Broccoli & Lentil Curry

I honestly cannot understand people who hate broccoli.


Now hold on- give the poor vegetable a chance! Broccoli has been unfairly lumped with the most hated vegetables, amongst brussel sprouts, cauliflower and beetroot. All of these vegetables have redeemable qualities; except you beetroot, you’re absolutely hopeless.


I find that the reason why people hate these vegetables is often not because of the way the vegetable tastes but the way that it is prepared. Broccoli is often steamed until it becomes a mushy lump of green slime. I’m here to show you that broccoli doesn’t need to be steamed into submission, it can be thrown into a curry just before serving, left to soften and absorb the flavours of the curry and come out tasting fantastico! Don’t believe me, just give this recipe a try.

 

Broccoli & Lentil Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • a cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1×14 oz tin of coconut milk
  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 200g chopped broccoli florets
  • 200g chopped green beans
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Optional for serving: chopped peanuts, fresh parsley, naan bread, jasmine rice, squeeze of lemon juice

Method

  1. Heat some olive oil in a large non-stick saucepan. When the oil is hot, add the onions and the cinnamon stick. Fry the onions on high until starting to turn golden brown.
  2. Add the curry paste and tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes or until the tomato paste is starting to caramelise; you’ll be able to tell by the browning of the tomato paste on the edges and the smell of the curry. Slowly pour in the coconut milk, stirring whilst you do so. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If the curry is too spicy then add more coconut milk.
  3. Bring the sauce to a boil before adding the lentils and reducing the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the lentils are cooked- they should be soft but not firm to the bite. Throw in the broccoli and green beans and stir to coat in the sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes. If you find that the curry is too thick for the broccoli then add ½ cup of water to loosen it up.
  4. Just before serving, stir the garam masala and lemon juice through the curry and season one last time with salt and pepper. Serve hot with some warm naan and jasmine rice- enjoy!
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Tandoori Spiced Halloumi Skewers with Mint Sauce

Halloumi definitely goes on the list of things that I wish I’d known about earlier.


It just compliments everything I put it next to. Try these Halloumi And Veggie Wraps on for size. Then come back and make this recipe and try and tell me that halloumi is not magical. I have many things planned for this salty cheese in the future but let’s talk about the NOW.


Halloumi has long been criticised for becoming rubbery and unpleasant when cooked. Not that I don’t understand, I’ve experienced this firsthand. Do I have any magical tips for avoiding this? Of course I do, you know me. These are the 3 options most recommended by the Internet. Firstly, you could make your own halloumi. Whilst I’m not against homemade cheese, I don’t have 3 days to wait. The second option, which is more convenient, is to soak your cheese in cold water for up to an hour to get rid of some of the salt. The third option is to eat that cheese as soon as it comes out the pan! Don’t let your food get cold and you don’t have to worry about that rubbery feel. This is by far my favourite option because you don’t need to tell me twice to tuck into my food.


That having been said, this recipe is no frills, no fuss. The instructions are as simple as the cooking time is short. If you’d like to turn up the heat then increase the amount of cayenne. If you’re spice-shy then I’d suggest lathering the halloumi skewers in this simple mint sauce. Enjoy!


Tandoori Spiced Halloumi Skewers with Mint Sauce

Ingredients

For the halloumi:

  • 250g halloumi, sliced into thick rectangular prisms (nerd much??)
  • 6 skewers
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

For the mint sauce: 

  • ¼ cup mint leaves
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan

Method

To make the mint sauce: combine all the ingredients for the mint sauce in a blender and pulse until combined. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar. Will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks.

To make the halloumi skewers:

Start by carefully skewering the halloumi. Set aside. Combine the spices and olive oil in a small bowl and stir until it forms a thick paste. Coat the halloumi skewers in the tandoori spice paste. Heat a skillet on high heat and brush with some vegetable oil. Grill the skewers for 3 minutes on either side. Serve with the mint sauce and some naan and yogurt to curb the heat!

Lentil Spinach Quesadillas with Guacamole

Happy Friday y’all!


Today I bring you your latest obsession: these quesadillas. Being the only vegetarian in my household, cooking plant based meals that people actually enjoy has proven to be my toughest challenge. I’m perfectly happy eating a couscous salad but that wouldn’t please my rugby playing brother. My health conscious mother isn’t very comfortable eating starch-dense potatoes lathered in mountains of cheese and herbs (ugh heaven).


However, these quesadillas have finally cracked the code! The crispy, cheesy quesadillas keep my brother from forgetting that there’s no meat involved, and the cheese-less version kept my mother from complaining about her waistline. It’s a win-win!


These make the perfect chilled Friday dinner, weekend barbecue meal or even as a lunchbox staple. Do yourself a favour and make these this weekend for ultimate #weekendgoals. If you do decide to let quesadillas be a part of your life, make sure to let me know by dropping me an email, or contacting me through my Instagram or Facebook. Happy weekend lovers!


