Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Homemade Pork & Apple Burgers

 Constant Comfort - Food for the Soul

Since joining Slimming World a few weeks ago, I have been trying out a number of new recipes, and if they're nice they'll end up on here! The biggest thing for me is that I take great pleasure in eating good food - a lot of which isn't necessarily good for me!lol! This recipe is a Slimming World recipe that I made myself but doesn't taste like a slimming recipe at all - if you're not on Slimming World just ignore all the SW blurb!

Homemade Pork & Apple Burgers

Makes 8 Burgers & Serves 4 Adults

Slimming World Extra Easy Plan - 2.5 Syns for the whole recipe (0.6 syns per 2 burgers without bread!)
Slimming World Serving Suggestion: If serving with Bread Rolls, use 1 x 60g Wholemeal Roll as a HEb and another as 6 syns. Serve with Salad and Syn Free Chips. I rounded the syn value up, so if served with 2 x wholemeal rolls as above, this would be 7 syns if using 1 x roll as a HEb, or 13 syns if counting all as syn values.

1kg Extra Lean Pork Mince
2 Dessert Apples (approx 170g each - cored and grated)
4 Tsp Dried Sage
Black Pepper
Low Calorie Spray to fry (Slimming World)

To Serve:
Salad, Bread Rolls and Chips

  1. Put the mince, grated apple, sage and pepper into a bowl.
  2. Mix it with your hands until all the herbs and apple are evening mixed.
  3. Divide into 8 portions and shape in your hand into burgers.
  4. Put in the fridge on some baking paper in a dish and allow to firm up for ideally an hour or more.
  5. Fry the burgers on a medium heat in fry light or oil until cooked. Alternatively you could grill them.
  6. Check they are cooked all the way through, serve and enjoy!
Tip: These can be made the night before if you are short on time on the day, and they can also be frozen. When I made this we ate 4 and put 4 in the freezer, covered in baking paper and in an airtight container. They will last up to 3 months in the freezer, and should be defrosted thoroughly before cooking. I did make ours quite chunky, and so they do take a while to cook. You could also combine an egg or two with the mixture if you find yours are falling apart and you want to make them thinner.

Make the most of what you have

 Constant Family

In our journey to become debt free, we have really learnt the importance of not taking things for granted, for relishing the simple things and making the most of what you have. My close friends will tell you I love to move house, it's like those times when you start having a huge sort out (the garage, a bedroom, spring clean etc) and you get half way through and think "why an earth did I start this?!" but you push through and end up feeling satisfied. For me, I love the process of moving house! I love things being fresh and new, and I have had to learn to redirect those energies whilst we are on this journey!

Our current house is a bit topsy turvy - our kitchen and one bedroom are on the ground floor, and then the lounge and the rest of our bedrooms are on the first floor. We have no garden of such, but a yard or "bin enclosure" as we have called it to the side of the house. It's gated but by no means secure in the sense of taking children out to play, and if I wanted to take the kids out there, I would need to take the pushchair and changing bag - in which case I might as well go to the park which is just around the corner!

We live in a rented house and therefore cannot make huge changes to the property, and in my head, we will be here for at least another year or two but after then I am hoping to move house. A house with a garden for the children, and one with a more traditional layout. When we relocated to Norfolk, this was the only house available in the time frame we needed, and it is a lovely house! But as our children get a little older, our needs are changing.

So, in the theme of making the best of what you have, we decided to transform our "bin enclosure" into a "walled garden"! Mr Strong and I are really keen to grow our own fruit and veg, but we don't have the time or money for an allotment. We bought some plants and some grow bags, and thought we'd have some fun and give it a go! We are keen to show our children that you can grow things at home, and it ties in nicely with Erin learning about planting and growing at pre school.

This was our starting point:

As you can see, its quite a snug little area, and it only really gets sun on one side, but with a bit of effort we have come up with a plan. My parents came over for the bank holiday so my mum gave Mr Strong a hand whilst we had a little help from Erin too.

After a few hours hard work, the end result is great, and we'll see how well it goes. If it goes well, we will think about building some large planters for next year so at least if we do move then we can take them with us. If it doesn't work, then we'll be a little disappointed but at least we've tried, and how fun it will be for Erin to be able to go and pick veg from our garden for dinner! I have been complaining for so long about not having a garden, but actually we have some space for this, and so let's embrace what we do have an make the best of it!

What aspect of your life have you not made the most of?! I challenge you to have a little think about what you could do, to be creative, to be hopeful, and most of all to make the best of the situation!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Homemade Meatballs & Spaghetti

 Constant Comfort - Food for the Soul

This is something my cousin made when she came to stay, and it was delicious! I'm not a fan of pork, and pork mince isn't something I'd ever cooked with but I have made this a number of times now! I've changed the original recipe after making it a few times. I have made it a few times with beef mince and they are just as nice, no need to alter the herbs.

