Week 19 #Project365 – 2014

A rather busy week for us, trips out, cooking, cinema and looking after Grandson.

Sunday – A trip to the Wetlands for a long walk. It amazes me that you can turn one way and see the Severn Estuary with boats sailing by and you can turn 180 degrees and see Uskmouth Power station and pylons.

The Bull Rush sculpture is in the car park and although we’ve been here several times I’d never noticed it before.  After our walk we drove the few miles to Goldcliff and sat on the sea wall to eat our lunch. It’s the closest thing we have to a beach in Newport!!

After our jaunt to the Wetlands I made some Spare Ribs for tea (dinner).


newport wetlands, goldcliffe seawall

Monday – A day trip to Roath Park with Oldest Son and Grandson – I’ve linked up our exploits with Coombe Mill’s #Countrykids

Tuesday – a day of rest!

Wednesday – Orange Wednesday this week was Bad Neighbours – a rude, crude reasonably funny film about a couple whose neighbours are a fraternity of lewd, drunken yobs. It all gets a bit messy and rather silly. It was ok…to be honest the trailer was quite good as I don’t mind a bit of mindless stupid humour but the film itself just goes on and on. There wasn’t enough ‘belly’  laughs or LOL moments.

Also on Wednesday we had Ashley from late afternoon and he stayed overnight with us as Mummy and Daddy went out for their anniversary. He was no trouble at all, off to bed at 7am and we didn’t hear a peep out of him until he ambled into our bedroom for a cuddle at nearly 7am the next morning.
He’s a greedy boy at breakfast, devouring porridge followed by toast and some dried prunes – he loves them.

Thursday – Quick shopping trip for some fresh food and a few bottles of alcoholic Dandelion & Burdock – who knew this existed?? No neither did I until I saw it on Olivers Madhouse Instagram feed. Oh and it’s bloody lush..

Friday – Looking after Ashley again until it was time for nursery, he scoffed a ham sandwich, half a scone, a banana and half an apple for his lunch. Then washed it all down with some warm milk (he doesn’t do cold drinks at all)

Saturday – a quick visit to the MIL and back home to catch up with blogging!

steak, orange Wednesday, drink, food,

From top:

  • Spare ribs – RECIPE
  • yummy steak last Saturday evening- Tomato and Pepper Sauce RECIPE
  • cinema
  • balance bike fun at Roath Park
  • lush alcohol – hic!,
  • Healthy appetite / greedy boy!


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RECIPE: Spare Ribs

I really don’t have a definitive recipe for Spare Ribs so this is just basic recipe of how I cook them and to give you some ideas of what marinade / glaze you can use.


  • Half a rack of ribs person.
  • One onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • half teaspoon black pepper corns

For the glaze: Per half rack

  • 1 tsp tomato sauce
  • shake of Worcestershire sauce
  • shake of dark soy sauce
  • a little honey

Spare Ribs


On the rear of the ribs is a membrane that I always remove – but it’s not absolutely necessary. Just Google ‘remove skin on the back of ribs’ to find out how to do it.
Precook the ribs : Place the ribs into a large saucepan (you can fold them in half or cut them in half to get them to fit) along with the onion, peppercorns and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, place a lid on the pan and turn down to a simmer for 30 -45 mins. Remove carefully (tongs are best for this job!) and place on a grill rack.
Smother with the glaze and place in the oven @180 degrees for around 20 mins.
NB – If you are going to place them on the BBQ then precook them as above for 45 mins then glaze and BBQ for a few minutes.

Spare Ribs

The glaze above is just a suggestion. Use any glaze you like, you can buy some really good ones, in the past I’ve used Reggae Reggae sauce, JD BBQ sauce and just tomato sauce with Worcestershire.  As long as the meat falls off the bones and you get mucky eating them it’s all that counts!!

I hope you’ll give them a try! Let me know if you try them!

If you’d like to see more recipes click RECIPES

RECIPE: Tomato and Sweet Pepper Sauce

Whenever we have steak I have to make this sauce.  I can’t remember where the original recipe came from – all I now have is a tatty piece of paper with my version written on it – so it’s about time I wrote it up where it can’t get lost!

