Monday, 31 March 2014

Cheesy Potato Sausage Bake

This was a delicious homely comforting meal. I added some kale to the recipe and used a light alfredo sauce to make it slightly healthy and it was so good. I served it with a green salad.

Cheesy Potato Sausage Bake (adapted from Cabot Cheese)
(Serves 4)

500g potatoes, cut into cubes
1/2 bunch kale, chopped
200g coooked smoked sausage, cut into slices
1 425g jar Alfredo sauce
75g cheddar, grated

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Put the potatoes into a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and cook the potatoes for 15-20 mins until tender.

Meanwhile, saute the kale in a little oil until just wilted.

Combine the sausage, kale, potatoes, Alfredo sauce and 3/4 of the cheese in an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle the rest of the  cheese on top.

Bake for 25-30 mins or until it is golden and bubbling. Serve.

Meal Planning Monday

Last week went mostly to plan I think, it was a busy week but the food was all eaten and I finally had the mackerel which was superb.

I had a lovely day in the garden yesterday; I dug over the flower bed, planted out the potatoes and put some tomato, chilli and aubergine seeds into pots as well as sorting out the front of my flat a bit. It was lovely to be outside soaking up the sunshine.

This week is a clear out the fridge week. On Sunday I am off to France for a week with a group of 11 and 12 year olds and then to New York for a week, so I don't want anything lying around. I am also out every night, pilates twice, the theatre, the cinema and a leaving do, plus finishing things off at work before the holidays! So meals are easy and quick to prepare.



Out before the theatre

Steak and Cream Cheese Sandwich (Philadelphia Book)

Tandoori Fish Wrap with Crisps

Cherry Tomato Pasta


Sunday, 30 March 2014

Salmon, Asparagus and Couscous Salad

This was delicious, really lovely flavours and it was really good to have some asparagus even if it was grown in Mexico! I can't wait for the English asparagus season to start.

Salmon, Asparagus and Couscous Salad (from My Daily Morsel)
(Serves 4)
4 skinless salmon fillets
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
500g asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 in pieces
250g Israeli couscous
½ red onion, thinly sliced
100g feta cheese, crumbled
For the dressing
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped dill
salt and pepper
Preheat the grill.
Drizzle the salmon with the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Grill the salmon for 6 to 8 mins, until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily. Remove from the grill and break the fish up into bite-size pieces.
Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the couscous and cook according to packet instructions adding the asparagus for the last 2-3 mins. Drain and run under the cold tap, then drain again well.
Put the oil, lemon juice, dill, salt, and pepper in a jam jar. Shake until well combined.
Put the asparagus, couscous, salmon, red onion, and feta in a large bowl and mix well. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Serve.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Elderberry, Blackberry and Apple Pudding

I got a really fantastic pudding cookbook a couple of months ago full of good old-fashioned English puds. From steamed to baked to apple snow, they all look delicious. This is the first one I have made primarily because it used up some of the elderberries currently languishing in my freezer from the autumn and it was fantastic. Just what you want out of a pudding. When I make this recipe again I think I will add more apple as the sponge seemed to grow enormously and the fruit to sponge ratio was a little off but otherwise an awesome pudding.

Elderberry, Blackberry and Apple Pudding
(from Great British Puddings - The Pudding Club)
(Serves 6-8)

450g cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
110g blackberries
50g elderberries
1 heaped tsp raspberry jam
175g butter, softened
150g light brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
4 eggs, beaten
110g self raising flour
110g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder

Grease a 2 pint oven-proof dish.

Put the apples, blackberries, elderberries and jam into a saucepan, cover with a lid and cook gently for 8-10 mins. Pour into the oven-proof dish.

Preheat the oven to 170C.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and golden syrup until light fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs, a little at a time, beating well between each addition. Fold in the flour, ground almonds and baking powder with a metal spoon.

Pour the mixture on top of the fruit, smooth over the top and bake for 30-40 mins until the sponge is golden brown and firm to the touch.

Serve with ice cream.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Lentil Burritos

I made these for lunch one day last week and ate it cold. They were superb and probably even better hot. I had lots of the lentil mixture left over so I'm going to try them with sausages this weekend.

Lentil Burritos (from The Garden Grazer)
(Serves 2)

40g dried green lentils
1 small tin chopped tomatoes
50g baby spinach
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
2 tortillas
feta cheese
salt and pepper

Put the lentils into a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and cook according to packet instructions.

In a large frying pan, heat a little oil and saute the onion, garlic, 1/2 tsp cumin, and oregano on a medium-high heat for about 7-8 mins.

Reduce  the heat  and add the cooked lentils, chopped tomatoes, spinach and the rest of the cumin. Season and cook for 10 mins, stirring occasionally.

Spoon the mixture onto tortillas, top with the feta, roll up and serve.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo Pasta Bake

I brought a jar of Alfredo sauce back from the States last year and I have finally got around to using it. I used half to make this lovely chicken and broccoli pasta bake and the other half to make a sausage and potato bake which will appear shortly. This was delicious, I loved the creaminess of the sauce and then the bite of the broccoli. I served it with a green salad.

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo Pasta Bake
(from World Through My Lenzes)
(Serves 4)

250g dried pasta
1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
3 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into chunks
1 jar Alfredo sauce
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
75g cheddar, grated

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions, add in the broccoli for the last 4-5 mins.  Drain and put back into the saucepan.

