Monday, 30 November 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Yesterday I had the most fantastic breakfast burrito. I was just planning on eating the avocado for lunch but I was starving and decided that wouldn't be enough! So I used my original grilled avocado with bacon and cheese recipe, added some cherry tomatoes, scrambled egg, a dollop of creme fraiche and rolled it all in a tortilla and it was delicious, filled me up til I finished work at 5pm.

Last week's meals went ok, I had two delicious meals out, one was Thai fishcakes with sweet chilli sauce and it was absolutely delicious, then I went out for Thanksgiving dinner on Friday with a friend. I kept looking at all the delicious food on people's blogs and I wanted to join in! We went to an American Diner in Islington, and had the typical Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, cranberries, stuffing, mashed sweet potato, mashed potato, green beans and gravy, with pumpkin pie and toffee pie to finish, it was fantastic. All the waiters were dressed in costume and there were lights and balloons everywhere! The only disappointment was no marshmallows with the sweet potato! I will definitely have to go back to try their usual diner fare.

This week's Menu Plan Monday is light and easy. I have two pieces of coursework due on the 15th December so I need to spend time doing them rather than cooking, its a good job I have a well stocked freezer! I do, however, have my parents coming over for dinner on Saturday and I am making this months Daring Cooks meal which I am so excited about!

Lunch: Breakfast Burrito
Dinner: Potato and Ham Gratin, Salad

Lunch: Ham and Cheese Orzo Casserole, Salad
Dinner: Ginger Pork on Sticky Egg Fried Rice

Lunch: Inarizushi with Prawns and Spicy Mayo, Dumplings, Japanese Wasabi Potato Salad, Prawns with lime and sweet chilli (Bento)
Dinner: Pitta Bread with Hummus and Olives and Salami, Pretzels

Lunch: Out?
Dinner: Goats Cheese and Mushroom Risotto

Lunch: Enchiladas
Dinner: Hot Smoked Salmon Pasta (Leiths)

Lunch: Salad with cheese and salami etc
Dinner: Tuna Steak and Sesame with Green Tea Noodles

Lunch: Smoked Haddock, Rocket and Rice Salad
Dinner: Daring Cooks

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Smoked Haddock and Cannellini Beans

I actually made this quite some time ago, but I thought it was worth writing about. Along with my obsession for Mexican food, I also have an obsession with beans at the moment. Its a cheap and easy source of protein, and so filling. Over the past few weeks I've made everything from Bean Chilli to White Bean Hummus to Smoked Haddock and Cannellini Beans. I cannot seem to get enough of them.

This is a really simple Nigella recipe that I adapted slightly as I got some leeks on sale and have been throwing them in everything! The flavours really complemented each other. It could have been added to with a dash of double cream or creme fraiche, but I didn't have any.

Smoked Haddock and Cannellini Beans (adapted from Nigella Express)
(Serves 2)

350g Smoked Haddock fillets, skinned
small sprig parsley
2 bay leaves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 leek, chopped
375ml water
80ml white wine
2 cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped chives
salt and pepper

Lay the fish fillets in a large frying pan with a sprig of parsley, bay leaves, peppercorns and leeks. Pour in the water and the wine and bring it to the boil.

Cover the pan with foil and simmer the fish in the poaching liquid for 3-5 mins. Take off the heat and remove the fish to a plate.

Tip out all but about 60-125ml of the cooking liquid from the pan, you will need just enough to warm the beans, and tip the cannellini beans into the pan and warm through.

Turn off the heat and place the fish on top of the beans in the pan. Add the oil, most of the parsley, the chives, and the salt and pepper. Stir everything together and breaking up the fish as you go. If the fish got a little cold whilst it was out of the pan, turn the heat back on and warm through.

Sprinkle with the rest of the parsley and serve.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Easy Chicken Pie

One of my definite highlights of last week was the chicken pie I had on Saturday night. I have been really busy lately with college and work and I've been having some medical issues too. Just keeping the house straight seems to be falling under the radar. I really need to put time aside to keep everything in shape.

So I have been looking for really simple dishes that I can make with little effort. This chicken pie is one of them. Its starting to get chilly here, we seem to have had some unseasonably warm weather recently but I think there is starting to be a nip in the air, which calls for warming pies and hearty stews.

The original recipe called for sweetcorn, which I'm not a big fan of, so I used leeks and peas instead and they worked really well. The pie was creamy without being cloying, and the parsnip mash was good, if a little sweet, I think potato mash, as was in the original recipe, would have been better.

