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Maltesers Christmas Pudding


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Here is a really fun idea that would make fabulous and unusual gifts for your friends and family this Christmas.  They are cute, tasty and really easy to make . . .  a really fabulous edible novelty gift!  And of course it uses everyone's favourites Malteasers Chocolate Malt Balls and Terry's Chocolate Oranges.  (Which come in all sorts of flavours now instead of just the orange flavour.  AND, I picked up some for only £1 a piece.  If you buy the big box of Maltesers, you will get enough malt balls in it to cover several oranges.)  These are really cute!!

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Best Dining Venues in Dubai




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Because it consists of nationalities from all around the world, and because it’s popular for offering the fanciest experiences, Dubai is certainly the place to visit if you’re looking to spoil yourself, whether you wanted to enjoy sleeping on top of the world at Burj Khalifa, felt like shopping in luxury at Dubai mall, or wanted to taste the finest cuisines from around the globe. Dubai is your place to go.

Here are some of the best restaurants in Dubai:
Rock Bottom Café - Burgers
Rock Bottom is the place to try Burgers, with its atmospheric American style setting of throwing darts, drinking beer and enjoying a wide range of tasty food, especially Burgers, the Old Fashioned here is a particular favorite, topped with onion rings and cheddar cheese, which will take you in a mouthwatering journey. Additionally, they also offer great choices of international options to choose from, including chicken curry and fish and chips.

Okku – Japanese Restaurant
Okku is one of the most popular luxury Japanese restaurants in Dubai. Located in the five stars Hotel, offers an exceptional service, premium food, and eye-catching design. Aside to that, Okku is a relaxed place where guests can choose to enjoy the cocktail bar, mezzanine lounge area, VIP intimate dining rooms, live sushi bar, resident DJ, a long Jellyquarium, and a team with more than 100 years of experience in culinary. 

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Amaseena – Arabian nights
Located in the private beach of Dubai, Amaseena is a restaurant that is dedicated to reflect the Bedouin tented village that offers guests a truly genuine Arabic experience. The combination of food, design, belly dancers, and lively ambiance, Amaseena serves the traditional Manakish, Moutabel, kibbeh, Meats, and plenty of Middle Eastern dishes. Nights joined with Shisha makes you feel right at middle. 

 Quest – Chinese Restaurant
The spaciousness of Quest, open kitchen, interaction experience and elegant Asian themed ambiance, Quest offers an unforgettable experience. Located on the 63rd floor, Quest delights their guests with the dazzling views of Abu Dhabi. Because it’s always packed with guests, it’s highly advised to book your spot by reserving online or calling ahead. 

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Brasserie Angélique – French Restaurant
France is one of those countries that are known for their fashionable designs, amazing perfumes, and delicate cuisine. Bringing the elegance of France all the way to the Middle East, Brasserie’s menu perfectly reflects the experience and attention to detail in their menu and preparation. A range of French favorites such as foie gras confit au torchon made with silver onions, rhubarb, daikon, candied hazelnuts and delectable truffle macaroons. 

Note - This has been a sponsored post.
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Gingerbread Cookie Wreath




When my children were growing up I did a Gingerbread creation for them every year, without fail.  I always enjoyed doing and they really enjoyed the fruits of my labours.  This is a recipe which I had shared on my old Oak Cottage Blog about 8 years ago now, but I thought it was worthy of sharing here in my English Kitchen.   The pictures are not the best, but I am sure you can get a good idea of what it should look like.

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Christmas Cookies . . .


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Well, I guess the holiday season is well and truly upon us now.   Time to get baking! Often during the years when my children were growing up I did not have a lot of money to buy gifts for other people and so the thing that I would love to do most of all was to prepare a tray of baking to gift people with.  I would spend several weeks baking up my favourite cookies and cakes and freezing them.  You could buy cheap Christmas trays at the dollar/pound shop and then in the days just prior to Christmas, I would place an assortment of baking onto each tray, wrap them up in cling film, attaching a pretty tag and ribbon and that is what they would get.  I never had a person that was disappointed to receive this gift! Ever!  Today I an presenting you a round up of some of the tasty morsels I would include!  This type of gift is always most welcome for neighbors or friends, even family.

