Monday, 30 March 2009

Recipe: cheesy baked potatoes

Many people probably do their potatoes this way, but just in case there is one soul out there that hasn't tried them like this, please do try, it is a tasty change to baked potato with the usual topping just plonked on top...and not much extra effort. I hadn't done them like this for years until the other night. It's odd how old favourites seem to slip from your mind and then leap into your memory again for no apparent reason!

You will need

  • baking potatoes

  • Approx half a cereal bowl full of grated cheese for every 2 potatoes.

  • Approx 1 chopped onion ( cooked ) for every 2 potatoes ( you can have them raw but I like to cook them )

  • cooked bacon chopped into bits

  • freshly ground pepper

  • handful extra of grated cheese for topping.


  1. Bake your potatoes until the jackets are crispy, you don't want to do them in the microwave as the skins will be too soft and may tear.

  2. When potatoes are thoroughly cooked and crispy, take out of oven. Leave oven on. Cut potatoes in two, and scoop inners out into a bowl. Mash.

  3. Now add cheese, bacon, onions and pepper to the mash. Give it a good mix to distribute the ingredients evenly.

  4. Put mixture back into halves/skins, dividing mixture equally. They will look like little boats. You can leave the mash bumpy and fluffy on top or squish down with a fork and make a pattern, whatever takes your fancy

  5. sprinkle the extra cheese on top.

  6. Put back in the oven to bring up to temperature and until it begins to brown a little. ( unless you absolutely can't wait, in which case, scoff right away!

There are so many variations on this theme. If you are health conscious they go nicely with a green side salad.


Doxie :o)

Recycle Alert!

I was cutting up some packaging from a couple of blinds this afternoon and the crafter angel on my shoulder pointed out another use for it which saved it going in the bin.

  • cut into sections, this makes several rectangular tubes
  • make a cardboard base and lid, although for a gift that may not be necessary.
  • Put a personalised printed card/label either on/in the box
  • ta-da! Ready-made fairly sturdy packaging for crafts you are going to sell or give away.

I thought this might be particularly useful for smallish fabric would make them less squishy. Sister Jean might have a harder time guessing what was in her birthday present if it was packaged this way. :o)

I would say though, be careful it is not sharp. Mine wasn't but I know some similar packaging I have cut up in the past has been.

Doxie ( who doesn't actually have a sister Jean, hey ho )

Yay! When mistakes go good!

I had this bright idea of putting a table in the kitchen, tucked away in the corner for "Screecher Creature's" bird cage to sit on. I thought the remaining bit of space in front of his cage would double up as a counter top for a little bit of storage.

After the struggle of putting it together ( it was quite heavy, and yes I declined the offer of Mr Doxie helping me because I couldn't wait a single minute to get it into place and see what it looked like ). My excitement ( yes groan, I take pleasure in the simplest of things ) quickly turned to disappointment when I found that in my girly incompetence I had got my measurements wrong ( but in my defence I did measure the table at MIL's AFTER it had been dismantled ).

Feeling rather deflated at the thought of having to dismantle it again, I shoved it in the opposite corner whilst I regained the strength ( imagine dramatic mopping of brow ) and incentive to pull it apart...and then "yippee!" I realised by accident I had somehow shoved it in the the perfect spot. If anyone had suggested I put it where it now was I would have said

"No way there is no room..."

but there IS room, and it is perfection!

I now have a cosy little nook to...
  • sit down and do crafts
  • eat breakfast, lunch and supper
  • read
  • use the computer
  • write

If I want I can fit ( squeeze ) 3 around the table or just leave it tucked in the corner for one or two. Last night Mr Doxie and I shared a late night supper and a glass of wine in what I think I will call "The Nook" . With my little checked tablecloth I felt like we were in a romantic bistro time I shall put a candle and flowers on the table!

I love it when mistakes go good!

"Over and out. Doxie reporting from The Nook! "

Celebrating Celandine

Don’t you just love a carpet of Celandine? It has been very rampant and obvious in the woodlands around here this year. Also in the garden environment. Okay I know some people view it as a pesky weed, but it is sooooo beautiful, a real herald of Spring. I say enjoy it whilst it flowers and then rip it up with great abandon after. Here is a picture just in case you can’t get out to enjoy it.

Marvellous Monday

The start of a new and exciting week. I am planning on making this "Spring Clean Week". The weather is certainly being compliant, sunny, fresh and warm enough to throw all the windows open.

