Quick Avocado and Cucumber Mint Salad

chicken avocado mint salsa

I couldn’t decide whether to call this a salad or a salsa.   In the end it had to be a salad. After all, it covered practically half my plate, more than the small piece of chicken next to it. Maybe if I’d chopped up the salad vegetables more daintily and served a bit less of it, it would have been a salsa.

Who cares?  It’s exactly the type of salad I want to eat right now.  It’s tasty from the mint and the dressing and the avocado helps to make it more filling too.  Ok, it’s a salad so not massively filling, but enough to stop you feeling like you have to have some bread, rice couscous or whatever your carb of choice is on the side.

I served it with griddled chicken but for a vegetarian alternative, griddled halloumi would be lovely, and possibly tofu, but I’m not personally a big fan of it (unless it’s served with lots of chilli and garlic) so I’ll leave that choice up to you.

Ingredients – Serves 2-6, depending on how much each person has

1/2 cucumber

1 avocado

2 tomatoes

1 red pepper

1/4 red onion

1 tbsp mint leaves

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Black pepper

Salt

How to Make Quick Avocado and Cucumber Mint Salad

1. Dice all the vegetables. Try to chop the avocado, tomato, cucumber and pepper so the pieces are a similar size.   Dice the onion much more finely and finely slice and chop the mint.

2. Put all the ingredients in a bowl with the olive oil and vinegar, plus a little salt and pepper. Then mix it all together.

I am linking this to the Weekend Social Party at Culinary Flavours.  As it makes a perfect side dish for a barbecue I am also linking it to 4 Seasons Food hosted by Eat your Veg and Delicieux. The theme is Al Fresco. It is also linked to Made with Love Mondays at Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/Luv.
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Roasted Carrot Dip

roast carrot dip on celery

Do you ever get bored of houmous?  Then you have taramasalata or tsatziki for a change but somehow or other you end up back with houmous again.   Maybe it’s just me. Maybe other people are more adventurous with their dips.

Well, I normally love houmous.  I love to make it myself and vary the spices or herbs added to it.   But as much as I love it, I was becoming a little bored.  I was also becoming lazy and just buying it in the supermarket.   That was when I came across a recipe for a carrot dip on Foodbod.   Now, I already love carrot and tahini soup so why not a carrot dip? I knew I had to make it.

I blitzed the roasted vegetables first and it was tasty from the spices but quite sweet.   With just the right amount of lemon juice, tahini, salt and pepper, it lost that over-sweetness and became perfect for scooping up with crunchy sticks of celery.

A rival for houmous?   Well, an alternative certainly and possibly the stepping stone I need to go on to experiment with more vegetable dips.  So what should be next? Beetroot? Parsnip?  Sweet potato?

Ingredients

350g carrots, cut into large chunks

1 onion, peeled and quartered

4 cloves garlic with  the skins on

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

1-2 tbsp tahini

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt

Black pepper

How to Make Roasted Carrot Dip

1. Put the carrots, onion and garlic cloves on a baking tray.   Add the spices and some oil and toss together.   Put in the oven for about 40 minutes at 180c.  Check the carrots are not still hard.  If so, return to the oven for a bit longer.  When the vegetables are ready, leave to cool before making the dip.

2. Put the vegetables in a food processor, squeezing the garlic cloves out of their skins, and blend until smooth.   Add the lemon juice, the tahini, the salt and pepper, a little at a time.  Keep blending and tasting until you get it how you like it.

3. Serve with vegetables as a dip.

I am linking this to Bookmarked Recipes, hosted by Tinned Tomatoes, and to The Spice Trail, hosted by Bangers and Mash. The spice this month is cumin.  I am also linking it to Made with Love Mondays at Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/luv.

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Fattoush

fattoush

Summer is the perfect time to make salads.   At the moment I am making salads almost every day.   Partly because it’s summer.   Partly to try and lose a little baby weight. I don’t like dieting and have never done it before, normally relying on exercise if I’ve ever felt a little lardy.   Food has to taste good and you have to enjoy eating it.   Luckily that’s not an issue with this salad.  If you’re looking for a tasty summer salad that’s also perfect as a side dish at bbqs and with grilled chicken or fish, then this recipe is it.

