Chilli Con Carne

Nothing says comfort quite like a warming bowl of Chilli right? And helping me to eat “clean” without breaking the bank is Colruyt (a Belgian retail store that offers good quality, fresh ingredients with a no fuss attitude).

Can you believe that I had never eaten (or even had the inclination to even try) a bowl of Chilli before I moved to Brussels 10 years ago? But one fine (rainy Belgian) day, my Spanish friend, Sonia, had invited a few of us around for a meal and produced this magnificent meal and I was hooked.

I begged her for the recipe, which she kindly provided and I have been making it regularly ever since. The below has some minor adaptions to the original recipe that she gave me but in essence has not been altered too much!

Chilli con Carne

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1Tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves – crushed
2 red chillies, chopped
500g mince (I use a combination of pork/beef)
tin of tomato paste
500ml Passatta
425g tin of red kidney beans (I like to use the variant that is already in chilli sauce)
1 green pepper – diced
200g tin of sweetcorn
250ml stock (I prefer to use chicken stock)
1 teaspoon brown sugar

  1. Heat frying pan over a medium heat
  2. Add cumin, allspice, chilli flakes and paprika and *dry fry* for about a minute to release the flavours
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and spices and cook for 2-3minutes
  4. Add garlic and chilli and cook for a further minute
  5. Add mince and cook on a high heat for 4-5minutes until the meat has browned
  6. Add the tomato paste, passatta, beans, green pepper, sweetcorn, sugar and stock
  7. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

Top with some diced Avocado, cream cheese or a sprinkle of grated cheese… the choice is yours!

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Easy Rocky Road

Leftover Easter chocolate and leftover wine are myths in our house… except that having a toddler in the house means that the amount of chocolate available around the Easter season had increased (even for me!).

Monkey is 2,5 years old and although we only gifted her one (Peppa Pig) chocolate Easter Egg… I had purchased more goodies for our Easter table (for the adult guests) and of course… this meant more chocolate in the house after the celebratory luncheon. I do tend to “over cater”….

I was flipping through Jamie’s America cookbook and kept coming back to his Rocky Road recipe… typically a type of biscuit/chocolate hybrid with nuts, marshmallows, etc etc… so good….

Rocky Road

400g chocolate
Handful of pretzels
Handful of mini marshmallows
Handful of pistachio nuts (roughly chopped)
100g raisins
leftover mini eggs

  • Melt the chocolate over a water-bath
  • Stir in chopped nuts, marshmallows, pretzels, etc. leaving a handful to one side for decorative purposes
  • smooth the mix over a grease-paper in a baking tin and then “decorate” with your remaining ingredients
  • Leave to cool/set (I put mine in the fridge for 20minutes before breaking or cutting into chunks)

Blueberry Courgette Bread (SRC)

As many of you might remember from previous blog posts – I used to belong to a *Secret Santa* type of blog swap called Secret Recipe Club (SRC) but the concept was disbanded a while back due to a number of reasons.

The great news is that they decided to re-install an annual event… so this year, I got to review the blog called Troyers Loving Life. And as I read the “about me” page, I was convinced that Kirstin was talking about me when she described herself and her favourite things (clean house without having to clean it; cooking; reading and her connection to God). She is mom to 2 daughters and has been married for 26 years (#marriagegoals as we will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary this year!). I also got sucked into her home renovation posts from 2008…. probably because (kindred spirits again), we bought an apartment in 2017 and had it fully renovated before moving in… kitchen; bathrooms, walls being knocked down and new walls being built. An exciting and nerve wracking time all rolled into one!

I loved scrolling through her recipe list and drooling over different recipes like her Watermelon-Strawberry juice with Basil (but as watermelon isn’t in season, I had to veto this one); Cauliflower cheese bread which is Gluten Free and is earmarked for another day; but eventually decided that I wanted to recreate her Blueberry and Zucchini Bread recipe.

When I told HIM about this recipe, he was completely baffled … even until he took his first mouthful, he was still hesitant. But in the end, it received his stamp of approval along with mine and our 2,5year old toddler.

Would I make it again? Yes… I love how moist the bread is and although you see flecks of green, it is easy to forget that this has a vegetable in it!

One point to note is that in the Kirstin’s original recipe, she makes it into 2 loaves while I made 1 large loaf meaning that cooking time increased from 50min to 1hr20min.

Blueberry Courgette Bread

3 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups courgette (grated)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup frozen blueberries

  • In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, vanilla & sugar
  • Fold in the courgette
  • Beat in flour, salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon
  • Fold in the blueberries
  • Pour into a greased loaf tin
  • Bake for 1hour 20min at 180C (or 15-20minutes if you are making into muffins)

Banana Bread

There are always bananas in our house – either green, yellow or turning a nasty shade of brown. There are always frozen bananas in our freezer which are perfect for smoothies or fake ice-cream. And I regularly bake a banana bread with the excuse that I am using up the over-ripe bananas…. any excuse really 🙂

I have no idea where this recipe came from as it is in my hand-written recipe book… which probably came from my mothers hand-written recipe book. But origins aside – it is an absolute winner! Quick, easy and tasty.

