Sunday, 20 May 2018

Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

This has to be one of THE tastiest ways to serve steak!

This deliciously punchy sauce which originates from Argentina and Uruguay is the perfect condiment for barbecued, griddled or grilled meats - especially steaks.

We've recently got into the thin-cut sirloin steaks (more economical for a family of four, and a modest portion of red meat), which need only seconds on each side on a really hot pre-heated griddle for a nice char on the outside, and a pink and juicy inside, and are perfect then sliced into thick strips and drizzled with the chimichurri sauce.

This amount of sauce generously serves 8 when having a moderate amount of steak (such as the afore-mentioned thin-cut sirloin steak - which is around 160g / 6 oz), however I appreciate that some people like a big hunk o' meat, so the quantity of sauce reflects this, as if you're having 4 large steaks, then this would be enough to go between 4 to 6 people. You can easily halve the quantity of sauce if needs be. It also keeps well in the fridge for a few days, and you can make it the night before if you want the flavours to develop - otherwise just make it an hour or two in advance (or more if you have time).

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Chunky Chilli Non Carne with Black Beans and Butternut Squash (or Sweet Potato)

This is a really delicious meat-free alternative to a chilli con carne, absolutely packed with flavour and texture, and really versatile too!

With a fortnightly (wonky) veg box having become a regular occurence in our lives, I'm finding myself coming up with lots of new things to cook to use up the vegetables that we're sent (which are pretty much a surprise on the day we receive them), which is a great way to stop yourself from falling into a culinary rut!

I'd really got into roasting sweet potatoes with cumin seeds for a bit of crunch, and had sweet potato and butternut squash to use up, and thought it would be nice to stick them in the oven to roast while prepping the rest of dinner, and thought they would be really nice to add into a bean chilli, along with some peppers (which I quite like to add into my ordinary chilli con carne from time to time, to give it a bit of a twist).

So this was the end result, cooked with my usual blend of spices for a chilli, and one that's definitely going onto the meat free regulars - it's so tasty and filling!

Served with my spicy cornbread, rice, grated cheese, sour cream and coriander

You can decide whether to use squash or sweet potato or a mixture, depending on what you've got in, and also use your favourite beans - you'll get a tasty result at the end whatever you use!

Served in tortillas with sour cream, fresh tomato, avocado, lightly pickled onions
and some sour cream mixed with lime juice, topped with coriander and chillies

Serves 10-12 portions (recipe easily halved) from 155-187 calories a portion using butternut squash (depending on whether a tenth or a twelfth) to 190-229 calories a portion using sweet potato. Why not have a wedge of homemade spicy cornbread on the side - it's quite easy to make, and also very filling! My recipe is here, from 116 calories for a wedge.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Spicy Cornbread - Naturally Gluten Free

This is delicious served as a side dish to a good chilli con carne, or veggie chilli, especially fresh from the oven!

It's also very easy and quick to make - you just need to soak the toasted corn for a few hours or overnight / during the day first, then a quick mix and pop it into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes!

It's a lovely, tasty accompaniment to chilli, crusty on the outside and soft and moist on the inside - if you don't want it especially spicy you could just use half a red chilli and skip the jalepenos, or cut all the chilli out altogether if you prefer.

I haven't tried making this with any dairy free substitutes, as yet, as the reaction between the buttermilk and the bicarb is part if what makes it light and fluffy - so if any of my dairy-free or vegan friends or followers do make it with a dairy free substitute, I'd love to hear what you used and how you got on. Buttermilk essentially tastes like yoghurt, but is a bit thinner, and has a very low fat content - so if you can't get hold of it, then you could just use regular plain low fat yoghurt and thin it down a little with water.

Cuts into 8 or 12 wedges, serves 8 to 12 as a side to a main meal. 116 calories for a twelfth wedge, 173 calories for an eighth, if you're counting.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Luxury Potato Salad

 A delicious, creamy potato salad full of flavour

This potato salad is delicious both warm or cold, depending on what you're serving it with.

Great as an accompaniment to cold meats, smoked fish, cured meats, barbecues, salads, leftover roast chicken and almost anything you can think of!

If you want to lower the calories, use fat free Greek yoghurt, light mayonnaise and half fat creme fraiche (or just extra yoghurt. Will keep happily in the fridge for a few days. Serves 8 to 10 comfortably, easily halved.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Squash, Sweet Potato and Spinach Dhansak

A delicious and healthy way to get your authentic curry fix using vegetables which just happen to be packed full of nutrients!

I always think there's nothing better than when you can eat a really tasty dinner, that you really enjoy, and BONUS - it's actually full of wonderfully healthy ingredients and good for you!

Even better if your children love it too and it's getting loads of healthy fresh vegetables down them and there are no complaints!

Well, what more can you ask? Well, I suppose you could want it to be vegetarian or vegan, gluten, dairy and nut free... well, it just so happens to be those things too - and good for a fast day as well, if you're looking for something low calorie...

,,,so what are you waiting for? Get in!!!

