Saucy Spinach & Artichoke

If I’m honest, I actually created this sauce with absolutely no thought process at all. I came home from work last week and just pulled whatever I had in the fridge out and somehow this was the end result.
So when a colleague of mine asked me what it was the next day for lunch, I actually had to think about it and remember how I made it.
It just shows how robotic the daily grind can be I guess!

When I was trying to remember the thought process behind it, I remember thinking that I couldn’t face another bowl of wilted spinach – as much as I love a good bowl of spinach with my protein of the day, I have been eating copious amounts of the stuff these past few weeks to build up my immune system and overall greenness now that we are heading into Autumn.

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So instead of pouring the usual boiling water over my pot of spinach, I emptied a jar of artichoke hearts in olive oil in instead and sprinkled with some seasoning and crushed garlic.
I whipped out the hand blender and before I knew it, I was heating up a fabulous fusion of greens and garlic to pour over steamed salmon and new potatoes.
All I can say is that this meal did not last long on the plate and luckily I had used lots of spinach so there was enough sauce leftover for another two portions. This made me very happy.

The sauce keeps well in the fridge and can be reheated either in the microwave at work or on the hob at home, whatever you’ve got time for.
It goes ridiculously well with salmon but I also lashed it through some penne pasta (like a pesto almost) and it was uber delish!

It’s a really tasty way to get your greens in if you’re not their biggest fan but want to up your game.

If you do give it a go, let me know what you teamed it with for some inspo of my own!

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Ingredients

100 grams Fresh Baby Spinach
1 jar Artichoke Hearts in Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil from the jar
1 Clove Garlic
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Strain the jar of Artichoke Hearts but save the oil as it can be reused.
Add all of the ingredients listed above into a large bowl.
Using a hand blender, blend all of your ingredients until it reaches the desired consistency,  I like to leave mine a bit pulpy or unblended for extra texture but of course, it’s up to yourself how far you want to go with it.
When you’re happy with the consistency, transfer the sauce from the bowl to a hot, oiled frying pan and stir quickly for a few minutes until it has been cooked through.
Pour this over cooked salmon or chicken or whatever way you like and enjoy a healthy serve of green goodness that tastes incredible and makes those run-of-the-mill dinners taste a whole lot better

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Butternut Beauty Soup

This bowl of butternut goodness is one of my all-time favourites when it comes to soup.
It’s cheap and easy to make, tastes delicious and is very kind to those trying to shift a few pounds.
Weight Watchers have been singing the Butternut’s praises for years and I must say I have to agree.

I’m already leaning very close to the autumn and winter dishes as the steaming hot and comforting meals associated with the season are some of the best out there! Stews, soups, slow cooker Sundays and one-pot wonders are some of my favourite kind of foods so I thought I’d start early to give you all some inspiration for the cold evenings to come.

It doesn’t take much to whip together a bowl of Squash Soup you’ll be glad to know. The only elbow grease required is the peeling and deseeding of the butternut itself but once that’s out of the way, you’re on the home stretch!

Tip: If you like a bit of spice like myself or want to help your metabolism, add a little extra chili to the mix, chili and squash go hand in hand in terms of flavour combinations! Sweet and spicy 😉

Ingredients

1 medium – large Butternut Squash
2 Carrots (optional)
750 ml – 1 ltr Water (depending on how thin/thick you like your soup)
1 Chicken or Vegetable Stock cube (whatever you prefer, both work great!)
1 medium Brown Onion
1 Clove Garlic
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. Toasted Pumpkin Seeds – you can use the ones from the Butternut when you deseed.

For Spicy Squash Soup:
½ Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
½ Tsp. Smoked Paprika
½ – 1 Tsp. Chili Flakes (personal preference here)

For Sweet Squash Soup:
½ Tsp. Smoked Paprika
½ cup fresh Parsley
½ 330 ml tin of Coconut Milk*

And for the best of both, add all of the above to the mix! Each option is just as fab as the other!

