Last chance for Santa Dash

Last chance to sign up for the Willen Hospice Santa Dash

It’s your last chance to sign up for the annual Willen Hospice Santa Dash – the countdown is on!

The festive fundraiser takes place at 10 am, Sunday 19 December, in front of the Hospice on Willen Lake North. Wannabe Santas have until midnight, Thursday 16 December, to sign up.

Santa Dash is one of Milton Keynes’ biggest festive charity events. It makes for quite a sight with hundreds of Santas running, walking, or jogging the 2km route around Willen Lake North.

Last Chance to Book

Registration to take part in the Dash is £15 for adults and includes a Santa suit. For children it’s £5/7.50 and includes a hat or suit.

While it’s £2.50 for a ‘Yappy Christmas’ dog bandana.

To book a place, visit SANTA DASH or call 01908 303052.

Please note parking at the Hospice is for Blue Badge holders only.

All other parking for the event is at the nearby Willen Pavilion.

Willen Hospice needs to raise around £9 every minute of the year from the local community to continue to provide their specialist end-of-life care in Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas.

About Willen Hospice

Willen Hospice provides complex and individual care to all adults affected by life limiting illness in our community and support to their families and friends.  Our care is assuring, equally accessible and advanced and often takes place in people’s own homes.  It is free to the patient and provided by a highly skilled team of professionals. We receive less than a quarter of our funding from the NHS and need the support of the local community to provide us with financial stability to ensure that we are always there to care.


Spicy bean casserole

Satisfaction Guaranteed With My Deliciously Spicy Bean Casserole

My deliciously spicy bean casserole will guarantee to leave your taste buds mouth-watering with satisfaction! Well … it does me!  When I was asked for this recipe, I realise I don’t actually follow a recipe. Make sure that you taste test all the way along.

This will serve 4 people


400-500g Fava or Carlin beans or a mix of the two (add more if needed)

One onion, finely chopped

1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 celery sticks, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of rapeseed oil

Tin of tomatoes or fresh tomatoes

Chopped spinach – a couple of handfuls (wilt it in a pan and then chop it)

Harrisa paste or a mix of paprika and chilli. (I use a slightly adapted John Torode recipe, it makes lots so I freeze the spare)

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 vegetable stock cube

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

Serve the Spicy Bean Casserole with:
  • Rice or flatbreads
  • Top with creme fraiche, a sprinkling of cheddar cheese, a mix of fresh chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce.


  1. Soak the fava or carlin beans overnight or for at least 8 hours. Check the exact instructions.
  2. After soaking cook the beans for at least 45 minutes, again depending on the instructions.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of rapeseed oil in a heavy-based pan.
  4. Put your onion into the oil in the pan and fry until softened. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for a further minute or two. Don’t let it burn.
  6. Add a teaspoon of dried oregano and stir in.
  7. Pour in your tomatoes, stir and cook for about 5 minutes until gently simmering. Add in the spinach (optional)
  8. Put one to two teaspoons (or more depending on your preference) of harrisa paste, a splash of the cinnamon, and a vegetable stock cube into the tomatoes. Stir and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  9. Add the beans and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  10. Keep checking the taste of the spicy bean casserole and add your own mix to the taste.

Links to Products

Website links:

John Torrode’s Harrisa Paste

My Refill Market for Fava and Carlin Beans

The Fruity Farmer for Rapeseed Oil 

If you like this recipe try out Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry

delicious chocolate spread recipe

Delicious Easy to Make Chocolate Spread Recipe

This delicious, easy-to-make chocolate spread recipe is perfect to scoop onto your bread, let it melt into your crumpets, or as someone I know does spoon it directly into your mouth!

by Emma Johnson

This recipe is slightly adapted from a Good Housekeeping recipe I found many years ago. I have tried many including those with cream.  The cream does not work, don’t bother either trying it, in my opinion!


