Sunday, 15 May 2011

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza that's not entirely true since I used a pizza base mix but if someone is going to make my life easier and measure out all the ingredients for me then i am not going to argue with that.  It is homemade in the sense that it is not from the shops or the takeaway so you have greater control of what goes on the pizza. 

I came across this recipe in this month's Weight Watchers magazine.  My other half's instant reaction when I told him I was making pizza was ooh, then I told him it was a Weight Watchers recipe and he looked disappointed.  He soon ate his words though as it was delicious and I would definitely make this again.  It's ready in the time that it takes for one to be delivered and the pizza base mix was really cheap.  The only thing I would do differently is leave it in a little bit longer as it was a bit doughy in the middle - but then I find that even shop bought ones are.  I have got to get myself one of those pizza stones that I have been told makes all of the base crispy not just the sides.

The recipe in the magazine was for a sausage pizza but I decided to make a pepperoni pizza instead.  It was the same number of points - 8 pro points per slice.  The recipe serves four with a nice salad on the side.  The good thing about making your own pizza though - have whatever you want on it.  Obviously a veggie pizza is going to be less points per slice.

To make the pizza you will need:
  • 1 packet of pizza base mix (found in the home baking aisle in the supermarket)
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste (i used sacla intense sundried tomato paste)
  • 1 shallott, sliced
  • 9 large slices pepperoni
  • 1/4 tub roasted peppers (from the deli)
  • 2 medium tomatoes on the vine, sliced
  • 1 pack of half fat mozzerella, torn into chunks 
  • Pepper
  • Dried Parsley
  • Calorie Controlled cooking spray
  • Plain Flour
Pre-heat your oven to Gas Mark 7 or 220 degrees.  Prepare the pizza base as per the instructions on the back of the pack - in my case it was adding hot water from the tap and kneeding it.  Roll out the dough on a floured surface until its thin like how you imagine a thin crust pizza base would be before its cooked.

Spray a baking tray with calorie controlled spray and then dust it with a little flour so that the pizza base doesnt stick.  Now here is the tricky bit - transfer the dough from your work surface to the tray.  I had to do this twice as it looked a right mess the first time i did it, so I squished it all up and rolled it out again.  Once on the baking tray, turn the edges up a little to create a sort of crust.

The instructions on the back of my packet of pizza mix told me to leave it somewhere warm for ten minutes, so i left it on top of the hob while the oven was pre-heating.  Not sure what it was supposed to do as it didn't seem to rise or anything, but i guess there was a reason for it.

Spoon the paste onto the pizza base and spread it out into a thin layer leaving a little gap around the edge.  Add your toppings.  Season with pepper and sprinkle some dried parsley over the top (as much as you like, I probably used a teaspoon).  Alternatively you could sprinkle over some basil.

Put the pizza in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the base is crispy and golden and serve with some salad. How good does that look!? Delicious!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Slow Cooked Mutton Massaman Curry

Up until last year when my mum took me to Broom House Farm in County Durham, I had never cooked with Mutton.  The farm sells their own beef, lamb, mutton and saddleback pork so when I visited for the first time I decided to try some of their mutton mince for a change from lamb mince.  The next time I went back I stocked up on some meat to take back with me and put in the freezer, including some lovely diced mutton.

I dont think there is enough promotion of mutton as a great meat to cook with which is a shame.  In terms of slow cooking I think mutton is definitely better than lamb in currys or casseroles.  For those who dont really know what mutton is, generally it means a sheep that is over two years old.  I came across a good website called the Mutton Renaissance which is dedicated to "putting mutton back on the menu".  Have a look if you get a moment as it's an interesting site.

When I originally bought the mutton I was thinking of making a slow cooked mutton stew but then I came across a recipe on Waitrose for Lamb Massaman Curry with coconut and peanuts.  I had bought some massaman curry paste a while ago but had never done anything with it so thought this recipe would be useful as a guide to making a slow cooked mutton curry.

The recipe below will easily serve 4 and to make it you will need the following:
  • 500g diced mutton
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 6 medium or large new potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 x 400ml tin reduced fat coconut milk
  • 4 teaspoons of Massaman curry paste
  • 150ml Lamb stock
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons half fat creme fraiche (optional - use it to cool down the curry if you think its a bit too spicy)
1) Turn your slow cooker on to high and replace the lid to let it warm up.  Meanwhile seal the lamb in a frying pan with a little olive oil.  Add the onions and fry for a couple of minutes until they begin to soften.  Add the curry paste and stir together so that the onions and lamb are coated in the paste.