Banana Bread

150g butter
cup of sugar
2 eggs
cup of mashed banana
1 banana sliced length ways
60ml plain yoghurt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda)

  1. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, mashed banana & yoghurt together
  2. Sift in Flour, bicarb & baking powder
  3. Beat on a low speed
  4. Pour into a greased loaf tin
  5. Arrange sliced banana on top
  6. Bake at 180C for 50-60min

Apple and Blueberry Cobbler

I wonder if other people enjoy reading cookbooks as much as I do? I don’t always make everything that I see, but I can spend hours paging through each one. And sometimes, I even try to recreate the recipe (or worse… I adapt it based on my fridge/store cupboard ingredients).

Which is exactly how I managed to make this apple and blueberry cobbler, which is now a firm favourite in our household and has been repeated numerous times using different fruit!

The original recipe is a Peach Cobbler from Jamie Oliver which I had seen in Jamie’s America cookbook, but I changed the fruit portion and kept the cobbler recipe (almost) the same. It is a SURE winner and a definite “repeat” in our household.

Apple and Blueberry Cobbler

4 apples, peeled/cored & diced
1 cup of blueberries
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
juice from 1 lemon

100g self-raising flour
50g caster sugar
100g butter, chilled & cut into small cubes
pinch of salt

  • Place the apples, cinnamon, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the apples are soft.
  • Remove from heat and place into an ovenproof dish along with the fresh blueberries
  • To make the cobbler topping, place the flour/sugar/butter/salt into a food processor.
  • Pulse until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs
  • Add 2 Tablespoons of water & pulse again – the mixture will form a dough now
  • Spoon this mixture over the fruit
  • Bake at 180C for 20minutes

Buttermilk Cheese muffins

The weather in Brussels is definitely starting to turn autumnal… with the leaves on the trees changing colour… to the most glorious shades of orange, red & yellow. And of course, the sunrise is later and the sunset earlier, the temperatures are dropping and my need for comfort food has definitely increased.

I did a quick search on the “google-box” for a savoury muffin recipe using buttermilk (which was in my fridge) and find this cheese muffin one on the Taste Magazine website (written by Abigail Donnelly).

I halved the quantity (because who can eat 36 muffins???) and it comfortably filled a 12-muffin tray. I omitted the sugar and also adapted the cheese portion by mixing grated cheddar with some grated parmesan cheese; plus added a teaspoon of paprika & a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs.

This is an easy weekend baking recipe and a definite make again. And my little helper enjoyed the mixing portion as well as the eating aspect… and has happily devoured them. Those that weren’t eaten within the first 2days have found their way into our freezer for those mornings when toast or cereal just wont cut it.

Buttermilk Cheese muffins

200g grated cheese (I mixed cheddar with parmesan)
280g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried Italian* herbs (*or mixed)
2 eggs
125ml buttermilk
125ml sunflower oil

  • Beat together eggs, buttermilk & oil in a large bowl
  • In another bowl, mix together flour, cheese, salt, herbs & paprika
  • Fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture
  • Place spoonful’s into a greased muffin tray
  • Bake for 18-20min at 180C

 

Blueberry Mug Muffin

Instant gratification… check
Sweet tooth craving satisfied… check
Limited sharing ability… check (although mommy’s little helper did eat half of the blueberry props and ingredients)

The Big Sweet Tooth posted this recipe recently & I saw it pop up on Facebook. It was just too yummy looking to ignore …. so I clicked the link, bookmarked it and tested it out last week when the weather was miserable and I needed a quick afternoon sweet pick-me-up.

Monkey (aka Mommy’s Little Helper) got in on the action… eating the berries while I quickly whipped up the muffin/cake.  I convinced myself that it was healthy because of the berries and the name *muffin*… but I am not entirely sure that this is accurate.

And it seriously is the quickest sweet fix I have ever made! Within 5minutes of breaking the egg (step 1) – I was already dipping my spoon into the cooked end product. It was delicious!

I had to adapt the recipe as I didn’t have any milk in the house – so I used a spoon of greek yoghurt. It still turned out (and tasted) ok….

