Pineapple Carving

So apparently this year people have turned from the traditional and gone for the more exotic this halloween and I couldn’t resist giving it a go myself.

A new hipster craze? Daring to be different? New and exciting? Whatever way you may look at it, I’m all for it. I’m really not a festive person – I’m a fully fledged grinch at 24 – so  personally I’m embracing the new trend. For you traditionalists, look at it as a pumpkin in fancy dress.

What really convinced me that this was the way to go this year is when I saw all the pictures of people pumpkin picking – a truly lovely sight and wonderful family day out for sure – and then I realised most of the pumpkins’ “insides” will be binned. Don’t get me wrong, I know many people that produce delicious autumnal soups and salads with the leftover pumpkin, but I also know way more people that chuck it in the waste. What did you do with your pumpkin?

I know it’s not traditional, and it most likely won’t catch on but I insist you try it out! Hell, because it’s not traditional, it doesn’t even have to be done at Halloween – this guy would be a great addition to most parties.

Pros for the pineapple:

  • eat while you carve
  • it’s sticky but unlike the pumpkin I’m alright licking it off my fingers
  • not as messy as the pumpkin – it’s really easy and quick to carve
  • it’s great if you’re like me and prefer to keep the fear factor down to a minimum
  • it’s livened up my Monday with a pineapple project
  • kind of looks like a Mexican wrestler
  • more people eat pineapple than they do pumpkins
  • …and lets not forget the obvious: FRESH PINEAPPLE JUICE!

If that hasn’t convinced you, it’s also great… if you like Piña Coladas.
For this all you need is:

  • the leftover pineapple
  • white rum
  • sugar (hardly any)
  • coconut milk/cream
  • a blender
  • ice
  • strainer (optional)

Measurements are varied, but essentially all you do is blend, shake, and pour. It’s all very simple and (trusting your mixology skills) delicious! Granted, having been a bartender I had the upper hand and was quite pleased with mine. Furthermore this can also be made virgin style – everybody benefits from this trending kind of carving!

// ¿dónde está mi calabaza? //

 

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Green Goodness

After a long week (and weekend) I fancied some Sunday cleansing!

I found the original recipe online, but tweaked it slightly as I like my juices quite light, not thick and gloopy.

All you’ll need (serves 1):

  1. 1 medium green apple
  2. 1/2  a cucumber
  3. 1/2 a lemon
  4. handful of spinach and kale (add to your liking)
  5. ice

juice 4

Once you’ve got everything chopped and prepped, simply whack it in your juicer, serve in a large glass over ice, and enjoy!

I also added some extra water to mine, but that’s completely up you. I’d definitely recommend it on a sunny day in the garden.

// Light and refreshing //

Sweet Potato Fries/Wedges

I had some sweet potatoes left over from my Carrot & Coriander Soup so the only thing left to do was make some bangin’ fries/wedges.

This recipe is so easy to do, I promise! They’ll take about 35/40 minutes in the oven at 200° – I use this time to get everything else into check, so it works splendidly for me.

You’ll need:

  • Sweet potatoes (quantity dependent on mouths to feed)
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • Paprika
  • Mixed herbs
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 mixing bowl
  • 1 baking tray

Onwards…

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  1. Pre-heat oven
  2. Wash the potatoes but leave the skins on
  3. Chop them up into strips (you’ll understand my fries vs wedges dilemma)
  4. Place into the mixing bowl and add the olive oil, paprika, mixed herbs and salt & pepper, and yeah, mix
  5. Whack them onto the baking tray (I tend to sprinkle a little extra of the seasoning on too) and get them in the oven
  6. Every now and then give them a shuffle, but when time’s up…
  7. Serve!

To be honest you can use whatever seasoning you fancy, but I will always recommend paprika on them!

What you should be left with is some nice crispy skins and soft sweet potato. BOOM!

Enjoy!

 

Baked Egg in a Hole

Fancied something different this morning!

I used to make this when I was younger because I thought it was the coolest thing. Turns out, still pretty cool.

