winter slaw

When our Westin gourmet hamper came through we were pleasantly surprised to find some big fat juicy burgers in there and it got me thinking about the summer and barbecues.

However, why keep burgers for summer barbecues? We decided to have them for dinner one night in December and it was an excellent decision.

We cooked them on our George Foreman grill and they were so juicy I heard husband say they were even better than on the barbie … he has never said anything of the sort before, was it the superior quality of Westin Gourmet’s burgers or the George Foreman grill?

homemade chips

Anyway I cooked up some homemade chips in our Halo + Health Fryer (post to follow shortly) and alongside I served a winter slaw.

I almost prefer the winter slaw to the usual coleslaw recipe as it is so much more colourful!

Anyway, we liked this dinner so much it’s becoming fast a weekly favourite and it’s nice to chop and change every now and then isn’t it?

Winter slaw with burgers and chips
A slaw to accompany meats and in particular winter burgers
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: British
  • ½ red cabbage, finely sliced
  • ½ white cabbage, finely sliced
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper
  1. I used my food processor to finely chop the cabbage, red onion and carrots.
  2. I transferred all to a large bowl, added the mayonnaise, salt and pepper and mixed well.
  3. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.
burgers and winter slaw

table laid for lunch - lindeman's

The hectic Christmas season saw a lot of cooking in my kitchen, not just for the Big Day but on the run up and of course normal day to day family meals, oh and then there was the clearing up of the leftovers a job my husband takes very seriously indeed.

mulled wine recipe

I was very lucky to have my ambassadorship with Lindeman’s extended through the winter season and I kicked off with my mulled wine recipe learnt by heart when I lived in the Dolomites. It is so easy to make and great to surprise friends with on a winter’s evening.

We did a lot of hosting over the holidays and there were a couple of times when celebrating with large numbers there would be wine bottles with small amounts of wine left in them. One of my mum’s favourite tips she passed on to me years ago was

Don’t throw excess wine away but make ice cubes with the remainder and use it in stocks and stews as you need them. – mum.

This one tip has been used over and over again and the past six weeks has seen me add Lindeman’s wine to a beef pot roast, a pea and ham risotto and chicken, bacon and stilton roulades.

cooking with lindeman's

The chicken bacon and stilton roulades were very simple to make and take 20 minutes approx on the stove to finish, just the right amount of time to get your vegetables ready. This recipe asked for wine and as I had some Shiraz leftover I decided to try it out, usually chicken is best served and cooked with white wine. It tasted delicious but it did colour the meat a deep pink as you can see below. It made a powerful, tasty sauce and I’m interested to try again with a white wine to discover the difference.

chicken bacon and stilton roulades

Risotto can use either red or white wine. I use white wine when I want a crisp white risotto and I use red when cooking risotto with sausages, meat or game. Here’s the pea and ham risotto I made for one lunch using a glass of Lindeman’s Chardonnay Bin 63.

pea and ham risotto

I must say my Lineman’s wine came in handy over the festive period, even for a forgotten present or two. I hope my recipients enjoy it as much as I do and I’ll leave you with one of my favourite snaps from Christmas 2014, a styled shot for Instagram which I’m really pleased with, put together one evening as I enjoyed their delicious Rose. Any attentive eye will spot the twins Christmas Christingle oranges with broken candles in them – I missed that :)

lindeman's rose christmas shot


roasted tomato and red onion soup

I love tomato soup and this one is so delicious and easy to make you’ll never be without a decent tomato soup recipe again.

January is my moment of the year when I try to put right all the eating wrongs I allowed myself in December. I always come out of Christmas half a stone heavier but listen, it was fun! I ate, I drank and I enjoyed myself but now it’s time to pull my socks up and get back to some form of health again.

I had a go at the 5:2 diet earlier last year having spoken about it on Facebook, many friends got in touch to say how well it had worked for them. I downloaded the book on my Kindle and was really intrigued to read about the anti cancer properties this diet has thanks to kidding the body to go into survival mode twice a week. With so much cancer in the family this can only be a great habit to pick up?

roasted tomatoes and red onion

The downside, and most difficult part of the 5:2 diet is you have to choose two days out of your week and only have a maximum of 500 calories that day. That is not a lot to eat and if you do start you’ll find yourself hunting for 100 calories recipes.

A quick Google hunt shows me that 1 cup of tomato soup has only 30 calories, seeing as I serve a big portion I’ll make that 90 cals and I’m over the moon with that!

So, here’s my recipe for Roasted Tomato and Red Onion soup, enjoy!

