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Babybel Nuggets Recipe

A little lockdown favourite that my son makes.  Cheese is such a versatile ingredient to use in cooking of all kinds, and Babybel adapts well as a replacement for meat in this type of fast food dish.

He loves cheese, and he loves fried food.  He had a go at these, just because he could.  I took some pictures along the way, as it seemed to be a nice simple dish.

He makes them in the same way as for other nuggets, but simply using small Babybel cheese rounds instead of chicken or fish.

‘Best nuggets ever,’ he says.  He would say that, since he made them…….

Babybel Nuggets 


He didn’t measure these, so just use as much as needed, and use 1 egg at a time, giving it a quick whisk in the bowl with a fork.

  • Babybel Cheese
  • Egg
  • Flour
  • Ruskoline
  • Cooking Oil

Method – Pictures Below:

Step 1

Peel the Babybel Cheese.

Step 2

Prepare three small bowls.  One with flour, one with beaten egg and the last one with ruskoline.

Dip the individual Babybel Cheese rounds into the flour first to dry it, then into the beaten egg, rolling it around until fully covered, then into the ruskoline to coat the cheese.  He used gloves as it’s a messy business making nuggets.

Step 3

He used a small egg pan with about half to three quarters of an inch of cooking oil, pre heated, and fried three or four at a time for a few minutes each side, on a medium heat.

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Crepe Style Pancakes

This came about due to the lack of baking powder and plain flour in the Scottish Mum Household.  The boys wanted pancakes, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to make them rise like fluffy pancakes, so I bit the bullet and went for self raising flour ones.  They are more of a consistency like crepe style pancakes than the traditional ones that we are used to up here in Scotland, but they kept the boys bellies full.

Crepe Style Pancakes

Lesley Smith
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Baking
Servings 15 Medium Pancakes


  • 2 Medium Eggs
  • 30 g Butter or Margarine
  • 300 ml Milk
  • 250 g Self Raising Flour
  • 30 g Sugar


  • Fold the ingredients until the flour is incorporated. Then whisk the ingredients briskly until it forms a smooth batter consistency.

  • Heat a thick bottomed pan on the hob. I don't use oil to cook my pancakes, but some do. I keep the temperature low, and cook slowly.

  • When the top of the pancake mix begins to show bubbles, it's time to flip it over and cook the other side. As I don't use oil, the pancakes don't have that smooth single colour, but they do have significantly less calories than an oil cooked pancake.

  • We get around 15 medium sized pancakes from this recipe. It will depend on how large you make yours.


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Slow Cooked Pulled Pork – in Zero Sugar Fizzy Orange

I had no idea how this would turn out.  I wanted to try in coke, but couldn’t get any.  I couldn’t get irn bru either, so zero sugar fizzy orange was all I could buy.  I wanted a fruity flavour, but without the excess sweetness that can come from using actual fruit or full sugar drinks.

Even getting meat at the moment is difficult, with the way the shop shelves are, so I count myself lucky to have bagged this beautiful piece of meat that sat alone and forlorn on the shelf.  I tend not to buy many joints of meat, as the price tends to be more than I’m willing to often pay to feed us all, but in this time of shortages, whatever is there, is what ends up in the shopping basket.  My fridge currently looks decidedly bare, which is unusual for me, as I always tend to have lots of fruit and veg in there, but I think I must be shopping at the wrong times these days.  I really must make an effort to be more adventurous about the times I try to get shopping, and with no online deliveries in the supermarkets, I’ve had to resort to a butcher delivery for the next few weeks.  Needs must.

It worked out great.  I cooked it on the low slow cooker setting overnight, for around 8-9 hours, and let it rest for half an hour.  I usually sear the meat before adding to the slow cooker, but this time, I just wanted to throw all the ingredients in and go to bed, as I was absolutely whacked.

I used a fairly large joint of meat, and wouldn’t use the high setting for this type of cooking, as I suspect it would toughen the meat somewhat.

I did soften the onions for a few minutes in pan, with a little butter, and mixed with a vegetable stock cube for a bit of salty flavouring.

About half a litre of zero sugar orange fizzy drink, and a little top of up of water and this was on the way.

When I got up in the morning, I simply transferred to a chopping board to rest, then sliced it so the boys could have pulled pork sandwiches for brekkie.  They were so hungry, I didn’t get any pictures of their sandwiches, but the meat was fabulous, not to salty, not fruity, and definitely not boring.

What unusual combinations, but oh so tasty.