I have turned the bedroom inside out this morning. The only bad bit was getting the make-up marks off the window sill. Luckily for me we have our storage sorted really well in there. Most of it was custom made (by the talented Mr Doxie) with ease of access in it is just a case of dragging stuff out, hoovering behind and putting bits back. To my absolute delight I found no evidence of spiders or moths so I guess that means my maintenance routines through the year are working well. Apart from the window sill I only have 4 flat surfaces in there, all are in constant use so nothing really gets the chance to sit and stay for long, they just needed a quick dust, wax and polish. Later in the week I shall take the curtains down, give them a launder and "voila" it will be finished in there.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Gardening starting in earnest

Look at what Mr Doxie treated me to...aren't they wonderful...I love the idea of making the functional and possibly boring beautiful. I know I will be the only one using them seeing as they are covered in girly flowers, but I don’t care because I love them! We took advantage of the super weather we had last week and the gardening really started in earnest.
During the Winter the garden is a disgrace and only the very brave would venture out there… but come the Summer time it is transformed and we use it most days. If it is warm enough then we have breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner out there. I think of the garden as an extension to the dining room, except we get to redecorate every year! This year the theme is my favourite, the traditional English cottage garden. Okay we don’t live in a cottage but it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the same beauty when we are outside. The seeds above are a small selection of what will be going in this year.

Seeing as it was so dry last week I decided it was a good time to attack the Spiraea which was long over due. The amount of deadwood was amazing…anyway being a true crafter I just could not bring myself to throw away some of the very straight sticks…I have wild ideas of thatching bird boxes ( in my own unique style, eek that’ll be interesting ), or making some nice dangly tree art… we shall see. I have cut some shorter sticks too and tied them in bundles. Hopefully that way they look useful and nobody will think they are rubbish and chuck them in the next green recycling load. Any ideas for what else I could use them for? Answers on a postcard or alternatively leave a comment below. :o)

...and just to whet your appetite if you haven't put any seeds in yet, here are a few french marigold seeds waiting to be covered by a nice layer of compost. They were put in about a fortnight ago and are up are my sunflower seeds and some of the cornflowers. I'll post pics soon.
I am rather slow with my veggie seeds , so they will be next on the list.
It sounds as if next weekend is going to be cold and wet which is a pain just as we are getting used to working outdoors again. Anyway I live in hope...
I hope wherever you are, you are enjoying the first few signs of Spring.

Celebrating Celandine

Don’t you just love a carpet of Celandine? It has been very rampant and obvious in the woodlands around here this year. Also in the garden environment. Okay I know some people view it as a pesky weed, but it is sooooo beautiful, a real herald of Spring. I say enjoy it whilst it flowers and then rip it up with great abandon after. Here is a picture just in case you can’t get out to enjoy it.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Calling all Time Lords

I want to go back in time.

I want to go back to the days when 9 times out of 10 when I turned on the television I got a picture...and the 1 time in 10 when I didn't, I could guarantee it's return by running around the sitting room, ariel in hand, waving it madly until I got in the most awkward pose possible and then it would return. You might have to balance with one leg on the window sill , hanging onto the curtains,but at least you could watch the news.
Just lately it seems either the weather breaks up the picture or you just get the message ( there is a technical fault with this channel ) . Okay I know the twiddly bit on the dish needs to be set up just right, but come on it is a bit pathetic when you can get a picture in fine weather but not in rain or wind.

Some days it seems the further we have progressed in technology the more we regress with stability and reliability.

I embraced the digital age. I loved my dab radio. I loved the fact that even if I needed to concentrate I could still have the radio on, but instead of waffle or music I could find soothing birdsong. How forward thinking is that? It's utterly brilliant...that was until my radio blew up...Yes it really did go BANG! My old radio however, the one which is at least 2 decades old, that my Dad got from the charity shop is still going strong in spite of a repair because of a mouse chewing through the cable.

Hi tech is so delicate and somehow doesn't seem to cope with usability in every day life. What a shame when the ideas are so out of this world.

Okay I am better now I have that out of my system, you can all go back to your digital delights now...May they work perfectly for you for many years to come, and I hope I am the only one with reason to grouch.

Doxie x

My Kinda Saturday

This is the result of my pottering around in the garden today. The flowers are primroses and pansies. One of the primroses looks a bit poorly but I am hoping it will buck up now it has it's feet in the ground. Can you see that little fellow there keeping guard?
Meet Edwin, the garden gargoyle...If that is how you spell it. It’s not a word I'm used to writing. We brought him back from a holiday in Cornwall years ago. I fell in love with him as he is so unusual being a cheery gargoyle, not at all scary like those on historic buildings. We have an understanding Edwin and I, he guards the flowers and if he does it well and looks his best I make sure he has pride of place each year. So far he's done a good job.