100g blanched and ground hazelnuts

250gmilk chocolate, broken into pieces

200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

50g icing sugar, sieved

100 ml Fruity Famer vegetable oil or similar – ones with a milder taste

1/2 tsp vanilla essence or extract (whichever you have)


  Blanch the Nuts

Although you can buy pre-blanched hazelnuts, it’s easy to do it yourself:

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C (170°C fan) mark 5.
  2. Scatter the nuts onto a baking tray, heavy-based is best.
  3. Put them in the oven and toast for about 5 or so minutes. Keep checking though.
  4. Once they look slightly golden brown, take them out of the oven and see if the skin removes easily.
  5. Cool the nuts and then pop them onto a cloth. Cover the cloth over them and rub vigorously to remove the skin.
  6. Once completely removed you’ll be left with golden nuts.

The Spread

  1. Break the chocolate into pieces and pop into a heatproof bowl.
  2. If you have a microwave, carefully melt the chocolate. You don’t have to fully melt every piece as when you stir together, they’ll continue to melt.
  3. If you prefer to use a stove, pop the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Do not fill the pan too high because if water gets into the chocolate, you’ll ruin it. Once melted remove from the stove.
  4. Grinding the nuts: choose the hard way, pop them into a heavy-duty pestle and mortar, then grind. Or put them into a food processor and let that chop them finely for you!
  5. Add the nuts to the processor and continue to whiz it up.
  6. Add the icing sugar, whiz again, before adding the melted chocolate, oil, and vanilla.
  7. This recipe does leave a little crunch in the final mixture. If you do have fussy eaters, try pushing the mixture through a sieve.
  8. Finally, spoon into your sterilised jars.


Whenever I cook something new, I always need positive feedback from them that tastes my latest creation. This one went down particularly well. In fact, one was caught spooning it into her mouth! On that point, if you prefer the spread to be slightly runnier, add a little more oil – up to about a max of 125 ml, I’d say.

If this is all too much of a faff – try the Nutcellar Chocolate Spread.

Website – The Nutcellar

Find them at the local farmer’s markets and at My Refill Market, Stony Stratford

Willen Hospice Annual Winter Draw Give Away

Willen Hospice Annual Winter Draw Give Away Launches

Willen Hospice annual Winter Draw Give Away launches. The total prize pot is a massive £4,000.

by Yvonne Shuttleworth

The annual draw helps to raise funds for the ongoing work of the Hospice. It gives local people an opportunity to give to a worthy cause with just a £1 ticket. Enter for a chance to win the first prize of £3,000, the second prize of £500 or one of ten £50 runner up prizes.

Lottery Fundraising Manager Louise Dela-Haye says,

“Every ticket we sell, helps to support the Hospice in offering our care completely free of charge. It also gives us a chance to give something back to our amazing supporters.”

In addition to celebrating its 40th year, the Hospice is also marking its 25th year of hosting the Lottery. During this time the Lottery has raised over £6 million and more than 1300 players have won the weekly Lottery prize of £1,000.

Louise adds,

“When the pandemic hit, we had to cancel or postpone our fundraising events and close our shops for months on end, but alongside our regular givers, our Lottery has continued to be a vital source of income. A huge Thank You to all of our Lottery players, past, present and future, for helping us to be there for local families. You really do make a difference”

The NHS only gives the hospice a quarter of the financial support the hospice needs. The hospice raises the bulk of the money that it needs privately. It takes £4.7million every year, or £9 a minute, to continue providing specialist, compassionate care to patients with life-limiting illnesses.

Willen Hospice Annual Winter Draw Tickets

Winter Draw tickets are available to buy online at:

in any of the Willen Hospice shops to adults 16 years and over.

The draw closes on 4 February 2022. The draw takes place on 10 February 2022 and winners will be announced within 7 days.

Terms and Conditions

Chances of winning and full Terms and Conditions are available on the Willen Hospice website:

Find out about Willen Hospice Lights of Love

Santa Dash for Willen

Santa Dash for Willen Hospice this Christmas!

The Dash For Willen Hospice is back this year on Sunday, 19 December at 10am. Best of all it won’t be virtual like last year’s was!

by Helen Winter

Willen Hospice hope that 1oos of people will once again dress as Father Christmas to walk, run or jog around Willen Lake North. Don’t forget – this event helps to raise funds for your local charity hospice.

The event is open to people of all ages, and dogs are welcome to take part too.

