Friday, 28 February 2014

Brown Rice and Smoked Mackerel Salad

This is a really lovely healthy salad, packed with fresh tasting vegetables and lovely oily smoked mackerel. The dressing is really simple, just olive oil and balsamic.

Brown Rice and Smoked Mackerel Salad (from Girl Interrupted Eating)
(Serves 2)

100g brown rice
1 red pepper, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp capers
2 tbsp black olives, sliced
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 smoked mackerel fillets, flaked
salt and pepper

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the rice according to packet instructions. When the rice is cooked, drain, run under the cold tap and drain again well.

In a small bowl whisk together the oil and balsamic vinegar.

In a large bowl mix together the rice, pepper, tomato, spring onion, capers, olives and parsley. Season and stir in the dressing making sure that everything is well mixed. Add in the mackerel and stir gently. Serve or pack into a lunch box.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Orange Chicken with Cauliflower Carrot Mash

This felt like a really healthy but really filling dish. It as also very simple to make. It was nice to have something oriental without rice or noodles as well, the mash worked perfectly and I will definitely be trying it again. It also froze really well.

Orange Chicken with Cauliflower Carrot Mash
(from A Life of Flavour)
(Serves 4)

For the mash
1 large head cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
1/2 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper

For the chicken
4 chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
3 tbsp oil
2 oranges, juiced and zested
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 spring onions, chopped

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the cauliflower and carrots and cook for about 12 mins.

Heat the oil in frying pan over a medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic, and herbs until the onion is translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, add the orange juice, zest, ginger, and soy sauce. Heat over medium heat and bring to a simmer, leave to reduce and thicken while the chicken cooks, but watch it doesn't burn.

In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden and browned. Add the sauce to the chicken and stir to coat.

Drain the cauliflower and carrot  and add back to the pan along with the onion mixture and the butter. Season and then blitz with a hand blender until smooth. Divide between four plates and serve the mash along side the chicken and sprinkle the spring onions over the chicken.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Egg, Mushroom and Cheese Sandwich

I found this and thought it was a really cool idea. I love a bit of trashy food and the plastic cheese in this really makes it lovely and melty. I did try and make it a bit healthy by adding mushrooms and tomatoes though!

Egg, Mushroom and Cheese Sandwich (from A Cup of Jo)
(Serves 1)

1 English muffin or two slices bread or a bun
1 to 2 tsp butter or oil
1 egg
salt and pepper
handful mushrooms, sliced
1 slice of plastic cheese

Heat some butter and oil in a frying pan and cook the mushrooms until golden and tender.

Beat the egg with ½ tsp water until just blended, season.

Melt the butter in a frying pan. Pour in the eggs and roll them around so they cover the pan, as a thin crepe would.

Put the square of cheese in the middle and place the mushrooms on top. cook until the egg is cooked, about 1-2 mins.

Fold the part of the egg closest to you over the cheese. Repeat this on the three remaining "sides," forming a small square.

Leave the folded egg-and-cheese in the centre of the frying pan to cook for another 30 secs, then slide onto you muffin or toast. Top the sandwich with the tomatoes and other half of the bread and eat it at once.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Hungarian Goulash

I made this a couple of weeks ago using on of my WeightWatchers cookbooks. It was really tasty and just lightly spicy with the paprika. I used rump instead of fillet steak and it worked perfectly.

Hungarian Goulash (from WeightWatchers Nice n Spicy)
(Serves 1)
(9 WW ProPoints per serving)

cooking spray
175g lean fillet steak, cubed
1 small onion chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 green or red pepper, sliced
2 tsp paprika
100ml beef stock
1/2 small can chopped tomatoes
2 tsp tomato puree
50g fromage frais
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat a casserole and spray with cooking spray and brown the steak for 4-5 mins. Remove and set aside.

Spray the casserole with cooking spray again and fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic and pepper and cook for another min.

Stir in the paprika and tomato puree, cook for 1 min and then add the stock and tomatoes. Bring to the boil and then add the beef back in and put the lid on.

Transfer to the oven and cook for 20-25 mins. When the beef is cooked, stir in the fromage frais and serve.

Meal Planning Monday

This time on Saturday I was wondering down the beach front in Tel Aviv in 28C heat! It was glorious. We had blue skies for the 4 days we were in Israel. I cannot wait for summer, so long as it's hot and sunny!

This was the view out of our hotel window in Tel Aviv on Friday morning! We spent the first day in Jerusalem exploring and then the next couple of days in Tel Aviv including a wedding. I really enjoyed the trip and loved the place. There are so many things I didn't get to see and I would love to go back.

Before we went to Jerusalem I baked a cake for the wake after a funeral. I was asked to make a Victoria Sponge and I filled it with raspberry butter cream and fresh raspberries.

