Category Archives: Dinner

Loaded sweet potato wedges…

This dish was part of a Mexican feast that I served for lunch last weekend, and it was so good, I’m still salivating about it!!!! 

So although it’s not ground breaking in any way, I’m sharing it for the sheer joy of it 🙂 

It’s basically loaded nachos, but with sweet potato wedges instead of nacho chips. 

I roasted some sweet potato wedges and laid them in a single layer on a large plate; I covered them with some of my mixed bean chilli, made with one of my homemade Mexican chilli sauces; then covered it all with a mixture of grated cheddar and Red Leicester cheeses. That went in the oven for the cheese to melt, then I topped it all with jalapeños, chopped mild green chillies, chopped spring onion and soured cream. 

I can tell you, it didn’t last very long at all!!!! 

Need I say anymore?! 🙂 

I hope you’ve all had a great week and have a great weekend ahead. Now, it’s  Fiesta Friday time…! 

Cauliflower and chickpeas ❤

There are some dishes that stay in your heart, that you never tire of…my marinated cauliflower is one of them…I made it again last week, and this time made my version with added chickpeas, and fell in love all over again!!! (I have to make it in small batches because I know I will eat the whole thing!)

Heavenly!

I’ve learnt from each time I’ve cooked this dish, and I now know to cook it for longer than I did originally. I can’t tell you exactly how long though, I just keep a watch on it. If you can be patience and take it right to the edge, it will reward you with crunchy cauliflower and gorgeous chickpeas 🙂 

My BBQ spice mix: all the flavour, none of the sugar…

If you buy any barbecue spice mixes or rubs or seasonings, they will include a smoky element, maybe a spicy element, usually a lot of salt, and pretty much always a HUGE amount of sugar. That mix of flavours epitomises BBQ seasonings, and aids the caramelisation of whatever is being cooked with it. 

If you search up recipes to make your own, you will find a similar story. But by choosing to make your own, you can amend the recipe to suit your tastes and preferences. If I make a barbecue based sauce or marinade for my boys, I will typically use honey or maple syrup, and I use a lot less than recipes suggest…I’ve never made a barbecue spice rub because I just couldn’t get my head round all that sugar, until now…

If you have seen my previous two posts, for my chilli cause and my salsa, you will have seen that I used ground freeze dried pineapple as the sweetnener. It intrigued me whether this could be used in a spice mix in the same way, or would it just burn when cooked? Pineapple caramelises if you grill it, so what would the freeze dried version do?

Well, I’m here to tell you it works very well. So, I introduce MY BBQ spice mix…

The photo above shows the freeze dried pineapple as it comes, plus some that I’ve broken down, as well as the finished mix 

I have so far used this spice mix to flavour a dip (very nice!), I used it as a rub on chicken which I grilled for the boys (thumbs up from both), and today I used it to roast some cauliflower…

I cut the florets into halves and quarters, drizzled with a bit of olive oil, sprinkled with a couple of teaspoons of the spice mix and mixed it all well. I then roasted it at 200C (fan) until it was all nicely cooked and bit crunchy…

And served it on a bed of homous…

What looks like burnt bits isn’t, it didn’t taste burnt, merely crunchy and tasty. I think if I’d cooked it any longer, it would have taken it too far. 
But the fact is, it works! I’m so chuffed 🙂

This is what I mixed..

4 tbsp ground freeze dried pineapple (for my tastes, I could happily use only 2 tablespoons, so you need to experiment)

2 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp ground roasted cumin

1 tbsp Aleppo chilli flakes

1/2 tbsp ground black pepper

1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp garlic powder 

1 tsp dried oregano 

I mixed it all and ground it to a fine mix, but you could keep it more textured if you wish. 

The mix stores well in a sealed glass jar. If it clumps together just break it up before you use it – any mix using garlic powder tends to clump as it’s quite moist. 

The mix of flavours is so good, it’s still not as sweet as store bought mixes would be, because that’s my choice, but you could play with that. Do keep in mind that the pineapple is very sweet, so you may not need as much as you think. 

So, success, I think? What do you reckon…?

