Healthy alternatives: wholemeal pizza bases

Healthy alternatives: wholemeal pizza bases

We love pizza in this house. Frozen pizza, takeaway pizza, proper Italian pizza, pizza when drinking, hangover pizza, this list goes on. However, I think its pretty common knowledge that pizza isn’t the healthiest option and anything that increases the nutritional benefits of our Friday night favourite has a big fat thumbs up from us.

On top of the nutritional benefits homemade pizza is an absolute steal compared with buying pizza from a takeaway or restaurant and taste better than supermarket pizza so it is better for household economising. It is also a fun thing to make with children as it would allow them to pick their own toppings so there are lots of benefits to making your own.

Pizza dough is so easy to make, even for notice bakers. The only advice I can give is to really follow the instructions about water temperature and yeast and also to allow plenty of time for the dough to rise.

We made steak and rocket pizzas, but obviously mix it up as you wish.

To make 4 pizzas you will need:

500g strong wholemeal flour

2 teaspoons of salt

25g butter, cut into small cubes

13g (1 sachet of dried yeast)

250ml tepid water

For the topping

Passata with garlic and herbs added

1/2 ball buffalo mozzarella per pizza

Parmesan cheese

1 sirloin steak per 2 pizzas or 1 frying steak per pizza

Rocket

 

In a jug, mix together the lukewarm water and yeast. To a large mixing bowl add the flour, salt and butter. Add the water and use your hands to mix this together into a rough dough. Once the flour and water is mixed, remove the dough from the mixing bowl and knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. At this point you can half the quantity of dough if needed and freeze for a later date. Return to the bowl and least it rise for an hour, or until the dough doubles in size and springs back when poked.

Preheat the oven to 220ยฐC. Split into 2 and roll out the dough so that it is about 1/2 cm thick. Top the dough with the passata and cheese and cook for around 15-20 minutes or until the base is cooked. While it is cooking grill or fry your steak. (Leave this to rest before cutting). When the pizza is cooked stop with the steak, Parmesan and rocket.

This pizza tastes delicious but is slightly more difficult to eat in slices so you may want to consider using a knife and fork.

Dane actually told me that this pizza was one of the best ones I have made for him, which is high praise indeed.

 

Hello Fresh – Week One

Hello Fresh – Week One

Hello Fresh has become immensely popular of late and for good reason; it provides customers with healthy, easy to follow recipes in more or less the exact quantities required. So when a Hello Fresh sales representative came to my door I decided to give it a whirl and do a review for the first two weeks. (I do have to admit I did keep talking to the man because D had literally just got out of the shower!)

Anyway, the first box was pretty lovely. We had a steak ginger and beef stir fry, a Moroccan salmon salad and a pasta dish with lemon and tarragon. The stir fry and salmon in particular were a success and we will definitely be repeating them again.

Now D and I were discussing our first impressions and we both agreed the food was delicious, and as the cook of the household I noticed how nice it was to just have everything you need for a recipe without having to pop out to the shop for some forgotten ingredient. However, I do think it kills some of the spontaneity of cooking. I like to throw ingredients I think will work together to see what happens. However, during a busy week it was absolutely wonderful to go home and have a healthy meal on the table in less than 30 minutes without really thinking too much.

I will post a full run down after we have finished our second box but we have been really impressed. I don’t think this is something we’d opt for on a weekly basis but like I said before, it makes eating healthily on a busy week seem a lot more appealing.

I also think this might inspire less confident chefs to try new things. Sending ingredients in smaller quantities gives budding chefs a chance to cook with new ingredients without the pressure of having a lot of something left in their cupboard that they may dislike. The service that the company provides is actually amazing. Our box came on the hottest day of the year and everything remained cool and nothing spoiled. The communication of when the box was going to be delivered and where it had been left was very well organised too. Overall I am impressed so far.

Have you tried Hello Fresh or anything similar yet? Or do you have any other box subscriptions you want to recommend?

