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Smoked Sausage & Cabbage Skillet Supper

Smoked Sausage & Cabbage Skillet Supper

I confess most Sundays when we get home from church I am absolutely starving.  It will have been at least 8 hours since I have gotten up and probably about 6 since breakfast so about that time I could just about eat anything.  If I have been smart and planned ahead, I will have dinner waiting for us in the crock pot.  If I haven't, I will have to resort to looting the cupboards and refrigerator to see what I can come up with quickly. You might feel the same way any day of the week actually, especially if you have been out working or shopping all day! You want something to eat and you want it now!

I had a grandmother who could make a meal out of just about anything.  I'm happy to say I have inherited her ability to do the same thing.  I had a package of smoked sausage in the refrigerator, a white cabbage, a bag of new potatoes, and some onions in the cold storage beneath the stairs.

I chopped up the cabbage along with some onion, in nice large chunks, and then I cut the smoked sausage into half moons.  I peeled the new potatoes and popped them into a saucepan of lightly salted water and brought them to the boil. (If you are really feeling lazy you don't need to peel them, just wash them really well.)

I heated a splash of light olive oil in a skillet and then threw in the smoked sausage, browning it all over.  I scooped it out to a bowl, and added the cabbage and onion to the pan, along with some seasoning and garlic. I stir fried this until it was crispy tender.  In the meantime the potatoes were boiling.

Once the vegetables were crispy tender, I threw the smoked sausage back into the pan and added some vinegar and mustards, an almost Germanic touch. By the time the flavours had all melded together nicely,  the potatoes were done and ready to drain.

I tossed them with some butter, seasoning, a bit of dried parsley flakes and voila!  Dinner was ready.  A meal fit for a king . . . and ready in not much more than about half an hour.   I'd call that a result!

*Smoked Sausage and Cabbage Skillet Supper*
Serves 4
A  wonderful  autumnal supper.  Simple, easy to throw together and quite, quite delicious!

2 pounds of smoked Sausage, fully cooked,
cut in half and sliced into half moons
1 TBS olive oil
1 medium head of white cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped
1 large cooking onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp grainy mustard

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet.   Add the smoked sausage.  Cook and stir over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.  Scoop out with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the onion, cabbage, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper to the pan.  Toss to combine.  Cook and stir for about 10 minutes, until crispy tender.  Add the vinegar and both mustards, along with the browned sausage.  Cook and heat through for a further couple of minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning as required.   Serve hot with some boiled new potatoes and crusty bread.

I love simple meals like this, and if you are a regular reader of this blog, I know you are too.  Bon Appetit!

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Marie Rayner
Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake

This is one casserole I make that Todd doesn't mind eating pasta in. Probably because it is off-set by plenty of broccoli, chicken and cheese!  And of course there is that tasty sauce!

This is a bit different than most chicken and broccoli casseroles out there in that you are not going to be using sour cream, mayonnaise or creamed soup.  Everything here is totally un-processed and I might add very yummy!

I use whole wheat pasta because I am a type 2 Diabetic and whole wheat pasta is more diabetic friendly and considered a healthy carb, or low GI.

I also tend to use low fat cheese and milk in this. There are plenty of other flavours going on that you won't miss the full fat versions of anything.  Trust me on this.

But of course, if you are not bothered about fat, calories or glucose, by all means use full fat ingredients and regular pasta!

Myself, I am rather fond of it just the way it is.  I quite like whole wheat pasta.

The sauce is very simple . . .  a simple bechamel, cream type of sauce, flavoured with garlic and Dijon mustard.  There are also some herbs, seasoning and of course cheese.  Don't be tempted to use the already grated cheese.  They add a starch to it to keep it from sticking together and you won't get the same velvet  texture to your sauce. I always grate my own for just this reason. This time I did use a mix of white and orange cheddars, mostly for colour.

*Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake*
Serves 6 
Cooked chicken along with whole wheat pasta, and our favourite vegetable, broccoli, bake together in a delicious cheesy sauce!  

500g whole wheat pasta shapes (1 pound)
two chicken breasts, cooked and coarsely torn up
2 cups broccoli florets
2 TBS butter
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 TBS flour
450ml milk ( 2 cups)
salt and black pepper to taste
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp Italian herbs
1 tsp dry parsley flakes
245g grated strong cheddar cheese, divided

Preheated the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Butter a large shallow casserole dish.  Set aside. 

Cook the pasta according to the package directions to al Dente, adding the broccoli florets the last two minutes of cooking time. Drain well and rinse. Toss together with the  chicken in a bowl. 

Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the garlic and cook stirring over medium low heat without browning until quite fragrant.  Whisk in the flour and Dijon mustard.  Slowly whisk in the milk.  Cook, whisking constantly until the mixture bubbles and thickens.  Whisk in the paprika, parsley flakes and Italian herbs.  Stir in 3/4 of the cheese and stir to melt. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.  Pour this mixture over the broccoli and chicken, tossing together to coat.  Pour into the prepared baking dish and scatter the remaining cheese over top. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until heated through and bubbling.  Let stand 5 minutes prior to serving.

A few notes: 
  • Low fat ingredients can be used successfully
  • Recipe can successfully cut in half
  • Leftovers freeze well. (I freeze it in single serving size containers.)  I thaw before re-heating in the microwave.  This makes for a quick meal when on the run.
  • You can put this all together the day or evening before, cover and chill and then just bake it when you are ready to eat the day after.  Uncover and allow the chill to come off prior to baking. About 15 minutes at room temperature will do it.  Its a great make ahead meal!

I usually use This Recipe for poaching my chicken and I poach it the day before I am going to use it.  You can also use leftover cooked chicken.  I often cut this recipe in half, but this time I cooked the full version because I wanted to put some in the freezer for quick and easy meals when I get rather busy!  I hope you will give it a go.  I think it is something your family will really enjoy!  Bon Appetit!

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Marie Rayner
Oaty Apple Crumble 4  One

Oaty Apple Crumble 4 One

 Being a type 2 Diabetic and having a husband who can eat whatever he wants without gaining an ounce.  We are a bit like Jack Sprat and his wife I suppose.  Todd actually has a difficult time keeping weight on and I have a difficult time keeping weight off.  I am always hungry and he rarely feels hungry at all. Total opposites.  The challenge for me is making sure that he gets enough calories and treats to keep him happy and making sure that I don't put weight on in the process!

When it comes to desserts, I try to downsize them as much as possible.  This one today would not be too bad for me actually as it is not really high in sugar and if I used whole wheat flour, that would be better, but today it is all about creating a delicious dessert for my honey bun that he can enjoy all to himself! 

I find it quite easily actually to cut recipes in half or quarters.  For the most part they turn out very well for me, and the Oaty Apple Crumble for One is the perfect example of just such a recipe!

It takes only one apple  . . .  which I peel, core and chop and then mix with a blend of a tiny bit of sugar and plenty of spice.  Cinnamon, ground cardamom and ground cloves.  Just a touch of cloves because Todd loves them.  The flavour of clove is very strong though so be quite judicious if you add them.

The topping is buttery, sweet and oaty. I love the addition of oats in crumble toppings. They impart a wholesome nutty flavour and I love the extra texture they give.

This is the perfect dessert for just one.  You can top it with whatever floats your boat . . . a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, perhaps some whipped cream, or pouring cream  . . . 

Or like Todd with some warm custard.  He is a custard fiend.  He loves it with all his desserts.  He is so very British in that love!  I think Brits are born with custard in their veins.  Myself,  I prefer vanilla ice cream, but then again what is ice cream, but  . . .  frozen custard!

*Apple Crumble for One*
Serves 1

The perfect dessert for one person.  Todd loves this and I don't have to worry about being overly tempted as there is just enough for him to enjoy and no more. 

1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
pinch each salt and cloves (optional, but Todd likes them) 

For the Topping:
2 TBS soft light brown sugar, packed
1 TBS old fahioned oatmeal
2 tsp plain flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
1 TBS butter

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Have ready a small lightly buttered ramekin or other oven dish small enough to hold just one serving.  

Toss the apples together with the sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, salt and cloves.  Put into the ramekin. 

Rub together the topping ingredients until crumbly and sprinkle evenly over top of the apples. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the apples are softened and the topping is crisp.  Serve warm with your favourite topping. (Ice Cream, Custard, Whipped Cream, pouring cream, etc.) 

You can also easily double this to feed two people.  Just saying . . .  Bon Appetit! 

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Marie Rayner
Pumpkin Molasses Cake

Pumpkin Molasses Cake

One of the things I love most about Autumn is that I now have a free mandate to bake all things pumpkin!  Funny how pumpkin cakes and bakes are not as appealing at other times of the year.  I wonder why that is.  Just the natural order of things I guess! 