And then it was back to earth with a bump. On Saturday lunchtime I was wearing shorts and t-shirt and I walked back to my flat in a hat and scarf. I can hear the rain on the window as I type this as well. So back to normality after half term. Yesterday was an Inset day, so no pupils, today everyone is back! This week should be ok, busy but not ridiculous. I'm going to the Tricycle Theatre tonight to see Red Velvet, going to a friends house on Friday and then out for lunch with my parents on Sunday. I'm still clearing out the freezer, so meals are easy and quick.

Smoked Trout and Potato Salad (WW Soups and Salads)
Cheesey Swiss Panade with Salad

Roast Carrot and Ginger Soup with Bread
Out for a meal before the theatre

Quiche and Salad
Ham, Cheese and Leek Crispbake with Salad

Out at a friends house

Out with a friend
Mackerel and Leek Pasta Bake (Waitrose Recipe Card)
Out with my parents
Duck Leg Pasta

Monday, 24 February 2014

Ham, Pea and Mushroom Pasta Salad

This was a really simple yet flavourful pasta dish, creamy yet not heavy and packed full of lovely veggies.

Ham, Pea and Mushroom Pasta Salad (from Simple Nourished Living)
(Serves 4)

250g dried pasta shapes
150g mushrooms, sliced
150g frozen peas
1/2 red onion, chopped
6 slices of ham, chopped
2  hard-boiled eggs, chopped
For the dressing
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ tsp salt
4 tbsp buttermilk
2 tbsp low fat mayonnaise
3 tbsp  fresh dill, chopped
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Drain, run under the cold tap and drain again well.
Meanwhile, heat a frying pan with a little oil and butter and cook the mushrooms until soft and golden. Leave to cool.
In a bowl mix together the dressing ingredients until well combined. Add the pasta, mushrooms, peas, onion, ham and eggs and mix well. Serve or pack into a lunchbox.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Swede Chips

I've been experimenting with oven chips recently. I never seem to have enough room in the freezer for frozen oven fries so I tend to make my own. These worked really well, they were crispier than the butternut squash fries I made a couple of weeks ago and had a lovely flavour. They went really well with the veggie burger.

Swede Chips
(Serves 4)
(0 WW ProPoints per serving)

1 large swede, peeled and cut into chips
cooking spray
1 tbsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
Heat oven to 200C. Put the swede into a shallow roasting tin. Sprinkle over the thyme, season and spray with cooking spray. Toss well to make sure everything is covered in cooking spray and then arrange in a single layer in the tin.

Roast for 30-35 mins, turning halfway through cooking, until crisp and golden.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Green Lentil, Potato and Mushroom Burgers

I made these a little while ago but forgot to photograph them. It's a good job I made quite a few and froze them. This time I served them with goat's cheese, homemade pickles and lettuce, with swede chips on the side. The recipe for the chips will follow tomorrow. These froze really well and were a really good vegetarian alternative to a beef burger.

Green Lentil, Potato and Mushroom Burgers (from Great British Chefs)
(Makes 6)

1 tbsp oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
400g tin of green lentils
300g potatoes, boiled or steamed until tender
250g mushrooms, sliced
90g of porridge oats
3-4 tsp Old Bay seasoning
salt and pepper
Rinse the green lentils well and set aside.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the mushrooms and garlic until tender. Season well, then blitz in a blender or food processor until quite fine.
Add the mushrooms and the rest of the ingredients to a large bowl and mash until combined. Season.
Flour your hands and roll the mixture into balls and then squash into a burger shape.
Chill in the fridge for about 30 mins.
Heat the oven to 200C and bake the burgers for about 15-20 mins or until golden and crisp.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Sweet Chilli and Soy Turkey Wrap

I have been meaning to make this for ages and finally got around to it. It was really tasty and a really easy sandwich to make at 6.30 in the morning having done most of the prep the night before!

Sweet Chilli and Soy Turkey Wrap (from Ocado)
(Serves 4)

1 turkey breast, cut into strips
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
½ cucumber, cut into strips
2 spring onions, cut into strips
2 carrots, cut into batons
4 tortillas

Mix the chicken with the soy sauce and half of the chilli sauce. Leave while you cut up the vegetables.

Heat a frying pan and add a little oil, fry the turkey for about 6-8 mins, turning occasionally until cooked through. leave to cool.

Build the wraps, by putting the carrot, cucumber, spring onion and turkey chicken strips onto a tortilla, drizzling with the rest of the chilli sauce and rolling up.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Pasta with Spinach, Mushrooms and Goat's Cheese

This is a really easy and tasty way to use up some goat's cheese!

