Carrot, Coconut and Sweet Potato Soup

It’s cold and horrible outside, and the perfect time to make hearty soups.  This soup will live in your fridge for 4-5 days, and also freezes well.

You can use either coconut cream that comes in a block, or coconut in a milk in a team to add richness and creaminess.  This also makes it suitable for vegans as well.

Ingredients

250 Grams Sweet potato (peeled and cut into 3-4cm cubes)

2 Carrots (peeled and sliced)

1 Onion (peeled and sliced)

1 Can of coconut milk or 50 Grams coconut cream

1 Tbsp Oil

2 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

1 Tsp Chilli powder

1 Tsp Tumeric (optional)

Thumb sized piece of ginger (grated) or 1 Tsp of dried ginger

1 Vegetable stock cube

1 litre Water

Salt to taste

Method

  • Add the oil to a large pot over a medium heat, before adding the sliced onion and cook for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally until the onion starts to brown
  • Add the other ingredients and bring to a boil, before reducing to a gentle simmer for 20-25 until the vegetables are cooked
  • Use a hand blender, or blitz in a blender until smooth and creamy. Serve with crusty bread

“Chinese” Sausage Rolls

I don’t pretend that this is an authentic Chinese recipe, but the flavours used always reminds me of Chinese food.

I use ready roll puff pastry which makes these quick and easy to make.  They also freeze really well.

I sometimes dip these into sweet chilli sauce which is sublime but they are also pretty fabulous on their own.

Makes between 8 and 10

Ingredients

1 Large sheet ready rolled puff pastry

500 Grams Lean pork mince

50 Grams Breadcrumbs

1 Tbsp Ginger (grated)

2-3 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

2-3 Scallions/spring onions (finely sliced)

1/2 Tbsp Sesame oil

1 Tsp Chinese 5 spice powder

1 Tsp Chilli powder

1 Tsp Salt

1 Egg yolk

Sesame seeds (optional)

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees
  • Add the pork, garlic, ginger, breadcrumbs, scallions, spices, and sesame oil to a large bowl and mix with your hands until well combined
  • Unroll the puff pastry, and evenly spread the pork mix in an even line down the centre of the pastry
  • Brush the long edges of the pastry with egg yolk.  Bring the long edges of the pastry together and together by crimping with your fingers or a fork.
  • Brush the long log created with egg yolk (and sprinkle with sesame seeds if you are using them).  Divide the long roll into 8 or 10 pieces and transfer to a baking sheet
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until the pastry is a deep golden brown

South Western Pin Wheels

I usually find sandwiches a bit meh!, but I love these. I make these as pinwheel sandwiches, which is basically a tortilla rolled up and cut into slices. They are nice for parties, or just because you want to fancy up your lunchbox.

The filling is packed full of flavours from America’s South West, black beans, corn, coriander (cilantro) etc. This makes it full of colour, crunch, fibre and flavour.

I used full fat sour cream and cream cheese, but you can use lower fat versions. This sandwich filling also makes an amazing topping for baked potatoes, or stirred into left over pasta to make a salad.

Roll up

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

400 Gram Can Sweet Corn (drained)

400 Gram Can Black Beans (drained and rinsed)

1 Large red pepper (chopped into 1cm cubes)

2-3 Scallions/spring onions (finely sliced)

2 Tbsp Coriander (Finely chopped)

150 Grams Cheddar Cheese (grated)

2 Tsp Smoked Paprika

1 Tsp Chilli Powder

1 Tsp Salt

200 Grams Sour Cream

200 Grams Cream Cheese

4-5 Tortillas

Method

  • Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and stir until well combined
  • Spread 2 large spoonfuls of the filling on a tortilla, and roll the outside edge inwards tightly
  • Cut into 3-4cm sclices and serve

Easy Roast Tomato and Basil Soup

I know I harp on about it, but I hate food waste. So when I found some discounted tomatoes in the supermarket that were too soft for salads I decided to make soup.

