Paprika crumb fishcakes

Traditionally made to use up leftover potatoes, the little ole fishcake has been seriously pimped up over the years!

20140107-212145.jpgThe Hairy Dieters’ recipe I used calls for paprika to be mixed through with the breadcrumbs which gives the cakes a delicious, smokey flavour. Along with the potato and the fish, spring onions and lemon juice are added which give the filling a really nice fragrance.

20140107-212231.jpgThese fishcakes are easy to prep in advance if needs be, and can be kept in the fridge until you need to bake them. I used pollock but you could use salmon or haddock instead. Serve with wedges, salad, couscous, peas, or beans. Quick, tasty & healthy (coming in at just 187 cals/cake), these fishcakes are perfect for a mid-week dinner!

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Apple, Pear and Raspberry Compote

Following on from my post yesterday, I wanted to share the fruit compote I have just whipped up which will go so nicely with the granola.

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I based my compote on this recipe on BBC Good Food which comes in at 199 calories per serving. I used more pears than stated as I had a few left and wanted to make a big batch to last the week for breakfasts at work. I also swapped in raspberries for the cherries as I couldn’t get hold of any, and I love the combo of apple and raspberry. I reduced the amount of sugar in the recipe as I don’t think you need it as the fruit is so sweet and tasty already.

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This is another useful quick recipe which you can adjust based on what fruit you have in the fridge. It took about 20 minutes for the fruit to simmer and soften to the right consistency and it smelled so good!

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Fruity Homemade Granola

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It’s that time of year again, Christmas is over for another year and we’ve all eaten that little bit too much turkey, stuffing, mince pies, Christmas cake, chocolates and drunk a few too many beers, glasses of fizz and wine, and the need to get fit and lose weight rears its head again. New year, new me we always think. Last year Tom and I stuck to the Hairy Dieters plan for about 3 months or so along with circuit training and badminton and the results were really good. Inevitably though, we got a bit bored of the recipes, work got busy and there were late nights and boozy nights so the weight crept on a bit again by the end of the year.

We got the new Hairy Dieters cookbook for Christmas and it has helped to inspire us to get back on the diet horse and try again. The food looks and sounds great and I’m really excited to eat healthy delicious meals and cook new dishes. I’ll also be attempting to run regularly to get my fitness up to scratch as well.

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The part of healthy eating I find hardest is breakfast and lunch at work – I struggle to fit in breakfast before I get to work and once there I often get distracted or forget to sort breakfast out, meaning I start to snack later on in the day. If I don’t prep lunch the night before, I end up buying lunch everyday and that can get expensive and unhealthy. This year, I’m going to be on the ball and prep my meals before hand so I know I’m eating well. I’m not a huge fan of cereal or muesli but it’s such a quick, easy and filling breakfast that I’ve decided I need to try and so this weekend I am making my own granola. I’ve adapted a couple of recipes, the Hairy Dieters and this one from completely delicious blog. Served with the Hairy Dieters fruit compote, this brekkie comes out as 243 calories or 252 served with yoghurt.

Ingredients:

I didn’t measure anything out as I just used what was in the cupboard to make a big batch – it’s easy enough to judge how much you need

Oats
Sesame seeds
Honey
Sunflower oil
Fruit
mix (I used a tropical mix of dried fruits and a mix of raisins and cranberries, finely chopped but you could use dried apricots, dried banana etc)
Cinnamon
Nutmeg

This granola is really easy to make – all I did was combine the ingredients in a big mixing bowl until the oats started to come together slightly. Once mixed, I spread the granola in a baking parchment lined tray and baked until golden brown. Now I can use it on top of yoghurt or with fruit compote and I can always make new batches with different fruit and nut combinations – yum!

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Festive Yuletide Choc

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Christmas without an oven is proving a trying time for me! Everywhere I look there are gorgeous recipes for mince pies, gingerbread men, Christmas pudding cheesecake, festive sausage rolls…the list goes on and on. I have had to resort to finding no-bake recipes so I can join in the Christmas-time cooking!

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On a recent buzzfeed post specifically for no-bake Christmas recipes I saw one for Christmasy chocolate bark.

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It’s such a simple, easy recipe and looks so tasty, festive and impressive – a steal of a recipe! Great for a quick treat or wrapped up in cellophane and tied with ribbon for a cute gift.

