I cook fresh, (sometimes) healthy recipes

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Valentine's Day Recipes: Chili Chicken and Chorizo Rice Pot

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I thought I'd do something a little different on the blog today and share some of my favourite recipes in the run up to Valentine's Day. In my opinion, there's nothing better than treating that special someone - yourself included - to a lovely home cooked meal. I personally couldn't think of anything worse than being stuck in between other couples (hands up if you've been there) in a restaurant on Valentine's Day. 

If you're looking for a fuss-free recipe, this slow cooked one-pan rice dish with chicken and chorizo could be the one for you! It's the perfect remedy for the cold, wet weather the UK has graced us with recently and is guaranteed to result in the best kind of cuddles. And if you're lucky enough to be basking in warmer temps, the cuddle guarantee still applies! 

This dish will serve two comfortably with enough for leftovers the next day. 

2 chicken legs
1/2 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic
handful of chorizo 

50g long grain rice
200g tinned tomatoes 
250ml chicken stock
1 tbsp cayenne chili pepper

Start by heating a tablespoon of oil in a pan and brown the chicken legs on a medium to high heat for 5 minutes on each side. Reduce the heat slightly and add the peppers, onion, chorizo and garlic to the pan for a further 5-10 minutes until the chorizo releases lots of its delicious, smokey oil. 

Reduce the heat and add the rice, tinned tomatoes and half the stock to the pan. Cover the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the stock appears to have dried out. Gradually add the rest of the stock and simmer for 20 minutes further, or until the rice is cooked. 

Monday, 9 December 2013

Winter Potato Salad with Ginger Soy Salmon

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This is probably the easiest meal I've ever cooked. The recipe is really versatile and can be switched up to match whatever you have lying around in your kitchen. It's also a great way to use up any leftover potatoes! I understand that this isn't really a potato salad but i'm going to go ahead and call it one, and I added vegetables which automatically makes it a salad.....right? 

I wish there was a way for me to describe just how good this smells. The combination of garlic, salt and oil makes my tastebuds do a little dance, sometimes make a little love, and yours are guaranteed to do the same once you've tried this. A lot of my recipes are the result of random concoctions put together in an attempt to beat my 'I have nothing to eat' moments. Coupled with my limited student funds, I was forced to be creative and to work with flavours and seasoning to plump up simple dishes. 

The recipe should be more than enough for lunch or a light dinner for two. However, if you are feeding a guy I would recommend adding a few more baby potatoes and using the whole yellow pepper. The potato salad also works perfectly on it's own and works great as an accompaniment to eggs in the morning. 

4 baby potatoes, chopped into small chunks
1/4 onion, finely sliced
1/2 yellow pepper, sliced into thin strips
large handful of plum or cherry tomatoes 
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
an inch wide slice of aubergine, chopped into small chunks
3 tablespoons olive oil

two salmon fillets 
a tablespoon of ginger paste
two tablespoons of soy sauce
a tablespoon olive oil

Preheat your oven to 170ºC. Place the potatoes, sliced onion, yellow pepper, tomatoes, aubergine and garlic in a bowl. Drizzle the olive oil and toss around to make sure everything is coated well. Season with some salt and pepper. 

Transfer the contents of the bowl into an ovenproof dish (big enough to fit the salmon fillets as well) and bake for 20 minutes. Whilst the potato salad is in the oven, you can prepare the salmon. In a bowl, coat the salmon with the ginger, soy sauce - drizzle with olive oil and season with black pepper. After 20 minutes, add the salmon fillets to the potato salad and bake for a further 20-25 minutes. Serve with parsley. 
Monday, 18 November 2013

Breakfast: White Chocolate & Cranberry Blondies

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Chocolate and fruit is a great combination. I can't actually eat chocolate in large amounts but when it's combined with something else, I'll definitely give it a go. After trying these, I've decided that they would make the perfect breakfast! Especially if you're anything like me and sometimes want to rebel from traditional breakfast options. Please note, I will not be held responsible for any addictions to eating cake for breakfast which will ensue from eating these blondies!

