Saturday, March 10, 2018

Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Bake

Close up of Mediterranean vegetable pasta bake

I am so in love with aubergines right now. I can't get enough of them, especially when they're roasted. I love the way they caramelise and get that creamy texture and nutty flavour. I just want to put them in everything!

It was this obsession with trying to get aubergine into lots of meals and our commitment to Meat-free Mondays, that got me thinking about making a Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Bake.  The most recent pasta bake I have posted on the blog is a rather delicious Chicken and Sweetcorn version.That has a lovely rich cheesy sauce, so it's a little on the naughty side. Whereas, this Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Bake is jam packed full of veggies and has a tomato based sauce for days when you want to eat a little lighter. Aubergine, courgette, yellow pepper, tomatoes, onion- all very good for you and full of flavour.

There is a bit of prep work required but a lot of the processes happen simultaneously, so it's not as much work as it might seem at first. Once it's assembled, like most pasta bakes, you just top it with cheese, whack it in the oven and wait for the magic to happen. When it comes out, the absolute best part of the whole dish is the crispy, cheesy top layer, so make sure you get a big spoonful of that in your portion!

Selection of images and text saying Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Bake

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Parsnip and Rosemary Risotto with Parsnip Crisps

Close up of a bowl of parsnip risotto with parsnip crisps standing in the risotto

I made parsnip risotto this week, something I have been meaning to do again for quite some time. The very first time I made it, I was inspired by a Christmas meal I had in a restaurant. I didn't really like anything else that was on the menu so I ordered the parsnip risotto. I was wowed when I tried it. It had a delicious, nutty, sweet taste and was topped with parsnip crisps. Honestly the nicest risotto I had ever eaten. With our 2018 commitment to Meat Free Mondays, it seemed the perfect excuse to update the recipe.

The parsnip and rosemary risotto I am sharing today, has a base of garlic and rosemary with roasted parsnip stirred through. Roasting the parsnip gives it more of a nutty taste. Ideally, you want it golden and well-softened so that it breaks up a little when it's stirred through the rice. I use cheddar because my husband is not a fan of Parmesan. In any case, Parmesan would stop the dish from being vegetarian. if that's not a concern for you, by all means use the cheese that you love.

What really makes the whole dish, is the parsnip crisps. They are crunchy, slightly sweet and they add some lovely texture. The key for making parsnip crisps is to avoid using too much oil. I brush them with a pastry brush so they have enough to crisp up, but they're not dripping with oil after they cook.

Parsnip and rosemary risotto makes a great winter meal for dinner and is  perfect in smaller portions as a starter.

Pinnable image with the text of the recipe name, chopped parsnip and a bowl of risotto

Monday, February 12, 2018

Lime and Ginger Cod with Giant Couscous

Lime and Ginger Cod with Giant Couscous is a recipe that I have been fiddling with for a couple of weeks. The cous cous was delicious first time, but the marinade for the cod needed some work. It was just a touch too much on the citrus side and needed a wee bit of sweetness to balance it out.

I'm a huge fan of lime and ginger. It's one of my favourite flavour combinations. I have used it with turkey steaks for a long time so, one day when I was pondering how to jazz up cod fillets, I thought why not? The problem is that cod is such a delicately flavoured fish that the lime overwhelmed it a little. A teaspoon of honey did the trick and took the edge off the sharpness. Honey, lime, ginger and some chilli flakes worked really well as a marinade.

Having the cod with couscous is a welcome change from rice. I absolutely love giant couscous (sometimes called Israeli couscous). In this recipe, it's combined with tomato, peppers, onion and garlic. I like it served with this fish, but it would make a nice side-dish to a lot of different recipes.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

A white bowl of beef stroganoff with rice

Last week I made beef stroganoff, something I haven't eaten for years. I had mushrooms leftover in the fridge and was looking for inspiration on what to use them for, when I remembered stroganoff. The first time I ever had it was at a friend's house when I was a teenager and I remember being very worried when they told me that's what we were having. It sounded strange and unfamiliar! I needn't have worried- it was creamy and delicious. 

