Sweetcorn fritters with couscous and cottage cheese.

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Sweet, juicy, golden sweetcorn. It not only tastes great but it’s full of nutrients including fibre and protein as well as being a great source of vitamin C. It also contains thiamin which helps to produce energy for the heart, muscles and nervous system! So it’s not a bad thing having this little whole grain in your diet.These fritters are more like little pancakes, light and delicious without the grease. Perfect for a weekday dinner as they are relatively easy to make and you can mix it up by adding other veg and spices, whatever takes your fancy.

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Serves 4

Ingredients

FOR THE FRITTERS:

300g tin sweetcorn
2 medium free range eggs
75g flour
50g feta cheese, cubed
2 spring onions, Finley sliced
1 tbsp Piri Piri seasoning or chilli flakes to taste.
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Cottage cheese, to serve

FOR THE COUSCOUS:

200g couscous
A large handful or rocket
50g feta cheese, cubed
1 large tomato, de-seeded and diced
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp hemp oil
Salt & pepper

Method

Drain the sweetcorn and place 3/4 of it in a large bowl with the flour, baking soda, eggs, feta, spring onions and piri piri seasoning. Mix until thoroughly combined then place half of the mixture in a food processor and blend until relatively smooth.

Put a kettle on to boil and heat a large non stick sauce pan on a medium heat with 1 tbsp olive oil.

Empty the contents of the food processor back into the bowl with the other batter then add the remaining sweetcorn and combine.

Add the dried couscous to a clean, empty bowl and cover with boiling water so it’s roughly an inch above the surface then cover with cling film.

Now spoon the batter onto the pan to make the fritters. Two tbsp of batter each is enough the lightly fry for 1-2 minutes on each side.

Once your on your last batch take the cling film off the couscous and fluff it with a fork. Add the feta, tomatoes,rocket and lemon zest the season to taste.

Serve the sweetcorn fritters with the couscous with a dollop of cottage cheese on top and a drizzle of hemp oil. Enjoy!

Super sweet potato muffins

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These delicious savoury muffins are from Jamie Oliver’s new Super Food book. I really fancied making them after watching his programme which is all about eating healthy and thinking a bit more about what we are putting in our bodies.
The whole holiday season was filled with indulgence for us in both food and wine and it really does begin to take it’s toll. Apart from the odd jiggle in places that never used to jiggle there’s the lack of energy and that horrible bloated feeling. There’s really no better motivation to start eating better than when your body is telling you so.
It’s also made me think about what nutritional value foods have and I think that Jamie’s super food programme has really opened my eyes to how powerful food is! I mean who would’ve thought a sweet potato is packed full of vitamin C which helps protect our cells in damage against stress?! Which for me I believe is the cause of many horrible diseases and illnesses in this world and unfortunately is a part of everyday life for a lot of people.
It really has inspired me to eat, cook and think much healthier! I do still believe everything in moderation and I’m not going to ignore my intense craving I get for nachos from time to time or not bake a lovely sticky toffee pudding at the weekend. I just will be making an effort to really think about what I’m eating and how I feel.
So I urge you to give these muffins a go just because they are so utterly delicious.

Ingredients

600g sweet potato or butternut squash
4 spring onions
1-2 fresh red chillies
6 large free range eggs
3 tbsp cottage cheese
250g wholewheat self raising flour ( I didn’t have self raising so added 1/2 tsp of baking soda )
50g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped almonds ( Jamie used poppy seeds and sunflower seeds but I used what I already had )

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases or 15cm folded squares of greaseproof paper, then lightly wipe each one with oiled kitchen paper. I used a non stick mini loaf instead and it worked beautifully. Peel the sweet potatoes or squash and coarsely grate into a large bowl. You can also use a food processor for this step. Trim the spring onions, then finely slice with the chilli and add to the bowl, reserving half the chilli to one side. Crack in the eggs, add the cottage cheese and flour, then finely grate in most of the Parmesan and season with sea salt and black pepper. Mix until nicely combined.