I based the recipe for these blondies on your everyday brownie and wanted to broaden my brother's palette a bit by introducing nuts and fruit into the mix. Chocolate brownies always ask for some type of melted chocolate and I assumed that the white variety would melt as smoothly as his brown brother but I was clearly mistaken. I melted the chocolate way too quickly and was left with a horrible, lumpy mess. After a quick tip via google, I was able to rectify my mistake and get down to it. 

My cooking prep nearly always consists of firing up Spotify! Whenever I cook, I have to listen to music. I'm convinced that a little booty shake here and there adds a little something to your cooking and helps make everything taste miles better! I currently have this song on repeat at the moment. 

To make approximately 16-20 squares, you will need: 

100g dried cranberries
200g plain flour
200g unsalted butter
4 large eggs, beaten
225g white chocolate to melt, an extra 100g roughly chopped
100g mixed nuts (hazelnuts also work perfectly), blended
225g caster sugar

Start by preheating the oven to 190ºC and line a 9x12in brownie tin, or similar tin, with parchment paper. Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water and gently melt them, stirring until smooth. Make sure the bowl doesn't come into contact with the simmering water as this can cause over-heating. Chop the chocolate into small pieces to help the chocolate to melt evenly and quicker. It's also a good idea to remove the bowl from the saucepan while there are still a couple of unmelted chocolate lumps as they will melt anyway if you continue to stir. Leave to cool. 

Add the sugar to the chocolate mix and stir it well. Add the eggs a little at a time, mixing well between additions. Sift in the flour and fold until the mixture is smooth and no patches of flour can be seen. Stir in the cranberries, blended nuts and the chopped chocolate pieces. 

Pour the mixture into the tin and spread evenly - make sure to get right into those corners! Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set them aside to cool on a wire rack and once cooled, cut into squares and serve.
Thursday, 31 October 2013

Main Meals: Scotch Pot Tagliatelle with King Prawns

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There's nothing more satisfying than seeing other people enjoy your food and for me,  that comforting silence after the first bite is a clear sign that you've done a good job. However, when I'm cooking for myself I'm not always so generous with the time and effort I put in. I typically prefer simple dishes like salads, couscous, or grilled fish and veg that I can make in no time and carry around with me for packed lunch. I had a day off today and decided to make a one-pot pasta dish that I've been perfecting for a wee while and I finally think it's ready to share with you all. 

There are many one-pot pasta recipes out there but I couldn't find one that really hit the spot in terms of spice for me - I'm a spice addict. You simply put all your ingredients in a pot and cook whilst the starch in the pasta is slowly released to help create a beautiful rich and creamy sauce. 

This recipe will serve two people very comfortably or if you're cooking for just yourself, you can keep the rest for lunch the next day. The main ingredients are:

150g tagliatelle pasta 
1 scotch bonnet pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 can of plum or chopped tomatoes
1 chopped pepper (I used half a red, and half a yellow)
1/3 large onion
2 tablespoons of tomato puree

To season, you will need:

200ml chicken stock
1 teaspoon hot curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ginger paste
salt & pepper, to taste

Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat, simmering for about 20 minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on it - I usually give it a stir every 5 minutes or so until the pasta is al dente. The spicy pasta is perfect on its own but I think everything is better with prawns! Fry the king prawns in a tiny amount of olive oil, pepper and soy sauce and serve.
Sunday, 27 October 2013

Desserts: Oreo Pound Cake with Vanilla Drizzle

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Can I let you in on a little something? I used to be absolutely petrified of baking...like I legit couldn't force myself to make something as simple as a cookie. Then one day I decided to just fully dive in and make some flapjacks. Now I know what you're thinking - that it doesn't sound like much but my thirteen year old self was so proud! I soon started taking those sticky lovely things into school for my friends to enjoy because let's face it, baked goodies are (sometimes) best shared!