It’s an ideal sauce to go with any grilled meat or for a BBQ. Any left over can be warmed through and tossed with some pasta for a quick lunch.

If you don’t like basil you can use oregano.

I nearly always roast the peppers  – but you can make it without doing this but it won’t taste as good!


  • 1 large onion – finely chopped
  • 2 peppers – any colour
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • olive oil
  • black pepper and salt

Tomato and pepper sauce


Firstly roast the peppers – cut in half and core/deseed them. Drizzle with a little oil and place under a grill until they start to char. Remove and place them into a plastic bag for 5 minutes (or into a dish and cover with cling film) to sweat – it makes the skin easier to remove. Remove the peppers and peel off the skin. Roughly chop them.

Whilst the peppers are sweating heat a little oil in a pan and gently fry the onion until transparent. Add the tomatoes, peppers, basil and sugar. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer for 20 – 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Adjust seasoning to your taste.

Tomato and pepper sauce

Will you give a try? Let me know!!

If you’d like to see more recipes click RECIPES

RECIPE: Thai Pumpkin Soup

I’ve never cooked with pumpkin before and was surprised to discover that you can’t really cook with the ones sold for carving.

The only reason I made the soup was because pumpkin was on offer in the supermarket and I thought that for £1 each it would make a tasty cheap soup.
The next task was to look up a recipe, some using spices, some using dairy to enrich it, some using Thai ingredients. Only one thing wrong I didn’t have any lemongrass, chillies or red Thai paste. However I did have coconut and a jar of chopped chillies. So I set to work on my version of the soup, here’s the result and recipe.

Thai Pumpkin Soup

Thai Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients:  Enough for 4 to 6  portions.

  • 1 cooking pumpkin weighing about 1 Kilo
  • 1 onion – chopped
  • half block of creamed coconut
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped chillies (or 2 fresh red chillies chopped – up to you if you add seeds!)
  • 1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
  • salt and pepper


  • Preheat oven 180 degrees Gas Mark 4.
  • Quarter the pumpkin,  remove seeds and thready pith. Slice each quarter into 2 and place on a baking tray, drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for approx 30 minutes or until soft.
  • Meanwhile, fry the onion in a little oil until transparent – do not let it brown.
  • Add the stock, chillies and coconut. ( break up into small chunks – it will melt into the liquid)
  • Bring to the boil and leave to simmer stirring to melt the coconut.
  • When the pumpkin is soft, scrape the flesh off the peel and chop into smaller pieces. Add the pumpkin to the stock base.
  • Simmer for 15 mins.

To Serve:

  • Blitz the soup with a hand whisk until smooth. Add more stock or hot water until it is the consistency you like.
  • Adjust seasoning to taste.
  • Serve with toasted tortilla wraps cut into wedges / toast / prawn crackers


  • Use canned coconut milk instead of the creamed coconut, reduce the amount of stock used to around 700ml
  • Add a stalk or two of lemongrass – bruise and cut in half – remove before blitzing.
  • Use a couple of teaspoons of red Thai paste instead of chillies and lemongrass.

If you’d like to see more recipes click RECIPES

What’s for Dinner Tonight?

Well actually in our house it’s what’s for tea tonight?  Most of the time I make dishes from scratch using ingredients in the cupboards and fridge.
But it’s always handy to have some jars and packets as a standby for when time or inspiration is not forthcoming!

Recently Britmums were asking for members to try out the new Schwartz 2in1 seasoning range and they sent me 2 samples:

  • Mediterranean Chicken Pasta and Cheesy Crumb Topping: A blend of herbs and spices for chicken pasta with a cheesy topping.
  • Garlic & Thyme Roast Chicken + Crispy Roast Potatoes: Roast chicken seasoning, with garlic and thyme, accompanied by a special seasoning to create perfect Crispy Roast Potatoes

Тhe  2in1 range offers easy to use recipe mix sachets: one sachet flavours the main dish whilst the other contains seasoning for a complementary side dish or topping. There are 5 different varieties to choose from, and an easy recipe on the back of each pack’.

