Happy New Year!
So it’s January, and like many of you I have spent most my money on Christmas, New Year (and treating myself in the sales). Meaning, food has taken a cheap seat this month! The plan is to cook a few meals that make a lot of portions – just to see me through.
This is a recipe I stumbled across whilst doing my Tesco shop, you can find it here. With the left over chicken and chorizo, I have a paella recipe I’ll be making soon too. To be honest, I have the general idea that anything with chorizo is going to be amazing. Which creates pretty high hopes.
This was dead easy to make, and the preparation/cooking time was pretty bang on at 40 minutes. Plus at £3 a portion you can’t really complain. The fresh basil really helps to lift the flavours, along with the chorizo – without them it would be pretty similar to something you could find in a jar.
I guess a pasta bake is just something that doesn’t really excite me. It’s only at times like this, when money is tight, that I really tend to think of them. Although having something which provides you with a couple of portions saves you so much time… and that I can be grateful for! Plus now I have some soft cheese for all the potatoes I’ve bought for lunches…
Ok so it might not be summer… but everyone has a bag of frozen peas in the freezer no matter what time of year!
Super easy, green and healthy, this soup will pick you up on these ever increasingly cold days. And with the recipe making enough for 6, you can freeze some to save for another day. This is from Mary Berry’s Cook Now Eat Later – a really handy book to have around this time of year if you’re hosting parties and need to be super organised!
Plus when cooking for one and waiting for pay day, recipes like this really see you through! It’s also been a nice change to include more vegetarian meals in my diet recently. Although i’m sure I’ll make up for that once the festive season really kicks in!
Create the wow factor!
Or at least that’s what I try to do. Each year it has to be bigger and better than the previous… so it probably helps that I have acquired more serving vessels!
This year I added a couple of new dishes to the pile – an apple, sumac, red onion & pomegranate salad, some mustard & parmesan cheese straws, and some peppadew & chèvre crostini. Courtesy of some lovely new books I was given for my birthday.
Apple, Sumac, Red Onion & Pomegranate Salad
If you want to start thinking festive then this salad will definitely look the part! With gorgeous reds from the pomegranate and sumac you will draw the eye in a heartbeat. And it tastes delicious. By adding the lemon juice it preserves the apple so you can happily have the leftovers the next day too… if you have any! Dead easy to prepare with just a matter of chopping and mixing. Yet to all your guests it really does look special. You can find this recipe in Sirocco – Fabulous flavours from the East by Sabrina Ghayour.
Mustard & Parmesan Cheese Straws
Again, so simple! I made 40 of these… and they were polished off in one evening! The mustard really does give the pastry a great dark colour, which, when you watch them rise and turn in the oven is so satisfying. The only issue you can face with these is the pastry becoming too warm and stretchy. Although you make them so quickly it’s not a big problem. They were a particular favourite for dipping in the camembert! You can find these, and the following recipe in Mary Berry’s Cook Now Eat Later.
Peppadew & Chèvre Crostini
Mixing goats cheese with double cream is divine! It’s so smooth and creamy you’ll want to eat spoonfuls of the stuff… but try to resist as these little crostini are a wonderful addition to the table. I would advise to be generous with the goats cheese so that it doesn’t dry out under the grill. And they are even nice cold – a somewhat sophisticated mini pizza!
Plate these up with the gourmet sausage rolls and the smoked salmon, horseradish and cress toasts from last year… with all your lovely cheese and crackers, decorated with grapes and other berries, and you’ll be on to a winner. A night to remember… depending on how much wine you have!
Ok so I may have forgotten to get smoked trout… but for those who don’t like the strong flavour that comes with smoked fish, I can assure you it still tastes wonderful with pan fried trout!
Another newbie from Jamie’s Superfood Family Classics book. So, so simple! And utilises pans brilliantly with cooking your potatoes, green beans, asparagus and soft boiled egg all in the same pan!
Admittedly I was very dubious about slicing into the soft boiled egg – it felt extremely wobbly! But to my surprise it was perfectly cooked. Obviously you can cook it for longer if you prefer. But the oozy yolk was lovely!
I can safely say, since cooking from Jamie’s books I have a new found love for yoghurt. It’s such a perfect, healthy replacement for mayonnaise! I actually cringe to think how many jars of mayo I used to get through. Now it’s safe to say I eat more ‘savoury’ yoghurt than ever before!
And for all those who are looking for new lunch ideas – make yourself a little extra and pack it ready for tomorrow. Monday will be just a tad easier when you have a meal as tasty as this to look forward to come midday!
Well that’s a lie – I’ve made this several times since!
Looking back at one of my first blog posts I remembered this dish that didn’t quite go to plan the first time round. But it is one of those that goes to show you shouldn’t discount a recipe too quickly!
You can find this Jamie recipe here and don’t be put off by the fact it serves 6 either – I have reduced the portion size down to two and it works just fine! Plus – what a great meal to whip up left overs from for your lunch the next day?! (just remember to save some sauce – I often forget!)
So after a few attempts, the pork is lovely and crispy, and the sauce is thicker and bursting with flavour! I think perhaps it was cooked in too much sauce before so it never crisped up how it should.
This IS now one of my favourites… maybe I’ve grown to love it through gaining confidence in cooking it? Who knows… but it’s definitely staying on my menu!
What’s not to love about this fun titled dish!
My wonderful friends, family and work colleagues bought me lot’s of lovely cook books for my birthday! One of those books being Jamie Oliver’s most recent ‘Superfood Family Classics’. Flicking through it, this really caught my eye – and must be great for getting kids excited about food (not that I have that challenge)!
It’s super easy – a one pan wonder. I always find chicken doesn’t cook as fast as Jamie makes out, but it may be due to not bashing the chicken breast enough. However, as you cut into it you can soon tell if it needs popping back in the pan for an additional couple of minutes.
I think my favourite part of this meal is the yoghurt & sun dried tomato sauce – it lifts the dish and marries all those fresh flavours together a treat!
With two of your five a day in there too, there really is no going wrong with this quick and tasty dish.
So after a very unhealthy Birthday week, here are some much needed vegetables!
Another simple recipe from The Hairy Dieters that can be made as a side dish or a main meal. I decided to add halloumi for a slightly more bulked out dinner.
Ok so I may not have had a red onion so I had to make do with white, but it still worked! You can’t go wrong with a coriander and chilli dressing – it brought everything together and the powerful flavour of the red wine vinegar packed in that little punch. Although, they suggest if you don’t fancy the chilli dressing, you can always use a good balsamic vinegar instead.
Cooking the veg on the griddle made the whole meal look so much more visually exciting. I have invested in a Hairy Bikers griddle pan as it’s the perfect size for me. However it is quite a pain to clean!
After a few drinks last night the salty halloumi went down a treat. And with those colourful peppers and courgette I felt I gave my body that little thanks for putting up with all the pizza I seem to have eaten lately!