Tag: BBQ

Lamb meatballs stuffed with cheese

I am not the sort of mother who feels sorry for people who don’t have children. Not even in my most smug moments (literally, only fleeting moments) do I think “People without kids are missing out!” or “People without kids must be so sad”.

I think, quite honestly, if I hadn’t had kids I would have been alright. I would have done something else, been someone else. I would have bred Shar-Peis or collected guns or become a foreign correspondent or something else equally child-unfriendly. But it would have been alright. I wouldn’t have been sad. I would have Christmassed in Barbados and spent Sunday mornings browsing in foreign antiques markets. I would cook more elaborately. I would read a lot of books.

But there is one area in which my heart does go out to the childless and it is this: they have to pretend, especially women, to like children they are not related to. They either have to pretend to like them, or self-defensively announce loudly that they are not “crazy” about kids or they are “bad” with kids or turn it around and claim that kids don’t like THEM. (It’s not me, it’s you.)

The plain fact is that it is hard to immediately take to strange children. Your own are fine. Your nieces and nephews are delightful. But other kids? Well, they’re just… whatever, really. Not repulsive or anything. (Although sometimes yes, totally repulsive) But mostly you just feel… nothing.

Unless you get to know them of course. Any child, once you get to know it, becomes the world’s most precious thing. But unless you see each other reasonably often, it’s hard to go wild about them.

This is a perfectly okay attitude to have if you already have children. The other day a friend whom I was supposed to be seeing for coffee asked at the last minute if she could bring both her kids. Both of mine would be occupied elsewhere. “No,” I said, guiltlessly. “Let’s do it another time.”And her children are perfectly nice. Any other time, when I also had my kids, they would be welcome at my house to smash the place up – we would all put funny hats on and sing songs and have a wicked time – but spend time with her kids, on one of my kid-free mornings? No. Unthinkable. Never.

But you can’t say that if you haven’t got kids because people go hmmmmm and think Oh, she doesn’t like children. Like one of the Witches in Roald Dahl. And it’s not that, s/he just doesn’t really like children she doesn’t know. She doesn’t hate them!! Just doesn’t really want to socialise with them. They operate at such an odd tempo, do little kids, and unless you are tuned to it, it can seem bizarre.

It’s all the interrupting that the childless can’t cope with. They probably think you shouldn’t let your children interrupt you, that Kiddo ought to just sit in a corner eating PVA glue while you gossip on for 3 hours about someone’s hideous new kitchen extension. They think you, the mother, ought to turn and say NOT NOW I AM TALKING.

Or, worse, they do that thing where they reach over to stop the hand of an eight month old who is banging a spoon on a table, because they believe that you are not stopping the child from making this awful noise because you are blinded by love or helplessly out of control.

(The fact is that there is so little joy and light in an 8 month-old’s life – can’t speak, can’t move, probably teething – that why shouldn’t the poor little bugger have a bit of fun banging a spoon about?)

Before I had children, all those utterly bizarre things kids do used to do my head in and I thought I didn’t like kids, but now I know that 1) you don’t really like kids you don’t know and 2) I didn’t understand them.

Now I don’t even notice when I am interrupted. In fact these days I am quite grateful for it – I talk so much and so fast that I can really wear myself out if left to rattle on unchecked.

And anyway I am usually just sitting in my kitchen with Becky B – in the middle of saying something scandalous – and I will be dragged hither to clear up a spill and she will be dragged thither to look at a Peppa Pig rocket and when this strange little ballet brings us back to within shouting distance of each other, we pick up where we left off. That’s just how it is. We don’t care. We usually manage to cover quite a lot of ground that way.

But when you don’t have kids you don’t GET to not want to be with them. People act like it’s “good” for the childless to spend time with their own ratbag kids to “get practice”. Me? I never expect anyone to want to spend time with my kids if they haven’t got their own. Why would they? Moreover, why would I? If I am going to see a friend who hasn’t got children I want to sit about in clean, fashionable (?!?!?!) clothes drinking alcohol and talking, uninterrupted, about that hideous kitchen extension.

Which brings me rather abruptly to lamb meatballs. Things have been a bit hair-raising round here the last few weeks. One of those times in life when eating, let alone cooking, sort of goes out of the window. We’ve been getting a lot of takeaway or having things that I can cook from memory, which only require 1 stale cabbage, some nutmeg and pre-grated Cheddar (strength 2).