Rice Krispy Treats (Marshmallow Squares)

Rice Krispy Treats (Marshmallow Squares)

There’s something about cobbling a recipe together based on something you’ve been in a cartoon vaguely therapeutic. While throwing together ingredients for this I couldn’t help thinking back to an old episode of the Simpsons. You know the one where Marge is sent to jail and the town riots because they can’t get her rice krispy treats. While I can’t claim I need a statue erecting in my honour for making these, I do concede that they were delicious and they were very well received by the people I made them for (the cast of a play D is going to be in). Another plus is that they take barely any time to make, they’re not messy to eat and you don’t need an oven to make them. Probably perfect for a harrassed mother of 3 (or perhaps somebody who has promised his or her services helping with a bake sale and then promptly forgotten).

To make approximately 20 rice krispy treats you will need:

200-250g rice krispies

400g marshmallows

180g milk chocolate

 

Line a brownie tin with greaseproof paper. Break up the chocolate and put in a large microwave proof bowl with the marshmallows. Heat on high for 1 minute. Check and stir. Repeat every 30 seconds until the mixture is melted. Stir vigorously.

Add the rice krispies and keep stirring until all the cereal is coated in the chocolate marshmallow mix. Spread this into the brownie tin in a thick layer. Set aside to cool for half an hour. Once the rice krispy mix is cool and everything has set; cut into squares (you decide the portion size).

Now if anyone is looking for me I’ll be dying my hair blue and styling it into a beehive.

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Lemon curd and poppy seed drizzle cake

Lemon curd and poppy seed drizzle cake

This loaf is actually amazing. Its the lightest fluffiest lemony cake ever and is perfect with a cup of tea. I added poppy seeds to the original recipe for this and they cut through the sweetness and add to the texture (plus I had a massive bag that needed using, food waste is not cool!)

I have a feeling this recipe will contribute a lot to our cake eating quotas for this year (although it is perfect for sharing). This is also an absolute dream to make and you don’t actually need a food processor or electric whisk for this; although they do make it a bit easier.

For a small loaf you will need:

75g softened butter

125g caster sugar

150g self raising flour

50g poppy seeds

1 tablespoon of lemon curd

2 1/2 tablespoons milk

For the drizzle icing

The juice of 1 large lemon or 2 smaller lemons

Icing sugar

Granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 180ยฐC. Line a loaf tin (about 1kg but a bit larger is fine) with baking paper I used these. Cream together the caster sugar and butter until very light and fluffy, using a wooden spoon or electric whisk. Sift in the flour and add the lemon curd, milk, poppy seeds and mix until everything is combined.

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Pour this into the lined loaf tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the loaf clean.

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While the loaf is cooling juice your lemons and add icing sugar until it forms an icing with a consistency which is slightly on the watery side. Poke some holes into the cake and pour over this mix making sure there is an even spread over the top of the cake. Sprinkle over some granulated sugar to give the cake a crisp topping.

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Slice to serve. This cake is especially welcome when you’ve had a busy day.

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Sausage, broccoli and courgette risotto

Sausage, broccoli and courgette risotto

D and I are both pretty busy working full time, writing and doing amdram (he’s just landed a part doing the History Boys!). In fact you could technically say we were a busy family if you count the rabbits demolishing cardboard boxes and hiding behind the sofa. Anyway I’ve started trying to think of some relatively quick and healthy recipes that’ll keep us going all evening.

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Anyway, I felt like a start home maker (for once) making this as I used home made chicken stock in this, which did actually make all the difference (but is absolutely not essential and alas I now have no more).

To make enough risotto for 4 people you will need:

6 sausages

250g-300g risotto rice (not going to lie, I just used up a bag of rice and didn’t measure)

1 small onion – sliced

1 clove garlic – peeled and crushed

Chicken stock (about 1L)

1 glass white wine

1/2 broccoli head – cut into small pieces

1 courgette

Rosemary

Pecorino cheese

Salt and pepper

Butter

Fry the onion and garlic in butter until soft over a gentle heat. Remove the sausages from their skins and fry them with the onion and squishย this into small pieces before the sausage is cooked.