2) Transfer the lamb to the slow cooker and add your diced new potatoes.  The potatoes dont need to be par-boiled before cooking as they will cook in the liquid. 

3) Add the coconut milk, lime juice and lamb stock and give it all a stir, then replace the lid.  Note: it might not seem very spicy tasting at this point but dont add any more curry paste unless you like it with a bit of a kick.  I added another teaspoon and I should have just left it - this is the reason for the creme fraiche later on! It didnt burn my mouth off but it was a little bit too spicy for me.  It all depends on taste really but the taste at the beginning does not reflect how it actually tastes at the end once it has had five hours of slow cooking

4) Leave to cook on auto (after an hour it automatically turns down the temperature from high to low) for five hours, stirring occassionally.  If you find at the end of the five hours it is a little spicy for your taste add the creme fraiche before serving.  You dont want to add it at the beginning or it will split.  Serve with some rice.

The meat was absolutely beautiful and melted in the mouth.  It was a long wait but actually it hardly involved any cooking which is great because it meant I could get on with the rest of my weekend....of doing nothing but sitting listening to the rain beat off the windows.  Due to sheer laziness I only took one photo of the finished dish so there isn't any step by step photos.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Tomato and Onion Salad

This delicious Tomato and Onion salad goes really well with the chicken tikka kebabs in the previous post, but its also easy to increase the quantities and serve this as a side dish at a BBQ.  It's also very refreshing.

The recipe below makes enough for two people and with only 1 pro point - leave the olive oil out and its completely free.

To make the tomato and onion salad you'll need:
  • 5 medium size tomatoes
  • half a red onion, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • Salt and Pepper
In a bowl add the sliced onion and the white wine vinegar.  Leave the onion to soften for around 15 minutes.

Chop up the tomatoes and add to the onion.  Add the olive oil, mint, parsley and seasoning and stir together. 

Chicken Tikka Kebabs

These kebabs are so easy to make and don't take long at all to make, which is great when you don't have a lot of time or you've had a long day at work and want something quick and simple for tea.  These would also be great for BBQ's in the coming months, if the weather in the UK holds out!

The recipe below serves two people but its very easy to increase the quantities if you are serving a lot of people - it works out as 1 chicken breast per person.  If you are following weight watchers it works out as 14 pro points for the whole recipe or 7 pro points each.  Serve it with a 0 point salad and if you have some points to spare, why not add some tasty flatbread or a pitta bread.

To make the kebabs for two people you will need:
  • 2 medium skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon curry paste - I used tikka masala but use whatever type you fancy
  • 2 tablespoons half fat creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt
  • Metal skewers
In a bowl, mix together the curry paste and the creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt, whichever you have decided to use.  Add the chunks of chicken and marinate for about 5 minutes.

Thread the chicken onto metal skewers - there should be enough chicken to make two generous skewers or three normal ones.  Place the skewers onto a baking tray.

Place the skewers under a medium grill and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Alternatively put them on the BBQ and cook for the same time.  If the marinade on the skewers looks like it is drying out or like there isn't enough, use some of the leftover marinade to spread over the chicken.  

Serve with mixed salad leaves and this delicious tomato and onion salad.  

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Warm smoked salmon salad with mint, chilli and lime dressing

The weather in the UK has been lovely over the last couple of weeks.  When the sun comes out I tend to loose my appetite and when I do want something to eat its usually something light like a salad.  I have had some requests for some lighter dishes now that we have some nicer weather, and this is a perfect example of something light but is it a bit more interesting than your bog standard garden salad.  You could have this as a starter between a few people, a main dish for two or up the quantities a little and serve it as a salad option at a BBQ.  Asparagus is in season at the moment and it tastes delicious in this dish!

The recipe below is for 2 people as a main dish.  For those following weight watchers this salad is 9 pro points per serving including the dressing.

For the salad you'll need:
  • 2 smoked salmon fillets
  • 6 new potatoes
  • handful of green beans
  • 10 asparagus spears
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pack of mixed salad leaves
  • 2 spring onions
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Fresh Mint
For the dressing you'll need:
  •  1 tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce
  •  Juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook your potatoes for 15 minutes, until tender.  Meanwhile follow the instructions on the pack of smoked salmon fillets and warm them through in the oven.

