Restaurant Quality Beef Burgers

What is the point of paying for fancy burger when you can make YOUR OWN version at home for a quarter of the price.

Why I haven’t I made this yet? It was so simple yet the kids thought it was incredible, even saying “we don’t ever need to go to a restaurant again”. Winning.

There is a definite trick to creating such an amazing burger and it comes down to the ingredients used. You can’t just use a regular supermarket patty or a hamburger bun, you have to use a quality meat patty (the ones I used were from Waitrose) and the main component which sets it apart, a Brioche Bun. I also used a good quality cheese and bacon. I finished the burger off with avocado and it looked professional.

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Another trick is the way in which everything is cooked. I first cooked the bacon, trimming off 90% of the fat and cooked in butter. I then cooked the patty in the bacon juice making sure it was a medium/ rare. I then topped them with the cheese and let it melt into the patty, getting crispy around the side. After taking it off I then placed the Brioche Bun in the pan with all the juices and it soaked all those amazing flavours up.

You can really add anything you like on it. If I was making it for me I would of added caramelised onion, mushrooms and an egg. For the kids though this was perfection.

Restaurant Quality Beef Burgers 
serves two

8 Rashers Bacon
2 Beef Quarter Pounders (high quality beef, these were from Waitrose)
2 Slices Cheese (I used Monterey Jack)
2 Brioche Buns
1 Avocado
Butter

Place a knob of butter in a frypan along with bacon, cook until crispy. Removing to absorbent paper.

Place quarter pounders in the same pan cooking on each side for 3 – 4 minutes.

Place cheese on quarter pounders and let melt. Remove from pan.

Place Brioche Bans in pan and let absorb all the juices by moving around pan.

Once the bun has crisped cover in avocado.

Assemble burger.

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The Ultimate Mac and Cheese

Yes this is the ultimate Mac and Cheese because is also has BACON AND CHICKEN in it. Definitely the most delicious Mac and Cheese I’ve had and I guess it isn’t that hard considering the only other time I had it was when working in America at a Summer Camp and I’m pretty sure they didn’t use real cheese and possibly not even real pasta.

If you look at my baking and meals I’ve previously cooked you have properly noticed that I don’t like going with the norm, I like going bigger and better. So when they kids asked for Mac and Cheese I was going to make it extra delicious (and better then the previous AuPair made).

I think the trick to making this meal is the quality of cheese used. I used a combination of cheddar and parmesan and you could really taste difference. The bacon also gave it an incredible flavour although I could of used so much more of it. I then cooked the chicken in the bacon fat and you could tell, this meal is not a weekly event so making it extra fatty with the bacon I believe is completely acceptable.

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The recipe below includes the extra ingredients I will use next time.

The Ultimate Mac and Cheese 
Serves 4

2 Cups Macaroni Pasta
8 Bacon Strips
2 Chicken Breasts, cubed
2 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp Flour
1 1/2 Cups Milk
1 Cup Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 Cup Parmesan, grated
Pepper
Salt

Cook pasta as per packet instructions.

Chop and cook bacon in a medium saucepan until crispy. Once done remove bacon leaving fat in pan.

In the same pan add chicken and cook in bacon fat. When cooked, remove. Leave fat in pan.

Add butter to saucepan and melt over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth (should take a couple of minutes).

Slowly add in milk while continuing to whisk (deglazing your pan).

Gently bring milk to the boil, stirring frequently. Allow to thicken.

Gradually stir in the cheese until all has melted. Remove from heat.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in chicken and crumbled bacon.

Add drained pasta to the sauce and stir altogether.

OPTIONAL

Pour into a baking dish and place in oven at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

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Apple and Cinnamon Bread

Since my Banana Bread was such a hit at both the bake sale as well as at home I decided to try this recipe that I have been wanting to make for a while.

Sweet breads (loaf tin cakes as they pretty much are) are a hit with both kids an adults and seem to be more acceptable then a slice of cake which pretty much contains the same type of ingredients (anything tasting that amazing can’t be that good for you unfortunately).