But the other night, despite feeling pretty sorry for myself, I did have the chutzpah to conjure up a BRAND NEW THING, which are these cheese-stuffed meatballs. Not as hard as they sound and actually really unusual and delicious, sort of half-Greek, half-Indian – like a really beautiful supermodel.

So here we go, this would serve 4 people with sides.

500g best lamb mince
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 small bunch coriander
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (leave these out if you don’t have them)
1/2 small pack of Feta cheese
salt & pepper
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 pint chicken stock
1 large handful medium Matzoh meal
1 egg
groundnut oil for frying

1 Put the onion, garlic, 1/2 the bunch of coriander and all the spices into a whizzer and whizz. Don’t clean the blender out.

2 Add these to your lamb mince and smoosh around with your hands for a bit. Then throw over the matzoh and the egg and a large pinch of salt and smoosh about more to combine. Try not to think about how cute lambs are.

3 Put a non-stick pan on over a medium heat with some oil in it and while this is heating up start shaping your meatballs in the usual way but put in a pinch of feta cheese – about the size of a small marble, and pack the mince around it. You will discover the best way of doing this by trial and error – by the third meatball you’ll have nailed it. It is easiest to work with mince if you have wet or damp hands.

4 Fry off the meatballs for about 15 minutes, turning so they are nice and crunchy on the outside. Keep the heat at a medium, at no point out blue smoke to be anywhere in your kitchen.

5 While these are browning, whizz your tin of tomatoes in your dirty whizzer, then scrape it all out into a casserole dish or any pan with deep-ish sides. Add your stock and a large pinch of salt and about ten turns of the pepper grinder, stir and bring this to a simmer.

6 Add in your meatballs as they seem browned on all sides (some may open up to reveal the cheese within, don’t worry about this) and cook the whole lot on a simmer for about 45 minutes until the tomatoey sauce seems to have reduced and thickened. Tinned tomatoes are vile and it’s only by cooking them and reducing them that you can turn them into anything edible.

7 Sprinkle over with fresh coriander and eat at dinnertime after the little weasels have gone to bed and you finally get to finish a bloody sentence.

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Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

by Pam on June 16, 2013

My kids were having friends over to play so I decided to make them some banana bread. I wanted to try something different and found a recipe for a cinnamon swirl banana bread at Lovin’ From The Oven[1] that looked and sounded delicious. I adapted the recipe a bit by adding cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to the batter. It was quite easy to make and made my house smell absolutely incredible while it baked. I served the bread with a big plate of fresh fruit for a tasty and fun afternoon snack that all of the kids loved.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a small loaf pan with cooking spray.

Mix the mashed bananas, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla together with a beater until creamy.

Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt together in a separate bowl then mix well. Gently add the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined. Don’t over mix.

Mix together the 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon.

Add half of the batter to the loaf pan and then sprinkle more than half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture all over the batter in the pan.

Add the rest of the batter, and then sprinkle the leftover cinnamon-sugar on top.

Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven then let it cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Slice and serve with butter if desired. Enjoy.



Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

Prep Time: 15 min.

Cook Time: 55-65 min.

Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes


Banana Bread:

3 very ripe bananas, smashed up
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Cinnamon Layer:

1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a small loaf pan with cooking spray.

Mix the mashed bananas, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla together with a beater until creamy.

Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt together in a separate bowl then mix well. Gently add the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined. Don’t over mix.

Mix together the 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon.

Add half of the batter to the loaf pan and then sprinkle more than half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture all over the batter in the pan. Add the rest of the batter, and then sprinkle the leftover cinnamon-sugar on top.

Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven then let it cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Slice and serve with butter if desired. Enjoy.

Adapted recipe and photos by For the Love of Cooking.net
Original recipe by Lovin’ From The Oven



  1. ^ Lovin’ From The Oven (lovintheoven.com)
  2. ^ Print Recipe (www.gordon-ramsay-recipe.com)
  3. ^ Save to ZipList Recipe Box (www.gordon-ramsay-recipe.com)

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24 new Halloween recipes to try this year

Halloween has got to be one of the most fun times of the year. Less stressful than Christmas (and whole lot less serious), you can let your imagination run wild with Halloween food – and we did just that!


