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Twice Baked Potatoes with Leeks & Cheese

Twice Baked Potatoes with Leeks & Cheese




One of the things we loved most when I was growing up was when my mother would make twice baked potatoes.  They were a real treat for us.  She didn't do anything really special to them . . . she just basically scooped the insides out and mashed them with butter and milk, a bit of seasoning and then refilled the skins and baked them for a bit longer until the surface of the mash got a bit crispy.


  She might have added a bit of minced onion from time to time, but that is as fancy as she got. She liked to keep things really simple.  We thought they were a real treat. She could never make enough of them for us . . .  kinda like her butter fried potatoes.  We gobbled them up! 



I used to do the same thing for my own kiddies, except I got a tiny bit fancier and used some sour cream, butter, and chopped spring onions . . . and then gradually through the years I added other bits and bobs as I was inspired . . .


Chopped bacon or ham, cheddar cheese, sometimes creamed cheese, garlic . . .


Not all together mind  . . .  just a bit of this and a bit of that.  I think my children's favourites were when I did them with sour cream, cheese, chives and bacon.  I'll let you in on a little secret, they were my favourites also!


I had some leek which needed using up the other day and decided to saute it in some butter and use it to stuff some baked potatoes . . .


Along with a little bit of a four cheese blend.  Mine had Cheddar, Jack, Red Leicester and Gouda in it.



I scooped the potato insides out and mixed them with some seasoning, the cooked leeks and the cheese and stuffed them back in.  Do leave a thin layer of potato in the skins when you are scooping the potato out. It makes for more stability in the finished product. 



Don't pack the filling in too tightly either when you are refilling the skins.  You want it a bit loose and craggy looking.  This makes for lots of lovely crispy edges, which we love.



I like to sprinkle a bit more cheese on top before I pop them back into the oven.


You don't need a lot really, just a couple teaspoons on top of each.  Or not, as you wish. We like the extra cheese.


You don't really have to bake them for long after you have re-stuffed them.  You are basically only reheating already cooked stuff . . .  and making sure the cheese melts.


And of course you want some crispy bits.  They are the best!


Yield: 4

Twice Baked Potatoes with Leeks & Cheese

prep time: 5 minscook time: 2 hourtotal time: 2 hours and 5 mins
These are the perfect light lunch or a delicious side for with your supper.

ingredients:

4 large baking potatoes
2 medium sized leeks
1 1/2 TBS butter
salt and black pepper to taste
124g grated four cheese blend, plus a bit more for sprinkling (1 generous cup)

instructions:


Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Scrub
the potatoes clean and prick with a fork. Place into the oven directly
onto the oven rack.  Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until the potatoes give
 a bit when gently squeezed.  Remove and set aside to cool while you
cook the leeks.  Keep the oven on.

Trim the
dark green parts from the leeks and discard, or save to use in making
stocks. Cut the remaining stalk in half lengthwise and rinse well in
cold water to remove any grit or dirt.  Slice thinly.  Melt the butter
in a large skillet.  Add the leeks and saute gently for about 5 minutes
 until softened.  Set aside.

Cut the potatoes
in half lengthwise.  Carefully scoop out the flesh into a bowl, leaving a
 thin shell. (I find a teaspoon works beautifully for this.)  Mash
together with the softened leeks and some salt and black pepper to
taste.  Stir in the cheese.  Mix well together. Place the potato halves
on a baking sheet and then stuff lightly with the potato/leek/cheese
mixture.  Try not to compact it. Leave it loose, you get more crunchy
bits that way.  Sprinkle with a bit more cheese.  A  pinch works well
for each.

Return to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes, until heated through and golden, with some crispy bits.
Created using The Recipes Generator



I can't think of anything these wouldn't go with. I love them even on their own with nothing else!  Its a simple thing really . . .  twice baked potatoes.  Its really true that the simple things in life are the best things!  Bon Appetit! 



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Marie Rayner
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Quick Chicken Chowmein

Quick Chicken Chowmein




I have a real fondness for oriental flavours  . . .  sesame, soy, ginger, garlic . . . I love the way they go together.  I love the freshness of stir fries, and the simplicity of them.  I love Chinese Food, and yes I know pretty much my only experience of that is Westernised, but I am quite  happy with that! When I looked into my August Degustabox I was inspired to do something along those lines . . .  something quick and delicious and with Oriental flavours!



