Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Vegan Chili

Vegetarian Chilli

This makes enough to do at least 4 people for 2 days.

I change the boiling water that the lentils sit in a couple of times, it goes very black. I frain them in a sieve. I use the same sieve then later on to rinse the chickpeas and the kidney beans.

2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 chili pepper, chopped (if you want it less spicy only use half a one)
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped into cubes
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1" cubes
10 oz green lentils
3 cans chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
800 ml low-salt vegetable stock (Kallo do a low salt organic version)
1 can chickpeas
2 cans red kidney beans

Sour cream, grated cheese and tortilla chips or flour tortillas to serve


  1. Put lentils in big bowl and pour over boiling water. Leave to sit for 30 mins. Drain and rinse. 
  2. Heat 1 tbsp rapeseed oil in a big saucepan. Fry onions, garlic and chilli pepper with the cumin and paprika for a few mins until softened a bit and the flavours have released.
  3. Add the peppers, carrot, celery, sweet potato and lentils. Cook for 10 mins, stirring.
  4. Add the tomatoes, puree and stock and give it a good stir. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 mins until the lentils and carrots are soft. Add the chickpeas 20 minutes into this stage.
  5. Add the beans. Simmer for 5 more minutes to heat through. Serve with the toppings and tortillas and enjoy!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Roast chicken and Mediterranean Vegetable Wrap

My favourite place to eat in town is Café Lucia. Their potato wedges are the best I've ever tasted and their food is just...yum. So I'm on a mission to recreate some of my favourites :D I love the fillings in their wraps but sometimes find that the wrap itself is a bit over cooked and tough. So if you wrap these in foil but don't seal the foil, it stops the wrap getting tough but the air flow also stops them getting soggy.

Roast Chicken and Mediterranean Vegetable Wrap
2 large / 3 small chicken fillets
2 courgettes, halved lengthways and sliced
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 tbsp tomato purée
Punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
4 tortilla wraps
Reggae Reggae Sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Put some oil into an ovenproof dish. Put the chicken in the dish ten turn them over so they're coated in oil. 
  2. Pour some reggae reggae sauce over the chicken fillets so they have a good coating on them. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to dish, cover with tinfoil and place in the preheated oven.
  3. Check chicken after 15 mins. Turn fillets over and drizzle more Reggae Reggae sauce over them. Add a bit more water, cover up again and put back in the oven.
  4. Check again after 15 mins. Slice open the thickest part of a couple of the fillets and see if they're nearly fully cooked.
  5. Place back in the oven uncovered for 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken slightly.
  6. Take out of oven and slice chicken up into 1/2 inch slices.
  1. Heat some oil in a saucepan. Add the garlic, peppers, onions and courgettes and fry over a medium heat. Add in a couple of tablespoons of reggae reggae sauce and a couple of tablespoons of water. Stir and continue sautéing until softened. 
  2. Add the tomato purée and some more water if there's not much liquid on there. Bring back to the boil and continue to simmer until everything's ready.
  3. Grease four large squares of tinfoil. Place a wrap on each square. Divide the vegetable mixture between the four wraps. 
  4. Divide the chicken slices into four portions and put one portion into each wrap on top of the veg. 
  5. Spoon over some of the sauce that the chicken was cooked in. 
  6. Fold the right side of each wrap in, then the left, then fold up the bottom. 
  7. Wrap the tinfoil around each filled wrap, but don't seal it or the wraps will go soggy. I completely wrap up the bottom to prevent leaks but leave the top open.
  8. Place these parcels on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 5 minutes until reheated through and the edges of the wrap are firm - but not too hard. 
  9. Serve with a salad and potato wedges.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Pasta Olé

I used to make this dish regularly, and rediscovered it recently! So much yum. It's a comfort dish through and through. I got the recipe from my other mother :D

You can use whatever pasta shapes you have in the cupboard for this recipe really, I use fusilli - but whatever you have is fine; I've used spaghetti for this before.

