Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Slow Cooked Pork in Apple Cider

As you know, I love my slow cooker. Ahem, my two slow cookers... and I use them very regularly. One thing I haven't really tried to cook in them is pulled pork. Pulled pork is everywhere! It came out of nowhere and now you see pulled pork sandwiches in shops, pulled pork on restaurant menus, ready to eat pulled pork in supermarkets and so on. I have eaten pulled pork and enjoyed it, so it was about time I made some!

Pork and apple are a classic combination, so it seemed a good place to start. I used to make a pork and cider casserole quite often (note to self- must resurrect that recipe this winter!), so that seemed that a good flavour combination to go with. I used the eating apples that I had to hand, to add more apple flavour to the cider. They were Gala apples, and if you prefer things quite sweet, then go with that. I prefer the more "appley" flavour of a slightly more tart variety. If that's you, then go for Pink Lady or Granny Smith. As far as the Cider itself goes, choose your favourite, if you have one. I don't drink, so I went for a fairly local brand and it worked well.


The great thing about pulled pork is that you get a lot of it, so you will definitely have leftovers for sandwiches. I had mine on a salad for lunch  the next day and really enjoyed it.




Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mango and Coconut Loaf Cake

We have been buying a lot more fruit lately, partly because it's summer, and there's so much more to choose from, and also as part of my husband's Slimming World diet.  The trouble with having so much lovely fresh fruit around, is that you have to keep on top of what needs eating and by when. I'm a pro with whizzing up something with bananas on the turn (Look here if you need ideas for banana recipes- Banana Recipes), but mango? kiwi? Not so much.

So  when I noticed that a mango had gone a bit wrinkly, I wasn't sure what to do with it. Mango makes me think tropical, so I immediately thought coconut. I wondered if I just mashed the mango, whether it would work in the same way as banana in a cake, and it did!

The cake is a gorgeous deep yellow when you slice through it. It has a lovely texture too. I thought a lime drizzle would top of the tropical flavours and I'm glad I added it. It really finishes it off beautifully.

If you don't have any mangoes on the turn, you can use the bags of frozen mango, as long as you defrost it first. As long as it's really soft, ripe mango, it will work. If you don't have limes handy for the drizzle,  bottled lime juice will work perfectly well.

Mango and Coconut Loaf Cake


Friday, May 13, 2016

Sweet, Smoked Paprika Chicken


Do you go through phases of being totally uninspired by what to make for dinner? I do every now and again, and last week was one of those times. I was stood in front of the meat cabinet in the supermarket for ages just staring- beef, pork, bacon, chicken, turkey... I briefly turned round and looked at the fish, and then back to the meat. No ideas and I didn't fancy anything we usually make. In desperation I bought chicken breasts, thinking- there's always something you can do with chicken breasts!

At home I then stood staring into the cupboard, hoping for inspiration, an unopened bottle of smoked paprika caught my eye. My Dad loves smoked paprika, but I haven't really ever used it. The idea of BBQ flavours seemed a good one, so I thought honey would work as the sweet to match the smoky flavour of the paprika.

It's definitely one of my favourite chicken marinades, of those I have made recently. I really want to try it with slow cooked chicken as I just have a feeling that it will be amazing!

We had this chicken with new potatoes and broccoli, but it will definitely work with rice. Give it a try next time you're uninspired!


Sweet Smoked Paprika Chicken

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Harissa Cous Cous

A recipe for Giant Cous Cous was one of the first I published here. I still cook with it regularly, especially in the summer. It's great for lunches.

This spicy recipe is one I made for my husband when he started Slimming World. He was finding it hard to be inspired at lunchtime, when he was so used to having sandwiches. I tend to cook extra at dinnertime so there's leftovers for lunch, but on this occasion, there wasn't!

It's delicious hot, but it's fine to have cold the next day too. He had it just as it is, but you could add some grilled salmon or left over cooked chicken to make it a bit more substantial. If you prefer it even spicier, then add a teaspoon of chilli powder as well.

To make this Slimming World friendly and syn free, use powdered harissa and spray oil.


Harissa Cous Cous






Thursday, May 05, 2016

Slow-Cooked Barbecue Beef

I'm always looking for something different to do in the slow cooker with beef. I love the recipes that I make regularly, which are here if you want to try them:

Slow Cooker Beef Curry
Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Pie
Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon
Slow Cooker Vietnamese Beef Stew
Slow Cooker Beef Brisket


There's quite a few of them isn't there? But it's always nice to have something different.  I thought this Slow-Cooked Barbecue Beef would be yummy with chips and then my husband mentioned it would be good in a bun and that was that! Of course, that doesn't mean that you couldn't have chips as well! Recipe here: Home-Made Oven Chips and we did!

I used beef shin to make this recipe, but any humble cut of beef would work- brisket, rib trim, stewing steak etc.

Slow Cooked Barbecue Beef


Sunday, May 01, 2016

Beef Mince Hot Pot

Last week, I was in a real hurry to get out the door on one of the days, so I wouldn't miss my bus to work, so I didn't have time to think about what we would have for dinner. I just grabbed a pack of mince from the freezer and raced off. On the way home, I was trying hard to be inspired by something to make that was a bit different from the usual. So, not chilli (chilli recipe), not cottage pie, not lasagne or bolognese (bolognese recipe).

I thought about a twist on the traditional hotpot. So, instead of chunks of lamb or beef, I'd use mince. I left the skin on the potatoes, because why not, and It turned out very well. My husband wolfed it down- there were leftovers for lunch and I would make it again! It would also freeze well, if you wanted to make it ahead of time, and I'm pretty sure that some grated cheese on the top would be amazing.

To make this Slimming World Friendly, use 5% fat beef mince and swap the oil for low fat spray.




Beef Mince Hot Pot



Ingredients
(serves 4)

400g 5% fat beef mince
350g potatoes
1 onion
2 carrots
150g frozen peas
200ml beef stock
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tsp oil

Method

1. Chop the onion and peel and slice the carrots. Heat 2 tsp of the oil in a pan to soften them.

2. Add the mince and cook until browned.
3. Stir through the tomato puree and the Worcestershire sauce.
4. Add the beef stock, bring to the boil and turn the heat down to simmer for 10 mins. add the peas after 5 mins.
5. Slice the potatoes into rounds, leaving the skin on.
6. Par boil them by putting them in salted water until it comes to the boil and boil for 1 minute.
7. Drain the potatoes.
8. Spoon the mince into a large casserole dish and lay the sliced potatoes on top.
9. Put any leftover potato rounds onto a baking tray and drizzle the remaining teaspoon of oil over them.
10. Put the casserole dish and the baking tray into the oven at 200 degrees ( 190 fan, gas mark 6) for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are browned.
11. Serve with broccoli or cabbage.


Beef Mince Hot Pot


Sliced raw potatoes on the top of Beef Mince Hot Pot


Cooked crispy potato slices on top of Beef Mince Hot Pot


The Improving Cook- Beef Mince Hot Pot


Beef Mince Hot Pot

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