Tracey Jago, Events Manager at Willen Hospice, said:

“Our Santa Dash has become an annual favourite for many families and has become a staple in their Christmas routine as a great way to mark the start of their festivities. We truly missed not having it last year, and we can’t wait to see everyone dressed up in their Santa suits.

Whether your Dash is in memory of a loved one, a chance to do something fun as a family, or simply a change to your usual Sunday run, by taking part you’ll be helping to support our vital work.”

How to Book on Santa Dash for Willen

Click here for the Santa Dash Link

It costs:

  • £15 for adults including a Santa suit
  • £5 for kids including a Santa Hat
  • £7.50 for kids including a Santa suit
  • £2.50 for a ‘Yappy Christmas’ bandana for your furry friends

Willen Hospice is the only adult Hospice in the local area. The charity needs to raise around £9 every minute of the year from the local community to continue providing specialist end-of-life care in Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas. So go, Santa Dash for Willen!

About Willen Hospice

Willen Hospice provides complex and individual care to all adults affected by life limiting illness in our community. It also supports families and friends.  Our care is assuring, equally accessible and advanced and often takes place in people’s own homes.  It is free to the patient and provided by a highly skilled team of professionals. We receive less than a quarter of our funding from the NHS and need the support of the local community to provide us with financial stability to ensure that we are always there to care.


Delicious Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

Do you have one or two leftover pumpkins? This delicious pumpkin spice latte recipe will warm you and is perfect for the autumn season.

by Manasa Sa

I’m Manasa and I love to cook and share my recipes. This is one of my favourite autumn drinks to make and share with my friends and family. It’s spicy, slightly sweet and it’s perfect after a long, cold walk in our beautiful countryside.

  • 3 tsp Pumpkin Puree
  • 1/2 tsp Spice Mix – nutmeg, ginger & cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 2 Cups of Milk
  • 3 tsp Sugar
  • Espresso Shot
  • Whipped Cream
Serves 2
  1. Pumpkin puree – peel the skin and chop the pumpkin into small chunks. Transfer pumpkin chunks into a saucepan, add one and a half cups of water. Cover and cook the pumpkin for 10min, then turn off the flame and allow it to cool completely. Once it has cooled down, blend to make a fine paste.
  2. Place cups of milk, 3tsp sugar and 3tsp pumpkin puree into a saucepan. Bring to the boil. As it starts boiling, add half tsp of vanilla essence and the spice mix. Add more to suit your own taste if necessary.
  3. Boil the mixture for a minute, then add one shot of espresso and mix well.
  4. Pour into the cups.
  5. Finally, whip some cream and carefully place it on top of the drinks mixture. Add another pinch of the spice mix powder on top of the cream.

I hope you enjoy trying my pumpkin spice latte recipe and do let me know how much you enjoyed making it and drinking it.

Bake-off with Sourdough

The Great British Bake-off is back and The Campaign for Real Bread wants us all to get making sourdough bread!

by Emma Johnson

Bake-off I did, from sourdough bread to croissants, brioche, no end of cakes and even profiteroles, I tried making them all during the various lockdowns! Despite all the practice and effort, I don’t see myself as any kind of expert. In fact, I was not alone in my new found fun, lots of others fell in love with baking. Not only did I love the activity, I also discovered that bread-making is actually quite therapeutic. Having said that, I wouldn’t even recommend rolling up your sleeves and making your own every week. I would, though, recommend giving it a go and finding our what all the fuss is about.

Campaign For Sourdough

It was sourdough month during September. Why do we even need a sourdough month? Well, The Real Bread Campaign basically wants us all to discover that:Life’s Sweeter with Sourdough

Whether you make it yourself or buy your bread, the campaign is about wanting us to enjoy a proper loaf!  Let’s face it, supermarkets sell a whole range of flavours and styles but it isn’t until you eat that real thing that you can taste the difference.   Mass production really doesn’t create genuine sourdough as it should be. Some would even argue that it isn’t even proper sourdough from the supermarket.

Whatever your views, we love to bake! Believe it or not, it is far more simple than you might imagine. If I can do it, so can you!  I used Paul Hollywood’s recipe from his book Bread, IBSN 978 14088 4069. You don’t have to follow my advice, there are hundreds of other options that are all equally as good out there.

