Archive | November, 2012

Honey Roasted Root Veg, Salmon and Puy Lentil Salàd

30 Nov

This is a wonderful salad, it is super healthy and easy to throw together. It is full of protein, vitamins and minerals and just gives you a real boost. The puy lentils are packed with flavor and goodness and they even come in a convenience packet that you just have to whack in the microwave. It couldn’t be simpler. You could add a variety of veggies to this e.g. Parsnips, turnips or broccoli. You can swerve it with crumbled feta but I prefer no cheese, its totally a person preference. This would be a good dish to make double of and then bring the rest to work or school with you for lunch.

Honey Roasted Root Veg, Salmon and Puy Lentil Salad (Serves 2-3)

250g puy lentils

3tbsp rapeseed oil

1/2tbsp cumin seeds

2 carrots,sliced

2 parsnips,sliced

salt and pepper

1tbsp honey

1 red onion, diced

juice of 1 lemon

1/2tsp dried mint

8 cos lettuce leaves

2 salmon darnes, skinless

1/2tsp mixed herbs

  • Preheat the oven to 200ºc/390ºf.
  • Cook the carrots and parsnips in a saucepan of boiling water for about 3-4mins. Then place the vegetables in an oven proof dish. Add 1tbsp oil, the cumin seeds and salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
  • Roast in the oven for about 20mins. Then remove and drizzle with honey and roast for a further 5mins.
  • About 15mins before the veg is done, heat 1tbsp of oil in a pan. Place the salmon in it and drizzle with the juice of 1/2 lemon, sprinkle with mixed herbs and season with salt and pepper. Fry for about 4mins on either side or until cooked through. Place in a bowl, cover and set aside.
  • Cook the lentils according to packet instructions.
  • Add the last tablespoon of oil to the pan and over a medium heat, fry the onion until softened,3-4mins, then add the lentils and juice of 1/2 lemon. Cook for a further 2mins.
  • Line 2 bowls with lettuce leaves, toss the roasted veg with the lentil mix and divide between the bowls. Sprinkle with mint and top with the salmon. Serve immediately.

 

 

 

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Fudgey Brownies

29 Nov

I don’t think there is one person I know that doesn’t like brownies. Its like saying you don’t like chocolate but one hundred times stranger! That is why I think every person should have a go to brownie recipe because then they will never ever be stuck for any occasion  whether it is a birthday party or to say thank you to someone, they always go down a treat (No pun intended!). I have tried out many, many brownie recipes. I have to admit there was a point there that I was ready to admit that I would never find a brownie recipe that I was one hundred percent happy with and that was when I found this recipe. It is so perfect. It is easy first of all which I think is a must. It is also rich but not ovrly so without even using real chocolate in the batter. And most importantly it has a heavenly fudgey, chewy texture that is super moist but not runny which screams perfect brownie. There is nothing I hate more then a dry, cakey “brownie”!

Fudgey Brownies (Makes about 14 slices)

1 cup butter

2 1/4 cups caster sugar

1 1/4 cups cocoa powder

1/2tsp salt

1tsp baking powder

1tsp vanilla extract

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups plain flour

2 cups white chocolate chips

  • Preheat the oven to 175ºc/350ºf and grease and line a 9″ x 13″ tin.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan or a bowl in the microwave. Once melted, stir in the sugar and either return to the heat or the microwave and heat until the sugar is more dissolved and the mixture comes away from the sides when you stir it.
  • Mix in the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time until they are all incorporated and you have a smooth glossy mixture.
  • Stir in the flour and chocolate chips then pour into the prepared tin and smooth the top with a spatula.
  • Bake in the oven for 30-35mins or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs on it.
  • Let cool completely in the tin then remove and cut into slices

Carrot Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

28 Nov

My mom absolutely adores these cupcakes. They are the perfect balance because the carrot cupcake is quite wholesome and not too sweet so the icing on top just compliments it to perfection. It is also an extremely moist cupcake and straight forward to throw together. You could leave out the walnuts and/or raisins but I would strongly recommend leaving them in as they raisins come out beautifully plump and juicy and the walnuts add an amazing texture. These would be good for any occasion, from a birthday party to a summers picnic. You could also make this into a loaf form which would be easier to transport for a picnic. Even if yo don’t like carrots, like my sister, I would recommend trying this because my sister adores them too. I hope you enjoy!