Pasta Olé
400 g dried pasta shapes
500 g minced beef
3 - 4 chicken fillets, chopped into small chunks
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pepper, chopped (doesn't matter what colour, I use red or yellow)
1 tub of sour cream
2 tins of tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp chilli powder
200 g cheddar/mozzarella, grated


  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease the bottom and sides of a 12x12 ovenproof dish. 
  2. Boil pasta until it's al dente, drain, stire through some olive oil and set aside.
  3. Heat some oil in a big saucepan or frying pan.
  4. Fry onions, garlic and pepper over a medium heat. Add a splash of hot water to keep it from getting burned. Fry for a few minutes.
  5. Add the mince or chicken and spices. If you want this dish spicier, add more chilli flakes. Season with pepper and a bit of salt. 
  6. Fry until the meat is cooked through. If it seems to be getting a bit dry, add more hot water. Stir every so often so nothing sticks or gets burned. 
  7. When the meat is done, add the tomato purée and stir well to coat everything. Add the tins of tomato and bring back to the boil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes to reduce it down a bit.
  8. Take off the heat and add the sour cream. Put back on the heat, stir to combine and bring back to the boil. Taste the mixture and see if it needs more salt, pepper or spices added.
  9. Transfer the cooked pasta to the greased dish and spread over the bottom. Season. 
  10. Carefully pour the meat mixture over the pasta somewhat evenly. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top.
  11. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted and starting to brown.
  12. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad if you wish.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Oven Chicken

This recipe warms you from the inside out! I started making this for my mum when she was under the weather for ages with one bug after another in an attempt to give her an immune boost, and now it's in my regular cooking rotation :)

If you want herby chicken instead of spiced, leave out the spices and use dried mixed herbs instead.

Oven Baked Chicken
4 chicken fillets
2 onions, cut into wedges
6 cloves of garlic, peeled but whole
4 chunks of celery, washed
Chilli Powder
Chilli flakes (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. 
  2. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into an ovenproof dish. When the oven is hot, put the dish into the oven to warm up while you're doing your preparation - if the oil is a bit hot when you're adding everything it makes the veg less greasy. 
  3. Brush each side of the chicken fillets with olive oil. Shake some spice over each side - if you want it nice and hot, add the chilli flakes to each side too. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Arrange the veg and chicken in the dish, pour some boiling water in over it until the chicken is nearly covered. 
  5. Cover the dish with tinfoil. Bake in the oven for 40 mins, turning the chicken over halfway through.
  6. Take the tinfoil off and bake for a further 10 - 15 mins until the chicken is browned and cooked through.
  7. Serve with baby potatoes and some oven roasted vegetables - or as a broth with the water from the dish along with some crusty bread.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Egg Bake

This is a comfort dish that I make when I want something to use up whatever's in the fridge that needs using up - be it rashers and sausages, vegetables, ham... you can throw anything in here really!

There's not much preparation involved, and the eggs pack a protein punch. Depending on what you put in it, it can be really healthy and provide lots of nutrients...or you can put sausages and rashers in for a real comfort meal :P It takes a while in the oven though, so you could use this time to wash the pan and chop up some crusty bread...or just pour a glass of wine...whatever.

This recipe makes about a 12x12 dish, and depending on how big you cut the pieces, can serve between 4 and 9 people.

Egg Bake
9 eggs, whisked with about 150 ml water

Suggested fillings:
Filling A
2 onions, chopped
4 good-quality sausages, chopped
4 rashers, chopped and rinds removed
1/2 a white pudding, halved lengthways and thickly sliced
4 tomatoes, chopped up
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin

Filling B
2 onions, chopped
Bag of spinach
Tub of cherry tomatoes, halved
Tub of goat's cheese

Filling C
2 onions, chopped
2 peppers, whatever colours you have, chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 courgette, chopped
6 mushrooms, sliced
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin


For the Fillings
Filling A
  1. Heat up some oil in the frying pan. When it's good and hot, add the sausages, rashers, pudding and onions to the pan. Season with the spices and some black pepper.
  2. Fry until rashers are brown. Remove rasher bits and add tomatoes. 
  3. Fry until veg is softened and sausages and pudding are nicely browned. 
  4. Pour mix into greased dish and spread evenly around the base.