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Temptingly Tasty Turkey Leftovers


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I know that all of my North American friends cooked  their Thanksgiving turkeys yesterday.  I also helped to cook aThanksgiving Dinner this year for all of the Missionaries in our District.  Not too many leftovers here, but I know that many of you have refrigerators bulging with leftovers, and that some of you will be scratching your heads and trying to come up with new and interesting things to do with them.  Here are some tasty ideas this morning to help you use up some of those scrummy leftovers. Of course you could just have a reheat of the leftovers, but it's also nice to dress them up in a few different ways too!

You Brits and Canucks might want to bookmark this page as Christmas is less than a month away and you 'll be wanting to figure out what to do with your Christmas Turkey leftovers then! (And yes, this is a repeat from last year.  This stuff just never gets old.)

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Little Crusty Cheese & Mustard Dampers


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This is a recipe I got from a Women's Weekly Cookbook entitled  "Muffins, Scones and Bread."  I like the Women's Weekly books.  I have a few of them and the recipes always turn out well and are delicious.  These little damper buns are no exception!

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Pineapple Jelly Dessert


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Finding a dessert during the holidays that is diabetic friendly and good for those who are slimming can be a real challenge.  I think I have come up with the perfect solution.  It is diet friendly, light, sugar free and it actually tastes delicious.  It will never quite replace cake or pie . . .  but it's nice nevertheless.

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Glazed Mini Turkey Loaves


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In my quest for eating healthier I baked us some delious Mini Turkey Loaves  for supper the other night.  These are FAB ulous!  Moist and filled with lovely flavours.

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Avocado On Sour Dough Toast with Chilli Scrambled Eggs


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 The people at Rachel's sent me over some fresh new Autumn/Winter recipes for me to try.  Boy do they ever look delicious.  With my diabetes I have to be a bit careful what I eat at the moment, so the first one I tried was the Avocado on Sour Dough Toast with Chilli Scrambled Egg & Bacon.  (I used sausage instead of bacon.)  There is also a recipe for A Salted Caramel Malt Cake and Lemon, Coconut and White Truffles.  Sooooo delicious!

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Butter-crumptious Coffee Walnut Slices


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One thing I despaired of when I first moved over here to the UK, was the lack of cake mixes.  Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy made from scratch cakes and more often than not I make my cakes from scratch, always have, always will . . .  but there are times when it's pretty handy to have a cake mix in the larder and there are lots of things you can do with a cake mix that are impossible to do any other way, or not that I have been able to figure out anyways.  For instance my Chocolate Cherry Bars . . .  they use a chocolate cake mix, some cherry fruit filling, eggs and some almond extract.  That's it and they are gorgeous.

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Caramel Glazed Applesauce Spice Cake


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My Todd really loves a spice cake, and this applesauce cake is one of his favourites.   He loves apple anything to begin with, but when you combine the flavour of apples in a cake along with the warm baking spices, he is in cake heaven.  He would probably rather have an apple pie for sure, but this is a close second on his list of teatime loves.

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Smoked Sausage and Potato Goulash


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In our house when I was growing up you could tell what day of the week it was by whatever my mother was cooking for supper.   Friday nights were always hot dog nights.  On Saturdays we had baked beans.  Sundays was a roast usually . . .  pork, which was always served cold because that was the way my father liked it, cold with mustard . . . very occasionally a chicken, and even more rarely a roast of beef.  My dad didn't like roast beef.  Week nights would be spaghetti one night . . . burgers or chops another night, and probably leftovers from Sunday one night.

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Pork, Sage & Apple Pie


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My mom always said that I could take an old boot and make it taste delicious.  I am not sure if that is true or not, but I do have a knack for creating something delicious to eat using whatever I have to hand.  Today I had leftover potatoes and roast pork from dinner the other day that I needed to use up pronto and this is what I came up with.  It was fabulously delicious!


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My Love Affair with all things Pasta . . .


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I make no secret of it.  Pasta is one of my absolute favourite things to eat.  The Toddster, well not so much, but gradually through the years I have been wearing him down to the point where now he doesn't quite protest so much when I cook it.  Me . . .  well . . .  I am in heaven just to sit down with a bowl of butter pasta garnished with nothing but butter, salt and pepper.    I also love to create delicious sauces to serve with it.  Pasta is the perfect canvas for highlighting a multitude of flavours and textures.  You just can't go wrong with it.  It's quick to prepare.  It's delicious and with the exception of Todd, it's always a welcome lunch or supper dish!