Pasta with Spinach, Mushrooms and Goat's Cheese
(Serves 1)

60g dried pasta
1 tsp oil
1 tsp butter
75g mushrooms, sliced
50g spinach
1 sping onion, chopped
30ml white wine
25g goat's cheese
salt and pepper

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and oil in a frying pan. Add in the spring onion and cook for a min or so, add in the mushrooms and cook until soft and starting to go golden.

Add in the white wine and let it bubble for a couple of mins until reduce by half. Add in the spinach and cook until it wilts.

Put the pasta into the mushroom spinach pan and add the goat's cheese, season and stir until everything is coated in the goat's cheese. Serve.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Pulled Pig's Cheeks in Buns

This is what I did with the leftovers from the Braised Pig's Cheeks I made a few weeks ago and it delicious. I mean who doesn't like pulled meat and barbecue sauce?! I've also since found lots of recipes for pig's cheeks that I want to try so I'll definitely be buying some more of this delicious and cheap meat. The potato salad in the original recipe looks yummy too but I didn't have any yoghurt so just had it with crisps.

Pulled Pig's Cheeks in Buns (from Reluctant Housedad)
(Serves 2-4)

4 cooked pig’s cheeks
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp sugar
burger buns or brioche rolls

Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Put the pig's cheeks in a roasting tin.

Mix everything except the pig's cheeks together to form a sauce. Brush half of the sauce over the pig's cheeks.

Put them in a low oven for 20-25 mins, until the cheeks have reheated.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a chopping board. Using two forks, shred the pork cheeks into strands.

Pile the shredded pig's cheeks onto lightly grilled burger buns and top with the sauce.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Spicy Prawn Stir Fry

I was looking for a recipe to use up half a head of cauliflower that would actually make it taste of something. I went rummaging in my box of recipes and came up with this. I adapted it a little from the original and made it actually spicy. The original picture seemed to suggest that there would be lots of liquid in the dish at the end but I didn't have much left, it was still very tasty. I served it with rice.

Spicy Prawn Stir Fry (adapted from WeightWatchers Recipe Card)
(Serves 2)
(3 WW ProPoints Per Serving)

cooking spray
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
150g cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp grated ginger
100g mangetout or sugar snap peas, halved
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoons Turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
200g raw prawns
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
handful spinach leaves
2 tbsp chopped coriander

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the cauliflower for 4-5 mins.

Spray a wok or frying pan with the cooking spray and stir-fry the spring onions, cauliflower, garlic and ginger for 2-3 mins.

Add the mangetout and cumin seeds and fry for another 2 mins.

Stir in the turmeric, curry powder and chilli powder, then add the prawns and cook for 3-4 mins until they are pink.

Add 100ml water, tomatoes and spinach. Heat until simmering and cook gently for 2-3 mins. Sprinkle in the coriander and serve.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Blackberry, Pear and Apple Traybake

I was bored a couple of weekends ago and so decided to make some cake to take into work as it's always appreciated with morning coffee. This went down really well, the fruit kept the cake lovely and moist and was perfect. I also heated some up and had it with ice cream for pudding one evening.

Blackberry, Pear and Apple Traybake (from Fuss Free Flavours)
(Makes 16 large squares)

110g butter, softened
125g light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
190g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch mixed spice
2 tbsp milk
1 unripe pear, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 eating apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
a handful of blackberries
1 tbsp demerara sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20 x 20cm baking tin with parchment paper.  

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

Gently fold in the flour, baking powder and mixed spice, with a metal spoon, adding milk to loosen the mixture so it can be easily spread.

Spread 2/3s of the mixture into the tin. Arrange the pear and apple slices on top and scatter the blackberries over, gently pressing them into the gaps between the pear slices. Cover with the rest of the cake batter.

Sprinkle the demerara sugar over and bake for 30 – 35 mins until risen and golden brown, and when a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the pan to cool and serve.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Daring Cooks February 2014: Spanakopita

The February Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by Audax of Audax Artifex. The challenge brought us to Greece with a delicious, flaky spanakopita - a spinach pie in a phyllo pastry shell.

Although my Mum has made this many times before I've never had a go myself. Her recipe is a little different from this one and only uses spring onions and has 4 eggs instead of 1-2. I found this version a bit too oniony for my taste and I think it would have been improved by cooking the onion and leek first as we ended up with some chunks of rather strong raw onion. It was also a much more sloppy mixture than I'm used to but seemed to firm up when cooled.