garlic and thyme 1I decided to try out the Garlic & Thyme Roast Chicken + Crispy Roast Potatoes.
The instructions said to make some cuts in the chicken, mix the top part of the sachet with some oil and brush that over the chicken. It is then covered with foil and placed in the oven to cook.
The potatoes are cut into chunks and par boiled. You heat a little oil in a separate dish, drain the potatoes, sprinkle with the potato seasoning and toss gently then transfer them to them oven dish.

garlic and herb 2

The cooked chicken:

The kitchen was filled with a delicious smell! The chicken was really tasty, the garlic and thyme is not overpowering just enough to make it tasty for everyone.
The potatoes were tasty too but not as tasty as the chicken. The seasoning contains semolina to give the potatoes a crunchy coat but I’m not keen on this. I can make crispy roasties without it!

garlic and herb 3

This is the finished dish:

Would I use it again? Not sure, the chicken was good but the potatoes disappointing. Perhaps I’ll use the chicken seasoning and give the potato seasoning to the Mother-in-Law!

“This post is an entry for BritMums ‘What’s for Dinner Tonight?’ sponsored by Schwartz. 

RECIPE: Turkey and Pineapple – Chinese Style

The first meal I ever had from a Chinese take-away was Chicken and Pineapple. I wasn’t sure that I’d like it but I did and it has become a regular choice over the years – along with Singapore Chow Mein…

A Chinese girl used to worked for me  and we were discussing food; I asked if the dishes we serve here in the UK are anything like what she has at home – the answer of course was no..but one of her favourites of the UK style was Chicken and Pineapple and she gave me her recipe for it. Really easy too!!

Turkey and pineapple

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time : under 10 minutes

Ingredients (for 4)

  • 350g Turkey breast meat – thinly sliced or cut into strips
  • 1 small can of pineapple chunks (in juice not syrup!)
  • 1 or 2 onions – roughly chopped (1 large or 2 medium)
  • 2 tsps – Light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp – Cornflour


  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok or deep frying pan.
  • Add turkey and fry for 2 minutes – keep it moving as you don’t want it brown.
  • Add Onion and continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes – the onion just needs to be transparent.
  • Add pineapple -including the juice, soy sauce and heat through.
  • Thicken sauce with a little cornflour slaked with a little water. Cook for another minute.

Serve with Rice or Noodles.

turkey and pineapple, chicken

This can also be made with chicken or pork. You can also use fresh pineapple but will need to add some liquid – juice, water or try some plum sauce.  I sometimes add mushrooms too as you can see in the picture.

Al Fresco foodie ideas!

Where do you go for a family holiday? If you have children you need somewhere where they can play safely and mix with other children. You need somewhere where you the adults can have some ‘me’ time.

What sort of holiday do you want? All Inclusive Hotel, B&B, self catering??
Why Italy? Well think of it, sunshine, beaches, lakes, countryside, pizzas, pasta, wine…what more can you need?

I think its important to try the local food when on holiday, I can’t see the point of going abroad only to eat sausage and chips! Let’s face it most people are familiar with some Italian food – Pizza and Pasta!
But do you really want to spend all your time cooking on holiday? Well the answer is no, of course not.. but when you have children you may have to cook and the important thing is to make it quick and tasty.

I’ll give you a few ideas for quick lunches and a basic tomato sauce that you can zhush up depending on your mood and what ingredients you’ve grabbed from the local markets!

Typical produce from the local shops and markets

Typical produce from the local shops and markets

So on to lunches:

Make up a big plate of AntiPasto – Italian Meats, salad, bread, breadsticks, olives, jars of marinated peppers, artichokes etc. Serve with some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.


Typical Antipasto

Caprese – Slice some mozzarella and Beef tomatoes drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle a little shredded fresh basil over the top – great with some crusty bread.

Bruschetta – grill slices of crusty bread, rub a clove of garlic over and top with chopped tomato mixed with basil / oregano and olive oil.

Nicoise salad – lettuce, tuna, olives and slices of boiled egg drizzled with any dressing you like.

What’s for tea Mum??

Most kids love pasta and you’ll notice lots of different types on your travels around the town and markets. Different colours and shapes, let the kids decide which one to have.

