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

 

 

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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!

Repost: salted peanut and marshmallow rocky road


This time of year always calls for some indulgence and what better than some salty sweet rocky road. It’s ridiculously easy to make and even more easier to devour, I just had to repost this one from last year. To get the recipe Click here.

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.

Peperoncino & Fennel rounds.

imageThese little biscuits are so delicious and perfect at this time of year. I first tried these from a Nigella recipe which calls for only handfulls of parmesan in the dough resulting in a soft, crumbly cheesey shortbread. I loved them and couldn’t believe how easy they were! I added my own little twist here by adding chilli flakes and fennel seeds. I love the spicy kick it gives. Enjoy these on their own with a glass of prosecco in hand or with some nice cheeses and chutney.

Makes 35-40

Ingredients

150g plain flour

100g soft butter

1 free range egg yolk

1tbsp fennel seeds

1tbsp chilli flakes

2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan

 

Put all ingredients in a food processor and whizz until it forms a clump.

Turn it out and give it a kneed for only around 30 seconds, until smooth, then divide into two.

Take the first half and roll into a sausage shape about 3cm in diameter. Make sure ends are flat so the cylinder resembles a roll of coins. Roll this in in cling film so it resembles a christmas cracker and put in the fridge. Do the same with the other half and leave to rest in the fridge for 45mins.

Pre heat the oven to 180 degreesC. Cut the cylinders into pound coin rounds and arrange on lined baking tray.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they are a soft golden colour around the edges. Leave to cool and enjoy!

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Smoked salmon, spinach and chargrilled pepper open sandwich with garlic and herb cream cheese.

  

I’ve been making this sandwich for the last few days and I love it. I’m now determined to get fit for summer as it’s very scarily fast approaching and obviously as we all well know it’s not just exercise we need to think about.

Now that spring is well and truly here and the sun is shining, I find it a bit easier to get motivated to exercise and take care of myself (most of the time). So this sandwich idea is great for feeling full and satisfied as well as it being tasty and good for you too.

 

Serves 1

Ingredients

 70g Scottish smoked salmon

2 small slices wholegrain bread

1-2 tbsp garlic & herb cream cheese (you can pick a low fat version if counting calories)

4-5 chargrilled peppers (jarred in olive oil)

1 large handful of spinach

Tsp lemon juice

Salt & pepper to season

 

Method

 Firstly toast your slices of bread on both sides then spread with cream cheese. Add a generous helping of spinach followed by the smoked salmon and peppers. Finish with a small squeeze of lemon juice and pepper. Serve with your favourite herbal tea and Enjoy!

Some smoked salmon can be saltier than others so you may need a pinch of salt, I didn’t have too but judge for yourself and see what you think. You can also be more adventurous and add the garlic and herbs to a cream cheese of your choice and make the chargrilled peppers at home. I just opted for this quick version as a midweek lunch on the go.

 

Simple artichokes and peas

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I hadn’t tried this pasta before and I now love it. It’s very dense and has such a lovely texture to eat, it would be great with a rich tomato sauce or a ragù. I decided to go for a nice fresh tasting pasta last night which was again so easy. I used my artichoke dip and added peas to it for the sauce and that was it, simple. I thought about warming it up with a little mascarpone or ricotta but I wanted a lighter pasta so if you want to add any of those in your version please let me know how it goes.

1 quantity of my artichoke dip + a little extra artichoke oil
50g frozen peas
200g fusilli lunghi bucati

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and a little pot for the peas. Add the pasta to the large pot and peas to the small pot. After 1-2 minutes, remove the peas and add to your artichoke dip and mix. Add more of the artichoke oil to your dip than normal so it’s not as thick. Once the pasta is al dente, drain and place back in the pot. Add your artichoke and peas on top and coat the pasta thoroughly. Serve in large bowls with a grating of parmesan. Easy peasy!

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Healthy courgette and pea soup

imageFirst of all I should apologise for the lack of posts over the past week. I really do aim to post everyday or every second day to keep things interesting but I’ve spent the last week in bonny Scotland. It was so nice to see everyone and to see Edinburgh again, it’s such a beautiful city and I have to say I appreciate it much more that I’m not living there now, I think I kind of took it for granted before. So after my indulgent week in Scotland I felt like making something fresh and healthy when I got back. 