As I made this before work I have demonstrated the simplest and quickest way to get this breakfast done with no messin’ about.

You’ll need:

  • 1 egg
  • Butter
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1 medium sized round glass (for cutting)
  • 1 baking tray
  • Salt & pepper

All you need to do:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200° / 180° Fan
  2. Grease your baking tray with butter
  3. Using the edge of the glass, press into the middle of the bread and cut a hole
  4. Butter the bread (I recommend on both sides as it can end up dry)
  5. Place the bread on the baking tray and crack the egg into the hole
  6. Simply put in the oven for roughly 15 minutes
  7. Take out and season with salt & pepper

I was quite rushed this morning, so my pictured end result is without seasoning! You do not wanna forget that salt & pepper!

Enjoy!

Carrot & Coriander Soup

I am starting this week healthy (and hopefully it’ll end that way too…)

Carrot and coriander soup is a classic, and I’ve added a few of my personal favourites in this one!

I used:

  • Roughly 450g of carrots
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1-2 handfuls of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 white onion
  • Garlic cloves (I used 3)
  • A pinch of salt & pepper, paprika, nutmeg & mixed herbs
  • Less than half a chilli (depending if you like the fire – add to your liking)
  • 1-2 tsp of olive oil
  • 1l vegetable stock
  • Blender (I use a hand one, but a processor works too)
  • 1 large saucepan
  • Some bread and butter on the side (optional)

 

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Now:

  1. Get everything peeled and chopped (I crushed the garlic)
  2. Heat olive oil in pan
  3. Add the onion, and when slightly softened, add the chilli
  4. Get all the herbs in (don’t forget to stir away)
  5. Whack in the potato and garlic
  6. Get the kettle on and allow everything to soften on a low heat
  7. Once soft, add the carrots and stock, then bring to the boil
  8. When bubbling away, lower the heat and allow to simmer for around 20 mins with a lid on
  9. Every now and then give it all a stir
  10. Time’s up! Blend it all together to your preferred consistency
  11. Serve up, and enjoy!

As per usual I made a little extra, and that’s lunch sorted tomorrow!

Also if you prefer a thicker soup, then simply use less water.

Enjoy!

 

Get your juice on mate

Tip for the mornings!

I’ve only just got my juicer up and running again, but personally I need to plan ahead and get all the fruit in first before I crack on. If any are worthy, I’ll whack em’ on here too.

For the mean time, I’ve just been buying my juices. However, I cannot stress enough how great it feels kick starting the day with a lovely cup of vitamins and nutrients! Honestly, if you don’t have a juicer, find somewhere that does them (FRESH) and grab one on your way to work.

The juice I have in the picture is a simple orange and mango. Morning ZING x

 

Simple, slutty bagel

I can rarely buy bagels because they just go, pretty much instantly. Needless to say, they won’t last the week. When I do dare to invest, here’s what I go for at lunch…

You will need:

  1. 1 red onion and chive bagel (I go for New York Bakery Co.)
  2. Spinach
  3. Ham
  4. Cheddar cheese

Simply:

  1. Cut the bagel in half, and grill on both sides until lightly toasted
  2. Put cheese on both of the slices, then whack under the grill until dripping
  3. Take the bagel out of the grill, onto a plate and put in the ham, then spinach
  4. Whack them together, NOM BEAUTIFUL

For a little difference, try mozzarella with ham, or change the ham for salami, and spinach for watercress. I personally don’t use butter but you’re more than welcome to if it so suits you.

Also try fiery chilli pesto on one slice and original hummus on the other, then do the same as said before, and whack in the salami and watercress (my personal favourite).

Enjoy!

Simple Sausage Rolls

Happy New Year!

So, we had a pretty full house over the Christmas period and essentially all my mum wanted was participation – for everyone to chip in a bit, bring a dish etc.

I made a few contributions, my braised red cabbage being one of them to accompany the Christmas dinner, a few others which I’ll put up later, and these delicious sausage rolls.