Add the chicken, Alfredo sauce, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix until well combined and transfer to an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle over the grated cheese and bake for 20-30 mins until golden and bubbling. Serve.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Mexican Rice Salad

This salad came out of a necessity to use up the ingredients. It was wonderfully tasty and packed full of veg. You could of course add in some chicken to make it meaty.

Mexican Rice Salad
(Serves 1)

50g brown rice
30g sweetcorn
1/2 tsp taco seasoning
30g cooked pinto beans
1/2 roasted red pepper, chopped
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small avocado, chopped
1 tsp coriander, chopped

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the rice according to packet instructions adding the sweetcorn for the last 3-4 mins. Drain, run under the cold tap, drain again well.

Put the rice and sweetcorn into a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and stir well to combine. Pack into a lunchbox or serve.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Pea and Courgette Soup

I have been trying to clean my freezer out a bit and use up the produce from my garden that I froze last autumn. I had a few pieces of sliced courgette left and there are always frozen peas in the freezer and so this was born. It is so easy and really very flavourful. I shall have to remember it when my glut of courgettes appears again in the summer!

Pea and Courgette Soup
(Serves 2)

1/2 onion, chopped
100g frozen peas
2 small courgettes, chopped
700ml veg stock
1 tsp oil
bunch mint, chopped
Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium low heat and add the shallot, cook until it is soft and translucent. Add in the courgette and cook for about a min.

Add the stock and bring to the boil. Add the peas, cook for 2-3 mins, then add the mint. Cook for one more min, then take off the heat and blend with a stick blender until smooth. Season and serve.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Mint Aero Tiffin

I sort of made this up along the lines of the Malteser Slice I made a little while ago, I just used Mint Aero Bubbles instead. It went down really well with some of the girls and was a little too minty for others. I loved it!

Mint Aero Tiffin

100g butter
200g milk chocolate
3 tbsp golden syrup
225g digestive biscuits
1 bag Mint Aero Bubbles

To decorate
½ bag Mint Aero Bubbles, halved
150g milk chocolate
Grease and line a square 20 x 20cm tin.

Bring a pan of water to the boil turn down a little. Place a bowl over the top making sure it doesn't touch the water. Add the butter, chocolate and golden syrup and stir until everything has melted and combined. Remove from the heat, set aside and leave to cool slightly.

Whilst the mixture is cooling, roughly half the Mint Aero Bubbles and put the biscuits into a bag and bash with a rolling pin until you have chunky pieces. Add the halved bubbles and the biscuits to the  chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Pour into the tin and press down. Put it into the fridge for about an hour to set.

To decorate, melt the rest of the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Spread  2/3rds of the chocolate over the set biscuit mixture and sprinkle over the halved Aero Bubbles. Then drizzle over the remaining chocolate. Put back in the fridge for another 30 mins until the chocolate has set. Cut into squares and serve.

Meal Planning Monday

Last week went sort of to plan. I still haven't eaten that lovely mackerel sitting in my freezer, but I have high hopes for this week! I did however, have salmon as one of my oily fishes last week. I sprinkled a bit of Old Bay seasoning over the top and served it with pesto and avocado pasta and salad. Very yummy it was too!

Yesterday I went for brunch at The Lockhart. It was so good. We had chicken and waffles and pork hash with an egg. The pork hash was out of this world, really fantastically tasty and the chicken was so lovely crispy and the waffles had pecans in them adding a bit of interest. I can totally recommend it.

I haven't quite got the end of my meal plan this week. I'm still waiting to hear about Friday evening and Saturday lunch, so they'll remain blank until I hear what's happening. Other than that the week is pretty quiet, a couple of sessions of pilates and my parents are coming on Saturday.



Quiche and Salad

Asian Veal Burger

Bacon, Avocado, Tomato and Lettuce Salad Sandwich with Crisps
Soy and Honey Mackerel with Veg (Waitrose Magazine)

Mexican Bean Pot
Salmon and Bean Pasta Salad
Out at my sisters
Out before the theatre

Cheddar, Leek and Potato Tart with Salad
Sausages with Lentils

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Wasabi Smoked Salmon Wrap

This was the recipe that prompted me to buy the book when I was flicking through it. It seemed like such an intriguing combination of peas and smoked salmon! And it totally works, this was a really lovely wrap with big flavours.

Wasabi Smoked Salmon Wrap (from Cooking the WeightWatchers Way)
(Serves 2)
(7 WW ProPoints per serving)

100g peas
2 tsp wasabi paste
1 tbsp extra light mayonnaise
1 tbsp 0% yoghurt
2 tortillas
100g smoked salmon, chopped
shredded lettuce
1 tomato, finely chopped
black pepper

Cook the peas in boiling water for 2-3 mins. Drain and then run under the cold tap and drain well. Use a potato masher or fork to crush them to a rough paste.

Add the wasabi paste, mayonnaise and yoghurt to the peas and season with black pepper. Spread over the tortillas, then scatter half the smoked salmon over each one.

Top the tortilla with lettuce and tomato, roll up and serve.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Mushroom and Kale Rice Casserole

I got a huge load of kale cheap last weekend and so I was looking around for something to do with it. Rice casseroles are a bit of a foreign concept to me, it was only when I started reading American food blogs that I came across them and I am now a total convert! I love them, I love the combinations and there is just something yummy and comforting about baked rice!

