Tuesday, 24 February 2015

A rather special meatball........{Chicken Meatballs with Chicken Gravy}

I love cooking for my friends, I love entertaining. I feel like there is nothing more satisfying then placing steaming bowls of nourishing food in front of those I love and then comes the joy of them enjoying my food. This Saturday I went to my friends Lu and Andy and I cooked for them. Seeing as it was cold and dreary (the joys of living in Blighty) I wanted to make a really comforting dish that warmed our souls and meatballs sprang to mind. Now, I usually go down the Italian route with my meatballs; pork and beef mince or sausage meatballs with a rich tomato sauce. More recently I've opted for my lighter Moroccan version with Turkey meatballs and a vegetable sauce. Neither was quite what I wanted on this occasion and then I remembered a recipe I seen by Tom Kerridge whereby he made pork meatballs and served them with a brown ale gravy. Again this wasn't quite my cup of tea but it was along the right track. So my dear readers I present to you my chicken meatballs with a chicken gravy. They are much lighter than your average meatball and are packed full of flavour, served on mashed potato with a rich gravy they really are something special. As I have mentioned before I have a crazy love for mashed potatoes which my diet pretty much omits these days so it was lovely to have them as a treat.  If I were having these in the week I would make the meatballs and serve them with a tomato sauce and courgette spaghetti which would be just as tasty and much healthier.

Chicken Meatballs with Chicken Gravy

For the meatballs:
460g chicken thigh meat (skinless)
200g chicken breast meat
1 onion, very finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
200g panko breadcrumbs
pinch of dried red chillies
2 TSP dried oregano 
1 TSP dried sage
2 TBSP fresh sage, finely chopped
1 TBSP fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten

For the gravy:
500ml fresh chicken stock
250ml white wine
2 shallots, roughly chopped with skins still on
2 cloves garlic, cut in half with skins on
2 sprigs fresh rosemary

To serve:
mashed potato - I make mine with butter and milk with lots of black pepper
leeks - I used two, sliced and cooked in butter and a splash of wine

in a bit of oil cook the onions until soft and let cool. blend the raw chicken meat in a food processor until smooth and then place in a bowl. add in the cooled onions and all of the other meatball ingredients then get your hands dirty and combine all the ingredients. bring together in a large ball and then cover the bowl with clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least 2 and up to 24 hours. once you have chilled the mixture then roll them on to smallish balls about the sized of ping pong ball this recipe should make about 24. then place on a tray, cover with clingfilm and then place back in to the fridge for another hour or so. heat some oil in a frying pan and then cook of the meatballs in batches don't be afraid to get them nicely browned - they taste best this way. Once you have cooked them put them in an oven proof dish and but them in the oven on a lowish heat for 20-30 minutes just so they cook the whole way through and stay warm whilst you make the gravy.
to make the gravy put the wine, shallots, garlic and rosemary in a pan and then reduce down until it is more like a glaze - this takes approx. 10 minutes. add in the stock and then let simmer until you have a nice rich gravy. strain.
to serve add a spoonful of mash potato, top with a spoonful of leeks and 3-4 meatballs. spoon over some gravy to finish.

Linking up with Vicky at Honest Mum

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Monday, 23 February 2015

40 Days of Fitness.......... {Thai Red Prawn Curry}


So Sunday is a day of rest on 40 Days of Fitness although yesterday I went on my first run with H. Feeling pretty proud of myself and I loved finally being able to run with him! The programme suggested that rather than a roast we have a healthier Thai red chicken curry. We don't really do roasts in our house but we love Thai curry so rather than use shop bought paste I rustled up my own and used prawns and veg rather rather than chicken as I'm trying to use up bits in my freezer but the paste can be used with any protein combination. Making your own pastes are quick and easy and really are much more flavoursome and fresh - give it a go.


Thai Red Prawn Curry

for the paste:
2 red chillies, chopped
4 cloves garlic
thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 lime leaves
1 lemongrass stalk, roughly chopped
1 TSP paprika
1 lime, juice
1 TBSP fish sauce
1 TSP sugar
2 TBSP coriander stalks

for the curry:
coconut oil
1 red onion, sliced
4 baby aubergines, cut into chunks
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1 tin (400ml) coconut milk
150g raw king prawns
100g small peeled prawns
couple of handfuls soya beans
2 TBSP Coriander leaves, chopped 
1 lime, juice

to serve:
brown rice
lime wedges, sliced red chilli and some coriander  

place all of the paste ingredients in a blender and blend until a smooth paste. heat the coconut oil in the pan and place in the onions, cook until soft and then add in the aubergines and peppers, cook until aubergines have softened. add in the paste and coast all of the vegetables. add in the coconut mil, fill the tin up with water and add that in as well. bring to boil and then turn down to simmer. add in the prawns, soya beans, coriander and lime juice and then leave to simmer for 10 minutes or so until prawns are cooked through. serve over rice in lovely deep bowls  

Friday, 20 February 2015

40 Days of Fitness.......... {Let's get started!!}

As I have talked about on this little space of mine before and as you can probably tell from my increase of healthy recipes I have kicked of 2015 really trying to make a difference to my health and well being. It's something that I have let go for a number of years and I decided that this year would be the year that I would take control. 

