Vegetable Chilli

I’m not a vegan or even vegetarian, but still enjoy a good meat free recipe.

This is a good way to get your 5 a day, and is quick and tasty, with a nice range of flavours and textures. I served mine with some avocado on top, and corn bread, but it’s also really good with rice or tortillas. You can also top it with sour cream or grated cheese if you’re not vegan.

Ingredients

1 Red pepper

1 Onion

2 Stalks celery

150 Grams Sweetcorn

400 Grams Cannelli beans (you can use whatever beans you have)

400 ml Passata

1 Tsp Ground cumin

1 Tsp Smoked paprika

1 Tsp chilli powder

2 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

1 Tbsp Tomato puree

1 Tbsp Olive oil

Method

  1. Chop the vegetables into equal sizes (I like to keep mine pretty chunky)
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, and gently fry the vegetables for 5-10 minutes until they have softened
  3. Add the garlic, spices and tomato puree to the pan and cook for a few minutes before adding the beans and passata
  4. Simmer over a low heat for another 10-15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened

Keema Curry

It was the week before payday, and I was scanning round the kitchen for what I could make for dinner. I was lucky enough to find some minced lamb and frozen peas in the freezer.

This is may not be 100% authentic, but tasted great. It was even better the next day. A good spice cupboard can transform anything into a brilliant meal.

Serves 4-6

500 Grams Lamb mince

400ml Tin of tomatoes

250 Grams Frozen peas

1 Onion (Finely sliced)

2 Cloves of garlic (Minced)

4cm Piece of ginger (Grated)

1Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Cinnamon

1 Tsp Cumin

1Tsp Chilli powder (optional)

1 Tsp Ground Coriander

1 Tsp Gram Masala

1 Tsp Nigella (onion) seeds

1 Tbsp Oil (flavourless, like sunflower)

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the sliced onion, cook for about 15 minutes, stir as needed until caramelised (this adds loads of flavour)
  2. Take onions out of the pan and set to one side. Add the Nigella seeds to the pan cook for a for 2 minutes or until you hear them popping. Take care not to let them burn. Remove from the pan and a side with the cooked onions
  3. Add the lamb to the pan along with the other spices, and continue cooking and stirring until the lamb is browned
  4. Add the peas, tomatoes and onion and Nigella seeds to the pan
  5. Simmer for 15 minutes, adding some water if it’s getting too dry.
  6. Serve with rice or flat breads

Gnocchi Mac n Cheese

Normal mac n cheese I think we can all agree is a thing of beauty!

I had a friend coming for lunch and was doing my usual scoot around the fridge to see what I had, and came up with this. I’ve added some vegetables to help lighten it up, as well as add flavour and texture. But if you feel that you want pure filth (and hey doesn’t sometimes), you could leave them out or substitute them for other veggies you like, sweetcorn works well in this too.

This makes a great week night dinner, and is quite happy to live in the fridge for a couple of days (if it lasts that long).

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

500 Gram Bag of ready made gnocchi

50 Grams Mushrooms (sliced)

1 Onion (sliced)

1 Red pepper (sliced)

1 Green pepper (sliced)

50 Grams Green beans (canned/frozen)

2 Tbsps of Chopped Parsley (optional)

1 Tbsp Oil

25 Grams Butter

25 Grams Flour

250ml Milk

50 Grams Grated cheese (I used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella, but use what you prefer or what you have in the fridge)

50 Grams Breadcrumbs (optional, I always keep a bag of breadcrumbs in the freezer, it’s a cheap, quick and easy way to add a bit of crunch to dishes)

Method

  1. Cook the gnocchi as per the instructions on the packet, then drain and set to one side.
  2. Add the oil to a pan and over a medium heat cook the vegetables until softened
  3. Put the gnocchi and vegetables in an oven proof dish, and pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees
  4. Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour to make a smooth paste over a medium heat, stir in the milk gradually to avoid lumps.
  5. The sauce will start to thicken as it cooks, reduce the heat and let the sauce cook out for another five minutes or until it no longer tastes of flour. Stir in half the cheese and mix until it has melted
  6. Add the sauce to the gnocchi and vegetables, and mix until well combined. Cover with the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs if your using them
  7. Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on how brown you want the topping to be

Chicken Hot Pot

I make no claims that this recipe is anywhere close to being an authentic hot pot. But it was topped with finely sliced potatoes, so in my mind at least this is a hot pot.

If any one follows this blog regularly, you’ll know I hate food waste. So before I go food shopping. I always have a whiz around the fridge and cupboards to see what I can make rather than letting food spoil. That’s how this recipe came together. This doesn’t stop it being properly delicious comfort food on a frosty day. Chicken and vegetables in a creamy mustard sauce topped with a crispy potato crust, yum! Before you freak out, yes I know there is alot of cream/sour cream, but I was trying to use up left over cream. If you want be a little healthier you could halve the amount of cream and replace it with chicken stock. Just remember to reduce the sauce for a little longer so that it’s not watery.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 Tbsp cooking oil

4 Large or 6 Small Chicken Thighs (cooked)

1 Onion (finely sliced)

2 Celery Stalks (finely sliced)

150 Grams Sweetcorn

300ml Double Cream

250ml Sour Cream

1 Tsp Grain Mustard

300 Grams Potatoes (finely sliced)

1Tbsp Melted Butter

Salt and Pepper

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan, and fry onion and celery until soft
  2. Add the chicken and sweetcorn and heat through
  3. Add the cream, sour cream, and mustard to the pan, cook for another 5 minutes until the sauce thickens a little
  4. Check the seasoning and transfer to an oven proof dish
  5. Evenly lay the finely sliced potatoes on top of the chicken mixture
  6. Brush the potatoes with melted butter and sprinkle salt and pepper
  7. Bake in an oven preheated to 180 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are crispy and golden brown.

