Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Amazing speedy one pot pasta (Slimming World friendly)

This recipe is amazing the pasta cooks in just 10 minutes so it's a perfect after work dinner. Feel free to add mushrooms if you like and of course you could leave out the bacon and make it vegetarian /vegan.

I know it sounds odd to put everything in the pot but it really works I have made it many times, No need to pre boil the pasta or drain it afterwards it really is fantastic.

The recipe makes a lot so think it would easily serve four hungry people wish I'd known this recipe when had three hungry teenagers to feed as its very economical too!

Amazing speedy one pot pasta

500g spaghetti broken into half lengths
250g pack bacon medallions (sliced into strips)
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 large onion (diced)
1-2  tsp chili flakes (if liked)
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
2 pints hot vegetable stock (from a cube is fine)
black pepper

Take a LARGE saucepan (a pressure cooker base would be good). Place all the ingredients apart from the salt and pepper into the pot and stir very well together cover with a lid and bring to the boil.

Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes still covered but stir well every 2 minutes to stop the pasta sticking to the bottom of the pot.

After 10 minutes almost all the liquid will have evaporated and the pasta should be cooked, Take a bit to taste and if not cooked as you like it just simmer a little longer but keep stirring every few minutes. I didn't add any salt as the vegetable stock was salty enough just added some freshly ground black pepper.

Stir well and serve immediately.

Syn free

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Royal Wedding Pavlova (Slimming World friendly)

Now this is not syn free but it's pretty good for syns for a real luscious pavlova. I made this for our royal wedding party in our local class and it was a big hit.

You do need to make the base ahead of time as it needs to cool I made it in the morning of the party and decorated it just before going but you can make it the night before no problem.

Royal Wedding Pavlova

4 large free range egg whites
175g caster sugar
3 tbsp granulated sweetener (I use stevia or splenda)
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt

250g tub thick 0% fat free Greek yogurt
2 tbsp granulated sweetener (as above)
1 tsp vanilla extract

large punnet of bluberries
1 punnet strawberries

Place the egg whites and the pinch of salt  in a large mixing bowl and whisk until they form firm peaks. Gradually add the sugar and sweetener a tablespoon at a time and gently whisk in, Add the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and whisk in. Keep whisking until the mix is making firm peaks and should look glossy.

Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and spoon the mix onto the tray making a rough rectangle shape.

Bake in a very low oven set to Gas 1 / 140/275 for one hour then turn the oven off but leave the pavlova in the oven with the door open a little until it is cool for at least three hours or overnight.

Put the yogurt, sweetener and vanilla in a mixing bowl and mix together well.

When the pavlova is cool place it on your serving tray upside down and peel off the baking parchment.

Spread the yogurt mixture thickly on top of the pavlova, Cut each strawberry in three slices and decorate as in the picture above with the blueberries in between.

Serves 12 at 3 syns each or a 6 very generous portions for 6 syns each.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Falafel and tzatziki (Slimming World friendly)

I love falafel and of course they are usually deep fried but this recipe bakes them in the oven so not only are they delicious they are syn free ! They are great as a healthy snack or served with a salad they make a filling and tasty lunch. The tzatziki is fresh with cooling yogurt and cucumber and goes brilliantly with the falafal. If you have never tried them before give them a go they are simple to make.


1 large onion (peeled and finely chopped)
2 x 400g tins of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
small bunch fresh coriander (chopped)
low calorie spray oil

Preheat the oven to Gas 6/200/400

Spray a frying pan with the spray oil and add the onion and fry over a low heat for 5-10 minutes until softened (add a little water if it starts to stick). Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly.

Add to a food processor with the chickpeas, garlic, spices, fresh coriander, salt and pepper. Blitz for a few minutes then scrape the sides down and blitz again. Don't make it too smooth it's good to have a little texture.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment and then take spoonfuls of the mixture and shape into a patty by rolling into a small ball then press down to make the shape. Place the falafel patties on the baking tray and spray with the spray oil.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until browned.

Syn free


250ml fat free Greek yogurt
half a cucumber
1 clove garlic (crushed)
6 fresh mint leaves (chopped finely)
1/2 tsp salt

Place the yogurt, garlic, mint and salt in a bowl.  Cut the cucumber in half longways and scrape out all the seeds using a teaspoon and discard the seeds. Grate the cucumber and mix into the yogurt mixture.

Mix well and taste you might need a little more salt.

Syn free

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Spring vegetable frittata (Slimming World friendly)

This is a really easy dish to make and it's great to take cold  for packed lunches and picnics too or you can serve it hot with baked beans and sausages.  It's a good way to use up leftover vegetables and potatoes or you can cook them freshly for this. You can vary the vegetables if you have some cooked spinach, peas, mushrooms,cabbage or even brussels sprouts are pretty good in this. It's simply seasoned with salt and pepper but you can add some herbs or chili if you like that. Just remember the vegetables need to be cooked before making the frittata or else it will be watery.

For ease I used a square silicone brownie pan but you can use any square or rectangular baking dish just line with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.

Spring vegetable frittata

1 head of broccoli (broken into florets)
250g baby new potatoes (sliced)
4 spring onions (chopped)
6 large free range eggs (beaten)
salt and pepper

Place the sliced potatoes in a large pan of boiling, salted water and cook for 10 minutes then drain and set aside. Do the same for the broccoli but just for 5 minutes (or you can steam the broccoli over the potatoes if you have a steamer). Of course if you are using leftover vegetables just put them directly into the dish.