I love these boxes. Opening each one is tiny a bit like opening a Christmas gift. Always a surprise, and always filled with things that pique my interest and desire to try. Degustabox is a monthly foodie subscription service that sends out a range of 10 to 15 specially selected foodie products. There's always a great mix of new products that I haven't tried before, as well as plenty of treats from more established brands. Quite often you will have the opportunity to try  new products before they arrive in the shops, so it can be a bit of a sneak peak! Each Degustabox costs only £12.99, delivery costs are included in the price, and there is no fixed contract involved - you can cancel at any time. I love getting these boxes! They are great value for money spent.


Here is what was in the August Box. I am not sure what the theme was if any, it was kind of a mix of all things tasty!  Some was perfect for starting off your day, some for snacking and some for popping into a lunch box!


LIOBITES Smoothis Bites 2 X £1.99 each 

LioBites are new, healthy and 100% natural fruit crisps. Their Smoothie Bites are made from fresh fruit, picked in season, blended and freeze dried to create a crunchy and delicious snack. Smoothie Bites are high in nutrients, vegan and gluten free with no added sugar or preservatives.  The perfect snack for the whole family, ideal for lunch boxes and one of your five a day! 

These were really moreish. I love the fact that they are made from fruit and sugar & preservative free!



JOHN WEST Infusions 1 X £2.29

John West Tuna Fillets are a range of succulent tender tuna fillets, delicately cut from the highest quality part of the fish and marinated in to keep them tender. Infused in oil that's a perfect salad dressing and available in 3 flavours; Chili & Garlic, Basil, and Lemon & Thyme.

Todd enjoyed this for lunch one day along with some crisp crackers.  He really liked it. We had the Chilli & Garlic  flavour.


BOKA Bar 2 X £0.75

Boka cereal bars are unique in having four green traffic lights, they are low in fat, saturated fat, sugars, and salt, under 100 calories, whilst tasting delicious!  Great as a healthy snack, in a school lunch box or sports bag.

I confess, I was a greedy gus and hogged these both to myself. Very yummy! I liked the healthy snack aspect of them and they were quite tasty!



ROWNTREE's Random's 30% Less Sugar Pouch 1 X £1.29

30% Less Sugar, 100% fun-filled. Introducing Rowntree's 30% Less Sugar Randoms.  The sweets you know and love, but now with 30% less sugar.  Rowntree's sweets contain no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or sweeteners.

Its nice to know that when you want something a tiny bit sweet to munch on or share, there is a lower sugar alternative to the regular sugar filled sweets available.


GOOD HEMP Unsweetened Dairy Free Drink 1 X £1.60

 A dairy-free alternative to milk that's delicious, nutritious and good for the planet. Try it with your cereals, hot drinks and smoothies.  Made from organic hemp seeds, Good Hemp is 100% natural, vegan friendly, free from GMO's, dairy and lactose, gluten, soya and nuts.

A lovely Vegan alternative to dairy.



illy Instant Smooth Taste 1 X £5.85

Discover the unique 100% arabica illy blend, now available as an Instant!  illy Instant Smooth Taste is a well-balanced velvety coffee characterised by sweet, floral and fruity notes with caramel, toast and chocolate. Naturally fragrant with aromas of almond and honey, its the perfect coffee for any moment of the day.

We don't do coffee as we are Latter Day Saints, so I gave this to my neighbor and she said it was lovely.


DORSET Cereals Spectacular Grains 1 X £3.49

Discover the new Spectacular Grains collection. Made with toasted spelt flakes and popped grains, fora  crispier crunch than their classic meuslis and blended with delicious fruit, they are a remarkable fusion of flavours and come in three flavours. 

I am no stranger to Dorset cereals.  I have always liked them.



CROOKED Beverage Co Alcholic Soda 1 X £2.00

Crooked Beverae Co Alcoholic soda is light, refreshingly and totally deliciosu. Often fruity alcohol can be heavy, syrupy and synthetic, yet Crooked delivers tasty, moreish fruity flavour whilst only containing less than 5% sugar, and just 46 calories, per 100ml. Made with natural ingredients, no nasties, you can't go wrong! 

Again we don't do alcohol for religious reasons.  Was shared with my neighbor and she liked it.



