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Recipe – Sicilian Sardine Pasta

I had a tin of sardines hanging around in my cupboard so wanted to find a recipe to use them up that was not too ‘fishy’. I know that probably sounds ridiculous but I’m not a huge fan of the taste of oily fish on its own but mixed with other things, I quite like the saltiness it can add. I found a few versions of this Sicilian dish online and kind of mixed up a few recipes to create this one. We enjoyed this for dinner one night and the fennel and pine nuts add really lovely flavours and textures.

Ingredients

A generous handful of dried raisins or currants

1 can of sardines in oil

1 fennel bulb, chopped – save the fronds too!

A pinch of chili flakes

Diced bread – you could use normal bread but a sliced up French stick is better

One onion, roughly chopped

A handful of pine nuts

Enough pasta for two people (I used fusilli)

A small handful of fresh parsley

Salt and pepper

How to make it

  • Begin by soaking the raisins in hot water for about 15 minutes until plump then drain

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  • Pour a little of the oil from the sardines into a large frying pan on a low to medium heat
  • Add the chili flakes and the fennel fronds then sauté for a minute
  • Add the diced bread and fry for about 5 minutes until crisp and golden

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  • Transfer the croutons to some kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil
  • Add the rest of the sardine oil to the pan followed by the fennel and onion

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  • Soften on a medium heat for about 10 minutes
  • In a separate pan, cook your pasta until al dente then drain
  • Add the pine nuts and raisins to the fennel and onion followed by the sardines (you can break the fish into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon)

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  • Cook for about 5 minutes then add the croutons back in and cook for another 3
  • Add the pasta and mix well
  • Season to taste then serve with fresh parsley sprinkled on top

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Recipe – Sausage and Beer Casserole

Ahhhhhh hello half term! This break could not have come soon enough for me and I plan on making the most of it. I started today with a lovely lie in then eggs and smoked salmon – a perfect start.

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Today’s recipe is a lovely seasonal dish that you can make for a crowd or some extra portions for the freezer. You can also add a twist depending on what sausages or beer you decide to use!

Ingredients

A glug of olive oil

6 sausages

I onion, roughly chopped

1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

A tray of mushrooms, sliced

1 can or bottle of beer

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

Mixed herbs (fresh or dried)

Salt and pepper

A handful of green beans

How to make it

  • Begin by lightly frying the sausages in a large pan with the oil until browned on all sides
  • Add the onion and garlic and fry for another 5 minutes

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  • Next, add the mushrooms for another few minutes

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  • Pour in the beer, chopped tomatoes, herbs and a good helping of salt and pepper

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  • Mix well and leave to simmer for about half an hour
  • Add your green beans (I also threw in a handful of shredded carrot I had in the fridge)

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  • Serve with crispy potatoes or mash

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Recipe – White Chocolate and Chai Tea Bread

After root canal treatment this week, I am feeling very sore and very sorry for myself. Ian has been lovely, making me a huge pile of cheesy mashed potato when I asked for ‘soft food’ for dinner. I’m hoping I will be back to my old self soon as I’m not used to feeling so glum!

I’m not a regular bread baker but add white chocolate and chai tea to the mix and I will give it a go! I love chai tea to drink and it adds a very delicate layer of spices to this bread.

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Ingredients

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275g of self-raising flour

A 7g sachet of yeast

50g of caster sugar

200g of white chocolate, broken into chunks

25g of butter

150ml of boiling water with 2 chai teabags steeped in it and left to cool

How to make it

  • Being by putting the flour, yeast, caster sugar and white chocolate chunks into a large bowl

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  • Add the butter and cooled tea then mix with a wooden spoon until it has turned into a sticky dough

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  • Tip out onto a floured surface and begin to knead. This is a very sticky mixture at first but keep going and after 10 minutes or so, it will all come together

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  • Next, leave the dough under a clean tea towel for 20 minutes to rise
  • After it has risen, place in a lightly greased loaf tin and leave to prove in a warm place (I always use the airing cupboard!) for about half an hour

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  • While it proves, preheat the oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4
  • Pop the dough into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and your kitchen is filled with the delicious smell of warm bread!

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Recipe – Mushroom and Chickpea Stew

It definitely feels like the end of summer. I usually walk home from my Pilates lesson in the evening sun on Mondays but last night I was wrapped up, running home in the wind and rain. We haven’t caved in and put the heating on yet but I don’t think it will be far off!

