Thursday 27 March 2014

Garlic Pita Chips

It's so quick and easy to make these delicious low fat snacks - garlic pita chips - and you only need 3 ingredients!

I love snacking.  A lot.  I'm always on the lookout for snacks that I can easily take to work that don't kill the calorie or fat count for the day.  This is probably an easy thing to do unless you work in my team.  A colleague has actually set up a "tuck shop" out of one of his filing drawers - we give him our change, he gives us snacks and from a stock perspective (I am a stock planner, after all!) he maintains good availability.  Unfortunately while he does proves us with healthy snacks (nuts, granola bars...) he also likes to keep sweets and chocolate in stock.  I am a sucker for a Kinder Bueno so...

On a side note, said colleague is holiday so as I was appointed "tuck shop volunteer" and the snacks were moved to my drawer I took the opportunity to organise... got me thinking about how I snack.  A chocolate bar here and there isn't always a bad thing but what else can I snack on that will satisfy my sometimes savoury, sometimes sweet craving.  What is not too bad in the way of calories or fat?

All I needed for inspiration was a quick root around my bread drawer and a pack of pita bread that I needed to use before it went off...

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Dinner Cheat: Schwartz Flavour Shots

Schwartz Spanish Paella Flavour Shot - help make dinner quick and easy!

After a long day at work there is nothing better than just popping something in the microwave or oven for a complete meal.  We all do it, right?  So when it comes to cheating with meals where do you draw the line?  When does it become fast food and when is it food that you have to make an effort for?

I posted a little while back about the spice subscription boxes and thought they were just a great idea.  Herbs and spices all measured out precisely for the fresh ingredients.  I've now noticed that supermarkets are introducing the same sort of thing and I love it!  you still have to chop, de-seed, mash, whatever but the spice packs save you the step of measuring out the seasonings.

Schwartz now have a number of "Flavour Shots" that you can use to make dishes rather than going out and buying big jars of everything.  The Spanish Paella Flavour Shot caught my eye so had to pick it up and make it for dinner!  The great thing? You can follow the recipe loosely and make it your own which is what I did!  The below instructions are right from the Flavour Shot with the odd additional comment from me...

Saturday 15 March 2014

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Ever have one of those days when you want your favourite comfort food but you want to lighten things up a little?  Ever wanted to just cook one portion of Shepherd's pie rather than a massive dish?  Want to know the secret?


Per 100g the Quorn mince has only 105 calories and 2g of fat (0.5g saturated fat).  Regular steak mince has 165 calories and 9.2g fat (4.1g saturated fat).  Don't get me wrong, I love meats of all kinds but sometimes it's good to skinny things up, right?!  Oh and Quorn mince comes frozen in piece so it's really easy to just take out how much you need rather than using a whole pack of mince.

Ok, so it's not exactly like meaty mince but you know what?  It's still really good and here's how I used it to make a tasty Shepherd's Pie!  This is a recipe to show you how easy it is to make a singleton portion but you can easily double or triple the recipe to make it family sized.

First the mash (unless you're feeling a bit lazy and just buy some pre-made mash!).  Chop a large baking potato into small cubes and add to salted, boiling water.  You can let them boil away while you start on the rest of the prep.

Preheat your oven to 190C (fan oven).

Finely dice 1 medium shallot and 1 small clove of garlic.

Soften the shallot in a little olive oil, add the garlic and continue to soften.

Add the frozen Quorn mince and stir until the Quorn has defrosted.  Add the vegetable stock, bovril, tomato paste and herbs, mix well and allow to simmer to get all of those lovely flavours to come together.

Back to the spuds!  Once they have softened (poke them a little with a fork), drain the water, add butter and give them a good mash with a fork - I like my mash to be a little chunky but there's nothing stopping you from using a masher or ricer to make silky smooth mash instead!  Notice how I left the skins on?  I love potato skin in mash as it adds more flavour (plus they say all the good stuff is in the skins!).  Once the mash is, well, mashed, add the cheese and mix well.

By now the mince mixture should be bubbling away - you need to let it bubble until the stock has reduced to a nice thick gravy.

Spoon the Quorn and gravy into an oven proof dish and top with the mash.  If you use a fork to make pointy bits then you'll get a lovely brown and crispy top.  If you want even more golden crispiness, top with a little cheese (like I did!)

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie - Using one simple substitution you can lighten up one of the best comfort food dishes.  Using Quorn instead of beef mince cuts down on calories and fat but definitely not taste!

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie - Using one simple substitution you can lighten up one of the best comfort food dishes.  Using Quorn instead of beef mince cuts down on calories and fat but definitely not taste!

Bake until the topping is golden brown.  Serve with a simple salad or some steamed veg - carrots and broccoli are great with Shepherd's Pie!

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie - Using one simple substitution you can lighten up one of the best comfort food dishes.  Using Quorn instead of beef mince cuts down on calories and fat but definitely not taste!

Nut & Seed Bagels

Easy to make seed and nut bagels

Another week off exotic holiday just lounging around watching daytime tv.  Yeah....daytime's not good is it?  The food programmes are ok but I had to draw the line at talk shows and forced myself to actually do something worthwhile i.e. bake!

My breakfast over the weekend is usually an English muffin but wanted something with a little different...a bagel is probably my favourite type of bread so wanted to start the last few days of not working with something delicious.

My first bagel recipe was a total success so used the same recipe for this one but added a little seedy, nutty twist.

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Jambalaya (Simply Cook Review)

I've been looking at "subscription boxes" a lot lately and think they're such a great idea!  If you google subscription boxes it throws back a huge variety of things you can get delivered through your letter box - boxes filled with new beauty products, snacks, spices, chocolate, French foods, sweets, even books!  In the age of emails and text messaging who doesn't want to get home after work and find a box filled with treasures that got posted through your letterbox?!

Thursday 6 March 2014

Coming Soon...Simply Cook

I've been looking at subscription boxes for some time now - seeing what is out there and wondering if they are something I need to sign up for.  I'm already a Graze subscriber - who doesn't like amazing snacks delivered right to your door?!  (click here for a free trial box!)

Anyhoot...after delving into the world of amazing products being pushed through your letterbox I found Simply Food.

Basically you get 4 packs of measured spices and seasonings and recipe cards - all you need to do is add the fresh ingredients.  As someone who loves to try new foods and flavours this sounded like the perfect thing for me!  There are so many recipes out there I have wanted to try but some of the spices they call for are obscure, I didn't want to spend however much on an entire jar of something I might never use again so to have portioned spices for a specific recipe had me at "portioned for recipe"!

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Pressed Chicken Pesto Sandwich

A smaller version of my Shooter's Sandwich - the chicken and pesto pressed sandwich is stuffed with grilled chicken breast, spinach, tomato, mozzarella and pesto

This weekend I needed a sandwich.  Not just a bit of sliced meat between two slices of bread, I mean a SANDWICH!  The first thing that came to mind was the Shooter's Sandwich I made a while ago but that is one epic sandwich and waaaaaaay too big for just me  So it got me wondering if I could make a mini version.  The simple answer is yes! If you fancy a lighter sandwich but packed with taste, this is the one for you!

Saturday 1 March 2014

Photo a Day: February

February - the month of love, Valentine's Day, and Groundhog Day - Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and correctly predicted six more weeks of winter.  It's been ridiculously mild for us here in the south of England although some parts have been horribly flooded leaving people without electricity and in some cases, a home.  We were lucky as there hasn't really been any flooding here although a massive sinkhole did open up in Hemel Hempstead on the road we use to get to work!


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