Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Mushrooms Stuffed with Leek and Cheese

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These stuffed mushrooms can be eaten as a starter, lunch or main meal, depending on what you serve with them (and how many you eat!).
  • 8-10 large flat mushrooms (Portabello type)
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 2 slices of bread, made into breadcrumbs
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 100g/4oz grated hard cheese (Cheddar, Emmental, Gruyere etc.)
Peel the outer skin from the mushrooms and remove the stalks.
Chop the stalks finely.

Gently fry the leeks and mushroom stalks in a little melted butter or olive oil, for about 5 minutes (or microwave on a medium setting in a covered bowl).
Add the garlic, paprika and herbs and cook for a further minute.
Stir in the cheese and breadcrumbs and stir well to combine all of the ingredients.
Meanwhile drizzle the mushrooms with a little olive oil and grill or cook in a hot oven (200C/190C Fan/Gas 6) for around 5-10 minutes, turning once.
Top each mushroom with a heaped tablespoon of mixture.
Press the stuffing down using your hands, so that it sticks to the mushrooms.
Return to the grill/oven for a further 5-10 minutes until golden brown.

Alternatives: This stuffing mixture can also be use to stuff courgettes, pointed sweet peppers etc. Adjust the cooking times to allow the vegetables to almost cook through before stuffing.
Swap the leeks for chopped cooked spinach. Squeeze as much moisture from the spinach as you can, before adding the breadcrumbs.

For a vegan version, swap the dairy cheese for vegan cheese, or use 4 tbsp olive oil, to moisten the breadcrumb mixture. Pin It

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Chewy Chocolate Chip & Walnut Cookies (Vegan)

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These chocolate chip cookies are made using an old family recipe which I've veganised by swapping the egg for a tablespoon of syrup. This affects the texture, but in a good way - as it changes them from firm and biscuity to soft and chewy! They're really quick and easy to make and taste pretty much like the ones you buy in the shops.

Makes 20

  • 200g/8oz SR flour
  • 150g/6oz soft brown sugar
  • 125g/5oz dairy-free spread
  • 50g/2oz dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 50g/2oz chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Heat oven to 190C/180C Fan/Gas 5.
Rub the spread into the flour (or blend in the food processor).
Mix in the sugar, syrup and vanilla.
Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
Divide the dough into about 20 pieces and roll into balls, using your hands.
Place well spaced apart (they will spread!) on greased baking trays, and flatten slightly.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden.
Cool for a few minutes on the tray so that they firm up a little and then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Suitable for freezing.

Alternatives: Swap the chocolate chips and walnuts for chopped dried fruit, glacé cherries, stem ginger etc.
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Friday, 20 January 2012

Anyone for tea?

Whether you're detoxing, dieting, or like me just trying to be a little more conscious about your health after the excesses of Christmas, drinking plenty of water can help. Of course water gets a little boring after a while, so why not try something a little different?

Twinings the tea people, produce a wide range of fruit teas and green teas which make a delicious and refreshing change from regular tea and coffee.

So what is green tea?

Green tea is produced from the same plant as black tea - Camellia Sinensis. The difference is the way in which the teas are processed. The added benefits of drinking green tea, are that it may have health advantages; green teas undergo less less oxidation during processing than black teas, so they retain their colour and contain a higher level of flavonoids (anti-oxidants), which may help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.

If you've never tried green tea before, you can get two free samples from the Twinings website. You can buy green tea, plus lots of other lovely tea-related goodies, such as pretty vintage-style tea pots, cake stands and tea sets, at the Twinings tea shop.

Twinings are also encouraging us to take 10 minutes to Relax, Recharge and Refresh which sounds good to me...anyone for a cuppa?
Integrity Statement

This is a sponsored advertorial post, which I have received payment for.
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Friday, 13 January 2012

Two meals in one - Lentil & Vegetable Spaghetti Bolognese plus Vegetarian Chilli

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Whether you're on a diet or a budget, these two vegetarian meals are ideal. Make the spag bol on the first day and reheat the leftovers with the added extras the next day to make a tasty veggie chilli. 

As the vegetables are chopped or grated, you can hide them in the sauce too...great if you have fussy children!

Both meals are low fat and vegan, unless you add cheese to serve.

Each meal serves 2 adults and 2 children.

For the spaghetti bolognese
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large bell peppers, diced
  • 1 medium courgette/zucchini, diced or grated
  • 1 carrot or ½ sweet potato, diced or grated
  • 6-8 mushrooms, diced, sliced or grated
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup dried red lentils
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree or sundried tomato paste
  • 500ml passata or 2x tins of chopped tomatoes 
  • A glug of red wine (optional)
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • black pepper, to taste
  • dried spaghetti
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan. Add the onions and bell pepper and cook for a few minutes on a low heat.
Add the rest of the vegetables, and garlic and stir well. Cook for a few more minutes until softened.
Add all of the remaining ingredients (except for the spaghetti!)
Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally.
Turn the heat down and simmer, with the lid on the pan for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked (stir occasionally to stop the mixture burning at the bottom of the pan).
Meanwhile cook and drain the spaghetti.
Top the spaghetti with just over half of the mixture, and serve with a sprinkle of vegetarian/vegan Parmesan-style cheese (optional).