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I enjoyed this healthy stew all summer but it would be just as comforting in the coming colder months with a big dollop of sour cream on top.

Ingredients

A glug of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

3 teaspoons of turmeric

3 teaspoons of cumin

1 teaspoon of dried chili flakes

Salt and pepper

1 red onion, roughly chopped

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

5 tablespoons of tomato puree

Boiling water

1 courgette, halved and sliced

1 tray of mushroom, sliced

1 can of chickpeas, drained

1 small jar of black olives

Fresh coriander

Sour cream (or natural yogurt)

How to make it

  • Begin by heating the olive oil in a deep pan on a medium heat
  • Add the garlic, turmeric, cumin, chili flakes, salt and pepper and gently fry

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  • Add the onion and fry for another few minutes
  • Next, pour in the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and fill the empty cans with boiling water and add them too, stirring well

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  • Bring to boil then turn it down to a simmer
  • Add the courgettes and mushrooms and cook for about half an hour

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  • Add the chickpeas and olives and cook for another 15-20 minutes

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  • Season to taste then serve with couscous, a generous handful of fresh coriander and good dollop of sour cream

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Recipe – Chicken, Courgette and Cranberry Couscous Salad

Anyone else love a bit of alliteration?!

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I’ve only been back to work for a few weeks and I am already craving more variety for my lunches. This salad is really tasty and one I will be making a big bowl of in the coming weeks. I love giant couscous but this would work just as well with the normal variety as well as quinoa.

I have purposely left the ingredients fairly vague as it is a real ‘throw-it-in-as-you-go’ recipe and if I made it again I’m sure I would find something else in my fridge to add!

Ingredients

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3 courgettes, sliced

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded

A small jar of black olives, halved

A handful of cranberries or pomegranate seeds

Half a block of feta, cubed

Fresh coriander

A couple of radishes, chopped

Four servings of giant couscous (or other grain)

How to make it

  • Begin by lightly frying the courgettes in oil until they have started to soften then allow to cool

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  • In a large bowl, add the courgettes, chicken and black olives and season well

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  • Next, add the cranberries, feta, radishes and coriander and mix well

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  • Add the couscous and serve with hummus and flatbreads

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Recipe – The Best Ever Sandwich!

You may wonder why something as simple as a sandwich has made it onto a recipe page but this lunch was so good I felt I had to share!

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Ingredients

A glug of olive oil

1 chicken breast

1 teaspoon of honey

2 slices of bread, toasted

Mayonnaise

One ripe avocado

Salt and pepper

A pinch of paprika

A pinch of chili flakes

Salad leaves

2-3 cherry tomatoes, sliced

A handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

How to make it

  • In a frying pan on a medium heat, gently fry your chicken breast in the oil until cooked through
  • Drizzle over the honey and allow to slightly brown before removing to cool then slicing
  • Take your toasted bread and spread one slice with mayonnaise
  • On the other slice, crush the avocado and season with salt and pepper than add the paprika and chili flakes
  • On top of the mayonnaise, add the salad leaves
  • On top of the avocado, add the sliced tomatoes and chopped coriander

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  • Lay on your chicken pieces

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  • Carefully put your two pieces of bread together and enjoy! x

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Recipe – Coca Cola Chicken

After indulging in chicken wings on an almost daily basis whilst in America, I was craving chicken again so had a play around with this recipe. I call it Coca Cola chicken but it is akin to a very mild, sweet barbecue sauce and one that makes the meat almost fall off the bones. You can make this with drumsticks, wings or even thighs.

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Ingredients

A glug of olive oil

9 chicken drumsticks

One can of Coke (I used Diet Coke)

One tin of chopped tomatoes

One teaspoon of wholegrain mustard

Salt and pepper

Some fresh coriander

How to make it

  • In a large pan, add the oil and chicken and brown for a few minutes on each side on a medium heat
  • Pour over your can of Coke, bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes
  • Now add the chopped tomatoes and mustard, season well and stir
  • Lower the heat slightly and allow to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring regularly, until the sauce has reduced and thickened

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  • Remove the chicken legs and scoop up the rest of the sauce
  • Serve warm with some fresh coriander and my Spiced Roasted Chickpeas

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