The recipe I am sharing with you today for this fabulous Pumpkin Molasses cake is one I adapted from one of my oldest and most favourite cookery books.  The BHG New Cook Book, published in 1982.  This book has travelled around the world with me and for good reason. It is quite simply an excellent recipe source.
You can serve the cake plain or dusted simply with icing sugar.  You can see both versions here.  It really needs nothing else . . . this cake stands well enough on it's own. 

Dense and moist with plenty of pumpkin, buttermilk and soft light brown sugar and  . . .

That  delicious warmth of molasses and of course the sweet baking spices . . .  ginger and cinnamon.  It is like a pumpkin gingerbread.

It is beautiful served warm, and it is beautiful served cold.  It also rises surprisingly high despite only having a tsp of baking soda as it's leavening. 

It does stand beautifully on it's own, served with a hot drink  . . . but for dessert, a nice dollop of softly whipped cream goes down a real treat! 

*Pumpkin Molasses Cake*
Serves 12
Moist and delicious.  Simply dust with powdered icing sugar to serve. 

350g plain flour (2 1/2 cups)
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
125g butter (1/2 cup)
300g soft light brown sugar (1 1/2 cups packed)
2 large free range eggs
180ml buttermilk or sour mikl (3/4 cup)
90g of tinned pureed pumpkin (1/2 cup)
60ml molasses (1/4 cup)
icing sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking tin and lightly dust with flour, shaking out any excess.  Set aside. 

Sift together the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger.  Whisk in the orange zest. Set aside. 

Whisk together the buttermilk, pureed pumpkin and molasses.  Set aside. 

Cream the butter until light.  Add the brown sugar and beat until well combined.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each egg is added. Add the flour mixture alternately with the pumpkin mixture, beating after each addition.  Scrape into the prepared pan. 

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven until the top springs back when lightly touched or a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack.  Dust with icing sugar to serve.

If you can get your hands on a copy of this cookbook, it is really a book worth having in your cookbook library!  You can sometimes pick them up second had at used book sales, etc.  (Although I cannot imagine anyone wanting to get rid of their copy!)  Happy pumpkin season and Bon Appetit!

Note - Here in the UK I have seen tinned pumpkin in Morrisons, Tesco and of course at online sites such as Skyco and Amazon.  I always pick up several tins when I see it!  I have even occasionally gotten it at Aldi. Molasses is a bit harder to come by, but you can get it at health food shops.  If you can't find it, just use golden syrup in its place and DARK soft brown sugar instead of the light.

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Marie Rayner
Bread Crumb Fried Potatoes

Bread Crumb Fried Potatoes

I started dating my first husband our last year in high school.  I used to love going up to his house for supper on a Friday or a Saturday night.  His mother Lois was an excellent cook. She was a farm wife, and a hard worker, and she was an expert in the use of simple ingredients and knew how to both make them stretch and taste good!

They had a farm hand that she used to feed and of course her boys and husband who had hearty farmhouse appetites.  I can remember the first time I had her fried potatoes.  They were gorgeous.  She cooked them in an electric skillet and used rendered salt pork to fry them.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven!

I learned a lot about cooking from her and the art of thrift.  My mother also taught me well in these areas.I always think that I was truly blessed to have had the tutelage of these two very fine cooks early in my life.

My mother used to fry her potatoes differently than Lois did. Mom always cut leftover potatoes into thin slices, and then fried them in butter.  They were also seriously tasty.  We could never get enough of them and would have quite happily had my mother standing at the stove all night frying them if she would have done so!

Farmhouse ingenuity meant adding a slice of stale bread, crumbled into crumbs, to the potatoes when they were frying.  This made the potatoes go a tiny bit further and added interest . . .  you got gilded golden brown potatoes, fried onion and crispy bread crumbs.  Adding the herbs has always been my own idea, and adds another depth of flavour to the dish. 

I like to use "new" or salad potatoes, which are naturally low GI, and I use whole wheat bread for it's nuttiness and lower GI qualities.  Altogether this combination is a bit healthier for me as a Diabetic than using old potatoes and white bread.  Not that you could ever count this dish as  "healthy" option, but it is  rare and delicious treat that I hope you will be keen to try. 

*Bread Crumb Fried Potatoes*
Serves 4

An ancient recipe that canny cooks used to make simple potatoes go a bit further.  Traditionally salt pork, or bacon grease would have been used to give the potatoes extra flavour.  Now I tend to use a mix of butter and olive oil, but if you want to really be traditional, use the pork or bacon grease.  About 4 TBS rendered salt pork fat or bacon grease will do it.  Just be sure to remember that both are salty and you won't need as much salt to season the dish.   

