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Roasted Beetroot and Butterbean Soup

Following on from my previous post of the wonders of the superfood Beetroot, I’ve started with Roasted Beetroot and Butterbean Soup.

Honestly, I’ve never taken to Beetroots, I don’t mind them cooked with a salad or raw grated in a sandwich or salad.  But they aren’t on top of my list of vegetables I really savour and enjoy.

So, in an effort to broaden my taste buds and nutrient levels I decided to attempt my first Beetroot based soup.  I’ve added Potato to thicken it and Butterbeans for protein, along with the Pistachio garnish.

beetroot soup

 

Butter beans are a very good low-fat source of protein  as well as a good source of iron, zinc and magnesium.

Roasted Beetroot and Butterbean Soup

This recipe serves 3-4 depending on bowl size.

Preparation time is around 1½ hours.

Ingredients

400g raw beetroot
150g potato, cubed
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
750 ml vegetable stock
1 x 400g tin Butterbeans
1 lemon, juiced
1 orange, juiced plus zest
Black Pepper (to taste)
4-6 tablespoons coconut milk (to taste)

To garnish:  Total Greek Yogurt and chopped Pistachios

Method

Place the beetroot and potato in separate oven trays and roast for around an hour at 180C, the potatoes were ready after about 40 minutes.

Place onion and garlic into a pan and steam fry for around 3-4 minutes until softened.
Add the stock to the pan with the Butterbeans and cook for around 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Take the cooled Beetroots and peel the skin off, chop and place in a blender with the potatoes, Butterbean stock mix, lemon juice, orange juice plus zest, coconut milk, salt (I don’t use as the stock has salt in) and black pepper to taste.

Blend until smooth.

At this point you can either place in a saucepan and heat through again and serve immediately with a yogurt garnish sprinkled with roughly chopped Pistachio nuts for texture and bread of your choice, we enjoy toasted Sunflower Rye bread spread with coconut oil.

Or place in the fridge to consume within the next couple of days.  This recipe will also freeze well for up to 2 months.

beetroot soup 2

Nutritious and delicious!

For Beetroot nutritional info, see Superfood Beetroot

 

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Savoury Cheesy Lentil Muffins

With the Bake-Off back this week, I thought I’d get in the baking mood again, haven’t done any for a while, it just doesn’t appeal to have the oven for too long on in the very hot weather.  And with my quest to bake with less or no sugar, these Savoury Cheesy Lentil Muffins fit the bill exactly with no added sugar.

lentil muffins 3

These muffins contain 3 different cheeses and Lentils which belong to the same legume family as beans which means they share similar nutritional benefits being rich source of lean protein and fibre.

Lentils also have  a good mineral profile with generous amounts of iron, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium.

Savoury Cheesy Lentil Muffins

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Baking Time:  25 minutes
Makes:  12 large or 24 mini muffins

Ingredients

50g red lentils, cooked
300ml skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
150g Ricotta
2 medium sized eggs
50g tomato purée/paste
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
30g Parmesan, grated
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
225g wholemeal self-raising flour
70g white self-raising flour
50g Cheddar cheese, grated

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 180C, 160C fan, Gas 4.

In a large bowl whisk together the milk, Ricotta, eggs and tomato paste, once completely blended add the cooked red lentils, chopped red onion, Parmesan and parsley and stir in well.

Sift both white and wholemeal (include the husks after sifting) flours into the bowl and stir until combined.  Don’t over stir or the muffins will be heavy.

Spoon the batter into a greased muffin tin, I split the batter into a few full size muffins and some mini, bite-sized muffins for little fingers.  Sprinkle grated Cheddar cheese onto the muffins in the tin.

Bake for around 25 minutes until golden brown, do the cocktail stick test to make sure they are cooked through.

Serve warm or cold.  These muffins are moist and soft and are great halved and slathered with butter or tomato chilli chutney.

lentil muffins 2

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Tomato Chilli Relish

Is this a chutney or a relish?   Chutney’s and relishes are often used interchangeably as condiment terms.  I think of relishes as needing less cooking time and using little or no sugar, so I’ve called this recipe Tomato Chilli Relish.

Picture 155

My tomatoes are still green and growing on my tomato plants but we do have a lovely red, ripe Cayenne Pepper, the second to ripen on our plants, we used the first in a spicy pasta dish and boy was it good!  Fiery hot but fabulous too!

cayenne

I’ve used powdered Cayenne for this batch as I want the chilli pepper for a chilli, madness probably in this hot weather but I have 14 more chilli peppers ready to ripen in the next couple of weeks so will use a fresh, homegrown one to make more relishes and chutneys.

tom cay relish

Tomato Chilli Relish

Ingredients

1 medium red onion. finely chopped
½ teaspoon Paprika
½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ teaspoon ground Cumin
375g Tomatoes, finely chopped
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon demerara sugar (optional)
ground black pepper to taste

Method

Gently fry the red onion in olive oil for 2-3 minutes or until soft.

