Celebrating Mother’s Day with Sugar and Crumbs’ Natural Flavoured Cocoa Powders and Icing Sugars.

I’m always up for trying out new baking products, especially those which add an extra dimension or an extra special something to my bakes.

 Just recently I have discovered Sugar and Crumbs who make a range of natural cocoa powders and icing sugars to enhance your bakes and to turn them into something really special.  Not only this but they also sell a great range of crumbs and sprinkles to finish off the top of your cakes with a pretty touch.  Sugar and Crumbs sell their products online through their own website but they also have a really useful local stockist search facility on their website.  If you type in your postcode it comes up with who stocks the Sugar and Crumbs products nearby.  As I live in North Yorkshire I was pleased to see that Sugarcraft Supplies in Garforth sells them!  I know where I’ll be heading on my next day off from work!

I belong to to the Clandestine Cake Club and a few of my cakey friends had bought Sugar and Crumbs products to try out in their cakes from a stand at The Cake and Bake Show last year. They were absolutely delighted with them and I was intrigued to try the products out for myself.

From coconut to lime and from Black Forest to Cherry Bakewell there is a flavour to suit everyone’s taste buds.  I even noticed there is a chilli flavoured cocoa powder on the website which I would love to try out in the future! Though what I do wish to see is a mint flavour cocoa powder and icing sugar as that is my overall favourite and I would buy it by the shedload!

So when Sugar and Crumbs set me a challenge to bake with a goodie bag of their cocoa powder and icing sugars I jumped at the chance.  Mother’s Day is coming up and what better occasion than to bake a cake or something delicious for your mum?  I’m a mum of two teenagers myself but I love baking cakes for my own mum. She came to visit me when it was half term so I thought it was a great excuse to get out the cake tins and come up with some treats to share for Mother’s Day.

Sugar and Crumbs offered me a choice of cocoa powders and icing sugars from their wide variety of flavours and extensive range.  I chose to go with the Chocolate Orange Natural Flavoured Cocoa Powder which was accompanied by two different icing sugars.  One was the Jaffa Twist Natural Flavoured Cocoa Icing Sugar and the other was the Orange Zest Natural Flavoured Icing Sugar which all came in the most gorgeous pink or white resealable pouches. So pretty, just made me want to open it straightaway and get baking!   I was very impressed with the packaging and I felt you got a lot in a packet,  especially with the cocoa powder as it would last for a couple or several bakes depending on what you were making.

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My pretty goodie bag which came from Sugar and Crumbs. All beautifully packaged in a pink parcel!
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The Sugar and Crumbs products I was sent to try out. From left to right: a packet of orange natural icing sugar, a bag of chocolate orange cocoa powder and last but not least, a bag of chocolate orange flavoured icing sugars. Designed to compliment one another. All packages are easily identifiable in their pink or white colour schemes with colour coded flavour stickers so you know instantly what flavour you have.

Those of you that read my SmartCookieSam blog regularly will know that I’m addicted to baking bundts and have started collecting Nordicware bundt pans.  So my Mother’s Day bake just HAD to include a bundt cake somewhere. I adapted the recipe from the latest Hummingbird Bakery recipe book which is just out called Life Is Sweet.  On page there is a recipe for the Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake which I turned into a Jaffa Orange Cake instead.  Not only this but I wanted to see what else I could create with my big bag of cocoa powder and hit upon the idea of baking some chocolate orange cookies at the same time.

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Instead of the plain cocoa powder needed in the recipe I subsituted the same amount of Sugar and Crumbs’ Natural Flavoured Jaffa Orange Cocoa powder. I also chopped up a large bar of orange infused plain chocolate bought in Marks and Spencer the day before to give the cake it’s huge chocolate orange hit.

The smell coming from my oven was just so enticing.  I chose to bake the cake in my Heritage Bundt pan which always produces excellent results so I thought I would try and see how the Sugar and Crumbs products worked when baked in a bundt!

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The cake batter also needed some icing sugar added to it to give it a delicious fudgy texture. Instead of plain icing sugar, the Sugar and Crumbs orange zest icing sugar went into the mix to give it an even better zesty flavour.
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The finished Jaffa Orange Bundt ready and waiting to be iced.
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The view from the top!

Meanwhile I attempted to bake some cookies using some more of the Jaffa Orange Cocoa Powder.  I adapted a recipe from a trusty cookie book I have had for a few years now, called The Genuine American Cookie and Muffin Book.  In this book there is a recipe for double chocolate cookies.  This gave me a great idea to adapt the recipe using the cocoa powder and also to sprinkle some Orange Zest natural icing sugar on top of the cookies for an extra orangey hit.  The batch baked two dozen mouthwatering cookies to complement the Jaffa Orange Bundt Cake.

