Monthly Archives: January 2015

Breakfast Week. Win a spa weekend for two!

Breakfast recipes


Breakfast Week. Win a spa weekend for two!

Hands up who eats breakfast? Me, me me!! I love everything about breakfast, the traditional breakfast foods and drinks and the fact that I wake up every morning ravenous enough to eat a horse (or maybe a bacon sandwich)!

Confession time, I adore junk cereal – particularly
that cinnamon one – but I have given up boxed
cereal entirely due to the fact that most of it is
packed with sugar.

Instead, I enjoy homemade porridge (see below) or wholemeal toast with fresh fruit or egg and bacon (or all of these!) and a mug of good strong coffee.

According to the BBC, breakfast as we know it didn’t exist for large parts of history. The Romans didn’t really eat it, usually consuming only one meal a day around noon.

In the Middle Ages monastic life shaped when people ate; nothing could be eaten before morning Mass and meat could only be eaten for half of the year. It’s thought the word breakfast entered the English language during this time and literally meant “break the night’s fast”.

Religious ritual also gave us the full English breakfast. On Collop Monday, the day before Shrove Tuesday, people had to use up meat before the start of Lent. Much of that meat was pork and bacon as pigs were kept by many people. The meat was often eaten with eggs, which also had to be used up, and the precursor of the full English breakfast was born.

After the restoration of Charles II, coffee, tea and dishes like scrambled eggs started to appear on the tables of the wealthy. By the late 1740s, breakfast rooms also started appearing in the homes of the rich.

The Industrial Revolution regularised working hours, with labourers needing an early meal to sustain them at work. All classes started to eat a meal before going to work, even the bosses.

And so our modern day breakfast routine was established.



Win a spa weekend for two

Win a spa weekendWhat’s your favourite breakfast? 

If you take a photo of it and upload it to the Shakeupyourwakeup campaign website you could win a spa weekend!

Enter the competition

They have lots of breakfast ideas on their website too.



Here are my two favourite Dairy Diary breakfasts:




Banana Porridge

Serves 4
Time 8 mins
Calories 174 per portion
Fat 2g of which 0.4g is saturated

Porridge oats 110g (4oz)
Ground cinnamon 1 tbsp
Honey 3 tbsp
Banana 1 large, sliced

1 Put oats and 500ml (18fl oz) water in a pan and bring up to boil. Simmer for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2 Add most of cinnamon and honey and cook for 1 minute.

3 Add most of banana slices and stir.

Serve with remaining slices of banana on top, drizzled with remaining honey and sprinkled with cinnamon.

A Dairy Diary recipe.



Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon

Preparation time 4 minutes
Cooking time 3 minutes
Calories per portion 766 Kcal
Fat per portion 55g of which saturated 25.2g
Serves 2

Butter 75g (3oz), softened
Tomato purée 2 tsp
Chopped dill 2 tbsp, plus a few fronds to garnish
Capers 2–3 tbsp, well drained and roughly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Mediterranean-style bread with olives 4 slices, approximately 2cm (¾in) thick, cut diagonally
Eggs 5 large, beaten
Smoked salmon slices 100g packet, cut into thin strips
Beefsteak tomato 1, deseeded and diced, to garnish (optional)

1 Put 50g (2oz) of the butter into a small bowl, then add the tomato purée, chopped dill and capers. Season with black pepper, then mix well together and set aside.

2 Toast the bread and keep warm.

3 Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan (preferably non-stick), add the eggs and half of the salmon strips. Then cook over a moderate heat, stirring continuously, until the eggs are softly scrambled – taking care not to overcook, as they will become dry.

4 Spread the toasted bread with the tomato butter and put onto two serving plates. Spoon the scrambled eggs on top, garnish with the remaining strips of salmon, dill and the chopped tomato, and serve immediately.

Cook’s Tip. For quick assembly, prepare all the ingredients before starting to cook and toast the bread while scrambling the eggs.

Recipe from Just One Pot Dairy Cookbook










Top Five Family Favourite Recipes

Top 5 Family Favourite Recipes


Top 5 Family Favourite Recipes
from Dairy Diary

2015 has heralded an influx of requests for old Dairy Diary recipes. I always do my best to find these for people – they often have such sweet stories attached – but in truth we don’t have any form of filing system for the older books, it is literally a case of climbing a ladder and searching through the old books, so it sometimes takes quite some time!

These stories of much-loved long lost recipes have got me thinking about which recipes I most cherish and will want to pass on to my children. It’s really tricky to select just a few, but these Dairy Diary classics are cooked again and again in my kitchen.

Pear & Ginger Trifle

Pear & Ginger Trifle

1982. It’s a bit/lot before my time with Dairy Diary but after I stumbled across this it became a family classic and is my other half’s favourite dessert.