Mushroom and Kale Rice Casserole (from The Kitchen Paper)
(Serves 4)

2 tbsp butter
1 onion, sliced into thin rings
225g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp oregano, chopped
¼ tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 large bunch kale, leaves torn and stems removed
2 tbsp plain flour
125 ml milk
125ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp single cream
250g basmati and wild rice
100g cheddar, grated
Preheat the oven to 180C and  grease a large ovenproof dish.
Melt half the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the onions. Stir to coat the onions with butter. Continue to cook the onions while you do everything else in the recipe, stirring every 5 mins or so, turning down the heat to keep the onions from burning and drying out.
In another large pan, melt the remaining butter over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms, spreading to cover the entire bottom of the pot, and do not stir for about 3 mins. Stir to get a new layer of mushrooms on the bottom, and cook for another 3 mins without stirring.
Add the oil, along with the garlic, oregano, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and chilli flakes. Stir to combine, and cook for 30 secs before adding the kale. Cook until the kale is wilted.
Sprinkle the flour over the mixture, stir well, then add the milk and veg stock. Cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens, about 3 mins after boiling. Add the cream, stir to combine, and remove from heat.
Stir the rice into the mushroom mixture, along with half of the cheese. The onions should be caramelised and golden, if not, cook them until they are, and then add to the mushroom mixture.
Pour the mixture into the dish, and top with the remaining cheese.
Bake for 20-25 mins, or until the cheese is golden and the casserole is bubbling. Serve.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Salad Parisienne

I have recently bought quite a few cookbooks to help me with ideas for lunches as my brain was getting a bit stale. One of the books I bought was A Salad for All Seasons by Harry Eastwood. I first borrowed it from the library and bookmarked so many recipes that it was worth buying, The first salad I made out of this book is a Salad Parisienne and it was so simple and delicious. I look forward to making many more.

Salad Parisienne
(from A Salad for All Seasons - Harry Eastwood)
(Serves 6)

300g green beans
500g new potatoes
4 eggs
8 large handfuls salad leaves
4 slices emmental, cut into thin strips
4 slices ham, cut into thin strips
6 tomatoes, cut into six
60g black olives, pitted
handful chives, snipped

For the dressing
small handful parsley
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp runny honey
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Bring a pan of water to the boil, boil the potatoes until tender for about 10-15 mins, adding the beans for the last 1 min. Drain and then run under cold water.

Meanwhile, put the eggs in another pan of water, bring it to the boil and cook for 5 mins. then drain and run under cold water until they feel cold to the touch.

Cut the potatoes into roughly similar size pieces, peel the eggs and cut them into quarters.

Put all the dressing ingredients into a jam jar and shake well to combine.

Toss the salad leaves and chopped potatoes in the dressing before adding the rest of the ingredients. Scatter with the chives and serve.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Merguez, Egg and Yoghurt

This is such a simple idea but it was really flavourful and something that I had never tried before. I loved the combination of the spicy sausages with the cool yoghurt and then the egg on top. Really worth a try.

Merguez, Egg and Yoghurt (from Food Stories)
(Serves 2)

2 eggs
low fat natural yoghurt
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
squeeze of lemon juice
2 merguez sausages, chopped into inch pieces
parsley or chives, finely chopped

Add the garlic, lemon juice and yoghurt to a bowl and mix well to combine. Divide between two serving bowls.

Bring a pan of water to the boil for the eggs. In a small frying pan, cook the sausages until golden and cooked through and add the white parts of the spring onions and then take off the heat. Divide between the bowls of yoghurt.

Meanwhile, poach your eggs in the boiling water. When they are done put a poached egg on top of the sausages and sprinkle over the green spring onion bits and the herbs. Season and serve with crusty bread.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Chocolate Chip and Butterscotch Blondies

I made these for Mad Hatters last week and they went down a storm, Apparently they are on a par with Crunchie Rocky Road. Which is funny because I made double the mixture and at first after the cooking time I just ended up with cooked a little round the edges and raw cake batter and then it burnt on top! But hey. I cut the burnt bits off and no-one noticed! So, were I to make them again with twice the mixture, I would increase the cooking time.

Chocolate Chip and Butterscotch Blondies (adapted from Bits and Breadcrumbs)

215g light brown sugar
57g  butter, melted
1 egg
2 tbsp vanilla extract
125g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
grind of salt
75g chocolate chips
100g butterscotch pieces

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a  20cm x 20cm square pan and set aside. 

Put the sugar, butter, egg and vanilla in a bowl and whisk until combined. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt, into the butter mixture and fold in with a spoon. Mix in the chocolate chips and butterscotch pieces until well combined.

Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 20-22 mins, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan. Cut into squares and serve.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Barley Khichdi

I had a hankering for something really filling involving barley and lentils a little while ago and Google led me to this recipe. It was really lovely and wholesome. I meant to add kale and for some reason it turned itself into peas. My brain works in mysterious ways sometimes. Still it was delicious, not hot spicy but flavourful spicy just the way I like it.

Barley Khichdi (from Veggie Belly)
(Serves 2)

1 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/8 tsp asafoetida
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 small tomato, finely chopped
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
100g cup pearl barley
50g cup red lentils
50g frozen peas
squeeze lemon juice
1 tbsp coriander, chopped

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the cumin seeds. When they start to sizzle, add the asafoetida and stir for 30 secs.

