Thursday, 21 January 2016


I mentioned to a friend I was going to make chicken and pasta bake for the kids last night. She looked a bit confused.... She knows me well - when it comes to cooking separately for my kids and my husband I like to keep things easy and simple. She was under the impression that pasta bakes take forever to make. This recipe is for her. I timed myself last night - it took exactly 34 minutes from start to finish. Okay, my chicken breast was leftover from the roast we had on Sunday but I am positive you can wrap it up in under 40 minutes even if  you have to cook the chicken from scratch. And this includes oven time!

Recipe (to feed 2 kids twice)

170 gr pasta shells, amori, penne or macaroni work best
1-2 handfuls of diced chicken breast (1 big chicken breast should be enough)

35 gr butter
35gr plain flour
500gr milk
1tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
a handful of grated cheese


Cook the pasta as per pack instructions.
If you need to cook your chicken breast do so now. Heat some oil in a pan. Cut the breast into thin strips or small cubes and fry them lightly, it should only take a couple of minutes. You can put some paprika in the oil if you want, for extra flavour.
To make the sauce melt the butter at low heat and add the flour to make the rue. Heat the milk in a pan or microwave until too hot to touch and add to the rue. Whisk lightly, you should have a smooth sauce in less than a minute. Up the heat slightly and stir until it has thickened. You want it quite runny as the pasta will absorb it whilst baking. Add the mustard if using and a good pinch of salt.
Drain the pasta and add to the sauce and chicken. Mix well and transfer to an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until the cheese has browned nicely. Let it cool slightly before serving.

My kids, aged 4 and 6, absolutely loved it. It is simple, delicious and fun (I use different pasta shapes every time) and this is one of the recipes they would happily eat for 2 days in a row. I tend to sprinkle it with water before reheating the next day. It freezes well, make sure to defrost thoroughly before reheating again.
When I make this dish for the 4 of us I use more spices (like bay leaves) and tend to put some Red Leicester on top along with some deseeded tomatoes. You can change it according to your own preferences, it is that versatile.

Desi in the Kitchen

Monday, 18 January 2016


BROWNIES! Who does not like them? I know I do. I love them.

Hubby? Well, if you had offered him one an year ago he would've politely taken a bite, mumble something about how nice it was and then given me the rest when no one was looking. Then he quit smoking and his taste buds started to work properly again. He discovered he likes a)vegetarian food and b) chocolate. All of a sudden I had to share my chocolate guilty pleasures with him!! I guess it was a tiny sacrifice on my part considering he gave up smoking:) So in all honesty I don't really mind sharing my chocolate. But back to why he now likes brownies. As he tells me, one of his colleagues brings brownies in the office quite often and he never liked/fancied them. A few months ago that colleague kept pestering him about having a bite so out of politeness (he is very Very VERY polite)he took one and finished it. And took another one, and another one. He was 'in heaven' apparently because they were 'soooo chocolaty and nice'. 
He has been doing a lot of little projects around the house over the last week so I thought it will be nice to make him something special. The brownie recipe did not disappoint. In fact it was a real success. My daughter had a bite and giggled! She turned to me and said: 'Mummy, thank you for cooking dinner and making these delicious thingies.' (For the record, dinner was salmon with veg and homemade baked chips). The 'thingies' were a Saturday night treat for us and probably the best brownies I have tasted in a while. Honestly, give them  a go. They are so easy to make, even a child can do it. I have promised Annabel to help her make some more soon. She is only 4 and already wants to bake! My heart melts....

Here is the recipe (makes about 18 squares)

225gr melted butter
400gr sugar (I used granulated sugar and it worked great)
4 eggs
60gr cacao powder
1/2 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
225gr plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt


Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix the butter, sugar, cacao powder and eggs until well incorporated. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Grease a 25x35 cm (or similar size) baking tray. Pour in the mixture and flatten lightly with a spatula. Bake for around 20 minutes for set brownies. If you want them more gooey, bake for about 18 minutes. Let your tin cool completely before taking out and cutting into squares (if you can wait that long).