Serves four at 259 calories a portion. You could split into six more modest portions (e.g. as a side dish, or a lighter lunch, for 173 calories a portion). For a delicious fresh twist, why not serve with a helping of cachumber (Indian tomato, cucumber and onion salad with lime, spices and fresh coriander) for only 43 calories a portion - see here for my recipe. Serve with your choice of rice and/or flatbreads, or for a low calorie, low carb alternative, cauliflower 'rice'.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Spiced Snozzcumber Cake (gluten free and lacto/dairy free - or not!)

A seriously delicious and moist cake that no-one will guess the secret ingredient to!

OK, don't worry, you don't have to get hold of 'snozzcumbers' to make this - large courgettes or marrow will do the job! Why 'Snozzcumber Cake'? Well, it was World Book Day and I went to work dressed as the BFG (complete with big ears, cape, dream blower, a bottle of Frobscottle, and of course some 'snozzcumbers' - which were extremely large courgettes) and decided to make a cake from said snozzcumbers to take into work for the rest of the staff to enjoy.

If you like carrot cake, I think you'll love this, as I use similar spicing to that I use in my carrot cakes, but use pecan nuts instead of walnuts, and a maple flavoured cream cheese frosting to complement the flavours. As my daughter has to have a gluten free diet, it is gluten free - but you'd never know as it is so delicious and moist! If you're not on a gluten free diet, feel free to use normal plain flour instead. Either way it will be seriously delicious!

Makes a 9 inch square cake (so up to 16 portions depending on how you want to cut it!). 

Impossible Lemon and Coconut Tart - Gluten Free

A delicious dessert that you only have to make one simple mix for!

There's no faffing about with this dessert, you just mix everything together, bake, chill, and end up with an impossibly tasty dessert with a gorgeous coconut crust on top, a lemony custard in the middle, and a pastry-like base. 

What more could you ask for in a dessert! On top of that, it's gluten free, nut free, and you could easily use lactose free milk in it too, or your favourite dairy-free substitutes.

Makes ten portions at 349 calories each.

Cherry Bakewell Flapjack Bars - Gluten Free

Delicious, moist, flapjacks with the flavours of a cherry bakewell tart!

Since my daughter had to go on a gluten free diet, we've tried a fair few sweet and savoury snacks - some quite tasty, some... well... let's just say we didn't try them more than once!

If you're gluten free, you're probably aware of how horrendously expensive gluten free products are, with even just the basics often costing in excess of four times their gluten-y equivalent! So, it makes sense to make your own food from scratch, where you can, as it makes the cost a lot more manageable. Even when buying gluten free oats from the supermarket costs four times more than normal oats, you're still making a huge saving on baking your own treats with them - just imagine how much more it costs to buy the finished baked goods gluten free!

Anyway, I digress. There was a nice Bakewell-style slice that my children both liked, and so I came up with a home-made alternative - which I have made using predominantly oats, with plenty of almonds so it's more filling, and a bit healthier than just a cakey slice on top of pastry - plus who wants to make pastry, right?!

Makes 40 bars at 169 calories each (or cut these in half to make mini squares for lunchboxes / treats at 84 calories each, so they're under the 100 calorie mark!) - although if you want to cook fewer / use a smaller tin, you can easily halve this quantity, and just cook for about ten minutes or so less.

Smoked mackerel pâté

A delicious pâté which is also great to use as a dip for crudités.

This has to be one of the tastiest fish pâtés! It's great for entertaining as a simple, prepare-ahead starter served with some home-made melba toast (see tips), or for dipping sticks of cucumber, peppers, carrot etc. as a healthy, low-carb snack - see bottom of tips for suggestions with calories: you can have a lovely selection of vegetables for one for less than 60 calories! 

If you want to lower the fat content, you can use lighter cream cheese and substitute the creme fraiche for Greek yoghurt.

This amount will serve four people as a light starter, or two gannets! (It will basically over-fill two decent sized ramekins - and one is perfect to share!)

Calories per portion: for a quarter portion this is 206 calories for the full fat version, or 138 calories if you're using lightest cream cheese (e.g. Philadelphia lightest) and 0% Greek yoghurt.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Gluten Free Luxury Hot Cross Buns

Why not have a go at making your own gluten free hot cross buns?

It's actually not that difficult - and even easier making gluten free ones than making 'normal' wheat flour buns as there's no kneading involved. I adapted the ingredients from my sourdough hot cross buns recipe to get the same flavours from a gluten free mix this year and they're pretty tasty gluten free too!

I've included plenty of tips in the method to help you get the best (and least messy!) results, but feel free to do things like proving the buns your own way, if you'd rather cover them in oiled clingfilm and stick them in the airing cupboard, or whatever! 

The spices give the option to use the lower amount for more subtle spicing, or vice versa if you like a nicely spiced hot cross bun full of flavour. I hope you enjoy making and eating these buns - please leave me a comment below and let me know what you think!