Roasted tomato and red onion soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A simple tomato soup recipe
Recipe type: Starter
Cuisine: British
Serves: 4
  • 8 ripe large tomatoes cut in half
  • 2 red onions cut into wedges
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 750 ml chicken stock
  • 1 x OXO Herbs & More Tarragon and Chive taste pot
  1. Pre heat the oven to 200C / gas 5.
  2. Place the tomatoes and onions on a roasting tray with the garlic.
  3. Drizzle over the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast for 20 minutes until softened and slightly charred.
  5. Soup Maker instructions
  6. Place the roasted tomatoes, onions and garlic in the soup maker, pour in the chicken stock, add the tomato puree, brown sugar and OXO taste pot.
  7. Select the smooth setting, once ready season to taste and serve.
  8. If using the hob
  9. Place all ingredients in a thick bottomed pan and bring to the boil, simmer gently for 20 minutes and then blend with a blend stick.
Looking for more soup ideas?

Take a look at my Recipe Index for

Minestra d'OrzoPearl Barley soup

Harvest vegetable soup with smokey bacon

Harvest Vegetable soup with smoky bacon

minestrone slow cooker recipe


Mulligatawny soup


slow roasted vegetable soup

Slow roasted root vegetable soup

Roasted pumpkin soup

Roasted pumpkin, bacon and tomato chilli soup

Broccoli and mature cheddar soup

Broccoli and Mature Cheddar soup



Chicken ham and leek pie

I love this time of year solely for the fact it’s the perfect time for pie. What can be better on a cold and damp evening than a piece of your favourite pie and there are so many to choose from but one that I have been wanting to try for some time now is Chicken Ham and Leek pie.

After our recent trip to Spain recently my culinary attention turned to all things Spanish and when Olive Oils from Spain got in touch to feature on Mari’s World, I flung the doors open and welcomed them in. The Mediterranean diet has long been my favourite and I love the Spanish lifestyle; siestas, sangrias and a laid back approach all appeal to me all part of the ‘Taste our Lifestyle’.

Olive Oils from Spain love their way of life with it’s passion of good food and good eating so much they went on a The Good Life Embassy world wide tour visiting Mexico City, Chicago and Berlin to mention a few.

We came to the conclusion that a chicken ham and leek pie would benefit enormously from a drop of Olive Oils from Spain and I set too to make my best pie yet.

Chicken ham and leek pie

If you love Spain and want to find out more check out the Olive Oils from Spain blog for more ideas than you could shake your maracas at. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter

chicken ham and leek pie

Chicken, ham and leek pie
Comfort food at its best, an economical pie that all the family can enjoy
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: British
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 3 leeks sliced into fat rounds
  • 1 large onion finely diced
  • 2 carrots sliced into fat rounds
  • 500 g chicken breast cut into rough chunks
  • 300g cooked ham diced
  • herbs such as rosemary, tarragon or chives
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 300 ml hot chicken stock
  • 200 ml single cream
  • 1 large tbsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and black pepper
  • Little plain flour for dusting
  • 1 pack of ready made puff pastry
  • 1 egg beaten for brushing
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/Gas mark 6
  2. Lightly grease your ovenproof dish.
  3. Gently fry the leeks and onion in a little olive oil, stir well and cover. Lower the heat and cook for 7 - 8 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Add the chicken and increase the heat. Cook for about 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Turn off the heat.
  5. Add the ham and herbs and mix well.
  6. Sprinkle over the flour and stir to coat all the food.
  7. Add the stock, return to the heat and gently simmer for a few minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.
  8. Remove from the heat, add the cream the Dijon mustard and season with salt and black pepper.
  9. Leave to cool.
  10. On a floured surface take your block of ready made puff pastry and cut ⅓ off for the top of the pie.
  11. If your dish is round, soften the square edges to make a round before you start rolling.
  12. Turn the pastry frequently to aim to keep a uniform circle.
  13. Roll until large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the dish then take your rolling pin and roll the pastry around it.
  14. Hold the end of the pastry towards one side of the pie and unravel over the dish.
  15. Ease gently into the pie allowing it to come over the edges.
  16. Fill the pie with your chicken ham and leek mixture, I fill mine right to the top for a good thick filling.
  17. Roll out the top keeping as close to round as you can, using the same method roll the pastry over the pie filling.
  18. Trim away the excess pastry and pinch the edges together or use the back of a fork to seal.
  19. Generously glaze the top of the pie with beaten egg to give a lovely glowing yellow colour once cooked.
  20. Out of the trimmings, roll and cut some hearts to decorate the top with.
  21. Put the pie dish on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes
  22. Then lower the heat to 180C/160C/gas mark 4 and bake for another 20 minutes.
  23. The top should be puffy and golden.
  24. Serve immediately with mash and broccoli and peas.
Now for a step by step, your pie filling should look like this.