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It took no time and tastes so yummy! Hopefully my work colleagues will enjoy this end of term Christmas treat before we all head home for the holidays.

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Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Frugal Feeding’s Sardine Fritters

I was browsing through the latest blog posts on my reader panel when I came across an interesting sounding recipe from Frugal Feeding. It was for Sardine Fritters and the photos of the food looked really good! I was also won over by the fact that sardines are cheap to buy and the recipe is nice and easy for a week-day dinner. We had some tortilla wraps leftover and some yoghurt so I decided to try and make the fritters, served in a soft wrap with yoghurt and cucumber dip with griddle fried onions and peppers.

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You can find the full ingredient list and recipe over at the lovely Frugal Feeding site.

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These fritters are really tasty, with a slight chilli kick and a bit of crunch from the sesame seeds, it’s a dish that has definitely made it’s way onto our repertoire of useful, delicious dinners.

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The City Break Series: Venice

At the start of September my family and I departed for a long weekend trip to Venice. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to go somewhere more, so my excitement levels were pretty high! One of my favourite books growing up was Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli, and her descriptions of the city were so vivid that I was desperate to visit that part of Italy.

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When I was at college I did a project all about Turner and his paintings of Venice, again this just increased my desire to visit the city.

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I’d never realised before that the islands of Venice are shaped like a fish, which you can see when you study maps of the city. I was worried that I’d built the city up so much in my head that when I arrived it somehow wouldn’t live up to my expectations. This was so not the case, it’s as beautiful and enchanting as I’d hoped and every photo you take looks fantastic – I don’t think it’s possible to take a bad photo of Venice!

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Obviously, the food was another great reason to visit Venice: pizza, pasta, gelato…..bring it on!

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We rented a gorgeous apartment overlooking a canal in the Dorsoduro region, near the Accademia bridge. We had a roof terrace which was great for having the whole family round for dinner – one night we got a load of takeaway pizzas, Italian red wine and all watched the sun set from the roof – bliss.

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My grandad is a huge ice cream fan, and he always loves buying them for everyone if we’re on a trip anywhere. He has an amazing knack of hunting out ice cream vans as well, we were once walking along the Thames and he said how much he fancied a 99 flake, we rounded the next corner and there sat a bright, colourful ice cream van! Obviously in Venice, we wouldn’t need to hunt around for long to find some delicious gelato. On every corner you can find row upon row of gorgeous, smooth, creamy gelato flavours and it was so hard to choose, good job we were there for a few days and could try more than one flavour!

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Our holiday to this city of romance didn’t fail on the love front – on our last night while having dinner on the pontoon, my Aunty and her partner announced they had gotten engaged! It was the best news and the loveliest way to end our holiday to Venice! There were quite a few happy tears shed while we enjoyed caprese salad, lobster, tagliatelle, tiramisu and champagne!

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Easy Peasy Cajun Chicken

Tuesday nights are my night to cook – Tom has football after work so I get to choose what we have for dinner. As long as it’s filling, he’s not too fussed! Some nights I just want something easy to make that still tastes delicious, and like you’ve spent ages on it, when you really haven’t! We’ve not been as strict with the healthy eating recently, so we’ve decided to have a healthy November, to allow for a deliciously unhealthy Christmas! To that end and to start early, I chose the Hairy Bikers’ diet dish: Cajun spiced chicken with wedges – except I swapped the wedges for couscous to save time!

This is such an easy dish and when I put the photo up on Facebook so many friends said I needed to give them the recipe because it looks really impressive and takes no time at all! Definitely a winner!

To make the spice mix combine:

5 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp flaked sea salt

Rub the spice mix into the chicken with a little oil. When the flavours have marinaded for a while, fry the chicken until cooked well through and the spices have started to caramelise. While the chicken is cooking, make up some couscous. To my couscous I added olives, cucumber and chives, salt and pepper. I also added diced cucumber and chives to a bowl of creme fraiche.

I served the chicken on top of the couscous, and then topped it with the creme fraiche. I then added some fresh crispy mange tout for a bit of texture.

You could also serve the chicken with wedges, potato or sweet potato, and use the spice mix on these as well. Or you could have the chicken in a wrap with salad and the creme fraiche.

