Mexican Bean Stew


Mexican Bean Stew (2)

Do you ever have one of those days where you feel a bit tired and sluggish, and like you probably need to pump your body full of good things? Well, this is the most delicious remedy! It’s full of beans, grains and vegetables (and topped with a healthy portion of dairy too – optional of course!).

I didn’t fancy making this dish today. I had a lovely griddled pork chop dish planned, but on getting home from work realised my pork chops were a bit old! However, once I threw this together I was glad I did. It’s full of deep, earthy Mexican flavours and really is the most simple way of injecting good stuff into your diet.

This will serve 3-4 (just increase the amount of beans and chopped tomatoes if you want to serve more) and takes 30 minutes to make.

Mexican Bean Stew (1)

Mexican Bean Stew

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 small glass red wine

1 x 400g tin black beans

1 x 400g tin black eyed beans

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 yellow peppers

150g quinoa

1 large handful fresh coriander

Soured cream and grated cheddar, to serve

1. Chop the onion and garlic and put in a large saucepan with the olive oil. Sizzle for 2 minutes, then add the paprika, cumin, ground coriander and cinnamon. Stir well, then tip in the red wine. Allow to bubble down.

2. Add the black beand and black eyed beans (with a little of the water from the tins) and chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

3. Add the chopped yellow peppers and quinoa. Add a little water if it’s too thick, and bring to the boil. Let it simmer gently for approximately 10 minutes until the quinoa is cooked.

4. Turn off the heat and stir through the chopped coriander. To serve, top each bowl with a little grated cheese and a dollop of soured cream. Enjoy the health kick!

Advertisements

Spring Vegetable Risotto with Feta


Spring Vegetable Risotto with Feta (2)

I don’t know about where you are, but here in Chester it’s been a glorious day – the sun has been shining, the birds have been singing. On coming home from work today, I noticed that my strawberry seeds have finally started to sprout (I was starting to worry I had dud seeds!) and as I sit here typing this I can hear the merry sound of a bumblebee buzzing outside the window. Spring is definitely here!

I always (sadly) get a bit excited when asparagus comes into season – the price plummets and suddenly a new realm of recipes can be made.

I make this particular risotto – using various combinations of veg – probably once a fortnight in spring and summer. It’s a great, tasty way of packing whichever vegetables you choose into your menu. I used asparagus, peas and spinach but you could swap in whatever you like.

Some people might have the misconception that risotto is a heavy, winter dish. This is not true in this case. Simply swap the butter for olive oil and reduce the amount of parmesan you add, and suddenly the risotto is very light and fresh.

This will serve 4 and will take around 45 minutes to make.

Spring Vegetable Risotto with Feta (1)

Spring Vegetable Risotto with Feta

2 tbsps olive oil

1 onion

300g risotto rice

1 small glass white wine

500ml vegetable stock

100g asparagus tips

200g frozen peas

100g spinach

10g grated parmesan

80g feta

1. Chop the onion and add to a large casserole dish with 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Cook gently for a couple of minutes, then stir in the risotto rice. Pour in the white wine and stir.

2. When the wine has mostly been absorbed by the rice, start adding the stock bit by bit, stirring all the time. When you have added all of the stock, the rice should be just slightly al dente – taste it, if it’s too al dente, add some more stock.

3. Roughly chop the asparagus, then add it along with the peas and spinach to the risotto. Stir well until the spinach has wilted, then turn off the heat. Drizzle over the remaining olive oil, sprinkle over the parmesan and put a lid on. Leave it for a couple of minutes.

4. Chop the feta into bitesize pieces, then stir into the risotto. Done!

Carrot, Beetroot and Watercress Salad


Carrot, Beetroot and Watercress Salad (1)

March is a month of contrasts, isn’t it? Particularly here in the UK, some days there can be balmy, mild sunshine which shows off the multi-coloured budding flowers and the blossom on the trees. Other days, like today, there can be a miserable, leaden grey sky and a howling icy wind which destroys the buds and blows the blossom away. I, like most people I’m sure, prefer one of these types of day significantly more than the other.

There was one of these rare sunny days recently. It reminded me that in a few short months, my sister and her fiance are getting married. They’re getting married abroad, which means a beach holiday (and the bikini which goes with it), and it was as such a notification that perhaps the time is here to wean ourselves off stodgy winter warmers, and towards lighter, more bikini body friendly meals.

This particular salad is a happy medium. It is served warm, so is nice when the weather is as miserable as it is today (I resembled a drowned rat when I got home), and is packed full of healthy veggies.

It’ll take approximately an hour in total to make, but it’s very low maintenance and the majority of this time is spent sitting on the sofa, drying off next to the fire. This will serve 3-4.