Filling B
  1. Heat oil in the frying pan. Add onions and sauté for a few minutes. Season with some black pepper and a bit of salt.
  2. Add the tomatoes halves and cook a few minutes more. 
  3. A minute or two before they're nice and soft, turn the heat down, add the spinach and cover, to wilt the spinach. 
  4. Turn into the greased dish, and spread out evenly. 
  5. Dot the goat's cheese over by the teaspoonful. 

Filling C
  1. Heat oil in the frying pan.
  2. Add everything bar the tomatoes and mushrooms to the pan. Fry for 5 mins. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes. Season with the spices and some salt and black pepper.
  3. Fry until everything's nicely softened. 
  4. Tip into your greased dish and spread evenly throughout the dish.
For the Eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
  2. Crack the eggs into a bowl. Beat them and mix the water in until they're a uniform yellow colour. Season with black pepper and some dried mixed herbs. Set aside. You can do your filling now. 
  3. When your filling is done, and in the greased dish, pour your egg mix evenly over the filling.
  4. If you wish to do so, sprinkle some grated cheese over the top.
  5. Place in the oven and cook for 30-40 mins until the egg is set and the top is browned
  6. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Spicy Carrot, Parsnip and Red Lentil Soup

So I made this soup because carrots and parsnips had been 39c a pack in Lidl, and I stocked right up. The days went by, I still hadn't used them and the last thing I wanted was for them to go to waste. I had a look at what else was in the kitchen and found a bag of red lentils, also approaching its BBE and a couple of sweet potatoes that had been there for a while as well.

I was in the mood for soup, so this recipe was born! It's really easy and so tasty too. If you don't want it too spicy, you can leave out the chilli and just add a shake of chilli powder instead to add a bit of warmth to it. This is a lovely winter soup, warms you right to the bones! The red lentils thicken the soup, when cooked they have a puréed consistency - makes for a really thick soup!

This soup is not only really low in fat, it's also loaded with vitamin A for eye and skin health, antioxidants for cancer prevention, folic acid for healthy pregnancies, vitamin C for general health and immune-system boost and contains loads of fibre for a healthy digestive tract.

Spicy Carrot, Parsnip & Red Lentil Soup
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 onions, chopped
1/2 red chilli, finely chopped (increase or decrease for more/less heat)
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
5 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
200 g split red lentils
1.2 litre of vegetable stock - I only use like 1/2 a stock cube for this to limit the salt content - or if I've made a dinner the night before, I save the carrot/broccoli/potato water, put an onion and some garlic and use that instead! Not exactly proper stock but tastes just fine.


  1. Heat the oil in a nice big saucepan.
  2. Add the onions, chilli, garlic and spices to the pan, and sweat them until they have softened and released their aroma. 
  3. Add the carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes, sauté for a few minutes; add the lentils and sauté for a few minutes more. 
  4. Add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 mins, until the vegetables are soft.
  5. Mash with a potato masher, or if you have one a stick blender. If it's too thick, add some boiling water, more stock or some normal or almond milk to thin it out a bit. Heat through again. Taste and season with black pepper and salt to taste.
  6. Serve with warm crusty bread or focaccia. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Garlic Chilli Prawns

This is a super easy recipe that looks fancy, but really isn't. And it's so full of flavours as well - the aroma in the kitchen when these are cooking is amazing!

You can use this recipe as a starter serving for 4, or a main for 2. Once again, I buy all my ingredients for this one in Lidl - convenient and affordable! This is my fiancé's favourite meal at the moment, so I've made it heaps of times - start to finish it takes about 20 mins to make - so great for a started for a big dinner or just a really quick meal on its own.