Fattoush is a middle Eastern salad flavoured with sumac, and normally uses croutons made of leftover pitta bread.  I didn’t have any leftover pitta bread but I did have some hot dog rolls left over from a bbq last weekend.  Now, hot dog rolls are definitely not a Middle Eastern bread but they do make very nice light crispy croutons.   Of course, if you want to make this salad, any bread will do.  I’m not expecting you to go out and buy hot dog rolls specially, but if you are having a bbq any time this summer…

I used Florette salad leaves, also leftover from the bbq.  I go through phases of liking plain iceberg lettuce that I wash and clean myself and then bagged salad leaves for a bit of variety.   I find that Florette is very good quality and stays fresh for quite a few days after buying it.  Of course, you can use whatever salad leaves you normally have in your fridge.

There is one thing you cannot change about this salad though, and that is the sumac.  If you leave it out, it will not be the same salad.   If you’ve never tried sumac just trust me, you need to get some, not just for this salad but for the one you make next, and after that, and throughout the summer.

Ingredients – Serves 4

2 handfuls of salad leaves ( I used Florette Classic Crispy), roughly chopped

2 tomatoes, diced

1/2 cucumber, diced

2 spring onions, finely sliced

1/2 green pepper, diced

1 tbsp mint leaves, finely sliced

1 clove of garlic, crushed

Juice of 1 lemon

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sumac

Salt

Black pepper

1 pita bread or bread of your choice e.g. hot dog roll to make the croutons

How to Make Fattoush

1. Make the croutons.  Tear the bread to make large croutons.  Put them on a baking tray and bake in the oven at 160C for 20 minutes.  Take them out of the oven and leave on the tray to cool.

2. Mix together and toss all the other salad ingredients.

3. Add the croutons just before serving as if they are in the salad too long they will go soggy.

I am linking this to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum and also to #CookBlogShare at Super Golden Bakes.

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Disclosure: This is a featured post but the recipe and the views it contains are my own.

Warm Roast Vegetable Salad with Feta and Sumac

roast veg feta sumac salad (1024x598)

I am prepared for you to disagree with me here,but sometimes there is just nothing nicer than a plate of slightly spicy warm roasted vegetables with a bit of feta cheese.  If you put this in front of me, that is exactly what I will think.   I will polish it off while wondering why I don’t roast vegetables more often.   I especially love the mushy texture of the aubergine, the slight crunch of the onions and the softness of the sweet potato with the slightly caramelised bits around the outside.   I love to eat it warm but it’s also good cold the next day for packed lunches or picnics.

Of course, if you gave me a good steak and chips I would also claim there was nothing nicer.   Or homemade barbecue ribs.  Or a good curry.   Or any number of my favourite things to make and eat.   The good thing about this roasted vegetable salad though, is that it is just so easy to make.   Just prepare the vegetables, toss them in a little oil and throw them in the oven.   Even if you’ve used a lot of oil, you still feel like you are having a healthy meal.  And if the vegetables and feta are not enough by themselves, they are just as delicious with a bit of crusty bread.

Ingredients – Serves 2

1 sweet potato

1/4 aubergine (eggplant)

1 courgette (zucchini)

1 red onion

100g feta

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tsp sumac

2 tbsp olive oil

How to Make Warm Roast Vegetable Salad with Feta and Sumac

1. Chop the vegetables and put them on a roasting tray.  Sprinkle with the oregano, sumac and chilli flakes.   Drizzle with olive oil.  Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.

2. Serve the roasted vegetables topped with the cubed feta and sprinkled with a little extra sumac.

I am linking this to Family Foodies, hosted by Eat your Veg and Bangers and Mash.  The theme is outdoor eating.  I am also linking to Made with Love Mondays at Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/luv.

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Turkey Chilli

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A chilli can be a heavy meal.  You can use lots of oil in the cooking, fatty meat or almost all meat and hardly any vegetables.   You can then garnish it with a mountain of cheese. Sometimes that might be the type of chilli you crave and you should probably stop reading this now.   I don’t want to disappoint.

Sometimes however, instead of cheese, you have a mountain of coriander in the fridge as well as two shelves laden with vegetables.   You also have a craving for a meal with a hot chillli kick, but you want to make something easy and healthy to satisfy it.  On nights like those, this would be the perfect chilli.

