Aubergine, Red Pepper & Olive Pasta Sauce

For those of you who have read some of my previous posts, you will know that I am allergic to a zillion different foods and have had to cut out the majority of these from my diet. That unfortunately means that I have slipped into the habit of creating recipes based on the foods I am allowed eat. But have no fear! When creating my plan for 2017 for this little blog, I vowed to try and incorporate some of my forbidden foods into my recipes again so that you don’t have to miss out like I do. Even thinking about what I can’t have anymore is making me pine for them! I actually miss yogurt so much. And eggs…and mushrooms…and tomatoes 

So this little creation sticks mostly to my list of allowed foods but I have also used some tomato puree from concentrate in the recipe so you guys are not deprived. This is a great recipe for a really rich and filling Pasta Sauce using chunky vegetables with intense flavours to create a very indulgent meal without most of the naughty additions.

The key to this sauce is to keep the vegetables whole and not to pulverise them down during the process. You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in a jar in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze it either. Whatever you decide to do, decide to make a batch either way – it’s just gorgeous! This sauce is full of flavour and healthy vegetables and will leave you feeling super satisfied. I used Spaghetti as it was all I had in the pantry but I would also recommend Penne as this always goes well with Pasta Sauce. I also added a sprinkle of chilli flakes to the mix as I can hardly have any meal without them these days but this is up to you if you want to add them. The same goes for any other of your favourite seasonings you might want to add.

As always, this meal is cheap to prepare, quick to cook and so comforting to eat so go ahead and give it a try! Thanks for staying tuned xXx

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 medium sized Aubergine AKA Eggplant
2 large Red Peppers
½ cup Black or Green Olives, halved
1 Clove Garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. concentrated Tomato Puree
1 cup Vegetable Stock
Salt & Pepper to taste
½ Tsp. Chilli Flakes (if desired, optional)
2-3 Tbsp. Olive Oil (maybe a little more)
Enough Pasta of your choice to serve

Method

Finely dice the Aubergine and Peppers – about 1cm cubes.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot and add the crushed garlic.
Stir the garlic until it has browned and then add the diced vegetables to the pot.
Add another tablespoon of olive oil and stir it in to coat the vegetables.
Continue to stir the mix until the vegetables start to soften and cook through.
Add the seasoning and tomato puree and stir through the mixture.
Pour approximately half of the stock into the pot and bring it to the boil.
Once bubbling, reduce the heat to a low-medium temperature and stir the mixture occasionally.
Put the pasta of your choice on to cook as per the packet instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, continue to stir the sauce mixture every now and then.
About half way through the pasta’s cooking time (approx. 6-7 minutes), blitz the sauce quickly with a hand blender to break up the vegetables and combine the sauce to make it thicker.
*Do not fully blend the sauce as you would if you were making a soup – only blitz for about 30 seconds – you want the sauce to remain chunky.
Return the pot to the heat on a simmer with the lid off to reduce the excess moisture.
Slowly pour in small tipples of the remaining stock, stirring it through and letting it absorb.
You may be left with some excess stock but it’s better to have made a bit extra than not have enough.
By the time you have cooked and strained your pasta, your sauce should be just about ready.
Add the cooked pasta to the pot of sauce and  stir it all through so that the pasta is fully coated.
Serve piping hot.

 

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Roast Vegetable Lasagne

Lasagne is one of my all-time favourites comfort foods. It’s hearty and filling and packed with flavour. It’s a great one to make for meal prep too as it freezes well and one large lasagne tray can give you about 6 portions – ideal!

I have been packing in the carbs since the weather turned, I know I know, I’m so ashamed but I couldn’t fight the cravings any longer and these cold winter nights were just asking for it. So I wanted to balance out the badness a bit by adding more vegetables.

I tried a gorgeous Mediterranean lasagne in the Happy Pear restaurant during the summer and I also make a mean zucchini lasagne so I started the thought process with both of these ideas and the below was their love child.

A colourful combo of roast veg, tomato and white sauce and lots of cheese, this vegetarian lasagne alternative is definitely a Winning Winter Warmer of a meal.

It’s also economical to buy with all the ingredients coming to about €10 and its quick and simple to put together.