Beef Stroganoff is a rich, creamy stew, originally from Russia. The main thing that most people associate with stroganoff is mushrooms, but they weren't in the traditional Russian recipe. It was all about the beef! My slow cooker version of beef stroganoff uses beef stewing steak, onions and mushrooms with beef stock, paprika, thyme and sour cream. I also use a little onion powder but if you don't have it, don't worry, it's not essential.

It's a very simple recipe and perfect served with rice. It's apparently also quite popular to serve over jacket potatoes and, for some reason, in America they love it with egg noodles. My husband is keen to have it with mash, so it seems that it must go with almost anything!

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff can be syn-free on Slimming World if you switch the sour cream for Philadelphia Extra Light and use it for your Hex A.

Pinnable image- Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Valentine's Treats

I have rounded up 10 delicious, Valentine's Day treat recipes from fellow food bloggers, that are perfect for finishing off your meal, sending into school or making with the kids. If you need a Valentine's Day treat or dessert idea, you're sure to find one is this list. Read on!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Quick and Easy Garlic Mushroom Linguine

Garlic Mushroom Linguine pinnable image

So here we are with another Meat free Monday recipe- Garlic Mushroom Linguine. If you're looking for vegetarian recipe inspiration, pasta is always a good place to start. Creamy, garlicky pasta is an even better place to start!

I'm quite a fan of mushrooms. They are so quick and easy to cook and there are so many tasty types to try- Button, Chestnut, Porcini, Shitake, Oyster, Portabello, even woodland varieties. The best thing about mushrooms for me though is how perfectly they are complemented by garlic. They just belong together! 

This recipe for Garlic Mushroom Linguine ticks so many boxes for me. It's quick and there's very little prep and absolutely no fancy cooking skills, so it's super easy as well. I prefer to make it with a few different varieties of mushroom for more flavour and texture, but if you've only got a few standard white mushrooms knocking around your fridge, you can still make a delicious meal. I used button, chestnut and woodland mushrooms this time. Combined with the onion, garlic (lots of garlic), thyme, veg stock and cream cheese, you get a delicious sauce to coat your linguine. If you're just not in the mood for pasta, you could make the exact same sauce and pour it over chicken breasts and serve with potatoes or rice. Also delicious!

This recipe is syn-free on Slimming World if you use reduced fat soft cheese and spray oil.

Garlic Mushroom Linguine pinnable image

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Vegan Chickpea Burgers

Pinnable image of two vegan chickpea burgers in buns

If you had told me a few months ago that I would be making chickpea burgers and putting them on the blog, I would have laughed! But here I am, sharing an easy recipe for chickpea burgers with you now.

In my effort to eat one vegetarian meal a week (Meat-Free Monday) I have been looking at ideas for protein-packed, filling meals. Chickpea burgers fit that bill perfectly. We weren't entirely sure whether we would love them, but they were absolutely delicious and we were definitely full afterwards. Once again, my Meat Free Monday recipe is not just vegetarian, it's accidentally vegan too!

The key thing to get right with chickpea burgers, is flavour. Don't get me wrong, I love chickpeas. I'd happily drown myself in a vat of houmous any day, but where they really work is when they are complemented by the right flavours. For these Vegan Chickpea Burgers, I use a combination of garlic, lemon, smoked paprika, cumin and chilli powder; Just enough chilli powder to make you notice but not so much as to make them truly spicy.  You could add a lot more spice if you want to go down that road.

You won't find that chickpea burgers hold together quite as well as meat ones. They just aren't as firm and will need more delicate handling. To help hold them together, make sure you drain the chickpeas and the sweetcorn really well and don't skip the step of putting them in the fridge to set!

Pinnable image- photo collage of vegan chickpea burgers

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