For a recipe with a twist add some nuts of your choice in the mix after the flour has been added. If you a true chocoholic sprinkle some chocolate chips/chunks on top just before the tray goes in the oven. This is a recipe that took just over 5 minutes to put together. So you can always surprise your loved ones with a little treat in under 30 minutes. How good is that?!

Desi in the Kitchen

Friday, 15 January 2016


Back in September whilst flicking through a random magazine (such a rare occasion for me!) I saw an advert for a night crème. I am a thirty-something year old woman who is fascinated with skin care products and adverts like this always catch my eye. I remember looking at the page thinking 'I really want this one'. I have been looking for a good night cream over the previous two years and having tried a few I was actually disappointed. In the winter season I tend to get dry spots along my jaw line and I need a cream which will smooth them away overnight so when I wake up in the morning I can put my make up on without worrying I will have a flaky skin. I am also a night owl - I may go upstairs to bed at 10pm every night but I rarely fall asleep before midnight. One of my children likes to wake up at least twice a night to go to the toilet or just to talk to me, so I have been suffering from poor sleep for the last 8 years! My alarm goes off at 6:45am every morning so sleep depravation is something I know all too well. I have noticed over the years that the dark spots under my eyes grow darker and bigger and amount of concealer is enough to make them disappear from my face. My skin has become duller and drier and I have been struggling with an uneven skin tone more and more. Foundation had become a best friend for my face. And out of nowhere there seem to be a solution to all my face skin problems!!!! Vichy's Idelia Skin Sleep Gel-Balm promises 'an ideal skin quality upon awakening, even in cases of poor sleep'. I simply had to try it to make sure for myself if this claim was true.
It was a clever ad - a £5 off voucher was attached to the page. With my birthday being less than 2 months away I gave the voucher to hubby and told him: 'I want this for my birthday'. He barely glanced at it....
I did get it for my birthday (alongside my fabulous K-Mix! You can read all about it here .) I opened the wrapped present to look at a very cute pink box.
Inside was a lovely pink jar with a mirrored lid (nice surprise).
The gel-balm smells divine. It is also pale pink in colour (it suits me just fine, I have to say, I am a girl who loves pink).
Nice, silky smooth and light texture gets absorbed by skin of your face quickly and efficiently. When I wake up in the morning my skin is supple and smooth, all my dry spots gone (I will be honest, on a couple of occasions when it had been really windy outside my dry spots did not clear 100%, on those days it was more of a 80% but I was still happy with the results from this gel-balm). My skin texture has completely changed - it more radiant and my skin tone has evened out slightly. I am going out with my foundation on the odd days without feeling awkward about it. My skin feels plumped, full of moisture every morning without a fail. My dark spots are smaller and brighter and there are days when I don't have to use my concealer! Despite the 5 hours sleep I get on an average night I look refreshed in the mornings and my friends have commented how well I look. This is a product that works really well for me and chances are it will work for most people as it is suitable for all skin types. The fact it is a gel-balm means it really is silky smooth on touch - some days I feel like smothering my whole body in it!

So far I have used Vichy Idealia Skin Sleep every night for over 2 months and the jar still looks quite full. I am confident it will last me at least another 2-3 months which makes it really worth it. It is by far the best night crème I have ever had and is one that I will happily continue to use.

Desi in the Kitchen

Disclaimer: This is not a collaborative post. All words and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


My children love waffles.
They are a rare treat in our house as I tend to make them on a Sunday when both children have had an exceptionally good week. Almost 10 years ago when we got married we were given a waffle maker which we never used until about 6 months ago Whilst clearing the garage my husband stumbled across it so I decided that we have it so we might as well start using it. Lucky for me it came with instructions and the easiest recipe for waffles I have ever seen!
All you need is 3 simple ingredients and if you are anything like me you will have all 3 in your kitchen on any given day.
So here it goes:

Recipe (makes 7-8 waffles)

a pot of cream, around 284 ml (I use whipped, double works well too)
200gr plain flour
200ml cold water

Whip the cream until it starts to thicken and soft peaks form. Mix the flour and the water until you get a smooth mixture. Add the whipped cream to it and stir until the cream is well incorporated.
Cook the waffles as per your manufacturer's instructions.

