Saturday, 26 March 2016

Broccoli and cheese bites (Slimming World friendly)

I have seen this recipe all over facebook and social media and so thought would give it a try. I did my best to make it as low syn as possible but they still come out at 1/2 syn per bite which is ok but it would be tempting to eat more than a few as they are really tasty.

They aren't hard to make but take a bit of time so I saved making them till a Saturday morning when I didn't have to rush for anything. The recipes I have seen call them 'tots' based on the American food product 'tater tots' which you buy frozen over there but as they aren't readily available here I thought I'd call them bites.

Broccoli and cheese bites

300g broccoli florets (raw weight)
25g panko breadcrumbs
50g grated low fat cheddar cheese
2 spring onions (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 beaten egg
low calorie spray oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and add the broccoli, Bring back to the boil and boil for 2 minutes then drain well and chop very finely.

Place the broccoli in a large bowl and add all the other ingredients apart from the spray oil and mix very well. Cover and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill.

Take small spoonful of the mix and shape into small balls, The recipe should make about 26 'bites'.

Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and spray with the spray oil. Bake at gas 6 200/400 for about 10 minutes then take them out, Turn them over, Spray again and give them another 10 minutes they may need a little longer just take them out when they are browned and crispy.

1/2 syn each on extra easy

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Easy syn free chicken curry (Slimming World friendly)

I almost always make a curry on a Friday night it's sort of a tradition in our house. This recipe is pretty quick and while I use spices I already have in my cupboard to make my own curry powder it's so easy use a bought curry powder they are easily available and by using them you can make your curry syn free as those jars of sauces are REALLY high in syns.

I think the secret to a really good curry is starting with garlic and ginger they are both easy to use just peel and grate but that can be time consuming. I often buy garlic and ginger paste frozen in cubes they are for sale in some big supermarkets. You can also use the garlic and ginger puree you buy in tubes but they are synned as they contain oil but they aren't very high especially when divided between four people in a recipe.

You can use mild, medium or hot curry powder whichever you like but a good tip is that if after making it your curry is too spicy just remove from the heat and stir in some fat free natural yogurt, You can do this to the whole amount or just the portion you want milder. This is always a good thing if one member of your family prefers a milder curry.

Easy chicken curry

8 skinless boneless chicken thighs cut into chunks (or use 4 chicken breasts if you prefer)
2 large onions (thickly sliced)
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 tbsp fresh ginger (grated - see notes above)
2 tbsp curry powder (mild, medium or hot as you prefer)
3/4 pint chicken stock (stockpot or cube is fine)
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
low calorie spray oil

Spray a large pan or wok with the oil and add the onions and cook for a few minutes until softened. Add the chicken and cook for about 5-10 minutes until the chicken is no longer pink but slightly browned.

Add the ginger, garlic and curry powder and cook for another two minutes stirring well. Add the tomatoes, stock and tomato puree and mix together very well then bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat so it's just simmering.

Simmer until the sauce has reduced and is thickened takes about 20-30 minutes. Taste in case it needs a little salt, Season to taste then serve.

Serves 4 and is syn free on extra easy

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Hangfire Smokehouse ... A review...

I confess I have a deep love for Hangfire and was beyond excited when I heard they were opening a bricks and mortar location in Barry (best known as the home of 'Gavin and Stacey'). It's a beautiful building it used to be a pumphouse but it has be repurposed as Hangfire restaurant. The girls behind Hangfire are Shauna and Sam who took a roadtrip across America in 2012 and brought their knowledge back with them to Wales and I have followed them since I first found them doing a 'pop up' at The Landsdowne in Cardiff and have been lucky enough to sample their amazing BBQ at places such as Abergavenny and Cowbridge food festivals, Street food circus in Cardiff and witnessed the girls judging at Grillstock in Bristol. They also won the very prestigious BBC Food and farming award last year which really put them into the spotlight.

Sam and Shauna are both so friendly and generous always happy to share their knowledge and they have inspired me to buy my own smoker and start smoking my own foods so they have really made an impact on my culinary life. So what about the food? .....OMG....

I was lucky to be able to get in their second night after they opened and went with my husband and two sons , My daughter was away in Manchester (sorry Gina) . 

This was the starter sharing plate consisting of chicken wings, pork rinds and frickles (fried pickles) . The pork rinds were super crunchy and the wings tasty and really meaty you could tell they had really been prepared properly and the frickles were a revelation fried pickles sound so weird but they were delicious, crunchy batter with a tangy pickle slice inside very moreish.

