Now I've written about guacamole before; but that was over 4 years ago and my slightly titivated recipe has since become our favorite. There really is no excuse for not making your own guacamole; it's so very easy to make and is nothing like the shop bought pureed green stuff you can buy in a supermarket. What's more, avocado is packed with nutrients - so go on and give it a go!
I've added red pepper as well as tomato since I love the extra bright red the diced pepper adds.
With Christmas and New Year parties coming up impress your guests with your homemade guacamole - Tortilla chips at the ready and dive in!
Well I don't want to speak too soon but it seems for a couple of days the UK is having a heat wave; about time too I say! So yesterday out came the BBQ, gotta love BBQ food as it's not only easy but of course delicious too.
As I'm sure everyone knows you should always wait till the coals turn white with heat before attempting to cook anything, otherwise all that happens is your burgers and sausages burn before they cook inside. We bought a Weber Chimney Starter a few years ago and I must say it is life changing; well as far as lighting a BBQ goes anyway.
I totally recommended you get one if you haven't already. Not only will your BBQ be far easier to light but all you do is wait till the coals are white hot before you cook and your food will turn out perfectly cooked.
Of course BBQ favourites are always going to be burgers and sausages but we are big fans of these baby sweet peppers and I can't resist baby vine tomatoes.
Oh my, the great British weather has once again tried to fool us again this week. From horrid rain and hail to brilliant sunshine and dare I say it - hot even! But the one thing we all love to do on the relatively few and sometimes far between nice sunny days is to have a BBQ.
Now that's all very well and dandy but who on earth wants to have to rush out to buy burgers and kebabs and stuff when you realise the weather forecast is actually wrong and you could have a BBQ -if only you had thought about it beforehand. After all, if you have to go out shopping for food by the time you get back you've missed the best of the sun!
So I was really pleased to have been set another Iceland Foods #PowerofFrozen challenge which was to see if I could be BBQ ready for whenever the weather was next looking good.
With my freezer stocked up with frozen and ready to cook goodies from the truly brilliant range of BBQ foods available from our local Iceland I was all set to BBQ and that day came sooner than the weatherman predicted. I'm not just saying it, pop down to your local Iceland Food store and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised of the quality upmarket range they now have.
You can believe me or not but, on Thursday I'd done a days work 6am till 2pm and the weather had turned out to be gorgeous. So without having to go shopping (it would have been too late if I'd had to do that) I conjured up this array of delicious BBQ food from Iceland.
I found out we hadn't got any briquettes in the garage needed for the BBQ - oh bother, I'm thinking (or words to that effect) please don't make me have to now pop out after all. But fear not this wasn't a problem because all the food I'd bought is not only cooked from frozen but can also be cooked in the oven too which is what I did......Happy me yay!
Here's a photo of all the food in my freezer I had in readiness for a sunny BBQ kind of day. I already had Brioche Burger Buns which I forgot to photograph by the way. The burger buns are pre-sliced making everything so very easy.
Now that's not all folks; for my next trick I even managed to make a 10 Minute Sweetcorn and Pepper Burger Relish to go on the burgers - check me out. Again made from (yes you guessed it) ready prepared frozen ingredients.
Purple Sprouting Broccoli is at its very best between February and April; the stems are edible too so no throwing them away please! Easy to prepare and cook, just trim any woody stem ends with a sharp knife and slice though thicker stems so it cooks evenly. Rinse under cold water then either boil for around 5-7 minutes or steam for around 6-8 minutes, depending on the size of floret.
I prefer to steam broccoli as it keeps its colour and also the vitamins are preserved rather than washing them down the drain after cooking. Once cooked season with a little sea salt and it is truly delicious with butter a knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.
A bit naughtier but nice way to serve is to make mygratin with garlicky cream topped with crispy crumbs and Parmesan.
Purple sprouting broccoli can also be used in a quiche and is great in pasta dishes too. Another favourite way is to do as Nigel Slater suggests; in a shallow pan, fry a little garlic and torn pancetta in olive oil. Add the purple sprouting broccoli which will take just 3 or 4 minutes to come to tenderness. Add a scattering of Parmesan, grated finely, over the top and serve with thickly cut bread and butter.
