Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Chicken, Spinach & Green Bean Curry

I often cook a curry on Monday nights as I tend to spend the afternoon at my parents house and get home late.  I literally have to haul the kids from the car to their beds and need something that can easily be re-heated.  Making curries at mum's is great because
a) I can stick mine in the microwave whilst I tuck the kids in to bed upon arriving home
b) DH plays football on Monday nights so he can re-heat his at 9.30pm while I am generally falling asleep on the sofa
c) Mum's array of spices is better than mine
d) If I dawdle around too much, mum will take over and make it for me

My parents were born and raised in India and their Anglo-Indian heritage means I was raised on a certain type of Indian cuisine that you just don't see in our English style curry houses.   Mum's cooking naturally doesn't require loads of oil or ghee.  A tablespoon of vegetable oil is more than sufficient making it very diet friendly.  Over the years I have learnt a few of my mum's recipes which will feature on here at some point.  For now though, enjoy Monday nights curry for just 12 propoints.

You’ll need for 4 people:
  • 500g chicken breast cut into big chunks
  • Bag of fresh spinach
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pack of fine, trimmed green beans, cut in half
  • 300g dried brown basmati rice or white if you prefer
  • 150g pot of low fat or fat free natural yoghurt
  • Handful of chopped coriander
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 dsp ground coriander
  • 1 dsp cumin
  • 1 dsp paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 dsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp lazy garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp mild curry paste (try Pataks, cumin & coriander)
  • Squeeze of lemon or a few drops of fresh concentrated lemon juice from a bottle

What to do:
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy based saucepan and add the onions
  • In a mug add all the spices, curry paste, garlic, ginger and lemon juice and fill with water to the top to form a runny cream like consistency
  • When the onions are soft, add the spice mix and fry on a high heat for a few more minutes.  It is important to cook out the spices and you can tell when they are cooked as the oil with rise to the surface of the mixture
  • Next add the chicken, stirring thoroughly.  Add some more water, rinsing out the cup you used for the spices to cover the chicken
  • Add the natural yoghurt, season and turn down the heat slightly
  • Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, Add the green beans and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the spinach a couple of minutes before the end of cooking
  • Serve with cooked basmati rice and a sprinkling of fresh coriander
Weightwatchers Propoints: 12

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Italian Style Beef Burgers with Potato Wedges

Girls Nite In Saturday was such a laugh!  While the boys watched Man U get thrashed by Barca, we scoffed hummus and crudites, marinated prawns and olives washed down with prosecco served with the delectable wild hibiscus flowers!  Afterwards we ate my homemade burgers, listened to Rhianna and the like, with our fav chick flicks on in the background. Great friends, yummy food and lashings of wine. What more could a girl ask for!

You’ll need for 4 people:
  • 500g lean mince beef 12% fat
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or dried pepperoncino mix
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • 4 rolls – I like the crusty white bake at home variety but if I’m going all out then it’s got to be a pain rustic
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Black pepper

For the Wedges:
·         400g baking potato, cut into wedges
·         1 teaspoon olive oil
·         Seasoning

Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic until soft.  I do this because I do not like the taste of raw onion but many burger recipes just used raw onion.  I also like to add the flavourings to the warm onion as it seems to penetrate deep into the flavour.  Add the salt and the Italian seasoning.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

In a big mixing bowl place your mince beef.  Add the finely chopped basil and black pepper.  Add the cooled onions and mix together with your hands.  I do not feel the need to add an egg or breadcrumbs as the burgers hold pretty well together and this saves on unnecessary calories.

Once mixed well together shape into 4 burgers and cover with cling film.  Place in the fridge for a good hour.

Prepare the wedges by washing and drying them and slicing them into wedges.  Place in a bowl and season and drizzle over olive oil.  Rub the oil and seasoning in well with your hands.  Place in a pre-heated oven at 200 for approx 30 minutes turning occasionally.

Heat a griddle pan or frying pan.  Once hot place the burgers straight in and do not move for a couple of minutes to allow a nice browning effect to take place.  Turn and brown on the other side.  Turn the heat down and cook for approx 5 -7 minutes until the burger is cooked through. The timing will depend on how thick you have made your burgers.  You can also grill but I prefer to wash up a frying pan rather than a grill & pan any day!

Serve your burger with whatever condiments you like.  I opt for extra light mayo, ketchup, lettuce, a slice of tomato and if I’m feeling a bit naughty: some reduced fat hard cheese.

Propoints: 11 for the burger and roll, 5 for the potato wedges

Italian style Beanburger with Spinach

There are 3 vegetarians in mine and my husbands family so I am always making fish or bean alternatives so here is my bean alternative for my sister!  Actually this recipe uses all storecupboard ingredients so makes an excellent mid-week meal served with salad in a pitta bread.  I make the onion base in exactly the same way as the beefburgers.

You’ll need for 2 people:
  • 1 large tin of cannellini beans
  • 1 small sized onion, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or dried pepperoncino mix
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • 2 rolls – I like the crusty white bake at home variety but if I’m going all out then it’s got to be a pain rustic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Black pepper
  • 3 or 4 frozen portions spinach, when defrosted should yield 70g
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons dried natural breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic until soft.  I do this because I do not like the taste of raw onion but many burger recipes just used raw onion.  I also like to add the flavourings to the warm onion as it seems to penetrate deep into the flavour.  Add the salt and the Italian seasoning. 