Carrot, Beetroot and Watercress Salad (2)

Carrot, Beetroot and Watercress Salad

500g baby carrots

6 raw beetroot

2 tbsps olive oil

1 tbsp runny honey

2 tbsps lemon juice

250g ready to eat lentils

100g watercress

75g goats cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Trim the ends of the carrots and place in a large baking dish. Cut the top and tail off each beetroot and slice them into wedges (no need to peel). Add these to the dish along with half of the olive oil. Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, until soft.

3. To make the dressing, mix the remaining olive oil with the honey and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Towards the end of the cooking time, heat your lentils – either on the hob or in the microwave. Place in a large bowl and mix with the watercress and cooked carrots and beetroot.

5. To serve, share out the salad between bowls and top with a few blobs of goats cheese and a drizzle of dressing. Enjoy!

Fennel, Leek and Mushroom Penne


Fennel, Leek and Mushroom Penne (2)

Leeks are one of my favourite vegetables. I love their fresh, slightly fragrant flavour. At this time of the year, in the UK as we approach Spring, they will start to go out of season soon. So, along with my Anglesey Eggs last night, I wanted to produde a few recipes which would celebrate this wonderful, underrated vegetable which somehow manages to cheer up the winter months.

Shortly, as Spring arrives, we’ll start getting lots of new exciting vegetables. But in the meantime, why not make the most of what we have.

This is a moreish, creamy pasta dish which I’m sure you’ll love. It’s completely vegetarian, ready in 20 minutes and warming on a cold, biting day (it’s supposed to warm up by Saturday apparently, but for now the Winter seems to be clinging on…).

This will serve 5-6.

Fennel, Leek and Mushroom Penne (3)

Fennel, Leek and Mushroom Penne

500g fresh penne (or dried equivalent)

10g butter

1 onion

3 medium leeks

1 fennel bulb

200g button mushrooms

200ml half fat creme fraiche

1 tsp dried oregano

1. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling water until al dente. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, slice the onion, leeks and fennel. Add to a large saute pan with the butter and cook for 10 minutes until softened. Halve the mushrooms and add these – cook for a further 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the creme fraiche and 200ml water. Add the oregano, bring to a simmer then season with salt and pepper.

4. Mix the sauce with the pasta and leave to sit for 2 minutes. Enjoy!

Fennel, Leek and Mushroom Penne (1)

Find this recipe on the Pasta, Please! link up hosted by Family-Friends-Food and Tinned Tomatoes!

Anglesey Eggs


Anglesey Eggs (2)

With it being St David’s Day yesterday, I thought it only right to share a Welsh recipe today. This particular recipe is one my Nain (Nain is Welsh for grandmother for those who don’t know) used to make often.

My Nain, who lived on Anglesey, was a fantastic cook; we used to love visiting for the delicate scones, fruity bara brith and melt in the mouth Welsh cakes.

This recipe was a speciality and we used to eat it with crispy skinned baked potatoes. I didn’t have time for baked potatoes today, so we had it with crusty bread rolls instead to mop up the cheesy sauce.

Anyway, my Nain gave this recipe to my mum, who also used to make it often throughout our childhood. When I was desparate for a comforting, nostalgic meal one day I asked her for the recipe – and now I’m sharing it with you. It is tasty, cheap and easy, and I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has.

I just googled ‘Anglesey Eggs’ to see if it is a well-known dish, and it seems others do know of it. The recipes I found had potato in them though – that’s not how our family make it!

This will serve 3-4 and takes around 40 minutes to make.

Anglesey Eggs (1)

Anglesey Eggs

3 medium leeks

6 eggs

30g butter

20g plain flour

1 pint milk

80g cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1. Preheat the grill to high.

2. Slice the leeks and add them to a frying pan with 10g of the butter. Saute over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes until soft.

3. Meanwhile, hard boil your eggs in boiling water for 6 minutes. Once they’re done, run them under the cold tap for a couple of minutes, then gently peel them.

4. For the sauce, melt the remaining butter in a saucepan then stir in the flour. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Gradually whisk in the milk, then put it back on the heat and cook, whisking all the time, until thick. Stir in most of the grated cheese, and some salt and pepper.

5. Transfer the leeks to an oven proof dish. Lay the eggs on top (keep them whole), then pour over the cheese sauce. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and the smoked paprika, then put under the grill for 5 minutes or so until golden and boiling. Iechyd Da!

Anglesey Eggs (3)

Greek Sharer with Courgette Fritters


Greek Sharer with Courgette Fritters (2)

What could be better, after a tiring Tuesday, than a meal you can basically put on a platter and eat? (Sure, with this meal there is a small amount of cooking – but this is so easy it barely counts). I love this sort of meal – see my Swedish Smorgasbord or my Greek Salad. They are perfect for Tuesday nights – not only are they seriously easy, but they are fun – sharing is fun, so lighten what could otherwise be a dreary night of the week.