Then add the onions and fry on a medium heat till the onions are soft but not brown. Add the tomatoes, and cook until they are soft.  Add the turmeric, barley and lentils, stir for a few seconds and then add 750ml of water and a little salt.

Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, put a lid on the pan, and let it simmer until the barley is cooked, 20-25 mins. During cooking, if the mixture dries up, add water as needed, a little at a time.

Add in the peas 3-4 mins before the end of the cooking time and stir to mix them into the mixture. Once everything is cooked turn off heat, and add a squeeze of lemon juice. To serve, sprinkle over the coriander and add a blob of yoghurt on top.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Kale Soup

This a really simple kale soup but very tasty.

Kale Soup (from Just One Cookbook)
(Serves 4-6)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 small potatoes, peeled, chopped into chunks
1/2 large onion, chopped
500g bag kale, stems removed
4 tbsp unsalted butter
salt and pepper
1l vegetable stock
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat.
Add the garlic, onions and potatoes, grind over a little salt and pepper. Stir and cook 5 mins.
Add the chicken/vegetable broth and bring it to boil. Reduce the heat and gently simmer, covered for about 15 mins or until the potatoes become tender.
Add the kale and cook without the lid for about 2-3 mins or until tender. Remove from the heat and blitz with a hand blender until smooth. Serve.

Meal Planning Monday

So last weeks planning was a bit of a disaster. I ended up with an extra theatre visit, and things just didn't really go to plan. I have finally made the Duck Leg Pasta, after about 4 weeks of it being on the plan and I'm going to reheat it to have as a quick dinner on Wednesday.

This week is mercifully fairly quiet, I have a trip to the theatre tonight but the rest of the week is nothing out of the ordinary, which is good because medication side effects are kicking in like crazy at the moment and I'm finding it rather difficult to concentrate and I am so damn tired.

I went to see my sister in Bath at the weekend and I made a cake to take with me.

It was going to be an apple cake but I ran out of time and so I made a chocolate Victoria Sponge with Mini Eggs on the top! It went down a treat and my niece said it was an Easter cake and so a chick went on top! We had a lovely day in the sunshine going to a National Trust garden so that we could have a run around.

Sunday was more peaceful, I spent the day in the garden.

I dug over both my veg beds and planted some seeds out. It made me so excited for summer and hopefully garden bounty.

Courgette and Pea Soup with Bread
Out with a friend before the theatre

Mexican Rice Salad
Smoked Trout and Goat's Cheese Toastie

Chopped Kale Salad
Duck Leg Pasta

Lentil Spinach Burritos with Crisps
Alfredo Broccoli and Chicken Pasta Bake with Salad

Salmon, Asparagus and Israeli Couscous Salad
Sesame Veggie Stir Fry (WW Book)

Tomato and Tapenade Tart with Salad
Cheesy Potato and Sausage Bake with Salad


Mackerel with Honey and Soy and Veg

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Mexican Bean Hotpot

I loved this dish! So simple and yet so tasty. I'm still a sucker for anything Mexican flavoured and although this isn't exactly authentic it is a yummy idea and it totally works. The original recipe called for all sorts of frozen convenience foods that I don't keep in, so I just made it pretty much from scratch apart from the handy tin of beans!

Mexican Bean Hotpot (adapted from Sainsbury's Magazine)
(Serves 4)

2 peppers, chopped into chunks
2 tins mixed beans in chilli sauce
325g tin sweetcorn
400g potatoes, cut into wedges
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garlic powder
75g cheddar, grated

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Put the potato wedges into a saucepan of water, put on the heat and bring to the boil. Par-boil the potatoes for 10-12mins. Drain.

Meanwhile, add a little oil to a large frying pan and fry the peppers over a medium heat for 2-3 mins. Then add the mixed beans and sweetcorn, stirring occasionally until heated through, 4-5 mins.

Tip the bean mixture into an ovenproof dish, top with the wedges. Sprinkle over the chilli and garlic powders and top with the grated cheddar. Bake for 20 mins until the wedges are crisp and cooked and the cheese is golden. Serve with a green salad.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Creamy Turkey Pancakes

So for pancake day, which now feels like eons ago, I made actual pancakes! I had found a recipe in one of my cookbooks a couple of weeks before, which sparked my interest and so I actually made pancakes just for me! This seems like a slightly weird recipe but go with it, it comes up trumps, they were really tasty. They are 10 WW ProPoints without the sweet chilli sauce and 11 I think with.

Creamy Turkey Pancakes (from WeightWatchers Cook Smart Simply Suppers)
(Serves 2)
(10 WW ProPoints per serving)

4 ready made pancakes
cooking spray
200g turkey breast, sliced into thin strips
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 red pepper, sliced
2 small courgettes, sliced into thin strips
100ml veg stock
100g low fat soft cheese
salt and pepper
sweet chilli sauce for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 180C. Wrap the pancakes in foil and place in the oven to heat through.

Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray. Stir fry the turkey strips for 5 mins, until nearly cooked through and golden.

Add the soy sauce, pepper and courgettes. Stir fry for another 2 mins or until the veg begin to soften. Stir in the stock and soft cheese and season.

Remove the pancakes from the oven and divide  the mixture between the warmed pancakes. Roll up and serve.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Daring Cooks March 2014: Protein Power Goddess Bowl with Avocado Green Goddess Dressing

For March’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge, Ruth, Shelley and Sawsan asked us to totally veg out! We made salads and dressings, letting the sky be the limit as we created new flavors and combinations that reflect our own unique tastes.