Having a Basic Pomodoro (Tomato) Sauce in your repertoire is a must. You can use it plain, reduce down to thicken it as a tomato base for pizza, serve with grilled steak and chops or use as a dip for breadsticks.
A basic Pomodoro sauce can be varied by adding any / all of the following – bacon, mushrooms, courgette, peppers, chilli or swap the basil for oregano.

Pomodoro Sauce

Serves 4


  • 1 large Onion – chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves crushed Garlic
  • tin of chopped Tomatoes
  • 2 tsp Tomato Puree (optional)
  • 1 tsp dried Basil
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper


Heat the Olive oil in a medium size saucepan and add the onion. Fry gently until transparent, add the garlic and fry for a minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree and basil. Stir well and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook with a lid on for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. If it’s getting too thick add a little water. At the end of the cooking time adjust seasoning to your taste.
Serve with pasta – cook as per instructions on the packet!


  • Tomato and Bacon: Fry 100g of sliced bacon or lardons with the onion. (reduce or omit salt)
  • Tomato and Mushroom: Add 50g to 100g sliced or chopped mushrooms.
  • Vegetarian Tomato: Add 50g sliced mushrooms, 1 chopped green pepper, 1 small diced courgette, handful of chopped black olives.
  • Pizziola Sauce : Add 1 chopped green pepper and 1 chopped red pepper, add some shredded fresh basil at the end instead of dried. This one is fantastic with Steak!!
  • Amatriciana: Fry 100g of sliced bacon or lardons with the onion. (reduce or omit salt). Add one sliced chopped chilli or add half teaspoon of chilli flakes.  This is the one you can see in this picture – served with garlic and basil linguine.
italian tomato sauce

Pomodoro Sauce made into Amatriciana

BUT – the best thing about this? – you can also use a ready made jar of tomato pasta sauce! There will be plenty to be had in the local shops. So the simplest ‘What’s for tea Mum?’ put pasta on to cook, slice up some crusty bread,  open the jar warm the contents, drain pasta, dump onto plates, pour over the sauce, fork and spoon and get your gob open!! Under 15 minutes – Job Done!!

All photos are copyrighted to Soosie Wales and cannot be used without permission.

If you’d like to see more recipes click RECIPES

RECIPE: Chicken Biryani – Slow Cooker style

I’ve scoured the interweb looking for a suitable recipe for a Biryani. Some say to cook the rice separately, some are dry cooked meat with the rice par-boiled and added at a late stage of cooking, some add the rice at the start of cooking.
So there doesn’t seem to be a definitive recipe anywhere.. oh dear. Continue reading

RECIPE: Christmas Pudding 2012

I first made Christmas Pudding about 25 years ago. Us Brits were presented with a choice ‘Mrs Peeks’ or Very Posh ones from upmarket shops or you make your own. It’s certainly different today. You can get the basic ‘bog standard’ ones, medium quality, top quality or artisan products. I have tried some of the better quality ones (when in the post-Christmas clearouts at a supermarket) but none comes close to making your own.

For the recipe below steep the dried fruit overnight in a couple of tablespoons of whisky / brandy / rum or if you’re not into alcohol use the orange juice from the recipe. This year I used 1 tbsp of Glayva and 1 tbsp of Jack Daniels, just because that was what was in my cupboard.
The beer required to mix the pudding can be anything from a stout, bitter or lager. I used to buy a small bottle of Guinness or Mackeson but ended up with half a bottle of something no-one in the house drinks! So now I use which ever beer Hubby has in his allowance from work. (He works for a brewery!) I also find it best to use vegetarian suet as it’s lighter and healthier.
If you want a darker pudding add a couple of tablespoons of black treacle to the mix.  I don’t use it anymore as this is the only recipe I’d use it for..

There are of course many recipes and different ways of cooking them.  I use an adapted recipe from one of my recipe books and cook it in a microwave.  Microwaves are really good at doing steamed puddings and are much quicker than having a pot steaming away for hours. But of course there is the new alternative – the slow cooker.  You can of course steam this pudding on your stove top for 5 to 6 hours or place pudding in a slow cooker, pour boiling water three-quarters of the way up the basin. Cook for 8 – 10 hours on Low.

Oh one last thing before getting to the recipe….I make 2 large puddings and 2 teacup size puddings with this mixture! The 2 teacup ones are cooks perks! (cook them on same setting as large ones for about 4 minutes.

