Carrot and Pineapple Cake

Carrot Cake (0429)Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. It’s all about family and friends, and everything that should be celebrated about life. My year has been full; to be honest I really don’t know how quickly it passed by. Someone once told me that the older we get, the more we feel that. I think it’s true. For me it’s so important to stop once in a while and appreciate all the good things that come my way. My year has been like a yo-yo, like everyone else’s I guess, but still I feel thankful for the dearest people in my life. Especially those friends with whom I reconnected. You know who you are. Also a special shout-out to Sadie from Sadie’s Nest, Julie from Hostess at Heart, Anna from Life Bellissima and Sarah from Sarah’s Attic of Treasures. Four lovely ladies right there!

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Indian-Inspired Kerala Stir-Fried Beef and Rice

Beef Stir-Fry (9069)The other day I posted one of my favourite entries in C&T on my Facebook page. It was an assignment for a Blogging University course (which has now ended) that included a quote. I remember not knowing what quote to choose, but being a creature of habit, and thus feeling like a hobbit most of the time, I decided to go for one from Tolkien’s masterpieces. I got loads of positive feedback for that piece and the recipe I included in it is one that I make again and again. I’m sure you’ll agree that a walnut and banana loaf cake is one of the most comforting bakes around. That and a scrumptious cup of thick hot chocolate.

So you won’t find many recipes on this blog that venture too much out of my comfort zone. C&T started out, and still is I think, a place to share what I cook at home, primarily in a small kitchen, as the ones I had back in the UK. Now I have a somewhat larger room to play in. I am lucky and I like the space, though it wasn’t easy to adjust to it.

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Puff Pastry Apple Tart

Sliced AppleTart (9987)I think I mentioned this before: apples are not necessarily my favourite fruit. Then, you say, you were living in the wrong places. And you might be right on that one! Michigan is practically apple-mad and so is the UK. For me, apples are meant to be eaten as they are, raw with the skin on if possible. I don’t like cider either, but a trip to the cider mill is always fun.

I am partial though to the apple and pastry combo. I generally don’t believe in rules when it comes to food, but I am particular about this. Apple pie is to be eaten hot with vanilla ice-cream. No custard malarkey business and for goodness sake, no cold pies please!

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Grilled Garlic Chicken Breasts

Grilled Garlic Chicken Breasts (9858)One of the easiest things for me to cook when I feel as if I’m racing against time is chicken. I know I’m not alone on this; when people ask me for recipes, 99 percent of the time it’s all about cakes or chicken. My favourite chocolate cake recipe? Done. An easy chicken recipe? You’re sorted. And here’s another one.

I don’t normally go for chicken breasts, because I feel edgy cooking them. I prefer something on the bone, like chicken legs. The meat nearest the bones is always more tender and juicier, and almost never goes dry, no matter how long you cook it for. It also reminds me of my mum’s Sunday lunches, and my obsession with drumsticks. They would fall off the bone, and at the end of the meal I would declare that they were the best thing I’ve ever had. (Excluding chocolate and marshmallows, of course.)

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Lentil and Chestnut Soup, life updates and some thoughts on ‘Simply Nigella’

Lentil and Chestnut Soup (8822)

These past couple of weeks are turning out to be so weird. What a way to start today’s post, eh? In the spirit of Halloween I am still feeling like a zombie. Sleepy (strong anti-ear infection medication does that to you, trust me) and generally very light-headed. I meant to post a recipe yesterday, but my to-do list went out the window in the afternoon since I didn’t feel well at all. The situation hasn’t improved much. My ear still feels like someone’s lighting a lighter in it and to top it all off I get stabbing pains at intervals, as if someone is literally poking a needle into my eardrum. Not fun. Babies are prone to getting ear infections, I am constantly hearing right now. True. I’m not a baby but I still feel miserable. Poor things (little ones not me), no wonder they constantly cry in pain.

Let’s move on to the more cheerful things, shall we? I have two pieces of good news. I have my new desk! I am so pleased with it. I almost couldn’t believe it was here while watching J and his dad assembling it in the study. I am really enjoying working in this room even more. It’s my haven. Nearer completion we plan to purchase a comfortable reading chair to place next to the window. Can’t wait. The second piece of news is that I am waiting for a number of cookbooks to arrive, all of which are for review. I’ll be happy if they all make the cut, so we’ll see.

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Stuffed Baked Aubergines

Baked Aubergines and Marrows (8213)

This week will be a stay-in week. Lucky you, I hear you say. Honestly, I would love to be out and about though, instead of being stuck with a very painful ear and throat infection that’s really making me lose both my patience and hours of precious sleep. I wasn’t even going to post anything for the next few days, but C&T really needs some love, care and attention right now, so here I am. I love being here, sharing recipes and cooking tips, and writing. Also I learn so much by reading comments and blogs by my favourite people. It’s totally worth being here. Even if half of my face is a mess and telling me to rest. Now.

However it’s going to be a rainy week they say, and what better excuse than to spend some time in the kitchen and bake. A very good friend of mine and her daughter gave me a couple of cake recipes which are the bomb. They are so good that I plan to share very soon. I just love it when people share their favourite recipes with me and in turn allow me to share them with you. I will give them a mention of course when I do just that, because that’s my style and I like to keep it that way. Come back for more later, but in the meantime onto today’s dish.

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Mexican Bean Soup

Mexican Soup (9241)

By mere coincidence I’m posting a delightfully simple Mexican soup recipe, well loved in this house, because I’m putting it out there right now – it’s got chocolate in it. This is my take on what is still one of my very favourite cookbooks. Jack has published another book after this, which I still need to see, but I think that her first book deserves to be a classic. There is no need to write a second positive review because by now I’m sure you all know how much I like the recipes and Jack’s honest way of writing. She is a master at turning a few simple ingredients into something special, with the help of a little bit of chocolate. It does make a difference so don’t be afraid to add it.

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