Thursday, 15 July 2010

Salmon, Peas and Crème Fraîche Pasta

This evening I rustled up this speedy but very tasty special recipe for Salmon, Peas & Crème Fraîche Pasta from Tana’s Kitchen Secrets. I adapted it to my healthy eating and taste, omitting the dill (not a fan of dill) which is used in the original recipe and adding basil instead. I also added some petit pois for nutrition’s sake and because they are one of my favourite veggies and I simply love them. I really enjoyed this pasta dish with all the wonderful combination of flavours and textures. Perfect comfort food for wifey’s who are missing their hubby’s.

Salmon, Peas & Crème Fraîche Pasta

Serves 1 (lonely wifey that is missing her hubby)

1 x 140g salmon fillets (I used smoked salmon fillet)
Salt flakes and black pepper
100g spaghetti, preferably fresh (I used fresh pasta)
handful of frozen peas
handful of basil, chopped
Finely grated zest of ⅓ unwaxed lemon
2 tsp lemon juice
1-2 tbsp half-fat crème fraîche

Preheat the oven to 190oC/375oF/gas mark 5.

Place the salmon fillet in an ovenproof dish and season. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil over a high heat and add the peas with the pasta and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain, return to the pan.

Meanwhile, flake the salmon into a bowl and toss in the basil and lemon zest. Add to the pasta and gently mix through with the lemon juice and crème fraîche, taking care to keep the fish in large flakes. Season well and serve immediately.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Linguine with Garlic, Prawns and Spinach

My hubby is away on business in Singapore for a week and I hate it when he has to go away but its part of his job. He hates having to leave too but with his job he gets to fly first class all over the world, stay at 5 star hotels and wines and dines at the best restaurants, lucky sod!

I feel lost when hubby isn’t around and it can be lonely! So I decided to pay Amazon a visit and order two cookbooks to keep me company. I ordered Tana’s Kitchen Secrets by Tana Ramsey and The Itailian Diet by Gino D’acampo. The books arrived yesterday and both are great and full of so many yummy recipes. I particularly love The Italian Diet coobook with 100 healthy Italian recipes to help you lose weight and enjoy food. I couldn’t wait to try out some recipes from this book and tonight I tried the Linguine with garlic, prawns and spinach recipe.

This dish is so quick and easy, perfect for when you’re starving and your tummy is grumbling. I loved this simple delicious low-fat pasta recipe and can't wait to make this for hubby on his return, he will definitely love this too. If you’re a prawn and garlic lover then this one’s for you.

On a side note, I weighed myself this morning and my healthy eating is paying off, I have lost 5lbs in the past 2 weeks!

Linguine with Garlic, Prawns and Spinach

Serves 4

300g linguine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced
150g spinach leaves
400g uncooked prawns, peeled
4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered (I omitted these)

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the garlic for 1 minute until golden.

Add the spinach and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add the prawns with the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Stir well and continue to cook for 2 minutes.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the frying pan, then lower the heat.

Add the lemon zest and cherry tomatoes and stir everything together for
30 seconds.

Serve immediately.

449 calories 13.4g fat 1.9g saturates 4.2g sugars 0.9g salt

Sunday, 11 July 2010

One-Pot Lemon Chicken with Thyme Rice

Today I got the greatest surprise. My best friend whom I haven’t seen in 5 years since she moved to Barbados conspired with my hubby to pay a surprise visit. We had a lovely afternoon/evening catching up and it was so wonderful to see my good friend again, I've really missed her. I didn’t want her to leave but we will catch up again during the week before she returns.

Still unaware of the impending visit I had planned to try out this One-Pot Lemon Chicken with Thyme Rice recipe which I had book-marked from Fay’s Family Food cookbook. I made this for lunch and my son and his girlfriend (typical teenagers that don’t appreciate good food) didn’t like it so there was plenty of left-over’s. It worked out great as it gave me a lovely meal to offer my friend without taking me away from catching up. We all really enjoyed this meal and were in agreement that it’s a casserole full of flavour.