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What is the difference between Swede, Neeps and Turnip

In Scotland, anyone over a certain age, will know them as fairly interchangeable, with simply a different colour to set them apart.  A comment on an earlier recipe post about cooking this versatile and really tasty vegetable, made me decide to do a post about the fundamental differences and why we Scots tend to refer to turnip as swede, or neep, or is it turnip?

It still begs to argue the reason for the different names.  Seriously, it could make a grown woman cry.  It’s not terribly straight forward, and an English/Irish/French/Scottish debate could grow in parliament to get a very uneasy stalemate as each side battled the other to come out on top.  This pair of root veg could cause utter chaos on a dinner menu.

Everyone knows who Rabbie Burns is, and that we die hards North of the border tuck into haggis, neeps and tatties.  So, are those neeps turnip or swede, or a mix of both?    The basics really came from days gone by, when vegetables were more locally sourced.  Scottish grannies knew about turnips versus swedes, but turnips were usually reserved for the more well heeled families that could afford to import them when weather was poor.  Prices were higher.  As a child growing up, the greengrocers always had bins and bins of huge swedes on sale, but never a turnip in sight.  Turnip, when cooked, has a more white fleshy appearance, where swede, when cooked, is a more yellow/orange colour.   Cooking with turnip used to be seen as a sign of wealth, due to the small size and difficulty sourcing in winter months.  Knowing all this though, really doesn’t help much to determine what neeps are either.

In Aberdeen, we often still use the name neep to describe swede.  We also call swede turnip.  Who knows what most people call the white turnip?  I grew up thinking it was a posh veg with no taste.  Maybe they grew more white turnip down south, where the weather is warmer, and crop growing needed to be faster for higher population densities, but I’m seriously guessing.

Growing up, my grannie cooked ‘turnip,’ or ‘neep,’ every week, but it was always actually, very orange, 2 hour steamed swede.  I was clueless.  Neeps, turnip and swede were all the same thing to me then.  Not until our first major supermarket opened it’s doors a few decades ago, did I ever see one of those strange white things in person.

In Aberdeen, and most of Scotland, a burns night supper is really haggis, swede and mashed tatties.  What other nationalities or generations do, I have no idea.  Some may be more politically correct in the terms they use, but I know what I mean…not that my knowing counts for anything much.   In some countries, swedes are pig swill, but they don’t know what they’re missing out on.  Honestly, swedes/neeps/turnips of the orange variety are ultra tasty indeed.  A bit like a cross between a potato and sweet potato to my taste buds.

Just to make this difficult, my grandfather, who was raised on a farm, called both white and orange varieties neeps, which he was adamant was simply a shorter nickname for turnips of any colour, ie both white and orange, and also called them greentops or greenies.  Young ladies now tend to use the name greenies as a term for nail fungus…..  Confused much?  I’m not.

In America, they tend to call swedes – rutabaga.  I spent ages one day trying to figure out what on earth a rutabaga was.  So disappointing to find out it was just a plain old orange neep.

In short, I dislike the little white round things, and love the bigger yellow/orange things.

The major differences:

White Turnips

  • Smaller and more round than swedes,
  • White flesh when cutting into the turnip.
  • Fast growing, but are very small.   Can be grown in around 6-8 weeks.
  • Need more fertiliser, and are higher maintenance to grow than swedes.
  • Do not do well with frosty weather and must be harvested before the first heavy frost, which can be fairly early, and unpredictable in Scotland.

Swedes/Neeps/Rutabaga/Orange Turnips

  • Often very much bigger than turnips, with a longer shape.
  • Yellow or orange flesh, depending on cooking time.  The longer swedes are cooked, the darker colour the flesh achieves.
  • Are very hands off, and low maintenance to grow.
  • Do very well in frosty weather.  The swede is said to be best after the first winter frost.
  • Came from Sweden originally, where to grow, vegetables need to survive heavy winters.
  • High yield per swede, made them a favourite for Scottish grannies.
  • Sweeter in flavour than a turnip, to which they are indeed, related.
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Instant Pot Baked Potatoes – Pressure Cooker Baked Potatoes

I used to use my slow cooker for baked potatoes, and a few times, I also used an air fryer, but that wasn’t as successful.  I suspect that would have worked better with tin foil.  My new favourite go to for baked potatoes, to save me waiting three hours for the oven, or four in the slow cooker, is now my Instant Pot.  I bought it on a whim a while back, and have used it a fair bit to be honest.

I used four huge potatoes in this version, as opposed to smaller ones, and it needed a fair increase in time cooked.  I first cooked on high pressure for 20 minutes, but then had to cook again for another 15 minutes.  In total, I know if I am using such big potatoes, I need to set my cooker to around 35 minutes on high pressure.