I think I am allowed to share this recipe, and I would also recommend buying the book. Although we don’t have an independent local bookshop, I buy from Waterstones in Milton Keynes. They run a great scheme and you will get vouchers towards more books. Alternatively, as this book was first published in 2013, I bet several of the local charity bookshops may well have a copy.

Sourdough Starter

To be able to make the bread you need to create a starter. The starter is basically the equivalent of yeast. Yeast is the product that ensures you bread will rise, that’s if you do it properly, of course!  Paul Hollywood uses green grapes to make his starter, I did exactly the same.

Ingredients – starter
  • 250g strong white flour
  • 5-7 grapes
  • 250ml tepid water
Ingredients – refreshing
  • 100g strong white flour
  • 100ml tepid water
  • Mixing bowl
  • Large airtight jar / plastic box (giving enough room to rise)
Top Tips

I found quite a big difference in the results you get from different flours. In the end I bought the organic flours from My Refill Market and the Cotswold Matthews Flour from Cranley Barn Farms. Unfortunately, Cranley no longer sell it, however you can still buy from it direct .

  1. Put the flour into the mixing bowl with the chopped grapes.
  2. Pour in the water and mix to combine.
  3. Tip the mixture into the airtight jar.
  4. Leave it to ferment in room set to the temperature of 20-24 degrees C for 3 days.
  5. The mixture begins to froth – Paul recommends drawing a line with a marker pen to see how it is rising and falling.
  6. After the 3 days the mixture will have risen, will be bubbly and slightly darker in colour. It will also have quite a distinctive smell which means it is fermenting and active.
  7. If it isn’t working, remove half the mixture, add 100g of flour, 100ml of water and more chopped grapes, leaving it for another couple of days.
  8. If it is working, remove half the mixture and stir in the ingredients from the refresher. Repeat this every few days. Leave the refresher for another 24 hours and then once it forms a jelly-like texture and is thick, you can use it.

If you are going to bake-off regularly and make lots of sourdough bread, keep refreshing the starter and store at room temperature. If you don’t use it regularly, store it in the fridge to slow down the process. You won’t kill it and remember when you refresh, simply stir in the brown film on top and follow the same process as in the recipe.

The grapes disintegrate and you won’t see them in your final bread.

Keep it Local

As you know we love to keep our lives local. Buy your bake-off ingredients from:

Flour – My Refill Market, Stony Stratford, Daily Bread, Northampton

Oil (for bread) – The Fruity Farmer, Stoke Goldington

Grapes – Moorgate Farm, Potterspury

If you aren’t into bread making ready made buy from:

Woodstocks Bakery, Stony Stratford

Whittlebury Bakery, Whittlebury

Our favourite organic Sourdough pizza can be found at

Bucks Star Brewery, Stonebridge

Click for more information about the Real Bread Campaign



Tomato and Courgette Risotto

This is a great way of using your glut of courgettes and tomatoes. Its Mediterranean ingredients will help to ensure summer lingers for a little longer! The mascarpone adds a creamier consistency to the tomato and courgette. If you like your food slightly spicier, chop in a little fresh chilli while cooking the onion.  Enjoy!

Serves 2

Prep Time 20 mins cooking time 25-30 mins


2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1⁄2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
200g risotto rice
500ml vegetable stock
200g carton passata
12 cherry tomatoes, halved or a chopped large tomato
2 courgettes, halved and sliced
2 tbsp mascarpone
parmesan (or veggie alternative), grated, to serve


  1. Cook the onion until soft in 1 tbsp of oil in a large pan. Stir in the garlic and coriander seeds.
  2. Stir in the risotto rice, coat with the onion.
  3. Ladle in 300ml of the vegetable stock, allow each ladle to absorb before adding the next.
  4. Pour in the passata, cover, simmer and stir occasionally for 10-15 mins, add more stock as needed.
  5. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Separately roast the cherry tomatoes and courgettes, until tender, in 1 tbsp olive oil and season.
  6. Stir in the mascarpone, cook until the risotto is creamy. Combine the courgettes with the rice, top with the roasted tomatoes and grated Parmesan.
Need a Local Supplier?