GUNNA Craft Soft Drinks 2 X £1.09 

GUNNA is a new range of lower sugar craft soft drinks. We were tired of bland tasting, sugar packed soft drinks packed with unnatural junk, so we created GUNNA, gret tasting, characterful soft drinks with less sugar, 100% natural flavours and no artificial colours or preservatives. 

Its nice to have an alternative fresh soda drink that is all natural, and free from artificial colours and preservatives, with less sugar.



MAGGI Fusian Sticky Hoisin Duck Noodles and 3 Minute Noodles 1 X £1.39

Bring the taste of Asia to your home with Maggi Sticky Hoisin Duck Fusian Noodles. Sweet soy, oriental spice and roasted duck flavours combine with sunflower oil and veggies to create a flavourful noodle dish with a difference.

This is the product I decided to use  and highlight with a recipe.  I always have Maggi noodles in the cupboard anyways.  They are quick and easy to use, and always tasty.


It was screaming Stir Fry to me!  So that is what I did.  I created a quick and easy stir fry Chow Mein dish for two.


I prepared the noodles as per the package and then set them aside while I prepared the rest of the dish. 


A mix of crispy stir fried vegetables . . .  cabbage, celery, green pepper, red onion and carrot . . .  do you like how I cut my carrots like flowers?  Easy to do.  Just take a sharp knife and cut out small wedges along the length of your peeled carrots and then slice crosswise.  Flowers! 



I used two boneless skinless chicken thighs  . . .  seasoned with salt and pepper and browned all over in a bit of sunflower oil . . . 


A large free range egg, scrambled . . .


Some of my homemade Ketjap Manis, and some garlic powder . . .  that's it.  Easy peasy! 


Yield: 2

Quick Chicken Chow Mein

prep time: 10 minscook time: 20 minstotal time: 30 mins
This is quick, easy and delicious, and built just for two. You can very easily double it to feed four if you want.

ingredients:

2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 package of Maggi 3 minute noodles (chicken)
pinch dried chili flakes
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced
1/2 medium green pepper, trimmed and cut into chunks
1/4 small head of green cabbage, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 carrot peeled and thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced on the diagonal
1 large free range egg, beaten
a splash each of sesame oil and Ketjap Manis
sunflower oil
salt and black pepper to taste

instructions:


Season the chicken pieces all over.  Heat
 a splash of sunflower oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add the
chicken and cook for approximately 5 to 6 minutes per side, until golden
 brown and the juices run clear.  Remove and set aside.

Cook the Maggi noodles according to package directions and drain well.  Rinse in cold water and drain again. Set aside.

Using
 the drippings in the pan add the cabbage and cook for a few minutes. 
Add the pepper, onion, carrot and celery.  Cook for a few minutes until
all the vegetables are crispy tender.  Add the chili flakes, garlic
powder and ketjap manis.  Toss everything well together.  Push
everything over to one side in the pan and drop the beaten egg into the
empty side.  Scramble it and then stir it into the vegetables.  Cut the
chicken meat crosswise into slices and add to the pan along with the
noodles. Toss all together and heat through.  Taste and adjust seasoning
 as required.  Serve immediately.
Created using The Recipes Generator



Every box does include an information card, along with some other bits, recipes, etc. from the brands included.  I find it really handy to have, to learn about the products a bit more and to also know how much the products would cost if I went on to buy them, and also for ideas on how to use some of them.
 


So, that was the August  Degustabox - a nice selection of products as always. We loved it. The price of each Degustabox is £12.99 (including delivery). To order your box, visit www.degustabox.com 
 Many thanks to Degustabox UK for sending me this box. I have to say I really look forward to getting my box each month. There are always lots of things in it to enjoy and new products to try out. I highly recommend. You can also tailor the boxes to your own likes and dislikes by filling in your own Taste Profile.  Do you like the sound of this box? Why not sign up now! I find them to be really good value for money spent and I really enjoy trying out new products that I have not tried before.  

Follow them on Facebook 

Follow them on Twitter 

Note - Although I was sent a box free of charge any and all opinions are my own.
Bon appetit! 




