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Roast Butternut Squash, Spinach and Feta Lasagna Roll Ups

16 Oct

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This has to be one of the most exciting yet simple dishes I have whipped up in a long time. It uses basic ingredients in a clever way that will just dazzle your taste buds to leave you wanting more. Now I will be the first to admit that butternut squash is not my favorite vegetable because most often it is too sweet and sickly for my liking but in this recipe it is the absolute star of the show.

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Its overly sweet flavor is balanced by a couple of things in this recipe, the spinach, the passata and the feta. The passata works particularly well as its acidic flavor counteracts the squash to perfection. This is a fantastic recipe for vegetarians who are looking for new and exciting recipes or just for anyone who likes getting their socks knocked off by amazing food!

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I use dried lasagna sheets that have to be pre-cooked in this dish but I’m sure fresh lasagna would also work perfectly. The thought of having to roll up lasagna sheets may seem daunting but don’t be put off. It is super easy after the first two or so, everyone is allowed a few disasters! So what are you waiting for, go make it!

Roast Butternut Squash, Spinach and Feta Lasagna Roll Ups (Serves 2 generously)

1 medium butternut squash

5 lasagna sheets

2tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

3-4 thyme sprigs, stalks removed

250g frozen spinach

4 garlic cloves, finely sliced

350ml passata

salt and pepper

whole nutmeg

30g feta

15g grated parmesan

  • Preheat the oven to 180°c/350ºf and roast the whole butternut squash on the bottom shelf of the oven for 1 1/2hrs.
  • When there is about 30mins left on the squash you can start getting everything else ready. Cook the lasagna sheets according to packet instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat 1tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion and thyme and fry over a medium heat for 2-3mins until soft add the frozen spinach and cook for a further 10-15mins over a medium/low heat with a lid until the spinach has broken down and excess liquid has evaporated.
  • Heat the remaining 1tbsp olive oil in a small frying pan and add the sliced garlic. Fry for 2-3mins until lightly golden. Add the passata and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3-4mins.
  • Cut the squash in half and scoop out the soft flesh from one half. You don’t need the other half for this recipe but it makes an unbelievably delicious soup! Mash the flesh and season with salt, pepper and a generous grating of nutmeg.
  • Also season the spinach with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  • To assemble,place the lasagna sheets vertically in front of you. Divide the mashed squash between the 5 cooked lasagna sheets spreading it out evenly. Then layer on the spinach and crumble the feta on top.
  • Roll the lasagna sheets away from you into fairly tight cylinders and slice in half or even thirds if you want. Place the lasagna roll ups, standing up, in the frying pan with the passata.
  • Sprinkle with parmesan and bake in the oven for 20mins until golden and beginning to crisp.
  • Serve with a fresh green salad and extra parmesan if desired.

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Hearty Minestrone

16 Sep

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The chill of autumn has swooped in out of nowhere and I have found myself rummaging around in my big hearty recipe books… or my bookmarked internet tabs for those meals that are basically the equivalent of a couch, a fire and a cuddly doggie! This dish is exactly that and is so handy because its also a one pot wonder which cuts the dishes to slave away over afterwards.

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This is a really basic minestrone but why fix something that’s not broken? It uses mostly store cupboard ingredients and has so much flavor, you will be blown away. It can also be made ahead of time which fits wonderfully into hectic life at the moment. It gives wholesome portions and supplied us with two days worth of dinners which was amazing and really freed up my evening.

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Hearty Minestrone

1/2tbsp olive oil

3-4 rindless bacon slices, cubed

3 carrots, peeled and diced

1/2 medium courgette, diced

1/2 red pepper, diced

1/2 green pepper, diced

150g button mushrooms, quartered

1 red onion, diced

3-4 garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

1tsp dried oregano

2 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 cups chicken stock, more if needed

1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained

1/2-1 cup pasta shapes

parmesan, to serve

  • Heat the oil in a large casserole dish and cook the bacon cubes until lightly browned. Add the carrots, courgettes, peppers, mushrooms, onion, garlic, bay leaves and oregano and cook for 5-10mins over medium heat until softened and smelling delicious.
  • Pop in the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock and chickpeas and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for roughly 30mins.
  • Add the pasta and cook for a further 10mins until al dente. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary and thin with some extra stock or water if it’s too thick.
  • Serve piping hot, but don’t burn your tongue, with lashings of parmesan and some basil leaves.