Drain the cannellini beans.  Tip into warm frying pan and stir around with onion mix.  Using a fork, mash the beans roughly.  Add the spinach, basil & black pepper and mix everything well.

Divide and shape into 2 burgers and refridgerate wrapped in clingfilm to firm up for a good hour.

To cook, drizzle a small amount of olive oil and fry in pan over a high heat until brown on both sides.  Turn the heat down and allow the burger to cook through.

Propoints: 10 for burger and roll

Friday, 27 May 2011

Miso-Marinated Fish w Asian Greens and Rice

This is a twist on the Nobu Miso Black Cod recipe which uses black cod and white miso paste.  As both of these are not easily available I have opted for miso soup paste and regular white flaky fish which are both readily accessible from the supermarket making this a extremely yummy, low fat everyday meal.

You’ll need for 2:
  • 2 tbsp Mirin
  • 2 tbsp Sake
  • 2 tbsp Miso paste
  • 1 ½ tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 fillets of white fish.   I used line caught haddock loins (no skin) 130g each
  • 2 Pak choi
  • Pack of mixed baby corn and sugarsnap peas
  • Half a punnett of chestnut mushrooms
  • 150g basmati or jasmine rice

What to do:
Mix the first 4 ingredients together to make your marinade in a container with a lid or a shallow dish.  Pat dry the fish and coat thoroughly in the marinade.  Leave in the fridge for as long as you can – ideally 24 hours.  I only had 7 hours today and it was still delicious but longer is definitely better.

Line a baking sheet with foil as the sugar will cause the marinade to burn easily.  Preheat an oven to 200 degree c and also pre-heat your grill to high.

Weigh out your rice.  Rinse under cold water in a sieve and transfer to a pan with boiling salted water.  Boil for 12 minutes then drain in a sieve.  Pour over boiling water from a kettle and allow to steam dry for a few minutes.

Wipe off any excess marinade and place the fish on the foil lined tray.  Grill on high for a couple of minutes until the fish starts to brown and repeat on the other side.  Then transfer to the oven for 3 minutes to cook through.  Be careful not to overcook the fish.

Slice the Asian veggies.  You can choose any mix of Asian vegetables including mushrooms, spring onions, Chinese leaf, mangetout.  Stir fry in a splash of hot groundnut or vegetable oil adding a few glugs of soy for seasoning, and the rest of the marinade.  I also add a pinch of chilli flakes for a touch of heat.  Best enjoyed with a cold beer or a cold crisp glass of dry white wine!  Yum.

Weightwatchers Propoints: 11

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Beef & Butter Bean Stew with Mash

This is my perfect Thursday night meal - especially on a rainy day!  Why Thursdays?  Because I try and get my ass down to a 6.30pm Zumba class whilst DH puts the kids to bed.  So every Thursday I need to cook something that can easily be reheated without comprising on flavour.  Having said that, after a manic week I opted to skip Zumba and wash my delicious dinner down with a glass of Malbec. Yum indeed!

Serves 2 adults

  • 300g lean braising steak or casserole beef, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 4 medium sized carrots, peeled and roughly chopped. 
  • 1 large tin of butter beans, drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Approx 800ml - Beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato puree
  • 350g potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons skimmed milk.
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Heat the oil in heavy saucepan and gently soften the onion and celery for a few minutes.  Turn the heat up and add the beef and brown all over.  Once browned, sprinkle over a tablespoon of flour to soak up the juices.  The flour will help thicken the sauce too.  Slowly add the beef stock to avoid lumps and once added turn down to a simmer.

Add the Worcester sauce, tomato puree, bay leaf, dried thyme and carrots.  You can also add other root vegetables such as swede if you prefer.  Add some freshly ground black pepper and some salt to taste.

Place in a oven pre-heated to about 150 for 1 hour 30 minutes.  Give it a stir occasionally.  Add the drained butter beans and cook for another 30 – 45 minutes.  Check the meat to ensure it is tender and adjust the seasoning

To make the mash potato, peel and dice and add to a pan of cold salted water.  Bring to the boil and then simmer until very soft and you can easily cut through the potato with a knife.  Drain and allow to completely steam dry.  Meanwhile, melt the butter over a low heat and add the milk to warm through.  Tip the potatoes back into the pan and mash with a potato masher until soft and mixed.  You can add a sprinkle of nutmeg too if you like.

Tonight I used up the other half of the savoy cabbage from the fridge to serve with the mash and stew and it was delicious!

Weightwatchers Propoints: 13

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Salmon Fillet with Roasted Vegetables & Couscous

It's a fishy week!  At least I'm getting my dose of Omega 3.  This is a filling meal that packs in your veg intake and is not only Weightwatcher friendly but Slimming World friendly too.  This is a tried and tested recipe in our house which is easily doubled for the family...