Evenly divide the muffin mixture between the cases. Sprinkle over the sunflower and poppy seeds, then dot over the reserved slices of chilli. Use the remaining Parmesan to give a light dusting of cheese over each one, then bake at the bottom of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes (if using squash, it’ll be a bit quicker – check after 35 minutes), or until golden and set.

These are amazing served warm 5 minutes after taking them out of the oven, and good kept in the fridge for a couple of days. Enjoy 2 muffins per portion.

For the original recipe Click here

 

 

Simple beans on toast

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We made this on our way back from a nice long walk and we needed something warming and filling, fast! This was so easy to make and inexpensive which we like. By using some store cupboard staples and some stale bread you can create a delicious, hearty lunch in no time. We also had some courgetti left over from a previous dinner and decided to chuck that in as well but really you can do this without if you don’t have any or throw in whatever you have left over.

Serves 3/4 for lunch

Ingredients

1x400g Cannellini beans

Half 400g tin plum tomatoes

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp Piri Piri seasoning

1 tsp dried oregano

Pinch of salt & pepper

1/2 stick of left over bread cut into round slices

Greek yogurt to serve

Method

Add a tbsp olive oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat and add chopped garlic, fry for a minute. Meanwhile drain and rinse the Cannellini beans and add the the saucepan. At this point I added a small handful of courgetti (courgettes cut into thin strips) if you have a small amount of left over veg add it at this point and fry for 2/3 minutes until softened.

Then add the juice and 1 plum tomato from the tin. You don’t want too much tomato sauce. Add the spices and salt and pepper to taste and let if simmer slightly for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile heat a griddle pan on a high heat and toast the bread for a minute or two on each side. Once the bread is ready, place onto plates and drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt on each side. Top with the beans and a dollop of Greek yogurt and enjoy!

Smoked swordfish patè

imageThis is absolutely divine! I love how indulgent this seems…or maybe is. It is always a favourite of mine at this time of year and it goes perfectly at any Christmas party. I see this everywhere in Italy at Christmas time and decided to use it instead of smoked salmon. The results were just amazing and I munched my way through it on a cold Christmas afternoon. It also only took about 2 seconds to make, perfect!

Ingredients:

100g smoked swordfish

1 tbsp lemon juice

6 tbsp single cream

1 big pinch of pepper
Method:

Put all ingredients except the cream in a bowl. Add 3 tbsp of cream and whizz with a hand mixer until combined. Add the rest of the cream until it is a smooth consistency. If you feel it is too thick you can continue to add a little cream a tbsp at a time. Serve on a small serving dish with some crackers.

Courgetti bolognese 

   
So the craze of using a julienne peeler to make courgette spaghetti is upon us! We decided to give it ago and see what all the fuss is about. Although people say treat it like pasta, with any type of sauce you want you still can’t prepare it in the same way. Firstly I made the mistake of adding the courgette into a hot puttanesca sauce as you would pasta. The result was an ok tasting, watery bowl of veg.

So I decided to make a nice ragù and then cook the courgettes separately on a high heat for very little time. I then done the one thing you don’t do with pasta add the sauce on top of the noodles! However this worked out perfectly with the courgettes! I will say it doesn’t replace pasta in any way but it’s a much healthier alternative for me and it’s fun to make too! So here our version….enjoy.

Ingredients, serves 2-3

1/4 red onion, finely diced

1 large carrot, finely diced

3 large mushrooms, finely diced

250g beef mince

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 bay leaf 

1 Sprig Rosemary

5 tablespoons tomato purée

1 chicken stock cube

1 glass red wine

3 large courgettes

3 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper, to season

Boiling water

Parmesan, to garnish

Method

In a large pan on a medium heat add the olive oil and sauté the onion, carrot and mushrooms until soft. Add the diced garlic cloves and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the mince until brown then add the tomato purée. Stir for a second then add the stock cube, wine and add enough boiling water until it’s just covered. Add the bay and Rosemary.