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Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa and Degusta Box


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I have been eating  a lot healthier over these past couple of months and as a result I have dropped a number of pounds in weight and am feeling a bit better because of it.  It is something which I should have done a long time ago and I am only sorry that it took a health crisis to motivate me.  In any case I've been discovering and experimenting and realizing that healthy doesn't always mean blah and tasteless!  These Chicken tacos with Pineapple Salsa are a prime example! I used some of the ingredients from my October Degusta box to create them.

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To those not in the know, if you sign up for it, once a month, every month . . . Degustabox will deliver to your home 9 to 14 new, special or innovative food products for you to try in the comfort of your own home via a subscription service. A monthly subscription costs £9.99 and there is a delivery fee of £3, for a total of £12.99, and what you receive can be tailored to the types of things that you like and would use. To me it's a bit like a foodie Christmas every month of the year! I really love them!   This is what was in my October box . . .

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Creamy Fish Chowder


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Having spent a great deal of my formative years and part of my adulthood in Nova Scotia, Canada, I consider myself to be from Nova Scotia, even though I was born on Prince Edward Island.  I am an Airforce Brat,  and the ex-wife of a Canadian Serviceman, which means I have lived in many places in my life . . .  but Nova Scotia is where my heart and allegiance lay.

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Celebrating the Holidays with J2O Drinks




I was recently sent some samples of the new Limited J2O Midnight Editions juice drinks!  Delicious!

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 Midnight Forest - an enchanting blend of real orange and cherry fruit juices with a hint of chocolate flavour to excite the senses. The inviting flavours and unique bottle design will transport you to an ethereal world of fantasy, providing a sense of release from the boundaries of normality.  J2O Midnight Forest is available at all major supermarkets.

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Midnight Amber - a fabulous blend of orange, lemon and mandarin flavours. Iignite your senses with a magical burst of orange and lemon fruit juices blended with winter spice flavour. Delve into your subconscious this party season, and find J2O Midnight Amber available exclusively in Marstons, Greene King and Fullers pubs.

These are fabulous soft drinks for grown ups, and would make a fab addition to your holiday festivities when out and about with your friends and family over the holidays or when celebrating in the comforts of your own home.


 
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Merlot Beef Ragout


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IF I am really on the ball on Sundays, I make good use of my slow cooker by popping dinner into it before we leave for church.  This week I got lucky and got this lovely Merlot Beef Ragout on quite early in the morning, so it was cooked to perfection by the time we got home.  Some rice and a couple of veg and dinner was served in short course!  I love it when that happens.  I am usually starving when we get home!

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Berry & Apple Crumble


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I made myself a promise when I was diagnosed as a Type 2 Diabetic that I was going to try to bake something diabetic friendly at least once a week that I could share with others, that we would all find delicious and appealing.   I confess that some of my experiments have been pretty blah, but occasionally I have come up with something that is really pleasing and that I feel pretty excited to share with you!  And that is the case with this delicious Berry and Apple Crumble!

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Cut Glass Cinnamon Crisps


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This was always a really busy time of year for me when the children were growing up.  This was the time I began all of my Christmas baking preparations each year.   Baking cookies and cakes and tarts for the holidays and freezing them as I went along.  We always did a lot of entertaining during the holidays having get-togethers with family and friends, so doing things ahead always just made sense.

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Ham Hock, Leek & Cheese Pie


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Where we live in Blacon, a suburb of Chester City,  we are surrounded by Leek fields.  You can smell them in the air this time of year and it's a gorgeous smell.  It makes your taste buds tingle and your mouth water.  Leeks are a real autumn and winter favourite in our house and November 1st marks the beginning of the British Leek Season.  I have to say with all honesty . . .  there is no leek tastier than a fresh British Leek, grown in British soil and harvested and sold within days of being harvested.   I love to buy local and buy fresh.  Leeks are a seasonal treat we start to enjoy every autumn, and they figure heavily in our diet throughout the season.

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Spaghetti Salad


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We had a Missionary Meeting in Manchester on Monday for all of the Senior Couples.  We were asked to bring pot luck.  I thought about making something hot to take, but was concerned that I wouldn't be able to keep it warm until we got there.  I also thought about making Deviled Eggs, but then I was concerned that they wouldn't travel well, so in the end I decided to make my Spaghetti Salad!

