Garlic & Parmesan Cauli Bites

You may have picked up on it by now from some of my previous posts but I am a big fan of Cauliflower as a healthy alternative to many of our beloved Complex and Simple Carbohydrates. It is an extremely versatile vegetable that is packed with goodness and healthy stuff for our lovely tummies to feast on.

You will also know by now if you follow this blog that two of my favourite things in this world are Garlic and Parmesan. So whilst brainstorming for my Spring/Summer recipes, I landed on the idea of making Cauliflower Bites – something crispy and tasty that you can dip into your favourite sauce (I mixed ketchup with Franks Hot Sauce OMG) and snack on while watching some TV at the weekend or whatever. I also think they would make a lovely side dish alternative to the Sunday dinner instead of roast potatoes. I know the roasties are sacred but it’s just an idea 🙂

They were pretty easy to make seeing as I was making it up as I went along and I must say I was delighted with the result. They lasted a few days in the fridge and also reheated well in the microwave. If I were to give any tips, I would say to leave them baking in the oven for as long as possible – you really want to reach the core of the florette and also crisp up the coating as much as possible to maximise the flavours and the overall eating experience.
Any other tips I could offer is just to enjoy making them and of course, eating and sharing them!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 medium-large Cauliflower head
2 Eggs, whisked
¼ cup Plain Flour
1 cup Bread Crumbs of choice
¾ cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
¼ Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dash Olive Oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 190 Degrees Celsius.
Chop the Cauliflower head up into small florets and add them to some boiling water in a pot on the hob. Cook until they are just about tender (approx 4-5 minutes).
In a bowl, mix flour, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and seasoning.
In another bowl, mix the breadcrumbs or breadcrumb alternative and grated Parmesan Cheese.
In a third bowl, have your eggs whisked and ready.
When the Cauliflower has been cooked, pat dry and leave to cool for about ten minutes. You can run it under some cold water before drying to speed up the cooling process.
Firstly dip your Cauliflower floret into the bowl of flour and seasoning.
Then dip it into the egg and then onto the cheese and crumb bowl.
Ensure your floret is fully coated.
Place the coated floret on a lined baking tray and continue this process until all the cauliflower has been used up.
Drizzle the florets with olive oil and pop in the oven to bake.
Mine took about 15 minutes and then I let them stay in for another 5 just to crisp up that little bit more.
I mixed some Franks Hot Sauce and Ketchup together and the combination went great.

And there you have it, another simple, cheap and delicious healthy snack to keep you on the right track! Enjoy xXx

Advertisements

Balsamic Brussels with Pancetta

One of my most vivid memories from when I was growing up is how much I absolutely HATED Brussel Sprouts and how they just had to be an obligatory element to the Christmas Dinner. There was no getting away with it at our table – if you wanted more roast potatoes or stuffing, the penalty was the consumption of “one or two more” of the dreaded greens. And now it couldn’t be more different – I almost look forward to the Sprouts the most! It may be a growing-up thing but I’m not the only one who feels like this. Over many-a-Christmas Dinner conversation, several of my friends and peers have the same memory. Now, lots of them still feel the same about the Sprouts but plenty will also admit how much they love them now.

It maybe that I have incorporated so many greens into my meals the past couple of years that I’m not even thinking about all those Christmas’ being bribed into eating them or the fact that they are one of natures little wonders when it comes to nutritional value. Brussel Sprouts are seriously good for you!

My mother and I were chatting about her plans for the Big Day’s Dinner and she was looking for some inspiration to jazz up the traditional. She loves her Sprouts too so I suggested this recipe to her. I told her she would have to watch out for the post so Mam, I hope you’re reading 🙂

Ingredients

60grams Diced Pancetta
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
300grams Brussel Sprouts, halved
60ml Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Real Butter
125ml Water
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a pan and add the pancetta.
Cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the pancetta is crisp and golden.
Remove the pancetta from the pan but keep the oil in the pan.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pan.
Place the halved Brussel Sprouts flat-side down on the pan in one layer and cook on the medium heat until slightly brown.
Add the water to the pan, cover and simmer for a few minutes until the sprouts become soft and tender.
Add a little extra water during this time if it starts to evaporate.
Remove the Brussels from the pan and set to one side.
Add the Balsamic vinegar to the pan with the remaining oil and any water.
Boil the vinegar until it resembles a syrup and has reduced to about 2-3 tablespoons.
This should only take about two minutes approx.
Return the pancetta and the sprouts to the pan and toss them through the Balsamic reduction.
Add salt & pepper to season.
Serve lovingly.