Makes 8

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Perfectly Gluten Free Pancakes or Crêpes

These delicious gluten free pancakes are completely indistinguishable from normal English pancakes or French Crepes!

Unbelievably, they were actually the best pancakes I've ever made - and I've been making them for many years. This year, I made them gluten free, as my daughter was diagnosed with Coeliac disease last year, and after a bit of tweaking, they were the most delicious, light, laciest pancakes I've ever made!

Well, having perfected them, it would be selfish not to share with other people cooking gluten free (and of course for my daughter, when she needs the recipe!), so here it is. I hope you love it as much as we did - I've never seen pancake mix disappear so quickly - and I actually had three rather than my usual one, which is a first!

Makes 6-8 pancakes, easily doubled for more.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Traditional English Pikelets - Gluten Free

If you're a fan of crumpets, then you will love pikelets - they're very similar in taste and texture, far less faffing about, and a bit bit lighter and less stodgy!

You can make a batch of these, then either keep warm or store them in a resealable bag or container in the fridge or freezer, and toast lightly as needed.

They are delicious with a smear of butter, and your topping of choice - some like jam, some like golden syrup or honey, and some go for savoury with melted cheese and a splash of Worcerstershire sauce - me? I like to rebel against convention and have a smear of cream cheese, some smoked salmon and freshly snipped chives on top, a bit like large blinis!

I developed this recipe because my daughter and I had tried all the gluten free crumpets we could find on the market, and frankly we didn't like any of them, so I had to come up with something myself! If you want to make crumpets rather than pikelets, you can use this recipe and use greased rings to cook them in, and cook for a bit longer on each side. I just prefer pikelets, and of course less faffing about!

This amount of batter will make 20 small-ish pikelets (the same diameter as your average crumpet), and you can fit three or four in a large frying pan at once, so not too much time spent at the stove, as they only take a few minutes to cook!

Approximately 51 calories per pikelet (if yield is 20).

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Gorgeous Gluten Free Yorkshire Puddings (Lactose Free Option)

Missing a decent Yorkshire pudding in your life?

Eating gluten free can often mean missing out on your favourite treats, or putting up with second rate substitutes that aren't a patch on the real thing.

As a parent who loves cooking, and has a child with coeliac disease who doesn't have a choice about eating gluten, I'm determined to make sure she can enjoy the same foods, and better where possible - and to share the recipes for anyone else who wants to make tasty gluten free food! 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Courgette, Bacon and Cheddar Slice

A tasty, treat that's good hot or cold, as a dinner or a lunchbox snack.

Fairly quick and easy to prepare, you just need to mix all the ingredients together, pour into a tray and pop in the oven then go and put your feet up while it cooks! This is my low carb take on the Aussie favourite - 'Zucchini slice'.

Or, of course, you could make a nice big salad to go with it while it's cooking, and pop some jacket potatoes in the oven before you start - on a cold day, good with chips and baked beans too (especially for the kids!), or be more sophisticated with Jersey Royals and green beans.

It's so versatile, you can eat it hot or cold, and if you pop the leftovers into the fridge, it's perfect cut into squares for lunchboxes the next day, or as a snack when you get in from work and need something to eat NOW (or even freeze it in portions).

Serves four to six as a main. more as snacks / light lunches.

Calories: From 254 calories for a sixth, or 336 calories for a quarter portion, using fat free yoghurt. Using full fat yoghurt only makes 13 to 20 calories difference per serving.. For a smaller portion (lunch), it's 168 calories for an eighth.

Slimming World - Syn free for up to a quarter (if using the cheddar as a healthy extra, and 0% fat Greek yoghurt. Full fat Greek yoghurt for a creamier taste is 1.5 syns for a quarter).

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Frozen Daiquiris - Strawberry, Mango etc. ( includes Thermomix instructions)

Just the thing for a hot summer's day!

Maybe it even counts as one of  your five a day? There's certainly plenty of fruit in it (oh yes, and alcohol!). I was making these a couple of years ago, and had perfected the recipe to our tastes and memorized it - but not blogged it! D'Oh! So given that it has been a couple of years since I last made daiquiris, and my memory is blighted by age (and a summer of daiquiris, probably!) I had to guess at what I roughly remembered the ingredients to be, then add to them to get the balance right for our tastes again, and THIS time I have done the 'sensible' thing, and written it down, so I don't forget again next time.

Delicious strawberry daiquiris... or as I told my children, strawberry smoothies...

I think my favourite is mango, but we had one of those last night, and strawberries look so pretty, so obviously I had to make a batch of strawberry daquiris today to take a photo... remember to drink sensibly and all that, darlings!

Contains 8 units of alcohol (UK 25ml measures of 40% spirits), and makes four servings of 140ml.

For the calorie / Syn counters, the values are as follows for one serving (a quarter of a quantity as per the recipe below):

1 serving of strawberry daiquiri - 169 calories / 8 Syns
1 serving of pineapple daiquiri - 176 calories / 8.25 Syns
1 serving of mango daiquiri - 189 calories / 8.75 Syns

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