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Crispy Baked Ravioli

6 Aug

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As I scrolled through the countless Pinterest pictures once again I spotted baked ravioli and a positively stunning photo to go with it. I was hooked, so I pinned it instantly then clicked in and browsed through the recipe to actually see what was going on. As I skimmed through the method, the words  “deep fat fry” stood out like a very sore thumb and I nearly changed my mind about the marvelousness of this recipe.

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But I decided to change the recipe instead to make it healthy and not such a shock to my heart! So I swapped the deep fat frying for par boiling and tossing in a tiny bit of olive oil, much better. This is a fun way to change up your fresh pasta and gives it a gorgeous crunch that really add texture to the dish. These would be great served as finger food with a fresh tomato sauce or good quality pesto and some tooth picks to pick them up.

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Crispy Baked Ravioli (Serves 2)

250g fresh ravioli of any flavor (I used mozzarella, sundried tomato and basil)

1/2tbsp olive oil

1/2tsp dried oregano

salt and pepper

3/4 cup tomato sauce (I used this Tomato Sauce recipe)

salad etc, to serve

  • Preheat the oven to 200°c/395°f and grease and line a large baking sheet with baking parchment.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the ravioli, cook for 2 1/2 mins.
  • Drain and return to the pot, drizzle with the olive oil and spread out on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle evenly with oregano.
  • Bake in the oven for 8-10mins or until the ravioli are just turning golden.
  • Heat up the tomato sauce if not already hot and serve alongside the crispy ravioli, enjoy.

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Honey Roast Tomato and Garlic Spaghetti

11 Jul

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It was so hot today! I think Ireland has actually moved location and is currently right on the equator, there is just no other possible explanation. But needless to say, I’m not complaining one little bit. I just love this weather and even more I love the way food tastes when you’re eating in this weather, eating outside with the sun warm on your skin and the dogs sprawled out at your feet… There is just something about it that is utter heaven to me.

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This is a really easy dish which is essential because we all know that the least amount of time in the kitchen when the weather is like this is a must. You could probably get this on the table in 15mins. It is bursting with flavors, try and get the best quality tomatoes you can as it will really make the meal. It is one of the simplest and most classic flavor combinations of tomato, garlic and spaghetti but will really make you wish you were in Italy! We all know Ireland is the net best thing at the moment though 🙂

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Honey Roast Tomato and Garlic Spaghetti (Serves 3)

30-35 ripe cherry tomatoes, on the vine preferably

1 large bulb garlic

4-5 thyme sprigs

2 rosemary sprigs

2-3tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2tbsp runny honey

salt and pepper

300g wholemeal spaghetti

parmesan and basil leaves, to serve

  • Preheat the oven to 180°c/350°f and place the cherry tomatoes in a oven proof dish, vines removed
  • Break the garlic into individual cloves, skin still on and add to the dish. Remove the herb leaves from the sprigs and also add to the dish.
  • Drizzle over the olive oil and honey and season with salt and pepper.
  • Use your hands to toss everything together and make sure all the tomatoes are coated.
  • Roast in the oven for 10-15mins until the tomatoes are starting to blister and the garlic is soft.
  • Cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions.
  • When the tomatoes are done, remove all the garlic from its skins. Gently mash the garlic and tomatoes with the back of a fork and add the spaghetti. Toss to coat everything and transfer to a serving bowl.
  • Portion generously and top with parmesan and basil.

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Fusilli with Steamed Greens and Homemade Spinach Pesto

9 Jul

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After a long hot day at the beach, chasing the dogs around and tanning in the sun nobody ever wants to come home and slave over the stove for dinner. Today was such a day and when me and mom arrived in the door all we really wanted to do was have a siesta! This dinner was so perfect for today because it was on in a flash and uses only about 5 ingredients which is always a major bonus. You can use shop bought pesto but I would highly recommend making your own.

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This spinach pesto is so garlicky and punchy and it really just brings these simple ingredients together so amazingly that it would be a sin not to try it. I had my pesto pre-made and in a sterilized and sealed jar which was great but its not hard to put together anyway. This dish will definitely awaken your taste buds and is one of the best ways ever to end a great beach day. 🙂

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Fusilli with Steamed Greens and Homemade Spinach Pesto (Serves 2)

1/4 head broccoli, cut into little florets

a large handful of fresh green beans

200-250g fusilli

2tbsp Quick Homemade Spinach Pesto or similar

salt and pepper

parmesan shavings and salad, to serve

  • Put the pasta in a small pot and cover with boiling salted water until al dente.
  • Steam the broccoli and green beans in a steamer basket on the stove until tender.
  • Put all the greens and pasta in one pot and mix in the pesto. Season to taste with salt and pepper, serve scattered with parmesan.