And here are the flowers before I put them in, just because I thought they looked lovely in a basket.
All in all it has been a good day.I am looking forward to seeing the results of DH’s DIY. He is working on some custom made cabinets to go either side of a shop bought one in the smallest room in the house. The left hand one will be for loo rolls and the right hand one for bit and bobs and cleaning products. I am blessed to have such a handy and obliging DH. So if you are reading this Mr, yes I do appreciate you.
To top it off we have been accompanied all day by the sounds of the genius that is Hans Zimmer.
Until next time,
Doxie x

Friday, 13 March 2009

The Verdict

Raspberry , sweet waffles and ice cream

Rabbit stew, minted peas, mashed potato and crusty rolls

The critics have left the table, the plates are washed, and now the verdict has been delivered.

I decided to serve the minted peas separately. We had mash on the side and crusty rolls.

Taste 10/10

Really scrummy, we all liked the taste. We decided it was turkey like.

Presentation 10/10

The joints stayed together well and looked more like a casserole than a stew.

Texture 10/10 Really nice, a cross between red meat and turkey.

Overall experience 4/10 :o(

The reason why...firstly bones, secondly bones and last but not least the bones! Okay I know everybody who has ever told me about eating rabbit has mentioned the bones, but it is not until you actual nosh up on it that you can appreciate how fiddly the bones are. It was not just a case of small bones but there were slithers of bone, rather like fine shell. Very easy to miss if you were not concentrating and picking your way through it...and lets face it, you want to relax when eating. So sadly the verdict is very tasty but this is not going to feature as a regular at our dinner table. I have to admit I am disappointed as it was so easy.

On a good note, we had a new to us dessert...Hot sweet waffles with raspberries and ice cream. Yum! quick to do and fairly light, a nice way to round off a meal.

Edited to add photos you see at top of post and to say that today our friendly butcher told DS that he doesn't worry about getting the shell like pieces of bone as they are so brittle they break up...Mmm will I be tempted to give this another go sometime?
Until next time,
Doxie x

Gonna cook m'self a tasty waaabbit stew

One of our goals this year is to try new savoury meat dishes. From a personal point of view that means challenging myself to try new meats and cook new cuts that I have never tried before. The past couple of years we have been eating alot more vegetarian meals and they have become a bit predictable and are no longer a challenge.I really like a challenge in the kitchen. We have to eat ( in my book that means cook ), so if it is something you HAVE to do everyday you might as well add a bit of zip and fun to twist a phrase, "spices add variety to life!"

Well today it was the turn of the humble rabbit.

I have decided to start with something really simple, stew. Most of the recipes I could find mentioned cider but I thought I would start plain so we could let the flavour of the meat shine I am following my nose and creating my bunny masterpiece as I go along.

Our friendly local butcher told us that we can cook it like chicken so this is what I have done so far.

1) Rolled jointed pieces in seasoned flour and browned in oil. Removed meat from pan and set aside.

2) cooked a couple of red onions in the pan until soft. Added parsley and thyme, cooked a bit longer.

3) Put rabbit back in pan with onions and poured over some chicken stock ( made from cubes ).

4) Added chopped bell peppers, and a couple of carrots. topped up stock to cover meat and left to cook for a good 1 1/2 hours. The stock has started to thicken so I have put the lid on... it smells good. Will cook on low for at least another hour, chuck in a few minted peas at the end and serve with buttered crusty rolls.

We'll see how it goes, to be continued...

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Yea! Spring has Sprung

Spring sprung today.

The weather may be dull outside my window right now but we have had a lovely day.

The morning was spent being very studious doing lessons. A unanimous vote then meant we needed a treat, so we scooted off to a nearby cafe with some friends. After a rather scrummy and fun lunch we all bundled back to our place to do more lessons and have a bit more fun. After a good half hour of P.E. aka "taking the dog for a walk", the boys drew the short straw and did English. The girlies got the much better end of the deal as we continued with a sewing project we had started a few weeks before.

And to allude to the title...we then planted the first seeds of the season, yay!

The idea was that said friends ( who I shall refer to in futher posts as the 3Ms, short for The Three Musketeers ) would take theirs home so we could compete against each other to have a

" Who can grow the tallest sunflower"

competition; but alas it was decided that certain members of their menagerie ( quack quack ) would devour them pronto. So it looks like we will be the guardians of their entries...somehow that just seems a bit unfair, but hopefully means they trust me not to lovingly feed their pots with weedkiller or condemn them to whatever the saboteur's choice weapon is these days.

Off now to take the dog for a run...see you anon...