Spanakopita6- 8 Servings

2-3 very large bunches (1 kg) (about 2 pounds) fresh (or thawed frozen) spinach
1 packet (375 gm) (13 oz) chilled phyllo (phillo) pastry sheets, (or thawed frozen phyllo sheets), I used half the packet for this recipe, about 12 “thicker-style” sheets or about 20 “thin-style” sheets
2 cups (300 gm) (about 10 oz) good quality feta cheese, crumbled
1 bunch (30 gm) (1 oz) dill, soft stems and fronds finely chopped
1 red (Spanish) onion, chopped
2-3 shallot onions, chopped
1 bunch spring (green) (eshallots) onions, white and pale green parts chopped
1 large leek, well washed, white part chopped
Optional crushed garlic clove (only use one)
One half nutmeg, freshly grated (optional but highly recommended)
1 to 2 large eggs
4 tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil
large handful breadcrumbs (or cous cous, cracked wheat) to absorb excess liquid
½ cup (120 ml) softened butter or olive oil (or a combination) for the phyllo sheets
Salt and pepper

Directions: 1. Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F/190°C/gas mark 5
2. Wash the spinach and dry thoroughly, discard the tough stems, chop or tear the leaves into pieces, place into a large bowl. (If using thawed chopped frozen spinach just place into a large bowl).
3. Add the chopped onions, chopped leek, finely chopped dill, four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, the crumbled feta cheese and the optional garlic and nutmeg.
4. Using your hands vigorously massage the filling ingredients until the mixture loses about half to three-quarters its original volume.

5. Over a bowl or a large plate squeeze large handfuls of the mixture till they feel dry, continue until you have done all of the filling mixture, and you have collected all the excess liquid.
6. Cover the excess liquid with enough breadcrumbs, cous cous or cracked wheat (or similar) to absorb the liquid. The breadcrumbs should be moist. I used ¾ cup of cous cous and it took about 5 mins to absorb nearly all of the liquid.
7. Return the moisture-laden breadcrumbs back into the filling mixture.
8. Add an egg (or two depending on how dry the mixture is) and mix well using your hands. Taste, season with some salt (careful feta contains lots of salt) and plenty of pepper. Set aside. The filling can be stored in the fridge for a day or two if well covered.
9. Butter (or oil spray) the baking dish.
10. Cover the phyllo sheets with a damp tea towel.
11. Cut (with a knife or with scissors) the phyllo sheets to the correct shape for your baking dish. Cover the cut sheets with the damp tea towel until needed.
12. Butter (or oil) every second sheet, cover the base and sides of your baking dish making sure that the sheets overhang the edges of the baking dish. Use about ten “thin-style” phyllo sheets or about six “thicker-stye” phyllo sheets for the base and sides
13. Spoon the filling into the phyllo pastry case.

14. Fold the overhanging sheets over the filling.
15. Use four to six more “thicker-style” phyllo sheets or about eight “thin-style” phyllo sheets to cover the top, butter each layer. Use a spoon or similar to neaten the edges of the pastry case.

16. Cut into slices before baking. (At this stage you can freeze the unbaked spanakopita to be baked for later, add 30 mins extra to baking time.)
17. Bake in a preheated moderately hot oven for 30 mins up to one hour (depending on the depth of your baking dish). Cover with foil if over-browning. Mine took one hour and my dish was almost 6-inch (15 cm) high. Check for doneness by using a thin knife, insert it into the spanakopita for 30 secs, the filling should feel set and the knife should feel hot to the touch

18. Cool for 30 minutes. Can be eaten hot or cold.

Smoked Mackerel and Cream Cheese Pate

This is a recipe that I was given when I was about 11 doing cookery club at school. I loved it and this I cut out a stuck into =one of my cookery books. This is not the most healthy of pates but it is delicious.

Smoked Mackerel and Cream Cheese Pate
(Serves 4)

75g butter, softened
175g cream cheese
350g smoked mackerel, skinned and flaked
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped chives
25g butter

Cream together the butter and cheese, stir in the fish, lemon juice, chives and pepper. Beat until the mixture is smooth.

Divide the pate between four ramekins and smooth the tops. Melt the butter and pour it over the dishes, so that the butter forms a thin even film. Place a bay leaf in to garnish each dish.

Cover the dishes with cling film and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Smoked Cod and Spaghetti Gratin

This was really lovely it's sort of the amalgamation of two recipes I had a look at and it worked perfectly. It was lovely and creamy and I loved the flavour of the smoked cod.

Smoked Cod and Spaghetti Gratin (adapted from Good Food Magazine April 2012)
(Serves 4)

250g spaghetti
500g leaf spinach
3 smoked haddock fillets, skinned and cut into chunks
12 cherry tomatoes
200ml low fat crème fraîche
juice ½ lemon
100g cheddar cheese, grated
2 spring onions, sliced
small grating nutmeg
handful dried breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 180C.
Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions.
Place the spinach in a large colander in the sink and pour over a kettleful of hot water to wilt it. Run under the cold tap to cool it then squeeze out as much liquid from the spinach as possible. Roughly chop the spinach and scatter evenly over the base of a dish. Season the spinach lightly with salt and pepper. Scatter the smoked cod chunks and tomatoes on top.