Easy Chicken Pie (adapted from Good Food Magazine July 2009)
(Serves 1)

1/2 small onion, sliced
2 skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
1 small leek, sliced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
75-100ml chicken stock
handful of frozen peas
3 tbsp crème fraîche
handful parsley or basil leaves, chopped
2 parsnips, chopped

Heat the grill. Fry the onion and chicken in the oil for 5-10 mins until the onion is soft and the chicken golden, add the leeks. Pour over the stock, bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 mins until the chicken is cooked. Stir in the frozen peas and cook for a couple more minutes. Then add 3 tbsp crème fraîche and the herbs.

Meanwhile, boil the parsnips until soft. Drain and mash with remaining crème fraîche, or milk and butter. Spoon the chicken mix into a pie dish and top with mash. Place on a baking tray, then grill until potato is golden.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I have a small obsession with Mexican food at the moment, I just can't get enough of it, burritos, tacos, fajitas. Mexican food here in the UK is usually appalling but recently things have started getting better, thankfully there are few good burrito shops and Mexican restaurants starting to pop up, which means I can feed my Mexican craving!

A couple of weeks ago I made enchiladas. I've only ever tried them before as a Marks and Spencer's ready meal, and really liked them. I cheated with this one and bought ready made sauce, but it was at least Old El Paso! I also didn't stick to a recipe, I sort of made it up as I went along, and this is the result:

I fried some chicken pieces with some onion, a yellow pepper and some fajita seasoning to give it a kick. Then I added some premade chilli to the pan and warmed it through, I wrapped the mixture in flour tortillas and laid them in an oven proof dish. Then I covered the tortillas with a jar of enchilada sauce and topped with some grated cheddar cheese and baked in the oven for about 20 mins.

I ate it with some salsa and some guacamole and it was delicious. Not at all authentic, but really tasty.

One of my definite highlights from last week was the Easy Chicken Pie with leeks, peas and Parsnip Mash. It was a recipe from Good Food magazine which I adapted to the veg I had leftover, and it was so simple yet so tasty. I also loved the Prawn Masala Stir Fry, the combinations of the Indian spices with the noodles was delicious and it is definitely something I am going to have to investigate more!

This week I am really looking forward to the cassoulet. I have been meaning to make it for ages and never seem to quite get around to it, so fingers crossed for this week. I am also trying to increase the number of bento I made, I really enjoy them when I have them, but don't bento nearly enough!

Lunch: Macaroni Cheese, Salad
Dinner: Out at Browns, had flatbread with mozzarella, peppers, chorizo and ham and steak frites, delicious (Thank you Em!)

Lunch: Mushroom Rice, Chicken Tenders, Asian Cucumber salad (Bento)
Dinner: Beef Fajitas

Lunch: Pitta Bread with Hummus, Salami, Cucumber
Dinner: Out for pizza with my Dad

Lunch: Out with a friend
Dinner: Black Bean and Pinto Bean Chilli with Cornbread

Lunch: Mini Quiche, Cocktail Sausages with Mustard, Pesto Potato Salad (Bento)
Dinner: Old Bay Seasoned prawns with crème fraiche and lemon pasta

Lunch: Teriyaki Salmon with Stir Fry Noodles (Bento)
Dinner: Out with a friend

Lunch: Prawn and Pesto Pasta Salad
Dinner: Cassoulet with Chicken Thighs, Smoked Sausage, Kielbasa and Haricot Beans

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Toad in the Hole

Toad in the Hole is one of those quintessentially English dishes, and unfortunately one that I don't have very often. This is only the second time I've ever made it! But it is a hearty dish fantastic for cold weather. We made it once in my second year at university and it didn't work very well, the batter didn't rise and it ended up really stodgy. Thankfully this one was much better! I love the combination of batter and sausages, but my Dad really doesn't like this sort of batter so we didn't have it at home.

I used a combination of two recipes one from Leiths Simple Cookery Bible and this one from BBC Good Food. I made it in a loaf tin, as I was only making it for me and that was the smallest metal tin I had. I ended up with rather a lot of the batter but it was perfectly cooked inside, and the gravy was really tasty as well. I served it with parsnip mash, broccoli and mange tout.

Toad in the Hole with Onion Gravy
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
8 pork sausages
1 onion, sliced

For the Batter
110g plain flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs
150ml water mixed with 150ml milk

For the gravy
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion , thinly sliced
2 tsp plain flour
2 tsp ready-made English mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
600ml chicken or vegetable stock

Make the batter; sift the flour into with the salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre, break the eggs into this well. Beat lightly,then gradually pour in half the milk and water, beating all the time to form a smooth,thick batter.