Serves 6
Time 25 mins plus cooling
Calories 437 per portion
Fat 30g of which 16.9g is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians

Pears 450g (1lb), peeled cored and sliced
Cider 150ml (¼ pint)
Soft brown sugar 50g (2oz)
Jamaican ginger cake ½ loaf, sliced
Custard 450ml (¾ pint), cooled
Double cream 250ml (8fl oz), whipped
Orange and lime 1 of each, finely grated zest to decorate, optional

1 Place pears in a pan with cider and sugar. Simmer for about 10 minutes until soft then leave to cool.

2 Arrange ginger cake in a glass serving dish and pour pears and cider over the top. Top with cooled custard and leave to set.

3 Spoon whipped cream around edge of dish and sprinkle with orange and lime zest, if using. Serve chilled.


Auntie Lous Bread Pudding

Auntie Lou’s Bread Pudding

2006. This moist bread pudding is packed with fruit and perfect for popping in the rucksack before a long walk (with an obligatory flask of course).

Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 1 hour 15 minutes
Calories per square 228 Kcal
Fat per square 9.8g of which saturated 5.6g
Makes 16 squares
Suitable for freezing
Suitable for vegetarians

White bread 2–3 days old, crust removed: 225g (8oz), bread torn into small pieces
Milk 375ml (13fl oz)
Oranges 2, grated rind of both, juice of 1
Mixed ground spice 1 tbsp
Seedless raisins 175g (6oz)
Sultanas 150g (5oz)
Mixed chopped peel 50g (2oz)
Ready-to-eat prunes 75g (3oz), chopped
Ready-to-eat dried apricots 75g (3oz), chopped
Glacé cherries 75g (3oz), quartered
Eggs 3, beaten
Butter 150g (5oz), melted
Black treacle 1–2 tbsp
Granulated sugar

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and grease a 23cm (9in) square shallow baking dish.

2 Soak the bread with the milk in a bowl for 10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the sugar, and mix well. Transfer to the baking dish, spread evenly and bake for 45–50 minutes until the pudding is lightly browned and set in the centre.

3 Sprinkle with the granulated sugar and serve hot with custard. Or leave to cool, cut into squares, cover and refrigerate.

Cook’s tip: If serving warm with custard, stir a little extra grated orange rind and a tablespoon or two of sherry into the custard when reheating.


Gourmet Beans on Toast

Gourmet Beans on Toast

2009. This is so simple, it almost isn’t a recipe, but without it I would never thought of combining these ingredients. It’s perfect for Saturday lunch.

Serves 2
Time 20 mins
576 calories per portion
23g fat of which 8g is saturated

Organic baked beans 400g can
Tuna in spring water 200g can, drained and flaked
Mayonnaise 2 tbsp
Snipped chives 1 tbsp
Thick slices of bread 2, cut horizontally from a small round loaf
Cheddar cheese 50g (2oz), grated
Tomato 4–6 slices
Basil leaves to garnish, optional

1 Preheat grill. On the hob, gently heat baked beans in a small pan.

2 Mix tuna with mayonnaise and chives and season with black pepper.

3 Toast bread on one side, then turn over and just very lightly toast other side. Spread tuna mixture evenly over each slice of toast (right up to edges).

4 Spoon baked beans over tuna, sprinkle with cheese and cook under grill until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Add tomato slices and cook for just 1 minute. Serve garnished with basil and sprinkled with pepper.


Peanut Noodles

Peanut Noodles

2012. When we’re squeezing dinner in between tidying and piano practise and reading stories, this super-quick recipe is easy to prepare but absolutely delicious.

Serves 2
Time 15 mins
Calories 474 per portion
Fat 17g of which 3.1g is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians

Sesame oil 1 tbsp
Courgette 1, cut into thin sticks
Carrots 2, peeled and cut into thin sticks
Baby corn 125g pack
Mushrooms 110g (4oz), sliced
Straight-to-wok noodles 300g pack
Milk 4 tbsp
Sweet chilli sauce 1 tbsp
Crunchy peanut butter 2 tbsp
Coriander to garnish

1 Heat oil in a wok and stir-fry vegetables for about 5 minutes.

2 Add noodles to wok and warm through for 2 minutes.

3 Meanwhile, put milk, sweet chilli sauce and peanut butter in a bowl and microwave on full power for 30–40 seconds. Whisk together.

4 Just before serving, stir peanut sauce into noodles and vegetables. Divide between two bowls and garnish with coriander leaves.


Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken

2013. I LOVE this recipe. It tastes like something a restaurant would serve, but it’s so easy and pretty healthy too. Win win win.