It is as simple as that! The result is the most delicious crispy waffles which you can top up with anything you fancy. My son likes them with Nutella, my daughter prefers honey. Hubby is a jam eater and I finish mine off with some maple syrup.
They are truly gorgeous no matter what your topping. This quantity is enough for us 4 as a late breakfast on a Sunday.
Give them a try, I promise you will not be disspointed.

I would love to know how yours turned out:)

Desi in the Kitchen

Tuesday, 12 January 2016


I remember when hubby(then boyfriend) took me to a restaurant in London for the first time about 10 years ago. Looking at the menu I thought in disgust 'Fish pie?!?!?!' It sounded so strange and bizarre and the idea of fish pieces in sauce under mash just did not seem appealing at all.
Years later I tried a cottage pie and I loved it. But then again I love meat. Hubby tried to persuade me to give the fish pie a go but I was always reluctant. Then 4 years ago I invited my father in law to dinner, thinking my mother in law was out of town for a few days and he would be lonely. I had planned cottage pie but I got a call from him telling him his wife was in town after all and she was coming to dinner too. You see the annoying bit was that mother in law is a vegetarian so cottage pie was out. In the playgroup I was taking my kids to at the time I asked around what I could cook and most mums recommended FISH PIE. So there I was making notes of how to make a fish pie. Up until then I was not big on leeks either but as I found out fish tastes so much nicer if you use them instead of onions. Over the years I stuck my recipe and it has been a hit every time.
A few nights ago I was going through the TV channels trying to find something decent to watch and Mary Berry was smiling at me, showing a quick chicken and pasta bake recipe. The reason I kept watching is because I got fascinated by how quickly her white sauce was ready. It has always taken me quite a while to make sure there are no lumps in it. I take the rue off the heat and stir, adding little bits of milk at the time until it is all incorporated. She however, poured all the milk in the pan and within less than a minute the sauce was smooth and thickening up! The secret?! The milk was HOT.
To tell you the truth I was very sceptical about it but decided to give it a go nonetheless. It worked. My sauce was ready in next to no time. What I love about the fish pie I make is that it is really rich and filling. I tend to make enough to feed my kids twice. They like fish pie but are not very keen on grilled salmon. It freezes very well too, defrost in the fridge overnight or at room temperature over 4-6 hours and heat thoroughly before serving.

Recipe: (to feed 4-6 people)
350gr fish pie mix
800gr potatoes
35gr butter
35gr plain flour
400ml milk, hot
50ml milk , cold
a handful of grated cheese
2 bay leaves
1 large leek (or 2 smaller ones)
4 eggs (optional)
salt and pepper


Chop the leek finely and fry for a few minutes in some oil. Add the fish pie mix and the cold milk to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes at medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the bay leaves - they give a wonderful aroma to the poached fish.
From the potatoes make mash. I do not add butter or milk to it as there is plenty of liquid in the sauce. Plus I want a nice, thick cover for the pie. I find adding milk to the mash makes it very soft and difficult to handle. To make the white sauce melt the butter and add the flour to it. Stir until well combined and a rue has formed. Add the hot milk and whisk lightly - under a minute you will have a smooth white sauce. Cook until it has thickened, stirring all the time to prevent it catching at the bottom of the pan. Mix the fish with the sauce and transfer into an oven proof dish. If you would like to make this pie extra special I suggest you hard boil 4 eggs and cut in half. Put the half in the pie, cover with the mash, sprinkle with the grated cheese and bake in a preheated oven to 180C for about 25-30 minutes until the cheese is golden brown. Serve hot.
Do you like fish pie? Or would you rather have cottage or shepherds one?
Desi in the Kitchen 

Monday, 11 January 2016


As part of my New Year Resolutions I decided to start a new topic on my blog, KEEP FIT. I see it as a space where I can talk about how I keep healthy, how I stay in shape and why regular exercise and good eating habits are important to me and my family.