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Tabouleh and the Food of Souk el Tayeb Market


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One of my favourite salads is Tabouleh.   I first ate it at a party my brother was having.  I fell in love with it . . .  it's that beautiful colaberation of flavours . . .  lemon, mint, parsley, spring onions, tomatoes . .  cucumbers . . .  and then the bulgar wheat.  It's a perfect combination of flavours and textures!  Chewy, crunchy, tart, herby.  I love it all!

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Banana Coconut Bread


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In my quest to cook things diabetic friendly, I cooked this Banana Coconut Bread the other day and was very pleased with how it turned out!  High in fibre and low in both fat and sugar.  Yay!   That makes me happy.  Although you still wouldn't want to binge on something like this of course.  All baked goods should be occasional treats (which I am now saving for weekends) and not  daily thing.

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Back to the 70's Chicken Divan


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I can remember making this easy casserole back in the 1970's when I was a very young new bride and thinking it was the penultimate in sophistication.  First there was the name, which sounds exotic.   Then there was the broccoli.  I don't know about you, but growing up in the 60's, in Nova Scotia, Canada  . . .  in a small town . . .  broccoli wasn't something we ever saw.  To me Broccoli was an exotic vegetable.

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Lemon Amaretto Cakes-Gluten Free


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There is a possibility that I might be a coeliac.  At least that is what the specialist said the other day.  I have all of the symptoms, but have been treated for having IBS for about 5 years now.  The symptoms are very similar.  I did a reckie around the grocery store today and there is not a heck of a lot for coeliac's.  There's a bit, but what is there is very expensive.  I picked up some gluten free self rising flour and a box of cereal, but seriously . . .  they wanted almost £3 for a loaf of bread.  (That's like almost $4.51 American or $6.01 Canadian.) I don't know how people cope.  It's outrageous!   I really hope I am not.

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Mud Pies


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Did you make mud pies when you were a little girl?  I did.  I can remember sitting by the ditch at the end of our garden with my little bowl and spoon and making mud pies . . .  little unappealing lumps of mud and twigs . . .  grass and gravel . . . inedible of course to anyone but my imaginary family who really loved them!


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A Thanksgiving Primer


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I didn't always live in England.  For the first 45 years of my life I lived in Canada and I experienced a delicious Thanksgiving for every one of those years.   I learned from my Grandmother's lessons and my mother's lessons and I built on that knowledge with things I taught myself.   Over the past fifteen years I have continued to build on that knowledge through my work and experience as a personal chef for an American family as well as cooking for and introducing this lovely holiday tradition to my British family and friends and I think I can safely say that I have pretty much honed all of that experience and knowledge down to a level where I feel comfortable sharing it with my readers in this, my very first Thanksgiving Primer.   My sister asked me, what was a Primer.  A Primer is a how to book . . .  an instructional book . . .  filled with tips and how to's and this Thanksgiving Primer is just that . . .  all of the experience I have accumulated through all the years in one easy to follow, instructional manual all about Thanksgiving and how to make it the best holiday ever.

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 A concise cumulation of my 40 odd years of experience at cooking Thanksgiving Dinners for family, friends, employers . . .  and all that I have to share about doing it right, and with confidence, with no fail recipes and the right tools.

54 pages of knowledge, with colour pictures and art.  With hints, tips and recipes for everything from kitting out your kitchen to what to do with the leftovers when you are finished and all is said and done.  The only thing I can't do for you is cook it and clean it up!

Offered now at the introductory price of only £3, which is a £2 saving off of the normal price of my other cookbooklets.   I really think you will be pleased with this Primer.  I've been working really hard at getting it done and out here in time for you to be able to use it for your Thanksgiving this year.

It will come to you as a downloadable PDF file, which I will personally e-mail to you.  I promise that all will be mailed within 24 hours of your payment clearing, which allows for the differences in time between North America and here in the UK.    You will need to have the latest version of Adobe Reader enabled on your computer or device and you will also need to have my e-mail in your safe mail folder.  (mariealicejoan at aol dot com)


To order just click on the add to cart button below.   Many thanks!    Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Cooking!