1 pound new or salad potatoes, boiled in the skins and
then refrigerated over night
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 TBS butter
2 TBS olive oil
1 slice of whole wheat bread, crumbled
1/2 tsp dried thyme, marjoram or summer savory
salt and black pepper to taste

If your potatoes are very large cut them into quarters.  You want them cut into about 1 inch sized cubes at any rate.   Heat the oil and butter in a heavy bottomed skillet until the butter begins to foam.  Tip in the cold potatoes. Season lightly and then brown them in the hot fat, turning them occasionally.  Add the onion, and continue to cook until the onion has softened.  Add the bread crumbs and dried herbs.  Stir to coat the bread crumbs in any fat and continue to cook until the crumbs have crisped up, stirring occasionally.  Serve hot.

The potato is my favourite vegetable.  Always has been and probably always will be.  I know that they are not that good for me so I try to consume less of them than I did in the past and when I do, I use new potatoes whenever possible.  Of course when it comes to mash, only an old potato will do.  Pan frying however . . .  new or salad potatoes tend to keep their shape much better. Look at all those golden brown edges.  Mmm . . .  these make for some good eating! As Gomer Pyle would say  . . .  Gawwwly!  Bon Appetit!

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Marie Rayner
No Fail Quiche

No Fail Quiche

Oh, I am a real pastry lover.  I swear you could put anything in a crust and I would be all over it like a rash. I come by that love honestly.  Everyone in my family is the same.  Crust crazy!

Since being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes several years ago however, I have been trying my hardest to avoid things like pastry. Oh, I do cook them for Todd, and trust me, it is really hard to have things like that in the house.  I have become an expert at cutting the quantities of recipes down so that I only make a few of most things. That way Todd doesn't have to suffer and I don't have to be overly tempted.  Its a fine line!

This No Fail Quiche makes the perfect quick supper dish, and if you use whole wheat self raising flour and low fat cheese and milk, is quite diabetic friendly.  You can load it with lots of vegetables or just a few vegetables.  You can use ham instead of bacon . . .

You can raid your fridge and get rid of all the bits and bobs that are laying about waiting to get used up.  Peppers, sweet corn, broccoli, cauliflower, cooked carrots, sprouts, etc. Just throw in whatever you have, making sure of course that the flavours go together.

Today I used mushrooms, onion, two rashers of bacon, some romanesco cauliflower and grainy mustard along with low fat cheddar and milk.  You can use chutney or pesto instead of the mustard. It is a very forgiving recipe, that turns out perfectly every time I make it.  A bit of salad on the side and dinner is served!  Leftovers heat up very nicely the next day also.

*No Fail Quiche*
Serves 4 
This simple entree just cannot fail.  Its a great opportunity to use up bits and bobs in the refrigerator along with being quick and easy to make. Its a very forgiving recipe. 

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
a handful of sliced brown mushrooms
2 rashers streaky bacon, chopped (or an equivalent of ham)
3 large free range eggs
70g self raising flour (1/2 cup)
120g strong cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup)
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS grainy mustard (or pesto, or chutney)
300ml milk (1 1/4 cups)
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley
salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup of additional vegetables (cooked corn, chopped peppers, cooked broccoli or cauliflower sliced, etc.)
A few TBS additional cheese to finish

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F gas mark 4.  Spray a 9 inch deep round quiche dish with some cooking spray and place into the oven while you mix up the filling. 

Put a few drops of oil in a skillet and add the onion, mushrooms and bacon. (peppers if you are using them)  Cook gently for a few minutes until softened. (You can also use low fat cooking spray)

Place the eggs, flour and milk into a food processor and blitz to combine. (alternately you can whisk together by hand)  Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Add the mustard (or pesto and chutney), oil, cheese and parsley.  Mix together well. Stir in the onion/mushroom mixture.  Remove the quick dish from the oven and pour this mixture into it.   Scatter any additional vegetables over top.  Return to the oven and bake  for 45 minutes until puffed, golden brown and set.  Remove from the oven. Scatter  few extra tablespoons of cheese over top.  Let stand to melt the cheese.  Cut into wedges to serve.

A small tin of boneless skinless salmon, along with cooked broccoli and basil pesto are also a magnificent combination.  You can really let your imagination go wild with this.  Chopped ham, sweet corn and a red onion chutney are also awfully good. You really cannot fail! Bon Appetit!

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Marie Rayner

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