Put the potatoes and broccoli in your lined dish and scatter over the spring onions. Season the eggs with a tsp each of salt and pepper and whisk well then pour over the vegetables.

Bake in the oven at gas 6 /200/ 400 for 20-30 minutes until browned and set and not wobbly in the middle.

Serves 4-6 and is syn free

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Spaghetti Amatriciana (Slimming World friendly)

I make no claims for the authenticity of this Italian inspired dish I've been making it for years and it's a really tasty and economical meal. In the recipe I use carrots, celery and onion which is a great way to use up veg from the veg drawer of the fridge but I have recently discovered in ASDA and I think maybe Iceland do it in the frozen section they sell something called 'base casserole mix' which contains all those veg chopped and ready to use which can make this even quicker to make. Alternatively you can put the veg in a food processor and chop them that way or the good old fashioned way with a knife.  

As always feel free to reduce the chili in this if you don't like it spicy but it is a small amount and just gives a nice warmth it's not too hot. As always when making pasta sauces I keep back a cup or half a mug of the water the pasta was cooked in as when you add this to the finished sauce it makes the sauce come together beautifully to coat the pasta.  

Spaghetti Amatriciana

400g dried spaghetti 
8 bacon medallions (smoked or unsmoked as you prefer chopped )
2 carrots (peeled and finely chopped) 
1 large onion (finely chopped) 
2 sticks celery (finely chopped) 
2 tins chopped tomatoes 
4 cloves garlic (crushed) 
1 tsp chili flakes 
low calorie spray oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper  

Take a large saucepan and spray lightly with the oil then add the carrots, celery, onion, bacon, chili and garlic in the pan and cook over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the veg has started to soften. Add the tins of tomatoes and half fill them with water to rinse out and add that to the pan. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes or so until the sauce has reduced down and thickened. Season with salt and pepper add more if needed but remember the bacon can be salty. 

Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling , salted water then drain (Remember to save a cup of the pasta water back I leave a cup in the colander to remind me) then add the drained pasta and the reserved pasta water into the saucepan that contains the sauce.  Mix well for a few minutes until the sauce coats the pasta. 

Serves 4 and is syn free and I usually serve with a side salad.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Tequila and lime chicken (Slimming World friendly)

This is a super easy and quick recipe perfect for after work. You just throw everything into a plastic food bag and leave it to marinate all day then put in the oven at night. I first saw this recipe in Nigella Lawson book 'Simply Nigella' I just tweaked it a bit to make it Slimming World friendly. Don't worry about the tequila tasting too strong it really doesn't it just helps to tenderise the chicken.

Tequila and lime chicken

8 chicken thighs (boneless and skinless all visible fat removed)
70ml tequila
2 limes (unwaxed)
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
2 tsp salt
low calorie spray oil
small bunch fresh coriander

Take a large plastic food bag and put the chicken, tequila, salt and chili flakes in it. Grate the zest from the limes and add to the bag (I use the fine side of a grater) and then cut the limes in half and squeeze all the juice from both the limes into the bag. Do the bag up and squish and turn the bag so everything is mixed well and covered in the marinade. Lay the bag in a dish and leave in the fridge all day or overnight.

Preheat the oven to Gas 6 /200/400

Get a large ovenproof dish spray lightly with the spray oil and then take the chicken out of the bag and place it in a single layer in the dish but keep the marinade back in a jug for later. Put the dish in the oven for 30 minutes then take it out turn the chicken pieces , pour over the reserved marinade then put back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the oven sprinkle over the fresh chopped coriander and serve.

Serves 4 at 2 syns per portion

Friday, 20 April 2018

Chicken and spinach balti (Slimming World friendly)

I make no claims for the authenticity of this recipe but I believe that the name balti just means pan so it is a one pan dish. The beauty of making your own curries is to make them as mild or hot as you like. I don't mind a bit of spice but don't like it too hot so choose whatever curry powder you like most are syn free but check.

The spinach I use is fresh baby spinach but you can use frozen leaf spinach no need to defrost just add it near the end of cooking until it's defrosted in the sauce you might need to simmer a little longer to make sure the sauce is thicker. I use chicken thighs as I prefer the flavour for curries but if you prefer chicken breast then it's no problem to use that.

Chicken and spinach balti

800g chicken thighs or chicken breast (trimmed of fat and cut into bite size pieces)
1 large onion (sliced)
1 bag washed baby spinach
2 cloves garlic (crushed or use frozen)
1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger (grated or use frozen)
1 can chopped tomatoes
500ml  chicken stock (from a stockpot or cube)
2 tbsp curry powder (mild, medium or hot)
low calorie spray oil

Spray a wok or large pan with the spray oil and add the onion sprinkle with a little salt and fry gently for a few minutes until starting to soften then add the garlic and ginger and continue to fry for a few minutes. Add the chicken and turn the heat up and keep moving the chicken around the pan to stop it sticking. When the chicken has started to brown after 10-15 minutes add the curry powder and fry for another minute or two (add a splash of water if it starts to stick.)

Add the tomatoes and stock bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for about 20-30 minutes until the sauce has reduced and is thicker. Add the bag of spinach and keep stirring it will wilt into the sauce. Taste for seasoning it might need more salt.

Serves 4 and is syn free