This year D and I have been eating a lot less meat. There were several reasons for this but the best thing to come of it (apart from feeling so much better) was the opportunity to try a whole host of new recipes.
Considering D is not really much of a vegetable eater he actually enjoyed this recipe. Alongside having a great many health benefits, spinach is one of the most versatile vegetables. This is also a pretty easy thing to put together after work and packs a punch in terms of fruit and vegetable portions.
To make a pie to serve 4 you will need:
1 pack of lighter puff pastry
450g frozen spinach
50g Parmesan cheese
200g garlic and chive soft cheese (the lighter option)
Salt and pepper
Herbs de provence
4 large tomatoes cut into segments
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 onion, diced
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Lightly fry the onion and garlic on a medium heat until soft. Add the spinach, tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper and fry until the spinach has cooked down. Once the spinach is cooked; add the cream cheese, Parmesan and egg. Reduce the heat and make sure the cheese and egg is distributed through the mixture.
Place the spinach in a pie dish and top with the (rolled out) pastry. Glaze with the egg. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
This pie also makes excellent leftovers or vegetarian picnic food.
This recipe is one for those days when only something a bit more carb heavy and comforting will do, but at the same time you don’t want healthy eating to go completely out of the window. It was actually born because me really really craving lasagne but only having sausages in and not really being entirely enthusiastic about the whole rigmarole of making bolognese and bechamel sauce on a Thursday night. Still out of laziness comes a lot less food waste and overhearing D telling his friend about a really night lasagne I had made for him, so the recipe seems to have been successful in our house.
To make enough lasagne for 4 people you will need:
1 red onion
1 clove garlic
400g pork and leek sausages removed from their skins
3 large handfuls sweet potato chunks (I used frozen sweet potato)
3 large handfuls fresh spinach
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
150ml creme fraiche (I used low fat but all types work)
20g parmesan (plus extra for the top)
Salt and pepper
Approx 230g passata infused with herbs
125g buffalo mozzarella
4-5 lasagne sheets
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel and chop the onion and peel and crush the garlic. Fry on a gentle heat until soft. Add the skinned sausages and sweet potato chunks and season with the salt, pepper, marjoram and chilli. Cook over a medium heat, breaking up the sausage to smooth out, until the sweet potato has started to soften and the sausage is cooked.Add the spinach, creme fraiche and parmesan and stir until the spinach has wilted and the parmesan has melted into everything.
In a medium casserole dish make a smooth layer of this mixture. Top with your lasagne sheets (no need to pre cook). Pour over your passata. Break your mozzarella over the passata and grate over more parmesan and pepper.
Cook for about 20-25 minutes until the cheese on the top is golden.
I think this will become part of our regular repertoire.
Anyone who knows me know’s I have a weakness for chocolate spread. I think its one of those foods that turns me a bit greedy to be honest. In fact, I often think if I had to eat my way out of a vat of food I would definitely hope it was some sort of chocolate theme spread..anyway I was very kindly sent some JimJams chocolate spread it was love. With 83% less sugar, this is kinder on children’s (and 28 year old lady’s) teeth than the leading brand. (Which I know also makes it a bit lower in calories but I believe it was developed with dental care in mind).
Anyway, I was also sent some recipes to try out along with milk chocolate and hazelnut spreads to try so I think it was only polite to test one of them out.
To make a a Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake you will need:
200g rich tea biscuits
80g softened butter
350g JimJams Chocolate Hazelnut spread
500g cream cheese
200ml double cream
Any decoration you fancy – I used chocolate stars
Break the biscuits into crumbs in a food processor and blend in the butter. Press this mixture down into a loose bottomed tin measuring approx. 9 inches in diameter. Set this aside to chill in the fridge.
Whisk your cream until it forms stiff peaks. Melt the chocolate spread in a microwave and whisk into the cream along with the cream cheese. Spread this into a thick, smooth layer over the buttery biscuit base (you can’t write a cheesecake recipe without using this term!)
