Thursday, February 11, 2016

Roast Squash & Goats Cheese Quinoa Pizza - A Pizza Not Just for Weekends



Big big fan of pizza,who isn't?, well except my daughter (THE fussiest toddler on the planet) But it's usually keep for weekends as I'm thinking of the fat, calories and carbs!!! But then the other day I was reading my new Donna Hay book, Fresh and Light, where a quinoa crust tart was featured, so I got to googling quinoa pizza. I was thinking, if a tart base can be made from quinoa, then surely a pizza base can be fashioned in relatively the same manner.



I stumbled across a website called Simply Quinoa, and I was blown away by the variety of recipes on the website, all of which contain quinoa. If you are a fan of quinoa or looking for some ideas to replace your carbs with quinoa, then I suggest you check out the website. I'm highly impressed!!!



It's from Simply Quinoa that I got the recipe for my pizza base. I did use red quinoa (though apparently white quinoa is better), as this was all I had in the house at the time, but it worked out brillantly. I've used gluten free pizza bases in the past, and most are disgusting. I was very skeptical of the result in using quinoa would have on the finished product, but I needn't have worried. I kept saying to my husband 'wow,wow, I can't believe it' as I was eating the pizza. What's more,Alan (fearer of all that is alternative and healthy) agreed it was pretty tasty.



So here is the recipe as taken from Simply Quinoa for the basic base Simply Quinoa's Ultimate-quinoa-pizza-crust/

Serves 2 (or Serena)

Ingredients

For the Pizza crust

  • 3/4 cup of quinoa, soaked for 6-8 hours
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


For the pizza topping

  • 1 tbsp of passata
  • Roasted cubes of butternut squash
  • 50g soft goats cheese
  • 1 tbsp grated mozzarella
  •  1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp  black pepper
  • Pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp chopped flat leaf parsley


Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees and lay oiled baking paper on a baking tray.
  2. Rinse the quinoa and put in a blender along with the other ingredients. I used my Nutri Ninja, making it the work of mere moments. The mixture is like a pancake batter.
  3. Pour the batter out onto the baking paper trying to keep a circle shape.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn it over and bake for a further 15 minutes.
  5. Spread the tomato sauce over the base and scatter the toppings over the sauce. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until the pizza is ready. Then enjoy.
You can use any ingredients once your pizza base is made, everyone has their one favorite pizza toppings. 

I'm even thinking that this crust would also work as well sweet as it does savory, so watch out for my quinoa apple tart or a nutella smore pizza!!!!


Monday, February 8, 2016

Nigella's Italian Steak n' Chips - A New Take on a Classic



In my hungover state yesterday I found myself indulging in my ultimate guilty pleasure - watching hours of the Food Network. I love Nigella Lawson, so I  was delighted with a double bill of Nigellisima. In the episode I watched, she made Tagliata and Tuscan Fries. I was positively drooling. And knew that that would be the hangover cure meal for the coming evening, So I pulled out my Nigellisima book and sent my husband off to the shops to get the ingredients.



This is her Italian take on steak and chips, and I'm completely converted and actually very excited to recreate it again next weekend for our Valentine's dinner. I do not have a deep fryer, so I opted for her style of making the chips in a pan with hot oil. I was absolutely terrified making the chips as I can be quiet clumsy in the kitchen and it requires the utmost concentration, so as not to scald yourself. But it is most definitely worth it. Though in hindsight, with a crazy hangover and a hyper toddler running around the kitchen, it was a bold choice.





The idea of marinating the steaks after cooking is sheer brilliance, resulting in an extremely tasty steak, full of flavour and punch. In  Nigella's book, she states that one steak is plenty for two people. In fact stating this is a wonderful way of stretching a steak to two people. Now if Nigella tells you something is enough, then I should have believed her. Greedy guts here cooked two steaks (it would have certainly done four people at a dinner party).  In saying that, me and my husband had no trouble eating everything.


I didn't have the herbs she called for in the Tuscan Fries recipe, but I substituted the sage with basil, and it worked really well, especially seeing as this is an Italian recipe anyway.



With Valentines approaching, this is a stunning elegant steak and chips recipe to make for that someone special.



