Monday 25 February 2013

Store Cupboard Slow Cooker Chicken..........

I know it's odd, I have goodness knows how many cookery books in my cupboards, but quite often I just like to have a rummage and throw something together.  So far so good, and if it didn't work you wouldn't hear about it ;). 
You might want to see the last couple of store cupboard recipes too?

Store cupboard burritos
Store cupboard lamb "keema" curry

Having raided the freezer and store cupboard this time, I came up with the following ingredients :)

A little oil
6 chicken thighs (from the farm so fairly large) skinned but on the bone
2 onions (only 1 in the pic but I changed my mind)
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes
Can of chick peas (been in the larder for ages, was planning own hummus)
Box of basics chopped tomatoes
150ml Chicken stock

I fried the onions and garlic in 1 cal spray (sprayed 20 times), you can use own oil!  Added the chicken and browned, I then added the rest of the ingredients, brought to the boil, then put into the slow cooker for 8 hrs on low.

The kids had 2 portions each, with jacket potatoes, we are having with leftover potatoes from yesterdays dinner.  You can have with what you fancy of course, but it was yummy - and that's coming from an anti stew person who hates wet food by the way ;)

Enjoy, and all feedback welcomed :)

Annie x

Sunday 17 February 2013

Slow Cooker "Roast" Shoulder of Lamb

I got a huge shoulder of lamb from Sainsburys, over £22 worth reduced to £6.  Was waiting for a special Sunday lunch with my mum and in-laws.   Having defrosted it I found out my in-laws hadn't written it down and couldn't come, but had to cook it anyway.
I covered it with olive oil and seasoned.  Put little slits all over and filled them with whole garlic cloves and sprigs of rosemary.
I put it in the slow cooker at midnight, and was woken to the most wonderful smells A.M.A.Z.I.N.G..........
It just fell apart and so moist and tender and flavoursome, very much reminded me of Crete  *sighs*.........

Will do this again :)
Annie x

St Albans Film Festival 2013

The lovely Leoni Kibbey is the brainchild behind the first Film Festival being held in our wonderful City.  Some exciting films and workshops etc.  You can buy tickets online, or visit the shop in Market Place (the old Past Times shop) and have a chat about what's going on.  You can also follows @StAlbansFF for the latest news. 

ISSUE #002

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St Albans’ first ever Film Festival, 8th -10th March 2013 – Tickets on Sale.

Are you a professional filmmaker, interested in getting into filmmaking or just love watching great movies? St Albans First ever Film Festival has something for all ages and interests.

A FESTIVALPASS IS GREAT VALUE AT £40 FOR THE 3 DAYS (£30 Concessions) & gives you discounts around the city. You can also buy individual tickets to workshops and events. Download our full Festival Programme here

Don’t miss our amazing events, talks and workshops, including stop-frame animation workshops. Children will be encouraged to get dressed up in film-themed fancy dress, there will be a film Pub Quiz, interactive events where people will have a chance to get on camera or try things out behind the scenes, and celebrities from the world of film, art and music milling around the town. Come and join the festival fun!
If you would like to find out more you can see our website & here is a lovely promo film we made to inspire children to make films: St Albans Film Festival Promo

Leoni Kibbey
Festival Director


A Cat in Paris

Super Massive

Feature Film Vinyl will open the Festival on March 8th ahead of its UK-wide release with stars of the film attending. Directed by Sara Sugarman, and starring Phil Daniels, Keith Allen, Perry Benson and up and coming young actor Jamie Blackley.

A Cat in Paris
Oscar-nominated A Cat In Paris. The film tells the story of a young Parisian girl whose cat leads her to unravel a thrilling mystery over the course of a single evening. Kids are encouraged to dress up as a Cat .. or French person!

Casual Breakin' began his turntablism in the heady rave days and is now a regular face on the London breaks and electro dance music scene, smashing up air waves, clubs and carnivals alike.

St Albans Film Festival
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Saturday 16 February 2013

2013 MAD Blog Award Nomination

I am very excited to receive my first MAD Blog Award nomination, and particularly in the Best Family Travel Blog section.

I probably won't win, but as a fairly new blog I am truly honoured.

If you would like to nominate me, you can do so here :)

My URL to enter is

Thanks for looking :)

Annie x

Friday 15 February 2013

Slow Cooker Venison in Port...(amongst other thing)

I was lucky enough to be given a Venison leg from my friend Shelley.  Her husband is licenced to shoot them, so this was straight from the shoot to my friend's freezer - she had texted me a pic of said deer earlier, and luckily enough I'm not squeamish about these things.  I believe as a meat eater you need to be realistic?