Add the Paprika, Cayenne Pepper & ground Cumin and cook out for a minute or so.

Add the tomatoes, I like to leave the skins on my tomatoes for chutney’s and relishes, balsamic vinegar and sugar to the pan with the onion and spices and simmer until it thickens up, around 20-25 minutes.  The sugar will bring out the flavour of the tomatoes.

tom relish

Serve with cold meats and cheeses, I pop some in chicken sandwiches, delicious and perfect for summer eating!

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Carrot, Ginger, Orange Soup

All change with the weather again, the sun got his hat on again last week and we were all enjoying the benefits of lighter eating, being out doors and not having the heating on!

With the exception of the sand blown over from the Sahara this week (my car and windscreen were covered in it and my eyes have been feeling gritty too), the warmer weather, even if temporary, is so welcome.  

carrots

I’m still eating a lot of soups, mostly for a quick, light lunch, this soup literally only takes chopping the onion, carrots, ginger and juicing the orange to prepare, then can be left to bubble away until all the flavours have infused.

carrots ginger orange

Soups are also brilliant for using up produce or even just making use of food already in the cupboard and fridge.  The basic soup recipe is good for all the family and as you know I like a little heat  so I do add a touch of cayenne pepper to mine once served.

My oils of choice are Coconut and Olive, when choosing an oil to cook with you want an oil that will not be damaged by high cooking temperatures and Coconut oil can be used at higher temperatures without heat-induced damage to the oil.

carrot ginger orange soup

Carrot, Ginger, Orange Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: around 1 hour
Serves 4

Ingredients

I medium red onion, finely chopped
450g  carrots, sliced fairly thinly
750ml vegetable stock 
1″ fresh ginger, chopped
pinch or two of cinnamon 
1 medium orange, juiced

To garnish:
seeds of your choice 

Method

Gently steam fry the onions in a large saucepan until softened.

Add the sliced carrots and cook for 10-15 minutes on a medium heat, stirring frequently.

Add the vegetable stock, bring to a rolling boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for around 25 minutes or until the carrots are soft.

Add the chopped ginger and cinnamon and simmer for a further 5 minutes to infuse the flavours.

Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly before blending to a smooth consistency.  Whilst blending add the orange juice.

Serve garnished with a selection of seeds – I like Neals Yard Omega Sprinkle, a mix of pumpkin, sunflower, golden linseeds, brown linseeds and sesame seeds.

carrot ginger orange soup

 Quick Nutritional Info:

Carrots contain valuable amounts of the phyto-nutrient antioxidant beta-carotene which gives carrots their bright orange colour.  Beta-carotene is absorbed in the intestine and converted into vitamin A during digestion.  They are an excellent source of vitamin A plus vitamin C, E, K, folic acid, calcium, potassium, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc and some iron.   

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Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is said to have magical properties when you are have a cold, I rarely get them but the Little One attends nursery or Pre-School Academy as it is now known and it is a breeding ground for bugs and sniffles.  She has a streaming cold, but it is not bothering her in the least, but to get it out of the way fast I thought I’d make a Chicken Soup which is very easy to throw together and a welcome supper especially as the weather has gotten colder this week.

chicken soup

Chicken Soup 

Prep & Cook TIme: around 1 hour
Serves 4

Ingredients

2 litres of chicken stock (I used Maggi Stock Pot)
3-4 medium-sized chicken thighs (I used skin and bone on)
1 red onion, chopped
2 Bay leaves
Thyme, good sprinkling
I used: 2 large carrots, 2 large celery sticks, butternut squash, 1 small
sweet potato, all chopped and 1 medium courgette, sliced
125g pearl barley
50g short grain brown rice

Method

Bring the stock to the boil, then add the chicken thighs, onion, bay leaves and thyme.  Simmer covered for around 20 minutes.

Take the chicken out of the stock and put aside.

Add the vegetables into the stock with the pearl barley and rice, bring to the boil, then simmer again for 30 minutes.

Pull the chicken off the bones and shred.  Add the chicken to the soup, season to taste and simmer for a further 10 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves before serving.

