Saturday, September 16, 2017

Roasted butternut Squash and Bacon risotto

Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Risotto

I'm continuing my love affair with butternut squash with this recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon risotto; a very comforting dish.

It's perfect for an autumnal risotto as it provides a lovely, smooth, creamy texture without using any indulgent ingredients (like actual cream, for instance!). The sweetness makes a nice contrast to the salty bacon too. As there is a lot of salt from the bacon, it's best not to cook the risotto in stock, as you normally would, or the salt levels will become overwhelming and you won't taste anything else.

When the risotto is served up, it doesn't look like a very large portion but it's incredibly filling. I was tempted to serve it with a salad, but I don't think I could have fitted it in, to be honest!

Roasted butternut squash and bacon risotto is syn-free on Slimming World if you use bacon medallions and spray oil. It's around 520 calories if you are managing your calories.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Risotto

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Turkey Chilli and Butternut Squash Rice

Turkey chilli with butternut squash rice topped with yoghurt and spring onion

I used to eat a lot of minced turkey back in the day, mainly because I didn't like red meat. Since I started eating red meat again, I have sort of forgotten about it, which is a shame as it's delicious and can be used for pretty much anything that beef mince can.

Turkey chilli was one of my favourite recipes for turkey mince and I remembered why as soon as I tasted it. It has all the flavour of beef chilli but it's lighter, not as rich. Turkey mince is lower in calories than standard beef mince, although not as low as the extra lean mince that's widely available now. It's a great alternative for those who don't like red meat or are trying to cut back on it a little. You can also get lean turkey mince in some supermarkets, to cut back an extra few calories. That's what I have used in this recipe.

Instead of serving it with traditional plain rice, I added roasted butternut squash to make it even more filling and to reduce the amount of rice required. That has the advantage of reducing calories without reducing the bulk of the meal, plus you can't beat the sweet, nutty flavour of butternut squash- gorgeous! If you like a lot of rice, I would advise increasing my suggested 40g to 60g per person. I topped mine off with a tablespoon of fat free greek yoghurt and some spring onion. The greek yogurt is also great for anyone who doesn't like their chilli as spicy as you do, because it cools the spice a little.

Turkey Chilli and butternut squash rice is syn-free on Slimming World if you use spray oil and is around 600 calories for a pretty decent portion if you are using MyFitnessPal.

Turkey chilli pinnable image

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Creamy Salmon Pasta

So the summer holidays are nearly over, it's not long until we are back to school, and its definitely time for me to get back on the MyFitnessPal wagon! To try and get things started with a bang, I wanted to make something new. I served up this Creamy Salmon Pasta dish, which is also syn free on Slimming World, and comes in at around 500 calories (less if you're not as big of a pasta monster as I am!) 

The creamy sauce is achieved with fat-free Greek yoghurt, which gives it a really nice tang. I personally like the Liberte brand because I find it thicker and creamier than others, but any plain, fat-free yoghurt would work. Mixed together with stock, veg, salmon and your favourite type of pasta, it makes a quick and delicious dinner. I could easily have eaten a second bowl, but that would have defeated the object! It has definitely earned a place on our regular dinners list.

Creamy salmon pasta is around 500 cals (depending on how much of a pasta fan you are) and is syn-free on Slimming World if you use spray oil.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Easy Chocolate Fudge Cake

Easy chocolate fudge cake pinnable image

Chocolate fudge cake is a classic indulgent cake and a popular choice is for dessert or an afternoon treat in restaurants and cafes everywhere. It's a very rich chocolate cake which is made with real chocolate rather than cocoa powder and it is filled and topped with an even richer, thick chocolate ganache. What's not to like?

If I'm not sure what to order for dessert, I will usually plump for the chocolate fudge cake because it's reliably delicious. Unless you're not a chocolate lover, it's pretty hard to resist all the deep chocolate deliciousness that's involved. 

