Halloumi salad with avocado salsa

This  isn’t technically a recipe as it really just a matter of combining the ingredients. No cooking skills required and no need to stick rigidly to the quantities specified as any combination of these ingredients will result in a delicious end result. How good is that! And, as if that wasn’t enough, it’s made in minutes, i.e. real ‘fast food’. Halloumi is unlike any other cheese as it holds its shape and doesn’t melt when heated. It has a delicious salty flavour and it makes for a very quick, healthy and filling snack or lunch  – it has a reasonable shelf life so it is great to have it on standby in the fridge for those days when you are starving or short of time or both (happens regularly to me). It goes very well also with fresh beetroot which you can get in vacuum packs and which is another great standby to have in the fridge as it lasts for weeks in the fridge.

Serves 2 for lunch or 4 as a starter

Time to prepare: approx. 10/15 mins.

Ingredients

Avocado Salsa

1 ripe avocado
2/3 tomatoes
1 fresh lime
Fresh coriander leaves chopped

Halloumi Cheese (1 packet)

To serve: Salad leaves & dressing

How to make it:

  • Cut the tomatoes* into halves and then into quarters. Remove the seeds and chop the flesh into small pieces. *If you have time remove the skin by placing the tomatoes into boiling water for approx. 30 secs at which stage the skin will just peel off.
  • Cut the avocado in half, remove the skin and the stone and cut the flesh into cubes.
  • Place the tomato, avocado and coriander in a small bowl, add a good squeeze of lime and toss gently.
  • Cut the halloumi into slices and heat a non-stick pan (no oil needed).
  • Place the cheese slices onto the hot pan and fry until a nice golden colour on each side.
  • Put the salad together by placing some dressed salad leaves on a plate.
  • Place the avocado salsa in the centre and arrange the warm cheese slices around it.
  • Bon appétit!

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‘Good for You’ Chocolate Mousse

Ok guys, no excuses not to make this easy-peasy dessert with just 3 ingredients – chocolate, cream and eggs and a measly 207 calories per portion!  Not only is it simple but it makes it into my ‘healthy eating’ category because there is no added sugar. If the fact that it is super delicious, easy to make and low in calories isn’t enough to convince you to make it then the fact that dark chocolate is also good for your heart, circulation and brain should be the deal clincher! The other bonus is that this is ready after just 2 hours in the fridge.

The only sugar in this recipe is whatever is contained in the dark chocolate itself. I  used chocolate with 74% cocoa solids (from Lidl).

The recipe is adapted from a recipe contained in Rachel Allen’s book Rachel’s Favourite Foods.

Makes 6 small (50ml) glasses

Ingredients

120g (4½ oz) dark chocolate (min. 70% cocoa solids)
120ml (4fl oz) cream
2 eggs, separated

How to make it

  • Break up the chocolate into small pieces.
  • In a saucepan, bring the cream up to the boil then turn off the heat.
  • Add the chocolate to the cream and stir until the chocolate is melted.
  • In a separate large clean & dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff
  • Stir a quarter of the egg white into the chocolate mixture
  • Gently fold in the rest of the egg white, being careful not to knock all the air out.
  • Spoon into little glasses or cups
  • Leave for an hour or two in the fridge to set
  • Decorate / serve as you like, with a raspberry on the top, blob of whipped cream or a little gold dust.

My advice then is to hide and keep it all for yourself!

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Summer (overnight) oats

Kickstart your day with this super breakfast, a perfect combination of goodness and taste which will keep you going right through until lunchtime. When my daughter was doing her Leaving Cert recently she often asked me to make this for her particularly on days where she had 2 exams.  Now the exams are over and I have shown her how to make it she could not believe how simple it was. It is made the night before so the oats have time to steep in the milk, use a bowl if you are going to eat it at home the next morning or use a portable container to ‘grab & go’ if you want to bring it with you say going to work the next day.  Traditional hot porridge is just not appealing during the Summer – this version is so much nicer. When I make it I don’t actually measure anything anymore and sometimes I use blueberries instead of raspberries or use a mixture of both. The ‘recipe’  (if you could call it that!)is adapted from one I saw originally in Derval O’Rourke’s book  ‘The Fit Foodie’. Continue reading

Minestrone Soup (dinner in a bowl!)

 

You have probably guessed already that food is an obsession of mine and plays a kinda big role in my life i.e. if I am not eating it, I am thinking about it!  Apart from needing it to stay alive, food can be important to people for many different reasons. For example in our house at the moment it seems that there is a never-ending conveyor belt of different meals required and it is quite the full-time job trying to think of what to feed everyone and keeping the fridge stocked (there is only 4 of us!!). Darling daughter (DD) is in study mode for the Leaving Cert so as well as needing food to keep her fit and healthy, food is a real source of comfort in a gruelling schedule and can often be the highlight of her day. Darling son (DS) plays Senior Football(Gaelic) for which he trains 6 or 7 times a week, needs large amounts of carbs and protein for energy, strength and recovery – he seems to be always foraging in the fridge!  This ‘soup’ which is a meal in itself  keeps everyone happy whether it is for lunch, pre or post training or for supper. My daughter adores it as do I, it tastes great and takes just 2 minutes to re-heat in the microwave. Perfect for taking to school or work and really easy to make.