Mix together the creme fraiche, lemon juice, cheddar, spring onion and nutmeg in a small bowl and season. Spread the mixture over the fish and spinach. Scatter over the breadcrumbs and bake for 30 mins until bubbling and golden. Serve.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Salmon Sandwich with Wasabi Mayonnaise

This was a really lovely sandwich, with a hint of horseradish from the wasabi. I served it on homemade wholemeal bread.

Salmon Sandwich with Wasabi Mayonnaise (from Rajib's Collection)
(Serves 4)

6 tbsp low fat mayonnaise
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp grated ginger
11/2 tsp wasabi powder
1 tsp mirin
2 tins salmon, drained and flaked
2 spring onions, chopped
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
8 slices wholemeal bread
1⁄3 cucumber, thinly sliced
50g watercress

Stir together half the mayonnaise, the rice vinegar, ginger, wasabi powder and mirin in a bowl. Add the salmon, spring onions and sesame seeds and mix well to combine.

Spread the rest of the mayonnaise over one side of each slice of bread. Divide the salmon mixture evenly among four of the slices. Top with cucumber slices and watercress. Put the remaining bread slices on top. Serve.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Kale, Mushroom and Ricotta Calzone

My calzones don't look anywhere near as neat as those in the original post but they were really tasty. The combination of ingredients is always a winner, throw in the pizza dough and it's perfect. I served it with tomato sauce poured over the top as you need that little bit of moisture.

Kale, Mushroom and Ricotta Calzone (from Two Peas and Their Pod)
(Serves 2)

1 packet pizza base mix
1 tbsp oil, plus additional for brushing
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
150g kale, chopped
150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
125g ricotta
100g mozzarella, grated
50g cup Parmesan
1/4 tsp dried basil
pinch red chilli flakes
salt and pepper
tomato sauce for serving
Preheat the oven to 200C.

Make the pizza dough according to packet instructions and set aside to rest.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, until translucent, about 3-4 mins. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 min. Add the kale and mushrooms, cover and cook until soft, about 3-4 mins. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses in a large bowl. Stir in the kale and mushroom mixture. Add the dried basil, chilli flakes, and season with salt and pepper.

Divide the pizza dough into 2 balls. Lightly flour the work space. Roll out the first ball until it is about a 18cm circle. Place half of the cheese mixture on half of the circle, leaving a 2cm border. Brush the edges of the round lightly with water. Gently fold the dough over so the edges meet and pinch the dough together. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling and place on a baking sheet or pizza stone.

Bake for 18-20 mins, or until golden brown. Serve with tomato sauce.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Steak, Roasted Pepper and Pearl Barley Salad

This works served both hot and cold and it's a very tasty little salad.

Steak, Roasted Pepper and Pearl Barley Salad (from Good Food Magazine June 2013)
(Serves 2)

100g pearl barley, rinsed
1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra
1 large lean steak
50g watercress
juice ½ lemon
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Put the pearl barley in a large pan of water. Bring to the boil and cook for 25-30 mins or until tender. Drain thoroughly and transfer to a bowl.

Put the peppers and onions on a baking tray, spray with cooking spray, toss and roast for about 20 mins until tender.

Meanwhile, rub the steak with a little bit of oil and season. Cook in a frying pan for 3-4 mins each side. Set aside to rest for a few mins.
Mix the cooked peppers and onions into the barley with the lemon juice and smoked paprika.
Divide the watercress between two plates. Top with the barley, peppers and onions. Thinly slice the steaks, and place on top of the salad. Serve.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Hot Pickled Herring with Dill Pickle and Egg Potato Salad

I finally found someone to fillet herrings for me! There's a nice man on Borough Market who does it and so I bought three. He filleted them right there in front of me! I thought I'd do something interesting with them so I went for pickling which preserved the flavour and went perfectly with the potato salad.

Hot Pickled Herring with Dill Pickle and Egg Potato Salad
(from Lavender and Lovage)
(Serves 4)

For the potato salad
450g new potatoes, halved if large
dill, finely chopped
parsley, finely chopped
chives, finely chopped
1/2 red onion (peeled and cut into very thin rings)
6 large dill pickles, sliced or diced
2 eggs, hard boiled, and cut into quarters
3 tablespoons mustard mayonnaise
1 tbsp dill pickle juice
salt and white pepper
For the herrings
4 herring fillets
150ml dry white wine
150ml water
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
juice of 1 lemon (lemon then cut into wedges)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced into rings
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp salt
First make the potato salad. Boil the potatoes for about 10-12 mins until soft. Drain the potatoes and leave to cool.