Cranberry & Quinoa Turkey Stuffing

OK.. So.. The Christmas Dinner Stuffing – It’s one of the most important components of the Christmas Dinner and one of everyone’s favourite sides.
Families and hosts choose to do their stuffing in many different ways so you can interpret this recipe and serving suggestion to whatever method suits you and your meal. This is a quirky version of the staple side but trust me when I tell you it is actually so tasty and works incredibly well as a stuffing. This can be made in advance too as it freezes so well and can be taken out the night before for your prep.

Again, you can twist this recipe to make it your own by adding different types of nuts or extra seasoning of what you deem suitable. Other fruits such as pears can also be added.
Make sure to make plenty if the people you are cooking for are anything like my family – the stuffing is always one of the first dishes to be finished first and you always need to keep some for the sandwiches later that night and the next day – essential!

Ingredients

100 grams Quinoa, rinsed
400 ml Water (or stock)
1 Brown Onion, finely chopped
1 Red Apple, grated
¼ cup Pine Nuts
¼ cup Dried Cranberries
¼ cup Chopped Hazelnuts
1 clove Garlic, crushed
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dash of Olive Oil

Method

If you prefer Stuffing as a Side Dish:
In a pot on the hob, cook the quinoa as directed on the packet. I usually follow the instructions of bringing the quinoa to the boil, reducing the heat and simmering for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and let stand for about 10 minutes until all the excess water has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
Heat some olive oil on a hot pan and add the brown onion, garlic and pine nuts and cook lightly until browned.
Add the mix from the pan and all of the other ingredients to the cooked quinoa and mix thoroughly.
Serve with your main meal as desired.

If you prefer Stuffing your Turkey before cooking:
In a pot on the hob, cook the quinoa as directed on the packet. I usually follow the instructions of bringing the quinoa to the boil, reducing the heat and simmering for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and let stand for about 10 minutes until all the excess water has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
Add all remaining ingredients to the cooked quinoa and mix thoroughly.
Pack lightly into uncooked turkey.
Roast turkey as directed.

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

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.

IMG_1421 - Copy

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!

IMG_1423 - Copy

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

IMG_1424 - Copy

Roast Garlic & Parmesan Quinoa

So you’re probably catching on to my obsession with quinoa but it’s just soooo versatile and ridiculously yum!
It’s such a good grain to use and is so filling so it’s a great substitute to other white foods you might be used to using like pasta and white rice.

This recipe is a good one as you can use it as a side to your protein for a main dish, have it as a snack or add some more ingredients to it to make it a main meal of its own.
Like I said, quinoa is a very versatile ingredient so don’t be afraid to get imaginative and see what you can come up with.

Ingredients

4 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
100 grams Quinoa, uncooked
300 ml Vegetable Stock
1/3 cup Grated Parmesan
1 Cup Baby Spinach, chopped (optional)
1 Tsp. Olive Oil

Method

Bring the vegetable stock to the boil in a pot.
Add uncooked quinoa and stir through.
Once bubbling, cover the pot and reduce the heat to simmer the quinoa for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the quinoa is cooking, heat the olive oil on a pan and add the chopped garlic.
Cook the garlic until brown and aromatic.
After the twenty minutes, remove the lid from the quinoa pot and leave it to stand for 10 minutes to absorb the remaining stock.
Use a fork to fluff the quinoa and then transfer from the pot to the pan with the garlic.
Heat up the pan again and add the spinach and parmesan and stir thoroughly until the mix has been cooked through.
Quinoa can be eaten hot or cold but this particular dish is best served hot.
You could maybe enjoy it with a grilled chicken breast or salmon darn and some steamed greens.
It’s all about personal preference for your serving suggestion!