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Not a very good photo of the Chocolate Orange cookies but I assure you they tasted divine!

Meanwhile I had to finish off the bundt.  This was done by creating a chocolate glace to adorn the top of the cake.  I used the chocolate orange icing sugar accompanied with some sugar and mixed it all together with a little bit of butter to form a paste.  This was then drizzled carefully in the grooves on the cake.  Before it had chance to set I sprinkled on cut up pieces of mini Jaffa Cakes and then some whole ones on top.  I used Marks and Spencers’ own ones which are retangular, not round.

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Sugar and Crumbs’ chocolate orange flavoured icing sugar ready to be turned into the glaze for the bundt cake.
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The chocolate orange glaze.
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Sneaky early Mother’s Day treats all round- some delicious Chocolate Orange cookies.
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The finished Jaffa Orange Bundt as seen from the top.
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The bundt as seen from the side. As with the cookies I put some of the natural orange flavoured icing sugar into my dredger and sprinkled some on top of the cake.

The extra flavour that the Sugar and Crumbs cocoa powder and icing sugars added to my bakes was phenomenal.  My whole family, including my mum said you could definitely taste the orange in the cake and the cookies.  We had a small slice of cake and a cookie each. They tasted absolutely delicious.  If there is cake around in my house it always disappears like lightning so I chose to take the rest into one of the schools I teach at to share out with the staff.  I hope they liked their treats!

After my Mother’s Day baking session I was pleased I still had most of one of the icing sugars left to use up and also a small amount of Jaffa Orange cocoa powder.  I ran out of time to bake more last Sunday but have earmarked  a couple of the recipes featured on the Sugar and Crumbs website.  There are numerous useful recipes including a mouthwatering sounding brownie recipe.  I am definitely going to try that one out.  There are also other recipes for fudge and for meringues amongst lots of others though I know that my mum would love a box of homemade fudge!

Here is a link to the Recipe section of the website:

http://www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk/recipes/

So can I recommend the Sugar and Crumbs products to other bakers?  Yes I can and I can’t wait to try out the other varieties as and when my busy day job allows!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Cheese? Yes Please! Cooking with Pilgrim’s Choice Cheddar.

A couple of weeks back I was contacted by Pilgrim’s Choice to see if I would be interested in trying out some of their cheeses and to use them in my baking and cooking.  I was only too happy to agree as we love eating and cooking with cheese in our house.

So I was sent a voucher for two large packs of cheese which I took along to my local Sainsbury’s when I was doing my weekly shop and chose two sorts of cheddar. To be honest this was the only variety of Pilgrim’s Choice cheese available in my nearest Sainsburys but this was perfect to fit around what I would be able to cook and use with my family.  It was great to think about how I could use the cheese.  I tried to think of as many different ways of using it as possible.  Also, I love to see how far I can make products go using a minimum of waste or money.  Many thanks to Pilgrim’s Choice for giving me the opportunity to try out their cheese.  I know there are many more varieties to taste which I do hope to try out in the future!

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Although I was keen to get started, it wasn’t until the following weekend that I actually got started on my “Cheesy Challenge”.  I was very busy at work and it was very tempting to hack into the cheese and just use it for sandwiches.  Though you can’t beat a gorgeous mature cheddar and pickle sandwich! But that wasn’t the point, I had to think and be creative.  My friends on Facebook and Twitter came up with some great suggestions and my mouth started watering, especially at the thought of baking cheese scones!

Here is what I did get round to cooking with my delicious Pilgrim’s Choice cheese:

One Sunday lunch we had a large bacon, leek and cheese quiche served with the mature Pilgrim’s Choice cheddar.  This had new potatoes and salad with it.  The following day we sneaked the leftovers for lunch. I adapted Holly Bell’s “Man Quiche” recipe from her fabulous book “Recipes From A Normal Mum”,

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To make a Bacon, Leek and Cheddar version of Holly Bell’s Man Quiche I grated some Pilgrim’s Choice mature cheddar and added it to the quiche filling. This went really well with the leeks, bacon, tarragon and double cream.
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The uncooked “Man Quiche” about to go into the oven to be baked.
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The cooked Man Quiche.

