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Recipe – Greek-Style Quinoa Salad

Hello! I had planned on some daily blogging over the holidays but I have been spending ALL DAY decorating and nipping out to buy more DIY supplies. As well as completely revamping our guest bedroom (with the help of my parents!) we have bought new blinds, rugs, lamps and added a splash of colour to our bedroom too…all will be revealed shortly!

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Today’s recipe is definitely in the healthy category with super-trendy quinoa as the main ingredient. I have had this a lot in bought salads and in restaurants but never actually cooked with it myself. I decided to experiment with some flavours that I knew worked together and used a traditional Greek salad as inspiration for this dish. I served mine with chicken breast but it would work equally well on its own.

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The below amounts made a huge bowlful which kept us going for about 4 meals (2 lunches and 2 dinners) so I would say it serves 8 as a side dish.

Ingredients

One punnet of cherry tomatoes

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

A pinch of dried oregano

250g of quinoa

Half a jar of green olives, halved

Half a jar of black olives, halved

A small tin of sweetcorn, drained

Half a cucumber, roughly cubed

Fresh lemon

A drizzle of pomegranate molasses

One block of feta cheese, cubed

How to make it

  • Begin by preheating the oven to Gas Mark 3 or 160°C for roasting your cherry tomatoes – of course you can have them raw in the salad but I like the sweetness and texture that roasting them brings

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  • I simply slice the tomatoes in half, lay them on a tray or roasting dish, drizzle over olive oil, salt, pepper and some dried oregano then pop them in the oven for about half an hour before leaving to cool

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  • Now for the quinoa! Begin by pouring it into a sieve and rinsing thoroughly

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  • Next, place the quinoa in a large pan, top with cold water and bring it the boil before simmering for about 20 minutes or until the grain has sort of ‘split’ and softened then drain well

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  • It’s now time to mix everything together. In a large serving bowl, add the green and black olives, sweetcorn, cucumber, quinoa and roasted tomatoes

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  • Squeeze over half a lemon and drizzle over some pomegranate molasses and season well

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  • Finish off by mixing through the feta cheese and serve

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We enjoyed ours with chicken breast and it was also delicious for lunch the next day!

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I now have a big bag of leftover quinoa to experiment with so please let me know any good recipes to try – I have been reading about ‘quinoa berry breakfast bowls’ which may be next on my list! x

Recipe – Giant Couscous Salad

Although I love the feeling you get when a job is finally finished, I have come to realise I am the messiest painter ever…I managed to get paint on the walls, floor, sofa, iPad (I hope Ian isn’t reading this! haha), my feet, my clothes, my hair and face!

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After a four hour ceiling-painting session today, I think I am done with DIY for this half term! I rewarded myself with a long bath and a face mask and am going to relax for my last few days off.

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Today’s recipe is one I have made a few times for BBQs and it has always gone down a storm! I went through a stage of buying a similar salad from Sainsbury’s then decided I would try and beat it and make my own version. Giant couscous can be tricky to find but I managed to get a box in good old Waitrose. I love the texture of this couscous so would definitely recommend trying to source some rather than using the regular stuff.

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The great thing about this recipe is that you can tweak it to match what vegetables or cheese you like – I wanted to give mine a slight middle-eastern twist so got some ideas from Ottolenghi recipes. I’ve kept the amounts quite vague as it is completely up to you how much of each ingredient you add!

Ingredients

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A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Dried thyme

100g of giant couscous

200ml of cold water

Black olives, halved

Green olives, halved

Cucumber, cubed

2-3 spring onions, chopped

Roasted artichoke hearts, quartered (the kind that comes in the jar!)

Feta cheese, cubed or crumbled

A drizzle of pomegranate molasses

Fresh mint, finely chopped

How to make it

o   Begin by roasting your cherry tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4 and place your tomatoes in an ovenproof dish

o   Drizzle over the olive oil, salt, pepper and a pinch of dried thymecous2

o   Roast for about half an hour then allow to coolcous8

o   Now for the couscous! In a deep frying pan, lightly fry the couscous in a drizzle of olive oil until it has taken on a golden brown colourcous3

o   Add 200ml of cold water to the couscous and allow it to absorb the liquid until plump and soft – this should take about 15-20 minutes with regular stirringcous5

o   While the couscous and tomatoes are cooling, you can assemble the rest of the salad

o   In a large bowl, add the green and black olives, cucumber, spring onion, artichokescous7

o   Finally, add the giant couscous, tomatoes and fetacous9

o   Finish with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses and the fresh mint

I could eat a big bowl of this on its own but it’s a great side dish too – we had ours with lamb meatballs (Ian’s secret recipe!) and some flatbread…delicious!

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Recipe – Roasted Tomato, Feta and Thyme Tarte

My blogging plans were cast to one side this weekend as I arrived home on Friday and realised that I had left my laptop cable in work…rookie mistake!

We had a great weekend though, seeing our friends for a birthday BBQ on Saturday (and yes, there was some classic British barbecuing-in-the-rain action!), a visit from my parents and our village breakfast on Sunday followed by a long walk and a few beers at the pub. I also had a mountain of books to mark but that doesn’t sound quite so exciting!

Today, I wanted to share a great little recipe that was actually my way of using up some leftover puff pastry after making a pie. It is quick, easy, has very few ingredients and is delicious warm or chilled the next day for lunch.

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I decided not to bother with weights and amounts for his recipe as you can make one huge pie or lots of little individual ones depending on how much pastry you have.

