Sunday, 23 April 2017

Easy Chilli con Carne (with Pressure Cooker method)

Chilli con Carne is something most of us have been cooking for years, without even looking at a recipe book...


I know I have - probably for the best part of two decades. I already have one chilli con carne 'recipe' on my blog here from over three years ago, back in the early days - so it's somewhat detailed on the method and goes on a bit! Although it does use soaked chipotle chillies and tastes bloody gorgeous, so it's staying where it is!


Anyway, I digress. This one is much, much simpler, has pressure cooker instructions for those who have one, and tastes equally amazing!

It's a decent sized batch if you're catering for friends, or want to put a few portions in the freezer (which is what I always do!), but you can easily halve it. It tastes even better the next day, if you've got any left! Last time I made this, I made half the quantity for a family of four and it all got eaten in one sitting, so I decided not to make that mistake again!

Serves 10 to 12 portions, at 265 to 318 calories per serving (depending on size).

Want a low carb / low calorie meal? 
Serve on top of 200g cauliflower rice per person (76 calories a serving), or 50g rice per person (raw weight, 176 calories per serving) or serve in a couple of taco shells (e.g. Old El Paso boxed tacos, for 67 calories per taco, check ingredients for GF), or mini-tortillas (87 calories each, for a 28g flour tortilla, not suitable for  GF)... or you could even use lettuce leaves to wrap it in - whatever floats your boat! All of these suggestions will bring you in at under 500 calories quite comfortably.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

South Indian Red Lentil Dhal with Spinach - Parippu with Spinach

Parippu is a favourite lentil dish of mine, that I've been cooking for years, and I love to add fresh spinach to it for a healthy twist.


This dish is so versatile - it's excellent as a meal in itself, if you just want a bowlful with or without flatbreads on the side; and also makes the perfect accompaniment to other Indian dishes if you fancy a good old 'curry night'. 


Not only that, I think it's a pretty simple dish to make - you just throw the majority of the ingredients into a large pot and leave it to simmer away, and then just make a quick 'tarka' to add near the end, along with some wilted spinach.

This serves ten portions (of approximately 250g, depending on evaporation), so if you want to serve it as part of a selection of dishes, you can double that (or more!).

Calories: 273 calories per portion (if divided into ten) 2,729 calories for the whole batch (so if you're only having a ladleful in a ramekin sized dish with a selection of other things it would be nearer 150 calories).

Sri Lankan Beef Curry - Harak Mas Curry

A delicious, simple-to-make braised Sri Lankan beef curry.


I am going through a real phase of loving Sri Lankan food at the moment, and this beef curry, adapted from a Charmaine Solomon recipe is so simple to make, and incredibly tasty, that I had to share it.


It's also naturally low in fat, as it contains no coconut and only a small amount of oil, so it's pretty guilt-free too!

This serves four people as part of a meal served with a vegetable side dish and rice (or cauliflower rice - although if you're a complete meat head and want it on its own, it would probably make two or three servings), but it is very easily doubled. Even better the next day, and freezes beautifully.

199 calories per serving (between four people).

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Chicory, Courgette and Radish Salad with Orange, Coriander and Dill Dressing

Well, this wasn't supposed to be a recipe for my blog, but it turned out so delicious, that it would have been criminal not to share it!


The other half declared it the most delicious thing he'd eaten this year - and he doesn't like salads, so that's really saying something! The children also loved it, and I found it incredibly more-ish - especially the dressing, so I've had to write it down as accurately as I can, so we can recreate it again!


The only downside to creating something delicious, without planning it or thinking about it, is that you don't tend to get a very good photo of it, as you haven't set it up or made it at the right time of day - so apologies for the picture, but I can assure you that the flavours are divine! This was created to go with hot smoked mackerel, and hot smoked salmon (with a few new potatoes on the side, or some crusty bread would be nice too), and it really is fantastic with smoked fish. It would also be great with griddled, roast or barbecued chicken., and a sophisticated side to serve on a platter for people to help themselves to.

Mia's Easy Gluten Free Swiss Roll

A gluten free cake that's easy to make, and turns out beautifully.


I say easy to make, because this one was made by my 12 year old daughter, Mia, and with a little tweak to make it gluten free so she could eat it, the sponge turned out beautifully light and fluffy!


Because she made it gluten free, and it turned out so well, I wanted to record and save the recipe so that she can make it again, and also to share with anyone else who has to cater for gluten free diets and wants an easy recipe.

Serves 8 to 10 slices (above is just under half of what was left, when I realised I ought to take a photo!).

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Orange and Almond Cake with Goldenberries and Cardamom (Gluten and Grain Free)

A moist, decadent almond cake with a hint of the exotic.


