Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Ham and Mushroom Omelette, Weight Watchers style

As previously promised in my semi-recent Weight Watchers posting, and in my other omelette post I have made my first recipe from the book. Well sort of anyway! As with most recipes I use, I tweaked it a little as to what I had in but the basic elements are the same, and it was really good! Adding water to eggs admittedly had my brain questioning slightly but I kept my faith and actually produced I think one of the nicest omelettes I’ve ever made. The fact it was also cooked in a rather battered inherited frying pan, on the ancient electric cooker that belongs to the property I’ve just moved into, was even more of a good surprise!

It made a perfect lunch, not too heavy and yet very satisfying. Definitely a keeper. The original recipe uses soft cheese but I only had some natural yoghurt to hand and sneaked in a tsp of grated cheese instead! Whilst cheese isn't sadly high up on the list of health foods, I use a coarse grater for small amounts and find a little goes a long way (nearly 18 months on I am still completely in love with my Jamie one!). Since making this one, I have made many an omelette using this method. They are a perfectly quick and light meal for one, and full of goodness.

Adapted from 'The Complete Kitchen' by Weight Watchers, which is available now to buy

Ham and Mushroom omelette

2 large eggs, whisked with 1 tbsp cold water and black pepper to taste
1 slice good quality ham, any visible fat removed and roughly chopped up
Spray cooking oil
2 Tbsp low fat plain yoghurt
1 tsp or so grated cheese
4 chestnut mushrooms, sliced thickly

Heat a frying pan, spray with oil and fry the mushrooms until cooked to your liking, transfer to a bowl and stir in the yoghurt and season with black pepper.

Spray a little more oil into the pan, add the beaten egg mixture and leave for around 20 seconds to set, gently scrape in the sides and level out, when the egg is almost set on top, sprinkle over the ham. 

Carry on cooking gently, spoon the mushroom mixture over half of the omelette, sprinkle over the cheese and carefully fold over the other half to form your omelette, transfer to a plate and serve with a nice green salad. And pickles if desired. I have a thing for pickled red cabbage!

Many thanks to Juliette at Shiny Red for the review copy.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Cake style choc chip cookies

What a miserable day its been outside! My plans to get fresh air (and a little retail therapy!) were scrapped when the rain started splattering across the car windscreen after picking up my eldest niece this morning, and she decided we should bake instead. I don't need much excuse to do a spot of baking and after a quick trip to get some more butter, then came the hard part - what to bake!

Alice suggested cookies. This is all good and well. Except for some reason I rarely make cookies, I am much more a cake kinda girl. There is also the slightly embarrassing fact I have not baked cookies in a long time, and didn't really fancy the perfectly edible ones that I've had previous success with. I'm not sure what it is with cookies, anything that requires resting in the fridge for x amount of hours puts me off. I am very much in the instant gratification camp of baking! And overall I really do like cake.

Whilst I am slightly sad to report that my cookbooks are also being decreased, I really do not have room or need for so many and in the process of selling a selection of them, fortunately however I had saved this particular 'Best ever Cookies' book from the 'to-go' pile and managed to find a cookie recipe in it which appealed to both of us, and more importantly could be whizzed up, baked and consumed with a lovely cup of tea in rapid time! It also helped that I had all the ingredients in my limited baking supplies cupboard (read that as shut the door quickly and hope it doesn't collapse on itself cupboard) So as the recipe worked, I guess it was fate to keep the book and will have to find room for it!

Our resulting cookies were whilst falling within the cookie camp, also reminded me more of a rock cake but softer kinda cookie, and are very moreish! They are quite soft but not so soft they fall apart, making them ideal for dunking! The texture inside is cakey like, I think the use of self-raising flour does give them quite a good lift and lightens their texture nicely.

I didn't have the full amount of chocolate to hand, so made do with a 100g bar of dark swiss chocolate bashed up, and a good handful of descicated coconut which worked really well with the flavours. 

Also I am still getting the hang of the new oven, our first two trays came out a little more suntanned than planned so I reduced the temperature by 10 degrees and shaved a minute off the cooking time, which worked perfectly. Your oven may well behave differently, I think mine is older than me...!

