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Follow my kitchen experiments, catastrophes and triumphs


Gingerbread biscuits – for Hallowed Eve

My lovely friend at Isn’t Life Grand suggested I use my ginger biscuits from last week to make Halloween cookies. Genius, because I can’t stand plain flavoured cookies. Dodgy because I’ve never done anything remotely near that fancy in terms of cookie decor.

I found a set of funky Halloween cookie cutters at my local Sainsburys. I do love cookie cutters, and I’m sure a ghost, a pumpkin, a witch and a bat will be very useful at other times of the year. I’ll look for any excuse to buy new kitchen implements, so the £1 price-tag was no deterrent.

Delia’s gingerbread men recipe from last year worked well with the cutters. I popped the cut but unbaked biscuits in the fridge before baking to try retain as much of the detail as possible. The ghosts were my favourite because slightly rearranging the fall of the “sheet” edge gave them each a slightly unique look.

Once baked came the icing. Now gingerbread men are so easy; I just use coloured icing pens to draw features and glue on suitable sweets. I decided to be a little braver here and tried flooding them with royal icing; something I’ve never done before. I had none of the right equipment, the wrong kind of colouring and did some seriously dodgy improvisation with a syringe more commonly employed in administering Calpol to unwilling patients. The results were ok. Not professional cookie decorating standards by a long shot though.

The main problem I had was that the biscuits absorbed loads of fluid from the icing and went quite soft. Maybe this is what happens to the typical sugar cookie that is iced this way too. I’ve no idea. They still tasted great despite the loss of crunch and my cleaner and I gobbled them up over the ironing before any little witches, goblins or skeletons could get their mucky little paws on them. Yum!



Fortnightly meal challenge #2: Apricot Glazed Chicken


I seem to be stuck on chicken dishes at the moment. Once I’ve resigned myself to properly cold and wintery weather I’ll start getting more into red meats.

For my second meal challenge, I decided to try something quick but delicious with my chicken pieces that my kids would also enjoy. Apricot and chicken is a match made in heaven and I remember eating loads of different combinations of the two as a child. Apricot casseroled in apricot juice, or with whole apricots was pretty typical. The glaze for this chicken includes mayonnaise, and usually onion soup mix, which I opted to forgo as it tends to be laden with salt. The sugar in the jam will cause the skin to blacken, just keep an eye on things to ensure it doesn’t actually burn, particularly if your oven runs quite hot, like mine.

The spouse demolished his, and had seconds. The toddler demolished his and had seconds too! The baby spent ages sucking away on her big strip of chicken and cried when it was finished! I didn’t have seconds, but would have if I’d had the space. That’s what you get for sneaking in a pre dinner cookie!


Chicken pieces with skin on (I used drumsticks and thighs, but any will do. You could also do this with skinless chicken pieces)

Smooth apricot jam


To coat 6 drumsticks and 4 thighs I used 3 large tablespoons each of the jam and mayonnaise


Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C

Mix your mayonnaise and jam together

Place your chicken pieces into an oven proof dish. I like to get them slightly spaced apart rather than tightly packed to ensure they get nice and sticky all the way around. Make sure they are placed yucky side up, then smear half the jam mix onto your chicken. Cover with foil and bake for roughly 30 minutes. Turn the pieces over so they’re nice (skin) side up and coat with the remaining jam mix before baking for a further 20 minutes uncovered.

I also removed the chicken from the roasting pan and deglazed it with some boiling water and reduced it for a sauce.

We served ours with brown rice, peas and steamed green beans. Not particularly exciting, but child friendly. They would also be lovely served with a warm lentil salad. Nom nom nom,