There’s no need to use foil for the pressure cooker and skins aren’t baked hard, they’re just perfect and the insides are baked and fluffy, and not waxy in the way they come out of a microwave.

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Instant Pot Baked Potatoes Recipe - Pressure Cooker Baked Potatoes

Lesley Smith
Fabulously fluffy and mashable baked potatoes from a pressure cooker.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Mains, Snacks
Servings 4
Calories 93 kcal


  • Four large baking potatoes.
  • 2 cups water or to the minimum amount in your pressure cooker instructions.


  • For this you will need the trivet from your Instant Pot, or a metal grille to sit your potatoes out of the water needed for the pressure cooking.

  • Make sure you wash the potatoes thoroughly. I remove eyes to please fussy teenagers, which is why I have some white spots where I've removed them on my potatoes.

  • Put the trivet or metal rack on the bottom of the pan, and sit the potatoes on top.

  • Put on the lid and slide the valve to the sealed position on the lid.

  • With an Instant Pot, select manual, and adust the time to suit your needs. My cook time for the future for these, will be set at 35 minutes on high.

  • If you can, wait for the natural release to happen for the pressure from the cooker, but if you are in a hurry, protect your hands and slide the valve on the lid to the release setting.

  • Remove the potatoes and serve with your choice of toppping. Here, we simply use butter and coleslaw.


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10 Quick and Easy Dishes for the Busy Festive Season

This time of year is always difficult to manage juggling kids, work, elders, shopping, leisure time, chores and so much more.  I find myself running around like a headless chicken trying to sort everything out.  I get home after 5, then the thought of food isn’t always the first thing on my mind, but there are hungry teens to feed, and they like plenty food.   Making burgers and soups is something I do often, as they are just so filling as the teens all like to fill up on meat, preferably in a bun, and I like something more light in the evening.  These are my top picks of quick snacks from my recipes for this xmas.  Enjoy.

1 Home Made Burgers with Red and Orange Peppers

A fabulous meal and make quickly and easily from simple mince, fill up bellies with the wholesome goodness of red and green peppers, and make a healthy fast food option.

2 Cheesy Meatball Muffins

Made from mince, onions and cheese, with some seasoning, this is one of the simplest recipes around.  Fast and a change to regular mince options.

3 Egg Pizza with Ham and Tomato

Been shopping and looking for a recipe to quickly fill an empty belly?  Egg pizza is easy and any fridge ingredients do the trick.  Don’t stick to just ham or tomato.  Get creative and add anything you have.  Chicken, beef, peppers, onions, meatballs, mushroom and much more.

4 Garlic and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

One of my favourites, this takes little to no time to make at all.  Don’t miss out on great food when you’re busy.

5 Vegetarian Haggis Soup

I made this in a soupmaker, but it works just as easily in a pot.  Just cook the vegetables in the stock first, then add in the haggis until piping hot by following the instructions on your haggis pack.  This is lush and filling, making a whole meal in a pot.

6 Coconut and Lime Soup

This was incredibly popular when I first posted it.  A really unusual flavour to a simple soup, making the day aromatic and fragrant.

7 Fresh Limeade

Lovely and refreshing after a long tiring day.  Light and zesty.

8 Raw Strawberry and Banana Ice Cream

Have chopped bananas and strawberries in the fridge, and follow this recipe for some lush deliciousness.  Best eaten freshly made, with the bananas adding a luxurious creaminess.

9 Strawberry Cheesecake

A good favourite of the kids.  The colours look lovely and it’s speedy to make.  Good enough for a dinner party.

10 Sugar Free Chocolate Mint Avocado Mousse

I can’t finish without something chocolately.  A little more work involved here, but it’s soo worth it.  A recipe by kitchen sanctuary, this is well worth a try.

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Chicken, Bacon and Beetroot Stir Fry

Chicken, Bacon and Beetroot Stirfry

Lesley S Smith
4 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Lunch
Servings 8


  • 10 Rashers Bacon
  • 2 Chicken Breasts Cut into strips.
  • 4 Eggs
  • 600 g Mixed Stir Fry Veg Beansprouts, pumpkin strips, shredded carrot, green leaf salad, mange tout.
  • 1 Onion Chopped.
  • 1 Jar Baxters Crinkle Cut Beetroot Chopped into smaller pieces. Wash, drain and dry the beetroot before adding to a stir fry.


  • Use your pieces of meat, chicken or bacon and lightly fry in a wok or thick bottomed pan until fully cooked.

  • Add eggs to the pan and let them cook similar to scrambled eggs, stirring in with the meat as it cooks.