Method

Put the water for your stock onto boil in a large pot on the hob.
Heat olive oil on a pan on the hob also.
Chop the onion and garlic coarsely and add to the pan.
Cook until brown and aromatic and remove from heat.
When your water is boiled, add the stock cube and mix until fully dissolved/combined.
Peel, deseed and dice the Butternut Squash into small – medium cubes.
If you’re adding carrots, chop them at this stage too.
Add cooked garlic and onion to the pot of stock and then add the diced Butternut (and carrots).
Reduce the pot to a low heat and stir occasionally until the Butternut is half–way cooked.
Gradually add and stir in your seasoning.
*If you are adding coconut milk, do not add it until later on.
Continue to simmer your soup mix until your Butternut is fully cooked through – this usually takes about twenty minutes from adding it to the pot depending on how big you have diced the Butternut pieces.
When you are happy that the vegetables have been thoroughly cooked, remove the pot from the heat and whip out your hand blender!
Blend your soup mix to the consistency you like – I love my soup very thick so I don’t blend for too long.
Return the pot to the low heated hob and do a taste test.
Add any extra seasoning or water as desired until you reach the flavour and texture that you’re looking for.
*If you are adding coconut milk, you can stir it in at this stage, nice and gradually.
Leave to simmer for another couple of minutes, remove from the heat and pour into a warm soup bowl.
Sprinkle the toasted pumpkin seeds on top for some extra crunch.

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Sprinkle some extra smoked paprika along with toasted pumpkin seeds to serve

Bangin’ Blackbean Burgers

The idea for this recipe came from a few different sources over the past couple of weeks.

My sister and I visited The Happy Pear café in Greystones, Co. Wicklow a few weeks ago where they were being served and although I didn’t order one on my visit, I saw plenty of other people get them and they didn’t last long on their plates.

I’ve also been looking into ways to introduce new sources of protein other than chicken and turkey onto my plate and plant-based proteins and legumes kept popping up in my research.

This research also ties in with the new list of foods I can and can’t have due to my extensive food allergies and it ticks all the boxes!

Several Food Bloggers that I admire and take inspiration from have also tried their hand at this recipe so I figured I’d review several versions of this recipe and create my own.

 So I had the packet of black beans sitting in the pantry for the last couple of weeks and just couldn’t seem to find an appropriate time to try these bad boys out. The last few weeks and especially weekends have been pretty hectic for me with work and social plans and I wanted to dedicate my whole self to this experiment. The perfect opportunity came up at the weekend when a long lost friend made last minute plans for a flying visit and I decided to treat her to something special and homemade instead of heading out for dinner. I spent most of the Saturday morning prepping and tasting and setting and they were ready to cook just in time for my dear friend to arrive.

 We enjoyed the burgers with a lovely spiralized salad, sweet potato fries and a cool, crisp glass of white wine while we caught up with each other.

They were absolutely delicious if I do say so myself and I had a really strong feeling of fullness when I was finished, which is always a good sign!

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Ingredients

200 grams dried black beans, rinsed and strained
1 Litre of boiling water
Dash of Olive Oil
1 medium – large brown onion
1 clove Garlic
2 Carrots
½ cup almond flour, rolled oats, breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
½ Tsp. Ground Coriander
½ Tsp. Chili Flakes
¼ Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Salt & Pepper to taste

To Serve:
Sliced tomato, grated cheddar, gem lettuce leaves, red onion, burger bun or whatever other condiments you like to serve with a burger patty.

Method

Add rinsed black beans to a large pot on the hob, add water and cook the black beans according to the packet instructions.
While waiting for the black beans to cook, chop the onion and garlic very finely and place to one side.
Shred or grate the carrots and also place to one side separate to the onion and garlic.
Combine herbs and spices in a small bowl and mix together.
Heat olive oil on a frying pan and once hot, add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper.
Once the onion is translucent, add shredded carrots and spice mix and cook until carrots are soft.
Remove pan from the heat.
When the black beans are cooked, rinse and drain and pour into a large mixing bowl.
Mash the black beans using a potato masher and add the contents of the frying pan.
Also add the soy sauce and almond flour/rolled oats and combine the entire mix thoroughly and evenly.
Create 4-6 burger patties depending on how big you want them by taking a large chunk of the mix and forming the patty in your hand.
Wrap each patty in cling film and place in the fridge for about 1 – ½ hours or in the freezer for 30 minutes to set.
When ready, heat some oil on a frying pan again and cook each patty for about 4-5 minutes each side.
Once cooked and heated through, remove from the heat and serve as desired.

