Monthly Archives: January 2015

Sticky Date Slice

My mother was a brilliant, sneaky mother. She found ways to get us to eat really healthy things and make it fun and tasty! These sticky date slices were a staple snack in our family and it’s only as an adult when I asked for the recipe that I realised just how good for you they are! To me they’re still a fantastic sweet treat, I just get to enjoy them even more now!

Sticky Date Slice

They are so quick and easy to make too, throw it all in a food processor, blitz it up, rolls, chill, slice and wrap!  Now I have a little stash of these in my fridge whenever I need a quick boost of energy (mostly that post-work pre-dog walk ten minute break I get!)

Sticky Date Slice

I suspect that if you made these into balls rather than slices then they would be in the ‘powerball’ category of healthy snacking.  But let’s not ruin something delicious by loading it down with too much virtue!

Sticky Date Slice

Makes 12 (~70 kcal each)

175g dates (pitted)
50g whole almonds
50g rolled oats
1 tsp honey
~1 tbsp cold water

– Put the dates and the almonds in a food processor and blitz until all chopped up.  You can go for longer if you want a smooth slice, or leave it chunkier for more bite.
– Add the oats and honey and blitz again.
– With the motor running add the water slowly until it comes together in a ball.  You may need a little more water if your dates were very dry but don’t add too much or you will get a VERY sticky slice!
– Turn out onto baking parchment and roll out to a little under the size of an A4 piece of paper.  About 5mm thick.
– Place in the fridge and chill for about an hour.
– Remove from the fridge, slice and wrap in cling film then store in the fridge for later.  (You can also keep them in an airtight container at room temperature but I prefer the bite from keeping them in the fridge!)

 

 

 

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Filed under Breakfasts, Cookies and Biscuits, Dairy Free, Easy, Fast Day Food, Gluten Free, Teatime Treats

The Whole Kit and Caboodle Thai Veggie Noodle Soup!

I know, it’s a long name but I felt it summed up this dish perfectly!  Basically a whole heap of veggies, some nice thai green curry and a whole lot of SLURP! I got a spiraliser and it is so much fun! I like to prep a few veggies at the same time, box them up and refrigerate them for use over the next couple of days.  Here I used carrot and courgette as my noodles.  You could also serve this dish with rice if you wanted but don’t worry, this dish is plenty filling on its own without the carb!

Whole Kit and Caboodle Thai Veggie Noodle Soup

 

Serves 4

1 large chicken breast, thinly sliced
1/2 jar thai green curry paste (I just use Tesco’s, it’s got a nice kick to it!)
2 tbsp coconut milk powder+~400ml boiling water/400g tin of coconut milk
1 courgette, spiralised (or julienned)
1 large carrot, spiralised (or julienned)
1 long red sweet pepper, sliced
2 handfuls spinach
100g mange tout peas, sliced
3 spring onions, sliced

– Heat a spray of oil in a large, deep frying pan.
– Add the chicken and the curry paste and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until the chicken is white all over.
– Add the coconut milk powder and water (or the tin of coconut milk).
– Bring to a simmer.
– Add the vegetables.
– Give a good stir around to coat in the sauce.
– Add more boiling water to bring the liquid level up (we didn’t do this before because the amount of space your veggies take up can vary!)
– Serve in bowls!

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Filed under Easy, Gluten Free, Low Fat, Mains

Ricotta Veggie Lasagna Rolls

Next up we have these Ricotta Veggie Lasagna Rolls using your home made Ricotta!  These make a really nice lunch or light supper for 2.  I like variety so I made 2 different kinds.  Green Pesto and Courgette and Red Pesto and Red Pepper.

Ricotta Veggie Lasagna Rolls

I think that my favourite kind were the Green Pesto and Courgette but that’s probably because I am crazy about anything with courgette in.  I love it!

Ricotta Veggie Lasagna Rolls
Ricotta Veggie Lasagna Rolls

These are a little bit tricky to make but only in the sense of lots of little steps.  It doesn’t take long to prep or assemble these! You can even make them ahead and then refrigerate until you are ready to cook them if you’d rather get the prep done at a quieter time.

