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Caramel Glazed Toffee Loaf


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I'm not sure what it is about the flavours of Toffee, Caramel  and Butterscotch that makes me go weak at the knees, but I know I am not alone in this.  They have long been favourites of many people and one only has to look at the proliferation of recipes for Salted Caramel anything on the internet these days to see just how popular that flavour is.

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Marie Rayner
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Sweet Wholemeal Bannock


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Well, January is certainly going out with a big bang!  We have had probably one of the mildest winter's on record (according to the weather people, it's still felt pretty cold to me!) and now Lady Winter has decided to remind us that she is boss by giving us a couple of really nasty days.   These days are perfect for staying inside all warm and cosy by the fire.

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Marie Rayner
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Cheesy Tuna Bake


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The Toddster is always after me to cook using things that we have in our store cupboard.  He is always complaining about how much we have stored.   It is useless for me to explain to him that your cupboards may be full, but in a lot of cases they are full of ingredients that you put together with other things to make a meal . . .

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Marie Rayner
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Easy Steak and Peppers


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I was lucky enough to get some Flank Steak last Saturday, a nice four pieces of it and all four pieces a really good size.  You don't often see Flank Steak here.  I froze three bits and then used the fourth bit to make us this delicious stir fry.  I also happened to have gotten a large bag of really nice peppers at the same time, so it just seemed the natural thing to do was to put them together.

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Marie Rayner
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Sage Roasted Bangers with mash and onion gravy




I think Bangers (sausages) and Mash has to be the Toddsters favourite meal of all that I cook for him.  He loves a good meaty sausage.  He love a nice pile of fluffy mash and  . . .  he adores a nice onion gravy.   This meal ticks all the boxes for him and he is a very happy camper when I make it for him!




It goes without saying that you will want a nice and well flavoured meaty sausage for this.  After all, it IS the star of the show!  Never ever opt for a cheap and nasty sausage.  When you go for cheap and nasty, that is what you get.  When it comes to sausages . . .  you DO get what you pay for.




Cheap sausages are overloaded with fillers and fat . . . gristly bits . . .  with almost a pasty texture, which almost makes me want to gag.  I want to feel like I am eating somehing meaty . . .  not wall paper paste and sawdust stuffed into a tube, and not a nice tube at that.



When you bite into a quality sausage the difference is immediately apparent . . .  when that skin snaps beneath your teeth and they sink into beautifully textured and flavourful meat, you have reached sausage heaven.  (Today I picked some sage from my garden and roasted it with the sausages.  It was gorgeous.  I love sage, it is one herb that winters very well in our garden.  Sage and Sausage are a marriage made in heaven.)



I am a real fan of Heck Sausages myself (and no I have not been paid to say that.  It's simply the truth).  But any of the higher end sausages you see in the shops are sure not to disappoint and a good butcher's sausage that you buy at the Butcher shop itself, cannot be beaten.  Our local shop does a lovely sausage with caramelized onions in it.  Fabulous.




Which brings me to the second part of this fabulous meal.   A great onion gravy!  You cannot beat a good onion gravy.  This one I am showing you today benefits with a long slow cooking of the onions and the addition of some good balsamic vinegar and a bit of brown sugar.  It's sooooo good ladled over the potatoes and sausage.




Of course the final layer of this trinity of good taste is the mash.   Use a good floury potato that will break down nicely when you mash it . . .  giving you nice and dry fluffy potato . . .  ready and willing to soak up that butter and warm milk without becoming soggy.  You will end up with light and fluffy . . .  the perfect back drop for all that lovely meat and gravy.  No wonder this is a favourite of Todds!


*Sage Roasted Bangers with Onion Gravy and Mash*
Serves 4

With proper planning and timing you can have a delicious sausage and mash supper on the table in not much more than half an hour.  This is the real deal.  The onion gravy is to die for. 

For the Sausage:
1 package of meaty and thick herbed pork sausages
(I like the heck sausages.  They're delicious)
a handful of fresh sage leaves
olive oil to drizzle  


For the Mash:
2 pounds of mealy mashing potatoes, peeled and quartered
(A russet or a Maris Piper, or Rooster Potato work well)
225ml of warm milk into which you have melted 50g of butter (1 cup of milk, 1/4 cup butter)
fine sea salt and ground white pepper to taste
freshly grated nutmeg  


For the Gravy:
a knob of butter
3 large red onions, peeled and thinly sliced into half moons
3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced into half moons
2 TBS plain flour
2 TBS good balsamic vinegar
2 TBS brown sugar
450ml of good beef stock (2 cups)
fine sea salt and black pepper to taste    
 

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.  Place the sausages onto a baking tray, scattering the sage leaves amongst them.  Drizzle with olive oil and toss together with a bit of sea salt and black pepper.  Set aside.  

