Thursday, 10 March 2011

Recipe: Maple baked beans with maple and thyme toast

Essentially, this recipe is just glorifed beans on toast - but so much better, and probably a lot healthier too (approx. 328 calories per serving). I actually replaced the toast with diced chicken (my man likes meat!), and I reckon it'd go well with chopped up sausages too...this meal is really delicious (and all the beans count as 3 of your 5 a day!). 

Maple baked beans with maple and thyme toast
Serves 4-5

You need:
1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1/2tbsp Dijon mustard
2tbsp Worestershire sauce
3tbsp tomato purée
2tbsp maple syrup
1 can of chopped tomatoes
400ml of vegetable or beef stock
1 can of butter beans
1 can of red kidney beans
1 can of haricot beans

10 thin slices of crusty bread
4tbsp maple syrup
thyme sprigs

Heat the oil in a pan, add in the onion and allow to soften for approx. 2 mins, then turn the heat up and allow the onions to brown and caramelise. Add in the Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, tomato purée and maple syrup and cook for approx. 2 mins, then add in the chopped tomatoes and the stock, cooking for a further 2-3 mins. Drain and rinse all the beans (I did this beforehand to save time!), then add into the pan, and season to taste - I added black pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook gently for approx. 15 mins, stirring occasionally. [If you add in chicken/sausages you will obviously need to pre cook this - I added my chicken in with the onions, and skipped the caramelising step]. For the toast, preheat your oven to 180ºC. Place the bread on a baking tray, and sprinkle over the maple syrup and thyme sprigs. Bake for 5-1o mins, until golden and crisp, then serve with your beans on the side. 

There you have it, posh beans on toast :)

Recipe: Lamb and butternut squash stew

A slow cooker is one of the worlds best inventions in my opinion! It's the easy, lazy way to cook fantastic tasty meals, and if you get a big one, you can also batch cook and freeze some portions up for those days when you just can't be bothered!

One pot meals don't have to be done in a slow cooker of course, you can slow cook on the hob too, and in less time, but most recipes can be adapted to make them more slow cooker friendly, and I find the beauty of slow cooked meals is you can literally chuck anything in and it'll taste nice. I love a good, hearty and warming stew or casserole in the colder months, and when I got home from Zumba last night it was lovely to be welcomed by the comforting smell of dinner, just waiting to be served up!

Lamb and butternut squash stew
Serves 2

You need:
350g diced lamb (I only had lamb steaks, so just chopped most of the fat off and used those)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
3/4 medium new potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 a small butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and diced (I used a whole squash)
1/2 large onion, chopped 
1tsp ground coriander
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated (I used powdered, I don't tend to buy fresh ginger)
1 clove of garlic, chopped (I used a heaped tsp of lazy garlic)
1tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp ground cumin (I used turmeric because I couldn't find the cumin!)
200ml lamb stock (I used beef because to my knowledge Tesco don't sell lamb stock!)

Chop, dice and slice all of the ingredients (except the tin of chopped tomatoes, which you should probably use a tin opener for!), add them all to the slow cooker, slosh them around and give a good stir. Turn your slow cooker on high if you want the meal to be ready within approx. 4-6 hours, or low if you want the meal to be ready within approx. 8 hours. As you can see, I adapted this recipe to suit the ingredients I had in the cupboard, and it still tasted delicious - Colin had a big bowl of seconds - and although the recipe states it serves two, we got four portions from this! If you would like the full step-by-step, non slow cooker version of this recipe, click here

As an aside, that website is a really great resource that I've recently discovered, so have a nosey around if you need some more inspiration.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Recipe: Courgette and roasted chicken risotto

Since being on maternity leave, the kitchen and I have become more accustomed to one another. I'd even go so far as to say we're pretty good friends - although the sink and I aren't really on speaking terms (someone invent self cleaning dishes please)!

In fact, and to those of you who know me, this may come as quite a shock, I actually enjoy cooking now! I really like flicking through my (expanding) recipe book collection or researching online for new recipes to try, and planning our meals for the week's becoming more of a hobby than a chore - simply because I have the time

Cooking food from scratch really is the best way to eat better, simple as, and it's nowhere near as hard as it looks! You are totally aware and in control of what you're putting into a meal, rather than choosing something pre-made and processed which is full of unnecessary ingredients, not to mention full to the brim of excess salt and sugar. I'm no angel - those jars and sachets of sauces etc are great for when you're really pushed for time, or really would rather just be laid on the sofa in full slob mode, everything has it's place. However, I've found that through cooking my meals from scratch, my whole family is eating and feeling better - result! 

Not convinced...I fed Colin (carb junkie) brown rice, vegetables and plenty of pulses the other day, and he didn't even raise an eyebrow, now that's a result! I don't mean to preach, I just wanted to share with you all my new philosophy on food and life...after all, you are what you eat!

Enough twittering away, on with the food...

Courgette and roasted chicken risotto
Serves 2

You need:
2 skinless chicken breasts
  1 small courgette, diced
1 small onion, diced (I cheat and use frozen onion because I can't abide the eye watering from chopping fresh onions!)
150g of Aborio risotto rice
40g grated Parmesan cheese
2tbsp butter/margarine
3tbsp olive oil
600ml chicken stock
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Salt and black pepper

Preheat your oven to 180ºC. Heat 1tbsp of olive oil (I used garlic oil) in a large saucepan and cook the courgette until tender (approx. 3-4 minutes), then remove from the pan and set aside. Add 1tbsp of olive oil and 1tbsp butter/margarine (to the large saucepan) and fry the onion and garlic over a low heat until the onion is soft (approx. 5-6 minutes). Whilst the onion and garlic are cooking, heat 1tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan and season your chicken breasts with salt and black pepper. Fry the chicken breasts for approx. 2-3 minutes until they are lightly browned, then transfer to a baking tray and put in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Once the onion has softened, add the Aborio risotto rice and stir well to coat the rice in the oil/butter mixture, cook this for approx. 1-2 minutes. Over a medium heat, add in 50ml of the stock, simmer and stir until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid. Repeat the previous step, adding 50ml of stock at a time, until all of the stock has been absorbed and the rice is tender (if you run out of stock just add in some boiling water). This should take 25-30 minutes, but remember to keep an eye on your chicken if it takes longer! Turn the heat down to low and add the courgette, stirring constantly and heating through. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated Parmesan and 1tbsp of butter/margarine. Taste the risotto, season (I added a tiny bit of black pepper, but the taste was fantastic without it) and serve! Slice up your roasted chicken breasts and place on top of the risotto. Et voilà!

I loved this meal, it was sooo tasty, and really filling, so no need to reach for the sweet treats after dinner!