As ever, I was on the quest to create delicious cakes that can be enjoyed without gluten (for my daughter) without any of the dryness or grittiness that can sometimes be a downfall of gluten free cakes.

As this one is naturally gluten free because it is made with ground almonds, there is none of that - just a delicious moist and tasty cake that everyone will enjoy. In fact, it turned out so delicious that I didn't actually want to share it with the children!! (But I did, of course, because sharing is caring!!). This is based on a traditional Italian orange and almond cake, so if you can't get hold of goldenberries, you don't have to add them - or you could substitute some dried fruit of your choice. Cardamom is also an addition of mine, which is a spice I love to pair with oranges, so if you're not a fan, don't add it - although I think it's delicious!

It's very rich, and I think once it has had its dusting of icing sugar, with the complex flavours it is easily sophisticated enough to serve at a dinner party (and probably too posh for lunchboxes)! Either way, I highly recommend it, even though you might suspect me to be biased. I'd say there are at least 12 servings, given the richness.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Healthy Banana and Blueberry Muffins - Grain Free and Refined Sugar Free

Moist and delicious blueberry muffins without the guilt of refined sugar and flour!


I do like to pick up a bargain when out shopping (you might have already noticed this), and a bunch of very ripe bananas together with a punnet of blueberries picked up at the end of the day will give you a nice batch of muffins for the week (plus enough to freeze the extras!).


On top of this, I've been playing with different ways to bake tasty treats for my children without using wheat flour, as we found out not-so-long-ago that my daughter can no longer eat it. Plus, there's no harm in anyone cutting refined sugar out of their diets! There are of course natural sugars in the fruit, and the honey, so it's not a sugar free treat, therefore they are healthy compared with conventional muffins, and still to be eaten in moderation!

However, because of the high protein content in these muffins from the eggs and nuts, they are satisfyingly filling, so just one will keep you going for a while! 

Makes approximately 30 muffins. 140 calories per muffin (extra for optional crunchy topping, calories in square brackets).

Hearty Shepherd's Pie (including Instant Pot Pressure Cooker method)

There are few things more comforting for lamb lovers, than a decent Shepherd's pie!


After cooking an enormous (for us!) leg of lamb, I really wanted to make the most of the leftovers in a tasty dish everyone would love, including using up the lamb stock I had made from the bones too (although a decent lamb stock cube will do a good job too).


Shepherd's pie is such a classic way of using up roast leftovers, and really did ours justice. We like to cook our lamb leg roasts pink, and after braising in the sauce the meat leftovers came out really tender cooked this way, so I'd highly recommend it. I usually make Shepherd's pie from raw minced lamb, as there aren't generally enough leftovers after a roast for a decent-sized pie, but it's definitely worth making extra for this!

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Cottage Pie (with Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker method)

Delicious, homely, comfort food for the whole family.


Who doesn't have a fond memory of eating home-cooked cottage pie as a child, on a cold winter's day? It's one of those quintessentially English dishes that most of us probably grew up enjoying around the table with the rest of the family.


This is my traditional family recipe with a splash of ale in the gravy and delicious buttery mash, that we love to enjoy together, usually at the weekend. And not only have you got the recipe for the indulgent version, I've given you a suggested alternatives tip to make an equally delicious skinny version from only 313 calories a portion!

Serves six, 580 calories per portion (based on maximum amounts of ingredients below, butter and cheese in the mash, and butter dotted on top. Adjust calories if grating cheese on top). If you only ate a smaller portion, i.e. an eighth, it would be 435 calories per portion.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Speedy Salmon, Broccoli and Leek Crustless Quiche

With only a handful of ingredients you can easily make a healthy and tasty lunch, dinner or lunchbox treat.


Salmon and broccoli is a classic combination, and when I threw this together for dinner, everyone loved it and it was so simple I had to share it.



The irony is, when the other half went shopping tonight, I asked him to pick up a (gluten free) quiche, as I was tired and didn't want to faff about cooking anything too complicated - and while he was out, I was looking through the fridge and found a pack of smoked salmon and some broccoli and Greek yoghurt that needed using so... er.... I had made a crustless version by the time he got back!! (Good job too really, as they had ran out of GF quiches). It's not a classic quiche of course, but it's a very tasty alternative, which is much healthier, easier, and quicker to put together. Mere minutes of preparation before popping it into the oven to bake while you do other things.

Serves four, 210 calories per serving.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Quick Chinese Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

This tasty soup is so simple to make, it is quicker to rustle it up yourself than pop to your nearest takeaway and bring one back!