Let it simmer for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile using a julienne peeler peel the courgettes into thin spaghetti strips. Place on a place and cover with kitchen paper to soak out some water for 15-20 minutes ( this is not necessary but helps with excess water ).

At this point taste your ragù, add salt and pepper if necessary. You can top up with more water or wine if it’s drying out a little. I like to cook my ragù for at least 50 minutes but the longer the better, it’ll only get richer in flavour.

Now when the sauce is ready. Put a large clean pan on a medium-high heat. Add a tbsp olive oil then add the courgetti. Fry for 2-3 minutes while stirring to make sure they all get slightly cooked. Now all that is left to do is plate up. Place the courgetti in bowls followed by a few lovely spoons of ragù. Top with Parmesan and enjoy! 

  

Ricotta and cherry cheesecake

 This cheesecake is perfect on a summer evening with a large scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream on the side. It’s delicious and light, not to mention very easy to make. You can add different types of berries if you can’t get cherries and it will be just as delicious. It’s also great for entertaining as it can be made well in advance.

Ingredients

200g good quality ricotta

200g sour cream

200g fresh cherries, deseeded & roughly chopped plus extra to garnish

175g caster sugar

3 large eggs

Zest of 1 lemon

1 vanilla pod

150g digestive biscuits

70g butter

1 tbsp, icing sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degreesC. Place all the digestives into a sandwich/freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin until you have fine crumbs. In a pan, melt the butter and add the biscuits ( if too dry add more butter ) then press into a 9 inch cake tin to form the base. In a food processor mix together all the ingredients apart from the cherries until smooth. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and then add the cherries. Place in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes until golden and very slightly wobbly. Place tin foil over the cheesecake and leave to cool. Remove from tin, place on a serving plate and garnish with cherries and a sprinkle of icing sugar. Enjoy!

Sun dried tomato and oozy cheese French toast.

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So on a lazy Sunday afternoon, we really couldn’t be bothered going to the supermarket before 1pm when it closes and it doesn’t reopen  ( annoying when you have no car ). So we decided to make something with what we had. We love our sun dried tomato pesto and we had the ingredients to make that but we wanted something different, so we created this and trust me it’s BEAU-tiful.

Serves 2

1/2 portion of sun dried tomato pesto
4 slices white bread
100g tilsiter cheese or any good melting cheese like mozzarella or fontina
2 eggs, beaten & seasoned

Spread the slices of bread generously with the pesto and place a few slices of cheese on one slice and close to make a sandwich. Dip the sandwiches into the beaten egg on both sides. Fry in a lightly oiled pan until golden brown on both sides. Serve with some garlic mayonnaise or dip of your choice & enjoy.

Smoked pancetta & Blue-Sticks Blue Mac n’ Cheese

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This is the ultimate comfort food. There’s many times I get that craving for mac and cheese. Especially when it’s been a cold or hectic day and you just want to chill on the couch with a nice big bowl of something comforting, delicious and of course cheesy! There has been times when the thought of a lovely, oozing, cheesy bowl of this gorgeous pasta has been rather exaggerated in my head and I’m then let down by the lack of cheesiness but not this one! This dish was a last minute, use up things I have in the fridge kind of dinner and I’m so glad I had that tangy, strong blue cheese to use up in the fridge, Blue-sticks Blue. It really made this mac and cheese unbelievably delicious…you really need to try it!

350g lumaconi pasta or any shape you prefer
100g smoked pancetta
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
50g blue stick blue cheese
60g strong cheddar cheese
500ml milk
1 pinch of grated nutmeg
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper, to season

Firstly put a large pot on water on and bring to the boil. Meanwhile in a small saucepan add a tsp olive oil and then the pancetta and brown slightly. When it’s starting to brown add the garlic and continue to fry for a minute before placing on a plate and set aside. Now add your pasta to the water. In the same saucepan you cooked the pancetta in add a knob of butter on a low heat. Once melted add your flour and stir together until it becomes a thick paste. Cook for a minute before adding the milk, stirring with a whisk constantly to avoid any lumps. Continue to stir until it has thickened then add a little salt, pepper, nutmeg, 3/4 pancetta and garlic, cheddar and 3/4 blue cheese. Once the pasta is al dente, drain and add back into the pot. Now pour over the cheese sauce and mix together thoroughly before transferring into a baking tray. Top the cheesy pasta with the remaining pancetta and blue cheese then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Place under a high grill for a few seconds until the cheese has melted and the breadcrumbs had browned. Serve and enjoy!
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Spicy carrot and angel hair pasta salad with roasted chicken drumsticks.