You'll need to serve 2:
  • 2 salmon (or trout) fillets approx 115g each
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 small aubergine
  • Half a punnet of chestnut mushrooms
  • 10 or so cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • Seasoning
  • Dried thyme
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Veg stock
  • 125g dried couscous
  • 1 lemon or few dashes of lemon juice
What to do:

Pre-heat your oven to about 190.  Chop up the vegetables into bite sized pieces, halve the cherry tomatoes and throw everything into a roasting tray.  Season and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.  Sprinkle over the dried thyme (or fresh if you have any
lurking about!) and toss thoroughly with your hands rubbing the oil and seasoning well into the veggies. 
This looks like a whole lot of veg but it does shrink down when cooking and makes for a very satisfying meal!

Roast for about 30 - 35 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through.  Turn them occassionally.

In a foil parcel place your salmon and season.  You can add a squeeze of lemon if you like too.  This will take 7-10 minutes to cook so put it into the oven 10 minutes before the end of the veggies cooking time.

As soon as the salmon is in the oven, weigh out your couscous in a large mixing bowl.  Get your veg stock ready.  For easiness I prefer to use bouillion stock powder as I can just sprinkle that over the couscous and add boiling water from a kettle.  You will need the same quantity of stock / water in weight as the couscous.  Add a pinch of cayenne if you like a bit of heat.  A sprinkle of paprika is also a nice change.  Pour over the hot stock (it should just cover the couscous) and then cover the bowl with clingfilm or a fitting lid.

Take the veggies & salmon out of the oven.  Remove the clingfilm or lid and fork through the couscous to separate the grains.  Add the vegetables to the mixing bowl and stir well together.  Serve on your plate with the salmon.

Weightwatchers Propoints: 12

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Plaice Fillets with Creamed Cabbage & Leeks & Jersey Royals

Hope you liked my first recipe I posted yesterday.  Tonight I cooked a really yummy but super healthy dinner.  It was a first try at this dish and I'll definately be cooking it up again.

You'll need for 2:
  • 2 plaice fillets - approx 140g each
  • Half a small savoy cabbage
  • 1 leek, sliced in half and thoroughly washed
  • 350g Jersey Royals
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • Seasoning
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons of light or extra light cream cheese
What to do:

Prep the cabbage by cutting out the big heart in the centre and slicing thinly.  Slice the leeks thinly too and place both in a bowl for later

Weigh out your Jersey Royals (or new potatoes if Jerseys not in season) and cut to even size. Place in a saucepan with cold, salted water

You can do the above in advance to save time

Line a baking tray with foil and put your plaice fillets on the baking tray.  Pat dry with some kitchen towel.  Using a fine grater or a microplane, zest about half a lemon over the fillets.  Season and spritz about a teaspoons worth of olive oil over the fillets.  You can very carefully drizzle the oil if you don't have a spray.

Place the potatoes on a high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender to cut with a knife.  This should take approximately 20 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.

In a frying pan, gently heat a teaspoon of olive oil and half a teaspoon of butter.  Saute the cabbage and leeks for 10 minutes until soft and tender.  Season and add 1 - 2 tablespoons of low fat cream cheese.   (Tonight I used Philadelphia light with garlic and herbs but found it overpowered the dish so go for the plain variety and you can always add garlic if you like).  Add a ladle or so of the starchy potato water to help melt the cream cheese.

Bake the plaice fillets at 190 for 5-7 minutes until just opaque through.

Drain the potatoes, allow to steam dry and toss in half a teaspoon of butter.

Serve with a lemon wedge.

Weightwatchers Propoints: 9

Monday, 23 May 2011

Tray Baked Chicken with Roasted New Potatoes and Veggies

What you need for 2 people:

  • 2 chicken thighs, 2 drumsticks, or a couple of chicken legs, free-range, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs or sprinkling of dried.  I used tarragon
  • 400g new potatoes, sliced in half.  Jersey royals are in season, use these if you can
  • 2 – 3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Green veg of your choice: green beans, asparagus, broccoli etc
  • Half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Seasoning
What to do:
Make a couple of slashes in the flesh of the chicken and place in a roasting tray.  Season, sprinkle over herbs and if you want a teaspoon of olive oil.  I’m using my fabulous stoneware dish so I haven’t used any oil on my chicken.  Squeeze over the lemon juice and chuck the wedge in the tray too.

Par-boil the potatoes and carrots for a few minutes, 5 at most. Drain in a colander and allow to steam dry.  Place back in the pain, season and toss in 1 teaspoon of olive oil.

Add the potatoes and carrots to the roasting dish scattering around the chicken.  Place the potatoes cut side down so they brown nicely.  I like to add a couple of garlic cloves in their skins to add flavour to the finished supper.

All the above I prepared before the kids bathtime.

Place in a pre-heated oven at about 190 (fan) for approx 35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Turn the potatoes and carrots half way.

5 minutes before the end, steam or boil your green veggies of choice.

Serve up and squeeze out the lovely roasted garlic puree from the clove over your chicken.  Add another light squeeze of lemon to lift it if you like.  Tuck in and enjoy!

Weightwatchers Propoints: 10 (without extra oil on the chicken)