Serves - 2 greedies/4 adults

Ingredients

For the steak




  • 1/2 tsp of dried chili flakes
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 2 tsp of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp of black pepper
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • 2 sirloin steaks


For the chips
  • 4 large rooster potatoes, skins on and cut into thin chips
  • 2 litres of vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic in skins
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 4-5 fresh basil leaves
To serve

5-6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bag of rocket (or designer leaves as Nigella would say)



Method

  1. Start by putting the chips in a deep pan of oil, cold oil. Turn the heat up high and cook for 15 minutes. using a tongs and oven glove to stir every so often. Some of the chips will stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir frequently so you don't loose too many to this fate.
  2. After 15 minutes, carefully drop in the garlic and herbs and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so. The chips tend to float to the top with cooked. Try to get a really brown crispy finish.
  3. Transfer the chips to a warm oven to keep hot while you cook the steaks. The steaks go cold quickly so that's why I suggest making the chips first and keep warm. As trying to keep the steaks warm whilst trying to wait for the chips to cook, will only result in an over cooked steak.
  4. Heat a grill pan until searing hot.
  5. Combine all the steak ingredients, except the steaks, in a shallow baking dish.
  6. Lightly oil the steaks and sear in the pan, 2 minutes a side. The steak will be rare but this is what we want. 
  7. Transfer the steaks to the baking dish with the marinade and let them rest for 2 minutes a side in the marinade.
  8. Remove the steaks to a board and slice very thinly on the diagonal. Meanwhile, put the cherry tomatoes, cut side down. in the marinade and stir them around a bit.
  9. To serve, scatter a serving dish with the rocket. And randomly scatter the slices of steak over the rocket, along with the cherry tomatoes. Pour the remaining marinade over the dish, not wasting a drop of flavour.
  10. Serve with the crispy Tuscan fries.
Tip for the Fries: Chips in my opinion cannot be eaten without salt and vinegar. For these chips, I recommend coarse salt and balsamic vinegar. Delish!!!!!!

Thank you Nigella, as always, you rock!!








Friday, February 5, 2016

Homemade Chocolate Spread - A Healthy Nutella Alternative



I've been absent on the blog lately with two babies to take care of and home renovations to complete before re opening the bed and breakfast. Today is Nutella Day so I  thought what better day to write my first blog post of 2016. As usual the start of a new year,  a new healthier eating plan (well good intentions anyway). Here is a an indulgent chocolate spread, but being homemade, it's ten times better than the shop bought alternative. Everything in moderation, right!?




We love Nutella in this house and  I'm constantly including it in baking recipes, especially for the Bed and Breakfast. Last summer, through trial and error, I developed my own take on Nutella, recreating it from scratch at home. It is indulgent, but gives me piece of mind to know that I made it at home myself so I know exactly what's in it. Here is the recipe and all the photos that have me drooling today.



Ingredients


  • 150g of hazelnuts
  • 150g of dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp of icing sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of cocoa powder




Method


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Place the hazelnuts on a roasting tray and roast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes, until they have browned and blistered.
  3. Once the hazelnuts are roasted, put in the tablecloth and rub vigorously to remove as much of the skins as possible.
  4. Place the toasted hazelnuts in a food processor and blend to a paste.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth. The mixture will be a bit grainy, not as smooth as regular chocolate spread, but that is the charm of this spread.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Apple, Cranberry & Coconut Pies - The Mince Pie Alternative



These are real simple kick ass recipe for an alternative to mince pies, but still has the Christmasy vibe. They can be whipped up in a flash and can be frozen before baking in a tray or frozen once baked and cooled, making them a lifesaver when unexpected guests descend.




Ingredients

  • 1 sheet shortcut pastry
  • 100g fresh cranberries
  • 2 eating apples, peeled and diced
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 25g desiccated coconut
  • 1 egg




Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees, and grease a muffin tin.
  2. In a mixing bowl, toss together the cranberries, sugar, apple, and coconut
  3. Roll out the shortcut pastry, and cut out 12 circles. Roll up the off cuts and roll out thinly again. This should give you 12 stars
  4. Place each circle of pastry into the muffin holes and fill each hole with the cranberry and apple filling.
  5. Top with a star and brush with some beaten egg. Finally sprinkle each star with a little sugar and then bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  6. When the pies are cooked, remove from the oven and place the tray on a wire rack. Immediately, gently go around the outsides of each pie to loosen from the edges. Then wait 10 minutes before removing from the tray and cool completely on the rack. 
  7. Dust with icing sugar and enjoy.



MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Parsley, Chilli & Garlic Pesto



I've never been a fan of store bought jars of pesto and sauces. I'm  very conscious of additives and sugars in processed food, and I always like to know exactly what I'm eating. It is for this reason I like to make my own sauces and pesto. I normally just make a bog standard basil pesto (excluding the cheese), but last week I decided to make some pesto with a bit of a twist. I've used parsley instead of basil, and blanched almonds instead of pine nuts. I've also upped the 'kick' of the pesto with a deseeded whole red chilli and a large clove of garlic.  I prefer my pesto pulsed rather than blitzed smooth, the texture adds much more to a dish.