While the potatoes are cooking take a large dish or bowl and add your salad leaves, spring onions and tomatoes.  Chop up a tablespoon of mint and a teaspoon of parsley.  Put all of the parsley and half of the mint into the salad.  Just before the potatoes are cooked add the green beans and asparagus tips to the pan and cook for two minutes.  Drain and set to one side to cool a little.  The salmon should be warmed through by this point

Once cooled a little, slice the potatoes in half or three depending on how big the potatoes are and add them to the salad along with the green beans and asparagus spears.  Take the salmon and using your fingers, flake the salmon all over the salad in nice bite sized chunks.  Using salad tongs (or a normal fork and spoon work perfectly well) toss the salad together so everything is mixed well.

In a small bowl, add the olive oil, sweet chilli sauce, lime juice and the rest of the mint and mix together.  You can see from the picture below that it doesn't look like much dressing but you don't want lots otherwise it will overtake the gorgeous flavour of the smoked salmon, instead it just compliments it. Spoon over the salad and serve.

Absolutely delicious!!  

Monday, 2 May 2011

An award...por moi?

Waaaaaaayyyyy back in February I was kindly given a "Stylish Blogger" award by the lovely Domestic Goddess Wannabe.  Karen has been following the Domestic Goddess that is Nigella and has been recreating some of her recipes from her latest book, 'Kitchen'.  I have been a bit lazy with the blog recently and never got round to following the rules of the award which are as follows:

  • Thank and link to the blogger who nominated you
  • Share seven things about yourself
  • Award 15 new bloggers and tell them you have done it.
Hmmm 15 bloggers, I might struggle with that one since I'm just getting the hang of following people but here it goes.  These are the blogs that I read most often (other than Karen's of course!);

Propoints, a new Adventure -
Domestic Angel of the North -
My life and WeightWatchers -
Life according to Mrs Shilts -
21st Century Housewife -
Jam and Clotted Cream -

That's 12, not bad going! Now, to think of seven things to share about myself that aren't going to bore you silly. That's going to be hard since I'm not all that interesting :-)

1) I originally come from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear but moved down to Manchester to go to University nearly 10 years ago (scary!) and haven't got round to moving back again.  I will always love Newcastle and no place will ever quite match up to it in my eyes.

2) I accidentally fell into the job that I do now.  Come to think of it a lot of people I know fell into HR.  I work as an HR Advisor but this isn't what I want to do for the rest of my life.  I would like to own a little cafe/teashop/deli with my boyfriend one day and we can work for ourselves. 

3) Incase you couldn't tell from the blog, and some of the people I am nominating for the stylish blogger awards I have recently joined Weight Watchers.  I was a bit sceptical at first because i have been on a few diets before and they dont really work.  Plus I like my food and I don't like to feel like I'm being deprived of something.  Weight Watchers is great though, it makes you look at food in a different way (like it's not ok to eat a whole Easter egg plus accompanying chocolate in one go).  So far I have lost a stone (yay!) but ideally still have a stone and a half to go (boooo!)

4) I confess to watching all sorts of trashy telly programmes which probably take up half of the sky planner.  Anything to do with weddings (including the big fat gypsy kind), babies, teenage pregnancy, reality tv (apart from the only way is Essex, I am not THAT bad), Glee etc, and I am there. 

5) I am obsessed with True Blood and love the fact that Sookie and Bill are together in real life.  I cried tears of happiness when Bill proposed to Sookie at the end of Series 2.  Great script writing and can't wait for series 4 to start; I am hoping for the return of Russell Edgington!

6) I am secretly a bit of a geek when it comes to planes.  I used to love watching the planes taking off and landing at the airport when I was going on holiday as a kid (at the times when they had a viewing roof in the airport) and I still fight the little kids at the airport for one of those good seats in the departure lounge where you can sit and watch the planes out of the window.  I am particular obsessed with Virgin Atlantic planes and have always wanted to be a Virgin Atlantic air hostess (although I hate take off so that was that idea out of the window).  Now I get to follow the adventures of my cousin who recently started as an air hostess with them and jets all over the world (jealous!). Richard Branson is also a legend!  

7) When I was younger I used to be a massive fan of the Newcastle United  football player, Robert Lee. When we moved into a new house, the lady who was showing us round said that a Newcastle United football player next door and asked me who my favourite player was.  As it turns out, it was Robert Lee who was living next door! I bumped into him once getting an ice cream (he was behind me in the queue) , he said hello and asked how I was.  I couldn't speak to him, I just stared at him open mouthed, then got all embarrassed and ran back in the house.  Alan Shearer was his best friend and used to be round his house all the time.  Me and my friend once kicked a ball into his back garden so we had an excuse to go round to see him and the legend that was Shearer.  Unfortunately Robert Lee's wife answered the door so I never did get to see him
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