I love using cheese as part of a snacky lunch on a cold winter’s day.  I was on my own one Saturday lunchtime and wanted something comforting, yet filling. I had some leeks still to use up after the quiche and knew they went well with cheese so thought I’d try and put them in my cheese on toast lunch.

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I softened some leeks using some Frylight spray in a small saucepan.
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I grated some Lighter Pilgrim’s choice cheese and added it to a beaten egg in a mixing bowl.
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The cheese and leek mixture was spooned onto a couple of pieces of toast and put under the grill to melt.
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The Cheese and leeks on toast was absolutely delicious and kept me warm. It was very filling and I really enjoyed my Saturday lunch.

I was absolutely rubbish at my Home Economics classes at secondary school, such a long time ago back in the 1980s!  But one dish I remember cooking was a very economical Cheese and Potato Pie.  You mixed cooked mashed potato with grated cheese and put it in a dish on top of a layer of baked beans.  This was then put in the oven and cooked until crispy.  I loved this meal and made it a lot when I was single and also as a student as it was so cheap to cook.  I decided to cook it one Wednesday evening as it had been a busy day at work and I didn’t have much left in the fridge.  I cooked it with some gorgeous bacon from the local farm shop and my children absolutely loved it.  My daughter asked me why I didn’t cook the Cheese and Potato Pie more often.  I don’t know why but I need to cook it more often, there were clean plates all round!

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Cooked creamy mashed potato to which I added grated Pilgrim’s Choice lighter cheddar.
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A layer of baked beans was added to the bottom of the pie dish.
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Grated cheese being added to the mashed potato.
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The Cheese and Potato Pie was baked in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the top became all crunchy and crispy.
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The cheese and potato pie served with a couple of rashers of crispy bacon.

My final bake with the Pilgrim’s Choice Mature Cheddar was by making these absolutely massive Cheese Scones. The recipe I used was adapted from one of Paul Hollywood‘s recipes.  It should have been a Cheese and Chive Scone recipe but I added paprika instead of chives and made the scones twice as big as they should have been.  They contained a chopped red onion too and gave the scones a delicious sweet taste to them.  I baked them last Tuesday during half term week for us to have instead of a piece of bread or a roll with some soup at lunchtime.  I discovered that they tasted much better warm, slathered with butter and were at their best when they were totally fresh.  My daughter and I loved them but my son wasn’t so keen on them.

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My enormous Cheddar Cheese and Onion scones based on a Paul Hollywood recipe.
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Cut in half and waiting for some butter to go on top of them. Just delicious!

I was very impressed with the two large packs of Pilgrim’s Choice cheese I used.  The packs were resealable and kept well in my fridge.  I know I will buy more in the future as the large packs were tremendous value and were perfect for my family and our needs.

Happy Cooking!

Love Sam xx

Fragata Olives and Roasted Red Peppers.

I was recently asked by Fragata if I was interested in trying out some samples of their gorgeous olives to bake and cook with.  Fragata is a company specialising in Spanish olives from the Andalusian region and they have been going for nearly 90 years!

A quote from the Fragata  website says: “Fragata Spanish Olives can be used in hundreds of different ways to create authentic Mediterranean dishes and mouthwatering tapas. What better way to create a unique culinary corner of Spain in your own home – go on, savour the flavour of Spain!”  

 Both my hubby and I adore olives and could happily sit and trough our way through several pots of them.  They evoke happy times both on holidays in the sun and of relaxed family weekend meals preferably washed down with glasses of Prosecco or wine alongside. So to be given the challenge to bake and cook with one of my favourite foods was just fantastic. As we love all things Mediterranean and our holidays in Spain what could be better than eating food which reminds us of happy memories and special times?

Last week a box arrived at my house which contained a delicious goodie bag not only full of Fragata olives but also contained a jar of roasted red peppers.  Another food I just adore, not only in salads or anti pasti or tapas meals but cooked through in other Mediterranean inspired dishes.

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My mouthwatering goodie bag from Fragata. It contained a Snack Pack of green olives from Andalucia, a large jar of stuffed green olives mixed with pimento, a large can of green olives stuffed with anchovies and a jar of delicious roasted red peppers. I couldn’t wait to get started on creating recipes with them.

My first recipe attempt started last Monday which was during half term week.  My hubby was going to be late back from work and my daughter had been working as well. So we needed something quick and easy which I could throw together within half an hour.  I hadn’t had much chance to go out food shopping and wanted to use up what was left in the cupboard.  I had some penne left and loads of onions, tinned tomatoes and garlic as well as my favourite Spaghetti Spice made from Nigelissima. The result was quick and tasty and even my fussy son liked it.  He doesn’t normally like red peppers but he enjoyed these! Result!