It had been in my freezer for a couple of weeks whilst I decided what to do with it.  Having consulted several cookery books I didn't really warm to any 1 of them, so cobbled together my own version.

I can honestly say this was the freshest meat I can ever remember cooking with, the fact that the cats were going crazy is testament to that fact!

Serving it up with good old mashed potatoes, as the snow is falling, it was a perfect meal for a cold, cold night.  *And* of course, did I say how low in fat it is, what's not to love :)

A little olive oil for browning
750g Venison cubed (I had a leg)
Enough flour to coat
250g shallots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
120g shitake mushrooms

6 juniper berries crushed (herb aisle in Sainsburys)
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Grated nutmeg
100ml Port
300ml lamb stock (most recipes said beef)

I took the meat off the bone and cubed.  Rolled in the flour and seasoned with plenty of black pepper.
I browned the meat in batches and moved to the slow cooker.  I then added the the rest of the dry ingredients and fried for a few minutes.   I then added the port and stock, brought to the boil, then added the whole lot to the slow cooker.  I stirred, then left to cook for around 8 hours.

The result was a mouth-watering meal, the venison was so tender in a beautiful rich gravy.  Will definitely be serving this at my next dinner party.   Which I must arrange by the way, but for which victims guests?

Annie x

Monday 11 February 2013

NHS Number 111 - for fast medical help

I found this card today and am shocked I wasn't aware of it already, particularly as I mind children for a living.  Much easier number to remember that the NHS Direct one!

Thought I'd share!

Annie x

Sunday 10 February 2013

Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder with just 3 more ingredients

Disclosure, this is an unsponsored post, just a happy bunny wanting to share!

Having been frugal of late, and trying to eat from stocks we have, I couldn't help but indulge from the St Albans Farmers Market.

We started by visiting my friend Vickie from @HumbersHomemade who was selling Red Nose Day apple jelly, which we all fell in love with (interpretation Kids argued over which jar and who was carrying it etc. - luckily Vickie's a dab hand as a mother of 4 and diffused the situation beautifully)!

After that we were in search of a pork joint to slow cooker - I had been having withdrawal symptoms.  I chose a Pork Shoulder as that is a bit fattier and lends itself better to slowcooking, don't let that put you off tho, as it serves to baste throughout the cooking, but you can cut it off - if you are so inclined :)
So I decided to keep it simple.  I cut the fat off from the joint, but placed it back on for cooking - figured this would make it easier to remove to make crackling later.

I put it in the slow cooker, then mixed 125ml chicken stock, 2 tbs of apple jelly, 1 table of mustard and poured it over the joint.  Covered and cooked on high for 2 hours, then low for another 3 or 4.

I made the gravy from the juice by draining and then thickening with cornflour, and accompanied with farmers market steamed vegetables.  I grilled the fat under the grill, having covered with salt, and literally sat watching it cos I've overdone the crackling too many times!

It was beautiful...........loads left over too :)

Will definitely be doing this again :)

Annie x

Friday 1 February 2013

Chilli Crab Cakes

The wonderful people at Booths sent me out a lovely Pinot Grigio and a bottle of Prosecco - ready for our Thursday 7pm #BoothsCheers party on twitter :)

I love an ice cold crisp white wine, and thought some chilli crab cakes would compliment the Pinot beautiful.  It was also my first time playing with Quinoa - loved it too, low fat and lower carbs than breadcrumbs!

Bonus too was that the only ingredient I needed was horseradish, I'd had a can of crab meat in the larder for a while, and chillies in the freezer - one of my most recent discoveries, never knew you could freeze them, and peppers and herbs etc!

Chris was playing football last night, so I've been requested to make
them again tonight.

Ingredients this makes 2 crab cakes)
1 tin of crab meat
1 red chilli (to taste)
1 tbsp low fat yoghurt (I like Greek)
1 tsp horseradish
1 tsp of lime juice
Handful of chopped coriander
1 beaten egg
Quinoa, enough to cover

Combine the crab, chilli, yoghurt, horseradish, lime and coriander in a bowl.  Using your hands form into 2 small cakes, or 1 large one depending on whether you are using small for starters, or for one main course?
If making ahead of time chill in the fridge.  Or else dip in the beaten egg, cover in the qunioa, then shallow fry in a little oil.

I served mine with a crisp Caesar Salad.  Alongside the Pinot it was a lovely Thursday treat :)

Annie x