Friday, 30 May 2014

simply eat. kitchen buys // chopping boards by Syco

All Images from Sycos' Etsy Shop  //  1  2  3

Something a little different for the weekend but still kitchen related... These fun chopping boards are by a small designer I discovered via Etsy, (if you've not come across Etsy before I suggest you take a peek!) I love the fun colours and quirky 'appliqued' style fruit and veggies. Best part is that once you're done chopping you can hang them on the wall to admire all the time... Hope you have a lovely weekend friends x


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

simply eat. drinks // sweet green smoothies

So here it is! I did indeed promise you this recipe yesterday (if you can call it a recipe) for a 'Green Smoothie for Beginners'. Now I only recently started making smoothies with spinach myself and I have been pleasantly surprised... Although it looks like it should taste horrible the spinach just adds a 'freshness' to the smoothie, not to mention it packs an Iron punch! Which for me is an added bonus as I don't eat a great deal of red meat in my diet.

I think this recipe works because of the combination of sweet fruit as well as the spinach so it doesn't taste too different compared to the all fruit kinds of smoothie. This would be a great smoothie for sneaking veggies into a kids diet PLUS it's also an awesome super-hero green colour! 'Hulk' smoothies anyone?

  • 1 medium Banana
  • 1/2 ripe Mango
  • 2 handfuls of Spinach
  • 2tbsp Low Fat (0% fat) Yoghurt
  • Orange Juice/Tropical Juice - Fresh stuff only please not the stuff from concentrates! 
  • Nutrition Tip: The Vitamin C in Orange juice helps the body to absorb the Iron in the spinach, the perfect smoothie match!

  • Pop all the fruit and yoghurt into a blender, top up with juice until it comes around a 1/3 of the way up the fruit.
  • Blend on low to start and then ramp it up to blitz all the ingredients until smooth.
  • This makes one large glass serving OR two smaller glasses.

Smoothie Tips!
  • I like my smoothies fairly thick but I always start with LESS juice than needed and that way you can always add more if you want.
  • I like to make sure that at least one of my smoothie ingredients is frozen, in this case the banana, as it makes the smoothie lovely and cool without the need to add ice cubes which waters down the flavours.
  • If, like me, you don't like drinking smoothies straight from the glass (as the thick texture can feel a bit weird) just use a straw!
  • If you're making a smoothie as a replacement meal, say for breakfast, then adding in a handful of oats makes it more filling and the fibre will keep you going for longer. (Don't add oats to this recipe as the fibre can inhibit the absorption of the Iron in the spinach.)


Monday, 19 May 2014

simply eat. breakfast // yoghurt, oat and blueberry muffins

I have a confession, I'm not a huge blueberry fan...don't hate me! On their own I just find them a bit woolly and no where near as satisfyingly juicy as other berries. BUT when baked into a crumble, muffin, pancake or even a sauce their gooey juiciness just shines as they 'pop' in your mouth...

So this muffin recipe is from my good old faithful book, Muffins Fast and Fantastic by Susan Reimer. This is THE muffin bible in my opinion, we acquired it from a boot fair years ago and I swear every single recipe we have tried from it always produces perfect muffins. Well risen, soft inside and with just the right amount of sweetness (in my opinion). We aren't fond of super sweet cakes in this house which is why we bake our own rather than buy sugary supermarket versions full of additives.

These muffins are ideal for breakfast as they are packed with fibre from the oats which release energy slowly and the addition of yoghurt as well as milk means a good hit of calcium. Plus the Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants, as well as being tasty!

Anyway enough talking about muffins let's get to the good stuff...oh and see that VERY green looking smoothie? Pop back tomorrow for the recipe, if you've never tried a 'green' smoothie before this one is perfect for first timers...