For locally grown veg, order a vegetable box from the Moorgate Farm vegetable box scheme.

Website: Moorgate Farm

For other ingredients:

Oil: The Fruity Farmer

Dry goods: My Refill Market

Beetroot Risotto

If you love rice and sweet tender beetroot mixed with tangy goat’s cheese, this is the recipe for you. This recipe comes from Olive Magazine, we have suggested one or two changes which you can choose to use or not.

Firstly, if you are not keen to use white wine, you can use apple juice, white grape juice or white wine vinegar. You may find 150ml will be too much therefore in our experience add a small amount at a time until you find the right taste. Apple juice can make the dish too sweet and white wine vinegar can make this very sharp!

We’ve also added one clove of garlic – simply because we love a bit of garlic as long as it is not too overpowering. It’s also believed to bring many health benefits.

We think it will work well as a lunchtime dish as well as for a dinner party. For a drink to accompany, choose a crisp white wine or even a sparkling elderflower cordial.

Only one thing left to do, once cooked, is to finally sit down with friends and enjoy this delicious recipe.

  • Serves 4
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 50 Minutes

If you are using this as a lunchtime meal, you may want to slightly reduce the size of each portion.


  • 300g fresh beetroot
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, if desired
  • 250g risotto rice
  • 125g soft goat’s cheese
  • 150ml white wine or add one of the alternative options like white wine vinegar to taste
  • 50g butter
  • 1-litre hot vegetable stock
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Small bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • A handful of walnuts, toasted and chopped


  • Heat the oven to 180C/Gas mark 6.
  • Cut each beetroot into cubes of 4-6 wedges, lightly season and roast in the oven for 25 minutes, set aside to cool.
  • Melt the butter in a deep frying pan and cook the onion with some seasoning for 10 minutes until soft. Add in the garlic, if you are using it.
  • Place the rice in the pan and stir until every grain is coated, then pour in the wine and bubble for 5 minutes. Add the stock a ladle at a time and keep stirring. As each ladle is absorbed add the next.
  • Meanwhile, whizz half the beetroot in a small blender until smooth, and chop the remainder.
  • Once the rice is cooked, stir through the whizzed and chopped beetroots, lemon zest and juice, and most of the parsley. Divide between plates and top with a crumbling of goat’s cheese, walnuts and remaining parsley.

Noodles with turkey, green beans and hoisin sauce

This delicious recipe comes to us courtesy of Moorgate Farm vegetable box scheme. It’s a great and healthy way to use up leftover turkey. You can make it as spicy or mild as you wish.

Serves 4
Prep time 10 mins cooking time 15 mins


200g ramen noodles
200g green beans, halved
6 tbsp hoisin sauce
Juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp chilli sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
500g turkey, minced or cubed
4 garlic cloves, chopped
8 spring onions, sliced diagonally


  1. Boil the noodles following pack instructions, adding the green beans for the final 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the hoisin, lime juice and chilli sauce.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan and fry the mince or cubes until nicely browned. Add the garlic and fry for 1 more minute.
  4. Stir in the hoisin mixture and cook for a few more minutes until sticky. Finally, stir in the noodles, beans and half the spring onions to heat through. Scatter over the remaining spring onions to serve.

Adapted from BBC Good Food Recipe

Order a vegetable box

Moorgate Farm vegetable box scheme delivers freshly picked vegetables from local farms to your door within 24 hours. Few supermarkets could make that claim! You will enjoy a seasonal selection of delicious farm-fresh produce.

You’ll receive the best quality, taste, freshness and service every time you receive a delivery. The farmers who supply the vegetables grow them in a rich sandy soil. They are passionate about their products putting great care into how they are grown.

You can choose which vegetables you would like in your box for each delivery. They’ll come to you loose in a recycled container with no harmful plastic wrapping.

If you’d prefer to choose for yourself, head to Odell’s Market in Stony Stratford every Saturday to visit the Moorgate Farm fresh vegetable stall. They are there between 9am & 3pm.

Moorgate Farm vegetable box  – Moorgate Farm, Potterspury NN12 7QG / 01908 543008 / e-mail Moorgate Farm /