Cottage Pie with Cauliflower Mash Topping

Cottage Pie with Cauliflower Mash Topping

So, 2 weeks into the new year and lots of cooking to catch up reporting on! First up, cottage pie (although I grew up calling it shepherds pie even though my mum always used beef mince!) With the updated Slimming … Continue reading

Lentils??? Yes!!

IMG_8753I was lounging about feeling miserable yesterday, sore throat, sore head, sore everywhere. And I flicked onto Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals on the GoodFood channel.

He was making Spiced Chicken, Bacon, Asparagus and Spinach Lentils. Himself (husbag) was beside me, he said “That looks lovely, will you make that” so I said, ok, I’l try!

Now, i’ve never been a big fan of lentils, but i’m being converted, i’ve even started sneaking them into curries, bolonaise and (shock!!) my famous Taco Fries!! Half the calories of meat and just as filling – yes please!

I’ve changed a few little bits from the original recipe in Jamie’s Book, and I used dried red lentils as Tesco across the road had no tinned puy, but I would like to try it again with the correct lentils!

As usual with a meal with so many flavours, it reheats beautifully and leftovers today were so good!!

I used streaky Bacon, but you could substitute with trimmed lean bacon to keep it free on SW plan, apart from that it’s Syn free.

Husband strongly approved of this meal, said he would keep me a bit longer, I think he wants the same again tonight but beans on toast is my limit today 🙂

ps. This took me slightly longer than 15 minutes to prepare and cook!!

 

Spicy Chicken with Bacon, Asparagus and Spinach Lentils 

Serves 4

Ingredients: 

Lentils: 

1 onion

2 carrots (original recipe uses 1)

2 sprigs fresh rosemary (leaves removed)

120g dried red lentils (or as per original recipe, 2 x 400g tins puy lentils)

2 ripe tomatoes

150g baby spinach

1 tsp red wine vinegar (I used white)

4 heaped tbsp fat free natural yoghurt (optional)

Chicken:

4 skinless, chicken breasts

1 tsp cayenne pepper

4 cloves garlic

1 handful fresh thyme, rosemary and/or bay leaf (I used 1 tsp dried thyme, fresh rosemary and 2 dried crumbled bay leaves)

6 rashers of streaky bacon  (jamie’s original recipe calls for 4 rashers of smoked pancetta)

1 bunch of asparagus  (I used 2 packs of asparagus spears, I love asparagus)

 

Method:

– If you are using dried lentils, bring them to the boil  and simmer for 10 mins until just softened, then drain and remove from the heat. If you are using tinned, just open the tins!

– Peel and quarter the onion and carrot and blitz in processor with the rosemary leaves until fine.

– put in the pan with (spray oil) olive oil and toss regularly

– on a sheet of clingfilm or greaseproof, sprinkle the chicken with the cayenne, salt and pepper, then fold over the clingfilm and take out some aggression on it, very satisfying, until 1.5 cm (ish) thick

– put this into a warmed frying pan with (spray) olive oil,  the unpeeled garlic cloves and the handfuls of herbs, and turn every 3-4 mins until cooked through and gold in colour. Remove the chicken to a plate and keep warm

– add the lentils to the onion and carrot along with the tomatoes (chopped roughly) and put the lid on. Finely chop the spinach and add to the mix, along with the vinegar, stir and heat through until the spinach is wilted. Season to taste.

– add the asparagus and bacon to the frying pan and fry until crispy and golden (the 2 extra slices of streaky bacon are to test, to make sure it’s ok and crispy enough).

– Roughly stir the yoghurt through the lentils (or serve on the side if you prefer), top the lentils with the asparagus sliced chicken, 1 fillet per person and a slice of bacon, cut in half. (Jamie serves all of this on a platter)

– It is suggested to serve this with crusty bread, warmed through in the oven.

 

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Chicken Biriyani

While I was in an Indian restaurant recently, I tried a chicken biriyani for the first time and fell in love! Tender spicy chicken surrounded by flavoured rice, what’s not to love!

So I decided to give it a go myself. I cheated slightly and used a pataks paste (1.5 syns per tablespoon) but I’m going to research a spice mix to try myself next time.

Any vegetables will work here I’ve listed out what I used! Hope you like it!