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Roasted Red Pimento Piquillo Peppers. I have bought these before and used them in salads but wanted to try them out in other recipes.
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I carefully washed and drained the red peppers. They were then sliced thinly. I chose to cook them in a tomato pasta sauce.
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I fried red onion and garlic, then added the chopped and sliced red pepper to the frying pan.
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The peppers, onions and garlic was added to a tin of chopped tomatoes and a couple of teaspoons of my Nigella Lawson homemade Spaghetti Spice (see her Nigellisima book) and left to simmer gently while I cooked some penne pasta.

Last Wednesday I was knee deep in painting what with it being half term week.  My son and I had been decorating his bedroom and we needed something that was quick and easy to throw together.  Thinking of all the recipes and meals I could create with olives earlier in the week I had stocked up on some anti pasti meats, cheese and breadsticks.  I’d bought some houmous which obviously isn’t Italian but my daughter loves it.  Though when I got to get the tub out of the fridge I noticed it had already been opened!

I was a bit unsure what to do with the can of olives stuffed with anchovies.  I don’t like anchovies at all, though I wish I could eat them.  I’ve fished (sorry about the dreadful pun!!) them out of many a Salade Nicoise or pulled them off a Pisaladiere because I can’t stand them, yet I had no idea they were in tapanade!  I love tapanade too, smothered on fresh French bread. I found a recipe for tapanade and decided to have a go at my own even though I thought tapanade usually was made with black olives.  If they tasted fishy I would just leave it but I know my hubby loves anchovies.

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I don’t like anchovies much but I was keen to turn these anchovy stuffed olives into a tapanade to eat with some breadsticks bought in a local deli.
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The drained anchovy stuffed olives were put into a bowl with some olive oil, lemon juice, some more of my prized Nigella Lawson Spaghetti Spice and some ground pepper.
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Out came my stick blender to puree the olives so that it made a green tapanade paste.
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The tapanade in a bowl ready to be served at dinner with some breadsticks alongside.

I was so surprised when I tried the tapanade! It didn’t taste fishy or of anchovies at all.  I could taste the olives and the garlic and once I’d tried one mouthful then I had to have another..and another.. and another…. The crunchy breadsticks tasted absolutely divine with the tapanade.  Both my children aren’t keen on olives but my hubby and I sat there dipping away until the bowl was nearly empty!

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I just love Fragata’s pouches of olives which are perfect to carry about for a snack or are useful to serve with predinner drinks.

When I see olive pouches, such as the one which came in the Fragata goodie bag I’m immediately back in Spain.  It’s a hot, sunny evening and I’m sat by the pool sipping on a pre-dinner or BBQ drink while hubby is cooking.  I’m trying my hardest to save some olives for dinner but it’s very hard. I can’t stop at one!

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Anti pasti: the homemade tapanade, slices of buffalo mozzarella, breadsticks, salad, hoummous, salami, proscuitto and parma ham. All perfect for a quick, thrown together dinner after a busy day trying to decorate my son’s bedroom during half term week!
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Last but not least I was keen to try out these scrumptious pimento stuffed green olives. I could eat these until the cows come home but before I could lay into them I really needed to think of a recipe I could add them to!

On Sunday I wanted to bake something using olives in it.  I thought of an olive and cheese loaf but I’m hopeless at baking bread especially where yeast is involved.  I didn’t have a lot of spare time and wanted something which wouldn’t take ages to prove.  So I thought back to a soda bread recipe in The Great British Bake Off Everyday book which used bacon. So instead of crunchy pieces of bacon in the dough I used pimento stuffed green olives.  My mum was here for the day and it was a perfect lunch along with some homemade tomato and basil soup cooked in my slow cooker.  The children loved the bread even though they fished the olives out and handed them to me!

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The olive soda bread was delicious and went down well with a comforting bowl of homemade tomato and basil soup on a cold, wet February Sunday lunch.
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My slice of olive soda bread. I kept wanting to pick the salty olives off the other bits of leftover bread. I’m looking forward to eating some more another day if there’s anything left!

Gordon Rhodes’ Spice Rubs, Crumbs, Stuffings and Sauces.