Serves 4

1 small leek
4 medium courgettes, grated
1.5 litres chicken stock
2 large garlic cloves
200g frozen peas
Salt and pepper, to season
Greek yogurt, to garnish

Finely chop the leek and sauté in a deep saucepan until soft, add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the courgettes and stir for a few seconds before adding the stock. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Add the peas a pinch of salt and pepper and simmer for another 5 minutes. Using a had blender blitz it all until smooth, serve in a bowl with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a little pepper.
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Breaded chicken cutlets with squash mash and pesto dressed spinach.

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This is such a comforting dinner whilst still being relatively healthy. Pesto again…have you noticed we love pesto? Sorry we seem to go through fazes of eating it a lot then not for a while. But this is a blog about what we love to eat, so there you are. It’s especially nice coated on spinach, just lovely raw spinach, so flavoursome and so healthy! I also love squash and it’s coming into season for it, so why not. It’s funny back in Scotland we were used to seeing most things in the supermarkets all year long whereas here in Italy if it’s not in season, it won’t be in the supermarkets. It’s a good thing I suppose, your eating what you should be at the right time of year and it’s going to taste the best it can be too.

Serves 2-3

2 free range chicken breasts
300g squash, cut into cubes
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
2 large handfuls or spinach, washed
60g plain flour, on a plate
1 egg, beaten in a bowl
80g fine breadcrumbs, on a plate
Knob of butter

For the pesto:
25g Basil
1/2 garlic clove
Small handful of pine nuts
Squeeze lemon juice
30g finely grated parmesan
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place your chicken breasts one at a time in between two sheets of cling film and beat with a rolling pin until they are roughly 1/4 inch thick. Cut them into decent sized strips then dip them into the flour. After they are covered in flour, give them a shake so they are just dusted in flour and dip them into the egg then the breadcrumbs. Make sure they are thoroughly covered in breadcrumbs and set aside. Now put a large pot of water under a high heat and bring to the boil. Meanwhile make your pesto by adding all ingredients into a bowl and blitz with a hand blender, set aside. Add your potato and squash to the water and boil for 20 minutes until soft. Meanwhile fry your chicken cutlets in a little olive oil until crispy and golden on each side, because they are so thin they don’t need very long to cook through. Around 2-3 minutes on each side. Once your potato and squash is ready, drain and then place back into the pot. Add a knob of butter, salt and pepper to taste and roughly mash with a fork. Place your spinach in a large bowl and add the pesto, toss until totally covered. Serve a couple chicken cutlets on a plate with a large spoon of mash and your spinach, Enjoy.

Spicy chorizo, chicken and vegetable bake with pesto dressing.

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Spicy, paprika oil coated over beautifully cooked vegetables and juicy chicken. It’s delicious. It’s very easy to assemble and there’s not much cooking involved so you can chop everything up put it in the oven and it’s ready. I love this when I have had a busy day or I’m tired and want something that’s easy but tastes so good. The pesto dressing and feta give a burst of flavour so although it’s so easy to make it’s really delicious. You can also use chicken thighs in this and put them in to the tray along with the potatoes and veg. There’s no need to brown them first and they are so tender when they are ready. I have to say I usually use chicken thighs when I make this as they are so cheap and much more succulent but we had chicken breasts in the fridge so we used them. This dish is all about using up what you have. The main ingredients I would always use in this is the chorizo, feta and pesto. Other than that you can chop and change your veg to what suits you.

Serves 4

1/2 chorizo picante sausage
2 chicken breasts
2 large potatoes
1 large yellow pepper
1 large red pepper<a
1 fennel bulb
8 cloves of garlic
1 red onion
4 large mushrooms
100g Feta

For the pesto:
Small handful of basil
2 tbsp olive oil
Small pinch of pine nuts, around 6 or 7
1/2 garlic clove
Small handful of grated parmesan

Set the oven to 200 degrees C. Roughly chop the peppers, red onion, fennel and potatoes and place in a large baking tray. Add the garlic, unpeeled into the tray and tuck away behind the veg so it’s hidden. Season with plenty salt and pepper and drench in plenty olive oil. Place this in the oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile roughly chop your chicken breasts and cook them in a small frying pan for 2 minutes just to brown but not cooked through. Set aside. Roughly chop your chorizo and slice your mushrooms. After 20 minutes add the chicken, chorizo and mushrooms to the tray with a little olive oil and bake for 10 minutes. Now add all the pesto ingredients into a bowl and blitz with a hand blender until smooth, season with salt and pepper. Add the feta then cook for a further 5 minutes. Let it cool for 5 minutes drizzle with the pesto then serve. Delicious and easy.

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