A basic jar of tomato sauce will do if you’re not up to making your own and I’ve also put in some different ways to create your own white sauce from scratch too if you want to keep up the healthy buzz.

I would also recommend using parmesan cheese to bank the calories but feel free to drown it in mozzarella if you so please. These sub-zero temperatures leave a little extra room for the good stuff 😉

I served mine with a few handfuls of spinach leaves and a drizzle of balsamic which went really well as a side. There’s loads going on in this dish though so it can be served on its own too if you want.

A lot of the recipes I was researching included eggplant but I’m not a fan so I didn’t use it but if you want to mix it up a little, there’s plenty more vegetables like eggplant you can use.

Whatever way you decide to make it, this dish is going to taste great and leave you feeling warm and full – enjoy!

 

Ingredients

2 Red onions, chopped into large wedges
1 Red Pepper, chopped
1 Green Pepper, chopped
1 Yellow Pepper, chopped
2 Zucchini, chopped
4 cloves Garlic, chopped
500 ml Tomato Sauce*
500 ml White / Bechamel Sauce*
225 grams Lasagne Sheets
50 grams Parmesan, finely grated
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dash of Olive Oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 220 Degrees Celsius.
In a large oven dish, mix all of the red onions, peppers and garlic with dash of oil and some seasoning.
Place the dish in the middle shelf of the oven and cook fr 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
Add some oil to a hot pan on the hob and fry the zucchini for about 4 minutes or until browned.
Transfer the fried zucchini to some kitchen towel and set aside.
After the 30 minutes, remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and add the zucchini.
Lower the oven to 200 Degrees Celsius.
If you are making your own tomato and white sauces from, do so now.
Here are the links to my own homemade sauces if you want to give them a try (the jars are usually OK too so whatever suits!)

Tomato Sauce:

https://clodaghscountertopblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/03/clos-bolognese-sauce/

You can just leave out the chopped veg – mushrooms, carrots and peppers. This will make a delish tomato sauce!

White Sauce:

https://clodaghscountertopblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/zucchini-lasagne/

There are a few white sauce alternatives you can use in this recipe. I also found this great link from another blogger’s website for lots of other white sauce ideas;

https://www.thehealthychef.com/2013/04/white-sauce-10-ways/


 

When both lasagne sauces are ready, remove half of the vegetable mix from the oven dish and spread the remaining veggies in one layer in the dish.
Pour half of the tomato sauce over the first layer of veggies and add a layer of lasagne sheets.
Add half of your white sauce mix.
Add the remaining veggies and repeat the step of adding tomato sauce, lasagne sheets and remaining white sauce.
Sprinkle the lasagne with the parmesan.
Place the lasagne in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown.
Serve your delicious vegetable lasagne with some side salad or on its own, whatever way you want – there is so much going on in this dish!

 

Root Vegetable & Potato Bake

I thought this might be a nice recipe to share with you all now that it’s coming up to the biggest dinner of the year – December 25th. These days everyone is looking to put their own individual twist on the classic meal and I thought this was lovely way to cook your vegetable and one of your many potato side dishes. Lets face it, there is always about 3 or 4 different types of potato sides on an Irish Christmas Dinner Table.

Now the only advice I can offer with this one is that you should only commit to it if you’re ready to slice all those veggies and not lose patience half way through. I used my Slicer Dicer so I didn’t have that worry – use one if you can, it will literally halve your preparationn time.

Christmas is such a special time of the year and I hope you all have some family or friends at your dinner table to share the day with. Hosting the Christmas Dinner is no easy feat, I have only done two in my lifetime so far and no matter how many helpers or time you give yourself, we all know it is a serious day of preparationn and timing accuracy.

I look forward to Christmas dinner in my family’s home so much every year, my mother always does such a stand out job. My sister and I missed a few Christmas’ over the past number of years from living abroad and it meant so much for us all to sit around together last year for the first time in 5 years.

With the Turkey and Ham usually being the main event, I’m sure many of you will agree that the side dishes that come with the meat are crucial and have to be delicious and plentiful. No amount of roast potatoes will ever be enough on the Christmas table 🙂

This veggie bake is rich and indulgent and has a great Christmas taste to it with the hint of nutmeg. Any root vegetables or potatoes can be used for this dish once they slice thinly for you and are suitable for baking, below can just be a serving suggestion.