Now, sausage rolls are one of my favourite snacks – trying to pass a pastry shop without entering will generally be the hardest thing I’ll do all day. I am way more of savoury person than a sweet tooth, and I am still waiting for the day that I am given a disgustingly giant sausage roll for my birthday, rather than a birthday cake. Oh, it will be a grand day! However this batch I made were on a smaller scale.

A quick note before you begin: I ended up with a little mince left over, but I also had some more puff pastry, so made a cheeky few extra. The first batch made 3 rather grande sizes, which I then cut into halves, and halved again (still bigger than the mini shop-bought ones).

You will need:

  1. 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  2. garlic garlic garlic (to your liking)
  3. 300g minced pork
  4. 3 tbsp dried breadcrumbs (or make your own)
  5. 1 tsp dried sage leaves (I went a little over)
  6. a little mixed herbs (I just had them in the cupboard)
  7. roughly 1/2 tsp nutmeg (or mace)
  8. 1 roll of [lighter] puff pastry
  9. 1 tbsp plain flour
  10. 1 beaten egg for glazing
  11. pinch of sea salt and ground pepper
  12. about 1 tbsp of sunflower oil
  13. baking tray
  14. baking sheet

Making heaven:

  1. Heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan and gently soften the onions and garlic. Sunflower oil shouldn’t burn or crisp them. I also add a little of the seasoning now too. When done, place in a separate bowl and allow to cool.
  2. I started prepping some other snacks while I waited for the onions and garlic to cool down, so entertain yourself for a couple of minutes!
  3. Now, prepare to get your hands messy! In the same bowl as the onions and garlic, add the minced pork, breadcrumbs and rest of the seasoning, mixing it all in together.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6/Fan 180°C and get a large baking tray lining it with a baking sheet.
  5. Roll out the pastry onto a surface with the flour and mark the pastry into thirds, then cut. Now, get the pork meat and place it in the middle of each third, leaving just less than an inch at the ends (length ways) for folding in. You don’t want them too thick, but I’d say about an inch wide (width ways).
  6. Now, using the beaten egg and brush, glaze the sides/edges of the pastry.
  7. Next you want to fold one side over, tucking it in a little and then bring the other side over (the egg should act as a kind of glue, so to speak). Fold both of the ends inward. Turn over and then place on the baking paper/tray
  8. Make little sideways slits down the pastry and then glaze the egg over the tops and finally place in the oven for 25-30 minutes (do check on them – they should be golden, not burnt!)

They were the perfect little winter party snacks – the sage and puff pastry are great companions!

There was a great difference between mine and the store-bought ones – they just tasted so homely and way more flavoursome! And, as always, there is that gratification you get from making them yourself! Needless to say they were very well received and now on demand. If you do try this recipe, you’ll soon realise how quick and easy they are to make!

For my next try I want to go for something a little richer and use chorizo and some Spanish-inspired tactics, so stay tuned for those cause I already know they’re going to be insane!

Braised red cabbage

Okay, so this side dish is literally my favourite thing! I’m not sure if it’s because I’m proud of of making it, or the fact that it simply tastes delicious! I’m really quite torn.

I looked up a few recipes online (to accompany my chicken pie) and honestly couldn’t decide which one to go for, so I went for a simple combination. I more or less looked at what was already in the cupboard and sought out the closest, and cheapest, way to replicate and combine the recipes. I bought a couple of things from the shops, but didn’t go for the things I was least likely to use again – I like to buy things that are handy to have in the cupboard, not ones that could waste away (not cool).

You will need:

  1. red cabbage (I was feeding two so went for the smallest one – but again, left overs are never a bad thing)
  2. butter
  3. sugar (preferably brown, but don’t hurt yourself if you have white)
  4. 1/3 of a tall cup or glass of balsamic vinegar
  5. red red wine (also treat yourself to a glass or few)
  6. 1 or 2 red apples (I went for the pink lady variety to add some sweetness)
  7. garlic (but that’s just me)

Now, braised cabbage takes a little while, but for me this was perfect! Simply start with the red cabbage and then move onto the main event. For instance, when I make the chicken pie, I get the cabbage on first and then move onto the pie – it allows the cabbage to simmer, soften and get all the more flavoursome.