Having had my Panasonic Steam Combination Oven a few weeks now I've been busy experimenting with the steam function. Of course it's not necessary to have a steam oven to make this recipe since you could par-boil the potatoes and cook in a regular oven. But the Panasonic Steam Oven really does make life easier as everything is done in the one oven, so there's far less washing up, which can only be a good thing!
I must say I really do love my Tefal ActiFry and I have to admit before I had one I thought they were all about chips; but I was wrong, check out my Sweet Chilli Chicken Wings recipe. The ActiFry is fantastic for cooking speedy and healthier meals; my sweet and sour chicken cooks in under 30 minutes. Armed with my now ageing Tefal rice cooker cooking the rice for me, dinner was served in next to no time and was virtually fuss free.
Please note; I used the Tefal ActiFry Express XL for this recipe which does cook up to 30% faster than the ActiFry Family. Therefore timings may have to be increased by a couple of minutes.
I used Ketjap manis which is Indonesian sweet soy sauce but you can use dark soy sauce if you don't happen to have any. I really like it as it's thicker and sweeter and it can be found in any good supermarket in the World foods section if it isn't with the Chinese ingredients.
As we all know good bakeware is essential for good results when cooking. Stellar’s Professional Hard Anodised Bakeware has even heat distribution with no rusting or flaking and no warping in the oven. It's also easy to clean and free from PTFE and PFOA.
Having used my roasting tray a good few times now I have to say it's great and an affordable price too selling at just £20.00
As you can see this 32x22x5cm roasting tray is a good size and perfect for roasting vegetables and is available in different sizes. It's really light in weight and the handles make it really easy to remove from the oven.
Made from an aluminium alloy which provides superior thermal conductivity for even heat distribution, essential for the baking of
successful breads and cakes. The pans are electrochemically-hardened (hard anodised) for unbeatable durability.
Potato salad doesn't have to be bland and boring, you can pretty much add whatever takes your fancy. Having been sent French's new Spicy Mustard to try (it's their classic yellow mustard with a hint of cayenne pepper) my pimped potato salad happened.
Now, I'm not a fan of mild cheese, I much prefer extra matured Cheddar, but Red Leicester has a place here as it adds colour which can only be a good thing. That said, cheese in my opinion is always a good thing so why not add it to potato salad!
Simple to make in just minutes and perfect outdoor eating; great for picnics or as a side for BBQ's. Or indeed whenever you feel the need for potato salad!
There's little point in giving a proper recipe since there's no such thing as 'proper' just add as much or little of the following as it depends on how many you're serving and how greedy everyone is!
The lovely people at Knorr have just collected First Prize in the Sauce and Seasoning category for this year’s Product of the Year awards for their innovative Flavour Pots. To be honest I'm not at all surprised since flavour pots are a really easy way to infuse your cooking with the flavour
of fresh herbs and spices just by stirring one into your dish whilst cooking. Simple to use and with great results.
Along with some other bloggers we asked to join in the Knorr Flavour Pot – Product of the Year Challenge!
Let me tell you about this new Microplane Spiral Cutter - it's easy to use and easy to clean too. This spiral cutter allows you to make spiral cuts out of fresh vegetables. So yes, you can now make your veg look all posh!
Courgettes, carrots, cucumber all work well and also I'm thinking beetroot would be good too although I haven't tried it - could be a bit messy?! To use the spiral cutter, just hold what ever it is you're cutting at a slight angle making sure the whole side of the vegetable touches the blade and twist.
The two different size barrels are for different size veg - the larger
one being perfect for cucumber and the smaller for carrots.
The blades are really sharp and slice through vegetables with ease. I have to say I couldn't get the spirals quite as long as I'd have perhaps
liked without some breaking - probably just me not getting the hang of
it. Don't get me wrong the spirals still looked good and it's
great for stir-fries, creating garnishes or to make a more interesting
side salad a bit different from the norm.
The soft-grip exterior makes it comfortable to hold and easy to use and fits easily in your hand and it's also dishwasher safe.
With a RRP of £9.95 I think this is a reasonable price.
To buy a Microplane Spiral Cutter (available in Green or Black) please pop over to Steamer Trading
Many thanks to Steamer and PBM Marketing for sending me one to review.
Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
My Christmassy Roasted Root Vegetables glazed with Port and Redcurrant Jelly are, in a word, delicious. Perfect for Christmas dinner or of course the usual Sunday roast. So very easy to do too, and as long as you have a good non-stick pan you can't go wrong.
Usually I'd recommend you use a disposable foil tray since the honey can be hard to clean from a regular non-stick roasting tin. But having been sent this beautiful Scanpan I put it to the test - would it be easy to clean afterwards? Answer is yep it was a doddle.
Scanpan not only looks good but performs really well both in the oven and on the hob too.
Scanpan products are made in Denmark and the Scanpan roasting pan has a non-stick ceramic titanium coating and is metal utensil and dishwasher safe. This roasting pan is multi-purpose too since it has a base like a frying pan and it can also be used in the oven, under the grill and on the stove top.
Much excitement in our house when a Tefal ActiFry arrived last week. I've wanted one for an age as I've been curious to see if the ActiFry really is as good as people say. I mean really? Chips cooked in just a spoonful of oil can't taste good can they? Fact is they do!
Chips was the first thing I cooked - within an hour of this machine arriving chips had to happen. Soft and fluffy on the inside, crispy (yes really) on the outside, but
we'll talk about chips another day.....
Chicken wings with a nice sweet and spicy coating topped with toasted sesame seeds are so good to eat. But for good measure I wanted more - how about if they were coated in a Chinese Five Spice batter, fried using hardly any oil, and then coated in Sticky Sweet Chilli goodness - how does that sound?
Would the batter actually stay on the wings or would my bright idea turn into a disaster? Read on to find out.
My ActiFry arrived as a
result of a challenge set by Tefal which was to cook my guilty pleasure. The lovely Camilla over at Fab Food 4 All was sent an ActiFry for the challenge. Once she had cooked her guilty pleasure she had to nominate someone else to take on the challenge and she chose me - Cheers Camilla!
On with my Sweet Chilli Chicken Wings. You will notice the batter is quite thick - I decided it would have more chance staying on the wings once cooking in the ActiFry.
You will need a Tefal ActiFry:
20 chicken wings
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice
1 egg - free range of course and lightly beaten
*You will also need 1 tablespoon oil for cooking in the ActiFry
The sauce isn't anything tricky - mix together in a small bowl and set aside:
100ml (half a bottle) Sweet Chilli Sauce (Blue Dragon original dipping sauce) available in any good supermarket.
1 tablespoon Ketjap Manis - Indonesian sweet soy sauce - just use dark soy if you can't get it
1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
a couple of tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds to sprinkle
How to do it:
Put the flour and cornflour into a bowl along with the Chinese Five Spice and add the egg and give it a good mix. Add the water and whisk till there aren't any lumps. The batter will be quite thick but fear not - it will be fine. No need to add salt to this mixture just the five spice will be fine.
Trim the very end part (the bit with no meat) off of each chicken wing and discard. Pop them into a large bowl and pour over the batter. Mix using your hand to coat each wing well.
Add the wings one at a time to the ActiFry. Drizzle with one spoonful of oil, shut the lid and set the time to 30 minutes.
Now after a few minutes of cooking I thought I'd done a wrongen - oh my, the batter wasn't looking good in the ActiFry. BUT after 15 minutes it all looked okay and although the wings didn't stay perfectly coated they were looking good.
In any case these wings were going to get a coating of sticky sweet chilli goodness and since they weren't being judged by Monica on MasterChef it really didn't matter.
Once they emerge from the ActiFry using tongs as they are piping hot, coat each wing in the sticky sauce and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. The wings were perfectly cooked and not at all dry. Yep we're very impressed with the Tefal Actifry.
The #ActiFry Guilty Pleasure Challenge:
I'm nominating Jo over at Jo's Kitchen to receive an ActiFry from Tefal and take on the Tefal #ActiFry challenge - can't wait to see what Jo will cook!
Pop over to see how Camilla got on with the #ActiFry guilty pleasure over at Fab Food 4 All.
Do you have a Tefal ActiFry? If so please tell me your favorite recipe in a comments below.
Disclaimer: Many thanks to Tefal for sending me an ActiFry Family along with a few goodies and a Salisbury's gift voucher. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not required to write anything positive.