I have a few more Christmas side dishes to share with you between now and the big day so keep an eye out if you feel like doing something a little different this year. You can also eat more of these sides too seen as they’re on the “clean” side 😉

Ingredients

2 Carrots
2 Rooster Potatoes
2 Parsnips
1 large Sweet Potato
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
300 grams White Sauce*
70 grams Parmesan, finely grated
½ Tsp. Ground Nutmeg
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 190 Degrees Celsius.
Rinse and peel, top and tail your vegetables accordingly.
Using a good, sharp vegetable knife or a vegetable slicer (love mine), thinly slice each of your root vegetables.
Grease a medium sized oven dish and layer up all of your root vegetable slices.
Prepare your white sauce as directed in whatever recipe, jar or packet you are using.
Here are a few ways to make your own white sauce;

White Sauce:

https://clodaghscountertopblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/zucchini-lasagne/

There are a few white sauce alternatives you can use in this recipe. I also found this great link from another blogger’s website for lots of other white sauce ideas;

https://www.thehealthychef.com/2013/04/white-sauce-10-ways/

Just before you finish the white sauce, stir in the nutmeg, crushed garlic and desired seasoning.
Pour the white sauce over the layered root vegetables making sure it reaches all the corners of the dish.
Sprinkle the parmesan on the top.
Add the dish to the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked and the top layer is golden brown.
Serve the bake as a side dish to any main meat, poultry or otherwise and maybe some steamed greens.
This veggie bake is really rich and creamy and such a good comfort food, It works as a great accompaniment to roast chicken (that’s what I had it with) and I bet it would be a great festive side to serve up over the holiday season.
Enjoy All! xx

Basic Banana Bread

Banana Bread is one of life’s simple pleasures.
It’s simple and tasty and such a good way to use up any uber-ripe bananas you didn’t get around to eating.
On a scale of one-to-sweet, my recipe is pretty savoury – maybe a 1 or a 2 and the verdict from the office guinea pigs was an all-round thumbs up.
I am much more of a Savoury than a Sweet so I pulled back on the sugar content of regular recipes and I was really happy with the result.

Banana Bread really is very easy and quick to make and will make a great breakfast-prep for a week in work. It is also lovely to pop in the oven early on a Saturday morning so those endless cups of tea that will be had over the weekend will have a yummy side kick.


If you have kids it’s also a fun way to get them into the kitchen and curious about baking. This was one of the favourites when I looked after a gorgeous brother and sister in Oz. We loved to bake and they had serious sweet-tooths so this was a cheeky way to get one of their 5-a-day in.


Depending on what recipe you use, there is still a significant amount of flour and sugar used in many Banana Bread recipes but I would still recommend a low-sugar recipe like below if you are looking to curb a craving but don’t want to dive head first into the biscuit tin.


Most of the ingredients you should already have on-hand if you are a standard enough baker – the ingredients required are very basic so it won’t cost you the earth to go out and get the goods you need to put this lovely little loaf together.


A great little tip my sister gave me too is if you don’t think you will use all the bananas before they do go off, chop them up and freeze them in individual portions to use for banana bread when you do feel like making some. They don’t take long to defrost and mash really well from frozen.


Banana Bread is also very photogenic as you can see from my pictures, trust me I’m not great at the old photo-taking but some foods just look great behind the lense 😉


As always folks, I hope you enjoy making this as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you. xx

Ingredients

3 very ripe Bananas
⅓ cup Butter, melted
⅓ – ½ cup Sugar or Sweetener (depending how sweet you want it)
1 Egg, beaten
1 Tsp. Vanilla Essence
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
Pinch of Salt
1 ½ cups Plain Flour
Handful of Flaked Almonds

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees Celsius.
In a large mixing bowl, add the bananas and mash them with a fork or potato masher.
Once the bananas are mashed, add the remainder of the ingredients – be sure to sieve in the flour!
Mix all of the ingredients together until a dough-like consistency is formed.
Pour into a greased bread tin.
Sprinkle the flaked almonds on the top and push them ever-so-slightly into the dough to secure them.
Pop the bread tin in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for about 50 minutes (until cooked through).
Once cooked, remove the loaf from the tin and let cool on a wire rack for about ten minutes.
Slice the loaf like you would a regular bread loaf and apply butter or jam or whatever your choice of topping is and serve!
So simple and sooo good!