This recipe makes 2 x 1.5 pint puddings

IngredientsChristmas Pudding before cooking

  • 150g Plain Flour
  • 3 tsp Mixed Spice
  • 175g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 225g Dark Soft Brown Sugar
  • 625g Mixed Dried Fruit
  • 50g Glace Cherries halved or quartered
  • 1 large orange – grated rind (use juice to steep fruit if not using alcohol
  • 1 Dessert Apple – grated
  • 4 eggs – lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp Milk
  • 150ml Stout or other beer.. see preamble above
  • 2 tbsp whisky or  brandy or rum


  • Place the dried fruit in a large bowl and stir in the whisky / brandy / rum or orange juice. Leave to steep for a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
  • Sieve the flour and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl and add all the other dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Mix in all the other ingredients.
  • Cover and leave in a cool place for a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
  • Grease 2 x 2 pint (1 litre) basins and place a circle of greaseproof paper in the bottom.
  • Divide the mixture between the 2 basins. Press  mixture down well.  They should be about three-quarters full.  Any left over mixture can be used for teacup puds..see preamble.

Cooking Instructions:


  • Cover basin with cling film and pierce a few times.
  • Cook on medium setting for 8 minutes (1000watt microwave).
  • At the end of cooking time the top of the pudding should be set. Push a skewer into the centre it should come out reasonably clean. If not then cook for another 1 or 2 minutes.
  • Leave in basin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.


  • Cover basin with a pleated layer of greaseproof paper and put a pleated layer of foil on top; tie securely with string.
  • Place each pudding in a large, heavy bottomed sacepan on a trivet or upturned saucer. Fill the pan with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the puddings.
  • Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Cook at a gentle simmer for 5-6 hours, topping up with water every couple of hours if you need to.
  • Remove from pan and allow to cool.


  • Place the pudding in a slow cooker. Make sure your basin fits!!
  • Fill the crock  with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the pudding.
  • Cover with a lid and cook on LOW for 8 – 10 hours
  • Remove from pan and allow to cool.

When completely cold, wrap each pudding in double thickness greaseproof paper and then in foil. Store in the bottom of a fridge to mature.

Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding 2012

To Reheat

  • Cut portions and reheat in the microwave for 30 secs to 1 minute per portion.
  • Or you can reheat the whole pudding by heating in a Microwave or resteaming.
  • Serve with Brandy butter / cream/ custard

RECIPE: Ham and Leeks

The traditional method of Ham and Leeks is to wrap the leeks with the ham and place them in a dish and cover with a Béchamel sauce or Cheese sauce.  This is the way I made it for years. I recently tried a different method, tastes the same but easier to portion out if serving adults and children together. I don’t add salt to this recipe as there is already salt in the ham and cheese.

What you see in the pictures was half this quantity and gave Hubby and I a generous supper.

Ingredients:  To serve 4:

  • 3 or 4 leeks trimmed, washed and sliced into rounds
  • 6 to 8 slices of cooked ham (amount depends on how big the slices are!)
  • 400ml Milk
  • 1 Desertspoon cornflour
  • 75g Cheddar Cheese – grated
  • 1 teaspoon french mustard
  • 1 slice of bread – made into breadcrumbs
  • pepper


Preheat oven to 170 degrees / gas mark 3

Make white sauce :

  • In a 2 pint jug slake the cornflour in a little of the milk.
  • Add rest of milk and stir. Place in the microwave and heat for 2 minutes
  • Remove from microwave and stir well, cook for a further minute or until thickened – it should be a little thicker than double cream.
  • Stir in half of the cheese.
  • Add pepper to taste (white pepper is better..)

While sauce is heating, saute the leeks in a little butter until just softened. Add pepper to taste.

Assemble the dish:

  • Grease a 2 pint casserole dish.
  • Scatter half the leeks in the base and cover with half the slices of ham.
  • Then repeat.
  • Pour cheese sauce over the top making sure it is all covered.
  • Scatter the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs over the top.
  • Place in oven for 20 minutes or until top is golden.

Serve with crusty bread, pasta or baked potato.

If you’d like to see more recipes click RECIPES

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