Mix the mayonnaise with the dill pickle juice and then stir in the chopped herbs.
Next pickle the herrings. Place all of the ingredients except the herrings into a saucepan with a tight fitting lid, bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. 
Turn the heat down low and then add the herring fillets, put the lid on the saucepan and simmer gently over a low heat for 8 to 10 mins. Then turn the heat off and allow the herrings to sit in the pan for 2 to 4 mins. Drain the fish.

When ready to serve, spoon some of the potato salad onto each plate and place the eggs and onion rings on top. Top with the fish.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Meal Planning Monday

This week is rather busy, I'm at the theatre twice, have a couple of hospital appointments and I'm going home to see my parents and have my hair cut at the weekend in preparation to go to Israel the following week. Work is not too bad, it's the last week before half term so everyones a bit pooped! There's also a possible tube strike to contend with, which caused all manner of problems last week. I'm really rather hoping it's called off!


Out at the theatre

Quiche and Salad

Possibly out at the theatre

Pinto Bean Fajita Wrap with Crisps

Smoked Salmon Pesto Pasta Salad
Elk or Camel Burger

At my parents

Chicken with Cider and Tarragon and Swede and Potato Gratin (Waitrose Recipe Card)

M&M Oreo Cookie Bars

These were awesome and were a real hit with my book group. So much so that the Sixth formers came to get some and usually they are not that bothered about the food. You can pretty much add in any biscuit or chocolatey bits other than M&Ms and I am definitely going to make this again for the book group.

M&M Oreo Cookie Bars (from Avery Cooks)

115g butter
1 egg
200g light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
125g plain flour
18 Oreo cookies
1/2 cup M&M's

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm x 20cm baking pan with baking parchment.

Melt the butter in saucepan and wait for it to cool a bit. Add the egg, brown sugar and vanilla and whisk until smooth.

Add the flour and fold in with a metal spoon. Stir in the Oreos.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.

Evenly sprinkle the M&Ms over the top, lightly pressing them down with your finger or a spatula.

Bake for about 20 to 22 mins, until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 30 mins before slicing.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Healthy Ranch Dressing

As ranch dressing is really difficult to find over here I decided to make my own to go over the salad I posted yesterday. It was really easy to make. I couldn't be bothered to get my food processor out so I just chopped and mixed it all by hand. The quantities in the recipe below make a lot of dressing!

Healthy Ranch Dressing (from Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen)
(makes approx 1 pint)

250ml low fat mayonnaise
125ml plain Greek yogurt 
handful Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
2 tbsp dill, chopped
1 tbsp chives, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
dash hot sauce
juice 1 lemon
125ml low fat buttermilk

In a food processor or blender combine all of the ingredients and blend until thorough combined.

Pour into an airtight container and chill for 1 to 2 hours before using.

Thin with more buttermilk if needed.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Lentil and Avocado Taco Salad

I have half a packet of dried lentils in the cupboard that goes off this month so I am desperately trying to find interesting things to do with them. This salad definitely fits the bill, a lovely vegetarian taco salad.

Vegetarian Lentil Taco Salad with Tomatoes, Olives, and Avocado (from Kalyn's Kitchen)
(Makes 4 Generous Salads)

1 can green lentils, drained
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
170g black olives, cut in half
6 spring onions, sliced
1-2 avocados, diced
juice 1 lime
1-2 Romaine lettuce, sliced
ranch Dressing for serving
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp taco seasoning
2 tbsp tabasco sauce
125ml chicken stock or water

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the  red onion and saute for a few mins, until the onion starts to soften.  Add the chilli, cumin, and taco seasoning and saute about 2 mins more.  Add the lentils, tabasco, and chicken stock, simmer until the liquid has all evaporated, about 10 mins. Turn off the heat and let the lentils partly cool.
Toss the avocado with the lime juice.
To assemble the salad, place the lettuce in a large bowl. Add the lentils on top of the lettuce and toss well. Add the olives, tomatoes, and green onions and toss again.

Put the diced avocados on top of the rest of the ingredients and drizzle the ranch dressing over the top. Serve.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Roast Duck Breasts with Maple Syrup Vinaigrette

On the first attempt at making the maple vinaigrette I took my eye off the ball and made a horrible burnt sticky mess. Second time round it worked. This was different, would I bother again no probably not but it was nice as a posh meal and used up bits and bobs. I served it with butternut squash mash and green veg.