  • Add an onion to the pan and let the mixture slowly cook for a few minutes on low.

  • Stir in your stir fry vegetables and either spray cooking oil, or add a couple of tablespoons of oil to make the stir fry.

  • Add the beetroot towards the end of cooking if you are happy with the pinky shade that your meal till take on from cooking for a few minutes.

  • I had split my stir fry into two lots. For the kids, I gently folded the beetroot in with their finished stir fry to keep it sharp, bright and pleasant to the eye.

  • For my own, I stirred in the beetroot and let it cook with the stir fry for a few more minutes to take on the beetroot taste. I am happy to say this is one recipe that I am going to make several variations of.


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Cherry and Strawberry Sauce – Great with Cake

Cherry and Strawberry Sauce – Great with Cake

Lesley Smith
Course Sauces – Sweet


  • 250 g Pitted Cherries
  • 250 g Strawberries
  • 100 g Caster Sugar
  • 100 g Water
  • 1 teaspoon Cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon or Lime Juice


  • Put the strawberries, cherries, sugar and water on to boil on a moderate heat and keep stirring. You don’t want this to stick to the bottom of the pan.

  • Take your choice of lemon or lime juice and mix it with the cornflour until it is smooth. Take the cherry mix off the boil and stir it in quickly until it smoothes out.

  • Put the mix back on the heat, stirring all the time while it bubbles to stop it burning. The idea is to bubble off the liquid until it reaches a thick consistency.

  • Leave the sauce to cool, then simply serve.
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Easy Peasy Jelly Squeezies

Looking for a way to get more water into kids or adults with dementia who have an aversion to drinking from a cup?

Sneaking fluid in through food is a great way to do things.  These are so easy, and can be calorific or zero calorie, depending on the type of jelly you use.

These are not like adding glycerine to make the firm jellies which are like the harder Haribo type sweets, and they’re simply a way to change up the diet and make jelly more appetising.

Using the usual concentration, jelly is too wobbly to set in moulds.

These are made in ice cube trays and are made in minutes.  They are about to become a staple part of mums diet in the sugar free form.  I may even splash out on a few nice moulds too.

For these, I have used two different strengths.

Simply a regular lime jelly at half the consistency, ie 1/4 pint of hot water to dissolve the jelly, then top up with 1/4 pint of cold water before pouring into the moulds.  These are still squeezable although slightly tacky to the touch.

Made using the sugar free jelly option in powder form at half the above consistency.  I used 2 sachets here with 1/4 pint hot water, dissolved and added 1/4 pint cold before pouring into the moulds.

The red ones are far more firm than the green, and although both are squeezy, the red have a far firmer effect.

Water Content

250ml / Half Pint water per 18 jellies


Leave these colourful ‘treats,’ out for someone who struggles to drink fluid, to sneak just that little extra in a day.   It’s far more attractive to eat something that looks like a sweetie than it is to eat a bowl of jelly.

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How to make mushy peas at home.

I used to buy mushy peas.  Tins of them, then one day I had none and the teens were moaning, I decided to have a go at making my own.  Marrowfat peas make the closest thing to the tins you buy in the shops, but marrowfat peas are not something I tend to have on hand.  I do, always, however, have bags of frozen peas or petit pois.  The taste is slightly different with the younger garden variety peas, rather then the more mature marrowfat ones, but to be honest, the taste with the younger peas is actually amazing and doesn’t take long to do.

I think it comes with the advent of kids needing fed quickly, and no time to go shopping, which is always my issue these days with mum requiring more soft meals and the teenagers always bringing friends home for food.  They don’t always eat what I make, but hey, at least they’ve been offered decent food.  Cook the peas in a microwave or use a hob on the pan.

This version is made so that my mum can eat them, so they are very well blended and are just made using petit pois.   These are also great for making mushy pea and ham soup.

Mushy Peas Recipe

Lesley Smith
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes
Course Accompaniment, Vegetables
Servings 2 -4


  • 300 g Frozen Peas any kind Use marrowfat peas to get a similar effect to tinned mushy peas
  • 30 g Butter
  • Tablespoon Double Cream Optional
  • Water
  • Half Level Teaspoon Salt
  • Pinch Cracked & Ground Black Pepper


  • Put your peas into a microwaveable bowl, sprinkle the salt and pepper and cover the peas with water. Cook on full power for between 6-10 minutes. Depending on the type of pea you have, it might take longer. I usually put mine on for 5 minutes, then check them to see if they've softened up. If they haven't, I just microwave them for a slightly longer.