Tomatoes are roasted with some onion in the oven to bring out their flavour. I always try to cook more than one thing at a time so using the oven is more cost effective, so it’s the perfect excuse to whip up a cake too if feeling like it (I always feel ready for cake)

For the best lunch ever, team it up with a grilled cheese sandwich

Ingredients

500 Grams tomatoes

2 onion (cut into quarters)

2-3 Cloves of garlic

1 Tbsp Oil

500 ml Vegetable stock (I used a stock cube dissolved in 500ml of boiling water)

1-2 Tbsp Basil leaves

1 tsp Cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
  • Add the tomatoes, oil, and onion to an oven proof dish and roast for 30-40 minutes or until the tomatoes have blistered. Remove and discard the skin from the garlic
  • Add all the ingredients to a blender and pulse until smooth. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if you think it needs it.

The “Friends” (Jennifer Aniston) Salad

Sometimes random things pop up on your social media feed and this was the “Friends” salad, apparently the female cast members all ate the same thing every day for lunch for 10 years.

I followed the recipe provided by icecreamandneondreams.com and I have to say it’s very tasty (maybe not eating it every day for 10 years), but definitely worth including in your salad or lunch dish rotation.

Needless to say its very healthy with plenty of fibre and protein and full of lovely flavours that compliment each other. Like any salad you can play with the ratio of ingredients depending on your taste

The original salad doesn’t have any dressing, but you can also add some olive oil and lemon juice if you think it needs it.

Ingredients

250 Grams Bulgar Wheat (dry weight cook according the instructions on the packet)

1 Large or 2 small Cucumbers

400 Gram Tin of Chick Peas

1 Small red onion (finely sliced)

200 Grams Feta Cheese (crumbled)

50 Grams Shelled Pistachios

2 Tbsp. Fresh mint (chopped), or 2 tsp dried mint

2 Tbsp. Parsley (chopped)

Method

  1. Cook the bulgar wheat according to the instructions on the packet and allow to cool
  2. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and scoop out and discard the watery seeds on the middle. Cut each half in half again and slice into 1 cm slices (you can make them chunkier if you prefer)
  3. Drain the chick peas and add to a large bowl along with all the other ingredients and mix well. Have a taste and add some salt and pepper if you the salad needs it

Croque Madame

This is a kind of a pimped up Croque Monsieur (fried cheese and ham sandwich).

I first had this years ago in France in a little café, when I was nursing a particularly rabid hangover and it was miraculous.

It also makes a super quick and easy meal at any time of day. If you’re vegetarian you can leave out the ham, and maybe swap it for some sauteed mushrooms (also delicious).

There are fancier recipes that involve bechemal sauces etc. I have stuck with the simple version I first ate years ago and it literally takes 5 minutes.

Per person

2 Slices of bread

Enough sliced/grated cheese to cover a slice of bread (gruyer is traditional, but use what you have)

1 slice of smoked ham

1 Egg

1 Tbsp Oil

1 Tbsp Butter

(Plus a little extra oil to fry the egg)

Method

  1. Add the oil and butter to a pan and heat over a medium heat
  2. Lay the ham and cheese over a slice of bread and top with the other slice before carefully adding to the pan
  3. Cook for a few minutes and press down gently with a fish slice/spatula until the bottom is brown and crispy, and the gently turn the sandwich and cook on the other side
  4. In a small pan, add a little oil and heat before frying your egg until the white is cooked but the yolk is still soft
  5. Transfer the sandwich to a plate and top with fried egg, and voilà

Spinach Falafel

Sometimes if you’ve been overindulging your body tells you to eat something healthier. When that happens, this what you should be eating. Packed full of flavour and protein these little falafel are great as the protein element of a main meal or in wraps for a tasty and filling packed lunch. These falafel are baked rather than fried, which helps make them even healthier.

I made these with cannelini beans, (I thought I had chickpeas in the cupboard, but you could probably use any type of tinned beans). These are also gluten free and suitable for vegans.

Ingredients

400 Gram Can of cannelini beans or chickpeas

2 Tablespoons Porridge oats

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 Tablespoon Tahini

2 Cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)

100 Grams Spinach

1 Teaspoon Salt

Handful of Coriander or parsley (toughly chopped)

Tablespoon Sesame Seeds (optional)

Oil for spraying

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
  2. Add all ingredients (except the sesame seeds) to a food processor and blend until you have a smooth mix
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment, the falafel mix should be quite soft, so I used a tablespoon to scoop the mix on the baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if you are using them and bake for 15 minutes before turning them and bake for another 15 minutes

Crostini with Whipped Feta and Roasted Grapes

I love dishes made with ingredients I usually have in my kitchen. No part of this recipe is difficult, just break it into 3 steps, bread, feta and grapes.