I made a standard dressing all the time, some combination of oil, vinegar and mustard. I've been doing this for what seems like forever! My Mum did and so now I do, I couldn't eat an undressed salad. So for this I thought I'd think creatively. I made a dressing I've never attempted before and I'm not sure it worked or not. I went for Green Goddess Dressing, but as you can see from the picture below it looks more like a dip and indeed the texture is more dip like than dressing!

But I didn't want to serve it over green salad so that's ok. Instead I served it over a Protein Power Goddess Bowl! What a name! So instead of using the dressing suggested, I thought I'd up the green goddess bit and serve it with this dressing. It was awesome! I self like I'd eaten a huge portion of veg and therefore was doing something good for my body!

Avocado Green Goddess Dressing (from The Lemon Bowl)
(Serves 8)

1 avocado
Juice 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh basil, torn roughly
salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Add water to thin if needed.
Serve over green salad or use as a dip for veggies.
Protein Power Goddess Bowl (from Oh She Glows)
(Serves 4)
200g green lentils
200g pearl barley
1/2 tbsp oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 head red cabbage, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
200g kale, roughly chopped
1/2 recipe of Green Goddess Dressing
salt and pepper

Cook lentils and barley according to packet instructions. Drain and set aside.

Make the green goddess dressing (recipe above)

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the oil and sauté the onion and garlic for a few mins.  Add in the red pepper and tomato and sauté for another 7-8 mins.

Stir in the kale and sauté for another few mins, just until tender.

Remove from heat and stir in the green goddess dressing. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Glass Noodles with Salmon, Lime and Mint

This was a really lovely and fresh tasting salad, using up bits and pieces from my fridge.

Glass Noodles with Salmon, Lime and Mint (from Market Kitchen)
(Serves 4)

500g fillets of salmon, skinned
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1/2 tbsp oil
200g glass noodles, or rice vermicelli
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 avocado, stone removed, roughly chopped
5 spring onions sliced
1 small red chilli, finely sliced
handful mint leaves
handful basil, leaves
handfuls coriander leaves
1 lime, cut into wedges

For the dressing
2 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp caster sugar

Coat the salmon in the sweet chilli sauce. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and sear the salmon for 2-3 mins on each side, leaving it a little pink in the middle. Set aside to cool.

Place the noodles in a bowl, pour over boiling water to cover, and leave for 4 mins. Drain and run under the cold tap, drain again well.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, avocado, spring onions and chilli and gently toss. Add the noodles, mint, basil and coriander and lightly toss.

Divide among 4 plates. Break up the salmon with your fingers and put on top of the noodles. Serve with lime wedges.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Chocolate Cola Cake

For Mad hatters last week I made Coca-Cola Chocolate cake. My sister brought me back a coca-cola cook book from California last year and I got the idea from there but used a recipe that was already converted to grams. I used Coke Zero but any sort of cola flavoured drink would work.

On the day that I made it the cake was awesome, lovely and moist with fudgy icing but after it had been in a plastic box for a couple of days it was less good. The icing had gone a bit icky, it was still gobbled up but I think this is definitely an eat on the day cake.

Chocolate Cola Cake (from BBC Food)

250g self-raising flour
300g golden caster sugar
3 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
generous pinch bicarbonate of soda
250g butter
250ml coca cola
125ml milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing
100g butter
2 tbsp cola drink
2 tbsp cocoa powder
200g icing sugar

Heat the oven to 180C.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl.

Melt the butter and coca cola gently in a pan then add to the dry ingredients, together with the milk, eggs and vanilla.

Mix gently but thoroughly and tip into a lined and greased cake tin. Bake for about 40 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave for about 15 mins while you make the topping. Put the butter, coca cola and cocoa powder into a pan and melt slowly. Bring the mixture to the boil and then pour onto the icing sugar. Beat until smooth and pour over the cake while still warm. Cool the cake in the tin.  Cut into slices of chunks and serve.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Cheesy Mackerel and Leek Pasta Bake

This was a gorgeous cheesy pasta bake with the addition of lovely mackerel and leeks. The original recipe called for a pot of cheese sauce but it's so easy to make your own, and much cheaper, so that's what I did. I served it with a green salad and froze the leftovers to enjoy another time!

Cheesy Mackerel and Leek Pasta Bake (from a Waitrose Recipe Card)
(Serves 2)

150g dried pasta
2 leeks, thinly sliced
40g butter
40g plain flour
600ml milk
100g cheddar, grated
2 tsp Dijon mustard
25g pack fresh chives, snipped into 1cm lengths
110g can steamed mackerel fillets, drained
25g grated cheddar

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions, adding the leeks to the pan for the last 3 mins of cooking.
Melt the butter over a medium heat in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir to form a roux, cooking for a few mins.

Gradually whisk in the milk, a little at a time. Cook for 10-15 mins to a thickened and smooth sauce.

Remove the sauce from the hob, add 75g of the cheese and stir until it has melted into the sauce.

Drain the pasta and leeks well and toss with the cheese sauce, mustard and chives. Gently fold in the mackerel. Spoon into an ovenproof dish, scatter over the rest of the cheddar and bake for 15 mins until golden brown.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Smoked Duck with Veggie Fried Brown Rice

This would be equally good eaten hot, but as I needed something for lunch I cooled it down and packed it in my lunchbox. I really liked he smoked duck and later in the week turned the rest of the packet into a Chinese style wrap.