 

Carrot Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (Makes about 16 cupcakes)

1 cup plain flour

1tsp baking powder

1tsp baking soda

1tsp cinnamon

1/4tsp nutmeg

1/2tsp cloves

pinch of salt

1 1/2cups carrot, coarsely grated

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup raisins

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

  • Preheat the oven to 175ºc/350ºf and either grease and line 2 small round cake pans or line a cupcake tin with cases.
  • In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves together and set aside.
  • In another medium bowl, stir together the carrots, walnuts and raisins.
  • In large cowl, beat the sugar and oil together until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, still beating until smooth again.
  • Stir in the flour mixture just until it disappears. Gently mix in the chunky ingredients with a large metal spoon and divide the batter among the cake tins or cupcake cases and bake in  the oven for 40-50mins for the cakes or 20-25mins for the cupcakes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Cool in the tin for 5mins mins then remove and decorate with the frosting.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

200g cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1tsp vanilla extract

2tsp cinnamon, or more to taste

2-3 cups icing sugar, depending on desired consistency

  • Beat the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the vanilla and cinnamon.
  • On a low speed, beat in the icing sugar until you get the right consistency.

Thai Green Chicken Curry

27 Nov

I love all types of curry. A good curry is always full of flavor and has a brilliant ability to warm you through on a cold winters day. This is a very mild curry that has a sweet and zesty flavor. It is a great curry to serve to someone who is skeptical about trying curry as an introduction. It is also a good dish to make in bulk and freeze the leftovers or to serve to guests as you can have it made earlier in the day and then just heated up when your ready to serve.

Thai Green Chicken Curry (Serves 3-4)

1 onion, diced

2 red peppers, sliced

1tbsp rapeseed oil

2tbsp Thai green curry paste

4 chicken breasts, sliced

1 x 400ml can light coconut milk

1tsp dark brown sugar

2tsp fish sauce

1 lime, zest and juice

1/2tsp dried coriander

  • Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and fry the onion and pepper for 2-3mins until softened. Add the Thai green curry paste and cook for a further 1-2mins.
  • Add the chicken and cook for 3mins.
  • Pour in the coconut milk, dark brown sugar, fish sauce and lime zest. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15-20mins until the chicken is cooked through.
  • When you are ready to serve, stir through the lime juice and dried coriander and serve with steamed brown rice and vegetables.

Chicken Fajitas

26 Nov

Fajitas are a super fun dinner. It is pretty easy to make and everyone gets to modify there own one. It is kind of more a Summer dinner but hey, that’s not going to stop me from making them when it’s the end of October! This would also be a great meal for a party. It may get a little messy but after everyone has had the best fajitas of their lives, I’m sure they won’t mind giving you a little help cleaning up! 😀 The ingredients I have listed are just a guideline. Feel free to use whatever you like! You can change the vegetables you use or the sauces or try different types of tortilla wraps. Absolutely anything.

Chicken Fajitas (Serves 4)

3 chicken breasts, cut into strips

1 chicken stock cube

2-3tbsp olive oil

1/2tsp sweet paprika

salt and pepper

8 wholemeal tortilla wraps

lettuce, shredded

cherry tomatos, halved

cucumber, sliced

1 tin of sweet corn, drained

1 pepper, sliced into strips

salsa

mayonnaise

guacamole

  • Put the stock cube, olive oil and paprika in a medium bowl and mash into a paste. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken strips and rub the paste into the chicken.
  • You can leave to marinate in the fridge or cook straight away. Heat a dry pan over a medium heat, add the chicken and cook until lightly browned and cooked all the way through. Remove and drain on some paper towel.
  • Set out all the vegetables in bowls, put the chicken in a bowl and leave the sauces out as well.
  • Heat the tortilla wraps in the microwave for 15-30sec and give everyone 2 wraps.
  • Now dig in and experiment! Have fun trying to keep all the ingredients in your tortilla wraps!