Lets go:

  1. chop the cabbage and garlic (or, crush the garlic, or not use it at all)
  2. add a knob of butter to a sauce pan and melt
  3. add the cabbage and garlic, covering in the butter and allow to fry for about 3 minutes
  4. while the cabbage is frying, peel, decore and grate the apple(s)
  5. once the cabbage has softened, get the apple and 1 & 1/2 tsp of sugar in there, mixing it in and allowing to fry for a further couple on minutes
  6. add the balsamic vinegar and stir
  7. add a few glugs or red wine – you don’t want to swamp the cabbage, so make sure it’s not completely covered
  8. stir it all together and put on a very low heat to simmer, covering with a lid – do check/stir occasionally and if the pan is looking a little dry get some more wine and a little balsamic vinegar in there
  9. when the rest of your meal is ready, the cabbage will be too, so serve alongside your main and enjoy!

Incase anyone is unsure, “braise” is a two-park cooking process which simply means to first lightly fry your food and then stew it – done.

You should be left with a really sweet, yet acidic, rich flavour – which is also lovely and soft with some crunch. It’s got something for everyone!

I first paired the cabbage with my chicken pie, but this will also be a great participant for a roast dinner. I also cannot stress the greatness of leftovers – I made pie, cabbage and mash for my partner and I, and this provided dinner for two nights (we may have given ourselves bigger portions than intended, but oh so tasty – I regret nothing).

Chicken Pie

Chicken pie recipe: Jamie’s 30 minute meals

Personally I love cooking, and my dad does too. But as with any typical parent the idea of coming home from a stressful day at work to then have to cook a family meal is quite distressing. So I opted for one of Jamie’s 30 minute meals to put it to the test.

**Guilty** I have a little more time on my hands these days as I have recently moved home, but I am trying to put all my unemployed energy into cooking – I like to think everybody benefits. But should finding a job fail, who wouldn’t want a domesticated goddess? Right…?

Moving on…

Now, I’m not going to lie, I’m not a fan of mushrooms and I struggle on a regular basis to find a chicken pie that is not accompanied by the buggers (not even Jamie’s). So I have exchanged mushrooms for carrots (just trust me).

Jamie’s/my ingredients for le pie:

  1. 720g free-range, boneless chicken breasts
  2. handful of spring onions
  3. 3 large carrots (grated)
  4. garlic (always garlic)
  5. 1tsp plain flour
  6. 300ml chicken stock
  7. ground nutmeg
  8. puff pastry (I use Jus Rol Puff Pastry Ready Rolled 320g)
  9. 1 small egg (for glazing)
  10. mustard (optional – I’ve made one with and one without)
  11. creme fraiche
  12. fresh thyme

NextGET COOKING WITH JAMIE

A few things of my own:

  1. put some of the garlic in with the spring onions, then feel free to add some more with the stock
  2. after the springs onions, add in the grated carrots instead of the mushroom.
  3. I used a large steel frying pan and then transferred everything into an oven dish.
  4. I left everything to sit and simmer for a little while longer on a very low heat (this enabled me to get my sides in check, and let the mixture get more flavoursome).
  5. I used Jamie’s other recommendation and went for a chicken stock cube.
  6. For the puff pastry (not mentioned in the video), allow it to match the size of your pie dish – this usually leaves an inch to cut off for a decorative piece on top (quite pleased with my leaves).
  7. braised red cabbage on the side.
  8. mash potato on the side.

Also, never feel bad about using puff pastry! If you have the time, by all means, crack on with your own! For this particular recipe and quick-cook ethos, puff pastry’s the one!

I’ve only tried the one, but after this success (it tasted amazing by the way) I will definitely be having a look at Jamie’s other 30 minute meals! And I would definitely recommend this one (but my one without the mushrooms)!

You should check out my recipe for braised red cabbage! It accompanies the pie so beautifully and adds some sweetness and acidity.