Monday, 24 October 2011

Fresh and fruity muesli

You can prepare this in advance and leave it in the fridge overnight, or make it in the morning and eat it straight away - either way works!

Makes: 1 serving
Takes: 5 minutes


1 apple
3 dried apricots
3oz (75g) porridge oats
5fl oz (150ml) milk

  1. Grate the apple and chop the apricots then mix with the oats and milk.
  2. Er - that's it! Eat it!
You can add other fruit and/or chopped nuts if you wish.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Seafood and couscous

Pretty quick and easy and absolutely delicious! You can use mixed seafood, prawns, white fish or a mixture.

Makes: 4 servings
Takes: 20 minutes


1 tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot
2 sticks of celery
2 leeks
2 cloves of garlic
pinch of chilli flakes
1 bay leaf
150ml dry white wine
400g tin of tomatoes
400g of seafood
375ml hot vegetable stock
1 lemon
200g couscous
fresh parsley

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Meanwhile, peel and finely dice the carrot, thinly slice the celery, thinly slice the leeks and chop the garlic. Cook the carrot, celery, leeks, garlic, chilli and bay leaf in the oil for about 5 minutes, until softened.
  2. Add the wine and tinned tomatoes to the pan (if using whole plum tomatoes, first blitz them briefly in a blender or chop them by sticking a large knife repeatedly into the open tin). Boil rapidly for 5 minutes to reduce.
  3. Finely grate the zest of the lemon and squeeze the juice of half of it. Put into a small pan with the stock and bring to the boil.
  4. If using fish, cut into small pieces. Turn down the heat under the pan and add the seafood, simmering gently for 5 minutes till piping hot and the fish (if using) is cooked through.
  5. Meanwhile, add the couscous to the boiling stock and lemon juice, stir, remove from the heat and cover. Leave for 5 minutes. Season, add some finely chopped fresh parsley and fluff with a fork. Serve when the couscous and seafood are both ready.
The seafood will freeze well so you can make this to serve 2 by halving the amount of couscous, stock and lemon then saving half the seafood for another occasion.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Great for a cold winter evening - real comfort food! And yet, it's low in fat - bonus :-)

Makes: 3-4 servings
Takes: 10 minutes + 1 1/2 hours cooking time


1 tsp olive oil
400g lean stewing steak, cubed
1 large onion
1 clove of garlic
1 1/2 tbsp paprika
1 green or red pepper
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 beef stock cube
1 tbsp cornflour
salt and pepper

  1. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick saucepan and add the meat. Cook until the meat has all sealed and browned.
  2. Thinly slice the onion and crush the garlic then add to the pan and fry for 3 minutes, until softened. Add the paprika and stir well.
  3. Remove the seeds and pith from the pepper and chop, then add to the pan with the tomatoes and tomato puree. Mix the stock cube with 425ml (15 fl oz) very hot water and pour into the pan.
  4. Bring the goulash to the boil then reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, till the meat is very tender. Add a little extra hot water if the mixture looks too dry towards the end of the cooking time.
  5. Blend the cornflour with 3 tbsp cold water then add to the goulash with salt and pepper. Stir until the sauce thickens then cook for a further 2 minutes.
This is lovely served with boiled or mashed potatoes, or plain boiled rice. You could also top each serving with a spoonful of low fat plain yogurt if you wish. Spare portions freeze well, too.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Bacon and leek risotto

Very easy - after the initial cooking, just pop it in the oven! It's very tasty, and low in fat too.

Makes: 2 servings
Takes: 15 minutes + 1 hour cooking time


1 tsp olive oil
1 large leek
1 clove garlic
4 rashers bacon
2 or 3 mushrooms
7 oz (uncooked weight) risotto rice
1 tsp dried thyme
1 chicken or vegetable stock cube

  1. Preheat the oven to 150oC.
  2. Trim and finely slice the leek. Peel and chop the garlic. Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan and fry the leek and garlic for a few minutes till softened, then transfer to a plate.
  3. Trim all the fat from the bacon and cut into small pieces. Slice the mushrooms. Cook bacon and mushrooms in the saucepan till browned (you shouldn't need any extra oil).
  4. Return the leek and garlic to the pan and add the rice, stirring well. Make 1 1/2 pints of stock using the stock cube and boiling water, and add to the pan with the thyme.
  5. Bring to the boil, stirring well, then transfer to a large ovenproof dish and cover with foil. Bake for an hour. Check towards the end of this time and remove the foil if the risotto looks too wet, or add a little extra boiling water if necessary.
Great as it is, or as an accompaniment to a main meal. I often cook a chicken breast while the risotto is cooking then shred the chicken and add to the risotto before serving (the photo above shows the risotto with chicken added). You can also make this a vegetarian dish by using Quorn rashers and ensuring that the stock cube is vegetable rather than chicken.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Chicken parcels