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This week has seen me on a bit of a cooking flurry, to save money on lunch, and to warm me up as it gets colder, I’ve decided to make batches of soup. The pumpkin soup has set me off on a soupy mission! Yesterday I made up a batch of roasted tomato soup, with leftover celery, leeks and peppers. I’m feeling quite domesticated and pleased to be saving money while eating a tasty lunch!

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Winter Warmer: Pumpkin & Red Pepper Soup

The St Jude Storm is on its way, and while it hasn’t really hit home too badly yet, it’s still windy and wet enough to warrant a lovely bowl of autumny soup. Halloween is coming up so naturally there’s an abundance of pumpkin and squash in the shops and markets, so today I decided to make my favourite soup: roasted pumpkin & red pepper.

20131027-222348.jpgMy friend Carolyn took a great photo of a ridiculous number of pumpkins today, and it really got me in the bonfire night/Halloween/leaf-crunching-under-foot kind of a mood – and pumpkin soup seemed like the perfect Sunday food for that kind of a day.

I roasted the pumpkin with olive oil, salt and pepper and then added to a pot of sweated down shallots and red peppers. I added stock and seasoning and a pinch of chili and simmered until soft. When everything had softened, I blended the veggies and stock until smooth and then stirred in some creme fraiche. This is my favourite soup and it’s so easy to whip up – looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow!

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Lemon curd

A few weeks ago I had the urge to bake or make something in the kitchen but our oven has really started to fail me now, so I had to choose a recipe that I could do on the hob or grill! I chose to make my own lemon curd as I’ve been meaning to have a go for ages. It’s such a simple recipe and looks really impressive! Sadly though, I couldn’t bake any scones to go with it! I hope you enjoy the pictures, I love the blue gingham against the bright yellow

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The City Break Series: Barcelona

This year I have been lucky enough to travel to lots of European cities, and to eat lots of delicious European food. It figures, that as I write a food and baking blog, that it should write some kind of review post for my travels. To this end, I have decided to write a City Break Series about my travels and the food i discovered. These will be interspersed with my normal posts.

We start, with Barcelona…

In August I went to Barcelona with one of my dearest pals, Hannah. We’ve both been so busy over the last year or so, me at work, Hannah studying to become a Trainee Solicitor, that we decided we deserved a little holiday away! We’ve never gone away together before and usually only get a few hours every few months to catch up so we were well-overdue some decent time together! As we’re both summer babies we chose the first week of August to celebrate our birthdays and picked Barcelona as our destination. I’ve always wanted to see Gaudi’s architecture and Hannah was keen to visit a new city and get exploring! Also, it would be guaranteed hot and sunny weather!
We spent 5 glorious days in Barcelona visiting Casa Battlo, Park Guell, La Ramblas and La Boqueria food market. We also managed to fit in some sunbathing by the hotel’s roof pool for some proper relaxing!

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We were really looking forward to trying proper Spanish tapas and after a few ok dinners we found an amazing restaurant called Teleferic. When we arrived it was pretty empty, I think because we ate a lot earlier than the Spanish seemed to. The staff were really welcoming and friendly, and explained that at half seven they would start bringing out all of the different tapas dishes to the bar area where we could then pick and choose. While we waited we shared some potatas bravas which is one of my favourite dishes. Crispy potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce and aioli, delicious!

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We helped ourselves to delicate pastry parcels filled with spinach; lightly battered squid; crispy, salty green peppers; Spanish tortilla; olives; chorizo…there were so many dishes on offer, there was no way we could try them all! I would definitely hurry back to try more when I’m next in Barcelona.

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At the end of the meal we were given a complementary glass of bubbly by the waiter which was a nice touch. Each dish had a cocktail stick in it, some were different colours, some were different shapes. These represented the price of the dish and we were charged according to the number of sticks we had at the end. This was by far my favourite meal in Barcelona and I would recommend it to anyone visiting the city.

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We didn’t have paella, but really enjoyed trying different tapas dishes and just picking and sharing a few different dishes at each meal. We also visited La Boqueria food market, just off La Ramblas. This was great, and reminded me of Borough Market, back in London. There were meat and fish stalls, fresh fruit and veg and cheeses and hams.

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The weather was gorgeous, and with the good food and beautiful architecture, it was a great little girly holiday! I will definitely go back to Barcelona, it’s a city for the senses with so many sights to see and delicious food to taste, including really delicious ice cream, that I think there must be lots more to explore.

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