One-Pot Lemon Chicken with Thyme Rice

Serves 4 adults

6 chicken pieces (thighs and breasts work well)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
150g pack Italian pancetta cubes
2 large garlic cloves
280g brown basmati rice (I didn't have brown so I used white)
700ml chicken stock
Juice and zest of 1 ½ lemons (unwaxed)
2-3 bushy sprigs thyme
250g frozen broad beans (a couple of handfuls)
Freshly ground black pepper

4 litre ovenproof casserole dish, with lid

Set the oven at 200oc fan/220oc/gas mark 7. In your casserole dish, brown the chicken pieces in a little olive oil. Remove and set aside.

In the same oil, fry the onion and pancetta for a couple of minutes. Then crush the garlic and add. Keep stirring for a minute, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Put the rice in and stir to coat.

Add the stock, lemon juice and zest, thyme, the broad beans and a twist of black pepper.

Bring to the boil, then pop the chicken pieces on top. Put a lid on and stick in the oven for 50 minutes.

Serve straight from your dish. Season on your plate.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Summer Prawn Curry with Coconut and Lime

Here is a really great recipe by Sophie Dahl from this month’s Waitrose magazine. This curry really caught my eye with its wonderful combo of flavours and juicy king prawns. I’m a big fan of Thai curries and this is the first prawn one I’ve made. I adapted the recipe to make it lower in calories using half-fat coconut milk and less oil, every little bit helps in my quest to shift some weight!

I knew I was right to make this dish, oh my gosh it was absolutely scrumptious and nothing less than fantastic! This is a light and refreshing curry with a subtle spicy kick which in no way over-powers the other flavours. Whether you love Thai curries or never tried one before this is one you must make!

Summer Prawn Curry with Coconut and Lime

Serves 4 (I halved the recipe for 2)

2 tbsp sunflower oil (I used olive oil)
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp Cooks’ Ingredients lime leaves
450g raw king prawns
400ml can coconut milk (I used half fat coconut milk)
2 limes, juice
1 tbsp desiccated coconut
100g mange tout
10g coriander, chopped

Heat the oil in a large pan; sweat the onion for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chilli, curry powder and lime leaves and cook on low for another few minutes.

Add the prawns and cover with the coconut milk. Cook for about 7 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and desiccated coconut, then add the mange tout and cook for another few minutes.

Season. Sprinkle with the coriander. Serve on a bed of plump rice.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Chicken, Courgette and Lemon Pasta

Yesterday during one of my regular visits around the blogs I love to frequent, I came across this amazing looking recipe on Lucie’s blog; Cooking at Marystow (a gorgeous blog, definitely worth a visit). It was love at first sight and even more so because it ticked all the boxes in my healthy eating quest. I couldn’t wait to make this and today while in town I popped into Waitrose to pick up the ingredients, along with a bagful of pink kitchen goodies from TK Maxx that I couldn’t resist (that shop is dangerous for my bank balance).

This recipe is pretty straight-forward and spending the time at the start to prepare all the ingredients (measuring, chopping and grating) will make life easier during the assembly stages. Which means, within 10 minutes of preparing the ingredients you will be enjoying the results of you labour. This recipe was everything I imagined it to be, absolutely delicious, light & full of flavour and the perfect meal for a summer’s evening. This is one pasta dish I will definitely be making again. Thanks Lucie for sharing this wonderful recipe.

Chicken, Courgette and Lemon Pasta

Serves 4 (I halved the recipe for 2)

4 large Portabello mushrooms ( I used normal mushrooms as I don’t like the Portobello ones)
350g dried linguine
300g courgette, grated
300ml low fat crème fraîche
200ml low fat Greek yoghurt
1 large free-range egg yolk
35g Parmesan cheese
Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g cold roast chicken, shredded
A small bunch of fresh chives, snipped

Heat a pan and spritz in a few spritzes of olive oil. Fry the mushrooms then remove from the pan and set aside. Fry the grated courgette for a couple of minutes. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, but cook it for a minute or two less so it's a little underdone.

Meanwhile mix together the crème fraîche, yoghurt, egg yolk, Parmesan, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

Drain the cooked pasta, leaving a few tablespoons of water in the bottom of the pan. Return the pan to a low heat and pour in the sauce.