Spiralized Squash Spaghetti

I have had this recipe in my head for months now and I have finally gotten around to trying it out! I did give it a go a good while back but the way in which I cooked the squash did not turn out so good and I really didn’t like the end result. I had boiled the spiralized squash and then added it to the pan to sauté with the seasoning but it just didn’t work and the squash tasted mushy and yawk! So I dumped it and left this one on the side line for a while.

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So I picked up some squash last week as I was in the mood for squash soup (post coming soon) and thought I would give my squash spaghetti another go before I whizz it into a soulful bowlful of squashy goodness. I thought about my favourite way to eat squash usually and it was of course, roasted with some oil and garlic so I thought I would apply the same concept to my spaghetti. Let me tell you the result was simply gorgeous! I absolutely devoured the full bowl of squash spaghetti and had to go out and buy more for my soup! This is a really great way to substitute regular pasta and is so filling. As this is only the basic spaghetti recipe, you can vary the seasoning and other meal components to this once you have mastered the spaghetti part! I have visions of roast pepper pesto with chicken and sundried tomatoes tossed through the spaghetti or a rich mince Bolognese piled on top.

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I strongly urge you to give this one a go if you’ve got the Spiralizer or any other kitchen appliance that does a similar job like a Julien. If you do try it and put your own spin on it, I’d love to hear what you teamed it with and how you got on. Leave any comments or suggestions you like below.

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Ingredients

1 medium – large Butternut Squash
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 clove Garlic
Salt & Pepper to taste
Additional Seasoning if desired

Method

Preheat the oven to 190 Degrees Celcius.
Line an oven tray with parchment paper and grease with some oil.
Top and tail the butternut, cut in half from top to bottom, peel off the skin and de-seed.
Using your Spiralizer or Julien or whatever appliance you opt for, create your spaghetti.
In a bowl big enough to fit all the spaghetti, toss this through with the olive oil and seasoning.

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Spread the squash spirals out on the oven tray and pop in the oven to roast for about 15 minutes or until the squash starts to brown.
Give the tray a shake to turn the squash half way through yto ensure even cooking.
Once the squash is cooked to your satisfaction, serve it as you would regular spaghetti.
If you want to add any more ingredients like a protein, more veg or a sauce, you can do so at this point.
Serve and enjoy.

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Innocent Ice Cream

I know this post is a bit late to the party as the weather has already begun to change on us but ice cream is nice no matter what time of year, let’s be honest!
I am a big ice cream fan, it’s one of the only deserts I actually considering ordering if I’m out for dinner and have any room left.
I have also been trying to brainstorm fun ways to get my 5 a day and to also adhere to my restricted food allowance.
As most dairy is now off limits for me, I thought I would use almond milk and banana as an alternative to yoghurt and regular ice cream and I was pretty chuffed with the results.
I am presently obsessed with pineapple and find myself buying a fresh one almost every week to snack on.

Pineapple is virtually fat free with 1mg of fat per 100 grams of pineapple and only 50 calories.
It is also high in fibre and Vitamin C which makes it an all-round good fruit to have.
When you combine it with banana and almond milk, you’re creating a pretty healthy and guilt free treat that tastes like it should be far naughtier.

So if you have 5 minutes to spare, why not give it a crack?

Ingredients

½ Sliced Banana, frozen
2 cups chopped Pineapple, frozen
½ cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

Method

Take banana and pineapple out of the freezer and let it soften slightly for about 20 – 30 minutes
Pop all 3 ingredients into the food blender, Nutribullet or use your hand blender (a recent phenomenon for me).
Combine all the ingredients until smooth and creamy – or until it resembles ice cream.
Scoop into a desert bowl and enjoy.

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Simple, quick and tastes amazing!!