Clo’s Chicken Pie

Happy New Year to all you Lovely Humans! If you are reading this, I hope you have read some of my other posts and if so, I would like to first of all thank you for even bothering 🙂 This blog started as something to do at the weekends, to share my love of cooking and develop my knowledge of healthy food, its benefits to my health and how to make it good enough to eat. I honestly have no idea if people are even reading it so if you are, thank you.

One of my 2017 Resolutions is to develop this blog more and explore other ways that I can share the benefits of healthy eating – and healthy cooking – with you all. I am almost finished a course in Nutrition and Food Science that I have found so informative and interesting. I have been jotting down so many new ideas for The Countertop so “watch this space” – lots of exciting posts and delicious recipes will be coming your way in 2017 if you stick with me.

So, I thought I would kick of the New Year with an easy one – the humble Chicken Pie. If like me, you are not fully ready to dive feet first into Clean January but want to ease yourself in instead, then this recipe is perfect! This pie has all the elements of an indulgent meal but it is in-fact quite the opposite. When you break it down, the ingredients are all generally very healthy – chicken breast, spinach, almonds. Yes, the pastry might be a tad indulgent but when weighed out against the rest of the ingredients you will have nothing to feel bad about. The trick here is the mixture’s sauce. It will look and taste like you’ve landed a pint of double cream over the chicken pieces when you have really just combined some yummy almonds and chicken stock together! I was very excited when this experiment worked and the result really is delicious.

It would be a great Sunday Dinner if you are at a loss as to what to cook today. It is a simple recipe with a truly comforting and tasty end result and will help you settle into Sunday evening nicely.

So I urge you all to give this one a go – a true comfort food to get us all back on track for a brand new year full of possibilities! xx

Ingredients (Serves 4)

320 gram Ready-Made Puff Pastry Roll
3 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast Fillets
2 cups Fresh Spinach Leaves
60 -80 grams Almonds
500 ml Chicken Stock in Water
1 Tbsp. Corn Flour
1 Brown Onion, coarsely chopped
1 Clove Garlic, crushed
Dash Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to season
1 Tsp. Dried Parsley

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees Celcius.
Grease a small-medium size oven dish and put to one side.
Chop the chicken fillets into small chunks.
Heat the olive oil on a frying pan on the hob.
Add the chopped onion and chicken pieces to the pan and fry until the chicken is cooked through and has browned.
Remove the pan from the heat.
In a food blender, processor, Nutribullet (whatever you have available), add the chicken stock, crushed garlic, almonds, dried parsley and seasoning.
Blend this mixture until it becomes smooth and creamy – add a little more almonds or stock until you reach your desired consistency.
Once you are happy with your sauce, return the frying pan to the heat and add the sauce.
Reduce the hob to a medium heat and stir the filling consistently for about a minute.
It is at this stage that you can use your own judgement – if you think the mixture needs some corn flour to thicken or more seasoning etc, play around with it at this point.
Once you are happy with the mixture, stir in the Spinach leaves and remove the pan from the heat.
Roll out the pre-rolled pastry and cut it out to cover the oven dish – leaving an extra few centimetres to cover the edges.
Pour the chicken filling from the pan into the oven dish.
Cover the mixture with the puff pastry, securing it tightly over the edges of the dish.
Place the dish on the middle shelf of the oven and cook as per the pastry’s cooking instructions (about 40 minutes usually).
Once the pastry has cooked through, remove this delicious pie from the oven and serve.
This will go great with many different sides. Try some fresh salad, sweet potato fries or steamed broccoli.
Delish!

 

Almond and Red Pepper Sauce

No matter how healthy I eat, there is nothing that can stop my hankering for pasta when I’m feeling the effects of an alcohol-filled Saturday night with my girls. This weekend we celebrated the first girl of our group’s Hen Weekend, it’s hard to believe one of us will be walking down the aisle in a few weeks and oh did we celebrate!