The basic idea behind this recipe is that the chicken cooks in its own steam so is very tender and juicy, and the flavourings both infuse the chicken itself and mix with the juices to make a small amount of sauce. The photo shows Thai green curry chicken but the flavour combinations are endless - see the notes below. Great for serving up everyone's favourites while catering to different tastes!

Makes: As many servings as you wish, just use a chicken breast per person
Takes: 5 minutes + 30 minutes cooking time


1 chicken breast
Any flavourings you wish, see below

  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC/fan oven 180oC.
  2. Cut a piece of foil about 12" square and lightly oil or butter the centre of it. Place the chicken breast onto the foil and add the other ingredients.
  3. Bring the edges of the foil together and scrunch to seal, trapping air inside the parcel to allow the chicken to steam. Place the parcel into a roasting tin and cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Transfer the parcel to a plate, add potatoes or rice and vegetables, and allow each diner to open his or her own parcel - being careful of the steam! The juices that collect can be poured over the chicken and rice or potatoes as a sauce.
There are so many variations on this theme. A really simple flavour would be lemon juice and fresh herbs - sprinkle a tablespoon or so of lemon juice over the chicken then add some chopped parsley, for example. The photo above shows Thai green curry chicken, which I made by spreading the chicken breast with Thai green curry paste then adding 2 tablespoons of coconut milk and some chopped coriander. You can use a little tomato puree and some grated cheese for 'pizza' chicken, or try butter, finely chopped garlic and sliced mushrooms. Or keep it very simple by adding a little chicken stock to each parcel.

Just one word of warning - you may need to allow longer if cooking several of these at once. Check by carefully opening one of the parcels and sticking a sharp knife into the thickest part of the breast to check that the inside is no longer pink and the juices are clear.

You can also cook fillets of fish this way, though they would only need about 20 minutes in the oven.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Yorkshire puddings

Great with a Sunday roast - a big favourite in our house!

Makes: 12 puddings
Takes: 5 minutes + 20 minutes cooking time


2 1/2 oz plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg
3 fl oz milk
2 fl oz water

  1. Preheat the oven to 220oC.
  2. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and make a 'well' in the centre.
  3. Break the egg into the well and start mixing it with a whisk, gradually incorporating some of the flour.
  4. As the mixture gets thick, pour in a little milk and water and continue to mix, bringing in more of the flour and adding more liquid alternately till all the ingredients are combined.
  5. Lightly oil a 12-cup cake tin (I use spray oil) and put into the oven to get it hot. Ladle batter into each cup and cook for 20-25 minutes, till well-risen and golden brown.
If you prefer, you can cook one large Yorkshire pudding - allow at least half an hour to cook. Or you can make toad-in-the-hole by frying or grilling some sausages to brown them, placing them in the bottom of the hot tin and pouring the batter over before cooking. Or cut the sausages into small pieces, place a piece in each cup of the cake tin and add batter for mini toads!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Cheat's carbonara

Very easy, and much lower in fat than the traditional creamy version. Use turkey rashers if you want to reduce the fat further, or Quorn to make it vegetarian - or add extra vegetables if you wish. I add mushrooms but you can skip them if you prefer. Tastes good with or without the works!

Makes: as many portions as you want, just increase the quantities accordingly
Takes: 15 minutes

Ingredients (per person)

1 serving of spaghetti
spray oil
2 rashers bacon
a few button or closed cup mushrooms (optional)
50g extra low-fat cream cheese (such as Philadelphia)
freshly ground black pepper

  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet. Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid.
  2. Spritz a non-stick pan with spray oil and heat. Trim the fat from the bacon and cut it into small pieces, then trim and slice the mushrooms. Fry both over a medium heat till golden brown.
  3. Stir in the cream cheese and add a little of the cooking liquid to thin the sauce - you want a coating consistency.
  4. Add the spaghetti to the pan and toss to coat with the sauce. Season to taste.
If you want to add any other vegetables, cut them into bite-sized pieces and fry gently in spray oil till softened, then add to the pan at the end of step 2.