Serves 4
Time 1 ¼ hours
Calories 426 per portion
Fat 20g of which 6.9g is saturated

Potatoes 4 medium, peeled and cut into wedges
Olive oil 3 tbsp
Lemons 2, 1 cut into 6 wedges and the other cut into 8 slices
Garlic 4 cloves, unpeeled
Thyme sprigs a few
Chicken breasts 4, skin on
Freshly grated nutmeg
Parma ham 4 slices
Chicken stock 150ml (¼ pint)
Crème frâiche 4 tbsp

1 Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 and heat a baking tray. Boil potato wedges for 5 minutes. Drain well and add to baking tray with 2 tbsp oil. Squeeze lemon wedges over potatoes and add to tray along with garlic and thyme. Roast near the bottom of the oven for 50 minutes, turning occasionally, until crisp and brown.

2 Meanwhile, put chicken in a roasting tin, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and nutmeg. Place a piece of ham on each chicken breast and put 2 lemon slices on top. Drizzle with 1 tbsp of oil and bake in the oven above the potatoes for 20 minutes, then pour in the stock and bake for a further 20 minutes.

3 Transfer chicken and potatoes to hot plates. Whisk crème frâiche into pan juices and pour over the chicken.


Which classic recipes will you pass on to your loved ones?







Have fun and exercise your mind

Have fun and exercise your mind


Have fun and exercise your mind

We’ve started a new regime, my other half and I, where on our Friday ‘date’ nights, one of us is totally responsible for choosing what we eat, drink and do.

Mwhahahaha, now’s my chance to dust
down the board games (all in the spirit
of the Dairy Diary of course!)

In our Brain Training feature, in this year’s Dairy Diary we talk about the benefits of keeping our brains active so it has given me the perfect excuse to sneak out the Crossword game.


Brain training

The ability to think quickly, clearly and creatively, and to concentrate better, can be cultivated. If you have the motivation, and are prepared to put in a little effort, it seems to be entirely possible to improve your mental capacity, whatever your age. The key is to keep challenging yourself – giving your brain a gentle workout will strengthen it and improve its power.

Messages are passed through your brain via neurons, using chemical and electrical reactions that travel with mind-boggling speed. Part of each neuron is insulated with myelin, a fatty substance that helps electrical transmissions. The thicker the insulation, the speedier and more accurate your thinking and the better your memory. Learning increases the density of neuron connections, and repetition increases the thickness of the myelin. Bingo!


What can you do to boost your brain power?

Anything that engages different parts of the brain at the same time is especially effective. The left side is concerned with logic, sequential thinking and decision making; the right side with creativity, imagination and random ideas.

Tackle crosswords, sudokus, quizzes and puzzles, or take up bridge. Solving cryptic puzzles involves several parts of your brain – logic, recall, creative thought, analysis, deciding on likely options, dealing with frustration – and the benefits increase if you do it with someone else.

Learn something new and challenging e.g. chess, crochet, a musical instrument. Learning another language may seem ambitious but is especially good because it forces your brain to switch tracks continuously, which is one of the most mentally demanding things you can do. It helps hone the frontal lobes, the brain’s mind managers, which tend to shrink as part of the ageing process.

Study a subject that you find interesting e.g. botany, nutrition, a specific era of history.

Read, and maybe join or start a book club. Discussing books with others hones your critical/analytical skills.

Make up brain games to play with friends e.g. think of an animal or food for every letter of the alphabet. Focusing on simple tasks helps to improve concentration as well as boosting brain power. Include memory games, so that each person has to repeat what has already been said.

Listen to music. Listening to Mozart has been shown to improve spatial and mathematical reasoning.

An exercise to help improve your concentration is to spend a few minutes every day emptying your mind and thinking of nothing but your breathing. Practising focusing on one thing will help you to de-clutter and calm your thoughts, so you can concentrate better the rest of the time.


As working parents with several young children, it’s pretty impossible to find the time to take up a new language or join a book club. We can, however, squeeze in the odd board game or two when the children are asleep (the games that we play with the children are not particularly intellectually taxing just yet!)


Here’s my menu for Friday evening:


Smoked Mackerel Pate

Smoked Mackerel & Dill Pâté

Time 10 mins plus chilling. Per portion: 185 Kcal, 8.4g fat (1.3g saturated). Serves 4

Smoked mackerel 225g (8oz), skinned
Chopped dill 3 tbsp
Lemon juice 2 tbsp
Garlic 1 clove, peeled and crushed
Freshly ground black pepper
Double cream 150ml (¼ pint), lightly whipped
Egg white 1, whisked
Lemon wedges to serve (optional)
Melba toast to serve (optional)

1 Place the mackerel flesh in a bowl. Add the chopped dill, lemon juice, garlic and pepper and mash together well or blend in a food processor.

