Moroccan Couscous with Saffron

The family have been battling colds all last week, which has meant two things for me. One of the first things I like to do is air out my house when we are sick. No matter how cold it is I open all the windows and give them a wipe down as this time of year often encourages moisture around the windows and you can be left with mold. I leave the windows open for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how freezing it is outside. I feel one of the factors in the winter bug is being so persistent is because instead of getting out we end up staying indoors breathing each others air, living with our heaters on and passing the germs back and forth. So freshening our environment makes us feel better, I am not sure if science is behind me on this one but even if it is just a placebo effect I am sticking to my routine. The second thing that becomes important for 3 sick people is some comfort food. I don’t know about you but when I am feeling ill I just want to curl up on the sofa in my pj’s and eat food that warms my body. But hubby and I are trying to eat healthier and lose some weight so just because we want comfort food doesn’t mean we want high calorie. This dish has all the goodness of comfort food but doesn’t make you feel guilty.

What do you find you crave when you are sick?

Moroccan Couscous with Saffron

280g (2 c.) peeled butternut squash, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 cubes
1 large onion, diced
185g (1 1/2 c.) carrots, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 cubes
180g (1 1/2 c.) courgette, cut into 3/4 cubes
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
355mL (1 1/2 c.) vegetable stock
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp saffron threads
260g (1 1/2 c.) whole wheat couscous
2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
sunflower seeds *optional
Recipe from The Kind Life

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Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Stew

Sometimes Waitrose, the grocery store I shop at, has great offers on their vegetables that are close to their sell by date. I always head to the section of the store to browse and see what catches my eye. Last week I was excited to see a packet of shitake mushrooms, normally 1.50 reduced to .60! I knew these needed to be the feature in my next crock pot creation. So I decided to throw together a beef and mushroom stew. Now really any mushrooms will do for this recipe. But we are big fans of the delicate taste of oyster mushrooms. Oh who am I kidding we love all mushrooms, but it was a real treat as I often stick to chestnut mushrooms which are cheaper.

What is your favourite way to serve mushrooms?

Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Stew

500g (1 lb) beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
(1 1/2 c.) beef broth
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp paprika
150g (5oz) oyster mushrooms, sliced (any mushrooms will do)
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 small white onion, chopped

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Bacon Cheese Burger Soup #SundaySupper

This week was meant to be my week to get caught up a bit on life. I am working two part time jobs at the moment, well I say part time, one of them is my freelance work and that can vary with how much work comes so sometimes it feels more like I am working a full time job while juggling a part time one. But this week I was off from my part time job and I really thought things would be looking up with more time to get caught up with life. But sadly that just wasn’t how it went, my freelance work piled up on me and yet again the rest of the house and life seemed to get pushed to the side and forgotten. And to top it off, this week has been a major stressful work week for my husband.

What do you do at the end of a very stressful week?

When we were living in Texas we had this pub down the street that had the best burgers and our favourite beers. It was our bad week retreat. But these days having a toddler and trying to save money and eat out less means that having guilty treats like that for bad weeks doesn’t work so well. So instead we opted for hubby picking up some beers and I gave my Bacon Cheese Burger Soup idea a try. It was amazing!

Coming from such a healthy weekend last week this might seem like a calorie loaded meal but hey everything in moderation, right? This soup has all the goodness of a burger in a warming soup form. And after the rough work week it turned out to be a perfect substitute for our pub burger and beer night.

This week Sunday Supper is all about soup. While I do love soup all year round I go a bit soup mad during winter because there is just something about soup that warms you from the inside out on the cold winter days. My thing with soup is it is so easy to throw together a soup that there really is no excuse for tinned soup. So if you have found yourself stuck in a boring soup rut you need to check out the amazing recipes the Sunday Supper crew have put together, we have more then 40 ideas to hopefully last you the rest of the winter.

Bacon Cheese Burger Soup

500g (1 lb) minced beef
1 Tbsp worcester sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
8 rashers of bacon
1 onion, chopped
31g (1/4 c.) flour
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
120mL (1/2 c.) cream
960mL (4 c.) chicken stock
125g (3/4 c.) carrots, diced
1-2 jalapenos, chopped
113 (1 c.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

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Caramelised Carrot and Coriander Risotto

I have a risotto obsession and I am not afraid to admit it. I could eat this creamy rice dish every day of the week and thankfully my family loves it as well so they don’t mind all the experimenting with flavours I do. I just can’t seem to run out of flavour combinations for this tasty dish. And just when I think I found my favourite version I find a new one. So when I saw Becca, from Amuse Your Bouche‘s recipe for a Caramelised Carrot and Coriander Risotto I just had to try it. This slightly sweet and cheesy risotto is perfect as a meat-free dinner option for the whole family. Go check out Becca’s blog and her amazing vegetarian dishes. I hit a cooking block last week as I was struggling to come up with more meat-free ideas for our month challenge and I have been so inspired by her amazing dishes.

Caramelised Carrot and Coriander Risotto

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced (although I like mine sliced in risottos)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, finely grated
1 1/2 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
200g (1 c.) arborio rice
1 litre (4 c.) vegetable stock
50g (3/4 c.) cheddar cheese, grated
3 Tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
100g (3 oz) fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
Recipe from Amuse Your Bouche

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Enjoying our Meat-Free Month Challenge with a bowl of Winter Vegetable Soup

For the month of January hubby and I have gone meat-free. I haven’t talked about it yet, I think part of me didn’t want to talk about it because I was worried that if I talked about it too much I might build it up and then not have the follow through that I needed. I already knew that I had two meat posts that were scheduled for this month so I wondered if it wouldn’t make sense to say I am going meat-free this month. But those meat dishes were cooked and eaten before this month so I guess I can let it slide.

Why meat free?

Well there are two parts to that answer. Hubby and I put on some weight last year and we have been wanting to eat healthier. It isn’t that I feel meat is unhealthy although too much of it is. But I have found that giving myself a challenge like this has forced me to get creative with our meals. And having to pay more attention with coming up with this many meals that are meat-free has helped me focus on keeping it healthier.

The second part is to do with Small Wallet, Big Appetite. You see I talk a lot about cutting down your food budget but I feel like I don’t do enough to show examples of how to do that. One thing that helps immensely is to not include meat for every meal. Normally we try to keep our meat dishes to only 3 times a week. Making this change a few years ago made a huge impact to our food budget. But I noticed as I started working on a better recipe archive, my current one is terrible I know, I noticed how few meat free dishes I really had. I feel that in order to encourage you to cut down on your meat dishes that I needed to do a better job of actually giving you recipes in order to do so.

I have to say I am really glad I took on this challenge because, while it has been harder than I thought it would be, it has brought back my creativity. And we are feeling a lot healthier, especially after all the heavy meals we are during the Holidays. Giving up meat won’t be a permanent change for us but it is inspiring us to go meat-free during the week more often. At the end of the month I will talk more about the financial aspect of the challenge.

This soup is perfect for this cold weather, filling, yet not too heavy and very healthy. Perfect for a cold winter day.

Winter Vegetable Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large leek, rinsed and sliced
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large swede (rutabaga), peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
900ml (12fl oz) vegetable stock
4-5 tablespoons milk
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried parsley
Salt, black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste

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