Last year I discovered the company Gordon Rhodes and their delicious range of spice rubs, crumbs, cooking sauces and stuffings when at the BBC Good Food Show in Harrogate.  I remember buying three of their cooking sauces: a chilli con carne one, another one for pulled pork and a curry one.  All turned into mouthwatering one-pot meals which my family loved.  I enjoyed them so much that I had to buy more and was so pleased to find a couple of my local farm shops stock their products.

Last Christmas I tried out Gordon Rhodes’ bread sauce mix and some stuffing. It was a quiet Christmas with just the four of us and I didn’t want to be making everything from scratch. I felt as if these products helped me to cut corners without compromising on quality and taste.

 I follow Gordon Rhodes on Twitter and often tweet about how I enjoy using their products in my cooking.  They had asked their followers to post photos of a dish they had created using one of their products as an ingredient in a Christmas leftover dish.  They would choose which dish they liked best and the winner would get a hamper of their complete range of products. What a fantastic prize that would be. Two days after Christmas and we had my sister in law to visit.  I didn’t want to just serve her  slices of leftover turkey and ham so I thought of a way I could turn my leftovers into something a bit more special.  I love baking pies and had some leftover shortcrust pastry in the freezer, some turkey and ham, some veg, the Gordon Rhodes stuffing and bread sauce that was leftover.  I had the idea that the bread sauce would act as a thickener for a sauce in the pie along with a bit of stock.

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Here is a picture of my Leftover Turkey and Ham Pie.
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Here is the remains of the Turkey and Ham Pie, showing the Gordon Rhodes’ bread sauce which had turned into a delicious, creamy sauce for the pie.

I was over the moon when Gordon Rhodes said that they liked my idea of using the bread sauce as a thickener in the pie and that I had won the hamper!  I couldn’t believe it as I knew how much fun I would have creating dishes I had not made before with the products I had not seen before in their range.

A few days later my wonderful parcel arrived.  It came beautifully packaged in a cardboard hamper which I’ve kept in my cupboard to use again.

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My fantastic hamper containing the entire range of Gordon Rhodes products: 5 cooking sauces, a bread sauce, five different stuffings, two of which are gluten free and their entire range of herb and spice rubs and crumb coats.
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The handwritten note inside my hamper. Thankyou and yes we most definitely did enjoy our prize!
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My hamper also contained some very useful recipe leaflets and a brochure showing the entire range. There are also some more recipe suggestion on Gordon Rhodes’ website.
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I love Southern Fried Chicken and was really excited to try and create my own, healthier version baked in the oven instead of deep fried with this Cajun spice mix.
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The other two spice mixes I’d not tried before was the Easy Crumb Easy Go Garlic and Herb mix and the Hazy Lazy Summer Citrus and Herb Sprinkle. They would both go down well coating on chicken for my family.
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I have really enjoyed using Gordon Rhodes’ sauces. They help me out no end, especially during the winter months if I am out teaching all day. I put one of the sauces on with the meat and vegetables in my slow cooker in the morning and when I come home I am greeted with a mouthwatering dish like this. My family love it when I make chicken curry.
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I made “Inside Out Chicken Kiev” which was one of the recipe suggestions on one of the leaflets in the hamper. I coated chicken breasts with olive oil and then dipped the breasts in some of the garlic and herb coating.
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The “Inside Out Chicken Kiev” was a massive hit with my family. Even my fussy eater son cleaned his plate!
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My prize hamper has helped me out over several Sunday roasts recently. For two weeks running we had a beautiful roast chicken served with one half of the bread sauce mix and one of the stuffing mixes. The following week we had the remainder of the bread sauce and another packet of stuffing. The stuffing worked well either stuffed in the bird’s cavity or served separately in another dish.
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Hugely popular in our house at the moment- pulled pork. I love cooking it in my slow cooker and serving it with either bread rolls, coleslaw and pickles or with jacket potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Either way there are clean plates in our house.
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Pulled Pork, one of my favourite foods at the moment. It can have honey added to the mix. I don’t bother, I just leave it as it is.
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We love chilli con carne in our house. It gets served with boiled rice but recently I have started serving it in baked tortilla baskets sprinkled with grated cheese, salsa and a dollop of creme fraiche on top. The Gordon Rhodes sauce is another perfect mix to pop in the slow cooker on a busy morning.
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Here is the eagerly awaited Southern Fried Chicken which tasted fabulous with wedges and veg.
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The Southern/ Cajun spice mix also turned out to make gorgeous spicy potato wedges one night.

About a month later after getting my prize I still have one packet of stuffing and three of the spice mixes yet to try out.  It will be interesting to see what I can come up with.

Happy Cooking.

Love Sam xx