Roast Duck Breasts with Maple Syrup Vinaigrette (from Good Food Magazine December 2007)
(Serves 4)

4 duck breasts, skin on
4 tbsp maple syrup
1½ tbsp sherry vinegar
1½ tbsp groundnut oil
1 tbsp hazelnut oil
salt and pepper
225g wild mushrooms
25g butter
250g spinach, stalks removed
Score the duck breast skin with a sharp knife. Season with salt and pepper, and place, fat-side down, in a frying pan over a medium heat. Continue to colour the skin for 10-12 mins before turning the duck over and frying for a further 4-5 mins. Remove and keep warm.

Meanwhile, boil the maple syrup and simmer until just 2 tbsp are left before removing from the heat and whisking in the sherry vinegar, groundnut and hazelnut oils. Season with salt and pepper.

While the duck is resting, heat a frying pan and add half the butter.When the butter melts add the mushrooms, season and then cook until just tender. Add the rest of the butter, then the spinach and cook for the a couple of minutes to wilt.

To serve, divide the spinach and mushrooms among 4 plates. Cut each breast into 5-6 slices and place on top of the spinach and mushrooms. Drizzle with the maple syrup vinaigrette.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Artichoke, Borlotti Bean and Orzo Salad

This was really lovely and different. I do like my roast veg and roasting mushrooms is my new favourite way to cook them, it really brings out the flavour. The beans also add to the veggie tally.

Artichoke, Borlotti Bean and Orzo Salad (from Home Life)
(Serves 4-6)

200g button mushrooms, ends trimmed
250g plum or cherry tomatoes, halved
80ml olive oil
300g orzo pasta
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400g can borlotti beans, rinsed, drained
340g jar marinated artichokes, drained and liquid reserved
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
handful basil, torn
150g goat's cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 200°C. Place the mushrooms and tomatoes on an oven tray, drizzle with half the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in oven for 15 mins or until mushrooms are tender and tomatoes are soft but not collapsed.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the orzo following packet instructions. Drain well.

Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 secs or until aromatic. Add the orzo, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, artichokes, 2 tbsp of reserved artichoke liquid and vinegar, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 mins or until heated through. Remove from heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir through basil and sprinkle with goat's cheese. Serve warm or leave to cool and pack for lunch.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Prawn and Avocado Risotto

This was lovely, really fantastc and creamy and just something a bit different.

Prawn and Avocado Risotto (from Cooking with Curls)
(Serves 4)

1l vegetable stock
3 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
250g arborio rice
125ml white wine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp chilli powder (add more if you like more heat)
350g raw prawns
2 large avocados, peeled, pitted, and mashed
50g grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 mins.

Add the rice, and cook, stirring until almost all of the oil is absorbed. Stir in the wine, and cook until almost completely absorbed by the rice.

Add the stock one ladle at a time and stir until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.

Continue adding the stock until the rice is tender and creamy. You may not need to add the stock or you may need to add more if the rice is not tender by the time you run out. If you cook at too high a heat, the rice will not absorb the liquid correctly.

Stir in the garlic, chili powder, and prawns. Cook until the prawns are no longer pink.

Add the avocado and cook until heated through. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and serve.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Parsnip and Lime Spiced Muffins

I made these for the staff book group I run and they went down a treat. Everyone really liked them, they were lovely and moist and you couldn't tell they had parsnip in at all! I do like a vegetable in a cake! I've also made these courgette brownies for a different book group today.

Parsnip and Lime Spiced Muffins (from Homemade By Fleur)
(Makes about 12)

300g grated parsnip
250g plain flour
150g soft brown sugar
70g oats
250ml sunflower oil
3 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp honey
seeds from 4 cardamon pods crushed
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
zest and juice from 2 limes

For the icing
150g cream cheese
zest of 1 lime and the juice of half a lime
3 tbsp honey

Pre-heat the oven to 180C and line a muffin tin with 12 muffin cases.

In a small bowl mix together the cardamon, cinnamon, honey, lime zest and juice.

In a bigger bowl mix together the flours, sugar, oats and baking powder.

Add the oil and eggs one at a time into the flour mixture whilst continuing to mix. Then add the lime, spice and honey mix.

Finally add the grated parsnips and fold in with a large metal spoon.

Divide into the muffin cases and bake for 15–20 mins. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Whilst the muffins are cooling, mix the cream cheese, lime zest, juice and honey together. One the muffins are cool, spread the icing on top of them using a small palette knife.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Meal Planning Monday

I am still trying to loose those elusive 4lbs but I keep making cake! On Saturday afternoon I got very bored and made Pear, Apple and Blackberry cake, I ate loads on Sunday and have brought the rest in for colleagues at work. I also made Courgette Brownies for Mad Hatters on Tuesday and ate three slices of that on Sunday too! Oh well, I shall try and be a bit healthier this week, although I am going out to Bodeans for American style barbecue on Tuesday! Other than that the week is pretty quiet, the food has ended up being quite healthy unintentionally, which is a good thing after all that cake!