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Put the sausages in a large roasting tin (preferably metal). Scatter over the onion and drizzle with oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the sausages are starting to colour and the onion is tinged brown at the edges.

Remove from the oven and quickly pour the batter over the sausages. Return to the oven for a further 35-40 minutes until the batter is crisp and well risen.

Meanwhile, make the gravy. Heat the vegetable oil in a small pan, add the onion and fry gently for 5 minutes until softened and lightly coloured. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the mustard, Worcestershire or soy sauce and stock and bring to the boil, stirring. Simmer for 15 minutes, then taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Chicken Breast in a Bag with Cannellini Beans, Leeks, Cream and Majoram

I was looking for something to do with a pot of double cream. When I went shopping I added it to my list, so I must have had a recipe in mind, but when I got home I could not remember what on earth I wanted it for. So I looked through my cook books, and came up with this Chicken Breast in a Bag recipe from Happy Days with the Naked Chef.

I was a little confused by the recipe, it says "place in your bag with the creamy sauce", I'm not sure whether it means mix the ingredients for the sauce together and then add them to the bag, or just add the ingredients to the bag. I did the latter and the sauce split, so clearly I did the wrong thing! It was also a little bland for me, I served it with parsnip mash.

Chicken Breast in a Bag with Cannellini Beans, Leeks, Cream and Marjoram (adapted from Happy Days with the Naked Chef - Jamie Oliver)
(Serves 2)

2 chicken breasts
1 leek, chopped
400g tin of cannellini beans, drains and washed
1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 small handful of fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves picked
1 small glass of white wine
140ml double cream
salt and pepper

Using wide tin-foil, make your bag by placing 2 pieces on top of each other, folding in three sides and leaving 1 side open.

Preheat the oven to 220C. Put the leeks into a pan and cook in boiling water for 2 mins just to soften. Drain and mix in a bowl with all the other ingredients, including the chicken, mushing a handful of the cannellini beans to a pulp in your hands.

Season well, then place in your bag with the creamy sauce, making sure you don't pierce the foil. Close up the final edge, making sure the bag is tightly sealed and secure on all sides, carefully slide it onto a baking tray. Place in the middle of the oven for 25 mins.

Remove from the oven, place the bag on a big plate,

Monday, 16 November 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I only seem to have time to do my Menu plans at the moment, which is a shame as I have loads of pictures of recipes I've tried clogging up my camera, just no time between work and college and everything else to write much!

Last week had quite a few highlights, although I didn't make the kipper cakes from scratch, they were so delicious I had to give them a mention. I bought them from a little fish shop in Craster on the North East coast, which also had a whole lobster, deshelled for about £4, and these kipper cakes were so good, they were basically all fish and no potato and completely stunk out the staff room at work but were totally worth it!

The other highlight was the Toad in the Hole, now the last time I tried to make toad in the hole was years ago when I was at uni and it was a complete disaster, where the batter didn't rise at all. This time was different, I had to make it in a loaf tin as it was the only thing I had small enough for a one person toad in the hole and the batter rose perfectly. It was lovely with the onion gravy I made.

In this weeks Menu Plan Monday I am really looking forward to the Prawn Masala Stir Fry. Its from my new cook book which is Leiths Simple Cookery Bible. It has some fantastic simple recipes in it that I want to try out. I've also never tried an Indian noodle recipe so I'm wondering what the combination will taste like.

Lunch: Pasta with Tomato and Mascarpone Sauce
Dinner: Went to Wagamama's with my sister

Lunch: Courgette Soup and Pate Sandwich
Dinner: Chickpea Curry with Curry Sauce and Rice

Lunch: Pesto and Sour Cream Pasta Salad with Hot Smoked Salmon and Mange Tout
Dinner: Prawn Masala Stir Fry (Leiths)

Lunch: Out, treating myself, not sure what yet
Dinner: Paprika Pork Loin Steak with Couscous and ratatouille

Lunch: Ham and Cheese Orzo Casserole, Salad
Dinner: Beans on toast

Lunch: Rice Noodles with prawns, sweet chilli, lime and soy sauce, Pak Choi, Gyoza (Bento)
Dinner: Black Bean and Vegetable Curry

Lunch: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with ham
Dinner: Easy Chicken Pie with leeks and peas and Parsnip Mash (Good Food)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Menu Plan Tuesday

Last week got rather mixed around, so my Menu plan didn't get anywhere near as planned! Hopefully this week will be better although I have already fiddled with this one a couple of times as things come up! This naan pizza is from the week before last but it was so tasty that i thought it was worth sharing.