This was my main course my son Bill had the same the Pit Boss plate I just had to have this to try a bit of everything. It consisted of ribs , brisket (served on Texas toast) burnt ends, sausage , coleslaw , pit beans and fries. It was divine! I'm sorry to sound so fangirl but it was so good. The ribs fell off the bone, the brisket was soft and juicy ,The burnt ends were like butter, The coleslaw and pit beans had the homemade touch you could tell everything was made with love and care. They have their own sauces on the table too and I'm looking forward to their recipe book in May to copy the recipes. 

My husband had the chicken and waffles with white peppery sauce with a side of Welsh mac and cheese which had the tasty addition of leeks in it. He said it was fantastic I confess we shared as I had to try the chicken it was so crispy and the chicken was so tender. The waffles which I didn't think I would be keen on were lovely really light and crispy with the sauce peppery and tasty. 

Pictures of the lovely downstairs bar and the little touches such as GWR ironmongery as loo roll holders are so fab.

I confess we could not even contemplate dessert we were all so stuffed but maybe next time . The wine list and the huge range of beers meant we were spoilt for choice,  The service was perfect so friendly not intrusive but you never had to wait to get anyone's attention for extra napkins or more drinks.

I was so happy that Hangfire restaurant was everything I hoped it would be and cannot wait to go back. They are booked up till June but they save half their tables every day for walk ins so if you are able to please visit I'm sure you won't regret it. 

Friday, 11 March 2016

Cottage pie (Slimming World friendly)

This is one of my favourite family recipes to be honest I thought I had already put this recipe on my blog but when I looked I hadn't so here it is. There is the debate about calling it a shepherd's pie but I've always been told shepherd's pie is made with lamb and cottage pie is made with beef but call it whatever you like :  )

This recipe makes a HUGE pie (see picture) which serves six but feel free to half the recipe or make two smaller ones it freezes well too. It's also a great recipe to make the day before and keep in the fridge ready to put in the oven and cook after work.

I always try and put lots of vegetables in the pie so its almost a one pot dish but still serve with cabbage or broccoli for extra speed.

Cottage Pie

750g minced beef (less than 5% fat)
2 beef stock pots
1 pint boiling water
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp dried thyme
1 leek (chopped)
2 large carrots (peeled and diced)
1 large onion (chopped)
2 sticks celery (chopped)

1 kg potatoes(peeled and chopped)
1 large egg (beaten)
low calorie spray oil
salt and pepper

Spray a large pan or wok with spray oil and add the leeks, carrots, celery and onion and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt with the tsp of dried thyme and fry gently over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are soft but not browned.

Add the minced beef turn up the heat and cook stirring all the time breaking up the mince until all the mince is browned. Sprinkle over the tbsp flour and stir really well then add the boiling water and the two stockpots stir well and bring to a boil, Turn the heat down and simmer until the gravy has reduced and is thickened stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning you might need to add some salt and pepper.

Place the potatoes in a large pan of water, add 2 tsp salt and bring to the boil, Boil until the potatoes are soft then remove from the heat, Drain well and return to the pan and mash until smooth, Add the egg  and mix very well and add salt and pepper to taste. If it seems too stiff just add a little boiling water.

Place the minced beef mixture in a large casserole dish and top with the mashed potato, Score the surface with a fork then spray lightly with the spray oil.

Bake in an oven at gas 5/190/375 for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the top is browned and crispy.

Serves 6 at less than 1/2 syn each.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Easy roasted butternut squash soup (Slimming World friendly)

This is a super easy soup to make you don't even need to peel the butternut squash : ) By roasting the squash first you get a delicious almost smoky flavour to the soup.

I make this often and it's a great syn free lunch or even just for a snack when you get in from work while making dinner it saves you from being tempted to have anything naughty in that time between getting in and having dinner.

It also freezes beautifully I use the 'pour and store' bags to freeze it (get them in home bargains ) so it doesn't take up much space in the freezer.

Easy roasted butternut squash soup

1 medium/large butternut squash
2 pints hot vegetable stock (from a cube is fine)
1 large onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (crushed)
1 tsp dried sage
low calorie spray oil
salt and pepper

Cut the top off the squash and then cut it in half lengthways, Scoop out the seeds and discard them then place the two halves cut side down on a roasting sheet you have sprayed lightly with spray oil and lightly spray the tops with oil too then place in a hot oven at gas 6 /200/ 400 for 30-40 minutes until brown and soft.

Spray a large saucepan with the spray oil and add the onion,garlic and sage and sprinkle with a 1/2 tsp salt and cook over a medium heat until the onions are soft but not browned. Add the roasted squash broken into pieces (you don't have to be neat) to the pan and add the vegetable stock.

Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, Blend till the soup is smooth and taste for seasoning you probably don't need any salt but I like to add lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Serve 4 and is syn free