You may notice some similarities between this and my Greek Salad. That is because they are both inspired by our honeymoon in Greece last year. When we were on Kos, we did a bus trip of the whole island. As part of this trip, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant high up a cliff which overlooked a tiny, beautiful cove. It was so peaceful. The friendly waiters brought us a 3 course lunch – bread and olives, then courgette fritters and tzatziki, followed by chicken skewered kebabs. It was a wonderful lunch, with a cool breeze coming off the ocean and the warm sun beating down on us. This is the sort of memory you need in the middle of February.

So, it is no surprise that today, when we woke again to frost and I can hear the rain beating against the window now, that we would want a meal to remind us of that delicious lunch on that beautiful island.

The fritters are the star of the show here – mix and match the additional bits as much as you like. I would advise you make the tzatziki too; they work so well together – but other than this, change the type of bread if you like, make your own hummus if you have the time, add some meat…whatever you like!

This’ll serve 4, and takes 15 minutes.

Greek Sharer with Courgette Fritters (1)

Greek Sharer with Courgette Fritters

2 courgettes

4 tbsps plain flour

10g grated parmesan

2 tbsp olive oil

300ml Greek yoghurt

1/2 cucumber

2 cloves garlic

4 pitta

250g hummus

A handful of green and black olives

10g feta, chopped

1. Put the pitta in the oven at 130 degrees to warm through for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, grate the courgette. Squeeze the grated courgette to get rid of the excess water (it’s good to do this in a tea towel), then put in a large bowl with the parmesan and flour. Mix well.

3. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Split the mixture into 6, then roll each bit and squash like a burger. Pop into the frying pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crisp. Remove from the pan and leave to rest on a piece of kitchen paper.

4. For the tzatziki, grate the cucumber and chop the garlic. Mix with the yoghurt and season with salt.

5. To serve, chop the pitta and add to your serving dish/board with the hummus, olives, feta, tzatziki and courgette fritters. Let everyone dig in!

Greek Sharer with Courgette Fritters (3)

Beetroot and Thyme Fusili


Beetroot and Thyme Fusili (1)

It’s been one of those days – long and busy. All I wanted for dinner tonight was something quick, comforting and carby.

Hubby is eating out tonight, so I thought I would treat myself and pick my favourite things and somehow combine them into a meal. So – beetroot, feta and pasta it was. I was quite worried about how this would turn out. Not so much the flavour – how could this combination not taste good – more the look. And as you can see, it is pink! I think there’s a kind of vibrant beauty to it though.

I was so pleased when I tasted this. It is lovely – there is sweetness from the beetroot, creaminess from the creme fraiche, saltiness from the feta and the wonderful aromatic thyme too. If you try one of my recipes, make it this one!

And don’t worry – hubby won’t miss out – I’ve made enough for lunch tomorrow!

I used pre-cooked beetroot in this, but if you aren’t in need of such instant gratification as I was, you could roast your own fresh beetroot before starting the recipe.

This will take 10 minutes and will serve 4.

Beetroot and Thyme Fusili (2)

Beetroot and Thyme Fusili

500g fresh fusili (or equivalent dried)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

250g pre-cooked beetroot

1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

200ml creme fraiche

feta, to serve

1. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saute pan over a medium heat then add the chopped onion. Sizzle for 2 minutes then add the chopped beetroot along with any juice from the beetroot. Cook for a further 2 minutes, then add the thyme and creme fraice.

3. Simmer for another 2 minutes, stirring often, then season. Drain your pasta and add to the saute pan along with 3 tbsps of the pasta water. Mix well.

4. To serve, top each bowl with a little crumbled feta and tuck in!

Mediterranean Vegetable and Goats Cheese Pancakes


Mediterranean Vegetables and Goats Cheese Pancakes (2)

Happy Pancake Day everyone! What are you giving up for lent?

I’ve never been particularly good at giving things up for lent. My philosophy regarding food is everything in moderation, and so giving up chocolate, biscuits or wine would be against everything I stand for unfortunately.

I thought about giving up Netflix – but then how would we spend our hungover Sundays? Giving up pavement rage would never work either (I don’t drive, so my commuter rage is focussed on people who walk slowly and cars that don’t stop to let me cross the road), because there are too many anger inducing sights every morning.

So, I’m making a promise to myself – I will post on the blog at least 6 times a week throughout lent. If you notice me slacking, shout at me!

