A week of tasty grub.

(note my phone is being a pain at the moment so photos are delayed, for the moment!)

Well I have to say it has been a good week food wise. For my tea break today I have Twinnings salted caramel green tea and Abernethy biscuits. So a little bit good and a little bit naughty. Something I realised a long time ago is that I have a sweet tooth and trying to cut out all the naughty things I love always backfires. The Boyo sincerely hopes that any future children of ours do not inherit this, however it runs through the whole of my Mums family and I’m not nearly as bad as I used to be! When I was leaving school we had a yearbook made up and a wee blurb was written about all of, mine included ‘emergency dashes to the vending machine for chocolate’. Not much has changed!

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So this week as part of my attempts to become motivated and enthused again I decided to resume the challenge I set for myself in 2012. The challenge: I have to attempt one new recipe a week. It can be anything, cakes, treats, main meals etc. but I found it very enjoyable, it makes use of my large recipe book collection, I gain skills by experimenting and practicing and most of all I get to try new things. This included salmon and spinach as well as a lot of cake in 2012 so it isn’t all unwholesome.

So last week I tried out a recipe from BBC Good Food. It wasn’t the usual magazine; it was a Healthy Eating spin-off. I won’t copy the recipe here as that would be a breach of copyright (I am a librarian!). But it was a healthy chilli chicken recipe. If you do find the recipe then I found chipotle paste in tesco but I used a lot of the small jar they sell so I would look for a larger alternative so it would last longer. I made a slight alteration to the recipe; I used passata as both Boyo and I prefer that to chopped tomatoes and it worked out great. Follow BBC Good food on twitter @bbcgoodfood and find other tasty Mexican recipes on their website.

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I also cooked a semi healthy curry using the Hairy Bikers Eat For Life Book. I really like this book, it has so many tasty things in and I plan to use it a lot more. My curry was only semi healthy as I added a chicken pakora, an onion baji and a bit of naan bread. In our defence we have not had curry for ages (apart from one night when we were on holiday) I had a day I was working at home and really enjoyed preparing something properly. It was a Madras recipe, I used beef and I had two alterations, firstly I cooked it nice and slowly, over 7 hours in the slow cooker. I had discounted beef and I find that using the slow cooker gets the best result with the meat ending up lovely and tender. Not dry and chewy. The other alteration was that I added spinach towards the end of cooking time. Just trying to get some extra nutrients in. The only other suggestion I have is that if you cook it like me with a slow cooker you may want to use a little cornflour (mixed into a paste) at the end to thicken the curry if necessary.  The Hairy Bikers are also on twitter @hairybikers and their website has a nice selection of recipes (but not this one – get the book!)

On Friday we had a proper treat, I often make something a bit more naughty on a Friday, such as my smoked haddock pasta. This time it was enchiladas. Please note this is my version, I know it is in no-way authentic and it does contain cheats (oops!) BUT it is tasty and my sister demands I cook this every time she visits, in fact sometimes she visits not to see me but just to get fed, nice to know my food is loved.

M’s Chicken Enchiladas

For 4 People.

Ingredients

6 soft  flour or corn tortillas. (I get whichever is cheapest but for this it is often the corn tortillas)

1 500g tub of passata (very cheap in Lidl or Aldi)

3 Chicken breasts, cut into small chunks

Cheese grated up (however much you desire, but basically enough for a sprinkle in each tortilla and some for the top)

Mexican spices. (Buy when on special offer, I got a big tub of fajita spices in The Range)

1 packet of Uncle Bens Mexican style rice. (very often on special offer, this stuff is great!)

About 150ml of boiling water.

You will also need:

a large oven dish, one such as this. I have a big glass one I use. You basically want it big enough to fit the rolled tortillas in but small enough that they will be slightly squashed together as this stops them from unrolling.

A frying pan.

And 2 bowls.

Method

1. Put the oven on to warm up at around 200c.  Cut the chicken into smallish chunks. Warm a little oil in a frying pan over a medium flame. Cook the chicken and sprinkle over the spices. Remember the more you use the spicier the final result. I often add a few chilli flakes as well and if you wish look at the ingredients on the packet of spice and add more of the individual spices to add more flavour if you have them (eg. Garlic, chilli powder, cumin etc.) As you cook the chicken break it into even small chunks. It is a good way of checking to see how cooked it is and for the wraps later you want small pieces.