Put the potatoes into a pot of lightly salted water to cover.  Set aside.  

Melt the knob of butter in a large skillet.  Once it begins to foam add the onions and shallots, cook over medium low heat for about 20 minutes, or until they are nicely softened without colouring.



Bang the sausages into the oven and turn the burner on under the pot of potatoes and water.  Bring to the boil.  The sausages should take about 30 minutes to cook through.


Whisk the flour into the onions, cook and stir to meld in the flour.  Add the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and the beef stock.  Bring to the boil, whisking constantly.  Reduce to a slow simmer and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every now and again and taking care it doesn't catch.

Test the potatoes after about 15 minutes.  If they are fork tender, drain them.   Return them to the pan and shake them dry over the residual heat of the pan.   Mash them well, slowly adding enough of the milk and butter mixture to give you a consistency you like.  You may not need it all depending on the time of year and the typr of potato used.   Season to taste with some freshly grated nutmeg, salt and white pepper.  Set aside and keep warm.



Once the sausages have cooked through, remove them from the oven.  Divide the mash between 4 heated serving plates.  Top each mound of potatoes with a couple of sausages, some of the crispy sage leaves and a nice spoonful of onion gravy.  Pass the remaining gravy at the table.
I like to serve these with a green vegetable on the side.  (Green beans, sprouts, peas, cabbage, etc.)
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Marie Rayner
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Celebrate Italian Food Day with two delicious Italian Dishes!


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February 13th is Italian Food Day and you don't have to be an Italian Mama or in a fancy Italian Restaurant in order to experience some delicious Italian flavours!


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Marie Rayner
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Deb's Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies


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It must be about twenty years ago now, but it seems like just yesterday, I lived across from a lovely lady caled Debbie.   We shared a mutual love of crafts and cooking and became fast friends.  It broke my heart when I had to move away.  All of our children are grown up now and we are both grandmothers.  During those years we lived across the street from each other we were pretty inseparable.  Although we are still in touch, we are not as close as we once were.  Sometimes I really miss her.

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Marie Rayner
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Chicken and Pasta in a Garlic and Tomato Cream Sauce


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I know what you are thinking.   She tortured the old man with pasta, yet again.   What can I say?  Guilty as charged.  But you know what?  I actually think he is getting used to it!  He didn't complain at all today!

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Marie Rayner
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Cindy's Portugese Gumdrop Cake


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I spent all day at the Temple today so I really haven't done any cooking at home.  I do have this gumdrop cake recipe to share with you however that I cooked over the Christmas period and just never got around to showing you.   This is my sister's recipe for gumdrop cake and it is the best in my opinion.  We also call it rubber spatula cake because my mother once baked the end of a rubber spatula in it.  It dropped off in the batter and she couldn't find it, so she baked it anyways.   It didn't hurt the cake in any way, and the lucky person who found it got treated to a hilarious story on the side!

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Marie Rayner
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Oven Baked Thai Chicken and Rice


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This is a recipe I had bookmarked a long time ago in a little cookery book I have from the BBC Good Food people, entitled 101 Storecupboard Suppers.  I love the little BBC Good Food Books.  They are not that expensive and are usually chocker block full of recipes that I want to cook.  I know . . . I know . . . I have enough cookbooks, but as any food enthusiast knows, you can never have too many!  (Todd doth protest!)

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Marie Rayner
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Chicken & Artichoke Casserole


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We have a very much beloved Cocker Spaniel in our house.  She has a rather ticky tummy, so I don't give her dog food anymore, it always upsets her stomach.  It's real chicken and rice and vegetables all the way with her and that helps to keep her healthy and when she is feeling well, we are happy too.   I cooked some extra chicken yesterday when I was cooking hers, so that we could have this delicious casserole for our dinner today.  (You don't think I would cook my dog anything I wouldn't eat myself do you???)

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Marie Rayner
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Lentil and Chorizo Stew


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I was recently sent some Spanish meats to try out from a company called Jamonpriv√©. Jamonpriv√© is an online site which works with suppliers of the best Iberian Ham and Cured Meat products. What makes them different in the market is their drop-shipping system and integration with TNT’s API.

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Marie Rayner
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Hearty Tomato and Orzo Soup


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When we got up this morning it was -7*C  (which is about 19*F) so below freezing.   That's pretty cold, especially in our house where we don't have forced air heating, or a wood stove or a basement beneath the house, just cement and ground . . .  very old windows and not a lot of insulation.  It was pretty cold to say the least!