I began making this chilli intending it to be a meal for two, but I threw in so many vegetables that in the end there were enough leftovers for two more meals.   As we have a habit of finishing everything I’ve made even when I plan to have leftovers, it definitely shows that this can go a long way.

I used diced turkey breast for this, but diced thighs would be lovely and would stay moister during the cooking.   You could of course use chicken instead but I am trying to cook with turkey more frequently since attending the #TalkingTurkey event earlier this year.   As turkey is even healthier as well as more economical than chicken, it makes sense to try and use it more often and in meals where previously I would have just used chicken without thinking.

Ingredients – serves 4

200g turkey, diced

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 chilli pepper, finely sliced

Small knob of ginger, grated or finely diced

1/4 tsp paprika

1 bell pepper, diced

2 sticks of celery, diced

1 carrot, sliced

2 tomatoes, diced

400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Handful of chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

How to Make Turkey Chilli

1. Heat  a little oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and cook gently until soft.   Add the ginger, chilli pepper, garlic and paprika.

2. Cook for another couple of minutes and then add the turkey, stir a couple of times so the pieces are sealed on all sides.

3. Add all the rest of the vegetables, including most of the coriander and cook gently for about 20 minutes until everything is cooked through.

4. Serve with rice and topped with the rest of the coriander.

As this is packed with coriander I am linking it to Lavender and Lovage’s Cooking with Herbs, hosted this month by Lancashire Food.  I am also linking to Extra Veg, hosted by Utterly Scrummy Food for Families and Fuss Free Flavours.

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Asparagus and Lemon Risotto

asparagus risotto (1024x697)

I love asparagus but because it’s only in season for a short time, I almost forget to buy and use it before the season is over.  When I do buy it, I often just serve it as a plain vegetable side dish.   It’s a shame because there are so many lovely things you can do with it – wrap it in bacon or parma ham, serve it as a crudite for homemade dips or add it to seasonal salads or soups.  It’s also lovely in stir fries and of course in risotto, which is what this post is all about.

Risotto is a real comfort food but is a dish I love to eat throughout the year. I often make it with mushrooms and I find it really tasty with green vegetables like peas or this asparagus. I admit that I’m a bit lazy, I don’t stir the risotto constantly, I busy around the kitchen doing all sorts of other things at the same time, just giving an occasional stir.   If only I could just stand there stirring, I think it would be quite therapeutic, although clearing away all the toys strewn across the kitchen and living room can also be therapeutic in its own way and at least I then don’t need to do it after dinner.

Ingredients – Serves 2

200g risotto rice

1 onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp dried thyme

Up to 1 ltr Vegetable stock

150g asparagus, ends removed and cut into bite-sized pieces

60g parmesan cheese (or a vegetarian hard cheese substitute)

Salt

Black pepper

1 lemon

How to Make Asparagus Risotto

1.  In a saucepan cook the onions gently in a little oil until soft.  Add the crushed garlic and thyme and stir in.  After a minute, add the rice.  Stir that in too.

2. Start adding the stock.  Keep adding a little bit more and stirring until it is absorbed.  If, like me, you can’t stand by the stove, just be more generous each time you add extra stock.

3. When the risotto is nearly ready, stir in the asparagus so it can cook for about 3-5 minutes.

4. Take the risotto off the heat, stir in the cheese.  Season with salt and pepper and squeeze in some of the lemon juice. For a really lemony flavour, grate some of the zest and stir that in too.

I am linking this to Simple and in Season, hosted by Ren Behan, to Eat Your Greens, hosted by Allotment 2 Kitchen and Made with Love Mondays at Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/luv.

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Lamb Rogan Josh for the Uniform Foodies App

lamb rogan josh (1024x593)

I don’t need to tell you that I love curries.   I make curries at home from scratch.   I have supermarket curries in the freezer for when there really is no time to cook and I am also very familiar with my local Indian takeaway, just like many other people in the UK.

Although I sometimes take the easy option, the best curries are without doubt the homemade ones.   A takeaway curry can be oily and heavy and is almost certainly not good for you.   A homemade curry is probably one of the healthiest dishes you can eat, as well as being super tasty and filling.  You don’t need to use expensive cuts of meat so it’s also an economical choice.