A good bowl of soup is always a good thing and a great way to eat lots of lovely veg if you are someone that usually doesn't. Add pearl barley and I say this soup just has to be good for you. Pearl barley is similar to wheat in its caloric, protein, vitamin and mineral content and is great for adding to soups and stews.
Pearl barley does take a bit of cooking though so you will need to rinse it then
into a saucepan with plenty of cold water. Cover with a lid, bring to a
boil for 10 minutes then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20-25
minutes or until tender before adding to your soup.
Crock-Pots or slow cookers have become really popular again, lets face it they are quite a marvelous invention. They offer a very cheap way of cooking and dinner can be ready to eat as soon as you get home from work - no mess no fuss. Now whenever you think of a meal cooked in a slow cooker you tend to think it's all stews and casseroles. But you can actually cook certain foods wrapped in foil which of course means even less washing up as the crock-pot is as clean at the end as it was before any cooking began!
Perfect for bonfire night or great for students these cheesy beany potatoes may not look amazing but let me tell you if you this was good! Prepared in just five minutes then left to cook all day long while you're working or maybe you just have something else to do other than stand over a cooker.
Lets face it baked beans are really good for you too, high in fibre and virtually fat-free which is probably just as well since these potatoes are loaded with cheese!
So since Crock-Pot are making October #Crocktober a slow cooking campaign, I was asked to make a recipe and was sent this Digital Crock-Pots and a Crock-Pot Food Warmer (a great little gadget that re-heats cooked food while you are in the office) just put the food into the bowl, plug in and 3 hours later your food will be piping hot and ready to eat. Sadly I don't work in the kind of place where you are able to do that but if you do then it's ideal.
I love this Crock-Pot - the digital timer allows you to see how much longer you have till your food is ready and it auto switches to keep warm when it's done. So no need to worry if you're running late.
Crock-Pot UK are supplying one of these rather nice Digital Crock-Pots and a Crock-Pot Food Warmer for my Giveaway. But first here's my recipe for those cheesy beany potatoes.
To serve 4 you will need:
1kg new potatoes (I used Charlotte) cut into bite sized pieces
sea salt and black pepper
1 x 400g can Baked Beans
200g of Extra Matured Cheddar - grated
200g Red Leicester - grated
a sprinkling of Cayenne or Chilli powder
How to do it:
Lay two big sheets of good quality kitchen foil to form a cross. Line the crock-pot with the foil - it needs to be big enough to be able to pull the sides up and to cover the potatoes.
Throw in the potatoes and season with sea salt and black pepper. Now pour over the baked beans and stir very carefully taking care not to tear the foil.
Add half of the cheese (saving the rest till later) and sprinkle a little cayenne or chilli powder.
Pull the foil over to loosely cover the food. Pop the lid on and switch on the Crock-Pot. Cook for 8 hours on LOW add the rest of the cheese towards the end of cooking - say ten minutes before just giving it enough time to melt and then serve.
Now for the Giveaway!
As mentioned Crock-Pot UK are supplying a Digital Crock-Pot and a Crock-Pot Food Warmer which lucky reader of this blog will win.
How to Enter - Entries must be via the Rafflecopter widget:
Please note the prize can only be sent to the UK only. To see a short video on how easy it is to use Rafflecopter click here. *Inappropriate comments will be deleted and entry/entries to the
competition removed as will anyone that says they have left a blog post
comment but really hasn't!
For information on how to find the URL of your tweet click here - Entries that do not show the URL of the Tweet will be removed.
There is one main way to enter and several ways to get bonus entries, including bonus daily entries.
Competition end time is as shown on the Rafflecopter widget along with the terms and conditions.
I was recently asked to join in the Feel Good Food Blogger Challenge organised by Weight Watchers. For us to take part in their challenge they sent over a whole bunch of goodies! Everything needed for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner including a few more treats too.
Pictured below, left to right - the Weight Watchers Goodies, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
The challenge was to share our day with video clips starting with breakfast of course. Oh my I'm not really a one for making videos but since I've now done a few I'm getting much more used to it - Paul however wasn't too keen on being filmed so we only done a few minutes of him!
We were both really pleased to see we could still have our Saturday night Indian Curry with poppadoms too!