Smoked Duck with Veggie Fried Brown Rice
(Serves 1)

60g brown rice
30g frozen peas
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/3 courgette, chopped
1/2 small carrot, chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 spring onion, chopped
1/2 pack smoked duck
1 tbsp hoisin sauce

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the rice according to packet instructions, adding the peas for the last 3-4 mins of cooking time. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat a pan with a little oil and fry the courgette, pepper and carrots until cooked by still crunchy. Set aside.

When the rice is cooked, heat a little more oil in the pan you fried the veggies in and add the egg, stir quickly for one min then add in the rice, peas and veggies and cook stirring so that the egg breaks up.

Add in the spring onion and stir. Transfer to a lunchbox to cool. When the veggie rice is cooled, place the smoked duck on top and drizzle over the hoisin sauce.

Meal Planning Monday

On Sunday I went to see my parents for the day and we had an awesome lunch; beef wellington with roast potatoes and greens.

And then apple pie with salted caramel ice cream for pudding.

It was absolutely delicious and I was so full! I also had a lovely wander round the garden with my Mum thinking about all the things I can plant in my garden soon. I also came home with a lovely bunch of daffodils from her garden.

This week is busy busy busy, work wise I'm doing quite a bit of teaching and other activities. I'm out every evening this week, theatre tonight, ww tomorrow, reading group and pilates on Wednesday, cinema on Thursday, massage Friday and then I'm going to Bath to see my sister and nieces on Saturday, quite a week! I'm actually using my cookbooks a bit more and pretty much everything this week comes from my head or my selection of cookbooks.

Salad Parisienne (Salad for All Seasons)
Out at the theatre

Sea Bass with Lemon and Olives (Cook Yourself Thin)

Mexican Rice Salad
Chicken, Courgette and Cheese Green Enchiladas

Bacon, Avocado and Tomato Wrap with Crisps (French Sandwich Book)
Honey and Soy Mackerel with Rice and Veg (Waitrose Magazine)

Greek Couscous Salad
Sausage and Parsnip Mash with Gravy

Out with my sister
Old Bay Salmon with Avocado and Pesto Pasta

Tomato and Tapenade Tart with Salad
Duck Leg Pasta

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Fried Farro with Pickled Carrots and Runny Eggs

This felt like a really lovely healthy dish, whole grains and lots of fresh veg. I made a couple of changes to the recipe, I made poached eggs instead of fried and I added in some pickled red cabbage hat needed using up. It was really tasty and I felt like I'd done something good for my body!!

Fried Farro with Pickled Carrots and Runny Eggs
(from Bon Appetit September 2013)
(Serves 6)

2 medium carrots, chopped
125ml white wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
tbsp olive oil, divided
300g farro
2 garlic cloves, chopped, divided
200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
½ bunch kale, centre ribs and stems removed, torn into 1in pieces
1 tbsp fish sauce
salt and pepper
1 bunch parsley leaves
6 eggs
1 red chilli, seeded, coarsely chopped
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
chilli flakes

Place carrots and chilli in a small heatproof bowl. Bring the vinegar, sugar, salt, and 125ml water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Pour over the carrots and chillis; let them sit for at least 30 mins. Drain, reserving 60ml of the pickling liquid.

Meanwhile, heat 1tbsp of oil in a saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the farro and half of the garlic and cook, stirring, until the farro is dark brown, 8–10 mins. Add 1.5l water and bring to a boil. Boil farro until tender but still firm to the bite, 25–30 mins. Drain and leave to cool.

Heat 1tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft and just starting to brown, 5–7 mins. Transfer to a plate. Add 2tbsp of oil, then the kale and remaining garlic to the frying pan. Cook until the kale is wilted, about 4 mins. Add the fish sauce, farro, mushrooms, and pickled carrots. Cook until warmed through, 5–7 mins; season with salt and pepper and the reserved pickling liquid. Mix in the parsley and divide among bowls.

Bring a couple of pans of water to the boil. Add some vinegar and using a whisk swirl the water round. Crack each egg into a cup and add each egg into the centre of the swirling water, this will have to be done in batches, cook until the white is set but the yolk runny. Top each bowl of farro with an egg and the spring onions, season with the chilli flakes. Just before serving, break up eggs and mix into the farro.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Smoked Trout and Potato Salad

This was a very simple light salad, it includes oily fish so plenty of vitamin D and it's low in fat but still really tasty.

Smoked Trout and Potato Salad (from WeightWatchers Soups and Salads)
(Serves 2)
(7 WW ProPoints per serving)

350g new potatoes, halved
100g low fat plain yoghurt
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp Dijon mustard
6 cornichons, finely diced
2 spring onions, sliced
125g smoked trout fillets
2 handfuls lettuce leaves/baby spinach

Put the potatoes into a pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 mins until tender.

Meanwhile, mix the yoghurt with the mustards, cornichons and spring onions to make the dressing.

When the potatoes are ready drain and leave them to cool. When they are cool, mix with the dressing.