I've lost a stone and my 5K training is going well BUT this is about the time that my interest and motivation starts to drop, anyone else have that problem? 

So I am so excited to be teaming up with DW Fitness Clubs to take part in their 40 Days of Fitness challenge where I will be following their schedule to help me eat well and exercise more! It started on Wednesday and I'm keeping up with the programme so far - i know, i know 2 days isn't exactly a litmus test but it's going good so far! I'm looking forward to developing and creating some tasty and healthy recipes so I am fuelled well for this uptake in exercises and each week I will do an update with what I have been up too and how we are getting on. I will be updating on my twitter and facebook pages so you can also follow along there.

Wish me luck, and please do get in touch if you are getting involved too! 

Healthy Weekday Meal #6........{Spicy Lentils and Baked Cod}

This dinner came about by using up things that were in my cupboard, fridge and freezer. And boy were they tasty. A healthy and nutritious dinner that really didn't take long to throw together. I share the recipe so you can bung it together yourself! Don't feel limited by the cod you could serve the lentils with salmon, chicken, pork etc the options are limitless!  

Spicy Lentils and Baked Cod

250g dried green lentils, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 TBSP coconut oil
1 red onion, finely chopped 
1/2 green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated 
handful of fresh coriander, chopped  
2 TSP dried red chillies 
1 TSP cumin
1/2 TSP chilli powder 
3 large tomatoes, diced 
vegetable / chicken stock 
2 fillets of cod (or however many you need)
slices of fresh lemon / lime 

melt your coconut oil in a pan and then add in the onions. once they have softened add in the garlic, ginger, chilli flakes and peppers. after a couple of minutes add in the lentils, the remaining spices and the coriander and make sure that the lentils are coated in all the flavours. cover with stock and then simmer for 10 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and season. continue to simmer until the lentils have soften, although i do like them to retain a bit of bite - personal preferences people! in the meantime quite simply season your cod and bake in foil/greaseproof paper parcel in the oven for 20minutes or so. Serve the cod on the lentils and sprinkle with a bit of coriander and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice! 

These lentils taste even better the next day - I had them for my dinner with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt. Yummy!    

Friday, 13 February 2015

Lurve Quiz....... {Blogmopolitan Quiz}

We don't really do Valentines Day in our relationship - a really common theme with people my age in the UK!! I honestly don't really know anyone who buys into it.... blogging opens my eyes to how much of a big deal it is in America, and hey that's cool, Love's a great thing! 

Linking up with Erin because I'm nosey and i love quizzes! Can't wait to see everyone's responses!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Valentines Day Main Course........ { Boeuf Bourguignon}

No I haven't gone all unhealthy on you but if ever there was a time to indulge in some rich food then cooking your main for Valentines Day would be it. This is a favourite of mine that I developed over the years, it was also the first recipe I did for my magazine food column.  It's a winner and bound to make your beloved fall even more madly in love with you, food does that don't you know?! This does require some time to cook but once you’ve spent a little time on prepping you can just leave this to bubble gently on the stove whilst you get on with more important things...


 Boeuf Bourguignon

1kg chuck or shin of beef cut into large pieces – this is important so it doesn’t break down in the cooking process
20 Shallots, peeled
30 button mushrooms – I used chestnut button mushrooms
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
150g streaky bacon, cut into short strips
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
Bottle of red wine – French is best here; a Burgundy works well but I have also made it with a Merlot
300 – 400ml beef stock, add 300ml to start and then add more if you need to

firstly, the night before you need to marinate the beef in the wine and herbs (not the garlic) and use the marinade as the cooking liquor - this will add a depth of flavour to the dish. toss the beef in a little seasoned flour and then colour the meat in a little oil and butter – make sure you use a heavy based casserole dish or pan.  remove the beef and then add the shallots and cook for around 5 minutes, until they go slightly golden, then add the mushrooms and cook for a further few minutes. remove them from the pan and set aside. add a little more oil to the pan if needed and add in the onion and bacon. once they have browned slightly add the beef to the pan along with the garlic, stock and the wine and herbs. season and then simmer on a very low heat for around 1 ½ hrs – alternatively, you could pop it in the oven at around 140°C for the same amount of time. add the shallots and mushrooms and cook for a further 30 minutes. i served this with my homemade dauphinoise potatoes and baby carrots which worked well. you could actually make the whole dish the day before and just heat it up for 30 minutes or so before you need it – a bourguignon that has mellowed overnight is a tasty dish indeed! 
Linking up with the lovely Miriam for the "Lets Grow Together" series - Welcome to my blog!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Valentines Day Starter.........{Prawn and Crayfish Cocktail boats}

Valentines Day is fast approaching and today I share with you an old classic which makes a great starter! It's a old favourite of mine - a twist on a classic, and whilst it's not the healthiest, omitting the bread makes it that much healthier!

