advert sticks in your mind for years, whether the product is one of your favourites or not? In fact I would class myself as quite an Ad critique these days. I tut in disgust at one that fails to grab my attention and will talk to anyone who cares to listen about one I find funny, interesting or ‘spot on.’

Last week I had both girls down with a wretched bug that kept us housebound for a few days so I will admit to being on the PC more than usual, flitting between blog world, Facebook, Twitter and Bejewelled Blitz when a tweet caught my eye. Aaron was asking if there was anyone out there who would like to try some honey and write a review on it.

‘ME!’ I shouted out and Bob’s your uncle a couple of days later a box turned up with 2 jars of Manuka Honey and a squeezy bottle of a light honey all from a company called Rowse. Now I have never heard of Rowse so I Googled it (as you do) and happily discovered they are the UK’s leading honey company which goes to show how much attention I pay in the supermarket!

Another phrase that caught my eye from their home page was” Since people walked the Earth, honey has been called The Food Of The Gods.” Well if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me!

I remember having quite a bit of honey in my childhood, on sandwiches, dribbled on porridge and on toast, I can never remember once not liking it. In fact when I lived in Italy and in the midst of winter would come down with an atrocious cold that made me want to chop off my nose, my only remedy that worked was a spoonful of honey in warmed milk with a drop or two of brandy (for antiseptic purposes, of course).

So with two poorly little ones I opened up the Manuka honey jar and gave them a teaspoon neat. Delicious! I had one/two myself just to keep the bug at bay. We tried it on toast but they didn’t like the lemon taste which had been added to it (which is exquisite I hasten to add, it’s just they are very much in fussy mode at the moment which is driving me insane) so I gave them the other Light and Mild Honey from the very easy to use, no mess at all sqeezy botttle and that got full thumbs up all round and cries of ‘More mummy, more!’ which I LOVE to hear.

So how to make this review a little bit more special I wondered amongst all of myselves what to do? We and came up with a ‘sticky survey’, please see below

  1. Have you ever heard of Manuka honey? If yes what do you remember?
  2. Have you ever heard of or seen the Rowse brand name? 
  3. What do you know about the healing properties of honey?
  4. Do you have honey in your kitchen cupboards? Do you use it? What for? 
  5. Do you try to see that your children get some honey in their diet if so how?

Here are my answers

  1. Yes, I have heard of it, it supposed to be a ‘special’ honey with healing properties. Manuka Honey read here for more info :)
  2. No, not before receiving their products but I shall look out for it now in the supermarkets
  3. I used bee pollen in my fertility boosting days before the girls were conceived. I have used propolis for sore throats and tonsilitis, I have used body creams with honey in them
  4. I always have some form of honey, Acacia, Orange Blossom even chestnut once! I have dribbled chestnut honey over chunks of parmesan cheese as a dessert and it was very nice.
  5. It’s difficult now as they are so fussy and are always suspicious of new entires into their daily diet but I hope to more and more as they grow.

Please be a ‘hun’ and leave me your answers in my comment box – I’ll bee your best friend :)

 Just in case you are as ‘golosa’ (love your food/sweet toothed – Italian) as I – here’s a link to one of Rowse’s recipes Baked Cheesecake with Caramalised Honey Sauce

Photo credit – Mamboman1

Fabulous to be back in Jenny Matlock’sAlphabe Thursday on time for once and with an idea of an E very close to my heart – that of Eating and Entertaining. No eating disorders in this house if not for the constant dieting to compensate the constant eating, it’s a hard life folks.

It saddens me to hear of people with eating disorders as food and eating together has been a constant in my life since a was a babe in arms. My mother is The Best Cook Ever and although I will never reach her giddy heights I can produce some mean cooking when I put my mind to it. It’s a favourite pastime of mine and one that has been put to one side a little whilst I concentrate on the tiny people in our household. I want to make sure they have a healthy relationship when it comes to food, that they will try at least once most dishes and see eating as a happy way of socialising. Treats are just that right from the start, not to be had on demand throughout the day but to be savoured in special moments. Here are a couple of pictures of the girls learning that eating is fun

First off, a picture of last year’s Twin Club Christmas party with older twins smartly dressed up in Crimbo outfits looking Excellent

Twin Club Xmas party 09

This is where we start to learn about the importance of food in our life and the fact that food can be fun when eaten in company. Here’s another photo of a 4th birthday party to which the girls were invited, a fabulous spread that Eager parents (me) had to stop diving into, it was Extremely hard believe me.

Thomas’s 4th birthday party spread

A final family snap of probably my favourite meal in the whole year – Christmas Day lunch. I love to Entertain and have held Christmas Day family get togethers now for the past 5 or 6 years since I returned to the UK. A lot of thought and planning goes into the menu, we always have traditional Roast Turkey and ALL of the trimmings, we skip starters but Christmas pudding is a constant with brandy butter, cream or custard as everyone has their own special preference, mine is brandy butter, of course it is – the one with the most fat in it! I also prepare a massive spread for the evening where people can go and pick whatever they wish till they’re heart’s are content. Cheeseboard, ham, leftover turkey, crisps, nuts, and anything during my Christmas shop that catches my eye.

Christmas Day 09

From the oldest family member at 90 to the youngest at 1 and a half (in bed when this photo was taken) everyone is seated around a groaning table. Notice each and every chair in the house comes out for these occasions and of course no Christmas would be perfect without the paper hats, silly jokes and gifts from the traditional Christmas Cracker, you just gotta have ’em.