Sweet Potato Scoops

Ingredients

1 medium Sweet Potato, washed
4 cubes Frozen Spinach
4 Tbsp. Low Fat Cream Cheese
2 sprigs Spring Onion, finely chopped
4 Bacon Rashers, diced
½ cup Grated Parmesan
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Method

Preheat your oven to 200 Degrees C and line an oven tray with greased parchment paper
Rub your squeaky clean Sweet Potato with olive oil, cut in half lengthways and wrap in tin foil.
Pop the potatoes on the tray and into the oven for 45 – 60 mins (keep an eye on them as you don’t want to overdo them, it will depend on their size how long they will take).
When they have been cooked through, remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and the tin foil and leave to cool for about 10 minutes.
While waiting for the potatoes to cool, throw your diced bacon rashers onto a hot pan and cook quickly.
Transfer cooked bacon to some paper towel to absorb any excess fat.
Once cooled, cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the flesh into a bowl.
Put the potato skins to one side.
Defrost the frozen spinach and drain off any excess water.
Add the spinach, chopped spring onion, cream cheese and cooked bacon bits to the potato.
Mix up all the ingredients with a spoon until even and stuff the mix back into each of the halved potato skins.
Sprinkle each of your potato halves with the parmesan and grill until golden brown.
Serve piping hot.

These guys are such a treat and taste a lot naughtier than they really are.
You can have them as a main meal or use one half as a side to a main dish either, it’s totally up to you!
The filling’s ingredients are also not limited to what I have suggested, you can use any number of ingredients that you like to make your filling.
Enjoy Guys!!

IMG_0978

Zucchini Fritters

These guys are a great way to get some additional veg into your diet without chomping down on the same old salad every day.
There’s a little bit of preparation involved but they taste great and look great too.
Zucchini is such a versatile vegetable and is defo one of my faves so here is the latest creation I could think up for you guys.

Ingredients

1 large zucchini, topped and tailed
1 medium potato, peeled
1 brown or white onion, peeled and chopped
¼ cup wholemeal flour
1 egg, beaten
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees C.
In a large bowl, grate your zucchini and potato and mix together.
Transfer the mix to some paper towel and squeeze as much moisture as possible from the vegetables.
Dry them out as much as you can and pop them back in the bowl.
Add the flour to the mix to help absorb the moisture and throw in the onion.
Add salt and pepper and stir the mix thoroughly .
Add the beaten egg and cover all of the mix in the egg.
If the mix looks too runny, add a little bit more flour to help it solidify.
Heat the olive oil on a pan and take a handful of the mix in your palm to create a patty.
Pop the patty on the pan and repeat 3-4 times until the pan is full.
Cook the patties on each side for about 4-5 minutes and transfer to a foil lined oven tray.
Repeat this until all of the mix has been used up.
Pop the oven tray with all your patties into the oven and let them finish cooking in there for about 20 minutes.
Keep an eye on them though as you don’t want them to burn.
Remove from the oven and enjoy piping hot!

Zucchini Fritters can be used as a side dish in a main meal or as the main component also.
They can be eaten as a vegetarian alternative to a burger patty in a bun or whatever way you like to enjoy a burger.
They go great as a side with the Stuffed Peppers I posted about the other day too if you want to create a very fancy looking and really healthy dish.

*Tip: If you are lucky enough to own a Spiralizer like me, you can also spiralize the zucchini and potato and even the onion if you like instead of grating them.
Use the small noodle blade if you do go down this road.
Your fritters will look even extra awesome!

Homemade Hummus

When making small changes to your diet to become healthier, another ideal food to add to the menu is Hummus. Hummus is mainly made from Chick Peas that are packed with protein, fibre and omega 3.
You can use it as a trusty condiment for snacks or as an alternative dip or side sauce for more substantial meals. One of the most well known ways to have hummus is with carrot batons but I also like to use it as an alternative to mayonnaise or butter on (porridge) bread, crackers, wraps. My favourite way to have it is with Falafel as a side sauce. The two are a match made in heaven.

You can also vary the flavours of hummus you have if you want to keep it interesting and enticing.
Flavours such as garlic & lemon, roast carrot, red pepper and my favourite, beetroot, are just some examples of how you can spice it up.

Here are the basic instructions to make it and I’ll include some tips on how to add the extra flavours further down.