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Marie Rayner
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Turkey Burgers with Cheddar and Spinach


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I really love turkey burgers.  I love the fact that they are supposed to be healthier for you than regular burgers and I love that they are made from turkey.  I love turkey.  It's flavourful and it's lean and it makes great burgers  Turkey is also supposed to be a super food.  So all round, it's a favourite with me.

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Marie Rayner
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Elizabeth's Date and Nut Loaf


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I was feeling very nostalgic today and so I made a Date & Nut loaf.  I just love Date & Nut loaf, and so does Todd.

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Marie Rayner
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Queen of Pudding Cakes


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I kind of like to pull the stops out at the weekend and bake something special.    These little Queen of Pudding Cakes I am showing you here today are certainly that . . .  special, but you will be surprised as just how simple they are to make, and yet at the same time very impressive.

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Marie Rayner
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Mushroom Sauced Burgers


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The one thing I hated most that my mother cooked when I was growing up was beef burger patties.  I loved most of the things she cooked, but when she cooked these  . . .  I absolutely hate hated them.   She was quite thrifty and used to buy the cheapest mince her money could buy and they were always full of gristle and sometimes even pieces of bone.  I have a really strong gag reflex . . .  and if I got a piece of gristle or bone in my mouth that was it.  I was off!  Say no more!

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Marie Rayner
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Spiced Butternut Soup


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Brrr.... I think today must have been the coldest day so far this winter.  I just can't seem to get warm.  This calls for a nice hot pot of soup!  A delicious soup that will warm the bones.  A warm bowl of  soup on a hot winter's day is like a hug from heaven, don't you think?

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Marie Rayner
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Stifado . . . a delicious Greek Lamb Stew


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This is a delicious dish I made a while back and am only getting around to showing you now.  It's a delicious Greek Stew made with lamb shoulder, tomatoes, wine and a variety of spices. It may not look like much, but it's really fabulous!


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Marie Rayner
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Salmon, Broccoli and Potato Gratin


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Salmon and broccoli are a marriage made in heaven.  They go together beautifully.  I normally have both in the house . . .  having either frozen salmon fillets and broccoli in the freezer, or tinned salmon and fresh broccoli.  If you have those, you always have a delicious dinner in the making!


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Marie Rayner
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Gut Gastronomy


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Today I wanted to tell you about this cookbook that I received a few weeks back.  Entitled  Gut Gastronomy, this book will be released on 15th January 2015 and is published by Jacqui Small
(Twitter @JacquiSmallPub) www.jacquismallpub.com



Written by Vicki Edgson and Adam Palmer, (photography by Lisa Linder) this innovative book s on the cutting edge of what is popular at the moment and introduces a whole new way of eating with a unique plan which has been developed specifically at Grayshott Spa, one of the world’s leading health spas  (Located in Surrey UK.)

This book  focuses on digestive health as a route to true health with a plan which promised to help to boost your energy and rebalance weight safely through a nutrient rich diet designed to give you everything you need nutritionally, in order to face the demands of modern life.

Dispelling the misguided notion of ‘detoxifying’ through spartan, punitive regimes the plan focuses instead on regaining good health by eating foods which will aid with  the body’s natural detoxification. The Plan can confidently recommend quality grass-fed red meats, fish, eggs, fermented foods, butter, avocado, and organic vegetables.

This is not a plan of deprivation,  but instead it is plan which includes a sensible and satisfying approach to food that brings you back to feeling great. The first section introduces you to the Plan, providing information and meal plans for a short-term course which promised  to help  rest and repair your digestive tract. The Post-Plan sections instructs you on how to introduce more foods into  your diet and keep your gut healthy.  The recipe section contains 100 delicious meals split into breakfasts, soups, main meals, vegetable sides, salads and special occasions.

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Normally I would show you a recipe which I had prepared from the book, but the plain truth is that I just have not had the time with Christmas and everything.  There are quite a few in the book however that have really caught my eye.  My sister is always making her own ferments . . .  sauerkraut and kimchi to name just two.  She often encourages me to do the same, but in all honesty I have been a bit afraid to do so.  After reading this book, I feel that I can do so without too much concern for poisoning myself by following their exact instructions and balance of ingredients.


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I am looking forward to trying their fermented red cabbage.  It does take several weeks to create but watch this space.  I hope to show it to you soon.   There are also recipes for a delicious looking range of smoothies  along with some great looking soups and salad dressings.   All in all I think this is a really good book and well worth investing in even if you didn't want to follow the plan.  You'll find some fantastic recipes and great ideas, and maybe even eat that little bit healthier. 