Plus when you make it yourself, you know what's in it - and I like to make my version a little more filling and flavourful than the versions I've had in some Chinese eateries, which can err on the side of insipid at times. It's also a great way to use up roast chicken leftovers (although you might need to adjust the calories, if you're counting!).


We had this for our Chinese New Year starter (followed by my favourite of beef in black bean sauce) - the added bonus of making it at home being that I knew it was safe for my daughter to eat as I could guarantee it was gluten free - which won't make a difference to most people, as it's mostly a case of just making sure you use gluten free soy sauce (or tamari) instead. And before anyone says anything, my apologies to anyone of Chinese descent for the authenticity of this soup... it's very popular in the UK!

Serves four people from 195 calories a portion. (A quarter portion weighs around 350g, so you could make them smaller to serve more, e.g. six portions of 235g and reduce the calories to 130 if you like!).

Bacon Wrapped Herbed Sausagemeat Stuffing Roll (can be gluten free)

A moist and delicious way to have your stuffing with roast dinners, with a tasty bacon wrapping.


This is really delicious served with roast dinners such as roast chicken, turkey, guinea fowl or pork Even better, to make life easy, you can even prepare this a day or two in advance so you have less to do on the day! I started making stuffing in a roll like this (too many) years ago, and it was so successful I've carried on, and thought I'd blog it now for posterity (and everyone else to enjoy)!


I do like a bit of stuffing, and/or a couple of 'pigs in blankets' with roast poultry or pork, but I must confess that sometimes my pigs in blankets might get a little too cosy in the oven (I get easily distracted and sometimes they are a little charred if I forget about them for ten minutes)! Wrapping the sausagemeat stuffing in bacon and cooking it this way means that you get all the flavours of pigs in blankets, and stuffing, and you don't need to worry so much about them in the oven, as it's more forgiving and turns out nice and moist inside.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Creamy Parsnip and Leek Soup with Lemon, Turmeric and Coriander

This unusual combination gives a surprisingly delicious and creamy soup with subtle Thai flavours.


This soup was created as a result of what was in the fridge that needed using up - at this time of year, after the weekend has passed (think roast dinners), things like parsnips tend to get sold off cheap and can be just too much of a bargain to resist at times! (I might just happen to have a bit of a 'yellow sticker' habit!). 


So I thought I'd do something a bit different with them for a change, and it turned out delicious! If you're not the biggest fan of parsnips, don't worry, the flavour is very delicate - they mostly just add a velvety, creamy texture to the soup. Or feel free to substitute with something like sweet potatoes, butternut squash or similar (remembering to adjust the calories if you're counting).

Serves six to eight, 135 to180 calories per portion (a smaller portion is around 275g if dividing into eight, a larger portion is around 370g if dividing into six). Chicken is extra.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Hearty Ham and Lentil Soup

A really delicious and filling soup that's easy to make and great for the family


This soup is amazingly tasty, given the simplicity of the ingredients - the secret is using a really tasty ham stock, and I carefully saved mine from cooking the Christmas ham, with the express intention of making soup. I made up the quantity of stock to what I needed using a couple of ham stock cubes as well, and you can of course make it just using stock cubes - Knorr do a good ham stock cube, and it's gluten and dairy free as well.


I was originally planning on this being a simple smooth soup (which is why I didn't add any actual ham meat to it, but of course you could easily cube some ham and add it at the end to warm through - especially if you cooked a big joint for Christmas or the New Year and want to use it up!) - however, as you can see, it's not, because when I tasted it once the lentils were cooked, it was so good I decided to leave it just as it was! See what you think... I may yet blitz a batch up, just to find out if it tastes as good smooth!

Serves eight, for 172 calories per serving (approximately 300-350g depending on how much liquid evaporates / is added).

Easy Ham and Cannellini Bean Soup (Gluten and Dairy Free)

A tasty, healthy soup that you can throw together for a nutritious light meal


Well, this was going to be ham and lentil soup, until I realised that my dried red lentils weren't actually gluten free (my daughter can't eat gluten) and I had to think of a quick substitute as things were already cooking away and I didn't want to waste my precious ham stock from cooking the Christmas ham (Knorr stock cubes are good too if you don't happen to have your own ham stock lying around)!


Luckily there are always various tins of beans in the cupboard here, so I substituted some cannellini beans in part of the broth so she could eat it, and put the lentils in the remainder (next blog!) for the rest of the family. You don't have to use cannellini beans, you could use butter beans, haricot or any other mild and creamy tasting white bean. It turned out really tasty, so I thought I'd share the recipe!

Serves four to six, from 93 calories per serving for a smaller portion (six smaller portions at around 250g each, or four larger portions at around 400g each - exact weight depends on how much liquid has evaporated overall) or 139 calories for a larger portion.


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