Decorate as desired. Place in the fridge for 4 hours to set before serving.
I actually enjoy cheesecake best on its own, but it would also taste great with some fruit, cream or ice cream.
As mentioned above I was very kindly sent JimJams to try, but it is available in Holland and Barrett, Tesco and Ocado. See other retailers here. I will certainly be buying more.
This is definitely a recipe of procrastination. I saw a picture on instagram of a meatball based pasta bake and resolved to make my own. This is a little faffy and requires a bit of early preparation but them end result looks pretty cool and this is definitely one of those you want to keep in reserve if you have to cook for somebody you’d like to impress. Also, for those of you who are more health concious or appreciate a bit of a healthy balance in your cooking I did actually make some courgetti (or is it zoodles) in amongst all the pasta which makes it feel less stodgy. Even D who can be a bit suspicious of courgettes commented how he liked that part. I think part of enjoying vegetables might just be having them might just be cutting them and seasoning them the right way. (However, I might reassess this opinion if/when we decide to actually have children).
Anyway, for this recipe it is better to make the meatballs in advance and allow them to chill and firm up. (It also makes them washing up seem less overwhelming) The actual construction of the pasta bake doesn’t take much time to put together.
For this recipe you will need:
For the meatballs
375-400g mince (I just used half of one of those big packs you can buy)
2 cloves garlic
1 handful sage leaves
100g (approx) feta cheese
2 slices brown bread
For the pasta bake
2 mugs full of pasta shapes
1 large jar of passata
1 teaspoon chilli sauce
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Gouda or similar cheese
Salt and pepper
To make the meatballs first put the feta, bread and sage in a food processor and blend. To this add the egg and meat. Roll the meat mix into your desired meatball size and set aside to cool in a sealed box for a few hours.
Now I made a bit of a schoolboy error when I made this and thought it would be like lasagne where I could get away with not cooking the pasta but you do in fact need to cook this. If you try to cook it in the sauce you will be waiting for ages while your intended food recipients almost cry with hunger. Anyway, cook the pasta and brown your meatballs.
Put the pasta in a casserole dish (I used my beloved Le Creuset). Make a sauce by mixing together your passata, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and chilli sauce. Pour this over the pasta and spiralize or grate over your courgette. (I have one like this, thanks Grandma!). Top the courgetti with the meatballs and cheese. Bake in an oven preheated to 200°C for 30 minutes.
Delicious and filling when you’re in the mood for pasta.
No word of a lie, toasties are still one of my favourite fast foods. During my university career I ate countless toasties due to my sheer love of cheese in all forms. My poison of choice: cheddar cheese, mushrooms and mayonnaise on brown bread. Anyway, here are a few suggestions of what you may have in your cupboards to liven up your mealtimes (a true toastie fan knows they can be eaten around the clock). Obviously ingredients can be substituted and I’ve tried to keep realistic with ingredients. I know student loans only stretch so far.
- Make your own tuna melt. I personally never use a full can of tuna in one go, so this is a great way to use up any leftovers. Mix your tuna with a bit of mayonnaise (I usually use light mayo) and season with salt and pepper. Add to any cheese you like.
- Use up leftover pasta sauce or enchilada sauce by adding it to a toastie with mozzarella or other mild cheese. A great way to save money and reduce food waste.
- If you have 1/2 avocado, sliced avocado, chilli sauce and cheese is dreamy.
- Cooked chicken, pesto and strong cheddar (or feta cheese). Mediterranean vibes, even when its raining, you’re sitting in your pyjamas and you have an essay to write.
- Try a dessert toastie. If you want to pretend to be healthy banana and Nutella (because of the fruit), otherwise marshmallow and chocolate button is the one. Especially handy to know if your flatmate has had a horrible day and needs cheering up.
If you’re a student returning to university soon, or you’re a Fresher this year have a great year. Even if you aren’t a student, you just love toasted sandwiches; I hope you enjoy these easy ideas to make one of the most simple snacks even more dreamy.