Potato, Sausage, and Apple Skillet

I love a quick dinner after a long day when standing cooking holds little appeal. If you can be organised enough to cook extra potatoes for dinner the day or two before this makes this even quicker.

My sort of comfort food

Nothing says comfort food to me like spuds. Crispy fried potatoes, meaty pork sausages and hot sweet apples makes a really dreamy combination. On a chilly Autumn evening this makes a perfect dinner, it’s also really good with fried egg on top.

Serves 4

Ingredients

500 Grams Cooked potatoes cut into chunks (I like to leave the skins on)

8 Pork sausages (cut into chunks)

2 Red onions (thinly sliced)

2 Dessert apples (cut into chunks)

2 Tbsps Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet or heavy frying pan
  2. Add the cut up sausages and onions, and stir occasionally until browned
  3. Remove from the pan and set to one side. Add the other tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the potatoes, cooking until brown
  4. Add the sausages, onions, and apple to the pan, cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and if you’re feeling really fancy you could sprinkle over some chopped herbs like parsley, or sage

Plum Crumble

Autumn is my favourite time of year, not just because of the colours and dark nights. What I really love are the fantastic fruit and vegetables that come into their own.

Sweet and juicy Victoria plums

I love warming, stick to your ribs comfort food at this time of year. I’ve had some really bland apple crumbles, so for a while I experimented with different versions and this is my favourite. I’ve used cinnamon, but cardamom also works really well.

Crunchy crumble and jammy fruity base.

I also added chopped dates, which adds a lovely toffee back note. The crumble has oats and nuts to add flavour and texture. It comes out of the oven with a crunchy topping and gooey jammy fruit base. I like mine with custard, but it also works well with ice cream.

Ingredients

600 Grams Plums (stones removed)

75 Grams Dates (finely chopped)

1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

100 Grams Brown Sugar

200 Grams Plain flour

100 Grams Porridge oats

50 Grams Almonds (chopped)

100 Grams Butter (cut into cubes)

Method

  1. Cut the plums in half and remove the stones
  2. Put the plums in an oven proof dish, and mix with the cinnamon and chopped dates
  3. For the crumble, you can add the flour, and butter to a food processor and mix. I couldn’t be bothered with the faff of getting the food processor out and then cleaning it. Instead I added the ingredients to a bowl and rubbed the flour and butter together
  4. When the flour, and butter are combined, add the sugar, oats and nuts and mix well
  5. Sprinkle the crumble over the fruit. Put the dish in an oven preheated to 180 degrees. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until brown and delicious

Ditch the Diet Chicken Pie

I know what you’re thinking, big woo chicken pie, but trust me this is delicious. Yes, there is a lot of wine and cream, but it also has a lot of vegetables (in my mind that sort of balances it out).

This is a pie to make when you have plenty of people to feed, and it is really satisfying. Serve it with salad in the Summer, or if you’re making it in colder weather it’s fantastic with buttery mashed potatoes and greens. I used shop bought pastry (there I’ve said it, and I’m not even sorry, sometimes life is just too short)

Rich and unctuous, you’re definitely going to want a big slice if this.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 Sheet ready made short crust pastry (you can also use puff pastry if you prefer_

500 Grams Butternut squash

2 Tbsps Vegetable oil

500 Grams Chicken thighs (bones and skins removed)

2 Red peppers

1 Green pepper

2 Sticks of celery

150 Grams Green beans

150 Grams Sweet Corn

Half bottle of white wine ( this was the amount of wine I had hanging around the kitchen, you can reduce this, or remove it and add 250 ml of chicken stock if you would rather not use wine)

2 Tsps Dijon mustard

1 Egg

2 Tbsp Sesame seeds (optional)

Salt and Pepper

The pie filling is so delicious, you’ll have to stop yourself eating it all before you top it with pastry.

Method

  1. Chop the butternut squash into 3-4cm chunks add to a baking tray and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil before baking for 20 mins in an oven preheated to 200 degree
  2. While the butternut squash is roasting, chop your chicken, peppers, celery, and onion into 3-4 cm pieces (I like the filing fairly chunky)
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pan, and on a high heat cook your chicken until its sealed. Remove the chicken from the pan, reduce the heat and add the onions, peppers and celery and cook for 5 minutes
  4. Add the green beans, corn, butternut squash and chicken to the pan and add the white wine
  5. Cook on a high heat for 5 minutes until the alcohol has burned of the wine (you can tell this by having a could sniff of the pan, and if it doesn’t make your nose tingle the alcohol has burned off)
  6. Now add the cream and mustard and stir well, it will seem like there is a lot of liquid, but trust me if you continue to cook over a medium heat for another 15 minutes it will thicken into a really delicious sauce
  7. Once the sauce has thickened check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if you think it needs it. Transfer the contents of the pan into a large baking dish, and allow to cool
  8. When the pie filling is cool, pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and drape your sheet of pastry over the filling. Brush with a beaten egg to get a nice glaze. I also sprinkled mine with sesame seeds because I love them, but don’t stress if you don’t have them, the pie will still be delicious. Cook for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is a deep golden brown