Chicken Biriyani

Serves 4
(2.5 syns per serving, excluding almonds)

175g basmati rice
1 brown onion chopped
1 carrot finely diced
100g green beans, halved (I used frozen)
100g petit pois
3 chicken fillets sliced in approx 6 pieces
6 tablespoons pataks biriyani paste
2 tablespoons natural yoghurt (I used fat free liberte Greek yoghurt)
1 tin tomatoes

To serve:
25g sliced almonds, toasted (optional)
Yoghurt
Fresh chopped mint

– mix 2 tablespoons yoghurt with 2 tablespoons of the paste
– marinade the chicken in this mix for 2-3 hours at least
– cook the rice in salted water until just underdone, then drain and remove from the heat
– meanwhile, seal the chicken pieces until nicely coloured, remove to a plate
– sauté the onions and carrots until softened then add the paste, mix well, then add green beans, peas and tinned tomatoes and stir
– mix the rice into the veg and add 1 cup of water
– in an oven proof dish – place half the rice and veg mix on the bottom
– place the chicken along the top of this
– then top with the remaining rice, ensuring the chicken is totally covered
– wrap carefully with tinfoil then make at 180 degrees for half an hour
– serve topped with a spoon of yoghurt and sprinkled with almonds and mint

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Hospital Stay

A little while back, I posted about falling over (ok, I lost my balance trying to take off my wellies after a concert, at 3am..). My first visit to Accident & Emergency was at 10am that morning, X-ray showed no fracture but foot was very swollen, so I was asked to wear an Air Cast (also called a Moon Boot- a rigid, knee high support boot with inflatable air cushions) and keep off the foot using crutches and come back in 5 days for a other X-ray.

On Friday morning I presented again to A&E and this time I was sent for an MRI, I didn’t have to wait long, and the doctor advised me to go home instead of waiting for results and he would call me with an update. Later that afternoon he called me to say nothing untoward could be seen and to await a call from physio department. He called that evening and I had an appointment for the following Thursday, 6 days later.

5 minutes into my 6pm appointment and Chris the lovely physio was on the phone to the orthopaedic department, and when he didn’t get an answer, ran down himself and came back to me with a 4pm appointment the next day to see a SURGEON! Now, I expected to be going into physio for a support bandage to wear home and some exercises, not to be told I had a suspected “LisfrancInjury” (I had to go home and google, then got a but faint and stopped googling because I was sure he was wrong!)

The next day the surgeon confirmed the suspicions of the physio and I was booked in for surgery the following Wednesday!! (with strict orders to keep the foot, that I had been walking on, up until then!) I buried my head firmly in the sand and hoped the CT scan I was booked in for would prove both the physio and surgeon wrong, i’l show them, I thought!

Wednesday 7am arrived, I had tea and toast as instructed, my last meal (whole meal toast, of course) and headed off with my brother for the Beacon. CT scan first then weight bearing (ow!!) X-rays, my brief google investigation told me that the LisFranc fracture would more likely show on a weight bearing X-ray due to the nature of the injury.

At 2pm I was brought to my bed in surgery ward to await my slot and I was called at 4pm. By this stage I was very, very grumpy because I was very, very hungry!!! I was still hoping, right until my surgeon came with consent forms to the pre-op area that I would be going home! Far from it alas, Dr. Laing arrived and told me that not only was it not just a sprain, I had ruptured the ligament, had 3 fractures and some bone fragments hanging around inside there too.

When he started drawing lines on my foot I started hearing white noise and feeling faint so I just closed my eyes until I was wheeled into theatre…this was at 5pm, I was brought back to my room at 9pm, 2.5 hours of surgery, 5 metal screws, 4 pins and some wires outside later..I was done!

Now to the important details, the food!

My throat was too sore after the ET tube to manage toast that night so I just had tea and a very broken night sleep, foot surgery hurts like hell!!

The food during my stay in the Beacon Hotel Hospital was excellent and it was even possible to stay within the SW theories…..except I didn’t and had dessert both days!

Both mornings I had grilled bacon, scrambled eggs, grilled tomatoes and wholemeal toast.

Dinner, served at lunch on day one – salmon fillet with dill sauce, baby boiled potatoes, green beans, side salad (with the cutest pouch of balsamic vinegar and e.v. Olive oil) was really tasty!

