Archive | September, 2012

Ricotta, Spinach and Beef Cannelloni

24 Sep

I have been wanting to try cannelloni for the longest time and to be honest I was just kinda scared! I mean how are you supposed to get any filling in those little tubes but when you actually start doing it, its not so scary and you just have to remember that if it goes wrong, its only food! You could always make something else, simple as. This is a really nice recipe filled with flavor and really authentically Italian. I will definitely be having it more often. Ricotta, Spinach and Beef Cannelloni  (Serves 4)

500g beef mince

1-2tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

259g spinach

150g ricotta cheese

1 egg

4tbsp tomato puree

80g Parmesan cheese

12-16 cannelloni tubes

jar of tomato sauce

salt and pepper

  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onion and garlic until softened. Add the beef mince and tomato puree and continue frying until fully cooked.
  • In the meantime put the spinach in a pot and add a couple of tablespoons of water, put a lid on it and cook over a medium heat for 2-3mins until wilted and tender. Squeeze out excess water and finely chop. Add to the beef mixture and season well.
  • Put a pot of salted water on to boil, add a dash of olive oil and the cannelloni tubes and cook until al dente.
  • In a bowl mix the ricotta and Parmesan together thoroughly. Then add the beef and spinach mixture and the egg and mix until combined again.
  • Preheat the oven to 200ºc/375ºf. Put a few tablespoons of tomato sauce on the bottom of a oven proof dish.
  • Using a teaspoon fill the cannelloni tubes with the beef mixture and lay on their side. Drizzle a little more tomato sauce over the tubes and sprinkle with more Parmesan and a bit of oregano.
  • Bake in the oven for 15-20mins until the cheese is nicely melted.
  • Serve with a crisp green salad.
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Blondies

23 Sep

Blondie’s in my opinion, can mean many different things. It can range from a cookie/brownie type thing to a cakey white chocolate square… I already have a recipe for the cookie/brownie one up on my blog, Simple Double Chocolate Chip Blondies  and this is the cakey white chocolate one. I love this recipe, when you look at the ingredients it may seem rich and heavy but in fact it is light and moist and absolutely delicious, if I may say so myself. It is fairly simple and is pretty much a case of putting weighed ingredients in a bowl and whisking. You can make many variations of this recipe, my favorite being orange and dark chocolate chip. I will give more examples below.

Blondies 

200g butter

400g white chocolate, broken into cubes

5 eggs

200g castor sugar

2tsp vanilla

200g plain flour

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºc/350ºf and grease and line a 9 x 13inch tin with baking parchment.
  • Put the butter and white chocolate chunks in a microwave proof container and melt it in 30-40second bursts, stirring after each until nearly fully melted.
  • Put the eggs, sugar and vanilla in another bowl and whisk together. Add the melted chocolate mixture and whisk again.
  • Sieve in the flour and fold in until fully incorporated. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 30-35mins or until there is only a very slight wobble when you shake it gently.
  • Remember: It is always safer to over cook it a little, resulting in a bit of a cakey texture then to under cook it and have a blondie that is so runny you cant get it out of the tin! You can always try again after you learn how to cook it to perfection.
  • Let cool in the tin then remove and slice into squares.

Variations

  1. Orange and Dark Chocolate Chip: Add the zest and juice of 1 orange and 2-3 handfuls of dark choc chips to the above mixture
  2. Raspberry and Hazelnut: Add a punnet of raspberries and 150g finely chopped hazelnuts to the above mixture.
  3. Blueberry and Almond: Add a punnet of blueberries and 150g flaked almonds to the above mixture.

Easy Healthy Pizza

18 Sep

Me and my family are big pizza fans. But we are also a super healthy family and so I found an easy recipe that makes pizza quick and and most importantly healthy. We load the pizza with all sorts of vegetables and I will list all the ones I use but pizza is definitely a customize recipe. It is the kind of meal that is best to do with all the family. You can do any number of things with a pizza, make a face or give each family member a section of the pizza to top with whatever they like. It is so much fun.

 

Easy Healthy Pizza

Base:

170g wholemeal flour

140g white flour

1 instant yeast sachet

1/2tsp salt

125-150ml tepid water

Tomato Sauce:

1 x 400g can tinned chopped tomatoes

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2tsp dried oregano

1/2tsp basil

1tsp granulated sugar

salt and pepper

Toppings:

grated or slices of mozzarella

1 x small tin diced pineapple

2 spring onion, finely chopped

1/2 courgette, diced

4-5 button mushrooms, sliced

1/2 pepper, diced

  • For the base, mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the water in separate additions, stirring after each addition until it comes into a ball of dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead a few times, roll out to the desired thickness. Put onto a floured baking tray and fold the edges up to form a crust.
  • For the sauce, heat some olive oil in a  saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until slightly softened. Add the tomatoes, oregano, basil and sugar and season with salt and pepper. Simmer over a low heat for about 10mins. Taste and correct the seasoning. You can blend it at this point for a smooth sauce or leave as it is.
  • Smooth the sauce over the base, sprinkle with cheese and scatter the vegetables as desired. Bake int he oven for about 15mins until the dough is cooked and the cheese is melted.
  • Slice and serve! 😀

Chorizo and Spring Onion Quesadillas

17 Sep

This recipe was so popular in my house that we eventually actually got sick of it! Recently we developed a craving for it again which I’m very happy about because it gives me an excuse to dust off the old recipe and share it with all of you! 😀 It is a fantastic dish which is literally packed with so much flavor. The chorizo and spring onion may seem an odd combination but it is well worth trying just to give your taste buds the journey of a lifetime.I like to use plenty of cheese as it acts as a binding agent but feel free to play around with the ingredient quantities.You can have this as a light dinner or substantial lunch.