GutGastronomy
by  Vicki Edgson & Adam Palmer
(based on the health regime created by
Elaine Williams and Stephanie Moore
of Grayshott Spa)
Photograpy by Lisa Linder
Colour, hard back, 250 pages
ISBN - 978-1-909342-83-5

Published by JacquiSmall

RRP £30.00 UK  $45.00 USA, $49.99 Canada
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Curry 101 and a Coconut Basil Curried Chicken


 

One of the things I have learned to embrace over here in the UK, and which I had very little experience with prior to moving over here was curries.  I think my sum experience of eating curry had been when, living on a British Army training base in Canada back in the early 1980's, a British friend of ours cooked us a curry.  I really enjoyed it, but I couldn't tell you now or then if it was authentic or not.  

"Curries with their vast partioned platters of curious condiments to lackey them, speak for themselves.  They sting like serpents, stimulate like strychnine, they are subtle, sensual like Chinese courtesans, sublime and sacred, inscrutably inspiring and intelligently illuminating like Cambodian carvings."
~Alistair Crowley (1875-1947)


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Marie Rayner
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Lime Filled Ginger Oat Biscuits/Cookies


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I can remember when I discovered Miss Debbie's Oatmeal Cream Pies.  Oh boy were they some good.  It was in an American Grocery store and it was love at first bite.  Two delicious flattish oatmeal cookies with a layer of marshmallow cream sandwiched in the centre.   *slurp*  I also liked their Star Crunch Cakes.  I think most of them are available in Canada now, but when I first discovered them they were exotic to me!

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Marie Rayner
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Cheese and Onion Muffin Cake


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I have to confess that when I first moved over here to the UK, the idea of cheese and onion anything really grossed me out.  It was just not a flavour combination I was used to  . . .  kind of like the way peanut butter and jam grosses out  a lot of Brits!

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Marie Rayner
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Potato and Leek Soup


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Todd fancied a nice hot bowl of soup today for his dinner.   I never use tinned soups if I can help it.  Homemade soup is so much tastier and not that hard to make.  I had leeks in the vegetable drawer and so I made him a pot of Potato and Leek Soup.  I was actually surprised that I had not posted my recipe on here yet, so here you go . . .  today you get my recipe for Potato and Leek Soup!

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Marie Rayner
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Corned Beef and Potato Pie


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This is one of those dishes that is made from simple things most of us probably have in our cupboards and larders at any given time and it is so easy to make.  It's simplicity might cause one to believe that it's not special in any way, but that is where you would be very wrong.   This is probably one of the most delicious supper dishes that you could ever want to eat.

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Marie Rayner
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Paradise Slices


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You would think I would be done with all of the rich food after everything we have cooked and eaten in December, but nope . . .  I have not.   We were having some people over for a  Family Home Evening Group we are starting and I wanted to bake something special for us to have as a refreshment, so I baked these Paradise Slices for us to enjoy!

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Marie Rayner
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Crock Pot Burritos


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I found this recipe for Crock Pot Burritos on Pinterest a few weeks back and it's been on my mind to cook it ever since.  If you would like to see the original recipe, check it out on Plain Chicken.   I have adapted it to use ingredients that are readily available here in the UK.  It was delicious!


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Marie Rayner
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Frisco Spagetti Bake


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I just can't help myself.  Periodically I just have to do it.  I must indulge my need for pasta.   Most of the time I try to cook things that I think the Toddster will enjoy, but . . . every so often my pasta loving heart just had to be pampered.   A gals got to do what a gals got to do.   I think he is getting sort of used to it now . . .  well he doesn't complain as much as he used to at any rate.

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Marie Rayner
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Muffins 101 and Coconut & Date Muffins


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I bake a lot of muffins in this house.  Not only are they quick and easy to make, but they make great portable breakfasts, are fabulous  for tea and coffee breaks, are the perfect elevensies munchable, go great in lunch boxes, a fabulous brunch time treat,  and are almost fool proof to bake!  These delicious Coconut and Date Muffins I am showing you today are no exception.   They are just wonderful!


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Marie Rayner
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Triple Chocolate Cookie Tart


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If you have known me for any length of time you know I don't do New Years Resolutions, especially not any that involve food or the giving up of certain foods.   Time has proven to me that such things just don't work for me and I am bound to fail no matter what.   I have just learned to accept what I have to accept, which is why today I baked this gorgeous Triple Chocolate Cookie Tart with no regrets or shame whatsoever.

And I enjoyed a nice slice of it too!  Again with no regrets.

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Marie Rayner
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Crispy Potato Roast


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I did us some lovely Lamb Chops for our New Years Eve Supper last night.  I simply rubbed them with a mixture of rosemary, thyme, garlic, sea salt, white pepper, olive oil and a bit of  good balsamic vinegar that I mashed together with my mortar and pestle.   I let them macerate for a good hour or more while these delicious potatoes were baking and then I quickly grilled them in a hot skillet with a bit of butter for about a minute and a half per side.   They were done perfectly!


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