Makes 18-20

Oven 180-190 - see above!

115g soft butter (I used stork)
115g light muscovado sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tsp vanilla essence)
150g self raising flour
75g porridge oats
100g plain chocolate (book calls for 230g white and dark or choc chips)
4 heaped tbsp desiccated coconut

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, beat well, sift in the flour (I actually have no sieve at the moment but fortunately didn't affect the recipe!) and fold in using a metal spoon, along with the oats and chocolate until mixed. 

Place dessert spoon sized blobs on lined baking trays, leaving a gap as they will spread out. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown and your kitchen smells delicious. Cool for a couple of minutes then transfer to a wire rack and resist the urge until cooled sufficiently enough not to burn yourself.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Tuna and Spinach Orzo bake

Whilst getting close to moving house last month, I was trying obviously not to buy any new stuff in and to work my way through the cupboards/ freezer/ fridge etc, and this bake was born! Once again this falls into *Note to self: Always write things down* section! I really should have learned by now that whilst planned dishes are lovely, impulse ones are frequently kitchen miracles!

At the time I had half a bag or so of quick cook orzo to use up, a few nuggets left of frozen spinach and a half a bag of grated cheese (I hate grating!) going spare….and half an hour later I sat down to this lovely, rather filling pasta bake, which also filled my lunch box for the next two days which is always a bonus! I did admittedly eat the leftovers cold but am sure would taste better heated up! 

As a result of it being a cupboard surprise dish, and not thinking it might actually be rather decent I didn’t really measure anything but basically boiled the orzo as per packet instructions (I.e lots of boiling salted water), added the spinach at the end until just thawed, bashed it around to separate, then drained well and transferred into a baking dish. 

Separately I brought to the boil a small pan of milk and vegetable stock, stirred in a little cornflour (slackened with water first) until thickened nicely, removed from the heat, added a tin of drained tuna chunks, s&p, poured over the orzo and mixed well. Then topped with a little grated cheese, a sprinkle of natural breadcrumbs (the last tbsp. or so in the tub!) and it went until a moderate grill until bubbling and golden brown.

Not the best of pictures but you get the idea!

Serve on its own or with a nice green salad. But being that theres already spinach in there I highly recommend garlic bread on the side!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

For the love of omelettes..

I had planned my next posting to be different to this but my home internets gone awol and I am using my phone to blog! Which is interesting...

The post was to be a rather simple yet delicious recipe from the new weight watchers book I recently ran a competition with, and its for on omelette. However being that the post is all typed up and ready, I am not about to retype it all! The nice people at hotel chocolat also sent me some rather lovely Valentine chocolate hearts filled with heavenly praline, raspberry, caramel and chilli (not tried the last yet!) And some caramel lips mm! I am very lucky that this year I don't have to share and plan to devour them all one by one.. I added some pictures recently to my Facebook page so check that out for pictures!

And so also because I've been slacking lately with both posting and visiting other blogs I wanted to just check in and let you know I'm still around! My studying however is pretty full on right now so please do bear with me until after my upcoming exams!

Tonight I had planned something else, but typically didn't fancy it - and so dinner became what has become a regular fallback meal for me - an omelette! Tonights was rather delicious, I added wilted spinach, 1/4 of an orange pepper that needed using up and a little grated, and rather delicious 'coastal cheddar' my dad recently bought over. Thanks dad!

And with them becoming my very frequent, and favourite quick dinner, I want to know what your favourite filling is or what you do to make them special?

Monday, 6 February 2012

Beetroot and Oat cookies with Sugar Icing

Yes your eyes are not deceiving you. Cookies and beetroot do indeed appear in the same sentence! And what's more – they make great friends, who would of known? Call it opposites attract perhaps?

And why I thought to make beetroot cookies? Not sure. Call it sleep deprivation post night shifts or something. The original recipe calls for carrots. I had lots of carrots courtesy of market man at the time but something made my brain go hmmm beetroot….! I frequently buy the ready cooked beetroot's (un-vinegared)in their little shrink wrap casings but after about 3 days worth of it in salads of some sort, the appeal can start to wane even for a devout beetroot fan... 