This year, we wanted to bring you lots of new spooky ideas for your Halloween party and, being goodtoknow, they all had to be quick, cheap and easy! 


A long day in the kitchen with lots of food colouring and as many Halloween decorations as we could get our hands on, our Halloween shoot should give you a few new treats to try this year. 


Witch’s hat biscuits

You will need: Biscuits (ready made or shop-bought), ice cream cones, chocolate and coloured fondant. 

How? See our easy step-by-step guide


Chocolate-covered apples

You will need: Chocolate, apples and food colouring/writing icing. 

How? Melt chocolate over boiling water or in the microwave and allow to cool slightly. Pierce an apple with a wooden skewer and dip into the chocolate. Spoon over the white chocolate, over the bowl, to ensure the apple is fully covered. Leave to dry in the fridge, on a piece of greaseproof paper. Once set, draw faces with writing icing. 

Twist: Colour white chocolate with food colouring.


Ssssssssnake rolls

You will need: Ready made shortcrust pastry, sausage meat, an egg and a pepper. 

How? Cut long strips of pastry and place a thin line of sausage meat down the middle. Glaze one edge of the pastry with beaten egg and roll the other one over the meat, pressing the edges of the pastry together. Curve into a snake-like shape and glaze with the remaining beaten egg. Bake in the oven (200C/400F/Fan 180C/Gas Mark 6) for 15-20 mins until golden brown. Make eyes and a tongue from chunks of the pepper.

Twist: Add tomato puree to the pastry before adding the sausage meat so the snakes ooze ‘blood’

Vampire’s bite

You will need: Packet of jelly, oranges, mini marshmallows and red food colouring. 

How? See our easy step-by-step guide

Twist: Use green jelly to make ‘monster teeth’



You will need: Chocolate mini rolls, black and white fondant, icing sugar

How? Draw a bat wing stencil on a piece of paper, place it over black fondant and cut out several black wings. Make a ‘glue’ from a little icing sugar and water and stick the wings around the mini rolls. Make eyes by placing small black balls of fondant onto larger white balls, ‘glue’ these onto the rolls. 

Twist: Give your bats different outfits (like our smart bow-tied chap above!)


Puking pumpkin

You will need: A pumpkin, a sharp knife and some dips

How? Cut a large mouth towards the bottom of the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Carve eyes and a nose with a sharp knife. Place the pumpkin on the egde of a plate, spoon the dip into the mouth and spread onto the plate.

Twist: This can be used as a decoration if you replace the dip with the scooped out pumpkin seeds. 

Terrifying trifles

How? See our easy terrifying trifles recipe 


Zombie-bread men

You will need: Gingerbread men, writing icing, fondant 

How? Easy! Make a batch of gingerbread men and rough them up a bit! Decorate with red, white and black icing and make eyes out of white and black fondant. 

Twist: Make animals shaped biscuits to create zombie animals.


Crunchy pumpkin

You will need: Mini carrots, courgette or cucumber and a selection of dips.

How? Arrange the carrots in a pumpkin shape, cut the courgette for the mouth and add bowls of dips for the eyes. 

Twist: Use salsa for the eyes and mouth for a ‘bloody’ twist. 


Ruby red apples

You will need: Toffee apple ingredients and red food colouring

How? Make toffee apples as usual, adding red food colouring in at the last stage of making the toffee. 

Twist: Make spiders’ webs with the remaining toffee to decorate the plate. 


Slippery jelly worms

You will need: A thick straw and a packet of jelly

How? See our easy step-by-step guide.

Twist: Use different coloured jellies and serve the worms in one big slimy bowl.


Jeepers peepers

You will need: Eggs, food colouring and black olives 

How? Hard boil the eggs and leave to cool. Peel off the shell and slice in half. Scoop out the yolk and mash with food colouring. Spoon the mixture back into the egg white and top with ‘eyes’ made from a slice of egg white and black olive ends. 

Twist: Add bloodshot streaks with a little red food colouring. 



You will need: Large and mini marshmallows, wooden skewers, food writing icing and fondant 

How? Thread three large marshmallows onto a skewer, add a couple of mini marshmallows at the top for the neck, then add the ‘head’. Stick two smaller skewers out of the top ‘body’ marshmallow and thread mini marshmallows on for the ‘arms’ and large marshmallows for the ‘hands’ – repeat for the legs. Add fondant eyes and decorate with writing icing. 