I find that this pesto lasts up to two weeks in the fridge, and it's not only good with plain pasta, I used it last week to pimp up a roast chicken,brushing the pesto all over the chicken before roasting in the oven, and the  other day I brushed it over some thick cod fillets before baking in the oven. Today I'm using it as a sauce for my homemade wholewheat sweet potato gnocchi. There are so many more possibilities with this pesto, I find myself reaching for it in the fridge time and time again.



Ingredients
  • I bag of flat leaf parsley
  • 1 fat garlic clove, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 100g of blanched almonds
  • Salt & pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
  • Extra Vigin olive oil, approx 100mls (add more if you want a 'wetter' pesto)



Method
  1. Simply add all the above ingredients to a mini food blender and pulsed until you get your own desired consistency. Add more oil if you wish.;
  2. Store in a sterilized container or jar.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Indonesian Style Roast Pork



As much as I love a Sunday roast, sometimes I like to do something a little less traditional with my Sunday dinner. I bought a pork loin for my Sunday dinner and thought I would try something a little different with it than roast potatoes & apple sauce (not that there is any thing wrong with roast potatoes and apple sauce). I love Asian flavours, so I decided to try to recreate the flavours of the food we had whilst in Indonesia...( I'm always cooking Thai, so I thought Indonesian might be some fun).



 I loved my time in Indonesia, especially the food. Here's my slow baked Indonesian Pork Loin, that requires very little effort at all, once the marinade is made. You could then serve this with potatoes, but I decided on a Pea and Raisin Pilaf Rice. I think when I make this again, I will cover the meat in foil (To prevent the marinade from turning too dark and burning), until the final 30 minutes, and also perhaps serve it with a satay noodle side.



Ingredients

  • 1.5kg of basted Pork Loin
  • 4 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of smooth peanut butter
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 thumb size piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp of Chinese 5 spice
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • 1 onion




Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.
  2. Combine all the ingredients (except for the pork of course) in a blender and blitz to a sauce consistency.
  3. Pour the sauce over the pork and allow to marinade for a few hours at least, ideally over night.
  4. Cover the pork with tin foil and bake in the oven for 3 hours, remove the foil for the final 30 minutes and turn up the oven to 200 degrees.
  5. Allow to rest for 30 minutes before serving.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tomato Baked Orzo


I've taken a time out from the blog for last two months, a little maternity break, as we welcomed a new addition to our family on Sept 2nd. We now have a gorgeous baby boy called Fionn!! I took the break as time is precious with a newborn, plus I also have my little two year old angel Aoife to consider. So whilst getting used to the lack of sleep and the little time to prepare meals, I had made a decision not to let the blog, diet, exercise;or lack thereof all 3, bother me. Instead I've been getting to know my new little man and sleeping when he's sleeping (only when Aoife is sleeping too which is not too often). So basically, I have my hands full.



Fionn is six weeks old already, so hard to believe. We have been living in our own little bubble since his arrival. He's getting so big and alert and already outgrown 2 sizes in baby wear. The six week milestone is a big one for him, he can now focus on us and he's smiling a lot, which melts my heart!!!


But the six week milestone is also important for me. It marks the beginning of me getting back on track, with diet, exercise, and a few sneaky blog posts (when time allows).



I mentioned diet!!! I'm on a mission to loose the baby weight, or at least most of it in time for Christmas.  This will involve, a lot of exercise, mainly walking with the double buggy and my Kayla Itsines 12 Week BBG.



As today is a Monday, I have decided to start the week with a meat free Monday recipe. I'm making enough for 2-3 meals. It's all about batch cooking these days for us. I'm easing myself into the diet so the first recipe is a pasta style dish.



Orzo pasta is a Greek pasta, which resembled rice, but tastes like pasta. If you can get wholemeal, please do, though it is difficult to find. This dish is packed full of flavour, veggies and herbs. It's all made in one pan, making it a true one pot wonder. By baking the dish in the oven, it intensifies the flavours.



Serves 2-3

Ingredients
  • 500g passata
  • 150g orzo pasta
  • 1 tsp Italian herbs
  • 1/2 diced red onion
  • 1/4 red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/4 green pepper, diced
  • 5-6 mushrooms, diced
  • 2 tbsp of chopped mixed herbs (flat leaf parsley, basil, & mint for example)
  • 6-7 olives
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • 100ml of stock
  • Salk & Pepper
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil




Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. In an oven proof dish, add the oil and onions and saute for a minute.
  3. Add the dried herbs, peppers, mushrooms and orzo.
  4. Saute for a few minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients, except for the tomato slices.
  5. Place the tomato slices on top of the stew like mixture and place the dish into the oven for 40-50 minutes until, all the liquid has been absorbed. 
















Tip: I'm serving mine with a green salad, but to make the dish even tastier, you could add slices of mozzarella on the top of the dish before placing it into the oven.


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