This makes a wonderfully filling chunky healthy soup and a well balanced meal, the pearl barley and rice will absorb all the flavours and add fibre.  Pearl barley is a very good source of molybdenum, manganese and selenium plus a good source of copper, vitamins B1, B3, chromium, phosphorus & magnesium.

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Almond and Flaxseed Cookies

I have had the busiest week, something in the diary every day made the week whizz past quicker than it usually does!   I have also started a foodie photography course with Lyndsey James and am learning so much about the technical side of my camera, buttons I had never visited and techniques I will be practising to improve my food photo’s .  

Cookies are something I make regularly, different ones each week, we all like our cakes and cookies here so having some control over the ingredients to make them a little healthier is always a good thing!

almond flax cookies1

Almond and Flaxseed Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Baking TIme:  15 minutes
Makes around 30

Pre-heat your oven to 180C/400F Gas 5

Lightly grease a couple of baking trays

Ingredients

100g unsalted butter, softened
185g self-raising flour
70g golden caster sugar
100g flaked almonds
35g golden flaxseeds
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1tsp vanilla extract

almond flax cookies3

Method

Rub the softened butter into the flour until you have fine breadcrumbs, stir in the caster sugar, flaked almonds and golden flaxseeds.

Combine the egg and vanilla extract into the dry ingredients then shape into small balls and flatten slightly.

Bake for around 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Place on a wire rack immediately after baking and leave to cool… if you can!  

That’s it!

Crunchy on the outside but cushion soft in the middle, I make these in my mini macaron pan (yes I have a multitude of baking pans!) to try to keep their shape but these cookies aren’t ones that spread all that much due to the self-raising flour.  As with all my recipes I keep the sugar content down, I used 70g today but I would use 50g if I were adding fruit.

almond flax cookies

These are brilliant for kiddie snacks and lunchboxes and also because they are mini cookies, a small, sweet fix when I need one!

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Warming Paprika Chicken

This is a very easy mid week meal to put together, the Paprika and the Cayenne Pepper (which you can ramp up or down depending on your love of heat!) give the dish that lovely warming feeling, perfect for the damp, chilly weather.  Serve with plenty of crusty bread to mop up those saucy flavours!

Warming Paprika Chicken

Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Serves 3-4

Chicken Paprika Collage

Ingredients

6 medium sized chicken thighs
1 tablespoon Paprika
2 medium sized white onions, sliced
1 tablespoon plain flour
Cayenne Pepper (I used around ½ tsp)
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
200ml Chicken stock (I used Maggi Stock Pot)
1 large red pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
sea salt and ground black pepper

To finish:
100ml soured cream (or to your taste)

Method

Fry the chicken thighs in olive oil until golden brown, transfer to a plate and then gently fry the onions in the same oil in the pan until softened.  

Add the flour, Paprika and Cayenne Pepper and cook out until the oil and juices have been absorbed.  Add the chopped tomatoes and chicken stock and bring up to a simmer.  Season with sea salt and black pepper.

Place the chicken thighs into a casserole pan/dish and cover with the tomato, onion, spice mix.  Put the lid on and bake for around 30 minutes.

Add the chopped red pepper at this stage and bake for another 30 minutes.

To finish add the soured cream and lightly stir in.  

chicken paprika3

 I have to say it’s not the prettiest dish to photograph but it really does taste delicious! 

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Tuna Steak au Poivre

We don’t eat fresh tuna very often but sometimes I see some great looking tuna steaks and hand them over to Mr ND to make us Tuna Steak au Poivre.  These two were £3.75 and the whole meal probably amounted to less than £6.00 with vegetables for the two of us (and the dash of brandy!).  We do eat canned/tinned tuna more often but fresh is even more special and delicious.

Mr ND is the chef du jour and guest posting today.

Tuna Steak au Poivre is a successful variation on one of the tastiest and simplest dishes ever to come out of classical French cuisine.  You can follow any of the numerous recipes available, just replace the traditional beef steak with tuna.  

Tuna Steak au Poivre

tuna ingredients

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cooking Time:  15 minutes (extra for accompaniments)
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 x tuna steaks
1-2 tablespoons of black peppercorns
30g unsalted butter
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
200 ml double cream
30-60ml brandy

Tuna  Collage

Method

Coarsely crush the peppercorns preferably with a pestle and mortar.  Rinse the tuna steaks in cold water, remove any excess moisture with a piece of kitchen towel then coat both sides evenly with the crushed peppercorns.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy based frying pan over a fairly high heat.  Just as the butter is starting to turn a light brown colour reduce the heat and place the peppered steaks in the pan.  Cook for about 2 minutes each side.

Carefully pour in the brandy and flambé.  When the flames have subsided remove the tuna steaks carefully from the pan and place into a serving dish, keep warm.