Chorizo and Spring Onion Quesadillas (Serves 2)

150g chorizo, sliced into chunky rounds (You could also use pre-sliced chorizo  which would be thinner and less substantial)

150g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 garlic clove, minced

salt and pepper

4 wholemeal tortilla wraps (White tortilla wraps are also perfect)

75-100g cheddar cheese, grated

3 spring onions, finely sliced

  • In a dry pan, fry the chorizo until roaring red in color and slightly crisp. Drain on a plate lined with kitchen towel. Reserve the oil from the chorizo.
  • Put the chopped tomatoes in a bowel with the garlic and season with salt and pepper and mix.
  • Get 2 plates and place 1 tortilla wrap on each plate. Spread half the tomato mix on each tortilla wrap and distribute evenly.
  • Next sprinkle the chorizo, spring onion and cheese on in even layers. Place another tortilla wrap on top.
  • Heat the chorizo oil up, you can add some sunflower oil if needed. Fry each wrap individually for 2mins, or until crisp and golden, on both sides.
  • Serve whole or cut into wedges. You can also sprinkle some extra chorizo or spring onion on top if desired. Let the feast begin!

Luscious Blackberry and Apple Jam

17 Sep

This year the blackberry crop was surprisingly good, as a result I had about 5kg of blackberries in the freezer waiting to be gobbled up in any sort of delicious dessert… But there is only so many blackberry desserts that one can cope with so I decided to chance making blackberry and apple jam.

That way I would be able to enjoy the benefits of my crop well into the winter months, slathered on thick toast or  swirled through steaming hot porridge. In my opinion there was no better solution. This jam has a wonderful flavor and because it is sieved, there are no nasty seeds. ( Not so attractive when they get unknowingly stuck between your teeth!)

Luscious Blackberry and Apple Jam (Makes 8 jars)

2kg blackberries

500g tart apple (Such as Granny Smith or Brambley),peeled, cored and roughly diced

150ml water

juice of 1 lemon

4 whole cloves

700g-1kg granulated sugar

  • In a large heavy-based sauce pan, put your blackberries, apples, water, lemon juice and cloves and bring to the boil over a high heat, stirring regularly( If you can manage to stir it, my arm was ready to fall off by the end!)
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20mins until all the fruit is very soft. Sieve the fruit into a clean pan, discard the leftover seeds and cloves.
  • Add sugar to taste, stir to incorporate and simmer for a further 20mins. To check if the jam is ready, put a plate in the freezer for 2mins, take it out and put a spoon of jam on it. Put the plate in the fridge and leave it for another 2mins. When you take it out run your finger through it and it should stay separated. If this doesn’t happen, simmer for a further 5mins and repeat until ready.
  • Put the jam in sterilized jars (See note), Screw the lids on tightly then turn the jars upside down until cool to seal.

Note: To sterilize the jars, wash in hot soapy water then put in an oven preheated to 150ºc/300ºf and bake for 10mins.

Divine Berry, Pine Nut and Chocolate Cookies

15 Sep

 

These cookies are actually amazing. It’s the only word to describe them that doesn’t cause injustice! They have a wonderful richness from the chocolate but they are them balanced out by the berries and the oats give them a rustic hint so they aren’t too fancy. They are also great because they can be adjusted to your own personal taste, you could change the pine nuts and berries for any number of different options. Such as cherry and hazelnut or macadamia nut and fudge chunks, there are endless options. All I know is that everyone must try these cookies! 😀

Divine Berry, Pine Nut and Chocolate Cookies ( Approx. 20 cookies)

125g butter, softened

110g soft light brown sugar

65g soft dark brown sugar

1 egg

130g plain flour

30g cocoa powder

1/2tsp baking powder

a pinch of salt

70g porridge oats

100g dried mixed berries, e.g. blueberries, cranberries etc.

100g pine nuts

100g dark chocolate chips

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºc/350ºf and grease two large cookie sheets.
  • Beat the butter and two sugars together until well blended and creamy. ( You don’t have to cream them)Add the egg and beat until combined.
  • Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt on top and, using a wooden spoon, mix until blended in.
  • Add the oats, dried berries, pine nuts and chocolate chips and again mix until blended in.
  • Gather pieces of dough into balls about the size of a golf ball (Embrace the sticky hands… it’s just an excuse to lick them clean!), then flatten slightly and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Place well apart and bake in the oven for 15mins.
  • Allow to cool on the tray then tuck in and enjoy!

Garlic Sausage Tagliatelle

14 Sep

This dish is perfect for good food on a budget, which makes it ideal for large groups of people or a student. It uses basic ingredients but uses cooking methods that really enhance the simple flavors to make them spectacular.  Such as the roasting of the garlic, it really develops the garlic flavor to transform it into a sweet flavor which goes wonderfully with the sausages.

Garlic Sausage Tagliatelle (Serves 4)

200g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 red onion, cut into rough chunks

8 good quality sausages

1 garlic bulb, the top sliced off to expose the cloves

1tbsp rapeseed oil

1tsp oregano

300g tagliatelle

salt and pepper

grated Parmesan, to serve

  • Preheat the oven to 200ºc/375ºf. Place the tomatoes, red onion, sausages and garlic bulb in an oven proof dish, avoid overcrowding.
  • Drizzle the ingredients with the rapeseed oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle the oregano over them. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Roast in the oven for 35mins turning the sausages halfway through.
  • With 15mins left on the cooking time, put the pasta in salted boiling water and cook for 10-12mins until al dente.
  • When the roasting is done, remove the sausages and slice diagonally then squeeze the cloves out of their skins and mush them with a fork.
  • Drain the pasta and add to the roasting dish. Coat in the tomato sauce then return the sausages to the dish. Taste and correct the seasoning.
  • Serve hot sprinkled with Parmesan.

 

 

 

 

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