I hope that everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday like my creation 🙂 this week, the lovely Petra and Ai are co hosting, pop over and have a visit…happy weekend!

Parsley and pineapple salsa…but not as you know it…

I couldn’t help myself, I just had to have another play with leafy greens and pineapple for Angie’s Fiesta Friday Healthy Eating Recipe Challenge…Angie stated that the ‘greens’ could be herbs if they were the main element of the recipe, which they are in this case. 

Salsas often call for a pinch of sugar, and, as ever, I never include any in my salsas, so I have no idea what difference it might make to the finished article. The success of using ground freeze dried pineapple in my chilli sauce in my previous post lead me to experiment with it again in a salsa..

And again it worked well, and added a nice finish to the sauce. 

When I first added the freeze dried pineapple to the salsa, it was not completely ground up and remained crunchy, so that as I tried the salsa, it provided shots of sweet crunch, which you might like. After a while, the pineapple dissolved into the salsa and provided a good balance with the vinegar, which was my preference.

I made this today and ate it with roasted sweet potato wedges, roasted tomatoes and cooked peas, with toasted pine nuts..

I make salsa, often along the lines of chimichurri, regularly with bunches of flat leaf parsley, coriander, dill, and whatever else is available; today I only had parsley available. 


Ingredients

Handful of flat leaf parsley, leaves stripped from stalks

2 garlic cloves, peeled 

1 tsp roasted ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp crushed freeze dried pineapple 

Method

Put it all in a small bowl blender and chop to a consistency that you like. If it requires additional liquid, you can add extra olive oil and vinegar, or even a splash of water. 

I’m loving this experimenting, there’s more to come!

A chilli sauce with a twist..


When it comes to cooking, l’m always up for a challenge; to me, nothing is impossible, I’ll have a go at anything, as long as someone is going to eat it! So when Angie issued a recipe challenge, I was, naturally, curious…

Angie issued a Fiesta Friday Healthy Recipe Challenge – healthy eating is my thing, that posed no threat to me, however, Angie also declared that the recipe must include leafy greens (no problem) and…..pineapple….there’s my challenge…!

I don’t eat or use much fruit, and I’m not a fan of anything sweet, so the thought of including pineapple, in any form in a dish, was a real challenge for me. I needed to let my brain ruminate and ponder and create a way to use pineapple in my way, in a dish that I would eat or serve my menfolk.

Hence, this chilli sauce… Yes! This chilli sauce includes pineapple. Freeze dried powdered pineapple to be exact. I found this freeze dried version in my local supermarket and I powdered it.

A lot of recipes I read for chilli sauces include some kind of sugar, and sometimes HUGE amounts of sugar! I do not eat refined sugar in any form, I do not eat sugar substitutes, and I don’t like honey or maple syrup, and I just can’t bring myself to add the required sugar to these recipes. If I make chilli sauces I therefore don’t add any sugar, but sometimes I can taste that it needs something to give it a final finish, so have tried adding cinnamon as an alternative, or even ‘anardana’, which is dried pomegranate powder, both of which were interesting. So, you guessed it, today I tried adding a bit of dried pineapple powder; it’s extremely sweet, to me anyway, so you don’t need much, and it worked very nicely! 

I was going to then add spinach to the sauce for the leafy green vegetable element but I didn’t want to muddy the colour, so I paired the sauce with spelt, spinach, red onions and garlic, and mixed it all together to eat it…


The sauce recipe..


This makes a lot of sauce, I don’t know how to make small quantities, plus I like to maximise my cooking and make batches of everything!

2 medium red onions, peeled

2 long red peppers

5 long red chillies

1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled 

2 bay leaves

1/2 tbsp dried oregano

1/2 tbsp dried thyme 

1 tbsp ground roasted cumin

And..

Several tablespoons of olive oil, apple cider vinegar & lemon juice

600g  passata, or a tin of chopped tomatoes plus a splash of water

3 tbsp tomato puree 

2 tsp pineapple powder

Method..

Roughly chop then blend the first 8 ingredients together to make a rough paste 



Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a wide pan over a medium heat 

Cook the paste in the olive oil for a few minutes

Add the passata, tomato puree, vinegar, lemon juice and pineapple powder and cook over a low heat for 15-20 minutes. 