The cheese, oil, yoghurt and spring onions before whipping

This is a pretty fancy starter but all the elements can be made well in advance and assembled at the last minute. If you want to make delicious canapes this also works brilliantly on wafer thin slivers of sour dough bread or those tiny little croustad cups you can buy in some delicatessens It’s also great for a lunch dish.

Straight from the oven, perfect once the grapes start to look s little shriveled

I love whipped feta, and it can be used in salads, wraps, sandwiches or as a dip. It’s also really good with roasted vegetables or sun dried tomatoes.

Feta, once it has been whipped

The roast grapes are something you might not have tried before, but their sweetness works really well with the saltiness of the feta.

Ingredients

For the bread

1 Ciabatta loaf (you can use other breads like sour dough or French baguette if you prefer), cut into 1-2cm thick slices

1-2 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Clove of garlic

For the grapes

250 Grams Red grapes

1Tbsp Oil

1 Clove of garlic (finely chopped)

1/2 Tsp Salt

1/2 Dried thyme, or 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme

Black pepper

For the Feta

200 Grams Feta cheese

2 Tbsp Yoghurt

1 Tbsp Olive oil

2 Scallions/spring onions (Optional), finely sliced

Black pepper

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees. Remove the grapes from the stem and add to an oven proof dish along with the other ingredients. Swirl the grapes around to make sure they are coated with the oil, thyme and garlic. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the skins start to blister, remove from the oven and allow to cool
  2. Place the sliced bread on a baking tray and drizzle with oil on each side. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, remove and rub each slice with a clove of garlic
  3. In a large bowl, crumble the feta, and add the other ingredients and whip with an electric whisk for 5 minutes or until creamy.
  4. When the bread is cool, spread with a layer of whipped feta, and top with the roasted grapes

The Elvis Sandwich!

Friends of mine told me about this, they had visited Graceland and ate this in a local café, who swore that these were one of the King’s favourite dishes. I don’t know how much truth there is in this, but I like to imagine Elvis eating these in a white jumpsuit.

A fried Banana and peanut butter sandwich is a pretty scrummy combination, but on occasion I’ve also tried swapping out the peanut butter for chocolate spread which is also delicious.

This isn’t the healthiest sandwich, but is a nice treat occasionally if you fancy something quick and tasty.

Ingredients

2 Slices of white bread

1 Banana (Mashed)

1-2 Tbsp Peanut butter

1/2 Tbsp Oil

1 Tbsp Melted butter (If you’re vegan you can substitute this with coconut oil)

Method

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan over a medium heat
  2. Spread the mashed banana on one slice of bread, and spread peanut butter on the other before sandwiching together
  3. Place the sandwich in the pan, and gently push down with a spatula, Cook for 2-3 minutes until sandwich has browned, before gently turning the sandwich to brown on the other side
  4. Enjoy immediately. Thank you very much!

Mock Crab

It may not be pretty, but OMG it’s tasty.

I have no idea why this is called mock crab, as it isn’t remotely fishy. But, what it is, is a really quick and tasty filling for sandwiches, toasties, and maybe controversially baked potatoes.

My Mum made this mix of corned (chipped) beef, tomatoes and onion for slightly fancier lunches. I love her, but she wasn’t especially adventurous, this was one of the things she knew we all loved.

Someone told me that this was devised during World War II, because people had to rely on tinned food as there could be shortages of fresh food. However it came about, it’s really delicious.

Ingredients

340 Gram Tin of corned beef

1/2 Small onion (finely chopped)

2 Small tomatoes

2 Tbsps Mayonnaise (you can increase this if you want a creamier texture)

Method

  1. Remove the corned beef from the tin and either chop finely or mash with a fork
  2. Finely chop the onion, and chop the tomatoes into 1 cm chunks (you can makes the mix a bit chunkier if you prefer)
  3. Add the mayonnaise and mix well, before filling sandwiches or baked potatoes