Friday, April 29, 2016

Garlic and Lemon Linguine with Chargrilled Chicken

When we were on holiday in Canada, we went a couple of times to a restaurant called The Spaghetti Factory, which does a lot of different pasta dishes and serves them up with a free salad or soup and garlic bread. Delicious!

One dish we had there, was a garlic linguine with chicken. I really enjoyed it, and at the time said I was going to try and make something similar at home.

This is my attempt. It's different to what we ate there, but it has the same flavours. It goes against my normal cooking style because it involves using 3 different pans, but it's worth it, I promise you. The chargrilled chicken is so nice that I'm glad I cooked two extra pieces. I'll be using them for chicken salads at lunchtime. The pasta is very garlicky- you've been warned!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mackerel Fishcakes

I love fish, really enjoy eating it. Seafood not so much. It's one of the few things that I steer clear of, crab, prawns etc. I am not a fan of them.

When it comes to fish though, I get a bit stuck in a rut with using cod, haddock and salmon for home recipes. In restaurants, I'll go for more variety with seabass, monkfish, mackerel and so on. So, I thought it's about time I started branching out a bit with using them at home as well!

I chose mackerel to start with, as it's an oily fish and very good for you. Fishcakes seemed a good way to make it go a bit further. I went with the non-breadcrumbed kind to shave off a few calories and to make it a quicker process, and I was really pleased with how they turned out.

Mackerel fillets are pretty readily available and save you the fuss of de-boning. You just need to run your finger down the fillet to check for any stray bones. I only found three in my two fillets. As the fishcakes also have potato in them, all you need to prepare in addition, is a salad, or a nice selection of vegetables and they would make a nice lunch or dinner.

To make this slimming world friendly, swap the oil for low calorie spray.

The Improving Cook- Mackerel Fishcakes

Friday, April 22, 2016

Cajun Chicken and Bacon Tray Bake

Cajun Chicken and Bacon Traybake cooked

The trouble with being on diet plans is that you need to be organised. No getting in from work and thinking what shall I have for dinner,  I can't be bothered to cook, let's get take-away! It all needs to be thought of in advance. So, it was a bit awkward last week when we were just getting started and I found myself without any planned dinner. It needed to be quick and fit in with Slimming World for my husband's diet (mine is more flexible).

And so the Cajun Chicken and Bacon tray bake was born! I love a tray bake dinner. It's so easy- chop it all up, through it on a baking tray and hey presto! If you don't like Cajun seasoning, try Fajita seasoning, or Nando's chip seasoning as alternatives.

I made some changes to the recipe below to make it Slimming World friendly and syn free- I used bacon medallions instead of back bacon and spray oil instead of olive oil.

Cajun Chicken and Bacon Traybake pinnable image

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Choc-Chip Orange Muffins

I had the baking itch this week but we're both on healthy eating plans at the moment (My Fitness Pal for me, Slimming World for him), so what to do? Take them to work, after we'd tried one each of course!

With all the orange curd I have on the go after my choc-orange Easter cake, I decided on orange curd muffins with chocolate chips, and they were delicious. I love chocolate and orange as a combination- Terry's chocolate orange at Christmas is a must!  When I was filling the muffin cases, I over-filled them, so some spilled over slightly when they rose. You can probably get 13 out of the recipe, but I tried to squeeze them into 12 for convenience!

If you're a choc-orange fan too, give them a try.

Choc-Chip Orange Muffins

Friday, April 15, 2016

Choc-Chip Banana Bread

We got back from holiday last week to an empty fridge. This is because I like to be organised when I go on holiday, using everything up, giving away anything still in date that hasn't been used. We had booked a supermarket delivery in the last couple of days of the holiday, so we knew food would be arriving shortly after we got back.

There was one thing that had escaped my attention in the big clear out though- the fruit bowl! So, there were 2 totally black bananas staring back at me when I went in the kitchen. That coupled with half a packet of chocolate chips meant banana bread was on the agenda. With everything else going on that day, I didn't get round to doing it until 10pm! A bit of late-night baking runs in the family. My mum is always doing it.

Banana bread keeps so well, you can store it for several days in an air-tight tin.

For other 'using up ripe banana' recipes, click here: Banana recipes.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Very Garlicky Slow Cooker Lemon and Rosemary Chicken

You might remember that a few (quite a few!) weeks ago I mentioned that we are trying to lose weight in our house. Well, we got totally distracted from it and fell back into old habits, as you do. We're giving it a another go this month! The big issue tends to be lunch as we both love sandwiches and bread. Especially lovely, fresh, crusty bread... With summer coming up, it's easier to have salads etc. The trouble is that my husband doesn't like salad, so pasta and jacket potatoes will work better for him on the diet he's trying (Slimming World).

I was trying to think of versatile foods that I can make in bulk and use in different ways for lunches and dinners and I came up with this chicken dish for the slow cooker. It's very simple- only 5 ingredients and once it's shredded it can be served hot: with rice, on mash, mixed with cream cheese and pasta, or in a jacket potato. Leave it til the next day and have in a sandwich, on a salad or with some cous-cous. See- versatile!

It's seriously garlicky, so tone down the garlic if you're not such a fan. I used chicken breasts, but chicken thighs would also work- just cook them an hour longer and skin and bone them before shredding.  If you don't have the cider vinegar, add another tablespoon of lemon juice and a teaspoon of sugar.

If you're doing Slimming World, this recipe is syn free.

Very Garlicky Lemon and Rosemary Chicken

Friday, April 08, 2016

Slow Cooker Beef Curry

Curry is probably my favourite takeaway. It's not just the curry and rice, it's all the delicious bits that go with it. Mmmm naan bread! Saag Aloo! Poppadoms! Mango Chutney! Samosa! Bhaji! The problem is wanting to have a bit of everything, but not being able to fit it all in. There's a talent in clever ordering.

It's very easy to make a half-decent curry at home. There's a bit more talent required to make a really amazing one. One of my colleagues at work makes spectacular curries and delicious little morsels of Asian goodness as well. I am nowhere near up to that mark!

Getting it right is all about the combination of spices. Slow cooking a curry means that you can use cheap cuts of meat and you can leave it cooking without standing over it. Below is my slow cooker beef curry, which freezes well and is full of delicious smells to come home to! I use beef rib trim, which can be hard to get. You can use stewing steak or other humble cuts as well.

If you are doing Slimming World, you would need to make sure the beef has all the fat trimmed off, and swap ginger paste for powdered or fresh ginger to keep it "syn" free.

Slow Cooker Beef Curry

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