I took a little inspiration from the classic lemon drizzle cake and using a simple pound cake as a base, added some crushed Oreo cookies. And for the drizzle, I just replaced the juice of a lemon with vanilla extract. 

If like me, you love the idea of combining two sweets into something so sinfully delicious then maybe you can swap the Oreos for something else that you love? Maybe some Daim Bars or Snickers? Whatever you fancy! 

You'll Need:

225g soft unsalted butter 
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
225g self-raising flour 
1 packet of Oreo cookies, crushed

For the Drizzle: 85g caster sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, water

PREHEAT oven to 180 C.

WHISK together the butter and caster sugar until the mixture is pale and creamy. Add the 4 eggs, one at a time, slowly mixing it all through. 

SIFT in the flour, then add the crushed Oreo cookies and mix until everything is combined. You can line your loaf tin (I used a 8 x 21cm) with greaseproof paper but I didn't have any at the time so I just greased the tin with some butter instead. Spoon in the mixture and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a thin skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. While the cake is cooling, mix together 85g of caster sugar, the vanilla extract and some water - just keep adding the water a tablespoon at a time until the drizzle reaches a thick but runny consistency. 
Prick the warm cake all over with a skewer or fork, then pour over the drizzle - it should sink in and the sugar will form a lovely, crisp topping. Leave the cake in the tin until completely cool, then remove and serve. 
Sunday, 20 October 2013

Main Meals: Lemon Pulp Pepper Chicken

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I haven't been eating the healthiest food recently due to my new job so when I finally had a day off I treated myself to something that wasn't shop-bought. Recently, however, my days off are actually just a few hours to myself to relax, and not necessarily a whole day! I've just started a new job working in a bar, so on top of going to university full-time (i.e. spending my classes surfing the net here) and going to the gym, trying to cook on a regular basis is becoming near on impossible. I won't say impossible because deep down I know I do have the time and can make it happen!

On this particular day, I was

a) short on time
b) using whatever ingredients I could find
c) not very hungry

which is why the portion size looks quite small. So feel free to add more chicken or veggies, or maybe even add some pasta. 

The combination of lemon and parsley is perfect if you want to add some natural flavour to your meals. I try not to cook with any additives or any unnecessary amounts of salt and sugar so try to use foods that are naturally quite salty or sweet. A lot of my cooking starts with a versatile base - something like couscous or a mixed bean salad - and in this case I used some leftover roasted veggies. Anyway enough of my chit-chatter, the recipe is below! 

For the chicken, you will need:
2 chicken breasts, skinless & boneless
juice and flesh of a lemon
2 tablespoons soy sauce
black pepper
1 clove garlic, sliced or minced
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the veg:
I used a mix of sliced peppers, onion, aubergine, courgette, and cherry tomatoes. Drizzled with olive oil and some salt & pepper, I roasted them in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. 

SLICE your chicken breasts to your desired thickness. 

COMBINE the olive oil, garlic, juice and flesh of a lemon, soy sauce and black pepper in a bowl. Place the chicken breasts in the mixture and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. 

HEAT your griddle pan or wok until hot and fry the chicken breasts for about 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Sprinkle with some fresh parsley. 

You can eat this hot or cold and it would work perfectly as a packed lunch with some couscous and fresh lemon squeezed on top. 
Monday, 7 October 2013

Dressings and Sauces: Lemon & Mustard Dressing

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I am probably the world's biggest fan of Marks & Spencer food, especially their super-foods salads. This is actually an adapted recipe of the dressing from one of my favourite M&S salads...I loved the tangy and fresh flavours that the dressing provided and thought I'd have a go at recreating it! I created this recipe using trial and error so you can tweak the recipe to suit your tastes - I like my dressings to be tangy! It's perfect with tomatoes and with any of your favourite salads. Click on the image to see my how-to video! 

You'll Need (for approx. two servings):
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons of wholegrain mustard
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
garlic pepper and salt (to taste)
parsley (approx. 2 tablespoons)

Add this dressing to a salad with chopped tomatoes, couscous and grilled chicken.