I'm glad I took part in the challenge as I've actually learnt a few things:
The Weight Watchers ProPoints system looks easy to follow - much better than trying to fathom out the back of packaging to see how many calories you're eating and attempting to add them up. I just don't have the patience for all that and would soon loose interest. Okay for me to talk, we're lucky in the fact that we've never had to go on a diet but if I ever did then I think I would honestly choose Weight Watchers.
I love the fact that you can still have pretty much the kind of food you're used to eating - or want to eat. Biscuits and cakes are still allowed you just have to be sensible - unlike Paul who actually managed to eat 5 cakes in one go - I really don't think he could do a diet if he had to, he is a worry!
Liven up Food with my Top Tips!
There's nothing wrong with Weight Watchers Tikka Masala sauce but like any sauce in a jar it doesn't have to be cooked on the
hob just because the instructions on the back say so - it works just as well in a slow cooker, in fact I'd say the
chicken will have more taste if done that way.
I say you can liven up any
ready made sauce or other foods without adding very much in the way of
calories. Diet or no diet - food should be enjoyed and I personally think if you get into cooking you can dabble about a bit and liven up any diet without going over the top.
Now for the video of our Feel Good Food Day:
See my Top Tips including a couple of side dishes for Indian curry that wont get you piling on the pounds!
For more information on Weight Watchers pop over to their website or follow on Twitter @WW_UK
#WWFeelGoodFood and #TweetWhatYouEat
Many thanks to Weight Watchers for the goodies - we really did enjoy our day.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a hamper of goodies and a supermarket voucher for other ingredients used to make the meals complete. I was compensated to cover time filming, photographing and writing up this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
With all this lovely hot weather we're having at the moment (which I've no doubt will end very soon since I've mentioned it) it is most definitely BBQ weather.
As a change and feeling in a healthy eating kinda mood, I felt the need to cook quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is marvelous stuff and although a little on the weird looking side, it is actually rather nice to eat and is good for you too. That said, of course it does need some love to make it nice as alone it can be a bit tasteless. But if you add a glug of oil (ha-ha) and some roasted veg along with a dollop of sun-dried tomato paste and it turns into a lovely thing indeed.
Now I have to admit to adding a little crumbled feta after this picture was taken but since I'm trying to come across all healthy and that - just don't tell anyone!
Okay this isn't exactly a traditional filling for naan bread but I fancied making something different. After the success of my Peshwari naan and since I had some feta along with a green bell pepper in the fridge in need of using up, Feta and Red Chilli Naan seemed the way to go.
Never mind that it's naan bread, it makes a nice change from ordinary bread and can be served with whatever you fancy. Once you've made your dough, stuffing it is easy to do and you can experiment with different fillings to suite your taste.
A Quick Word on Yeast:
You really need to use Dried Active Yeast for hand baking and not Easy Bake or Fast Action. Easy bake yeast is suited to bread machine and you will not get the same result.
How do I know these things? Because I made this mistake in the past and my naan turned out horrid and hard!
Easy to make and a great side dish at any BBQ or just as a change from regular potato wedges or chips. Sweetness from the potatoes and a little heat from the harissa, finishing with a nice tang from the slightly salty feta. Don't be scared of harissa paste it's up to you how much you use and it's not over hot.
Come on! Spice up your meal times and give these a go.
I love rose harissa and I always buy the brand Belazu.
Add a little spice to your life with this Mexican-style coleslaw! Of course you can make it more or less spicy to suit your taste and it's ideal to serve at a BBQ or just as a change instead of regular coleslaw.
Of course if you happen to have too much time on your hands you can make your own mayonnaise but I'm afraid I don't, and in any case I say good old Hellmann's mayo is the way to go.
Having recently been sent the Tefal Optigrill I wondered if it really would be as good as they say it is.
But in the short time I've had it I've used it to cook all sorts; Bacon, Chicken, Burgers, Pork Steaks and Corn on the Cob and every one has turned out perfectly - yep this grill is excellent.
Tefal Optigrill uses sensor technology to measure the weight and
thickness of different meats to decide how long it will take to cook
them. For steak, the grill alerts you when the meat is rare, medium and
well done. Fantastic as you can take out a rare steak while leaving
the rest to continue cooking.