Ricotta Veggie Lasagna Rolls

Serves 2

4 sheets lasagna pasta
1/2 courgette
2 cups fresh spinach
1 roasted bell pepper (I keep the lightly pickled jars of them as a store cupboard staple)
1 ramekin Ricotta (Your yield will vary, I used all of mine)
1 tbsp green pesto
1 tbsp red pesto
Tomato pasta sauce (Awesome Sauce is a good one but if you use a jar I won’t tell!)*
1/2 cup grated cheese

– Heat your oven to gas mark 6 or so.
– Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add your pasta sheets.  Cook for 10 minutes (or according to packet instructions).
– Carefully remove the pasta from the water (keep the water!) and lay flat on a plate or chopping board.
– Take your courgette and very thinly slice it lengthways so you have slices about 1/8″.  I used a mandolin but with a steady hand you can do this by hand.
– Place your courgette in a sieve and lower the sieve into the boiling water, balancing it on the side of the pan.  Cook for 2 minutes then lift the sieve and drain.
– Put your spinach in the sieve and lower it into the boiling water.  It should wilt in less than a minute, then remove and drain.
– Split your ricotta in two and mix the green pesto in to one and the red pesto in to the other.
– Take a sheet of lasagna, spread a layer of the ricotta on it, leaving a good 1″ gap at the end.
– Layer over your spinach and then your courgette or pepper.
– Lightly spray your baking dish with oil.
– Carefully roll the lasagna sheet towards the gap.  The filling will move with the roll and start to fill the gap, it may even squish out a little.  This is ok!
– Carefully lift the roll into the baking dish.
– When they are all ready pour over the pasta sauce and sprinkle with cheese.
– You can pause here if you like and finish cooking later.
– Put into the oven and cook for about 20 -30 minutes until the cheese is nice and melted and everything is piping hot.

Ricotta Veggie Lasagna Rolls

* But really, make the Awesome Sauce.  It is actually AWESOME!

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Filed under Easy, Mains, Moderately easy

Zesty Cottage Cheese Pasta Sauce

First up in new ways to use your Homemade Cottage Cheese we have this nice light and zesty pasta sauce.  Chicken and bacon combine with lemon zest, peas and broad beans to give a dish that is light yet satisfyingly hearty, the perfect balance for this time of year!

Zesty Cottage Cheese Pasta Sauce

 

Serves 2

1 chicken breast, diced
125g smoked bacon lardons
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen broad beans
1 clove garlic, crushed
3/4 cup of cottage cheese (approximately half my yield, this will vary!)
4 tbsp creme fraiche
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups spinach
150g wholewheat pasta
1 ball mozzarella

– Heat a small splash of oil in a large frying pan.
– Add the chicken breast and bacon lardons and cook until the chicken is browning and the bacon crispy.
– Add the peas, beans and garlic and cook until totally defrosted.
– Add the cottage cheese, the creme fraiche and the lemon.
– Season to taste with salt and pepper.
– Cook on a low heat until the cheese has melted to give a smooth sauce.
– Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.  For the last minute throw in the spinach.
– Drain and divide between two bowls.
– Scatter with mozzarella and top with sauce.

Zesty Cottage Cheese Pasta Sauce

 

 

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Filed under Easy, Mains

Homemade Cottage Cheese and Ricotta

Guys!!!! I made CHEESES!!!!!!!!!

Ahem.

Sorry about that. I’ll try to contain my excitement.  I was so proud of myself for this one though!

I came back to my house after spending Christmas at my parents’.  I had planned to return before new year but plans changed.  I came back to discover a litre of milk about to go off… this seemed awfully wasteful!  I was racking my brain trying to come up with something to do with that much milk that would keep and remembered an ill fated attempt at making cheese previously.  It seemed like an excellent time to take another crack at it!

Turns out, making cheese is actually brilliantly simple!  You need:

~ 1 l Milk
2 1/2 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Salt

Cheese Making

Step 1: A big pan of Milk!

Cheese Making

Step 2:
Bring it to the boil. Little bubbles like lace around the edge are what you want. Remove from the heat. 

Cheese Making

Step 3: Add 2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tsp salt. Give it a stir and let it sit for 5 minutes. The curds and whey will start to separate.

Cheese Making

Step 4: Tip it into a sieve over a large mixing bowl. Let it drain. KEEP THE LIQUID!

