Jan’s Sandwiches

Yes, you read that right, “Jan Sandwiches”, not “Jam Sandwiches”.  I know this isn’t actually a recipe, but with the festive season coming up, there’s always room for new ideas for entertaining. There’s a little story behind the naming of these…

Recently my daughter was looking for tasty, portable food for a picnic.  I remembered these, and told her what to do.  I suggested she make “Jan’s sandwiches”, but of course she heard “Jam sandwiches” – so I had to explain.  My late mother in law – Jan – used to make these as part of the fabulous feasts she used to put on whenever she had visitors.  Great finger food, not complicated, really easy to eat.  Wow, my mother in law could cook, and put on a spread you wouldn’t believe.

Anyway, these were well received at the picnic, and finding myself home for the day today, I rummaged in the fridge and was rewarded to find the leftover fixings, so made one for myself for lunch.

You will need four slices of bread for each.  You can get creative and mix different coloured breads for an interesting effect, so long as they are the same size.  You will need either an electric knife or a really sharp knife for cutting, because if you press down when cutting you will squash them, the fillings might ooze out and they will not look very nice.

Jan’s Sandwiches

Jan's sandwiches

Jan’s sandwiches

At least one loaf of bread

A jar of cream cheese spread

A jar of gherkin spread

Butter (the soft spreadable kind)

Sliced ham (it is best to get the square ham that fits the bread slices so you don’t have too much wastage)

Butter each slice of bread.  Then create a stack.  Put ham on one slice, put another slice of bread, buttered side up, on top.  Then gently cover that slice with cream cheese spread.  Put another slice of bread, buttered side up, on top.  Gentlhy cover that slice with gherkin spread, then put the last slice, buttered side down on top.  Hold the stack gently, and with your knife, slice off the crusts.  Then cut the sandwich into three fingers.  Repeat until you have enough sandwiches.


PS – nothing really gets wasted around here – the magpies really love the crusts….

Nice crusts, see you next time!

Nice crusts, see you next time!

Susan’s Cheat’s Carbonara

Ok, so once again I have forgotten to take something out of the freezer.  I can’t be bothered fighting the traffic to go and get takeaway, and because of the sparse population in our area, the only fast food places that deliver are pizza.  What to cook for dinner?

Pasta is the obvious answer as it is quick to prepare.  The longest part of the process seems to be waiting for the water to boil.  A tip I have been told is not to salt the water until it comes to the boil.  Apparently if you put salt in cold water it takes longer to boil, so you put it in when the water is boiling, just before you put the pasta in.  Does it work?  I don’t know, but I am sure it can’t hurt, so that’s what I do.

What sauce to make?  I like a Carbonara, but to be honest it always tastes a bit fatty with bacon, plus you have to cook the garlic and bacon, which is an extra process and means you have a frypan as well as a pasta pot to wash up afterwards.  Also, the cream is a bit heavy, I wanted a slightly lower fat version.  So – how can you cheat at Carbonara without compromising taste?  We all loved this, unfortunately we loved it so much there weren’t any leftovers for lunch the next day, so it wasn’t all win-win!  The beauty of it is, there was only the pasta pot and a small mixing bowl involved, so it was a nice, lazy clean up as well.


Susan’s Cheat’s Carbonara – Serves 4 (if you are lucky!)

Lower in fat than traditional Carbonara, and a lot easier too!

Lower in fat than traditional Carbonara, and a lot easier too!

4 eggs

1 tsp cornflour

1/2 cup low fat milk

2 slices of your favourite ham (I like Gypsy Ham for the smoky flavour, but any ham that comes in big slices will do – you can use more if you like), chopped

Pinch of salt for the sauce, plus a generous pinch for the pasta pot

2 tsp dried granulated garlic

2 tsp dried parsley

A small handful of grated low fat tasty cheese

500g packet of pasta (you can use gluten free pasta too, so long as your cornflour is gluten free and not wheaten cornflour this recipe is gluten free)

Parmesan cheese to serve

Once the water is boiling, cook the pasta.  Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a small bowl, then slowly add the cornflour.  Squash out any lumps that form before adding milk, ham, salt, garlic, parsley and cheese.  When pasta is cooked (try a piece to be sure) drain and return to pot.  Put pot back on low heat, pour in egg mix and stir through until it has cooked and is heated through and the sauce has thickened and is clinging to the pasta.

If you want to garnish the pasta, you could slice some green ends of spring onions finely, or use some fresh parsley.  Serve with parmesan.

Low fat Mango Mousse

This mousse is very similar to my Lime Mousse, it is loaded with sugar but because it isn’t cream based, it is lower in fat.  It is very simple to make and sets quickly.  I got five reasonable sized serves from the mix, but you could make four really full ones, or six smaller ones, it depends on what you want and the size of your dessert dishes.

Low fat Mango Mousse

Low fat Mango Mousse

Low fat Mango Mousse

I pack mango flavoured jelly

125g cream cheese

1/2 a tin of evaporated milk (the 400g size – see below for hint)

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 big ripe mango or two smaller ones

Mix up the jelly with only one cup of boiling water, put in the fridge to cool and partially sent.   You want it thick, but not set so that it is still at a pouring consistency.

Put the chilled evaporated milk in a mixing bowl and beat it until it is stiff and white.  It should at least double, preferably more.  Set aside.

Beat the sugar and cream cheese together until combined.   (My mixmaster has a small and large bowl, I first beat the milk in the small bowl, then put in the large bowl and beat the sugar and cheese together).

Pour the thickened jelly into the cheese mixture and beat until combined.

Put chopped mango into the mixer while the beaters are turning slowly, and allow to mix and it will also cut up the larger chunks a little.

Then fold through the beaten evaporated milk, and once well combined spoon into serving dishes and refrigerate until combined.



When I make this recipe (or the lime version) I put the tin into the freezer for a little while, about half an hour, as it beats best when chilled.  Don’t forget the tin though!  Once you have used half the tin for the recipe, you can put the other half into a container and freeze it for another time.  It won’t take very long to defrost, and you can still start beating it even if it is a little crystalline, so long as it has defrosted enough that it isn’t one large block of milky ice.  Or if cooking for a larger crowd, just double everything, although you will need the bigger bowl to mix the evaporated milk as it will expand.

Lemon Curd Cheesecake Pots

Yet again I have taken the gluten out of my cooking, and at the same time, have made it quicker and easier.  This recipe was the result of some experimentation – I had some lemon curd left over, and wondered how it would go with cream cheese.  The answer is – beautifully!  This was so quick and easy as I already had the curd made, all I had to do was mix everything together!


Lemon Curd Cheesecake Pots

Lemon Curd Cheesecake Pots

Lemon Curd Cheesecake Pots

250g cream cheese

1 cup lemon curd

1 tbs honey (I had some honey flavoured with orange peel, which complemented the lemon flavour, but you could use any honey that you fancy)

Cut the cream cheese into small blocks which will mean the ingredients will combine better.  Using a blender or mixer, beat together the ingredients until smooth and creamy.  Spoon into ramekins or serving dishes and decorate however you prefer.  The arty ones might use some candied peel, but I was too lazy (surprise, surprise) and just sprinkled some coloured sugar.


Almost as easy as it was tasty!  You can eat straight away, or put back in the fridge for later.