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Dessert (well, I was convalescing) apple pie with vanilla cream

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On the second day, the day I was leaving, for dinner I had supreme of roast chicken breast, with mashed potato, carrots and peas, and side salad

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And my favourite dessert -profiteroles – so light and fluffy and creamy

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And finally, the fun bit -no.1 decorating the cast in what he has decided is my favourite colour, purple, his theory being he will “make it all pretty so mammy will be happy” bless him!!

The reality of coping with non-weight bearing on crutches with 2 children, on of whom is 4 months old is harder than I imagined, but we are coping, and using a wheeled office chair, I can rest my left knee in it to get around the kitchen and keep cooking!

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Stroganoff

I recently came across this amazing blog with so many great recipes and i’m sure I will be using it a great deal in future! Check it out here Slimming Eats for inspiration!!

Dinner beckoned and I had a pork fillet defrosting and a notion to make Stroganoff. Now, I don’t like mushrooms, couldn’t bring myself to eat a slice of mushroom if you paid me! However, and I know this is bizarre, I love Stroganoff Sauce!! (i’ve lately, at the ripe old age of 29 progressed to grating mushrooms into stews and Bolonaise sauce as they do add a great flavour!)

The Slimming Eats recipe calls for Beef, I decided to try it with pork and the result was seriously tasty!!

First fried the pork strips with some fry light until browned, then remove to a plate

 

I had no onions (how, I dont’ know!!) so I sauted 2 leeks with 10 peeled chestnut mushrooms and 2 cloves garlic with the beef stock as per instructions.

For ease, I mixed all the remaining ingredients in a bowl, then added the pork back into the pan with the other ingredients and remainder of the Stock and stirred until well combined, it was quite thick at this point.

Finally, I added 8 tablespoons of Fat Free Fromage Frais (recipe called for 6, but I had used 550g of pork fillet after it was trimmed and cut so the sauce needed a little extra), snipped some fresh parsley over for serving – and it was delish and surprisingly easy to throw together, and the best bit – syn free!!

Recent Dinners

Here are some dinner ideas from during the last 2 weeks since I started in Slimming World.

This is a version of the “Tricolour Carbonara” from the SW books. My husband, who does not normally like carbonara said it was the nicest he ever had – it’s really light and very tasty!

I was doing a freezer hunt for the day’s meals and found a ham fillet at the bottom and decided to cook it, when it was cooked and I cut into it, it had a lot of fat running through the centre, which I hate so I decided to trim every single piece I could see off and cut the ham into small cubes to throw into a salad or carbonara. The carbonara I made by frying the ham cubes in a hot pan until slighly coloured, then softening a leek in fry light with a clove of garlic, added a chopped green chilli and a handful of frozen peas. I added dashes of water to keep things from sticking/burning. Meanwhile had pasta (250g wholewheat spaghetti) and in a bowl whisked 2 egg yolks with 3 tablespoons fat free fromage frais and 20g Parmesan grated
When pasta cooked, drain, keep a little of the water in the end, throw in the leek and bacon and take off the heat and stir in the egg and ffff mix and stir well.
Divided into 4 bowls and sprinkled with a little grated Parmesan.
(30g Parmesan is a healthy A but it’s split between 4 portions here)

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Friday Night Food – Burger and Chips SW Style

Junior1 had great fun making these with me. Into the food processor went a small onion which was finely chopped then salt and pepper, a tablespoon of ketchup and some dried oregano. We shaped them into burgers (“big one for daddy, medium for mammy and small for me”) and onto a hot griddle. The chips made in the usual way and I put the burgers into the oven after they were sealed.

I used a brown burger bun (from tesco) as my healthy B and some low fat Chedder cheese, rocket and tomato, with chilli ketchup and some cherry tomatoes on the side. Better than a Chipper take away any day 🙂

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Sirloin Steak with soy, ginger and honey glaze, with stir fried Veg and wholewheat noodles. I got the recipe from a Food Club i’m in on a forum, the recipe called for Duck, which i’m not a big fan of so I griddled the sirloin and made the glaze. I used a tablepsoon of sesame oil in the veg (3 syns between 2 servings) and soy sauce, and just a drop of soy on the noodles. Really really tasty.

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