Spicy Balsamic Butternut Squash

1501160938928A simple and delicious recipe for you all today. Butternut squash is a massively under-used veggie, considering its something so delicious. It feels like it’s somewhere between a sweet potato and a pumpkin flavour-wise.

This butternut squash recipe requires minimal prep, and you can then just leave it to look after itself in the oven. Even though butternut squash may seem a bit autumnal, its great added to big salads in summer- which is why I’m giving it to you now. You can also use this root veg as a side in any meal where you would usually use sweet potato, and so make it all year long. I personally love it with omelettes and greens, or veggie burgers and a side salad topped with feta…

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

  • 1 medium butternut squash, end removed, seeds scooped out, and flesh cut into small chunks
  • Balsamic vinegar (NOT “balsamic dressing”), approx. 2tbsp
  • Chilli flakes, to taste (I went with about 2tsp)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Italian herbs 1tsp
  • 2 garlic cloves, VERY finely sliced

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Soy Sauce & Honey Roasted Sprouts

wp-1482144441301.jpgSprouts. The most hated vegetable on earth. Though, really they’re actually pretty delicious- you just have to know how to cook them.

When I was preparing this recipe my dad was watching in a kind of bemused amazement that you could actually do something other than just boil sprouts (he should’ve checked out my November Seasonal Salad). Thank god I inherited my culinary prowess from my mum, who saw nothing too unusual in this recipe.

Sprouts can be a little bitter if cooked in certain ways, but by tossing them in honey, chilli flakes, and soy sauce you’re guaranteed some great flavour. The method of cooking here means that the sprouts first steam, removing the bitterness, and then the honey caramelises when they’re uncovered. So with only 4 ingredients and a good method you can create a delicious side dish.

You can also use these sprouts in a few different ways:

  • Serve with spicy salmon fillets and rice (my choice in the above picture), or you can swap the salmon for tofu or chicken…
  • Add to an egg fried rice, or foo yung recipe…
  • They would even be wonderful as part of a massive salad…
  • Or in a bowl of cous cous with pomegranate seeds and orange chunks…
  • Or in a pile of noodles with some ginger and prawns…
  • They also taste amazing cold, so throw them into a tub for lunch the next day

Sound good? Thought so. Let’s get going…. Continue reading

Spicy Sweetcorn Fritters (healthy & easy!)

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Recently I have been wanting to switch up my meal accompaniments- because much as I love pasta, rice, bulgur wheat, sweet potato, and bread, its always fun to try something new. Particularly something new and easy. And cheap to make.

This recipe is all of the above, using primarily store-cupboard ingredients, and its also healthy. Because fritters don’t have to be deep fried. Also, although these are “spicy” you can omit the cayenne pepper if you’re a spice-wuss. Or use fresh chilli if you’re feeling extra hot.

You can serve these with anything you want, but I opted for smoked salmon (love it when decent stuff is in the Sunday bargain bin of the supermarket), spinach, and then some frozen peas I boiled and mashed with mustard and a little frommage frais. I took some of the leftovers for lunch the next day with eggs, broccoli, spinach, and pomegranate seeds- and still had three fritters left to freeze (because somehow I ended up with seven instead of eight or six). I feel like you could use these to dip into soup pretty successfully too.

Let’s get started…

 

Ingredients (makes 6-8 fritters, serving 3-4 people)

  • 100g self raising wholemeal flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 240g canned sweetcorn (weight given is the amount once drained- just check the can. If you have leftovers then use them in this simple chopped salad)
  • 1/4-1/2tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt, pepper- to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 100ml almond milk (or whatever you have)
  • cooking spray

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Mustard & Maple Chickpea Mash

Okay everyone, summer is around the corner (we hope), and so cold sides are a must. Quick and easy sides are always a must. And so I give you a simple “mash” recipe, which can be whipped up in seconds, and eaten in even less time. Its smooth and creamy, but also fresh and light. It’s also cheap to make, and will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. This means you may want to scale the quantities up, using a whole can of chickpeas, before chucking it into a tub for later in the week.

The quantities given below for the mustard and maple are entirely adjustable- I personally like more mustard than maple, but play around and find out what works for you. Serve it up alongside some salmon and veggies (as pictured), pair it with tofu, Quorn, or chicken, spread it in a sandwich, onto toast, or throw it into a lunch box to go. Whatever you do with it, enjoy minimal time and effort going into it!


Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 100g chickpeas
  • 2 1/2-3tsp mustard
  • 2tsp maple syrup (I used the Meridian squeezy maple)
  • 1- 1 1/2 tbsp. plant based milk dependent on how loose a texture you want (I would usually say use whatever you fancy milk-wise, but plant based milk works best on this one for some reason; I used coconut-rice milk)


Method

  • Place everything into a blender, and pulse until smooth; serve either cold, or microwave for a few seconds before plating up…

Tiger wedges + Creamy Avocado Dip With Bite

I’ve fell in love with my griddle pan all over again when I returned home this summer. Along with my blender it is one of my most used pieces of kitchen equipment. I griddle veggies, prawns, salmon- and now sweet potato wedges. For those of you who have never used one it’s basically a heavy bottomed pan, with ridges in the pan surface, which replicate the appearance of food cooked on the BBQ…
This is less of a recipe, and more of a fun idea for you guys. It’s quick, and just looks pretty impressive really- you could (if you’re a parent) even whip up a load of these wedges for a jungle themed birthday party. So, here is your quick and simple recipe…

For the Wedges…
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • Low kcal cooking spray
Chop the ends off of the sweet potato, and stab it all over with a sharp knife to prevent any microwave explosions. Slice into wedges, and cook on full power until tender. Spray the griddle pan with the cooking spray, and bring to a high heat. Griddle the wedges, laying them down diagonally to create your tiger stripes. Remove from the griddle once you have the charred marks.
For the Dip…
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1-2tsp thick Greek yoghurt
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard
  • Chopped mint, a few leaves
  • Black pepper
  • Squeeze of lemon juice (bottled is fine)
In a dish mash up the avocado, before beating in the Greek yoghurt, mustard, lemon, mint, and black pepper to taste. Serve alongside your tiger wedges.

Houmous Dipping Board

Decent houmous is  something I have spent many an hour in the supermarket trying to track down. And the best I have found is actually a Tesco’s low fat red pepper houmous. What makes a good houmous? Well, a good punch of garlic, a smooth but not gloopy texture (this is an issue I have had when it comes to shop bought and some homemade houmous), and some interesting variations on the basic recipe too- if possible. Please.

But, what better way to get the houmous I wanted than to make it myself? It turns out to be extremely easy. And I don’t mean easy in a health food wielding goddess way. We all know the instagramers and chefs I’m talking about. Whose “easy” recipes involve buying something from Wholefoods that it would actually be cheaper to fly to the Amazon rainforest and collect for yourself than purchase from a guy in one of those golfing hats at the tills. No, the basic recipe is ridiculously easy. So easy, that I decided to make a tasting board for a family meal recently, with five different houmouses on. FIVE. All but one is vegan friendly (avoid the feta vegans), all are delicious, all take no time to whip up.

Below I am giving you the instructions to make the dipping board that I created. If you only fancy one of the flavour variations then simply multiply the ingredients by five, and make this one flavour. So, here goes….
The Basic Houmous…
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1tbsp extra virgin olive oil (if you only have normal that’s fine, but extra virgin has a better flavour if you aren’t using it in cooking- which is why chefs use it in salad dressings)
  • 2tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (depending how strong you want it/ how much social interaction you have planned tomorrow)
  • 1/3 cup tahini (this is a sesame paste- think peanut butter, but with sesame seeds. Pick it up on the world foods isle of your local supermarket)
Blend it all together. That’s it. Blend it until it has the desired consistency; I like a few chunks, so for me this was mostly smooth, with a few chunks.
Making Your Dipping Board….
Divide the houmous into five, each fifth weighs about 68g to the best of my recollection. Then, for each fifth blend in the following ingredients, scoop into a ramekin, and serve on a platter with some carrot sticks, celery, and pitta bread. Wipe your blender quickly in between each flavour to stop all of the different houmouses becoming muddled. To just make one of the flavours multiply the ingredients by five, and blend into the whole batch of houmous.
Basic
Add a sprinkle of smoked paprika to the top
Mint & Cucumber
1/3 cucumber (rind on is fine)
4-5 mint leaves
Beetroot & Basil
4-5 basil leaves
2 jarred baby beetroots (you don’t have to use fresh- avoids a lot of mess)
Olive & Oregano
10 olives (I used jarred, 5 black and 5 green)
The leaves of 2 sprigs of oregano
Feta & Chive
25g feta cheese
1 small handful chives
That’s it! Enjoy your houmous dipping board- it looks like you spent hours in the kitchen, when it really required minimal effort. You can now assume a smug smile, and dig in…