  • When peas are softened, drain the water from the peas and add the butter and optional cream. Depending on your taste, you may want to add a little extra salt. .

  • To keep a tinned style effect, use a potato masher to mash down the peas, or for a more pureed version, like the image here, just pop them into a blender for a few seconds. This can also be blitzed for longer, as a pure puree version for those who need it.


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Recipe: Dulcey de Leche Chocolate Cupcakes

National Cupcake Week 2018

Bakers at the ready! National Cupcake Week returns to the UK from 18-24 September 2018. To celebrate the occasion, Royal Lancaster London will be serving up an exclusive cupcake-creation from Head Pastry Chef Steve Penny: Dark Chocolate and Dulcey de Leche Cupcakes.

The indulgent treat will be served in the hotel’s Hyde Lobby Bar throughout the week and is priced at £3 per cupcake. Steve Penny shares his recipe for a twist on a classic that’s sure to be the icing on top of a sweet week.

Dark Chocolate and Dulcey de Leche Cupcake by Steve Penny

Ingredients (10-12 cupcakes):

250g   Softened butter

150g   Caster sugar

100g   Light brown sugar

250g   Eggs

20ml   Milk

250g   Self-raising flour

30g     Cocoa powder

20g     Cocoa nibs

2 cans Condensed milk

100g   Dulcey de leche

Valrhona Dulcey pearls

Chocolate Butter Cream:

50g Dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)

100g Unsalted butter, softened

200g Icing sugar

1 tsp Vanilla extract

Splash of Milk (to loosen)


To make the Dulcey de Leche:

Step 1: Take two cans of condensed milk and place them unopened in a bain-marie in the oven. Set the oven temperature to 120 degrees for around 2-3 hours. Be careful when opening the cans as they will remain hot for a long time!

To make Chocolate Butter Cream:

Step 1: Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Allow to cool until the chocolate no longer feels hot to the touch.

Step 2: Beat the butter in a second bowl until soft then gradually add the icing sugar. Add the vanilla extract and beat again.

Step 3: Add the melted chocolate to the butter mixture until completely mixed, you can add a few drops of milk if the mixture is a little stiff.

To make the Cupcakes:

Step 1: In a bowl mix together the flour, cocoa and cocoa nibs.

Step 2: Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.

Step 3: Slowly add the milk, eggs and lastly the dried ingredients (flour, cocoa and cocoa nibs). Fold in the Dulcey de Leche into the mix.

Step 4: Fill 10-12 muffin tins. Don’t fill to the top, only ¾ of the cases should be full!

Step 5: Bake at 180 degrees for approximately 15-20 minutes (or until a knife inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean) and allow to cool.

Step 6: Once cool, carefully make a hole in the top of the cakes using a teaspoon and pipe in the dulcey de leche. Top with a spread of the milk chocolate butter cream to give a smooth velvety finish.

Step 7: Sprinkle Valrhona Dulcey pearls and drizzle more chocolate on top just for luck!

Royal Lancaster London, Lancaster Terrace, London W2 2TY
Reservations on 020 7551 6000 or visit


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How to Make Easy Spaghetti Carbonara – Cheaply – £2.50 – Feed up to 8 People

My special needs boy needs help with making meals, and one day, he’ll likely have to try and make his own, and on a budget.  For this, I kept the ingredients light, and it was to feed 7 people, although we could easily manage 8 small to medium bowls with these ingredients.  The price…..   We kept it low.  20p for Tesco 500g spaghetti, £1.99 for 2 jars of Carbonara sauce from the Co-op, which fabulously, actually has real bits of ham in it, and a creamy sauce.  It’s the best version I have used for this.

Count the milk and butter, and we are at around:

  • £2.50 to feed 8 the basic carbonara.
  • Plus garlic bread from Tesco Hearty Food Range at 32p each x 3 = Optional 96p for three baguettes.
  • Total £3.46 for Spaghetti Carbonara and Three Garlic Baguettes.

Easy Spaghetti Carbonara

Lesley Smith
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Mains, Pasta
Cuisine Italian


  • 500 g Spaghetti
  • 30 g Butter
  • 2 Jars Carbonara Sauce Co-op
  • 2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 200 ml Milk


  • Very simply, just bring the spaghetti and salt to the boil, and simmer until the right consistency for your palate. My boy likes it soft, and other like it al dente, so choose your favoured options by the instructions on the packet you buy.

  • Drain the pasta, rinse with boiling water and drain again.

  • Return the pasta to a pan and add the carbonara sauce. Heat and stir until thoroughly hot.

  • Add butter, stir, then add milk until your carbonara reaches your desired consistency.

  • Serve with garlic bread.