Regardless they taste INCREDIBLE and I don’t plan on stop making them anything soon (or ever). There are seriously so many drool worthy fruit and vegetable breads out there that I can’t wait to bake. I’m so fortunate that I already have three amazing and successful recipes (banana, carrot and now apple and cinnamon) that all get rave reviews and recipe requests from anyone who tastes them.

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I have to say that this Apple and Cinnamon Bread is incredible, the aroma it creates is sensational and the taste is even better. This recipe is a must try and I promise it will be a recipe you’ll bake for a long time.

Apple and Cinnamon Bread

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 1/2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
2/3 Cup Sugar
125g Butter, softened
2 Eggs
2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Milk
2 Medium Apples, peeled and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside.

Using an electric mixer combine sugar and butter until smooth.

Add eggs and vanilla and continue to beat on medium speed until combined.

Add flour, baking powder and milk.

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan.

Cover with half of the apples and pat down with the back of a spoon.

Sprinkle with half of sugar and cinnamon mixture.

Pour in the remaining batter and top with remaining apples and brown sugar/cinnamon mixture again pressing down with a spoon.

Bake for 50 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

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Chicken Noodle Soup using leftovers

Who does not love using leftovers to create a completely different meal? I’ll put my hand up for that.

In this day and age we live in a time where there is hardly any. Work hours are getting longer and with the power of connecting to the internet from just about anywhere in the world, work is no longer from 9 – 5pm. So in saying all of this using leftovers to not have the same meal two nights in a row is a win.

A few posts back I found a recipe to make delicious and easy mexican chicken (https://becconquest.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/shredded-chicken-for-burritos/), I have since made it again and the last time had a fair bit left over, so this is where my latest creation came from.

This recipe is literally just ingredients thrown into a pot and surprisingly it worked and tasted delicious. Next time I would suggest adding sweetcorn, mushrooms or spring onions using either all or separately to mix the flavour up.

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NOTE: If chicken is not in juice place it in 500ml chicken stock.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 2 – 3

Leftover Shredded Chicken in Juices (about 500g)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
1 Packet of Chicken Noodle Soup
100g Rice Noodles

Saute chopped onions in olive oil until soft.

Add chicken in juices to large saucepan and bring to the boil.

Add chicken noodle soup mix followed by the rice noodles.

Stir through until noodles are soft.

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Turkey Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

There was some turkey mince in the freezer so I decided to make some meatballs. I haven’t used turkey before I always use sausage mince in a simple recipe my Nanny uses which I also love to make. It uses three ingredients and is great for a quick meal to pull out of the freezer.

I found a recipe using the turkey I thought looked nice using breadcrumbs and apple. It was quiet easy to make especially since I made use of the food processor and chopped the onions and apples in it. What a time saver, why haven’t I used it before?

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When frying the meatballs they seemed to fall apart, they tasted delicious although just didn’t look right. When making again I will add an egg so they bind together (I’ve added this to the recipe).

I also made a simple tomato sauce to go with them. I served it with rice and the kids enjoyed it. When making it again I would serve it with a brown rice (or for me zucchini pasta) though for some more flavour and to make it a little more healthy.

Turkey Meatballs with Tomato Sauce 
Serves 3 – 4

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Onion, chopped
80g White Breadcrumbs
100ml Milk
500g Turkey Mince
2 small Apples, peeled and grated
1 Egg Yolk
2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
Tsp Salt and Pepper
2 Tbsp Flour, for dusting

For the tomato sauce
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, crushed
800g Tin Chopped Tomatoes
200ml Water
1 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 Tsp Dried Oregano
Salt and Pepper

Put all of the chopped onions (for meatball and sauce) in a frying pan and soften for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, soak the breadcrumbs in the milk for 10 minutes in a small bowl.

When onions are done, take out 1/3 and place in a bowl. With the remaining onions add crushed garlic and sauté for another minute.

Add all other sauce ingredients to the pan and bring to the boil and then simmer, cover for a further 10 minutes.