Divide the lettuce between two plates and spoon the potatoes on top. Break the smoked trout into chunky flakes and scatter over the potatoes, serve.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Guinea Fowl, Sprout and Bacon Pie

My Mum brought me back some guinea fowl from France as it's impossible to get anything other than a whole bird here and that's too much for me. As I also had brussels sprouts leftover from Christmas I made this delicious pie from Waitrose Kitchen Magazine. The pie was lovely, I made it a bit healthier by using filo instead of puff pastry and it worked really well.

Guinea Fowl, Sprout and Bacon Pie
(adapted from Waitrose Magazine January 2014)
(Serves 6-8)

1 whole guinea fowl
2 large carrots, cut into 2cm pieces
2 leeks, sliced
3 bay leaves
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp salt
20g thyme
1 tbsp oil
200g smoked bacon
25g butter
250g mushrooms
200g brussels sprouts, halved or quartered
2 tsp mustard
300ml low fat crème fraiche
1 packet filo pastry

Put the guinea fowl, carrots, leeks, bay leaves, peppercorn, salt and half the thyme in a large pan. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil and skim off any scum. Simmer for 1 hr 5 mins (or 20 mins per 450g plus 20 mins). Transfer the bird to a plate and shred the meat, discarding the skin, bones and herbs Strain the stock and reserve, slice the leeks and set aside with the carrots.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Fry the bacon over a high heat until crisp about 4-5 mins. Add the butter, stir in the mushrooms, fry for three more mins until golden. Pour in 200ml of the stock and bring to a boil, then add the sprouts. Boil until the liquid is reduced, thickened and coats the veg.

Take off the heat, stir through the mustard, crème fraiche, meat, reserved veg and leaves from the rest of the thyme. Season and tip into a large pie dish.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Brush the edges of the pie dish with oil. Unroll the filo pastry and lay a sheet of pastry over the pie dish. Brush with olive oil then repeat with the other sheet. Scrunch up the overhanging pastry, fold onto the pie’s surface, and brush with olive oil. Bake for 25-30 mins or until golden and crisp.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Blueberry, Lemon and Maple Oatmeal Muffins

Over the weekend I did a couple of bits of baking. As I knew I was seeing family and friends I made blueberry muffins to give to everyone. They seemed to sink a bit but were very tasty and you could really taste the maple syrup.

Blueberry, Lemon and Maple Oatmeal Muffins
(from Daily Unadventures in Cooking)
(Makes 12)

125g flour
90g quick oats
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 egg
75ml maple syrup
245g yoghurt
12 ml oil
200g blueberries

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Put the flour, salt, baking powder, soda, oats and lemon zest in a bowl and stir to combine.
In a second bowl whisk together the syrup and egg. Whisk in the yoghurt, lemon juice and oil.
In small bowl sprinkle the blueberries with a 2 tbsp of the dry mix.

Fold the wet mixture into the flour mixture gently. Stir in the blueberries. Divide between 12 muffin tins and bake for 18-20 mins.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Spicy Pinto Bean and Tuna Salad

This was a lovely alternative salad and despite not having any pasta, rice or potatoes to bulk it up, it was lovely and filling. The hint of spiciness from the pepperdew peppers was really good.

Spicy Pinto Bean and Tuna Salad (from Kalyn's Kitchen)
(Serves 4-6)

2 cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp juice from pepperdew jar
1/2 tsp green Tabasco sauce
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
salt and pepper
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 jar pepperdew peppers, quartered
6 spring onions, sliced
2 large tomatoes, chopped and drained if the tomatoes are very juicy
bunch parsley, chopped
2 cans tuna in spring water
Mix together the lemon juice, pepperdew juice, Tabasco, and old bay. Whisk in the olive oil, then season to taste.

In a bowl large enough to contain all the salad ingredients, mix the beans with 2 tbsp of the dressing mixture and let beans marinate while you prep other ingredients.

Add the peppers, spring onion, tomatoes, and parsley to the bowl with the beans, mix together, then toss with the remaining the dressing. Add the tuna and gently combine with other ingredients, season again and serve.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Swede, Leek and Potato Gratin

I served this as a side dish to my casserole but there is definitely enough veggies there to make it a main dish with some salad. This was lovely, I actually used creme fraiche rather than double cream but I think you'd get a better texture using cream as the creme fraiche split.

Swede, Leek and Potato Gratin (from a Waitrose Recipe Card)
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
350g leeks, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
500g potatoes, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 medium swede, peeled and cut into matchsticks
6–8 bay leaves, torn in half
150ml double cream
150ml milk

Preheat the oven to 190C. Melt the oil and butter together in a frying pan and add the leek and garlic. Cook gently for 5 mins until translucent.

Layer the leek mixture, potatoes, swede and bay leaves in a buttered 1.5 litre ovenproof dish and season. Mix together the cream and milk and pour over the vegetables.

Bake for 1 hour until the vegetables are tender and the top golden. Cover with foil if it get too brown on top. Serve.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Chicken and Apple Casserole

I still have lots of apples from my Mum's garden, which I have kept in crates in my shed. I'm about half way through them now and I'm always looking for different things to do with them. This was a really tasty chicken and apple casserole. You could use cider instead of chicken stock to make it even more appley. I served it with a Swede, Leek and Potato Gratin, recipe to follow tomorrow.

