How to make a fully operational Beef and Guinness Death Star Pie

This Death Star pie recipe is a sponsored post in collaboration with Iceland Foods.

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“The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of a tasty meat pie” – Darth Vader

Ok, that’s possibly overstating it, but this dad went to Iceland with the challenge of creating a Star Wars pie. To be fair, it was a challenge I set myself, as a way to use some of Iceland’s frozen meat produce to make a pie for British Pie Week.

Continue reading How to make a fully operational Beef and Guinness Death Star Pie

Dad’s Night In: Iceland’s Chicken Nuggets with Homemade BBQ Sauce #PowerOfFrozen (ad)

Like other families, we have a routine to most nights. I make our daughter dinner before my wife gets home from work. She then does our daughter’s bath & bedtime while I get our own dinner ready. On those evenings when my wife is working late or is away, I tend to make a joint dinner for myself and our daughter.

But sometimes on these occasions, I prefer to give the kid her dinner as normal, and after packing her off to bed I indulge in a treat dinner for myself. A day of parenting can be tough, so unwinding with a dinner completely of my choice – that I don’t need to select with either my wife or daughter in mind – is all I want for an evening. Ok, that and wine. And a movie.

Iceland’s chicken nuggets served with homemade BBQ sauce would be a typical dad’s night in dinner for me. It’s a slightly grown up version of a childhood comfort food favourite – only this time consisting of Iceland’s chicken nuggets and my zingy BBQ dipping sauce.

Iceland’s frozen chicken nuggets are pretty tasty, which isn’t surprising as they’re made from 100% chicken breast. Having them in the freezer is not only really convenient, it also means I can cook only as many as I need (well, ok – want) while the rest can be stored for longer. That’s all part of the #PowerOfFrozen.

While the nuggets only took 15 minutes from freezer to plate via the oven, prepared earlier was my BBQ dipping sauce. It has real oomph, but if you’re less of a garlic & chilli fan than me, you can dial those back – especially if serving to kids (this would even be too much for my chilli eating daughter).

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Most of the ingredients are available from Iceland, and are easy to find & purchase either in store or online. This makes a big batch, but it can be frozen to use at a later date – perhaps with some frozen chicken nuggets for a last minute dad’s night in dinner?

Homemade BBQ Sauce

  • 1 small onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 red chillies (or equivalent of chilli flakes)
  • olive oil
  • 1tsp fennel seeds (crushed)
  • 1tsp english mustard
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 50ml dark soy sauce
  • 300ml tomato ketchup
  • 250ml apple cider
  • 1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 55g brown sugar (can be light, dark, or a mix)
  1. Finely chop or blitz onion, garlic, chillies
  2. In a medium pan, fry on a medium heat for five minutes
  3. Add fennel seeds and ginger – stir in
  4. Add ketchup, soy, Worcestershire sauce, and cider – stir in
  5. Add sugar, stir in
  6. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 10-15 mins
  7. When thickened, remove from heat
  8. Stir in mustard, and allow to cool before serving
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Iceland’s Chicken Nuggets with Homemade BBQ Sauce

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This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Iceland Foods. Their 100% Chicken Breast Nuggets are available to purchase either online or in store. 

Japanese Udon Noodles with Miso Carbonara recipe

This Japanese Udon Noodles with Miso Carbonara recipe has become the breakfast of choice for my daughter and I, and we’ll have it 2-3 times a week.

Before you go “ugh”, this is not a cheesy dish.

We kind of made it up ourselves, and it was born from solving a problem: Despite our daughter generally being a very unfussy eater, eggs were something she didn’t like – whether fried, scrambled, boiled or as an omelette.

This was annoying because I really liked eggs for breakfast, and is was also a really convenient joint breakfast. While I could still make them for myself, making separate breakfasts for you & your toddler is a real pain. So how to get her to eat eggs again?

I was probably inspired by this recipe for Miso Scrambled Eggs, but the eggs in this dish are not scrambled – like a traditional Italian Carbonara, they are a thickening agent for the sauce to bind it all together. Y’know, like the force.

This dish has been great for a) Enabling us to have a convenient and tasty joint breakfast of eggs, b) Getting her to eat chilli*, c) Getting her to eat with chopsticks**.

Japanese Udon Noodles with Miso Carbonara recipe

Serves: 1 adult and 1 toddler/preschooler 

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 small red chilli/tsp chilli flakes
  • portion Udon noodles
  • sachet/portion of miso (approx 25g)
  • 3 eggs

Method

  1. Cook noodles as per packet instructions.
  2. In a large frying pan, fry the chilli on a low heat.
  3. In a bowl, mix miso with a little water. Add eggs, and lightly whisk.
  4. Pour egg & miso mixture into the pan, then add drained noodles.
  5. This is the crucial part. This needs to gradually thicken into a sauce, not cook into scrambled eggs. Start on a low heat, then whack it up for short blasts of high to get it going. Keep stirring all the time, to make sure the eggs cook evenly.
  6. Divide into bowls (we go 2/3 adult, 1/3 child) and serve immediately.
  7. Eat with lightsaber chopsticks (Pictured. Optional, but cool).

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*How to get your kid to eat chilli

As a kid – and even a young adult – I never ate chilli. I hated it. Didn’t see the point of it. But once I finally embraced it, I loved it and realised what I’d been missing. So when I had a kid, I knew I wanted to get this chilli indoctrination out of the way early.

So I started gradually at about 2. It clearly wasn’t pleasant for her, but I offered an incentive – a piece of chocolate afterwards. And eventually, she stopped asking for the chocolate and started to enjoy it. One time, I forget to put chilli in this, and she got very upset, crying “ButI want the tingle!”

I also championed the soothing power of eating chilli when you have a cold, and she agreed. Now she requests chilli in her food whenever she has a cold.