2. Pour the passata into a bowl and add some hot water. You don’t want it too thin so add the water slowly, stirring until the sauce is a nice consistency. Then add spices, the same rule as the chicken. The tomatoes neutralise the spices a bit so I’d add a fair bit. I’d say the whole sachet if using one of the sachets of spices (Old El Paso for example) or the equivalent. I know this isn’t very exact but for this you have to go with instinct and play around until you get it right according to your tastes. It is kind of fun, just be confident and go with it. Stir away until spices are mixed throughout.

3. Once the chicken is cooked get a ladleful of the sauce and a sprinkle of the grated cheese. Pour this over the chicken and leave to simmer on a low heat as you prepare the rest – think sticky sort of consistency for the sauce and chicken. Most of the sauce is for the top later.

4. Cook the rice according to instructions (usually 2 min), once it has cooked swap and put the tortillas on a plate and microwave for about 30 seconds. Meanwhile put the rice into a bowl.

5. Now we have all the components we are ready to construct. In a tortilla put a tablespoon of rice, then a spoonful of chicken, a sprinkle of cheese. Wrap then place into the dish, nice and firmly at the end. Repeat until the dish is full.

6. Pour over your sauce. Then as much cheese as you like over the top.

7. Place in the oven for 15-20 min, until the cheese has melted and you can’t wait to eat any longer! Everything has been cooked so it really is just about your patience at this point.

8. Serve. 2 tortillas each person. You will be stuffed at the end.

Other notes: This also makes super tasty leftovers. I always make one extra each for the Boyo and I and we have it next day for lunch. It feels like a real treat. You just microwave a portion for 2-3min.  For vegetables I usually quickly fry some onions, peppers and mushrooms in a bit of the fajita spice to have at the side. There is no room for them in the wraps. The Boyo really likes some jalapeno peppers with his.

 

Thinking about them makes me hungry! Enjoy.

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Party Time – Simple Savoury Treats

Picnic

A wee while ago I helped host a friends baby shower. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed making lots of tasty treats for our ‘Teddy Bear’s Picnic’. For savoury food we had a selection of cheeses, meats, olives, tomatoes in a basil dressing and slices of fresh baguette for people to choose from.

I also made my simple (cheats) version of sausage rolls and Rosemary and Pesto Palmiers.

Sausage Rolls

1 x block of ready made puff pastry (about £1 in Sainsburys) Room temperature.

8 x Sausages (fairly basic plain ones will do)

Spices – I tend to use a BBQ spice blend and plenty of black pepper

Tomato puree – a couple of tablespoons

1 x beaten egg.

Get your sausages an cut them open, peel off the skin and put the sausage meat into a large bowl and mash it up with a fork. Add your spices and tomato purée, season. Stir well and leave in the fridge whilst you get the pastry ready.

Make sure your work surface is clean and spread flour over it, this will prevent the pastry from sticking. Roll out the pastry until it is about the thickness of £1 coin, then cut it into little squares – I got around 24 sausage rolls from 1 block but it depends on how large you would like them to be. Put some of the sausage meat mix into the middle, fold over the pastry, brush a little egg down 1 edge to seal.

Leave it in the fridge to firm up for at least 20 minutes.

Brush each of the Sausage rolls with the beaten egg (or a little milk) before baking in a hot oven for around 15-20 minutes until golden and crispy.

Place on a cooling rack to cool before serving.

My Sausage rolls never look perfect – I like to call them ‘rustic’ but they always go down well at partie and are great cold for picnics and a snack when wandering the hills.

Rosemary and Pesto Palmiers (little pastry bites!) (Vegetarian)

I adapted this from a recipe I found on the BBC food website, they used sun dried tomato but I love the taste pesto gives these little bites. I could quite easily eat them all, very more-ish!

1 x Block of Ready Made Pastry Room temperature

Pesto (I like roasted red pepper pesto but any works fine!)

Rosemary (dried works fine)

1 x egg beaten.

Make sure your work surface is clean and spread flour over it, this will prevent the pastry from sticking. Roll out the pastry until it is about the thickness of £1 coin.

Spread pesto and sprinkle rosemary all over the pastry, ensuring to cover it all. Some sun dried tomato purée also works well.

With the shortest end facing you, take both long edges of the pastry and roll them towards each other to meet in the middle. Brush a little egg down the centre to stick the two halves together.

Leave in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to firm up.

Once firm use a sharp knife to slice into pieces around 1cm thick. Place on a baking tray with the cut side facing upwards. Brush well with a little beaten egg.

Bake in a hot oven for around 15 minutes until crisp and golden brown.

Place on a cooling rack to cool before serving.

Again these little treats are great for picnics and they are a nice side with cold meat such as salami or with soup on a chilly day.

Enjoy!

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