Garlic Chilli Prawns
2 packs of prawns
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 chilli, finely chopped
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
~30g butter (a good knob of butter really)

Demi-baguette, sliced
butter and oil


  1. Put the oil and the butter on the frying pan, and heat until the butter is melted and starts sizzling. Now, I say rapeseed oil because that's my personal preference due to its lower levels of saturated fats and higher levels of heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids, but olive oil is totally perfect too. 
  2. Tip the minced garlic and finely chopped chillis into the pan. Turn the heat down to moderate at this stage so the garlic doesn't burn. 
  3. When the veg has softened a bit, approx 2 mins, add the prawns to the pan. Add a good splash of boiling water as well to create a bit of a sauce around them. 
  4. Cook the prawns for 2 or 3 mins on either side. Add more boiling water if it dries up too much. 
  5. Scoop the prawns and veg out into the serving dish. Pour the liquid from the pan over them. 
  6. Place the dish into a warmed oven to keep them hot. 
  7. Put some more butter and oil on the pan - not too much this time. Place the sliced bread onto the hot pan and fry until crispy and golden on the one side. Serve with the prawns for dipping.

Sizzling Chicken Fajitas

This recipe is a favourite in my house - and it's really easy to put together - perfect for a midweek meal or as a weekend treat!

It's pretty healthy too - lots of tinned tomatoes, a great source of lycopene and potassium; avocados are also a fantastic potassium source and are loaded with heart-healthy oleic acid and vitamin E, and lutein for healthy eyes; chicken is a great low-fat source of protein, contains a decent amount of tryptophan, an amino acid known for its ability to increase seratonin levels thus helping to alleviate the symptoms of depression; chili for revving the metabolism, and the cheese provides a decent source of calcium. If you're watching your calorie intake, use low-fat cheese and sour cream. Wholemeal wraps are an option too for an added bit of fibre.

It's adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe that I saw years ago, and it's a firm favourite now. It's also really affordable - all the ingredients are available to buy in Lidl, so it's a one-shop dish as well!

I make these fajitas with chicken for myself, and prawns for my fiancé. It's very easy to adapt to your own specific tastes. For a vegetarian take on this recipe, leave out the meat and use chickpeas instead. Figure out how many chillies you like as well - mine is spicy enough for me, but if it's too spicy use less, but if you want more of a kick add in more chilies.

Sizzling Spicy Chicken Fajitas
Serves 4
For the Guacamole
2 ripe avocados
1/2 red onion, finely chopped

For the Salsa
2 cans of tomatoes
1/2 red onion
2 cloves of garlic (increase or decrease as per your own taste)
bunch of coriander, or a shake of dried coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp paprika
1 chilli

For the Filling
4 chicken fillets, chopped into strips
2-3 red onions, cut into wedges
2 red peppers, sliced
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
Bunch of coriander, or a couple of shakes of dried coriander
2 tbsp rapeseed oil

8 tortilla wraps
Low-fat sour cream
About 200g grated cheese

For the filling
  1. Preheat oven to about 150 C.
  2. Mix all the filling ingredients together, including the oil, and mix well. Season and set aside while you make the guacamole and salsa. 
  3. When everything is ready to go, wrap the tortilla wraps in tinfoil and put in the preheated oven to warm up. 
  4. Ideally, a griddle pan is perfect for this, but a normal frying pan works just fine too. Heat about a tablespoon of oil on the pan - get it good and hot.
  5. Tip the chicken mix into the pan, and cook for about 8 minutes until the peppers are softened and the chicken is cooked through. 
  6. Serve in the pan at the table, with the wraps, guacamole, sour cream, salsa and grated cheddar. Enjoy!

For the guacamole
  1. Cut the avocados in half, take the stone out and scoop the flesh out into a bowl. The riper the avocado the better. Mash the flesh with a fork or potato masher, or if you have it a hand blender. 
  2. Mix the finely chopped onion in, season with salt and pepper and set aside. If you make this in advance, cover it and refrigerate it. 

For the salsa
  1. Throw everything into a blender jug and whizz until smooth. If you don't have a blender that's ok too, just finely chop everything (make sure to buy chopped tinned tomatoes) and mix everything up - it'll be a chunkier salsa but that's OK too.

I started this blog on a whim, so next time I make fajitas, I will take photographic evidence and update this post!