Smoked Mackerel and Cream Cheese Pate Sandwich with Crisps

Out for Barbecue

Tomato and Cheese Tart with Salad
Spicy Prawn Stir Fry (WeightWatchers Recipe Card)



Goat's Cheese Pesto Chicken Sandwich or Egg Sandwich
Sausages with Parsnip Mash and Gravy

Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese Croissant with Crisps
Hungarian Goulash with Spaetzle (WW Nice n Spicy book)

Fish Pie On The Rocks

I had a friend over for dinner a couple of weeks ago and I made fish pie. I thought I'd try something different and roast the potatoes rather than using mash. I have to say that although this is still tasty and different I definitely prefer mash. You could also add prawns to the pie, I didn't have any. I served it with a green salad and we had hot chocolate and macarons for pudding.

Fish Pie On The Rocks (adapted from Belleau Kitchen)
(Serves 4)
1kg baby new potatoes, cut into small cubes
cooking spray
2 sprigs rosemary
salt and pepper
2 packets fish pie mix
500ml milk
the milk from the fish made up to 1 pint with stock
2 tbsp flour
60g butter
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
handful of peas
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Place the cubed potatoes onto a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray, and sprinkle over the rosemary, salt and pepper and roast for about 20 mins or until just beginning to colour.

Meanwhile, put the fish and milk into a microwave safe dish and cook in the microwave on high for 8 mins. Take out of the microwave and leave to cool. Once cool, remove the fish and flake it into large chunks. Use the milk to make up the stock for the white sauce.

Make the white sauce by melting the butter in a sauce pan.  Once melted, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until it is smooth. Place the pan back on a gentle heat and add a splash of the milk and stock mix, stirring all the time as it thickens. Continue to add the stock a little at a time and stir until the sauce thickens, there should be no lumps. Once all the stock is gone stir in the mustard and let the sauce bubble away on a very low heat for five mins or so.

Add the fish, peas and parsley to the white sauce, season and pour into a dish. Spread the roasted potatoes over the fish mixture and bake in the oven for about 15 mins or until the potatoes are golden.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Tuna, Macaroni and Dill Pickle Salad

I made this to use up a half can of tuna I had leftover from something else. It was really tasty and punchy with the pickles and capers, which were a perfect compliment to the tuna. It's also really nice with some hard boiled eggs on top.

Tuna, Macaroni and Dill Pickle Salad (from Kalyn's Kitchen)
(Makes 4-6 servings)

250g macaroni
2 tins tuna in spring water, drained
4 large dill pickles, chopped
4 spring onions, sliced
2 tbsp capers
salt and pepper

For the dressing
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp dill pickle juice
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
4 tbsp low fat mayonnaise

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the macaroni according to packet instructions. When the pasta is done, drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well.
Meanwhile, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, pickle juice, and Old Bay seasoning, then whisk in the mayonnaise to make the dressing.
Put the tuna into a large bowl and break tuna apart with a fork, keeping it in chunks. Mix in the pickles, spring onions, and capers, then gently mix in the macaroni.
Mix in the dressing and season to taste with salt and pepper, serve or put into a lunchbox.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Rice Krispie Chicken with Butternut Squash and Rosemary Wedges

Ok so this is not the healthiest meal but it is kinda fun! I saw the Rice Krispie Chicken recipe playing on a screen at one of the central London tube stations, and as you know I love trying new a different things to batter fish and chicken with so I had to try it. It was well sweet but actually not as horribly sweet as I was thinking it might be. The butternut squash wedges were a bit of a disappointment as they weren't crispy at all but they had a nice flavour all the same.

Rice Krispie Chicken with Butternut Squash and Rosemary Wedges
(from Food Network and WeightWatchers Magazine)
(Serves 4)

4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
250g Rice Krispies
butter, for greasing
mayonnaise, for dipping
salt and pepper
2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into wedges
cooking spray
2 sprigs rosemary
1/2 tsp chilli flakes or chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Put the squash wedges in a roasting pan and spray with cooking spray, shake the pan to coat the wedges.

Add the rosemary sprigs ad sprinkle with the chilli, salt and garlic. Roast for 45 to 45 mins or until tender.

Put the cereal and some salt and pepper in a bowl and crumble with your fingers until lightly crushed.

Put the mayonnaise into a bowl, ready for dipping.

Put the butternut squash wedges into the oven and roast for 40 to 45 mins or until tender.

Dip each piece of chicken first in the mayonnaise, shaking off any excess, before dipping in the crushed cereal.

Place the dipped chicken on the baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 35 mins until golden, turning half way through cooking.