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Spaghetti Bolognese

24 Mar

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I think it’s safe to say that spaghetti bolognese is a firm favorite in pretty much every household. It is such a comforting dish and  tastes like home, in my opinion. But the sad thing is that so many people make it with jarred sauce. It is nearly just as easy and quick to make it from scratch and the end product is a hundred times better, both in taste and health factor. It is also much cheaper then buying the convenience sauces and considerably lower in salt.Everything in this recipe is from the store cupboard except the veggies and meat, which means it is easy to throw together at the last minute. If you wanted to lower he fat content you could substitute turkey mince for the beef. Once you try this you’ll never go back to the jarred sauces!

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Spaghetti Bolognese (Serves 4)

1tbsp rapeseed oil

1 medium onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

350-450g lean minced beef

6-7 button mushrooms

1/2 green pepper, diced

3tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 heaped tsp tomato puree

1/2tsp dried oregano

1/2tsp dried basil

A pinch of chilli flakes

1/2tsp granulated sugar

Salt and pepper

200-300g spaghetti or other type of pasta

Crunchy mixed salad

  • Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.
  • Heat the oil in a large non stick frying pan and add the onion, garlic and minced beef. Fry until all the meat is completely cooked.
  • Pour in the Worcestershire sauce, tinned tomatoes and tomato puree and mixed to combine.
  • Bring to the boil then transfer to a low/medium heat and simmer for about 5mins.
  • Meanwhile add in the oregano, basil, chilli and sugar and mix through. Season to taste.

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  • Serve hot over the spaghetti accompanied by the salad.

Turkey, Pasta and Lentil Hotpot

8 Mar

 

 

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For Sunday dinner we had a delicious turkey breast and even though it was absolutely yummy, we had lots of leftovers so I had to do something useful with it. So I kind of just started to chop the onions and then one thing led to another and I somehow finished with this. I have to say it was a wonderful success, even if it was totally unplanned. This dish has a lovely tomato sauce that has sweet and spicy notes which helps to warm you from the inside.

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Turkey and Lentil Hotpot (Serves 4)

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1tbsp rapeseed oil

4-5 button mushrooms, quartered

1/2 pepper, diced

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

200ml chicken stock

1/2tsp dried chilli flakes

1tsp sweet paprika

1tsp dried mixed herbs

3/4tsp granulated sugar

400g cooked turkey breasts, cut into strips

1 x 400g tin green lentils, drained

200g wholewheat pasta shapes

salt and pepper

parmesan shavings, to serve

  • Heat the oil in a large non-stick casserole dish and fry the onions and garlic for 3-4mins then add the mushrooms and green pepper and fry for a further 2mins.
  • Pour in the tinned tomatoes and chicken stock. Season with chilli flakes, paprika, mixed herbs and sugar. Mix to combine.
  • Turn the heat down and simmer for about 5mins, add the turkey and lentils and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions and add to the casserole dish.
  • Stir and serve hot with parmesan shavings, if you want.

 

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta Bake

2 Mar

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A pasta bake is one of those forgotten greats of cooking that is taken for granted all too much. A lot of the time people underestimate how useful and delicious a pasta bake can be. It’s contents can vary hugely, from creamy sauces to pesto sauces and from chicken to sausages but whatever way you chose to make it, it’s always a crowd pleaser and a great little trick to have up your sleeve. Pasta bakes are fantastic for feeding a crowd or if you want to have a dinner that you can pre-make and just pop in the oven when you want it. This  recipe does have quite a few parts to it, but it can be easily tweaked to make it simpler. Such as, you can use a jar of tomato sauce instead of making your own, leave out the chicken for a vegetarian version or leave out the veg. This dish ticks all the right boxes for me and is a great one to bring to BBQs or to a picnic.