It should be no surprise that Indian curries were found to be the top food choice for fire fighters and those in the armed forces in a survey carried out by the dating website, Uniform Dating.   Fish and chips was the top choice for police officers and doctors, while nurses preferred salads.

Today Uniform Dating is launching the Uniform Foodies app, which will feature 20 healthy, hearty and affordable recipes developed by the Michelin Star chef Michael Caines.

Along with a number of other food bloggers, I have also developed a recipe for the app (and am hoping to get a chance to cook it alongside Michael Caines!).  I chose to make a lamb rogan josh as it is a well-known dish and one of the most popular curries at many curry houses.  It’s healthy, full of flavour and perfect for a soldier, a firefighter or anyone not in uniform too!   Like me.  Or you.

To find out more follow @UniformFoodies on Twitter or download the app here from itunes.

uniform foodies

Ingredients for Lamb Rogan Josh – Serves 2

2 tbsp vegetable oil

8 Black pepper corns

3 cardamom pods

3 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves

1 onion, finely chopped

400g diced shoulder or leg of lamb

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp garam masala

1/4 tsp turmeric

5 cloves garlic

3cm piece of root ginger

2 tomatoes

2 tbsp yoghurt

2 tbsp coriander leaf

How to Make Lamb Rogan Josh

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the whole spices – black pepper corns, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick and bay leaves.  Cook for about a minute.  It should become very fragrant.

2. Add the onion to the pan with the spices and cook over a low heat  for about 10 minutes.

3. Add the diced lamb to the pan and turn up the heat a little.  Keep giving the lamb a stir and cook until it is sealed on all sides.

4.Put the ginger and garlic in a food processor with a splash of water and blend until smooth.  Or, pound to a paste in a pestle and mortar.

5. Add the ginger/garlic paste and the powdered spices to the pan with the lamb.  Stir in.

6. Finely dice the tomatoes or put them in the food processor and blend. Then add them to the saucepan. Simmer for 20 minutes.  Give an occasional stir.  If the pan becomes dry, add a splash of water.

7. Stir in the yoghurt. Then let it simmer very gently for another 10 minutes.

8. Serve with rice or Indian bread and garnished with the chopped coriander leaf.  Remove the cinnamon stick when serving.

Disclosure: The recipe is my own and was developed as part of the #UniformFoodies blogger challenge.  I received a voucher to cover the cost of ingredients involved in developing it.

Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies for the Secret Recipe Club

peanut butter nutella cookies on plate (1024x546)

I made peanut butter cookies for the first time just a few weeks ago.   They were a revelation. I loved them.  I thought I would never need to try any more peanut butter cookie recipes because I’d found the best and wouldn’t want to risk making an inferior batch.  But at that point I hadn’t thought about combining peanut butter with Nutella.   How about peanut butter and Nutella cookies? Well, after seeing these on Jenny’s Cookbook there was no way I was going to just move on without having a go at them.

Jenny’s Cookbook was my Secret Recipe Club assignment this month.  Like me, Jenny has 2 children and began her blog as a way of keeping track of all her recipes. and she has a very extensive and varied collection.   I was tempted by so many of her dishes including Chicken Marinades, Slow Cooker Tangy Pulled Pork and Moroccan Quinoa with Chickpeas and Raisins.   In the end I chose the Peanut Butter and Nutella Cookies because I just couldn’t resist the idea of peanut butter and Nutella together.

The cookies were every bit as good as I had imagined.   Chewy around the edges and still soft in the middle  They kept well too.   Well they kept well for 48 hours.   I don’t know how they would have been after that but as the last one disappeared they were showing no signs of becoming any less yummy.

I converted the recipe from cups to grams and also used a higher ratio of Nutella to peanut butter than in the original recipe.

Ingredients – Makes about 14

1 egg

150g peanut butter (I used crunchy unsweetened peanut butter)

150g Nutella

50g caster sugar

55g soft brown sugar

30g porridge oats

How to Make Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies

1. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and stir with a spoon to get a sticky cookie dough.

2. Roll spoonfuls of the mixture between your palms and then place them at least 5cm apart on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.