Mature Christmas Cake

21 Nov

Making Christmas cakes has to be one of my favorite things to do at Christmas. I just absolutely love every single thing about it licking the last bit of whiskey flavored cake batter from the bottom of the bowl to the aroma of the spicy cake wafting through the house as it cooks slowly. It is just magical!

It is also the first Christmasy thing I do so I start getting all excited as soon as we buy the ingredients. It is a really simple recipe but just remember to do it well in advance so that the cake has time to mature fully and develop the flavors. Also don’t forget to soak the cake for the second time as this makes the cake lovely and moist. You could even open up the cakes after two weeks of maturing and soak it again then to make it super super moist. I make a few of these every Christmas and give it to friends as gifts. Everyone loves it. I hope you all try this recipe and tell me how they turned out!

Mature Christmas Cake (Makes 1 x 22cm round cake or about 24 mini cakes)

750g dried mixed fruit (currants, sultanas, raisins)

100g glace cherries, halved

50-75g candied mixed peel

100g blanched almonds, roughly chopped

250g butter, softened

250g dark brown sugar

4 eggs

250g plain four

2tsp mixed spice

100g ground almonds

200ml whiskey

For Icing the Cake:

2tbsp apricot jam

500g  almond marzipan

1 bag of instant royal

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºc/355ºf and grease and line a 22cm round cake tin.
  • Place the dried mixed fruit, cherries, mixed peel, almonds and 100ml of the whiskey. Mix to combine then leave to soak overnight.
  • The next day, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy then beat in the eggs a bit at a time. If the mixture starts to curdle add a tablespoon of flour then beat in the last of the egg.
  • Sieve in the flour and mixed spice then add the ground almonds and 50mm of the whiskey and fold in gently but thoroughly.
  • Mix in the soaked fruit then spoon into the prepared tin. Smooth the top of the mixture with a spoon creating a shallow dip in the middle of the cake so that it is flat after it rises.
  • Bake the cake in the oven at 150ºc/300ºf with a sheet of baking parchment over it to prevent it from burning on top. Bake for 3-4hrs until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool in the tin then remove and make holes all over the cake with a skewer. Pour the remaining 50ml of whiskey over the cake.
  • Once the whiskey has been absorbed, wrap the cake in baking parchment and then in tin foil. Leave the cake for at least a month to mature.
  • After a month, unwrap the cake and drizzle with a little extra whiskey and leave that to be absorbed for about a day. Now you are ready to ice the cake.
  • Heat the apricot jam in the microwave for about 20sec to make it more spreadable then brush all over the cake.
  • Knead the marzipan for 1min until softened then roll out into a fairly thin sheet big enough to cover the cake. Smooth it over the cake and cut off the excess. Make sure the whole cake is covered.
  • Make up the royal icing according to the packet instructions then spread over the cake in an even layer.
  • Decorate however you like.

Spaghetti Carbonara

20 Nov

 

This is such a tasty and easy dinner that can be put on the table in a bout 20mins. It is so full of flavor and only uses a few ingredients and they are ingredients that are usually in my house anyway. I used loads of different pasta shapes in this because I just had bits and pieces in bags left in my cupboard, but I would usually use tagliatelle or linguine because I like the way they can be really evenly coated.

Spaghetti Carbonara

200-250g pasta shapes

2 egg yolks

25g grated Parmesan

1tbsp rapeseed/olive oil

1 onion, diced

50g bacon bits/ pancetta

1/4tsp chilli flakes, or more to taste

1/2tsp dried thyme

salt and pepper

  • Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Meanwhile heat the oil in a small frying pan and fry the onion and pancetta until the onion is softened and the pancetta fully cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Drain the pasta, retaining a bit of the cooking liquid, and return to the pot. Add the egg yolks, Parmesan, cooked onion and pancetta, chilli flakes and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Mix to combine and if it is a bit thick or stiff, add a drop of the cooking liquid and mix until you get a smooth consistency.
  • Serve hot with extra Parmesan and a crunchy salad.

 

 

 

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