Ingredients

Puff pastry (I always buy mine but high fives if yours is homemade!)

A block of feta cheese

Tomatoes, thinly sliced

Dried thyme

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar (optional)

How to make it

o   Begin by preheating your oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4

o   Lay out your puff pastry and score a line about an inch thick the whole way around the outsidefeta7

o   Crumble your feta inside this scored line evenlyfeta8

o   Place your slice tomatoes on top – you could do them in rows to look like a pro or just lay them on anywhere you fancy!feta9

o   Sprinkle over some dried thyme and a good amount of salt and pepper (although not too much salt as the feta is quite salty)

o   Drizzle over some olive oil and bake until golden brown and cooked throughout – 20 minutes should do itfeta2

o   Serve warm with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a salad or leave it to cool then have it for lunch the next dayfeta4

I’m off to Pilates now – my first session in four weeks so I expect to be aching tomorrow!

Recipe – Pomegranate, Beetroot and Feta Cous Cous


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Today’s recipe is a lovely side dish I made last week and served with some minted lamb meatballs and a harissa and yogurt dip. I actually bought my meatballs from the butchers, otherwise I would share that recipe too because this cous cous went really well with the Moroccan flavours.

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I absolutely love pomegranates and always associate them with Christmas. However, I have spent my entire life peeling them painfully slowly by hand until Ian showed me the wooden spoon trick this week and I am a total convert! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you simply slice a pomegranate in half and bang on the skin with a wooden spoon to dislodge the seeds. I think this was a Nigella tip – was anyone else as shocked as me by her being in the news this week?! Anyway…

This cous cous dish can be served warm or chilled and although it would be perfect for a summer BBQ, I think it makes a nice change to have something fresh and vibrant in winter too!

Ingredients

Enough cous cous for 2 people

Seeds from one pomegranate

2 roasted beetroots (not the stuff in vinegar!), cubed

About 100g of feta cheese, crumbled or diced

Fresh coriander, chopped (you could also use fresh mint and parsley)

Salt and pepper

Squeeze of lemon

How to make it

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  • Make your cous cous following the simple instructions on the packet
  • Mix through the pomegranate seeds, beetroot, feta cheese and coriander
  • Season to taste and finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon

Recipe – Sweet Potato and Feta Quesadillas with an Easy Peasy Salsa

Monday nights mean Pilates for me. It takes place 2 minutes up the road from me in the village hall and I have surprised myself by how much I love it. Over the summer, I would go for a run to burn off some calories and use Pilates for toning and staying supple. As the nights and mornings have gotten darker, I have found myself only running at weekends but my Pilates class has stayed as my Monday night staple and I love how I feel relaxed yet completely refreshed and invigorated I feel after every class.

The only problem I have with it is that it takes place 7-8pm. I couldn’t eat before I go but when I get home I am usually so ravenous that I end up having something quick and easy for dinner, which doesn’t always equal healthy! Lately, I have been trying to do all the chopping and prep for dinner before my class so that I come home and finish off a light and healthy meal that won’t undo all of my good work. Case in point, these amazing quesadillas I made last night.

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I always used to think of Mexican food as being heavy, rice and meat based dishes but after a bit of research and eating at Wahaca a few times I realised that you really can include anything! At Wahaca, I tried a delicious broad bean and feta quesadilla and as it isn’t the season for broad beans now, I decided to try substituting it for sweet potato.

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Luckily, it worked perfectly and with all the other ingredients it tasted fresh, spicy and delicious. I also put together this super simple salsa (recipe at the bottom of the page) which adds some more freshness and a zing from the lime juice.

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The amounts below make three generously stuffed quesadillas but you could get four if you prefer them a little thinner.

Ingredients

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1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

100g of feta, crumbled

1 spring onion, finely sliced

A pinch of chilli flakes

1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

Salt and pepper

Small handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

A couple of flour tortillas

How to make it

  • Begin by boiling your sweet potatoes until soft, then roughly mash and set asidefeta12
  • Combine your mash with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl
  • Spread over one half of a tortilla and fry in a little oil until the tortilla has started to crisp upfeta1
  • Then fold the tortilla over so you have something akin to a big pasty!feta2
  • Toast on both sides – I kept mine warm in an oven while I toasted the othersfeta3
  • Serve with salsa and enjoy!feta4

Easy Peasy Salsa

Simply chop up 2 spring onions, 7 or 8 cherry tomatoes, 1 clove of garlic and some fresh coriander. Drizzle over some olive oil, salt, pepper, a pinch of chilli flakes and a squeeze of fresh lime. Mix well, have a taste then serve!feta15

Recipe – Courgette, Feta and Mint Salad

With barbecue season in full swing, it is easy to focus on the meat and marinade and just grab a bag of salad from the bottom of the fridge to add a bit of greenery to your plates. However, it is a real shame to overlook the side dishes and luckily it is really simple to make this fantastic and fresh warm salad to accompany your barbecue.

Courgettes and feta are a classic combination, and the addition of mint and lemon make it a summery treat.

Ingredients

3 courgettes, sliced

A good glug of olive oil

A handful of feta, cubed

A bunch of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

A few squeezes of lemon juice

Salt and pepper

How to make it

  • Heat some oil in a large pan and gently griddle the courgettes until golden brown
  • While the courgettes are cooking, mix together 3 parts olive oil to 1 part fresh lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Remove the courgettes from the heat, add the feta and mint leaves and drizzle over the dressing
  • Finish with a squeeze of lemon and serve