 
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 40 mins

4-6 Servings

Ingredients

150g (5oz) tinned haricot beans, drained & rinsed in cold water.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 leeks, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
75g pancetta / smoked bacon pieces
1 litre (1½ pints) chicken or vegetable stock
1½ tablespoons tomato purée
1 bay leaf
75g (3oz) tiny pasta shapes
Freshly ground sea salt & black pepper
Grated parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano or Gran Padano) to serve

How to make it!

  • Chop / cut the pancetta into small pieces (approx. 2cm) –  a scissors works best for this.
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan
  • Add the chopped onion, garlic, diced leeks, carrots & celery and the bacon pieces.
  • Cook for 10 minutes over a low heat without colouring, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the drained & rinsed haricot beans to the pan.
  • Add the stock and tomato purée and bring to the boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 15/20 minutes until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir the pasta into the soup and simmer for another 10 minutes until tender, stirring frequently.
  • Season to taste
  • Serve with parmesan cheese grated over the top.

Curry in a hurry!

turkey-curry-3

There are few things that bring a little whoop of joy to my heart as much as when those magic words “that was soooo nice” are uttered at the dinner table. It makes all the time and effort that goes into planning and preparing a meal worthwhile. This high praise was given to the dish that I am sharing with you this week. The amazing thing about this dish is that it is one of the healthiest, leanest dinners that I cook. Continue reading

Feta Stuffed Butternut Squash


Feta & Butternut Squash

It’s all about green, white and gold today given the day that is in it, it feels like the right thing to do and an appropriate way to show support for our ‘boys in green’ as they play France in the Euros. This dish is another one to put on your list for your meat-free dinner day. It is easy to make as well as healthy, wholesome and really tasty as it contains a great combination of flavours. Many of the ingredients are ones that you can have in your store cupboard. Butternut Squash for example has a great shelf life – this particular one was in my vegetable drawer for at least a month! Feta cheese is also something you can have in your fridge as it has a long shelf life once unopened. To use the rest of a packet of feta you could make this Green Pea & Feta Cheese Omelette the next day. The other ingredients i.e. onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes in oil would always be staples in my kitchen with the only ingredient that I might need to buy being the fresh mint.

Serves 2

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 40/50 minutes

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash
½ – 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled & finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled & finely chopped
80g / 3oz sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained & roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds
100g / 4oz feta cheese, lightly crumbled
2 tablespoons of fresh mint, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 200°C / 400° F / Gas 6

  • Prepare the butternut squash by cutting it in half lengthways and scooping out the seeds with a spoon
  • Place the squash on a non-stick baking tray (or a tray lined with baking paper)
  • Roast in the oven for approx 30 minutes or until the butternut is soft, cooked through and has a slightly coloured surface (a larger squash will take longer to cook)
  • While the squash is in the oven heat the oil in a pan and add the onions.
  • Sweat over a low heat for 4-5 minutes until they are soft and translucent.
  • Add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes
  • In a bowl, mix the sun-dried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, crumbled feta, mint, cooked onions and garlic together.
  • Remove the butternut squash from the oven when cooked and scoop out some of the flesh to make space for the filing. (Keep the flesh for another dish). Fill the squash with the stuffing mixture, then return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and serve with some green veg.

PS – this reheats very well so you can enjoy it the next day as well !

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Bacon & Asparagus Frittata

Bacon & Asparagus Frittata

You know when you come home, hungry (in my case usually ‘hangry’!) and need food fast, well instead of dialling your local takeaway this is the perfect answer and will be on your table even faster.  Tasty, quick, healthy and satisfying.  I made this one with asparagus, bacon pieces and finished it with some rocket but once you have eggs in stock you can just use whatever ingredients you have e.g. chorizo, cheddar, parma ham, sausage etc etc.   It is a great way to use up leftovers too.

Make sure you use a non-stick pan  – I always keep one purely for omelettes, pancakes etc. Otherwise you may be scraping your dinner out of the pan!

Serves 2

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
250g or 1 bundle of asparagus tips
75g of bacon pieces
4 large eggs
50g parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp chopped chives
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Cook the asparagus in a pan of simmering salted water or steam over boiling water
  • Remove after 5 mins (they need to be tender and still bright green)
  • Drain, run under a cold tap and cut into pieces (approx. 1 inch)
  • Heat the frying pan and cook the bacon pieces for 3 to 4 minutes (no additional oil may be needed)
  • Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl, add the asparagus, parmesan and chives, stirring well.
  • Season with salt & pepper
  • Pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook gently for 3 minutes, drawing back the edges with a wooden spatula and tipping the runny egg over the edge to help it set.
  • Cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes and then place under a pre-heated grill, cooking for 2 minutes or until the top is set and lightly golden.
  • Remove and serve. Enjoy!