  • 3oz/85g Oats
  • 4-5oz/110-140g Brown Sugar (as I mentioned above these aren't overly sweet but you can decide if you want less or more sugar)
  • 1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 8floz/240ml Low Fat (or 0% fat) Natural Yoghurt
  • 3floz/90ml Vegetable/Sunflower Oil
  • 3-4floz/90-120ml Milk (add more or less depending on the size of your egg)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 7oz/200g Self Raising Flour
  • Fresh Blueberries

  • Preheat the oven to 190-200c/375-400f/Gas 5-6. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with cases.
  • You will need 2 large mixing bowls and a measuring jug for this recipe.
  • In the first bowl weigh in the Oats, Sugar and Bicarb, stir just to break up the brown sugar as this can be clumpy. On top of the oat mix add in the Yoghurt.
  • In the jug first measure in the oil, then the milk and lastly the Egg and Vanilla. Whisk to combine.
  • Tip the oil, milk, egg, vanilla mix into the bowl with the oat mixture, stir well to combine and put to one side whilst you prepare the last few ingredients. This gives time for the oats to swell and the Bicarb to do it's stuff.
  • In the other bowl weigh in the Flour and add in the Blueberries, I have left the measurement for this blank as it really depends on how big your blueberries are and how many you like in your muffins! Remember not to put in too many or the muffins will be mushy, I use roughly half a small punnet.
  • Tip all the wet oat mix into the flour and stir well to combine, be sure to get right to the bottom of the bowl to get all the flour! Once no more flour is visible in the mixture STOP stirring. 
  • Muffin batter is supposed to be lumpy and the more you stir it the tougher your muffins will be!
  • Divide between the 12 cases, I like to make sure there's the odd blueberry sitting near the top so it pops and that bright purple bubbles up onto the surface...or just bung the mixture in!
  • Pop in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes OR until golden and springy to the touch. Remember they will look darker than normal as they have brown sugar in them.
  • Once done remove from the oven and take out to cool on a wire rack.
  • If you can leave them to cool they will come away from the paper case easier but there's something about a warm muffin that is just too tempting...

Hope you give these beauties a go, they freeze really well too. Just pop them in a freezer bag when they have completely cooled and to defrost just leave them out overnight, maybe pop them in a microwave to heat them through slightly if you like.

Don't forget to pop back tomorrow for the smoothie recipe!x


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

simply eat. fishy dishes // oven roasted salmon with mediterranean veg

This recipe is a recent creation of mine, the first time I made it I was just chucking a load of bits that needed using up into the dish, not knowing how it was going to turn out...but oh my days was it good! So good that in fact I made it all again a few weeks later for me, my mum and a friend. It's an ideal 'easy entertaining' meal as all it involves is a bit of chopping and it all cooks in one dish...simple.

Ingredients (for 2)
  • 2 equally sized pieces of Salmon, skin on (or any other fish you love just adjust the cooking time for thinner/thicker fish fillets)
  • New Potatoes (4-5 per person depending on size, mine were quite large)
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1/2 Red Pepper
  • 1/2 Green Pepper
  • 1/2 Courgette
  • 1/2 Small punnet of Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp of good Pesto
  • Lemon for zest and juice (optional)

  • Heat the oven to 180c and pop in a tin/dish with a tablespoon of olive oil in to heat up.
  • Slice the potatoes into large chunks, rinse and drain in a colander and put in a plastic sandwich bag and seal shut. Pop in the microwave for 2 minutes to lightly steam and soften the potatoes.
  • Whilst they are cooling chop the onion into wedges.
  • By now the oil in the tray should be hot, tumble in the potatoes and onion wedges, toss to coat in the oil and roast for 20 minutes. 
  • Whilst they are roasting chop the rest of your veg into large chunks and halve the cherry tomatoes.
  • With the Salmon just lightly oil the flesh side and season with a touch of salt and pepper.
  • When the 20mins are up add in the other veg and toss well, roast for a further 10 minutes.
  • After 10mins take out the veg and lay the salmon on top. Pop back into the oven for a further 15-20mins or until the salmon is just cooked. (If you are unsure just lightly press the fish, it should be firm and flake easily. Or just cut into it and the flesh should be opaque.)
  • Just before serving drizzle over the pesto (you may need to thin the pesto with some extra olive oil), grate over the zest of a lemon and the juice of half.

This is plenty for 2 people but if you want to you can serve it with a salad or green beans. I really hope you give this dish a try, especially if you are usually afraid of cooking fish, as this is totally fuss free and pretty much guarantees perfect fishy goodness...


Thursday, 8 May 2014

simply eat. veggie mains // rainbow veggie special fried rice

This is possibly my favourite go-to store cupboard recipe and it is a great way to use up odd bits of vegetables that might be starting to look a bit sad... We hate to waste anything around here and stirfrys, smoothies and soups are great for helping with that!