Continue with the meatballs by adding the turkey mince, apple, thyme, egg yolk, salt, pepper and soaked breadcrumbs to the onions and mix together.

Using floured hands roll the mixture to form balls.

Heat up olive oil and begin to fry meatballs on a medium heat turning around after 3 – 5 minutes. Make sure they are completely cooked through and transfer to a bowl that has absorbent paper underneath.

Cook rice or pasta according to packet instructions.

Either add meatballs to sauce or serve over the top.

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Easy Pancakes

The other night I decided to treat the kids for dinner. A couple of nights before I said if they were good we can have a treat. Surprise Surprise they were and we had pancakes.

I don’t have a set pancake recipe so I went to the internet and researched. Some of the recipes are on there are so ridiculously complicated and some are so simple. I went for one that I found had ingredients that I thought would of come perfectly together.

I ended up making two batches as there wasn’t enough. I decided to use a second recipe to try out and liked that one a lot better. They were extra fluffy and a lot more simpler to make.

Pancakes 
Makes about 10

1 Egg
1 Tbsp Sugar
100g Self Raising Sugar
150ml Milk

Whisk all ingredients together and put into pouring jug.

Preheat a pan with butter.

Pour out batter into pan and wait until pancake turns bubbly and flip.

Repeat process until all batter is used.

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Juicy Roast Chicken & Gravy

I have always wanted to cook a chicken from scratch ever since reading through my Donna Hay cookbook I received for Christmas last year. She had recipe after recipe of mouth watering roasted chicken with a decadent range of flavours. It was always on my cooking to do list although I do have to admit the reason why I’ve slacked off and haven’t is the fact that a BBQ chicken and a uncooked chicken from my local supermarket are pretty much the same price. Time, convenience and money are to blame I have to say.

So when Vix brought home a chicken I was actually quiet excited to be able to cross another cooking experience off my to-do list.

Unfortunately I didn’t have my extremely large Dnna Hay cookbook with me so I turned to google to research and find a recipe. I was firstly drawn into a Jamie Oliver one that was cooked in milk and cinnamon, although sounding strange it had rave reviews but I thought for my first time working with a chicken I should keep it simple.

Hence the recipe I found and used. It didn’t sound to boring and still included rosemary and lemon which I know gives a lovely flavouring. It also included a gravy recipe which I wanted to make as well.

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All in all it was delicious. Moist and juicy with a crispy skin and a mouth watering gravy to accompany it.

A few notes: Next time I would add more carrots and possibly celery. I ended up eating them when they were removed when sieving the gravy. They were possibly the most flavoursome carrots I have ever tasted. I also had to skim out some of the visible butter which can be seen as a film onto of the gravy, if possible I would remove it gradually when making it.

 Juicy Roast Chicken & Gravy 
Serves 2 – 4

1 Onion, chopped
2 – 4 Carrots, chopped
1 Chicken, about 1½ kg
1 Lemon, quartered
Small Bunch Thyme
100 – 120g Butter, softened

For the gravy
1 Tbsp Plain Flour
250ml Chicken Stock

Preheat oven to 170 degrees (have a shelf ready in the middle of the oven without any shelves above it).

Roughly cut and scatter onion and carrots in roasting tin.

Season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper then stuff with the lemon halves and thyme. Tie legs together.

Place the chicken on the vegetables and cover the chicken (i used my hands) all over with butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Place in the oven (undisturbed) for 1 hour and 20 mins.

To check if cooked pierce the thigh with a skewer and juices should run clear.

Using a pair of tongs (shaking off and leaving excess juices in pan), lift the chicken to a plate to rest for 15-20 minutes.

While the chicken is resting, make the gravy.

Place the roasting tin on the stove top over a low heat.

Stir in flour and let sizzle until it turns a light brown with the consistency of a sandy paste.

Gradually stir in the stock until thickened. Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring regularly.

Strain the gravy into a small saucepan and let simmer. Season to taste.

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