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A BREATHTAKING BONFIRE NIGHT WITH NEWMAN’S OWN


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Bonfire Night, falling on 5th November each year, celebrates the foiling of Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder plot as we all know. Traditionally marked with blazing bonfires and fantastic fireworks, it’s the perfect excuse for a feast for friends and family as you wrap up warm and head outside for an evening of rockets and sparklers.

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Getting the Day off to a Good Start with the berry company




















 I was recently sent samples from The Berry Company of  three of their delicious range of juices.

Superberries:  A blended juice drink made with Red Berry Juices from concentrate.  The mix combines Pomegranate, Aronia, Cranberry and Grape juice concentrates.

Blueberry:  A blueberry juice blend made with fruits from concentrates, sweetened with natural flavours and natural sugars.

Acai Berry:  An Acai juice drink blend made with fruits from concentrates, sweetened with natural sugars and natural flavourings.  This amazing berry is packed full of taste and goodness; proving that not everything that is good for you tastes like medicine.

I found all to be very delicious.   They were very fruity with no aftertaste or artificial tastes.  I would buy these.

All of the Berry Company drinks are Gluten and Dairy free, with no artificial colourings, sweeteners or additives and no GMO's.    They come in both 330ml cartons for on the go, and 1 litre bottles for keeping the refrigerator stocked.   They make the perfect breakfast drink.

To find out more about these and their other drinks do check out The Berry Company website.

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Charlie Bigham's Pies, as good as homemade


















Charlie Bigham's, makers of delicious dishes for two, have launched brand new recipes for their signature Cottage Pie and Shepherd's Pie dishes as they look to serve up the most delicious versions possible of these two British Classics.

I have long been a fan of Charlie Bigham's meat pies, having first tried them when we lived down South, and so I have been keen to try these new dishes!




























Charlie and his team have been busying themselves away over the stove to create some sumptuous flavours, including the richest red wine and thyme tomato ragu the chefs have ever made.

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This is the ragu they use in the new Cottage pie, which features tender, slow-cooked British beef, topped with creamy mashed potato, breadcrumbs, Parmesan and Cheddar Cheese. 

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Charlie's Shepherds Pie now has an even more tomatoe-y ragu wih an extra sprinkling of thyme to give it that rich, deep flavour.  Originally the Shepherds Pie was made with a beef and lamb combination, but following customer feedback, it is now all lamb based and is succulent and full of flavour.

I like the idea that at Charlie Bigham's they are not afraid to take customer feedback on board and make changes to enhance their existing recipes making them even more delicious!  

One thing I love about the Charlie Bigham's products is that they can be ready in minutes and provide a homely supper which is just as good as homemade and from scratch.  In fact they taste like homemade and that's not bad.

These new improved pies are now available to buy in stores nationwide via Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Booths, Budgens and Ocado, RRP £7.00

For more information do check out the Charlie Bigham's website.
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A Lower Fat and Sugar Roly Poly Bread and Butter Pudding



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I've been experimenting here and there, trying to come up with lower fat and sugar versions of some of our favourite treats, thinking that Todd could benefit from them as well, even though he doesn't have to watch his sugar intake, he does have to watch his cholesterol.


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A Trio of Delicious Pastas


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I confess I am a real pasta lover.   Todd, not so much . . .  but I adore pasta in any way shape or form.  I do confess that more often than not I eat pasta shapes.  I also really love Gnocchi, and I have used it alot.   I was recently given the opportunity to try some pasta from a Company called Dell' UGO and I was sent three different types to test.  Two filled and one gnocchi.   I cooked them all at the weekend and here is what I thought!

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Tomato Sauce with Butter & Onion


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I love recipes like this which are so very simple that you can throw them together at the drop of a hat, and yet they end up tasting like you have taken a great effort to put them together.  I guess it is the simplest things in life which bring me the most pleasure.   I don't think cooking has to be complicated in order to taste good.   I don't really enjoy jumping through a bazillion hoops to get to where I want to be and that goes for cooking too!  I did enough of that when I was working.  Now simple and tasty will do it for me.

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Caramel Apple Oaties


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I wanted to bake some cookies to take to church for the young Missionaries this week.  I thought they might really enjoy a change from the usual chocolate chip ones and so I baked htem some Caramel Apple Oaties.  These are like all that is good about autumn stogged into a delicious cookie!


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