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Marie Rayner
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Chicken Strips with Honey Mustard Dip

Chicken Strips with Honey Mustard Dip



I think I am probably a combination of a  really cheap date and a pain in the arse when it comes to dining out.  I either always opt for the fish and chips (providing I know the providence of the fish and exactly what kind of fish it is.), or I go for the chicken strips. (Again, only if I know that they are totally made from actual strips of chicken breast, not chewed up chicken reconstituted into whole strips.)  I know. Picky me.  I have had far too many poorly cooked steaks to want to risk good money chasing after one of those.  More and more however, I am finding that if I really want a delicious meal that is affordable, I will stick to home. You just can't beat good home-cooking.


And I can't afford to eat in fancy restaurants that give you good, cooked from scratch food.  Truth be told, most restaurants today bring in their food frozen and all they are doing is re-heating it.  I can do that at home, thank you very much, and at a fraction of the cost!


These chicken strips I am sharing today are really, really good.  Nicely flavoured and spiced and made from real whole chicken breast which has been sliced into strips.  Its always a bit of a faff when you are breading things. There is no getting around it, but I find that if I do it in steps, then things run rather smoothly.  Usually I will cut and bread the chicken earlier in the day, laying it on a plate and putting it in the refrigerator to chill until I am ready to cook it.


This saves me from being rushed at the last minute, at the end of the day, when I am usually really tired. It also means that the breading has had a nice long time to set up and so it really sticks to the chicken when I go to fry it.  Win/win in my books, but you do whatever you find easiest!


On this particular day I decided to whisk together mustard and honey for a dipping sauce. I love honey mustard, and this turned out really nice.  I used French's American style mustard and plain old liquid clover honey. 


It was just runny enough to make a lovely dip, and yet not too runny if you know what I mean. If you want a milder mustard flavour, and a less runny dip, you can whisk in either some mayonnaise or some sour cream, or both.


We were happy with it just as it was.  Todd always says that American mustard isn't really mustard. He likes  British mustard, which is really, really hot, not mild like American style. 

Funny story. When we were first married, I used to make him a bag lunch to take to work each day.  I would often put mustard on his ham sandwiches if that was the kind of sandwich I was making, and I used to really smear the mustard onto them, like I would have done back home.  He was so polite, he never said a word.  It wasn't until I did it for myself one day that I realised just hot hot it was!  Poor Todd. He must have had his head blown off every time!


In any case, this is a really lovely dip for the chicken.  Not too spicy and with a tangy sweetness. 


It goes really well with the peppery bite of the chicken.  YUMMY!  We love these.

Yield: 4

Chicken Strips with Honey Mustard Dip

prep time: 25 minscook time: 25 minstotal time: 50 mins
Spicy chicken strips served with a delicious honey mustard dipping sauce.

ingredients:

For the chicken:
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp sea salt, rubbed in your fingers until fine
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 large free range eggs
1 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs (if you can't find these, use plain dry
bread crumbs to which you have added some garlic powder, dried parsley
flakes, dried basil and dried oregano)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan Cheese
unsalted butter
good olive oil
For the sauce:
60ml prepared mustard (1/4 cup)
(I used French's American style mustard)
3 TBS liquid honey

instructions:

Put the chicken breasts on a cutting board and cut through each, diagonally, into four or five large strips.

Take three shallow bowls. In the first one combine the flour, salt and
pepper. In the second one beat the eggs together with 1 TBS water. In
the third one combine the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Take
your chicken pieces and, working with one at a time, dredge them into
the flour mixture, then into the beaten egg and then finally roll them
in the breadcrumb mixture to coat. Place them on a plate without
touching until they are all coated. (Your fingers will get all clumped
up with doughy squidge, but that’s OK. Fingers are easily cleaned off!)
Let them sit for about 15 minutes.

Heat 1 TBS of butter along with 1 TBS of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. When the butter is foaming, turn the heat down to medium low, and cook the chicken
strips in the hot fat for about 3 minutes on each side, just until they
are cooked through. Don’t crowd the pan or they will steam instead of
fry. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest. Serve warm with the
dipping sauce.

While the chicken strips are cooking, whisk together the mustard and liquid honey for the dip.
Easy Peasy.

Created using The Recipes Generator



These are great for game nights when you are watching the football, hockey or rugby, or when your teens are entertaining their friends, and to be honest, they are great for supper, served with your favourite sides.  We had homemade sweet potato wedges and peas. Yummy!



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Marie Rayner
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