Keep it covered to avoid splashes but stir occasionally

You can then blend the mixture again if you prefer it smoother 

It’s a tasty tasty thing! You can use it like I did, use it like a ragu, use it as a pasta sauce, whatever takes your fancy.

If you want to create this as a thicker, condiment sauce, reduce the amount of passata or even replace it with sunblushed tomatoes. 

For the spelt base, I heated olive oil in a small pan, cooked some chopped garlic, added some defrosted frozen spinach, some roasted red onions and cooked spelt and heated it all through. Mixed with the sauce, it was a lovely concoction.

My next plan is to use pineapple powder in a spice mix of some sort, possibly a barbecue spice rub…watch this space! 

So, thank you, Angie, for challenging me, I always enjoy it! And do check out what everyone else is creating

Hassleback potatoes..

I’m probably the last person in blogworld to post about hassleback potatoes, but having made them a couple of times this week for my son and his various mates, and watched them scoff them very happily, I thought I’d share it in case it’s useful for anyone over the next few days. I find it a useful way to cook smaller potatoes and create something different, and maybe even a little bit impressive, on the plate..

I also think little ones would also make nice little canapés or buffet bites. 

The best tip I can give you for preparing these, is to sit your potato on a spoon, I used a tablespoon, and slice into them down to the spoons edges, it stops you from cutting all the way through..

Preheat your oven to 200C 

Slice the potatoes, as above, using similar sized potatoes if possible

Place them in the pan and drizzle a little oil over each one; I use rapeseed oil

Sprinkle with a little salt if you like 

Put the in the oven and roast for as long as necessary 

Take out after 20 or so minutes and baste each potato again then put the tray back in

They’ll look like this once they’re done, and you’ll be able to push a sharp knife through the middle.

You can sprinkle with cheese at this point and put them back in the oven to melt it, but to be honest, the cheese pretty much falls off! What stays on is good though..and what falls off creates cheesy wafers in the bottom of the pan..

So, some easy potatoes for the season 🙂

Let me now take the opportunity to wish those of you who celebrate a very Merry Christmas, and happy holidays to everyone. I hope you all enjoy the next few days’ festivities xx 

Now let’s see what everyone’s serving up at this week’s Festive Fiesta Friday..

How to feed a vegetarian this holiday season: ask! (And new tips for roasting veg) 

And I don’t necessarily mean ask me, although of course you can, and I’m only too happy to help, but mainly I mean: ask them!

I’ve said it before, probably around this same time last year, but I’ll keep saying it: ask your vegetarian, or vegan, or food intolerant, guest what they’d like to eat. Don’t guess, don’t give yourself the stress of trying to figure it out if you’re not sure. Call them, email them, ask them what kind of dish they’d like. If they’re anything like me, they’ll be grateful that you asked, and relieved that they know they’ll be catered for. Please. Make your life simple 🙂

And once you know what they’d like, I of course offer you my entire collection of recipes, I hope something may be of use.

In the meantime, I’d like to offer a couple of new ideas (to me anyway) for roasting vegetables, in particular carrots…

 Roasted carrots are so tasty, but sometimes it takes so long to get them cooked through, that they can get almost overcooked in your attempts to roast them. When I read this tip on Sally’s lovely blog, I immediately tried it and it works very well. I HIGHLY recommend that you try it out, with carrots and other dense vegetables, particularly root vegetables. 

Once you’ve tried that, try this…this is a tip from Jamie Oliver, so it must be good mustn’t it?!

When you come to toss your carrots in olive oil, add some cumin seeds and an acid element…in this case I used apple cider vinegar, and it really, really brings out their flavour..

Mr Oliver offers up various ideas for various vegetables including different oils, vinegars, herbs and spices, its definitely worth looking up for your Christmas table. 

Two tips I highly recommend, and great for me to learn new ideas for roasting vegetables – and I thought I knew them all!

I’ll be taking these along to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by Judi and Sandhya, why not check it out and get some other new ideas for your celebration meals? 

Happy weekend!