Toss the pasta in the sauce, then add the roast chicken and chives, giving it all a good mix round until it’s evenly incorporated

Summer Salmon with Zingy Pesto and Veggies

I’ve been doing really well on my healthy eating and am feeling a lot better for it, less bloated, less irritable and generally a lot happier. It also helps that in summer you tend to want to eat lighter meals and salads have been playing a bit part in my menu. I’m also having fun trying out new lighter/low fat meals and confirming you can have tasty satisfying meals whilst they are still good for you.

The following recipe definitely falls in the above category. I came across this recipe on the Good Food website whilst looking for a recipe to jazz up my smoked salmon fillets. I just adapted to suit my needs and used less oil for the zingy pesto sauce. This meal really delivered a wonderful dining experience with an explosion of flavour!

Summer Salmon with Zingy Pesto and Veggies

Serves 2

325g small new potatoes, thickly sliced
325g frozen peas and beans
1tbsp olive oil
zest and juice of ½ lemon
medium bunch of basil, leaves only
2 salmon fillets about 140g/5oz each (I used smoked salmon fillets for added flavour)

Boil the potatoes in a large pan for 4 mins. Tip in the peas and beans, bring back up to a boil, then carry on cooking for another 3 mins until the potatoes and beans are tender. Whizz the olive oil, lemon zest and juice and basil in a blender to make a dressing (or finely chop the mint and whisk into the oil and lemon).

Put the salmon in a foil parcel, season, then pour the dressing over. Cook in a preheated oven, 200oC/180oC/Gas 6. Drain the veggies, then mix with the hot dressing and cooking juices from the fish. Serve the fish on top of the vegetables.

Note: If you don't have any basil to hand, you can use mint or dill instead. Both add a delicious, herby freshness to this dish.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

White Chocolate and Lemon Cookies

Today the weather is much cooler and to be honest I welcome it with open arms. I find it hard to function and find motivation in the heat wave we’ve been having, plus the migraines (due to the heat), which thankfully aren’t everyday, can be debilitating. I thought I’d make the most of today’s weather and catch up on house chores and do a spot of baking. I came across these cookies online and was intrigued by the lemon-white chocolate combination, however being a big fan of anything citrus and white chocolate I was sold by the idea. I wasn’t surprised when I took a bite to realise the white chocolate compliments the sweet, zingy lemon perfectly.

These luscious White Chocolate and Lemon Cookies are light, chewy, and full of flavour and taste just like summertime. Word of warning, these cookies are highly addictive!

White Chocolate and Lemon Cookies

Makes around 25

110g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
55g soft brown sugar
pinch of salt
zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon lemon juice or extract
1 large egg, beaten
170g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200g white chocolate, chopped into chunks

Preheat oven to 190C (fan-forced 170C). Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

Cream butter, caster sugar, soft brown sugar and salt together until fluffy. Beat in the lemon zest and lemon juice or extract. Taste and add more juice/extract if it’s not lemony enough for you. Beat in the egg until well combined.

Stir the flour and bicarbonate of soda together then sift over the creamed mixture. Mix together until just combined, add the chocolate chunks and continue mixing until well combined.

Drop well-spaced heaped teaspoonfuls of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes until the cookies are pale gold and just beginning to brown round the edges. They should be a little puffy, too.

Cool on the sheet for one minute then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Oat Crunch Cookies

I haven’t made cookies in a while and thought I’d take advantage of the cooler weather this morning and bake a batch of these quick and really easy Oat Crunch Cookies. These cookies are a heavenly balance of crunchy, chewy, sweet and are extremely moreish! My hubby loves oat cookies and no doubt these babies will be flying out of the tin the moment he gets home from work. Wishing you all a lovely week and may it be filled with happy baking and cooking!

Oat Crunch Cookies

Makes 20

150g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
175g rolled oats
125g butter
100g light brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 180oC/160oC fan/Gas mark 4. Lightly grease two baking sheets. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl. Stir in the oats.

Place the butter, sugar, golden syrup, and 1 tbsp of water in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring until combined. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.

Take small amounts of the dough, each about the size of a walnut, and roll into balls. Space them well apart on the baking sheets and flatten slightly.

Bake until golden, 16-18 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to five days.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Lime Cheesecake with a Chocolate Crunch

It’s been a lovely sunny and warm weekend, with most of the time spent meeting up with friends for drinks, pottering around the house and garden and catching up with our son who came home for the weekend; after working with his girlfriends dad and staying at theirs during the week.