In the first 10 days of January I went to the gym 5 times. I know, 5! I want to go to the gym 3 times a week and so far so good. My routine is very simple - I stretch at home, go in, go on the cross-trainer for 20 minutes, run for 15 minutes, stretch again, shower and go home. It is quick, easy and depending on how much time I have I may do some sit-ups (does not happen very often).
To keep fit you do not need to spend money on going to the gym - long brisk walk or a run in the park will do just fine. Nowadays health professional recommend we all do 10 000 steps a day and thanks to an app on my phone I make sure I do them. Gym and exercise has never helped me lose weight - 3 years ago I found a simple detox plan that worked wonders for my body. These days I use the gym to keep the weight off. Let's face it - I am running a cooking blog which means I LOVE TO EAT. I bake delicious cakes and treats for my family and although I try only to sample them it doesn't always work this way. I love chocolate too, it is my ultimate guilty pleasure and going to the gym helps  me not feeling guilty about eating half a bar on an especially bad day.
Session 1 of me being back in the gym felt easy. It was painful but I was watching a movie on the little TV and kept going. I think I felt like I had to prove to myself that 6 weeks off meant nothing. I was wrong - 6 weeks off (and Christmas holidays) meant I couldn't do as much as I wanted and I got tired a lot sooner than I expected.
Session 3 was great! I pushed myself and achieved what I had set out to do. I wasn't aching as much either which was a good start.
Session 5 was hard. I am not sure why - it was a Sunday night, 5:30 pm. Hubby was home with the kids cooking dinner. It should have been a walk in the park. I didn't feel any motivation and no amount of trash TV could help me go through what I wanted to do. So I cut my session a bit short by about 5 minutes. I am not feeling bad about it - it was just one of those days. We had been for a 2 hour walk in the woods earlier plus clothes, shoes and food shopping so I was probably just very tired.

I am trying to go to the gym every other day at the moment, to keep the momentum going. I am really excited to be back and I can honestly say I LOVE IT. The sauna and steam room are a nice bonus and visiting them once a week is pure heaven for my achy muscles.

Do you go to the gym? Do you keep fit? I'd love to know

Desi in the Kitchen

Thursday, 7 January 2016


For me it is a time of the year when I look very closely at what I eat. New Year New Me seems to be my motto for the month of January every year and 2016 is no exception. Having eaten a vast quantity of turkey, ham, sausage rolls and pigs in blankets over the festive period I feel it is time for  a week of vegetarian dishes.
So my first one is a delicious pasta dish which takes under half an hour to cook. Ta da! This easy and simple meal requires no special skills whatsoever and is guaranteed to help you fall in love with cooking.
Those of you who know me well know that I am not a fan of pasta. I avoid eating it, especially in the evenings. (More about this is coming up in my new category KEET FIT next week). Hubby and kids love it and I cook it for them often but I tend to stay away from it. This recipe is one of my 'guilty pleasures'. There is something about the combination of mascarpone, mushrooms and pasta that I cannot resist. Because I am back in the gym (yes, I am sticking to my goal) and I needed a filling meal after another gruelling workout a little treat to myself just happened to be on the cards last night ;)
The first time I made this recipe was many years ago and it has been a favourite of my husband ever since. He is a guy who likes his meat and is not a big fan of veggie dishes but even he admits this is a MUST TRY pasta dish. The cheesy breadcrumbs give the pasta another dimension and is a great way of using up old/stale cheese you may have in your fridge following Christmas. This is a very rich and filling dish and little goes a long way.