So today's recipe is obviously a stirfry and makes a great one pot meal for two hungry people OR a special side dish to go with your favourite chinese dishes. 

  • 1tsp Sunflower/Plain Oil
  • Handful of Cashews roughly chopped (obviously optional if your allergic!)
  • 2 Spring Onions chopped
  • 1 Small Carrot grated
  • 1/2 Red Pepper Diced
  • Handful of Mangetout/Sugar Snap Peas sliced on the diagonal
  • Handful of Baby Sweetcorn sliced
  • 4-5 Mushrooms chopped
  • 1 Egg lightly whisked
  • 1 Packet of Ready Cooked Wholegrain/Brown Rice
  • 1tbsp Soy Sauce (light or dark whatever you have)
  • 1-2tbsp Sweet Chilli Sauce
  • Sesame Oil and Seeds (optional)

  • Heat oil in a large pan and add in cashews to toast slightly, once browned add in all the other veg apart from the carrot.
  • Cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms have reduced in size. (If you find the veg is catching on the pan just add in a splash of water, this stops the burning and steams the veg. Much better than adding more oil.)
  • Tip in the packet of rice and add the grated carrot, stir to combine and add a splash of water to help steam the rice and bring it back to life.
  • For the Egg I like to zap it in a mug in the microwave for 20-30sec so it's just cooked and then add to the pan. I just find this way less messy compared to cooking it directly in the pan as it usually sticks!
  • Add in the soy and sweet chilli sauces, stir well. You can add more or less depending on your taste.
  • Dish up and sprinkle with sesame seeds and a teeny drizzle of sesame oil.

If you have any left over meat from a roast or some prawns lurking in the freezer then these all make great additions to this recipe, maybe add a squeeze of lemon or lime if adding prawns... Just add whatever you have in with all the veg. 

The vegetables I have used are just what I had in the fridge at the time so whatever you have to hand is fine, if it needs eating up then chuck it in! The more colour variety in the dish just means a better variety of different vitamins in your meal.


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

simply eat. snacks // maple cinnamon popcorn

I simply love popcorn but I know the cinema or shop bought stuff is usually so bad for you, plus the cinema stuff is wildly overpriced! £3+ for a small?! Plus I can never figure out why they cook popcorn in so much fat and then top it with extra butter, sugar etc... The plain stuff is pretty sin free but also pretty boring and I don't expect you to eat it that way! But by making it yourself you at least guarantee that you know exactly whats gone into this tasty snack.

There are a variety of ways to 'pop' your popcorn, the traditional in a pan, air pop or microwave. If you air pop or microwave then you don't need to add any additional fat in the cooking which is great, so you are left with a healthy wholegrain snack!
  • Traditional - Heat 1tsp of vegetable/plain oil (around 36kcals)in a large pan with a lid, preferably glass. Once the oil is warm add in enough corn to just cover the bottom of your pan, toss to coat in the oil and leave to heat up. Once the kernels start popping shake occasionally to make sure the unpopped kernels fall to the bottom to get more heat. Keep doing this until the 'pops' become 4-5sec apart.
  • Air Pop - This requires a special machine that just heats the kernels with hot air so just follow the instructions for your machine!
  • Microwave - I have yet to try this technique but apparently you just put the kernels into a brown paper bag, fold over tightly and chuck in the microwave like the ones you buy! Check out this blog post here for more info...

So now you have your popcorn let's get down to flavouring those tasty little nuggets! Now the amount of topping you add is totally up to you and depends on how much popcorn you have popped...
  • Add 2-3tbsp Maple Syrup and 1/2-1tsp Cinnamon, add gradually and taste in between, it shouldn't be overly sweet. (If you're interested 1tbsp of Maple Syrup = around 45kcals)
  • Toss well to coat and then tip onto a large baking sheet. 
  • Pop into a warm oven (100c ish?) and cook for 10mins, turn out the oven and leave to cool. This stops the popcorn going soggy and keeps it lovely and crisp.
  • Scoff!! Although I didn't need to tell you that did I...

This is just one of probably hundreds of different recipes out there and now you have the basics go experiment with your own weird and wonderful flavour combos! Just let me know if you come across a good one...