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Mediterranean Chicken Pasta Bake (Serves 3-4)

5-6 large button mushrooms, quartered

1/2 red pepper, roughly diced

1/2 green pepper, roughly diced

1/2 courgette, roughly diced

1 onion, cut into wedges

1 1/2tbsp olive oil

1/2tsp dried oregano

1/2tsp dried basil

300-400g pasta shapes

3 chicken breasts, diced

2tbsp rapeseed oil

1 ball of mozzarella, thinly sliced

1 large ripe tomato, thinly sliced

For the Tomato Sauce:

1 onion, diced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

1/2tsp dried oregano

1/2tsp dried basil

3/4tsp granulated sugar

salt and pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 200ºc/395ºf.
  • Toss together the mushrooms, peppers, courgette and onion in a large casserole dish and drizzle with the olive oil. Season with the oregano, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Bake in the oven for 20mins until the veg is softened.
  • Meanwhile make your tomato sauce. Heat 1tbsp rapeseed oil in a small pot and fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat until softened, 3-4mins. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and sprinkle in the oregano, basil and sugar. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for about 5mins then blend with a stick blender.
  • Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain, cover and set aside until needed.
  • Heat 1tbsp rapeseed oil in a large frying pan and cook the chicken for 5-6mins until cooked all the way through. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • When everything is cooked, add the chicken, pasta and tomato sauce to the casserole dish with the veg and stir to combine. Layer the slices of mozzarella and tomato over the top, however you like and bake in the oven for 15-20mins until the mozzarella is melted and slightly golden.
  • Serve hot with a fresh, mixed salad.

Pork Meatballs in Curry Coconut Sauce

24 Feb

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This is such an amazing recipe. It is a refreshing twist on a normal curry and it is much better for you. You could also use turkey mince instead which would be even healthier. The meatballs are bursting with Indian flavors. These would be a great party food as well because the meatballs are not crumbly and would be great to serve with some tooth picks. There is a few different steps in this recipe but they are all very straight forward, so don’t fret.

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Pork Meatballs in Curry Coconut Sauce (Serves 2-3)

350-400g pork mince

1 small onion, finely diced

1/2 red chilli, finely diced

3cm piece ginger, peeled and grated

1tbsp dried coriander

1/2tsp garam masala

1/2 egg, lightly beaten

25g breadcrumbs

salt and pepper

2tbsp olive oil

1tbsp medium curry paste

100g tomatoes, roughly chopped

150ml light coconut milk

1/2tbsp lemon juice

a handful of flaked almonds

  • Preheat the oven to 200ºc/395ºf.
  • Put the pork mince, onion, chilli, half the ginger, coriander, garam masala, egg and breadcrumbs in a bowl and use your hands to mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Shape into meatballs and lay in one layer in a casserole dish. Drizzle with the olive oil and shake to coat all the meatballs. Place in the oven for 15mins until golden brown.
  • Meanwhile, make the sauce. Put the curry paste in a medium pot with the leftover half of the ginger. Cook over a medium heat for 2mins then add the tomatoes and cook for a further 2mins. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5mins.
  • When the meatballs are cooked, pour the sauce over them and make sure all the meatballs are coated. Return to the oven for 20mins.
  • Before serving, sprinkle with the lemon juice and almonds. Serve with rice or pasta.

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Homemade Pasta

18 Feb

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The first time I made my own pasta, I was so shocked at how easy it was. I had always just assumed that it was really hard and complicated and that’s way everyone just buys it from the shop! But it is really easy, although it is quite time consuming which is the only problem. All the time is really worth it though when you finally sit back at the end and marvel at the awesomeness of your own homemade pasta. It would be very fun to make with kids as well. You can add different flavorings to your pasta if you want. Some ideas would be adding tomato puree or wilted and finely chopped spinach. It is very versatile. I hope you have fun with all your pasta making adventures!

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Homemade Pasta (Serves 2-3)

1 2/3 cups “00” pasta flour

2 eggs

1tbsp olive oil

salt

  • Sift the flour onto a clean work surface and make a well in the center.
  • Break the eggs into the well and add the olive oil and salt to taste.
  • Gently start bringing the flour into the liquid, using your finger tips. Continue until all the flour and liquid have come together into a sturdy dough. You may need to a few drops of water or a bit more flour depending on the consistency of the dough.
  • Knead the dough for 2-5mins, until it becomes smooth and supple.
  • Roll the dough out using a long rolling pin or a pasta machine. Make sure that it is quite thin but not so much so that it falls apart.
  • You can then cut it into strips or make it into shapes.
  • Cook in boiling water until al dente. Cooking time will depend on the shapes and sizes of your pasta.
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