Chicken and Apple Casserole (adapted from Fast, Fresh and Easy Food by Lorraine Pascal)
(Serves 4)

8 chicken thighs
2 sprigs rosemary
few sprigs sage
1 tbsp fennel seeds
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 bunch spring onions, sliced
2 eating apples, cored and cut into 8 pieces
4 tsp flour
500ml chicken stock
salt and pepper

Season the chicken thighs with some salt and pepper. Heat some oil in a large casserole over a high heat and add the chicken to the pan skin side down. Once the chicken skin is brown, about 4 mins, turn the pieces over and cook for 1 min.

Remove the chicken from the pan. stir the flour into the oil in pan to make a paste. Then gradually add the chicken stock stirring all the time making sure there are no lumps. Bring to a boil and then let it bubble away for a couple of mins.

One slightly thickened, stir in the herbs, fennel seeds, garlic, apples and salt and pepper and add the chicken back into the sauce. Turn the heat down to medium, cover with a lid and allow the dish to bubble away for 15 mins. 5 mins before the chicken is ready, add the spring onions.

Once the chicken is cooked remove from the heat and serve.

Meal Planning Monday

So, no pretty pictures of sun kissed beaches this week sadly, although the sun is trying to poke it's head out here this morning and it was actually light when I left the house! Last week ended up being busier than expected with an added theatre trip, and crazy work related things. This week it gets crazier; it's World Book Day on Thursday so I'm organising lots of book themed events for the day, I'm also teaching, I have two hospital appointments, cutting two of my days short, a theatre trip and pilates.

Meals are a lovely mixture of things. I went through my cupboards over the weekend to see what needed using and actually that were only three tins that were past their sell by date. A few things that need using now though, so that's what this week is all about.


Smoked Duck with Rice Salad

Tuna Pesto English Muffin Sandwich with Crisps
Creamy Turkey Crepes (WW Simple Suppers)

Lentils, Barley and Kale

Smoked Duck Hoisin Wrap with Crisps

Kale Soup with Bread

Tomato and Tapanade Tart with Salad


Duck Leg Pasta

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Goat's Cheese and Bacon Rösti

This is such a simple dish. It didn't form what I would think of a rösti, it was more like a big mashed potato pancake but it was delicious comfort food. I served it with a lovely big green salad.

Whilst we're on the topic of salad, I wish there was more variety in the salad in the supermarket. Yes that's all that bagged stuff but it only lasts a couple of days before it goes yucky and brown. In the whole lettuce variety all I can get are iceberg, little gem, romaine or a soft round lettuce. Where's the colour? Where's the variety? I want to have some red lettuce occasionally or some frizzy lettuce or just something different but even in the large supermarkets they stick to those four varieties. I guess I'll just have to wait until summer to grow my own again.

Goat's Cheese and Bacon Rösti (from Good Food Magazine June 2004)
(Serves 4)

1kg medium floury potatoes
3 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
100g bacon, chopped
8 fresh sage leaves, chopped
100g soft goat's cheese
Boil the potatoes in skins for 20-25 mins, until just tender. Leave to cool, peel, then coarsely grate into a bowl.

Heat half the oil in a medium frying pan, add the onion and bacon and fry for 7-8 mins, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened. Stir in the sage leaves and remove from the heat.
Stir the onion and bacon into the grated potato. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
Heat the other half of the oil in the frying pan over a medium heat, add half the potato mixture and spread over the pan. Crumble the goat’s cheese into small pieces, then sprinkle evenly over the potatoes. Spread the remaining potato over the top to seal in the cheese. Pressing down lightly.
Cook the rösti over a moderate heat for 8 mins until the underside is nicely browned, then put a large plate on top and turn the rösti onto it. Add the last tbsp of oil to the pan if you need to, then slide the rösti back into the pan and cook the other side for 8 mins.
Serve the rösti straight from the pan with a green salad

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Apple Crumble Pie

I went to a friends house for dinner before I went on holiday and I made pudding. We had scrummy chicken fajitas with all the trimmings and then this gorgeous pie to follow. I had to make a huge pie as those are the only pie dishes I had, so I took home leftovers and gave some to my next door neighbour! It was delicious, but I think I would stick to either pie or crumble next time. We had cookie dough ice cream to go with it, you can't go wrong with a bit of cookie dough ice cream!

Apple Crumble Pie (from BBC Food)
(Serves 8)

375g pack ready-made sweet, all-butter shortcrust pastry
4-6/800g Bramley apples
1 tbsp lemon juice
1½ tbsp plain flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

50g caster sugar
50g raisins or sultanas

For the crumble topping

85g plain flour
85g butter, cut into small cubes
4 tbsp caster sugar
handful porridge oats
1 tbsp demerara sugar

Lightly flour the work surface, then roll out the pastry until it is about 3cm larger than the pie dish.

Lift the pastry over the dish. Press it into the tin, then trim the edge with a sharp knife. Put the pastry into the fridge to chill while making the filling.

Preheat the oven to 190C and put a baking sheet on the middle shelf.

For the crumble topping, sift the flour into a large bowl, then add the butter. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until the mix looks like rough breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar and the handful of oats. Chill the crumble topping in the fridge while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples, cut them into quarters, remove the core, then cut into slices. Toss the apple slices with the lemon juice in a large bowl.

Sift over the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix well to coat. Tip in the sugar and raisins. Mix well.

Put the apples into the pastry lined tin, scatter with the crumble mix and then sprinkle the demerara sugar over the top. It might seem a little full and piled up but it will shrink down with cooking. Bake for 30 mins, or until the pastry and crumble are golden and crisp.

Serve warm with cream or ice cream.