Cottage Cheese

Step 5: Tip your drained cheese into a container! You now have Cottage Cheese!

Cheese Making

Step 6: Tip the liquid back into the pan. Bring to ~200F/100C. The curds will start to separate again.

Cheese Making

Step 7: Tip into a reusable coffee filter/a sieve lined with cheese cloth over a bowl or jug.

Cheese Making

Step 8: Leave to drain. This may take some hours as the curd is finer so the holes are smaller.

Cheese Making

Step 9: On the top you have Ricotta!

Cheese Making

Step 10: And on the bottom you have your whey!

So, from one litre of milk you get two types of Cheese and a whole lot of Whey!  I will be sharing some recipes for what to do with your cheeses if you need some inspiration!  As for the whey, I’m told it makes an excellent addition to soups and risottos in place of stock but I haven’t tried it.  It’s an interesting cheesy kind of stock and I’m sure any cheese fanatic will go nuts for the addition of a subtle cheese flavour in other dishes.  I’m a bit picky about cheese so I confess, I’ve been giving it to Darcy to encourage him to eat his biscuits!  Two weeks of being spoiled at Granny and Grandpa’s has made him a very picky eater!

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Filed under Basic, Easy

Marsala Cream Chicken

This Marsala Cream Chicken is a lovely little dish to rustle up on a Friday night.  A tiny bit fancy, a whole lot delicious, and it pairs brilliantly with simple steamed veg to keep things from getting too unhealthy.  Yes, there’s a good amount of cream in there.  So what?  A little bit of indulgence is no bad thing!  You can switch to creme fraiche for a slightly healthier option without any trouble.  The deep earthy flavours will satisfy your tastebuds without leaving you hungry!

Marsala Cream Chicken

 

1 large chicken breast (most supermarket chicken breasts these days are HUGE! If not, use two small ones)
1 tbsp herbes de Provence
150g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
3 tbsp Marsala
150ml double cream
salt and pepper to taste

– Split your chicken breast in two if using a very large one.
– Rub all over with a little olive oil and the herbes de provence.
– Get a solid frying pan (cast iron is great!) and get it nice and hot.
– Place the chicken breasts in the pan and cook until blackening.  (At least 5 minutes! You should be able to see the meat cooked at least halfway up.)
– Turn over and cook the other side until nice and dark. (If you think its browning too fast and is still raw inside, turn down the heat!)
– Push the chicken to one side of the pan.  (Quick visual check here to make sure the chicken is cooked through, we don’t want undercooked chicken!)
– Add the mushrooms and garlic and fry until just cooked.  (This should only take a minute or two.)
– Add the marsala, give it a quick swirl.
– Add the cream and season with the salt and pepper.
– Heat it until the cream is just boiling and everything is piping hot.
– Serve with steamed veggies.

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Filed under Easy, Mains

Sodabread

Sodabread!  Ok, confession time: In a moment of new year  madness I decided not to keep bread in the house as it was too tempting and I am trying to cut back on refined carbs… well, that didn’t last!  I desperately needed a vehicle for the poached egg I was craving so as a compromise, instead of going out and buying a whole loaf of worthless white bread I whipped up this little loaf of sodabread.  It made me feel slightly more virtuous!  Its an excellent recipe to turn to in times of need and goes brilliantly with eggs, soup, pate and more!

Sodabread

 

1tbsp lemon juice
a scant 200ml milk
200g self raising flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

– Heat the oven to 180C/Gas4.
– Grease a small loaftin.
– Add the lemon juice to your milk and set aside.
– In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the flour and bicarbonate of soda.
– Add almost all of the milk to the flour, keeping a little in reserve.
– Give it a good mix around to make sure everything is combined.
– If the mixture is too dry add the remaining milk.
– Tip/scoop it into your greased loaf tin.
– Bake for 40 minutes.
– Remove from the oven and tip out of the tin, it should be floaty light and sound hollow when tapped on the base.
– Let it rest for 10 minutes or so before serving warm.
– Wrap any leftovers in clingfilm and try to eat it within 2 days.

Sodabread

Do as I say, not as I do! For reasons of rust I had to line this tin.  MISTAKE!  The lining stuck and stuck hard!

 

 

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Filed under Basic, Breads, Easy