Chicken ham and leek pie

Roll out your pastry and carefully roll over the pie dish.

Chicken ham and leek pie


Add the pie filling

Chicken ham and leek pie


Cover with more puff pastry, crimp the edges and decorate using the trimmings to make hearts or letters.


Chicken ham and leek pie

Now it’s ready to be baked, we liked it so much I made it a second time in a different pie dish.

chicken ham and leek pie Disclosure: My recipe is brought to you in collaboration with Olive Oils from Spain.

Roast Beef Sunday roast

I am shocked!

Oven Pride research has discovered that one in four Brits has never cooked a Christmas dinner and it’s even worse amongst younger generations (with cleaning up mess being a major factor). They also conducted research into Sunday dinners and found that fewer than a third of Brits are now enjoying a weekly Sunday roast.

Want to know who comes off worse regionally in the UK? I’ll tell you.

  • Regionally, the North East and Yorkshire (33 per cent) and Wales (31 per cent) are home to the most people who never cook on Christmas day

Want to know what they are choosing over Christmas dinner?

  • Italian food and takeaways are the types of meal most often replacing a Sunday roast

Want to know what their problem is? Allow me to report.

  • It is the time it takes to make a Sunday roast (23 per cent) and the difficulty of serving everything warm (19 per cent), followed by the mess a Sunday roast creates (15 per cent) which irk us the most

If there’s one thing our weekend always includes it’s a roast dinner, unless we’re on holiday or dad has got the BBQ out. We like to add the trimmings too, the roast potatoes, the gravy and the vegetables. The girls have been enjoying roast dinner with us since they were 6 months old and had their very first taste of homemade gravy with mashed up vegetables.

Of course a roast dinner does tend to make the oven messy and cleaning the oven is one of my pet hates. A dirty messy job but it has to be done. It’s at this time of year that I start to get ready for Christmas, I’m baking cakes, roasting whole hams and preparing the kitchen for the massive onslaught of food that will pass through. The oven needs a clean.

Nigella Lawson Feast

Oven Pride got in touch, they invited me to have a go at the Roast beef recipe by Nigella Lawson. They sent me her book Feast which I have LOVED looking at as there are so many inspirational recipes. They also sent me a pack of Oven Pride.

Nigella’s recipe called for Roast Rib of Beef but I couldn’t find a rib of beef in Sainsbury so plumped for a different joint. I also cooked mine a bit more as dad doesn’t like his pink whereas I do, so we went for a happy medium.

nigella lawson feast roast beef

I am also mortified to say I forgot the Yorkshire puddings! I annoyingly didn’t realise until I sat down at the table by which time it was too late so I tucked in.

Nigella suggests cooking the joint at 220 C for 15 mins per lb but my oven really is playing up and gets way too hot so I cooked it at a lower temperature and it worked fine. We had such a big joint that we decided to invite the grandparents around too. The joint did spit a bit and on opening the door during cooking to baste or turn the meat, smoke would come out where the grease hits the elements.

Sunday roast beef

The beef was delicious, I served it with roast potatoes and parsnips, I add the potatoes in 1.15 before the end of cooking and add the parsnips 45 minutes before the end of cooking.

I boiled carrots and chopped runner beans in salted water adding the runner beans later on once the water was boiling so as not to overcook them and I chopped up half a white cabbage with a small onion and fried it in a pan in a little olive oil, once softened I added a small glass of water and an Oxo flavour pot (thyme and rosemary) which really added a delicious flavour to what would otherwise be plain cabbage.

About Oven Pride

I have used Oven Pride before and it does make the job so much easier, in the box you’ll find gloves a bag for your racks and product for cleaning. This is the best bit as you shove everything in the bag and let Oven Pride go to work on your greasy shelves whilst you get on with something else. You can find them on Facebook too for any quick questions or just for a look at their entertaining.

Disclosure: I was sent Nigella Lawson’s book Feast and a Sainsbury voucher for the purpose of this post, all opinions are my own.

This Christmas Oven Pride is encouraging everyone across the UK not to let their oven put them off cooking a full Christmas dinner with all of the trimmings. Whether the oven needs a clean before having friends and family to come and stay, or the festive fare leaves it in need of a scrub – Oven Pride’s quick and easy system is here to make cleaning your oven less of a nightmare this Christmas