With my son and Sophie, his girlfriend, over for the weekend I couldn’t go without making something special. I would normally use my tried and trusted recipe for Lime and Chocolate Cheesecake from Nigella Bites, but this weekend I decided to try out an alternative from a new cookbook, Fay’s Family Food, that I had not yet cooked or baked from (that's what happens when you own over 200 cookbooks and the collection keeps growing)! This is a great cookbook and I have quite a few recipes book-marked that I can’t wait to try!

This cheesecake is creamy, light and refreshing with its chocolate crunch base that compliments the subtle tangy lime wonderfully. The cheesecake was a hit and I will definitely be making this easy, simple and lush dessert again!

Lime Cheesecake with a Chocolate Crunch

40g butter
20g dark chocolate
50g ground almonds
100 dark chocolate digestives biscuits or similar, crushed
800g light cream cheese
185g soured cream
175g caster sugar
4 large eggs and 2 large egg whites
Zest of 3 limes
1½ tbsp lime juice (I added 2½ tbsp)

Line the base of a loose-bottomed cake tin (24cm) with baking paper.

Melt together the butter and chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Leave to cool, then mix with the almonds and crushed biscuits. Press down into the tin to form a base and pop into the fridge for 15 minutes or so.

Pre-heat the oven to 150oC (fan), 170oC, gas mark 3. With your electric whisk, beat the cream cheese, soured cream and sugar till light and fluffy. Add 4 of the eggs, one at a time. When combined, add the lime zest and juice. Mix.

Separately whisk 2 eggs whites to soft peaks, then fold into the creamy mixture and combine. Pour over the base and bake for 1 hour, 20 minutes in the middle of the oven.

Leave to cool for 2-3 hours at room temperature, then pop into the fridge overnight.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Bircher Muesli

I’m on a serious health kick at the moment and eliminating all kinds of junk or rich food from my diet. My body is in desperate need of some TLC, especially after the over indulging whilst my sister was visiting, she’s a total chocoholic and bad influence. Of course this is not suggesting I won’t be baking, my boys are looking forward to me getting back to baking those goodies and I will just have to live vicariously through them.

My hubby was in Singapore last month on business and told me how wonderful and delish this breakfast was that he had at the hotel, Bircher Muesli, which I’d heard of before but had never had the pleasure of trying myself. I decided that no hotel was going to outdo me, no matter how big and swanky it was. So I did some research and found loads of recipes but they were all pretty much the same concept and just demonstrated the ability to personalise according to taste. At the same time this type of breakfast is really appealing to my current health kick. After a quick trip to the supermarket last night I set about preparing for this morning’s brekkie of Bircher Muesli.

Hubby and I both enjoyed the results of my efforts (not that it was any real effort to prepare and make) and this is truly a healthy, tasty and filling start to the day that keeps the hunger at bay for many hours. The only change I would make for my own personal preference would be to soak the oats etc the night before with milk, as I found the apple juice slightly acidic to my taste. The beauty of this breakfast is the ability to personalise to your taste by adding your own choice of dried fruit, yoghurt, nuts, seeds and fresh fruit. You could even use honey or maple syrup for some added sweetness. If you’re bored of your regular toast or cereal and want to try something that little bit special then I would definitely recommend this!

Bircher Muesli

Serves 4 ( I halved the recipe)

2 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup of sultanas
Handful of chopped blueberries
1 apple, grated
1 cup of apple (or fruit juice of your choice)
3 tablespoons of yoghurt (I used Yeo Valley Organic Fat Free Vanilla Probiotic Yoghurt)
Handful of flaked almonds (or any nuts/seeds of your choice) (I also used sunflower seeds)
Chopped banana
Slices of kiwi (or fruit of your choice)

Put the oats, sultanas, chopped blueberries and apple juice into a bowl. Mix together, cover and leave in the fridge to soak overnight.

In the morning grate the apple and add to the mixture, then stir in the yogurt. Mix until all the ingredients are combined. Serve into individual bowls, sprinkle over some flaked almonds and nuts or seeds of your choice and add slices of your seasonal fruit.