**How to get you kid to eat with chopsticks

This was also something I learned late in life, so I wanted to try and get my kid in the habit early. Easier said than done I though, but I had a great ally in the films of Studio Ghibli.

These Japanese animated movies have frequent scenes of people eating with chopsticks, so I merely encouraged her to eat with chopsticks like her favourite characters in My Neighbour Totoro, Whisper of the Heart, etc. and this was motivation enough. She is now completely at ease using them.

It also helps to have an awesome pair of Lightsaber chopsticks, that we picked up in Japan. My daughter and I take turns in who gets to use them. 🙂

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So that’s our Japanese Udon Noodles with Miso Carbonara recipe. For another child friendly noodle dish, also see my Teriyaki Udon Noodles with Chilli and Egg Recipe.

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Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake Recipe (with Cherry Tomatoes and Chilli)

This Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake (with Cherry Tomatoes and Chilli) is a ridiculously easy family meal, that can be put together with store cupboard ingredients if needs be.

This is a vegetarian dish that should satisfy most meat eaters. I tend to have meat or seafood with every dinner, but find that iron rich spinach is one ingredient I prefer in vegetarian dishes only (such as Spinach & Feta pie and Fiorintina Pizza).

The key to a good pasta bake is to undercook the pasta prior to baking in the oven, where it will finish cooking.

Serves 4-6

Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 400g  pasta (large tubes such as Rigatoni work best)
  • 250ml tub of ricotta cheese
  • 500g  frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
  • Grating of  nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 500-700ml sieved tomatoes (Passata)
  • 1 tsp chili flakes, or finely chopped red chilli
  • 1 tsp  dried basil
  • 1 tsp  dried oregano
  • 1 tsp rosemary (finely chopped)
  • 250g Cherry Tomatoes
  • Parmesan (to taste)
  • Breadcrumbs (from a slice or two)
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. In a large saucepan, cook the pasta to 2 mins less than al dente – usually about 4 mins under packet instructions.
  2. Mix in Riccotta, spinach, and nutmeg, then add the cherry tomatoes.
  3. At the same time, in a medium pan on a medium heat, fry the garlic and chilli in a little olive oil for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the Passata and herbs, stir in, and keep on the lowest heat.
  5. Place the pasta mixture in a baking dish, and then spoon over the tomato sauce to completely cover.
  6. Top with breadcrumbs and grated parmesan.
  7. Bake at 180c/350F for 25-35 mins.
  8. Remove from oven, and leave to settle for a few minutes. The pasta will absorb more flavour and liquid, and will lead to a firmer texture of pasta bake.

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Baking Biscuits for Mother’s Day with Dr. Oetker

While our family may confound a number of gender stereotypes (breadwinning mum, at home dad, girl who loves lightsaber fights – oh hang on…), some remain – such as my wife being the baker of the house.

A regular weekend activity she shares with our daughter is baking biscuits and cupcakes. So it was rather apt that Dr. Oetker asked my daughter and I to try out a recipe from their Bake Mum’s Day recipe booklet, so we could bake some biscuits for the mother of the house.

The recipe provided was for GBBO finalist Ian Cumming’s Decorated Biscuits. It’s simple and easy to follow, which was great because a) I am a novice biscuit baker, b) There were plenty of opportunities for my daughter to help with the process – especially useful as she is less of a novice baker than I am.

My daughter is increasingly keen to help out in the kitchen. If you’re trying to get something done quickly/efficiently, I won’t deny it can be a pain – I can’t even make a cup of tea without her wanting to ‘help out’ (“Can I put the teabag in?”, “Can I put the sugar in?”, “Can I stir?”, etc.).

But if I treat it like a joint activity, rather than ticking off one of a long list of things to do during the day, making things in the kitchen can be fun – and not too messy either.

I involved her as much as I could. Certain elements such as zesting a lemon are tricky enough for me, let alone a 4-year-old. But all the measuring, sifting and mixing were part of the process she was eager to help with.
Daughter mixing Mother's Day biscuits in kitchen

Out of the kitchen, it turned into more of a child led craft activity. As a Playdough fan, rolling the dough and cutting the shapes was second nature for her.

Daughter rolling and cutting Mother's Day biscuits

Then we moved onto the decoration. I admit I took a controlling hand in this part – however, she was directing me about what designs she wanted. I was more like a sous chef. But she did have a go…
Decorating Mother's Day biscuits

And we finished up with a pretty looking collection of biscuits.

Finished and decorated Mother's Day biscuits I’m not usually a fan of icing on biscuits, but in this case it really complemented the lemony flavour nicely.

RECIPE TIPS:

– If the dough is a little soft after rolling out, give it a blast in the freezer. Anywhere between 5-10 mins should firm it up for using cookie cutters.
 
– The biscuits can be cooled overnight to be iced the next day. This is especially useful if you’re baking in the afternoon, and don’t want your little helper to have one of these sweet biscuits too late in the day when finished.
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Mother’s Day – for working mums and stay-at-home dads

Mother’s Day, and how it is framed for consumers, is an interesting one. Although about two thirds of mothers are employed, with a third being the main breadwinner – the offerings around Mother’s Day still tend to be about giving mum a break from family life.

For working mothers such as my wife – especially ones with a stay-at-home partner as I am – ensuring she spends time WITH her daughter is the main point of the day, in a manner of her choosing.

So while making her some biscuits would be a lovely Mother’s Day gesture, making sure they have the chance to spend the day together – possibly even baking more biscuits – would be an even bigger one.

To download the Bake Mum’s Day recipe book for free, go to www.oetker.co.uk/mothersday . To keep up with the latest baking tips, recipes, competitions and news, follow @DrOetkerBakes or https://www.facebook.com/DrOetkerBaking.

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This is a sponsored post.

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