Alternatives: Use 2 cups of veggie mince if preferred instead of the lentils, or a combination of veggie mince and lentils.

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For the chilli

The next day, reheat the remaining mixture on a low heat, adding the following ingredients and a dash of water or stock if needed:
  • 1 tin drained pulses (kidney beans, mixed beans, baked beans etc)
  • 50g tinned or frozen sweetcorn
  • 2 tsp mild chilli powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • a good pinch of cinnamon
  • ½ chilli, chopped finely (optional)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • a little chopped fresh coriander (optional)
Serve with rice or wraps.

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Friday, 6 January 2012

Squash, Lentil and Sweet Potato Salad

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A friend passed this hearty salad recipe on to me, which she found on the American blog called Stacey Snacks. I've changed the recipe a bit, using a combination of squash and sweet potato and adding some fennel seeds.

Serves 4-8 as a side salad

  • 300g/12oz butternut or other firm pumpkin/squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 300g/12oz sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 50g/2oz dried puy lentils
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp fresh, chopped parsley or mint
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp wine or cider vinegar
  • 100g feta/soft goats cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • Salad leaves to serve
Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a non-stick baking dish, in a pre-heated oven (190C/180C Fan/Gas 5).
Add the squash and sweet potatoes and coat with the oil.
Bake for 20-30 minutes turning once or twice. 
Sprinkle with the spices and bake for a further 10 minutes until cooked and golden.
Meanwhile boil the lentils for about 20-25 minutes, then drain.
Allow the vegetables and lentils to cool for around 20 minutes.
Mix the remaining oil, vinegar and herbs in a bowl to make the dressing.
Add the lentils to the baking dish and pour the dressing over the warm vegetables.
Mix well to coat.
Serve warm or cold on a bed of salad leaves, topping with the cheese (optional) - leave out for a vegan dish.

Variations:
Add a combination of other vegetables such as bell peppers, courgettes and sweetcorn.

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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Low-Fat Flatbread Wraps

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I haven't quite got back round to meal planning just yet, so I had forgotten to buy any wraps to have with our veggie chilli for last night's dinner. Rather than pop out to the shops, I thought I'd have a go at making them myself, using the bread-maker. We all found we liked them better than shop bought wraps, plus they were cheaper too!
The dough won't rise much, as there's not very much yeast in the recipe, but this gives a nice soft texture to the wraps.
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup white bread flour
  • 2 cups wholemeal bread flour
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp fast action dried yeast
If you have a bread maker, put all the ingredients in the pan and set onto 'dough' setting.
Leave until cycle has finished if you have time, or around 30 minutes if you're in a rush!
If making by hand, put all the dry ingredients (plus the oil) in a bowl and slowly add in the water until you have a soft, but not sticky dough. Cover bowl and leave to rise to 30-60 minutes.
Cut into 8 equal pieces, and roll each into thin 15-20cm/6-8" circles (or squares as most of mine ended up!), on a well floured board.
Heat a non-stick pan on a medium-high heat.
Cook each flatbread for a minute or 2 on each side until lightly browned. 
Wrap in foil and keep warm in a low oven until they're all cooked.
Suitable for freezing.


Find lots more money-saving ideas over at The Diary of a Frugal Family. Pin It

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year!

As my first post of the year, I thought I'd revisit my resolutions post from last year and see how well I've done. My blog had only been going for about 6 weeks at that time, so one thing I'm proud of is that I've actually stuck to this blogging lark, and 'met' lots of other lovely bloggers along the way.

One of my resolutions last year was to walk more...we've enjoyed some lovely days out walking with friends and family; It's amazing how quickly you can cover a couple of miles, when you're chatting away! We had a fantastic time at Disney World and must have walked for miles each day in the 30C+ heat! Although this year's holiday will be a more relaxing one (in Greece), I hope to continue our weekend walks, and will certainly be getting our money's worth from our National Trust membership.

I think I've managed to cut down slightly on the amount of cheese I cook with, and have also veered away from using as many meat substitutes as I did, and swapped them for extra vegetables and pulses. I'll be using my new River Cottage Veg Every Day! cookbook to continue on this quest this year.

The girls have definitely improved in the amount of jobs they do around the house, and were a fantastic help just before Christmas when I was ill with a stinking cold. Let's hope they keep this up during 2012.

Mr O hasn't done too well on his DIY resolution, but he has promised that he'll be getting someone in to do the jobs that he doesn't have the time or inclination to complete!

My main resolution this year, is to do more gardening and improve on my fruit/vegetable/herb plot; I wonder how well I'll stick to that one? So what are your resolutions this year? 
Join in the Britmums bloghop...
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