Anyway, back to pancake day. I decided that seeing as pancakes are so delicious you have to eat more than one, why not fill them with something healthy? These savoury pancakes filled with fresh Mediterranean veggies and lovely, melty goats cheese have enough healthy ingredients to counterbalance the fact you want to eat eight of them (don’t quote me on that).

This recipe will make 6 pancakes, and will take approximately 20 minutes.

Mediterranean Vegetables and Goats Cheese Pancakes (1)

Mediterranean Vegetable and Goats Cheese Pancakes

1 mug plain flour

1 mug milk

1 large egg

4 tbsps olive oil

1 red onion

1 large courgette

1 red pepper

1 handful green olives, halved

40g goats cheese

1. Pour the flour, milk and egg into a bowl and whisk together until smooth. Leave to one side.

2. Chop the onion and add to a pan with 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Cook over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, then add the chopped courgette, red pepper and olives. Cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring often, until the veggies are soft.

3. Heat the rest of the oil in a frying pan over a high heat. When the oil is hot, add a ladleful of the pancake batter and move the pan around to form an even layer over the base. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden underneath, then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from the pan, add another ladleful of batter and repeat until you have made all of your pancakes. You may need to add more oil.

4. To serve, pile a spoonful of the veg into the centre of each pancake, crumble over some goats cheese and roll up. Enjoy!

Spinach and Nutmeg Soup


Spinach and Nutmeg Soup (1)

Wow, what a weekend! I had such a wonderful, spoilt birthday filled with meals out, drinks and general revelry.

We had 4 meals out and 2 takeaways in total, and who knows how many glasses of wine/prosecco/cocktails.

Therefore, tonight we needed an instant injection of the vitamins and minerals we are sure to be lacking now. Spinach soup is the perfect way to do this. Not only is it desperately, desperately easy (look how short that ingredient list is!), it is also delicious and packed full of vitamins k, a, c, b2 (almost the whole alphabet!), not to mention iron, magnesium and folic acid. Surely this will aid our bodies’ recoveries after a heavy weekend.

I love the flavour combination of spinach and nutmeg. I got the idea for using nutmeg in this soup from a nettle soup I once made many years ago, which used nutmeg. I was quite young when I made the nettle soup, and remember so vividly the fear that it would sting my tongue! Of course, it didn’t; it was wonderfully flavourful and with spinach and nettle being fairly similar in taste, the nutmeg works beautifully in this recipe too.

The dish is completely vegetarian, and would be vegan too if you omitted the feta, which I just couldn’t leave off.

This dish is ready in 15 minutes, and will serve 4 with some crusty bread on the side.

Spinach and Nutmeg Soup (2)

Spinach and Nutmeg Soup

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

1 litre vegetable stock

450g spinach

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

20g feta, crumbled

1. Chop the onion. Add to a large saucepan with the olive oil and cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

2. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Gradually add the spinach, handful by handful, until it is all wilted.

3. Sprinkle in the nutmeg, then whizz the soup in a blender until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the crumbled feta.

Vegetable Enchiladas


Vegetable Enchiladas (1)

Yum! Who doesn’t like enchiladas? They’re like the Mexican version of lasagne! They are perfect for cold weather, because they’re the ultimate comfort food. Anything baked in the oven is wonderful when it’s cold outside.

We looked through the cupboards yesterday and came across some tortilla wraps which were about to go, and were delighted when we realised that to use these up, we could make this.

I’ve only ever made chicken enchiladas before, but seeing as it’s still January and so we should technically be on a health kick, I’ve made this version completely vegetarian, and contains loads of different veggies which makes it fairly good for you – you could almost get your 5-a-day from this dish!

If you like these, try my Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni!

This takes around 45-50 minutes to make, and will serve 2-3 (more with a side salad/dishes)

Vegetable Enchiladas (2)

Vegetable Enchiladas

1 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion

200g button mushrooms

1 yellow pepper

2 courgettes

2 tbsps tomato puree

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

6 flour tortilla wraps

400g tin chopped tomatoes

30g cheddar cheese, grated

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

20ml soured cream

1. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees.

2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the sliced onion, halved mushrooms, sliced peppers and sliced courgettes. Cook over a medium-high heat for 5 minutes, until starting to soften, then stir in the tomato puree, smoked paprika, cumin and cinnamon. Cook for another 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.

3. Lay out your tortillas. Place a spoonful of the veggie mixture into the centre of each one, then fold them up as you would a fajita. Lay the wraps side by side in a large oven proof dish.

4. Pour the chopped tomatoes over the wraps. Try to do it evenly, but don’t worry if they don’t reach the edges. Top this with an even layer of the grated cheese and chilli flakes.

5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the tortillas are crisp at the edges and the tomatoes are hot and bubbling.

6. Enjoy with a dollop of soured cream, and some sliced spring onions if you fancy.