Thursday, 30 January 2014

Sweet potato and chicken curry

I found this recipe on the GoodFood website last night, whilst looking for a new recipe using chicken thighs. Making a few substituitions, I used a mild curry paste instead of rogan josh paste, Kurly kale in the place of spinach and a tin of cherry tomatoes instead of fresh ones. I loved it, it felt healthy and it's low fat, though the kids thought there was too much green stuff in. I even managed to cook the rice without burning or overcooking it. For those of you have followed my blog for a while, you will know cooking rice isn't my strong point. A very versatile curry for using up leftovers. 

Serves 4
500g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
4 skinless chicken thigh fillets, each cut into large chunks
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
2 tbsp rogan josh curry paste
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
125g spinach

Cook the sweet potatoes in boiling, salted water for 5-7 mins until just tender. Drain well, then set aside. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan, then add the chicken and onion. Cook for 5-6 mins until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Stir in the curry paste, cook for 1 min, add the tomatoes, then cook for another min.
Pour in 100ml boiling water and mix well. Simmer for 5 mins, add the spinach, then cook for 2 mins until wilted. Fold in the potatoes and heat through. Serve with rice and naan breads.

Note: For a Thai version, use Thai curry paste and ½ a 400ml tin of coconut milk.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Baked Salmon with roast vegetable traybake.

I had to compensate for the tiny bits of salmon I was delivered on my tesco order, by roasting lots of vegetables to accompany it. I cut sweet potatoes into small chunks and sprinkled them with olive oil and seasoning. They were put into a hot oven for about 15 minutes. After that time, I added some chopped peppers and a red onion for another 15 minutes. When the vegetables were looking just about cooked, I added the salmon fillets, some halved vine tomatoes and some chopped chorizo (not really necessary, as plenty of flavour without). I accompanied this with a bowl of Kurly Kale, which I haven't used before and must buy more of. A lovely meal with loads of flavour. 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Perfect cheese scones

Oh the joy of a simple cheese scone straight from the oven. Why, when they are so simple to make, do so many cafes produce heavy, bland scones? These were crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. I used more cheese than the recipe states as I do like them cheesey. The recipe was from the BBC Food Recipes website.

225g self raising flour
pinch of salt
55g butter
55g mature cheddar cheese, grated (I would double this)
150ml milk

Heat the oven to 220ÂșC. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Mix together the flour and salt and rub in the butter, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Stir in the cheese and then the milk to get a soft dough.
Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly. Pat out to a round 2cm/¾in thick. Use a 5cm/2in cutter to stamp out rounds and place on the baking sheet. Lightly knead together the rest of the dough and stamp out more scones to use it all up.
Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk. Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Spicy Lentil Dahl

I have been making a lot of lentil and tomato soup recently, which we all really love. It's very filling, low fat and so very easy to make. However you can have too much of a good thing. For a change for lunch today I made this spicy lentil Dahl. Using a combination of recipes I found on the internet, and a little tweaking to accommodate the ingredients I had, I ended up with this. Really lovely with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a toasted pitta bread.

Serve 4 for lunch size portions
A little oil for frying
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red chilli or 1 tsp chilli powder
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cinnamon
Approx 250g red lentils
1 pint of vegetable stock
Fresh spinach or frozen spinach (optional)
A squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

Heat the oil in a heavy based pan, and fry the onion, garlic and ginger until cooked. Add the chopped chilli and fry for a little longer. Add the spices and the lentils and stir until the lentils are coated with the spices. Add the stock then simmer for about 20 minutes until the lentils are soft. Add the spinach if using and cook until it has wilted. Season with salt and pepper and serve with toasted pitta bread and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Spicy Parsnip soup

I'm trying to keep my cold at bay by eating lots of homemade soup. Though judging how I am feeling today the plan isn't working. This delicious and very filling soup was a recipe from the December issue of Olive magazine. The chilli oil is a lovely addition, but don't buy it especially. I just happened to have some in, and boy did it give a kick. 

Serves 4
159 kcals per serving
1 tbsp oil
500g parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp paprika (ooops didn't read that)
1 litre of vegetable stock
chilli oil and single cream for serving

Heat the oil and fry the onion and celery for 5 minutes. Add the parsnip and carrots and soften for 10 minutes. Add the garam masala and paprika and season. Then add the stock bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Use a stick blender to blend the soup until smooth. Serve with a drizzle of chilli oil and single cream. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Tuna and sweetcorn burgers

I had a cholesterol check yesterday amongst other things. I have a feeling the result may come back a little high, given my love of all things that are not too good for me. I'm making an effort to cut back on my alcohol intake, and have more alcohol free nights. The craving for a glass of wine kicks in for me as I start to cook the tea. Once that time passes and I haven't given in, I find that I'm not missing it too much. So I'll persevere and also watch the fatty foods a little more and hopefully will see and feel some benefits.
These burgers tonight were relatively healthy. The kids loved them, I was delighted when James polished off two of them. Having little in, but store cupboard ingredients and a few fridge ingredients, this recipe from the Good food website was perfect. I needed to use two eggs to bind the mixture, with one it didn't stick together and would have broken up on cooking. They were simple to make and to cook, I did put them in the fridge for half an hour or so before cooking to set them a little. In the absence of salsa I dolloped some mayo on the side. 

Serves 4

85g white bread, torn into pieces
198g can sweetcorn, drained
2 x 185g cans tuna in water, drained well
25g grated cheddar
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp vegetable oil
wholegrain bread rolls, lettuce, salsa, to serve

Whizz the bread in a food processor to crumbs, tip into a bowl, then whizz half the sweetcorn until finely chopped. Add the chopped corn, remaining whole corn, tuna, cheese, spring onions and some seasoning into the bowl with the bread and mix well. Add the egg, bit by bit (you may not need it all), until the mixture is sticky enough to be shaped into four even-size burgers.
Heat the oil in a non-stick pan, then cook the burgers for 5 mins on each side until golden and hot through the middle. Stuff into wholemeal buns with your favourite lettuce and a good dollop of salsa.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Goats cheese and beetroot salad

The idea for this salad came from a lunch at a very pleasant cafe in Newcastle called 'The Garden Kitchen'. The salad I had there also had the addition of pearl barley. I did buy the barley to go with this one, but when I realised that it had to be cooked for an hour before using, I missed it out on this occasion. I'd definitely try it in the salad next time, as it was a fine accompniament and made it a very filling meal. Use some lambs lettuce and spinach leaves, baby beetroots and goats cheese. Cook the pearl barley, season and leave to cool. Mix together and dress with a balsamic and oil dressing. A lovely wintry salad, with the goats cheese and beetroot making a great combination of tastes. 

Monday, 6 January 2014

Some foodie memories of Christmas

Happy New Year! The Christmas tree is down, James has had his 13th Birthday. Two teenagers in the house now, HELP! The children are back to school and normal life resumed, well as normal as it ever is. I have had some wonderful food over Christmas. Not too excessive, but I still feel the need to cut down this month, as most of us do in January. Christmas dinner was a beautiful meal at my mother and father in laws, Pheasant with cream and Calvados, and homemade Christmas pudding. On New Years Eve I thought I would try and cook a whole salmon for the first time. Although it was an impressive looking meal for such an occasion, I found the serving of it rather tricky. I wish I had gone for a simpler option, but it did taste great. The recipe was from Jamie Oliver, whole roasted salmon stuffed with herbs and lemon.
I received the new Hairy Dieters cookbook for Christmas, so I have a feeling the recipes will be tried and tested this month.