Homemade Meatballs & Spaghetti

Serves 3-4 people

Note: Makes 16 meatballs, slightly bigger than the size of a golf ball! For me, if you are serving 4 adults I would add another 250g of mince if you like large portions. You will then need to increase the meatball ingredients by half. If you like a lot of sauce, also increase those ingredients. However, if you serve this recipe with garlic bread and salad it's about right without increasing the quantities.


500g Lean or Extra Lean Pork or Beef Mince
8 crushed cream crackers (best done in a blender!)
Sprig of chopped rosemary (or 2 Tsp dried)
1 Tsp Dried Oregano
1 Tsp Dried Basil
1/2 Tsp Dried Sage
1/2 Tsp Garlic Granules
2 Tsp Grain Mustard
2 Eggs (medium or large)

2 Onions (chopped)
2 Peppers (ideally one red and one green)
1 Red Chilli (diced)
3 Cloves Garlic (chopped or crushed)
1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 x 400g Tin Chopped Tomatoes
1 x 500g Passata
2 Tbsp Sugar (any, or 1Tbsp Sweetener)

To serve:
400g Spaghetti or Pasta
Fresh Basil leaves

Garlic Bread & Salad (Optional)
Grated Cheese (Optional)

  1. Mix the meatball ingredients together, if possible in a blender or food processor, but by hand is fine too.
  2. Roll into balls, making about 16, just slightly bigger than the size of a golf ball and put to one side.
  3. Fry the chopped onion, peppers, chilli and garlic together.
  4. Add the tomato purée, tinned tomatoes, passata and balsamic vinegar. Leave to simmer whilst you cook the meatballs.
  5. Boil the water for the pasta! Meanwhile...
  6. Fry the meatballs in a separate pan to your sauce until brown all over and cooked most of the way through. This will take about 15 mins so don't put it on too high a heat as they will burn.
  7. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for a further 15 minutes.
  8. Put pasta or spaghetti in to cook whilst the sauce is cooking.
  9. Just before you serve, add some basil leaves, roughly chopped or torn, to the sauce.
  10. Serve and top with a few extra basil leaves.
  11. Devour!!!
Tip: The meatballs can be made in advance and left in the fridge until ready to cook, even as far as doing them the night before if you are short of time the next day.

Easy-Peasy Rather-Lazy Roast Dinner!

 Constant Comfort - Food for the Soul

During my last pregnancy, my desire to cook seriously diminished and especially during the really hot weather the last thing I wanted to do was slave away in a hot kitchen.

If, like me, there comes a point when you realise you haven't had a decent dinner for a while, but really can't be bothered to cook then this is the recipe for you! It's really easy, and is a "leave alone" dinner that can be done with minimal effort, but doesn't necessarily look that way when served!

So, here is my aptly named quick fix - it takes just over an hour to cook, but it really is minimal effort so bear with me.

Easy-Peasy Rather-Lazy Roast Dinner

Serves 4 (Large Portions)


4 Chicken Breasts
4-6 Large White / Baking Potatoes
Approx 100g Dried Stuffing Mix
One Handful of Long Grain Rice (uncooked)
Vegetables to serve 4 people (whatever you fancy, or frozen peas!)
Smoked Paprika, Garlic Granules / Chopped Garlic, Salt & Pepper, Vegetable Oil
Tin Foil!
Olive Oil or similar
Instant Gravy Granules (I like Bisto For Chicken!)

  1. Preheat oven to 200⁰C (or 180⁰C Fan Oven).
  2. Mix the stuffing up with boiling water, adding more water than the instructions to make it quite wet.
  3. Add the uncooked rice and mix well.
  4. Peel the potatoes and cut into 4 to 6 large chunks each (depending on the size of potato!).
  5. Put the potatoes in a roasting tin, drizzle with vegetable oil and sprinkle with smoked paprika, garlic (save a little for the chicken) and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Put in oven for an hour.
  7. Put a little Olive Oil or similar in another roasting tin or tray, add some salt and pepper, and the remaining (or a little bit if you have a whole pot!) of garlic.
  8. Lay out the 4 chicken breasts next to each other (about an inch maximum apart) in the roasting tin and completely cover with the stuffing and rice mixture.
  9. Cover the roasting tin in foil and put in the oven for 50 minutes - 1 hour (depending on how long it took after putting potatoes in!).
  10. Prepare the veg and leave in saucepan for later.
  11. Leave the kitchen and have a cup of tea / sit down for 20 minutes or so!
  12. With 25 minutes to go, remove the foil from the chicken tray so the stuffing can crisp up, turn the roast potatoes and put the veg on to cook. This gives enough time for the veg to come to the boil and cook, to lay the dinner table and to make some gravy.
  13. After an hour of cooking the potatoes should be very crispy, and the chicken should be done (double check by cutting a chicken breast in half to make sure it's cooked).
  14. Serve and enjoy!