..There's been a plethora of beetroot and chocolate cake recipes over the net these past few years, and as I am huge fan of adding carrots, and indeed parsnips to my bakes; thought mostly why the hell not. Like how most of my recipes come about really!

The original recipe comes from the very delicious blog Yummy Choo Eats, and the lovely hostess Selina has given me kind permission to re-publish it here with my tweaks.

Many thanks also to the ladies of twitter confirming I could swap maple syrup for golden - my store cupboard is somewhat shrunken and have no room for new bottles to gather dust! Cooking in the new oven is a bit of a trial and error - I'd spent 5 years getting used to cooking with fan assisted and now back to a regular, ancient beast of an oven and was pleasantly surprised these survived so well!

Makes 12 cookies

60g grated cooked beetroot (roughly 1 ball)
60g wholemeal flour
60g porridge oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
A pinch of ground ginger
25g desiccated Coconut, extra for sprinkling
40 ml golden Syrup - roughly 1 very heaped tbsp
75 ml Olive Oil

Icing sugar /water for decoration

**CSI style gloves are very handy for this recipe**


Pre-heat oven to Gas Mark 6 / 200 and line a baking tray or two with parchment/ baking paper.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and oats. Add the grated beetroot, ginger, coconut and cinnamon.

In a separate smaller bowl use a whisk to combine the golden syrup and oil. Add this to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Use your hands to shape into walnut sized balls and flatten slightly, place on to baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. 

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cookies are golden brown on top and underneath. - Mine took 18 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly and transfer to a cooling rack.

Mix some icing sugar and water, then drizzle as desired over the top. Sprinkle over a little more coconut if liked,

And the verdict - I found that I grew to love these. They had hints of gingerbread, and softened over a couple of days into a most agreeable chewy, soft cookie. Definitely making again! I did think initially they were not sweet enough however by the time had finished them, had changed my mind. The girls at work also thought they were just right. So no meddling needed!

I had the original carrot version of these saved on my 'favourites' for ages, so I am also sending these over to the Bookmarked Recipes challenge for February:

Friday, 3 February 2012

Spinach, Mushroom and Coconut Dal

Jacqueline – as promised I've finally posted up my dal recipe for you from my meal planning thread!

After pencilling in 'make dal' somewhat earlier on my draft meal planner, then closer to the night realising I had some spinach to use up, and had accidentally bought some mushrooms reduced to clear (I say accident but we all know that's a lie, I could eat them daily!) it developed into a spinach and mushroom version. And it was truly delicious, full of earthy flavours from both the mushrooms and spinach, and the slightly nutty flavours from the lentils. Definitely one of my favourites!

Also I loved having the contrasting sides of a simple cucumber raita, which also used up the last of a slightly sad cucumber, and my ever favourite carrot and sultana salad. I make it more often than any other salad, it keeps well and easily tweaked with subtle seasoning's to go with your menu. Or just to be eaten with a fork whilst standing by the fridge also works very well!

This is also my submission to My Legume Love Affair #44, hosted this month Sweet Artichoke

Makes 3 portions, however I was greedy and ate it in two, as had seconds!

1 tbsp olive oil
100g moong dal chilka lentils, washed
1 white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
6 white mushrooms
2 large handfuls of spinach, roughly torn/ shredded
1 tin coconut milk
1 stock pot dissolved in 500 ml boiling water (use veggie or meaty depending on your preference)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp hot chilli powder (optional)
s&p to taste

Start by toasting the spices in a dry, heavy pan until the mustard seeds start popping, transfer to a grinder or pestle & mortar and grind lightly. It takes mere moments and really is worthwhile to do this bit!

Heat the oil in a large saute type pan, fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat until softened but not brown.

Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, stir in the spices, lentils, 2/3 of the stock, bring to the boil, then add the coconut milk, stir well, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for a good 35-40 minutes or until the lentils are soft and cooked through, add more stock along the way to loosen if needed. Skim off any foam.

Stir in the spinach, and wilt down uncovered.

Season to taste and serve with accompaniments of your choice. Naan breads or chappatis would be good to dunk in!
01 09 10