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Dairy free carbonara

I’m sure most people are like me and get bored of cooking the same dishes over and over again. So I took a look through our numerous cooking books (so numerous that the kitchen shelf tends to bend a bit in the middle – I’m trying to ignore this!). I always see carbonara and I love creamy pasta dishes, but I can’t eat cheese and my husband can’t eat any dairy (poor thing), so I thought it was a bit of a no no. Then I thought I might as well give it a try using soya cream and no cheese.

I had roast chicken left over from the Sunday roast (all the lovely juicy leg and wing parts) and a pack of bacon medallions (no fatty bits on them). I cut the bacon into strips and fried it until it was cooked, then added the chicken to the pan to heat that up too.

I also had a courgette that had seen better days so chopped off the bad part and then finely diced that up with an onion and 3 garlic cloves, and fried them in olive oil.

Then mixed all the meat and vegetables into the same pan and tipped 1.5 cartons of soya cream onto them and mixed together.

I added some dried savoury herbs and dried sage to the sauce, and some black pepper (didn’t need salt thanks to the bacon).

Left it to simmer while I cooked tagliatelle and garlic bread (a must!!).

I am very bad and never taste my food while I’m cooking it – I wait until it’s on the plate when it’s rather too late if anything tastes wrong! But this time I was very lucky and it tasted amazing 🙂 My 2 year old loved the bacon, chicken and garlic bread! My husband was on a course in London so was a bit late home so his portion had had time to truly infuse the flavours and he thought it was really delicious.

So there’s a new dish for me to relieve the boredom I’d fallen into 🙂

Tonight I cooked pork loins in a nice marinade, so I’ll have to write a post about them too soon.

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For my nephew who loves farms

My nephew is quite a live wire and has certain things he really loves with a passion – fire engines for one, and farms (mainly pigs!) are another.  

For his 4th birthday we went up to Braintree, Essex, to Boydells Dairy Farm for a thoroughly entertaining tour with some of his little friends, around this well-loved and very much working farm.  The family who own it use the milk and eggs themselves and eat the poultry too.  The owner gave us the tour and really got the children involved in every aspect – feeding the sheep and goats, bottle feeding the lambs, milking the cow, collecting the eggs, petting the chicks, goslings and ducklings, finishing with a pony-and-cart ride.  My daughter, being half my nephew’s age, was not so keen on the pony cart ride – in the photo we have of her on board, she is desperately reaching to my husband for him to carry her off!!

Being a little boy, I knew my nephew would like chocolate cake, so I made a chocolate victoria sponge with chocolate butter icing.  I then covered the cake in light green regal icing for a ‘field’ effect.  I did this part of the cake at home (we live 2 hours from my brother’s family), and I carried this very protectively on my lap on the journey.

Once we arrived at my parents’ (where we were staying the night before the farm trip – they live close by my brother), I set to work on making the farm animals.  I had found a picture on google of fondant animals so I copied these.  I am no good at working from my imagination – I need to copy something I am afraid!  I’m not bad at copying cartoon images so I hoped I would be ok at copying something 3D.

I was using the 99p food colouring you get from the supermarkets, which didn’t help!  To make black (rather than grey) I ended up with a liquid!  So I had to paint the black onto the cow and the eyes onto the other animals.  I have now bought some gel paste colouring which is soooooo much easier – you only use a small amount.

I loved making the sheep – took a while rolling all the little white balls, but I think he’s very cute!

Here is the whole gang of farm animals on the cake:

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I tested my skills on my daughter by asking her to name the different animals – she got them all right.  So I figured if a 2 year old can tell what they are then they can’t be too bad at all!

My nephew and his brother and parents loved it – and I’m very pleased I showed them the cake before we went into the farm!

When we came out, the sun had been shining on our car where the cake had been waiting, but it looked fine so that was a lrelief.  However, we completely forgot to put it on my husband’s lap while we drove back into town to get some lunch and do the whole “Happy birthday” sing-song with candles.  As you can imagine, coming from a country farm the roads were very winding with lots of sharp turns.  By the time we remembered the cake was on the back seat, brown molten chocolate was seeping through the lovely light green grassy regal icing, the cling film had been pulled so the cow and pig’s ears were squished against their heads 😦

I managed to make it look marginally better, but my 4 year old nephew didn’t mind at all – all he cared about was blowing the candles!!

It tasted lovely by all accounts and they appreciated my efforts – which made me happy!

I now need some more little people to have birthdays so I can make some more little creatures as I really enjoyed it 🙂

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Weight Watchers Chicken Noodle Soup – with added zing

Sorry for my absence lately, I’m not even sure what I’ve been doing to be honest.  Just a busy bee – and doing fair bit of cooking of course!

I thought I’d share a healthy yet very tasty fail-safe meal.  My daughter hasn’t been keen on noodles up until now, but she seems to like them all of a sudden which is great news for this recipe

Here is the recipe:

http://www.weightwatchers.co.uk/food/rcp/index.aspx?recipeid=71741

I add 1 red chilli, a thumb sized piece of ginger and 2 chopped garlic cloves for extra ‘zing’ and it really makes it taste very fresh.  My husband loves this dish and I’m always in the good books when I’ve made this for him 🙂

Here it is cooking away:

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I hope you try it out and enjoy it!!

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