So pasta was on the brain for most of today and as usual, I caved and fired up that fusilli. To ease the guilt somewhat, I decided to team it up with a healthy, homemade pasta sauce and I must say, I was pretty impressed with the end result. Adding almonds to the mix gave this sauce a really creamy finish and gave me the feeling I was seriously indulging in a cream-based pasta sauce when really it was nothing of the sort.

I’m really chuffed with this one actually and I’m sure you will be too if you give it a try. Very simple and really yum – here is my Almond and Red Pepper Sauce.

Ingredients

2 Red Peppers, deseeded and chopped
1 clove Garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
60 grams Almonds
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a frying pan.
Once hot, add garlic and peppers to the pan and coo for about 2-3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let the peppers cool for about 10 minutes.
Add all of your ingredients including the garlic and peppers to a food blender, Nutribullet or you can use a hand blender and puree the entire mix until smooth and creamy.
Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions and drain.
Put cooked pasta back into the pot it was cooked in and pour in your pepper sauce.
Heat the sauce through until piping hot and serve.

This sauce can also be served as a dip too. I chopped up some carrots and had a dip and it was pretty delish!

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.

IMG_1429

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.

IMG_1427

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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Chili Basil Chicken

This is absolutely one of my favourite Asian dishes of all time! Not only does it taste amazing but my first experience of this dish was in one of the most beautiful places in the world and whenever I make this dish, I am full of fond memories.
You might be thinking “another Asian themed recipe” but the reason for this is the speed and convenience of the prep and cooking and also how clean and healthy the ingredients are.
This recipe also ticks all the boxes for my allergy list too so if you are suffering same, as some of you have written to talk to me about, this is defo one for you to try out!
This quick dish looks beautiful and can be served in a lunchbox the next day at work or as a romantic meal for two on a Friday night, it’s totally versatile!
The aromatic smells coming from the pan will fill your kitchen with those holiday vibes and will make sure this dish doesn’t last long on your plate.
I am getting very excited about this recipe so I hope you guys love it as much as I do. I’d love to know your feedback.

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Ingredients

200 grams Skinless, Boneless Chicken Fillets, chopped
1 Scallion,
1 cup Fresh Basil Leaves
2 cloves Garlic
1 Red Chili
2 Tsp. Soy Sauce
1 Tsp. Sugar / Sweetener
2 Tsp. Water
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, sugar and water.
Add olive oil to a frying pan and heat.
Chop the garlic cloves and your chili finely and add to the hot pan.
Chop your scallion and add the white end of it and your chicken pieces to the pan to cook.
When the chicken starts to brown, add your sauce from the bowl gradually until the water starts to fry off and the sauce looks nice and shiny.
Once you’re satisfied that the chicken is cooked thoroughly, toss through the green end of the scallion and the basil leaves.
Give the whole mix a quick stir to let the basil leaves wilt slightly and remove immediately from the heat.
This dish can be served on its own or with some rice, it’s up to you what you’re in the mood for.

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Let me know what you guys think!

Fabulous Falafel

 Even before the allergists told me I can barely eat anything I love anymore, I have had a bit of an obsession with Middle Eastern food of late.
Luckily for me, most of the staple ingredients used in creating Middle Eastern dishes are on the list of foods I can have so keep an eye out for some Lebanese or Moroccan style flavours coming through the Countertop over the next while.
Hummus is one of my favourite foods ever and I eat it by the tub-full. A great accompaniment to hummus is of course Falafel and it just so happens to be quick, cheap and healthy to make.
A hummus and falafel dish with some side salad or grilled veg is such a winner of a meal and will keep you full and energised for hours.
I had it as my lunch last week and I was the envy of the office.
All you really need for this creation is a decent food processor and the oven so give it a lash and let me know how you get on.

Ingredients

400 gram tin of Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 clove Garlic
1 sprig Fresh Parsley
1 Tsp. Ground Coriander
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
½ Tsp. Salt
2 Tbsp. Regular Flour or Flour alternative
Dash Olive Oil

Method

If you want to bake your Falafels, add all the ingredients above to a food processor, Nutribullet or whatever appliance you use and whizz.
Preheat the oven to 200 Degrees Celcuis and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Take a small chunk of the falafel mix and squish it into a small patty or ball depending on your preference.
If it is not sticking together, add a bit more oil and give it another whizz but be careful not to add too much either.
When the oven is hot, add the tray to the middle shelf and let your falafels bake away for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and heated through.