Twist: Give him an evil expression to turn him into a scary zombie.


S-lime-y tarts

You will need: Ready made shortcrust pastry, lime curd, green food colouring 

How? Grease a muffin tin and add circles of pastry. Colour the lime curd with green food colouring and spoon into the pastry. Bake in the oven (200°C/400°F/Fan 180°C/Gas Mark 6) for 15-20 mins until the pastry is golden brown. Allow to cool before decorating with sweets and fondant eyes. 

Twist: Use classic jam tarts and label them ‘blood baths’


Creepy cheesey faces

You will need: English muffins, tomato puree and cheese slices 

How? Cut the muffins in half and spread with a thin layer of tomato puree. Take the cheese slices and carve out scary faces. Place onto the muffin and grill. 

Twist: Top a pizza with mini carved cheese faces.

Iced ghouls

You will need: Biscuits (homemade or shop-bought), buttercream icing, fondant, piping bag

How? Fill a piping bag with buttercream and pipe mini ghosts onto a biscuit and decorate with fondant eyes. 

Twist: Place a dollop of jam on the biscuit before piping to make the ghosts ‘bloody’


Hollow heads

You will need: Coconuts, red food colouring, black marker pen

How? Cut a lid into the coconut and decorate with the food colouring and marker pen. Drink the coconut milk or serve your spooky cocktails in them.

Twist: Paint vampire faces onto the coconuts and wrap in a black cloak.  


Sausage mummies

You will need: Ready made shortcrust pastry, sausages, an egg, black food colouring

How? See our easy step-by-step recipe

Twist: Make mini baby ‘mummies’ to create a whole family



You will need: Oranges, a packet of jelly

How? Slice the top off an orange and scoop out the orange inside, making sure not to make any incisions in the skin. Place the orange onto a plate, make up a batch of jelly and pour into the orange and leave to set in the fridge. Once set, gently carve the eyes into the skin. 

Twist: Make an array of scary faces and arrange them in a Halloween scene on your table.

Fruity faces

You will need: White chocolate, strawberries, bananas and black writing icing

How? Melt the white chocolate, allow to cool slightly, then dip whole strawberries and sliced bananas into it. Allow to set in the fridge on a piece of greaseproof paper. Once set, draw spooky faces onto the fruit with the writing icing. 

Twist: A little red food colouring will make these faces even more scary!


Stuffed heads

You will need: Peppers, rice/couscous (a filling of you choice)

How? Make up a batch of filling and slice the top off the peppers, scooping out the seeds. Spoon the filling into the peppers and bake in the oven until slightly roasted. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, then gently carve faces into one side of the peppers. 

Twist: Colour the filling with red food colouring for a gory twist. 


Rocky claw

You will need: Dark chocolate, marshmallows, biscuits – any sweet treats really! 

How? Shape tin foil around a large hand, gathering between the fingers to make a mould. Make up some rocky road and pour into the hand mould, press in marshmallows for the ‘claws’ and allow to set in the fridge.

Twist: Dip the marshmallows in red food colouring before adding to the rocky road.

A ‘pear’ of ghosts

You will need: Pears, white and black fondant

How? Slice the tip of the pear to a flat surface. Drape over the white fondant and stick on black eyes with a dab of water.

Twist: Pierce the pears with a skewer and place them in a large, tall glass for table decoration.


Flying bat rolls

You will need: Ready made shortcrust pastry, cocktail sausages (uncooked), an egg, black olives

How? Cut a square of pastry around a cocktail sausage and wrap around, pressing the edges firmly together. Draw a wings template on a piece of paper, carve wings out of the pastry and press into the pastry on the sausage roll. Glaze with a little beaten egg and bake in the oven (200°C/400°F/Fan 180°C/Gas Mark 6) for 15-20 mins until golden brown. Place black olives onto the bats for spooky eyes.

Twist: Make your own pastry and add a little food colouring to make completely black bats.


Planning a party? Download our Halloween party planner app

See more Halloween recipes

Our best Halloween cupcakes 


Decorations from

The Co-op
Dr Oetker 
Mustard Gifts 


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