Ingredients

1 tin Chick Peas, rinsed
2 cloves Garlic, peeled
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Tbsp. Tahini
Pinch of Ground Cumin
1.5 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Water
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Simply combine all these ingredients into a food processor, blender or Nutribullet
and whizz until you reach the consistency you want.
You may need to add a tipple more of water or olive oil so keep going until you’re happy with how it looks.
Do a taste test and see if you want to add a bit more seasoning, its totes up to you how you want it to taste!

If you want to mix it up and make some beautifully coloured and flavoured hummus to show off, the recipe is easy to add to.

For roast carrot, pepper or beetroot hummus, simply chop up your chosen vegetable into small chunks, spread out on a baking tray and cook for 10-15 minutes.
After you have made your base hummus, add the roast veg to the mixer and whizz it through.

For lemon & garlic hummus or sundried tomato and basil, again just chop up your desired ingredients and add them to the base hummus to combine.

Once you’ve made the base recipe, its hard to go wrong with adding different flavours so have some fun with it and enjoy the end result!

The Salad Bar – Tomato & Chick Pea Salad

This is such a good On-The-Go salad to have made up or it can be used as a side dish to a main meal.It takes 5 minutes to put together and tastes fab. Its super filling and packed with fibre too.

Ingredients

1 tin Chick Peas
6 small – medium Tomatoes
1 Tbsp. Turmeric
1 Tbsp. Cracked Black Pepper
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Sprig of Fresh Parsley

Method

Empty the tin of chick peas into a colander and rinse thoroughly.
Leave to one side and let the excess water dry off.
Chop the tomatoes into quarters and add to a large mixing bowl.
Finely chop the fresh parsley and add to the bowl along with the pepper and turmeric.
Add the chick peas and the olive oil to the bowl now and then mix it all up so that your seasoning and oil covers the
tomatoes and chick peas evenly.
Easy Peasy!

Beetroot & Feta Quinoa

I’m eating this as I type up this post and oh my goodness it’s so yum.

Ingredients

2-3 medium Raw Beetroot, diced
50 grams Feta, diced
1/2 fresh Red Chilli
100 grams Quinoa, uncooked
1 Vegetable Stock Cube

IMG_0786

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees C.
Thoroughly rinse the quinoa and drain off any excess water.
Bring 300ml water to the boil in a pot and add your stock cube.
Once the stock cube has dissolved fully, add your quinoa and stir.
Once it starts to bubble, cover the pot and reduce the heat.
Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or until most of the excess water has been absorbed.
While the quinoa is cooking away, spread the diced beetroot on an oven tray lined with greased parchment paper and pop it in the oven for 15-20 mins (remove when quinoa is ready).
After the 20 minutes, remove the quinoa from the heat and take off the lid.
Leave to stand for about 10 minutes and then fluff the grains with a fork.
Quickly slice the red chilli and remove any seeds.
Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and mix the beetroot, feta and chilli through.
Serve immediately.
Unreal!

IMG_0788

Brocquettes

One of my favourite kitchen hobbies is to try and make healthy food as appealing as possible as this helps create the illusion that you’re indulging when really you are still eating mindfully.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of the cheat meals but I also love to find ways to transform healthy food into those old Friday night favourites.
These baked broccoli croquettes are a brilliant example of this and taste great with a range of dips and sauces. Enjoy!

IMG_0559

Ingredients

250 grams of broccoli florets
1 finely chopped spring onion
70 grams grated cheddar cheese
30 grams bread crumbs
2 beaten eggs
Salt & Pepper to season

IMG_0560

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a baking tray with some greaseproof paper.
Steam or boil the broccoli for 2-3 minutes, rinse under cold water and leave to drain.
Chop the broccoli until very fine then mix in the scallion, cheddar, breadcrumbs, eggs and seasoning.
Mix thoroughly until even.
Taking a small handful of the mix, shape into little cylindrical bite size pieces and place on your baking tray until all the mix has been used.
Bake for about 18-24 minutes until golden brown and serve with your favourite sauce.

If, like me, you want to stay away from bread wherever possible,
you can also use some breadcrumb alternatives such as milled almonds or milled oats.

IMG_0561