Recipe (to feed 2)

about 150gr pasta (any shapes you like/have), I used fusilli simply because this is what I had
150gr oyster mushrooms/ you can substitute with any exotic mushrooms
1 tub (250gr) mascarpone
2 slices of bread
a handful of grated cheese
salted butter

Cook the pasta as per the pack instructions. Cut the mushrooms into chunks and fry in some of the butter on  medium heat until edges start to brown. Mine took about 7 minutes.
Whilst the mushrooms are cooking make the breadcrumbs. I used my blender for this - it only took 2 minutes! Fry the breadcrumbs in the remaining butter on medium heat stirring often to prevent burning.
When they've browned add the grated cheese. Again, stir continuously to avoid burning. (I find extra mature to work really well - as it melts it helps the breadcrumbs to clump together in small clumps. Mild cheddar will make them into bigger chunks).
Once the mushrooms are cooked, turned the heat to minimum and add the mascarpone. It is a very rich and creamy cheese and the heat helps it melt.
Keep stirring until no chunks are left and the mushrooms are well coated. If you haven't used mascarpone before you need to know that it is a very bland tasting cheese. It is perfect for deserts but it goes really well with mushrooms too as it helps bring the flavour out of the mushrooms without overpowering them.
To serve pour the sauce over the pasta
and add a good spoonful or two of the breadcrumbs.
It goes well with red wine.
The picture above is my portion, small but fabulously delicious and filling.
It was enough for me but I could've eaten more. Lucky for my KEET FIT routine hubby had already polished everything else!
What is your favourite pasta dish? Care to share?
Desi in the Kitchen 

Wednesday, 6 January 2016


Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you all enjoyed the festive season and spent your time exactly as you wanted!

The last 2 months have been amazing and I would like to thank you all for reading my blog.

I have just realised it has been pretty much a month since I last posted anything. As sad as this made me feel I am trying to look at it in a positive way. Yes, I haven't written in 4 weeks but I spent the holidays with my beautiful kids, my husband and my brother. It was a truly amazing time in Desi in the Kitchen's household. Loads of cooking, even more eating, church nativities,playing games, watching films, panto
.... exactly how we all wanted it to be.
When I started this blog back in November I had no clear idea/view how often I wanted to write/publish. I did not set any goals either - it is just a blog about my journey through life at the end of the day. Shortly before the kids holidays I made the decision that the Christmas holidays are my holiday too. So I took an active break from blogging, tweeting, Facebook.... It felt good, I am not going to lie to you. But it made me realize that I was missing it. I was missing writing, tweeting, Facebook updating... I kept snapping photos thinking about all the posts I will have to do once the kids went back to school. I kept rearranging all my dishes for that one great picture! Hubby thought I went a little bit crazy but he could also tell I was missing my writing. He offered me time to lock myself in the study and write whilst he was playing with the kids. I declined. You see, I wanted to play with my kids too :) On the 31st December I decided that I need to set goals for my blog. I hope sticking to them will ease the guilt when I need a break next time. I also hope that by setting goals I will be more productive and more efficient thus have some free time to do my other hobby - embroideries.
GOAL 1 : I will do my best to publish 3 times a week. 2 posts about cooking and 1 post about anything else. (Yes, I remember I promised to let you know how I got on with my night cream).
GOAL 2: Go to the gym at least 3 times a week, 1 time to be a class + 2 times swimming. Yes, we have renewed our membership. Hubby was kind enough to agree to it only if I promised to go regularly (i.e. 3 times a week). The swimming is just a little extra I am adding, to keep me motivated and to keep me going in my battle to keep the weight off.
GOAL 3: I am starting a new topic in my blog : KEEP FIT. I see it as a space where I can tell you all about my battle with post pregnancy weight, how I lost it and what I am doing to keep it off. Watch this space.
GOAL 4: Be happy and enjoy my life.

I am happy with my goals. What are your goals for 2016? I would love for you to tell me :)

Desi in the Kitchen