Prawn and Crayfish Cocktail Boats

250g large peeled prawns
120g crayfish tails 
3 tbsp good quality mayonnaise 
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
Couple of drops of Tabasco 
Squeeze lemon juice 
Half a cucumber, shredded into ribbons (I use a peeler to do this)
Little Gem lettuce, remove the outer leaves you will need around three depending on size

take the mayonnaise and ketchup and mix them together. add the Tabasco and lemon juice and season. have a try and adjust to taste (I usually end up adding a bit more lemon and black pepper). add in the prawns and crayfish tails (reserving some of the tails for garnish). take your lettuce leaves and use them as “boats";  first add a couple of ribbons of cucumber and then the prawn cocktail and finish with a garnish of a couple of crayfish tails. Serve on a lovely wooden platter and let people just help themselves. 


Linking up with Vicky at Honest Mum
Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Friday, 6 February 2015

Healthy Weekday Meal #5..........{Creamy Roasted Cauliflower with Courgette ribbons}

I need a Spiralizer in my life. I'm kind of sick of using my peeler to make ribbons and I'm sick of having zoodle envy, except in the UK would it be coodle envy?! This recipe is kicking around the internet quite a lot at the moment and I am jumping on the band wagon with my version! Roasted cauliflower makes this dish a bit more filling and the yoghurt dressing really compliments the dish perfectly. Healthy and very satisfying with a pretty unique selection of ingredients - be prepared to be surprised!

Creamy Roasted Cauliflower and Prosciutto with Courgette Ribbons   

1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
5 slices prosciutto, roughly torn
1 banana shallot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed 
pinch red chilli flakes 
3 - 4 courgettes, cut in to half and then peeled into ribbons (or use your spiralizer to make zoodles)
3 tbsp 0 fat greek yoghurt
zest half lemon 
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp djion mustard
1 1/2 tbsp grated parmesan

Toss the cauliflower in a bowl and toss with a tbsp of oil, lay on a baking tray and season with S&P and paprika. roast in the oven for about 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown (i left mine in a little too long!) in separate bowl combine yoghurt, lemon zest and juice, parmesan and mustard and whisk together. season. add a tiny bit of oil in a pan and cook off the prosciutto until it has turned a deep red colour. remove from pan and then add in the shallots, garlic, and chilli flakes and when they become fragrant add in the courgette ribbons. let the courgette cook until al-dente (about 3 minutes) and then remove heat. add the prosciutto and cauliflower and then stir in the dressing, i do this a bit at a time as you may not need it all. serve  

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


Firstly big thanks to Pinky! for the inspiration for this post! I had no idea what to write about today and saw her "currently" post so figured I would do one of the same - check out her post here

Reading - I've just finished Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Hawking. I downloaded it to my Kindle after seeing the wonderful British film The Theory of Everything. Both Felcity and Eddie deserve Oscars for their performances they were great!  I'm now starting on Committed: A Sceptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert, because I loved Eat Pray Love and lets face it I can be a bit of a marriage sceptic. All a bit of a departure from my usual fiction but I'm enjoying them! 

Buying - A couple of David Bowie CD's for H - Nothing Has Changed and The Next Day. Also the ingredients for a Lemon poppy seed cake that I have been developing a recipe for.  

Hating - going running in the cold but feeling very proud that I am sticking with it!

Wanting - to be back in the cosy cottage in Norfolk with the roaring fire.... along weekend is never long enough! But very grateful that we have the opportunity to return in the summer!

Hoping - to continue to build on my running and that soon i'll be making 5k runs look like childs play (we can dream can't we)

Listening - BBC Radio Two at my desk at work. And pretty soon i'll be listening to some David Bowie methinks!

Watching - Spiral - a french police drama that I have recently become obsessed with, since I've started on season 5 I think I'm going to have to purchase the previous seasons on box set. Also Wolf Hall mainly because Damien Lewis and Mark Rylance are two of the finest British actors on TV at the moment and also because since I studied Tudor history at school it has been one of my favorite periods to learn more about. 

Devouring - after a weekend off (having a lovely break in Norfolk) I am now back to devouring vegetables and protein with very little carbs or dairy!

Drinking - All so water....so.much.water.

Loving - my Papermate Flair pens and Pentel sign pens - stationary porn and all that! And my new running trainers - thanks H!

Feeling - a little tired, content and better for having eaten better the last couple of days! Cheese is my love but not my friend!

Wishing - for a spiralizer! I feel like I need one in my life *HINT*

Linking up with the lovely Miriam for the "Lets Grow Together" series - Welcome to my blog!