If you want to fry your Falafels, add all the ingredients as above.
Heat some more oil on the pan.
Falafels cook better on the pan if they are in more of a patty shape than a ball shape so my advice would be to create a little Falafel ball and then press it down slightly to create a patty.
Pop your falafels on the pan and fry each side until golden brown and you’re happy the patty has been heated through.

As I mentioned earlier, Falafel goes great with hummus so why not try whizz up some homemade hummus too?!
You can find my recipe for this right here!

https://clodaghscountertopblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/homemade-hummus/

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Chili Salted Shredded Chicken

So the last two weeks have been spent clearing out my fridge, freezer and pantry with all the foods I can no longer have and replenishing the empty shelves with those that I can.
The first week was spent researching online looking at vegan and vegetarian ways to get enough protein in my daily meals.
It’s not that I don’t like meat, I certainly do but I also like to have at least two days a week that are meat free and at least one meal a day that is meat free.
This is where my eggs and yogurt played such a huge role in my meal plans and why I have had to look for alternatives.

This so happened to mean lots of legumes, grains and beans which I don’t mind at all but the impact this had on my tummy was quite severe the first week.
As I’m not used to consuming much starchy carbohydrates and usually try to stick to a plate of mostly protein and vegetables, the re-introduction of these types of foods made me feel tired, sluggish, fatigued and FAT!
I was probably eating a bit more than necessary anyway as I was cooking up batches of these grains and beans to experiment with different recipes but it definitely was a shock to the system.
But the second week wasn’t too bad at all, I’m digesting the new foods a lot better and my body isn’t missing the old foods as much. Of course it’s been lots of fun having to wing it and cook up these random ingredients with the hope I’ll make something tasty and appealing.

I decided to take the approach of picking my favourite meals to eat when I go out or am cooking something special and putting my twist on it as much as possible – my ethos all along really but just with a bit more extra thought now of what ingredients I can and can’t use.

The first recipe I am going to showcase is therefore my Chinese Fake Away – Salted Chili Shredded Chicken, a typical Sunday night choice that can now be enjoyed any day of the week without the guilt associated with getting a take out. One of my favourite Chinese take away dishes is Salt and Chili Chips in a Long Tray so I thought I could make this a full meal with a healthy protein too that would ease the pain of this ban on so many of my beloved foods. It doesn’t take too long to make and it’s pretty low maintenance. It takes as much effort to make as it would to call the Chinese and order it and I thought it tasted just as good. And no nasty MSG’s.

Give it a lash and let me know how you get on.

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Ingredients

200 grams Skinless & Boneless Chicken Fillets, chopped
1 medium-large Potato, washed
1 medium Brown Onion
1 Green Pepper
1 Red Chili
1 Scallion
2 cloves Garlic
1 Tbsp. Salt
1 Chicken Stock Cube
4 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
¼ cup Brown Flour
Olive Oil Spray
Salt & Pepper to taste

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Method

Preheat your oven to 180 Degrees Celsius and line an oven tray with greaseproof paper.
In a bowl, mix the salt, crumbled stock cube and flour together.
Spray your chicken with olive oil spray and toss the chicken through the flour mix until fully coated.
Spray a little oil on the greaseproof paper and pop the chicken pieces on the tray.
Pop in the oven for about 20-25 minutes / until chicken is cooked through.
While the chicken is cooking, use any remaining flour mix to coat your potato chips and also add these to the oven to cook.
(I used my air fryer for 20 minutes but they can go in the oven for about the same time)
While you are waiting, chop up your red chili, onion, green pepper, garlic and scallion
When your chicken pieces and your potato chips have been cooked, remove from the oven and set to one side.
Heat some olive oil spray on a large pan and add the prepared vegetables.
Lightly fry what’s on your pan and gradually add some of your soy sauce and seasoning.
Add the cooked chicken to the mix and pour in the remaining soy sauce.
Toss all the ingredients through together and add your chips to ensure even coverage of seasoning and heat for a couple of minutes.
Your like-for-like Fake Away is now ready to serve, enjoy!!

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