Lentil Spinach Quesadillas with Guacamole

Ingredients

For the quesadillas:

  • 1 cup brown dry lentils
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1×14 oz can tinned tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • some salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 2 cups mozzarella + 2 cups cheddar, mixed in a bowl (omit if vegan, the quesadillas hold together pretty well without cheese)
  • 8× 12 inch tortilla wraps

For the guacamole:

  • 1 very ripe, very soft avocado
  • ½ small red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander/cilantro
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice

Method

For the guacamole:

Mash the avocado until soft. Combine with the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until the onion and cilantro are evenly distributed. I wouldn’t advise preparing this more than an hour in advance, but if need be, then lay a piece of cling film directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent it from browning and store in the fridge until needed. Will not keep more than 2 days.

For the quesadillas: 

  1. Start by cooking the lentils. Add the dry lentils to a medium saucepan, cover with 2 cups of water (or vegetable broth if you wish) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the lentils are swollen and soft.
  2. Meanwhile, heat some cooking oil in a deep cast iron pan and fry the onions on high until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cinnamon, oregano and cumin and toss until the onion is coated in the spices.
  3. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and vegetable broth, season liberally with salt and pepper and bring the mix to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow to cook until the lentils are done.
  4. Chop the spinach into ribbons and throw it in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over the spinach and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze the spinach to get rid of all the water (be careful, it may still be searing from the hot water) and set aside.
  5. Once the lentils are cooked, add them and the blanched spinach to the tomato mixture and let cook another 5 minutes. Once the spinach has cooked down and softened, remove the pot from heat.
  6. It’s time to assemble the quesadillas! If non-vegan, sprinkle about ¼ cup of the mixed cheeses  evenly on top of one tortilla, leaving about a one centimetre border. Top in a uniform layer with ¼ cup of the lentil spinach mixture, and finally another ¼ cup of cheese.  Lay another tortilla on top and press down on the quesadilla. Repeat until you’ve used up all the tortillas and have 4 whole quesadillas.
  7. Heat a large nonstick frying pan on medium-high heat. Carefully life one quesadilla and lay it on the hot frying pan. Let cook for 2 minutes before carefully flipping over and cooking on the other side for another 2 minutes. Remove to a plate. Repeat for all the quesadillas
  8.  Let them rest for 5 minutes before cutting into quarters and serving hot! Serve with the guacamole and enjoy!

 

Adapted from Pinch Of Yum

Red & Green Thai Curry Pastes

As you all know by now, I have a thing for spicy food.

I’ve been effortlessly eating whole chillies and immediately chugging gallons of water for the better part of my life. I always find myself mindless reaching for the chilli powder whenever I’m cooking- never salt, never pepper, always chilli.

I made my first curry about 5 years ago, and as a clueless 14 year old, I had been very proud to have successfully combined curry powder, tinned tomatoes and coconut milk in a pot and called it a day. Oh how naive of me. Nowadays when I make a curry, it starts with roasting cumin seeds, grating ginger and crushing garlic way before I even switch on the stove. Recently, I feel like I’m betraying South Asian cuisine by using curry powder. It just didn’t feel right, or necessarily like it was enough. Sure, it has its uses when it comes to making curry spiced burger patties or even curry spiced breads, but using curry powder to make a spicy heartfelt bowl of curry? I couldn’t take it anymore.


So of course I did away with the Madras curry powder. I had gotten the hang of adding coriander, garam marsala and fenugreek seeds to the pot but to speak quite frankly, running back and forth between the spice cabinet and the stove was just a tad bit excessive.  Enter: homemade curry paste. Shoutout to Thailand for making the curry making process just that much more convenient. All the fresh ingredients are blended up by you and thrown into a glass jar to use whenever you’re having a craving for Indian eating. It takes you about 5 minutes to prepare and the amount of time it saves you in the long run is phenomenal. I know this isn’t as fancy as an Oreo Milkshake recipe or a Lentil Curry but maaaaaaaan, these are lifesavers.

I’ll definitely be giving you a couple of examples on how to use these this week; I have already used the red curry paste before when I made this Cashew Coconut Lentil Curry.Don’t be afraid to customise these to your liking by adding or subtracting the number of chillies, throwing in some lemon zest etc etc. This is all about personalising to your taste, and I’m never one to restrict your creativity in the kitchen.

Red & Green Thai Curry Pastes

Ingredients                                                                                                               for each curry paste 

  • 1 large pepper, use red for the red curry paste and green for the green
  • 3 garlic gloves, peeled
  • between 3 and 6 fresh chillies (I used 4 in each)
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp lemongrass (I used freshly picked from my garden but jarred works too)
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp each salt and pepper

Method

Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse 2 minutes until you have a thick paste and no large chunks of pepper remain. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Bangin’ Cheesy Chicken Nachos 

Happy New Year!

Whilst I’m sure most of you are breaking out your gym shoes and stocking up on healthy foods to start the New Year Detox, I’m piling on the chicken and cheese because #newyearnewme is a lie and we know it. January 1st approaches and we all feel the need to make instant fleeting changes to our lives. My question to you all is why?