It uses a naan bread as a base, I then put about 3 tablespoons of home made tomato sauce on the base, added some spinach, olives and goats cheese and baked it in the oven for about 8-10 mins. It was so quick and easy to do and delicious to eat

This week's Menu Plan Monday I am trying out loads of new recipes, I'm still slowly working through the cookbooks on my shelf and trying different recipes from them. I wasn't a big fan of Sunday's dinner, but I will write more about that later in the week. I am looking forward to the toad in the hole, Its the first time I've tried to make it for just one, so I'll see how the batter goes.

Lunch: Dumpling Noodle Soup
Dinner: Chicken Breast in a bag with cannellini beans, leeks, courgettes, cream and marjoram(Happy Days with the Naked Chef)

Lunch: Out with my Mum
Dinner: Crispy Prawns, Egg Fried Rice, Spring Rolls and Wontons

Lunch: Kipper Cakes, Salad
Dinner: Out

Lunch: Croque Monsieur, Salad
Dinner: Toad in the Hole with Parsnip and Potato Mash, Veg

Lunch: Macaroni Cheese, Salad
Dinner: Maple Salmon with Courgette and Pesto Pasta

Lunch: Chicken Tenders with Egg Fried Rice, and Soy Sauce and Ginger Courgettes (Bento)
Dinner: Smoked Haddock with Cannellini Beans and Leeks (Nigella Express)

Lunch: with my parents
Dinner: Enchiladas

Friday, 6 November 2009

Sundried Tomato, Sage and Goats Cheese Stuffed Chicken Leg with Gravy

I love roast chicken, it is my ultimate comfort food, but a whole chicken is too big for just me. Sometimes I have a Poussin, which is much smaller, but I found some chicken legs in a farm shop in Northumberland, which are easier to stuff. I also love goats cheese and chicken and goats cheese seemed like a winning combination, so I added a few things to it and stuffed the chicken leg.

I served it with steamed broccoli and pasta with cabbage and pesto. The chicken was delicious, but I didn't really like the cabbage. It left a very strange after taste in my mouth!

Sun dried Tomato, Sage and Goats Cheese Stuffed Chicken Leg with Gravy
(Serves 1)

1 chicken leg
1/4 small log soft goats cheese
2 sun dried tomato pieces, sliced
3 sage leaves sliced

Preheat the oven to 200C

Make a pocket between the skin and the flesh of the chicken leg.

Slice the goats cheese, sun dried tomatoes and sage thinly and stuff the pocket with the cheese, sun dried tomatoes and sage.

Cook the chicken leg for about 30-40 mins until the skin is golden and crispy.

I left it to rest a bit whilst I made gravy with the pan juices by adding a little plain flour to the roasting pan and then some hot water and stirring. I put it back in the oven for about five mins
and voila lovely thick gravy.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Menu Plan Monday

My Mum gave me a packet of sliced smoked duck breast which she had left in her fridge, I used half of the packet in a bento and then the other half in this smoked duck and sesame potato salad. I didn't have any plum sauce so I used hoisin instead and it tasted delicious.

Last weeks Menu Plan went OK, the highlight was definitely the Miso Salmon with Green Tea Noodles and Mushrooms which I made for my Mum. The flavours went really well together. I have found a recipe for Tuna Steak with Green Tea Noodles which I'm hoping to try soon. This week is quite mixed with some tried and tested recipes and some new ones. I bought a pot of double cream when I went shopping on Friday and I still can't remember why I bought it! I'm using it in the veal stroganoff and a potato and courgette gratin that I can't think of anything to go with, I'll have to have a think during the week.

Lunch: Croque Monsieur, Tomato and Goats Cheese Salad
Dinner: Cheese and Ham Orzo Casserole, Garlic Bread

Lunch: Out for sushi with my Mum
Dinner: Beef Yaki Soba

Lunch: Hummus, Artichoke and Olive Pitta Bread
Dinner: Pesto Pasta Salad with Mushrooms, Garlic Sausage and Green Beans

Lunch: Three Mushroom Rice
Dinner: Veal Stroganoff with Parsnip and Potato Mash, Veg

Lunch: Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne, Salad
Dinner: Kipper Cakes with Veg

Lunch: Battered Prawns with Broccoli, Mushrooms and Noodle Stir Fry (Bento)
Dinner: Cassoulet with Smoked Sausage

Lunch: Game Pie and Salad
Dinner: Potato and Courgette Gratin