So the new year came and went and I have a list of reasons a mile long as to why blogging just didn’t make it in my priority list but hey lets not bore you with that. But since life has been so busy my focus has drawn to how I can make life easier with simple meal options. I might have not been blogging but I have been testing out a lot of different recipe ideas and I am now really excited to share with you some big success.
The first one I want to share is something that has slightly revolutioned the way I cook pasta. So I have seen these one pot pasta dishes making their way on the internet for a while but had never given it a try. But once I did I became addicted. I now make most of my pasta dishes this way. You see the benefit of cooking pasta with only enough water to cook without having to drain it is you preserve the natural starches in the pasta, thus resulting in a creamy pasta without having to add cream. I have made lots of variations of this pasta. I have used all different types of shaped pasta and played around with the filling with things like cooked chicken, prawns. I have added veggies and played around with the cheese and it is perfect every time. It is a winner in our whole family for taste and speed.
One Pot Pasta
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
(4 1/2 c.) water
500g (1 lb) spaghetti
340g (12 oz) cooked sausage, sliced thin (I used kielbasa)
600g (1 1/2 tins) tinned tomatoes
28g (2 c.) fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
115g (1 c.) creamy blue cheese, I used Blue Castello*
*The original recipe calls for Parmesan and I have used this and it great but I found the blue cheese added a creaminess and flavour that our whole family just loved
adapted from Damn Delicious
Today Sunday Supper is celebrating 4th of July with some fantastic picnic ideas. I hope everyone will forgive me for bringing a very traditional British picnic dish to a American 4th of July party but it is one of our favourite picnic foods and one I have been wanting to make at home forever.
These are so filling and tasty, they make a perfect picnic food item as they are good warm or cold. Traditionally these are fried but I wanted to lighten things up and bake them. Sadly this seems to have caused it to split it in the oven. I didn’t have time to make them again before this event but twist my arm it just means I have to make them again soon. But that is what happens sometimes when you try new dishes so I wanted to still share it with you. Hopefully I will be able to update this posting with a reason why it didn’t work out well for me.
What is your favourite picnic dish? Is it traditional or a little outside the box?
4 large eggs (as fresh as possible)
400g (14oz) sausage meat
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp dried parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
125g (1 c.) plain flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
125g (1 c.) breadcrumbs
I let the first of the month come and go without talking about my little meat-free challenge from January. We did learn a lot from our challenge, one of those things being we couldn’t give up meat on a permanent basis. While we did enjoy all of the meals I came up with during the month we did miss favourite dishes and were looking forward to February arriving. But it did help re-affirm in my head the financial difference not adding meat to your bill does. We already have our food budget down to a good number but January saw that budget cut down to almost half of that from not having to buy meat. I had a few people tell me that they found they spent more on their food budget when they stuck to a meat-free diet so I thought I would share a few pointers that I stuck to that kept it down.
Eat grains and beans. Things like bulger wheat, barley and quinoa seem to often get forgotten about but they are not only full of nutrition but they are also cheap. If a vegetable isn’t in season not only will you pay more for it at the grocery store but you might find that it has less flavour. Because it isn’t in season the growers have to artificially help the plants ripen that this not only doesn’t produce as flavourful of a product but it reduces the nutritional value. Sticking instead to frozen which is picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen is not only a cheaper option but can often be more nutritious. Also try cooking more for portions rather then cooking large amounts that sometimes can be wasted. If you can guarentee you will use the leftovers and won’t just over eat then it is fine to cook large batches of food. But if you are anything like use we find that we just go for seconds more often then saving the leftovers or we will save the leftovers and then end up never eating them and having to throw the leftovers away. Throwing food away is like throwing away money.
Not including meat in our diet did have us eating a lot healthier meals. So I am wanting to try and keep some of the good, healthy habits we got into while incorperating meat back into our diet. So I wanted to share with you one of the first meals I served for us. It was also my first ever attempt at cooking with fresh artichokes. I won’t lie it does take a lot of effort but fresh is so much nicer tasting them tinned artichoke hearts.
Sausage Parcels with a Artichoke and Bean Hot Salad
2 globe artichokes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, zest of whole and then squeeze out the juice
4 good quality fresh sausages (make sure these are good quality and full of flavour)
1 red onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 pinches of paprika
140g (5oz ) runner beans
1 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Adapted from BBC Food
This week for Sunday Supper we were given the challenge to create a dish only using 5 ingredients. Now I love cooking meals from scratch but often times I don’t have the time for a meal that takes a lot of effort and I need something quick and simple so this challenge was a welcome one. Getting creative with a small amount of ingredients is handy not only for busy days but for when the pantry is low and funds prevent you from restocking right away, which has often happened in this house. I find that the challenge of cooking with a small amount of ingredients is that it ends up low on flavour and I am happy to say this recipe was not lacking in the flavour department. With good quality sausages and fresh basil this dish had what we look for in a dish without the hassle of a lot of prep which in my book makes it perfect.
Sun-Dried Tomato and Sausage Pasta
400g (14 oz) pasta shapes
6 good-quality sausages*
140g (5 oz) sun-dried tomatoes
4 tbsp oil from the sun-dried tomato jar
a generous handful of fresh basil, coarsely chopped
I made a decision last week to join Weight Watchers. It has helped out so many people that I know so I decided to give it a try to help me lose this baby weight gain. But it isn’t just weight loss I am looking, it is the accountability and help with getting into better habits now that I am a mum. I find that I am struggling finding the time to have sensible meals during the day and am instead snacking here and there or just not eating during the day at all. I won’t lie I have never been very good at keeping food journals, counting calories or any of that so I wasn’t sure Weight Watchers would be right for me. I have only been doing it for a week now so we won’t declare victory yet, however I have been pleased with my progress so far of keeping up with the food journal and keeping within the point system. I know for me it has helped having the accountability of the meetings and the help from other mums in the group that have succeeded with it.
But it has been a challenge to make sure that I stick to it and find alternatives to many of my usual meals. But in the process I have already discovered some new things to make that before I might have turned my nose up to. The first being a dish using Kale. I am sorry to say that up until now I thought I didn’t like Kale. I had someone serve it to me in the US years ago and it was boiled with ham hock and was just way too salty for my taste. So up until now I thought that I didn’t like it. Although interestingly enough I did find out that while we were living with my in-laws I was served it without knowing what it was. After I made this dish I was delighted to discover that I do like Kale and with it being such a healthy green leafy vegetable I am looking forward to keeping it on the menu to help my whole family eat healthy. This particular recipe is a very easy and filling meal for two that is only 5 weight watchers points. But even if you don’t care about points, it’s a fantastic meal for two that is easy to put together and healthy.