If you want to make a chocolate fudge cake at home, this is an easy recipe and produces a reliably good result. It has a light, almost powdery-soft sponge and the icing is thick and fudgy. There are no tricky techniques or ingredients as it's an all-in-one method. Just throw everything in and whizz it all together. My only recommendations would be to make sure that your butter has been allowed to soften well, before you get started and to make sure that you use good quality dark chocolate. It makes all the difference.

You can have it on its own as a slice of cake with a cuppa, or serve with thick cream, marscapone or ice cream and have it as a restaurant style dessert. You'll want to cut an enormous slice because it looks so delicious, but I'm warning you, even the most avid-chocoholic would struggle to eat a big wedge of this cake. It's really, very rich!

Easy Chocolate Fudge Cake pinnable image

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Bolognese Bake

Bolognese Bake pinnable image

You'd think that now we're in the summer holidays, I would have all this spare time for making fancy, elaborate dinners. Doesn't seem to quite work out that way somehow! 

This bolognese bake fitted the bill of a comforting pasta meal on a rather cool summer evening last week, with plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day. Pasta, mixed together with a rich, meaty bolognese sauce and topped with grated mature cheese, makes a very tasy dinner. I find that mature cheese is essential to really complement the flavour of the bolognese. It makes a delicious meal, especially when served with a salad and some garlic bread. Just look at the cheese when it's all melted and crspy around the edges!

Bolognese Bake with cheese melted on the top

I tend to keep my bolognese sauce fairly simple and reasonably close to traditional, but if you're trying to sneak some extra veg in for your children, go ahead! Mushrooms, carrot or peas could easily be added to up the veg factor. 

This recipe is Slimming World Friendly and syn free if you leave out the red wine, use spray oil and save your HEX A for the cheese (reduced fat cheddar). If you use lean mince instead of extra lean, then it will be 2 syns per portion.

Bolognese Bake pinnable image

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Smoked Paprika Roasted New Potatoes

Smoked Paprika Roasted New Potatoes pinnable image

The weather is decidedly changeable and unsummery for July  at the moment, but I am determinedly still wearing sandals, still carrying my sunglasses in my bag, and still cooking summery dishes. Maybe I can bring it back by sheer force of will!

I made a big batch of my Very Garlicky Slow Cooker Lemon and Rosemary Chicken this week and was looking for something different to serve with it. I tend to stick to the same old potatoes and veg with dinner, especially during the week, and I just get very bored of them. 

I had new potatoes in the cupboard- the perfect summery accompaniment, but I wanted to add more flavour. The smoked paprika roasted new potatoes that I ended up making were just perfect; crispy on the outside and gorgeously fluffy on the inside, with a bang of flavour from the smoked paprika and the chilli. The best thing is that they are very easy to make, with just 5 basic ingredients and virtually no prep, so you could easily do them on weeknights to jazz up any meal.

If you love easy dishes that you just throw on a baking tray- these are for you!

Smoked Paprika Roasted New Potatoes pinnable image

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Feta Cheese Salad with Balsamic Dressing

The Improving Cook- Feta Cheese Salad

With the warmer weather over the last few weeks (and the heatwave that I really wasn't a fan of), all I have wanted to eat is salad. That has encouraged me into looking for a bit more variety in my ingedients. Lettuce, tomato and cucumber on their own gets old fast, and there's really no excuse for a boring salad!

This weekend, I was in the mood for something Greek-style and I had a block of feta cheese in the fridge. I added a few delicious salady bits to contrast with the soft saltiness of the feta, whipped up a garlicky balsamic dressing and hey presto- a simple feta salad. The feta really is the star of the dish. If you can't be bothered to roast the peppers you can either put them in raw, or buy roasted peppers in a jar. It's absolutely delicious served as a starter, or with some crackers for lunch, or as a side dish at a BBQ. 

Strictly speaking, a Greek salad doesn't include any lettuce, but I'm a big fan of the baby leaf kind, so I put it in everything. It would also usually have a lot more olives, but I only used them as a garnish. I did only say Greek-style right...? You can always throw in more if you're a big olive fan.

The balsamic dressing is easy to make in whatever quantity you need and will keep in the fridge until it's finished. It really tops off the dish.

The Improving Cook- Feta Cheese Salad  pinnable image

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