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I like this dish because it’s tasty, hot and very fresh tasting. I feel over the summer I have totally over indulged. Some people feel the sun makes them want to get fit and healthy and pig out in the winter, I kinda do both. The sun makes me want to eat nice food outside with friends and have a few glasses of vino and the cold weather in the winter makes me want to snuggle up with some cheese or carb related food. Of course I am still sensible and I’m not over weight at all but I seem to get to a point at this time of the year that I feel I’ve over done it especially because both our birthdays are in the same month and we seem to go all out with food and drink.
I don’t believe in diets because I don’t think they work on the long term. I much prefer to eat in moderation and exercise which when you’ve stopped for a while ( like me over the summer ) it’s hard to get back into it but once I’m past the hardest hurdle of getting out of bed and I have started I actually really enjoy exercise and you feel great after it. So here is my fresh and healthy spicy salad on a budget of course.

Serves 2/3

Salad:
2 carrots cut into fine strips with a peeler
1/2 small radicchio, finely chopped
1/4 small ice berg lettuce, roughly chopped
100g angel hair pasta or noodles
4 chicken drumsticks
2 tbsp Piri Piri seasoning
1tbsp olive oil

Dressing:
Zest 1 lemon & juice of 1/2
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 small fresh red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp Piri Piri seasoning
Salt to season

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. In a small baking tray mix 1tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp Piri Piri seasoning with a pinch of salt. Cut three little slices on the top of the chicken drumsticks and place them in the baking tray rubbing the seasoning all over. Roast for around 25-30 minutes turning occasionally until thoroughly cooked through. Meanwhile bring a small pot of water to the boil and cook your pasta until al dente around 5 minutes, drain, place in a bowl and add a dash of olive oil to stop it sticking together. Put all veg in a large bowl. In a small bowl add all the dressing ingredients and pour 3/4 over the pasta and stir until thoroughly combined. Once the chicken is ready pour the remaining dressing over the veg and stir them add the pasta and combine everything together before placing on plates with the chicken drumsticks on top. Lovely.

Sun dried tomato pesto with ricotta.

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These little lovelies are brilliant for a quick snack, lunch or as an aperitivo when you have guests. So delicious as all pestos are and the ricotta adds a lovely creaminess although not heavy, just nice and light. The sun dried tomatoes I use have little capers and oregano in the jar too which gives the tomatoes a lovely taste so if you can find these ones, get them. The capers mean I do not need any salt so if there isn’t any capers in your tomatoes, taste the pesto to see if you need salt or not. Remember parmesan is salty too.

What you’ll need:
280g jar sun dried tomatoes in oil ( undrained weight )
2 large handfuls of grated parmesan
1/2 garlic clove
Squeeze of lemon
Pepper, to season
Crusty bread cut into slices, toasted
A couple basil leaves, to garnish
Ricotta, to dollop on top

How to make the pesto:
Ok so get a bowl and spoon in the sun dried tomatoes, do not add all the oil just as much as comes out when transferring them into a bowl. Then add the garlic, parmesan, squeeze of lemon and pepper. All you need to do now is blitz it all together. I use a little hand blender but use whatever you have. It shouldn’t be too thick and no way what so ever like a sauce so be careful not to add to much oil to begin with and if it’s too thick add a little more oil from the sun dried tomato jar. Spread this on to the toasted bread and add a dollop of ricotta. Top with a sprinkling of pepper a couple basil leaves and dash of olive oil. Enjoy.

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