2 Fold in the cream and egg white; chill.

3 Serve with Melba toast and lemon.


Cheddar Cheese Risotto with Bacon

Cheddar Cheese Risotto with Bacon

Time 30 minutes. Per portion: 478 Kcal, 23g fat (12g saturated). Serves 4

Butter 25g (1oz)
Risotto rice 225g (8oz)
Spring onions 8, trimmed and chopped
Hot vegetable stock 900ml (1½ pints)
Smoked streaky bacon 8 rashers, de-rinded and halved
Frozen peas 200g (7oz)
Freshly ground black pepper
Mature Cheddar cheese 110g (4oz), diced

1 Melt the butter in a large non-stick saucepan and add the rice, coating it well in the butter. Stir in the spring onions and about 150ml (¼ pint) of the stock and simmer until almost absorbed. Pour in more stock, a ladleful at a time and each time waiting for the liquid to be almost absorbed before adding more, simmering until the rice is almost cooked. The mixture should not be dry.

2 Meanwhile, grill the bacon rashers until crisp.

3 Add the peas and season well with pepper. Heat through, then stir in the Cheddar cheese. When the cheese starts to melt, serve with the bacon rashers piled on top.


Raspberry Syllabub Trifle

Syllabub Trifle

Time 20 minutes plus chilling. Per portion: 395 Kcal, 27g fat (15.1g saturated). Serves 6

Trifle sponges 4
Raspberry jam 110g (4oz)
Lemon 1, grated zest and juice
Caster sugar 50g (2oz)
Dry cider with elderflower 120ml (4fl oz)
Double cream 300ml carton
Mixed frozen fruits 200g (7oz), just defrosted

1 Slice each sponge cake in half horizontally. Spread jam over half of the slices, then cover with the remaining slices, cut to fit and place in six individual glasses in a single layer. Spread any remaining jam over the top of the sponge cakes.

2 Place most of the lemon zest, the lemon juice and sugar in a bowl. Add the cider and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Drizzle a little of this liquid over the trifle sponges until just moist.

3 Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Gradually whisk in the remaining cider mixture.

4 Spoon the fruit over the sponge and then cover with the flavoured cream. Top with any remaining lemon zest. Chill for 1-2 hours before serving.


Accompanied by Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and
followed with a couple of games of Crossword.


Dairy Diary 2015 collection

The 2015 Dairy Diary is still available and if you like the look of the recipes above, they are taken from our cookbook, Fantastic Food for Less.

You can buy both books with FREE DELIVERY throughout January!


I would love to know what activities you participate in to expand and exercise the mind.








Top tips for spending less and eating well in January

Half price sale


Top tips for spending less and eating well in January

Back to reality and time to reign back a little. After an indulgent time, January is a good month to eat a little less and spend a lot less.

To do this, I shall be planning all our meals in advance, so I can keep track of what we eat and what we spend.

Taking inspiration from our cookbook,
Fantastic Food for Less, which advocates
forward planning, making a shopping list
and sticking to it!

Dairy Diary recipeI have decided to make planning easier for us by first listing all our favourite meals (including the recipes that we most like from our cookbooks). This seems quite an arduous task, but once done I can print and laminate our list and glance at it for inspiration each time I plan our weekly meals (which are written on each day in the Dairy Diary).

No more umming and aaahing about what to eat each week, and by making a list of our meals and sticking to my shopping list, we should waste less and spend less too!


Half-price cookbook sale!

For more tips on how to save money and waste less food, as well as 100 delicious low-cost recipes see Fantastic Food for Less.

AND just for this week, it’s half price!


Here’s a taster of what Fantastic Food has to offer…..


Pea and Ham Quicke recipe

Pea & Ham Quiche

Time 1 hour
Per portion: 608 Kcal, 44g fat (22.1g saturated)
Serves 6
Suitable for freezing

Ready-made shortcrust pastry 375g (13oz)
Eggs 4, beaten
Crème fraîche 250ml tub
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Frozen peas 110g (4oz), defrosted
Spring onions 3, trimmed and finely chopped
Ham 250g (9oz), chopped into chunks
Double Gloucester cheese 75g (3oz), grated
Mixed leaf salad to serve (optional)

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.

2 Fold the pastry in half and then roll out until a little larger than a 23cm (9in) fluted flan tin. Lift the pastry over the rolling pin, drape in the tin then ease up the sides pressing it in place with your fingertips. Trim the top of the pastry so that it stands a little above the top of the tin. Prick the base of the pastry and then chill for 15 minutes.

3 Line the pastry case with non-stick baking paper and baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes.

4 Meanwhile, in a jug, mix together the eggs and crème fraîche and season well with salt and pepper.

5 Remove the paper and beans from the pastry case and reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Pour in the creamy mixture and then evenly sprinkle in the peas, spring onions, ham and grated cheese.

6 Return the quiche to the oven and bake for 25–30 minutes, until it is just set and golden. Serve with a mixed salad if you like.

A Fabulous Food For Less recipe.








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