Fry the rice in this for 1 minute and then add half the chicken stock, rosemary and wine and turn down to a low heat. Stir this occasionally and add more stock as the rice absorbs the liquid (and it evaporates). Once the rice seems partially cooked add the broccoli and either spiralize in the courgette (or use a potato peeler to make small pieces of it). Once the rice and vegetables are cooked season with salt and pepper. To serve top with the percorino cheese.

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Serve to your busy (and hungry) family members. Although perhaps not to your bunnies/cat/goldfish.

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Very easy slow cooked beef curry

Very easy slow cooked beef curry

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This curry is hardly a recipe. It can be knocked together in less that 4 minutes on a busy morning. While it isn’t quite as delicious as the curry my father has made me and its not a patch on the ones made by my friends from work (who have their own favourite blends of spices); it does provide a healthy comforting meal after a busy day. It can be made by even the most inexperienced cook and its a good way of using up peppers that are past their best, or beef that’s nearly at its expiry date.

Anyway; to make this “throw together curry” you will need:

1 small onion, sliced

1 1/2 peppers or a large handful of frozen peppers

1 can chopped tomatoes or 1/2 jar of passata

400g diced beef

100ml chicken stock

1 heaped tablespoon curry paste of your choice (or any blend of spices you fancy)

Switch the slow cooker on low. Place all the ingredients into your slow cooker and give a gentle mix. Cover and leave to cook for 6-8 hours. For the last half hour (or while your rice is cooking) uncover to let the sauce thicken.

I serve mine with rice. If you’re not sure how to make rice (some people struggle to get it fluffy) I usually put my rice in a jug. Measure the volume of it and cover with 1 and 1/2 times as much cold water. Put the rice on a high heat. Once the rice is simmering, turn the heat right down, stir the rice and cover the pan. Allow to simmer for 11 minutes. After the 11 minutes remove from the heat and leave to stand still covered) for another 11 minutes until fluffy.

D was working from home while this cooked and said the smell of this was making him hungry all day (I think he is a fan of this recipe).

Malteaser cake

Malteaser cake

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If you’re anything like us you’ll probably have received a glut of chocolate over Christmas, or you’ll have vastly overestimated the number of Malteasers you’ll realistically be able to consume.If this is the case, this recipe is for you. This cake used one of those giant boxes of Malteasers to decorate it, but if you have a few blank spaces I’m sure you can add some other chocolates. The cake and buttercream icing have less cocoa in them than most chocolate cake recipes which makes it more child friendly. Perfect for family parties or for baking with younger children.

To make a Malteaser cake you will need:

For the sponge

3 large eggs

170g caster sugar

170g butter

160g self raising flour

10g cocoa powder

For the buttercream

120g softened butter

220g icing sugar (approx.)

1tbsp cocoa powder

1tbsp milk (again I used coconut milk and it was fine)

To decorate

1 large box of Malteasers (approximately)

Preheat your oven to 170ยฐC and line 2 10 inch cake tins. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until the mixture is thick and frothy and leaves a trail on top of the mix. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder. Melt the butter and slowly add to your mix while you’re whisking in the flour. Once the mixture is smooth separate this into the two cake tins. Bake for about 12 minutes, until a skewer comes clean when poked into the sponge. Set aside to cool.

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While your sponged are cooling prepare your buttercream by whisking together the ingredients. The whisking will make the buttercream light and airy.

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Remove the paper from the cakes and sandwich together using a thin layer of the buttercream. Then cover the cake with the remainder. Once the cake is covered add the Malteaser chocolates as desired. I put mine on in a compact manner, but you can do it in a patter or dot them around a bit more if you wish.

This cake is a great crowd pleaser. I made it when we had friends at our house and it was very popular. Perfect to make in the lull between Christmas and New Year.

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