Blueberry Mug Muffin

1 egg
2 Tablespoons sunflower/canola oil
1 Tablespoon greek yoghurt (or milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 Tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 Tablespoons blueberries

  • Whisk wet ingredients in a mug
  • Add the dry ingredients and fold until moist
  • Fold in the blueberries
  • Microwave for 1min 45sec (1000 W)
  • Allow to cool slightly

 

Pumpkin Pancakes

I had the pleasure of discovering the blog “chef in disguise” when I was part of the now defunct *Secret Recipe Club* (a monthly *secret santa* style recipe swap club). From the SRC club – I made her cheese wreath bread and then later on, I was inspired by her apricot jam post.

During June, I saw her post (and instagram image) about fluffy pumpkin pancakes… and OMG did they look delicious. I actually roasted pumpkin one evening just so that I could make these for our breakfast one Sunday morning!

HIM declared them to be the *BEST* pancakes that I had ever made – which is truly high praise from the man who normally indicates that something tastes good with a “I don’t dislike it”.

A definite make again => and enough to feed 2 hungry adults, a hungry toddler & provide a container of leftover snacks for aforementioned toddler for the next day.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1.5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 Tablespoons butter (softened)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • sift flour, baking powder, salt & cinnamon into a large mixing bowl
  • in another bowl, whisk milk, pumpkin puree, egg, butter, sugar & vanilla
  • add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined
  • Grease & heat a nonstick frying pan
  • add a scoop of batter (approx. 1/4 cup) to the frying pan (I found that I could do 3 at a time)
  • cook on a medium heat until you see bubbles forming, then flip to cook the other side

 

Prawn Jambalaya

I hadn’t really heard of the term “Jambalaya” before, but Wikipedia informs me that this is a dish from Louisiana with French & Spanish influences – so think Paella influence. Normally meat with vegetables & rice… however mine was made purely with prawns and no other “meat” as such.

I found the recipe on the BBC Good Food website while doing a google-box search for a prawn recipe and adapted to my own store cupboard ingredient. Although it was a tasty dish – I am not sure that I would make it again. Firstly because the recipe makes enough for 4 portions and because we are only 2, the rest was “leftovers” for the next day – and I am not a huge fan of reheating prawns.

Having said all that – I repeat that it was still tasty!

Prawn Jambalaya

1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 celery sticks, sliced
200g rice
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon piri piri
400g can chopped tomatoes
250ml chicken stock
2 garlic cloves crushed
300g prawns (thawed if frozen)
3 tablespoons chopped parsley

  • Heat oil in a large, deep frying pan
  • Fry onion & celery for 5min
  • Add rice, spices, garlic, tomatoes & chicken stock
  • Cover with a lid & simmer for 30min until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed (add more liquid if needed)
  • Stir in the prawns – until cooked through
  • Stir in parsley & serve

Fish Cakes

Trying to eat a little bit healthier… and that also means making a few more items from scratch as opposed to utilizing ready-made items (like frozen box fish in whatever form it may come).

I have also been receiving the HelloFresh box for a couple of months now and sometimes by the end of the week, I start getting creative with the last meal ingredients (i.e. not following their recipe at all!!)

And on top of that – I had a bit of a craving for fish cakes – so I did my usual search on the BBC Good Food website and landed up making these => the entire process was somewhat time consuming (started with cooking the fish in milk & boiling the potatoes at 5.30pm… and only sat down to eat at 8.00pm… but having said this, I had also made Monkey French toast for dinner, read to her, bathed & put her to bed – so this did skew my timings somewhat – but I do believe that this was when items were *cooling* or *chilling in the fridge*)

Would I make these again – yes, but I would probably increase the ratio of fish to potato (currently almost 50/50… to a 75/25) so that they are more fishy. Plus I would like to remember to season the mix with salt/pepper before making the cakes & frying them. I served mine with lemon juice drizzled rocket (and the fish cakes) & some oven roasted carrots & potato wedges. There was enough fish cakes for 3 adults (2 each) plus 1 child portion.

Fish Cakes

450g white fish (no bones)
2 bay leaves
150ml milk
150ml water
350g potatoes
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons mixed chopped parsley/chives
1 egg
flour (for shaping)
85g breadcrumbs

  • Place fish, bay leaves, milk & water into a saucepan and bring to the boil, then lower heat & simmer for 4min. Remove from heat & stand covered for 10min
  • Meanwhile, peel & chop potatoes. Cover with water & pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 10min or until tender. Drain & mash
  • Drain fish & flake into mash with herbs & lemon zest – mix until combined and leave to cool
  • Beat an egg on one large plate, place flour on a board & breadcrumbs on another large plate. (I used 2 slices of bread with crusts cut off to make breadcrumbs & this was a sufficient amount)
  • Divide fish cake mixture in 6-8 equal portions
  • Shape fish cakes on the floured board, then into egg mixture & finally into breadcrumbs
  • Transfer to a plate, cover & chill for 30min
  • heat oil in a large frying pan
  • Fry fish cakes over a medium heat for about 5min on each side