3. Bake the cookies in the oven for 10-12 minutes at 180C

4. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes on the baking trays and then transfer them to a wire rack.

To see what other Secret Recipe Club participants have made, click on the link below:

Indonesian Pork Tenderloin

Indonesian pork (1024x696)

With this recipe for Indonesian pork tenderloin I’m going back to some of my favourite flavours.  I’ll admit that I don’t know much about Indonesian food but I love peanut sauces. I love marinades.  And of course I love chillies, ginger, coriander and garlic.  Although I’m doing a lot more baking at the moment, it’s recipes like this that I really love to cook and love to eat.   After mixing up the marinade I could have happily stood there eating it, before I’d even put the pork in.   Luckily I knew I’d get to eat it again as a sauce.

I wanted this to be a light meal as I’ve started to think about (dream) of wearing my pre-pregnancy clothes again.  With that in mind I served the pork alongside a simple salad with a zingy lime and ginger dressing.  I guarantee that there is nothing more certain than this salad to make you feel healthy.   Of course, if you’re not dreaming of pulling on your skinny jeans again, you could always serve a little rice with it too.  Or some bread.

The recipe is adapted from Karmelowy.pl

Ingredients – serves 3-4

1 pork tenderloin

5 dried apricots, minced with a knife

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp ground coriander

30ml soy sauce

100ml orange juice

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp peanut butter

Juice of 1 lime

1\2 tsp crushed chilli flakes

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tbsp coriander leaf, chopped

How to Make Indonesian Pork Tenderloin

1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.  Whisk with a fork until everything is well combined.   Put in a plastic food bag or in a bowl with the pork to marinate.

2. Leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight.  I left mine for 5 hours.

3. Heat a little oil in an ovenproof pan.  Take the pork out of the marinade and seal it on all sides in the pan and then put it in the oven at 200C for about 15-20 minutes until the pork is cooked through.  Take it out of the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

4. Pour the marinade from the bag into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce a little so you have a thick sauce for the pork.

Salad Ingredients

3 carrots, grated

3 spring onions, sliced

10cm piece cucumber, thinly sliced

2 tomatoes, sliced

Handful mange touts

Handful fresh coriander leaf, chopped

2cm piece of root ginger, grated

Juice of 1 lime

1 chilli pepper, finely sliced

Handful of dry roasted peanuts (optional)

How to Make the Salad

1. Toss all the ingredients together.  Scatter a few peanuts on top.

Tomato and Coriander Soup

tomato coriander soup (1024x713) Why is it that now summer has arrived I keep making soup?  I couldn’t tell you.  What I can tell you is that this soup is really delicious, even on a warm day.  It’s also a great way of using up some of those giant bunches of fresh herbs that are so much better value than the small packs.   Some people might object to eating coriander in every meal for 4 days straight but luckily none of those people live with me.

This soup is adapted from my basic tomato soup recipe that I make quite regularly. Although I normally use individual spices when cooking rather than curry powder, this time I didn’t want it to be a strongly spiced tomato soup.  The curry powder just gives it a mild curry flavour that goes really well with the coriander.  Of course, there’s nothing to stop you adding more.

Most recipes are there to be adapted and you can easily vary this soup by using different herbs instead of coriander and missing out or substituting the curry powder altogether. You could even just stick with the plain tomato soup that this was adapted from, although even that has a little basil in.

Ingredients – Serves 2-4

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

400g tin tomatoes

Large handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped

1/2 tsp curry powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

300ml milk

How to Make Tomato and Coriander Soup

1. Cook the onion in a little oil.   When soft add the curry powder, garlic and the tin of tomatoes.   Add a little water if the tomatoes are too thick.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Add the coriander and using a stick blender, blend the soup.

3. Mix a tbsp of milk with the bicarbonate of soda.   Pour it onto the soup, followed by the rest of the milk.

4. Simmer for 5 minutes, keep stirring.  There will be quite a few bubbles but they will have disappeared after 5 minutes.

5. Serve with your choice of bread.

I am linking this to Cooking with Herbs at Lavender and Lovage as well as No Croutons Required, hosted by Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa’s Kitchen.   I am also linking to Elizabeth’s Kitchen’s No Waste Food Challenge, hosted this month by Utterly Scrummy Food for Families.

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