Add the double cream to the pan and stir quickly until gently bubbling.  Pour the sauce over the tuna steaks and serve immediately.  Delicious!

tuna steak au poivre

Quick Nutritional Info:

Tuna –  Omega 3 fatty acids, high protein, anti-inflammatory, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium.  High in sodium.
Black Pepper – good source of Vitamin B6, C, Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium.  Very good source of Vitamin K, Iron, Copper and Manganese.

 

 
 
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Healthy Date, Walnut and Seed Truffles

I’ve been using various combinations of ingredients for these little sweet morsels, trying to keep the little girl’s mind on healthy treats.   And with Valentine’s Day at the end of the week, they also make a lovely gift for the one I love. 

healthy truffles

These are sugar-free, the dates gives them their super sweetness and the cocoa that soft chocolatey taste, the seeds and nuts are blitzed finely (or hidden in the case of the toddler) and the coconut oil makes these truffles silky smooth.   For children I would roll in a smoother coating such as ground almonds or coconut rather than chopped nuts.

Healthy Date, Walnut and Seed Truffles

Prep TIme:  30 minutes
Chilling Time:  20 minutes
Makes 20-24

 Ingredients

125g dates
50g walnuts
50g mix of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, flaxseeds
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil
100g fresh blueberries

To finish: flaxseeds, cocoa, chopped or ground almonds,
chopped hazelnuts, coconut

Method

Soak the dates in warm water for a few minutes to soften, then blitz the dates, walnuts and seed mixture in a food processor until smooth.

Add the cocoa powder, coconut oil and blueberries and gently pulse until well combined. Place the mixture in the fridge for an hour to firm up a little.

Form into small balls and roll in coatings of your choice, see above for suggestions.

These truffles will keep in the fridge for a week, not that I’ve ever had to test out that theory!

Quick Nutritional Info:

Dates are rich in Polyphenols, a plant antioxidant that has a higher capacity to reduce oxidative stress.  An excellent source of Potassium, Calcium and magnesium, with a good balance of manganese, zinc, copper, iron and selenium.  Vitamin K and B complex.

Walnuts:  Good source of Potassium, iron and magnesium, plus B6  and omega 3 fats.

Cocoa Powder (unsweetened):  Phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium, flavenoids.

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Coconut Almond Fruit Loaf

I am slightly obsessed with coconut oil, I’ve been using it in cooking and baking , in place of butter on my toast and the little girl loves it straight from the spoon!  

Coconuts contain trace amounts of some micronutrients, vitamins E & K plus a little iron.  Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, a saturated fat that enhances the immune system through its antiviral and antibacterial effects.  It is mostly made up of  MCFA’s (medium chain fatty acids) and is said to speed up metabolism and be good for your joints.  It is a stable oil when used at high temperatures and easily digested.  There are studies that show that lauric acid can increase your HDL (healthy) cholesterol and lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol.

I’ve been experimenting a little with adding coconut oil into my baking, it really is a great addition.  I made some muffins the other day using only coconut oil for the fat but although they were all scoffed down quickly by the family it made the muffins a little dense and heavy.  My Coconut Almond Fruit Loaf has butter and coconut oil and it is a great combination as the loaf turned out superbly and along with the buttermilk content, made a wonderfully moist cake.  I wanted to use coconut sugar instead of regular caster sugar but couldn’t find it, the 3 year old has probably relocated it to her kiddy kitchen!

coconut cake Collage

Coconut Almond Fruit Loaf

Makes: 8-10 slices (plus 2 end wedges!)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 1 hour

Pre-heat your oven to 160C, gas 4 & grease and line a large loaf tin

Ingredients

75g unsalted butter, softened
20g organic virgin coconut oil, softened
zest of 1 lemon
1tsp vanilla extract
85g golden caster sugar
2 large organic eggs, lightly beaten
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
70g shredded/dessicated coconut
50g ground almonds
200ml buttermilk
150g raisins, apricots, sultanas
(or whatever your favourite mix is)

Method

Beat the butter and coconut oil with the sugar until creamy.  Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract with the eggs and gradually beat in.

Sift in the flour and baking powder and lightly fold into the butter/coconut/egg mixture.

Add the coconut, ground almonds, buttermilk and dried fruit and fold in until well combined.

Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake for around 1 hour or until baked through (check with a piece of dried spaghetti, it should come out clean when ready) and golden brown.

Enjoy with a hot, steaming cup of tea.

I’ll be tweaking this one a little more to perfect the bake but pretty pleased with it so far!

 

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