Why wait until the calendar changes before you make a change? Why must the diet start on Monday? Why must your will to improve yourself depend on the Earth’s current position in its orbit around the sun? My message today: stop waiting. If you want to lose that extra 10 pounds, start now. If you’re not keen on joining but you feel pressured to do it because it’s what all your friends are doing: don’t do it. Stay at home, munch on these nachos, your wallet will be grateful. Your mind will be at ease 2 months later when they’ve all stopped going.


Instead of feeling the need to reinvent ourselves every 365 days, let us celebrate the spirit of new beginnings and having the chance to make this year our own whilst staying true to ourselves. Given this, I decided that the first recipe I share with you this year will be these crispy potatoes topped with chicken tossed in a barbecue sauce all sprinkled with a mountain of cheese. YES. I’ve made this about 5 times already and I can’t get enough of it. Sometimes I eat healthy and sometimes I feel the need to drown myself in spicy rich unhealthy stuff. Today, I just happen to be in the mood for the latter.

Bangin’ Cheesy Chicken Nachos 

Ingredients

Spice mix: 

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp thyme

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp rosemary

½ tsp cayenne pepper

¼ cup olive oil

For the potatoes: 

3 large Russet Potatoes, sliced thinly

1/8 cup of the spice mix

For the chicken: 

500g or 1 pound of chicken breast meat, cut into ½ inch cubes

1/8 cup of the spice mix

3 tbsp brown sugar

For the sauce: 

½ tsp ground mustard

½ cup tomato sauce

½ cup sweet chilli sauce

¼ cup honey

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp white vinegar

For assembly: 

1 cup white cheddar or mozzarella cheese, grated

a handful of fresh parsley to garnish

Method

  1. Start by combining all the ingredients for the spice mix in a small bowl. Whisk well to ensure even distribution of the spices throughout the oil. Set aside for use later.
  2. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and place the potatoes in a single layer. Drizzle the spice mix over the potatoes and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and crisping up. Once baked, remove the potatoes and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the chicken. Add the remaining spice mix, brown sugar and mustard to the chicken breast meat and toss well to combine. Heat a large skillet on high and cook the chicken for 10-15 minutes or until no longer pink on the outside. Remove to a bowl and use 2 forks to shred.
  4. In the same skillet, add all the ingredients for the sauce and whisk until incorporated. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and let simmer 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened considerably and coats the back of a spoon. Return the shredded chicken to the skillet and stir until the chicken is coated in the sauce. Let cook for 2 minutes then remove to a bowl to cool.
  5. When ready to assemble, lightly grease a shallow frying pan/baking tray/Pyrex dish or whatever takes your fancy. I’ve tried this with all three and I’ve found that a frying pan works best for presentation. Preheat your broiler/grill.
  6. Layer the bottom with potatoes followed by the chicken and top with the grated cheese. Place the frying pan under the broiler/grill and bake for 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted. If you’d like your cheese to be browned (shoutout I see you) then broil for closer to 10 minutes. Top with the fresh parsley and enjoy!


 

 

 

BBQ Hawaiian Pizza with Cheesy Bites

 Aloha friends!

Fun fact: Hawaiian pizza does not actually come from Hawaii. It’s from Canada. Reason Number 2837 why everybody loves Canada.

Remember how I talked in my last post about how pizza dough is superior to pizza? I may have lied. Don’t get me wrong, pizza dough is great, but it’s not pizza great. How do you beat this gooey cheesy mess piled on top of a spicy barbecue base, topped with crispy bacon and tangy peppers?

  
Well, I guess you could argue that this wouldn’t be anything without the crispy golden crust that it’s piled on top of. Did I mention that I stuffed the crust with MOZZARELLA CHEESE?! Pizza dough-3 Pizza-1

  
Yes, you may worship me now. Stuffed crust has always been a weakness of mine, and I just could not resist the urge to sneak a few pieces of mozzarella into the crust of this delectable masterpiece. I would definitely recommend this homemade pizza dough recipe I stuck at the bottom of this page that uses yeast, but you could totally go for this recipe that doesn’t use yeast, or just buy the dough if you’re not feeling up to the whole kneading and mixing and proofing that comes from dough making. But if there is one thing I can guarantee you, it’s that there is no pizza like a homemade pizza. And that is a guarantee.

BBQ Hawaiian Pizza with Cheesy Bites

 Ingredients 

1 pizzacrust, homemade from this recipe or store-bought 

Sauce: 

1/3 cup tomato/marinara sauce 

3 tbsps barbecue sauce

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tbsp honey 

1 tbsp of your favourite chilli sauce (optional) 

Garlic butter brush:

4 tbsp melted butter

1 clove garlic (minced) 

1 tsp mixed herbs 

Toppings:

1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, diced into small cubes (you should get between 12 and 15)

2 rashers bacon

2 thin slices of pineapple, diced into cubes  

1/8 red pepper + 1/8 green pepper, diced 

1 tbsp of your favourite barbecue/chilli sauce (optional) 

2 tbsp grated parmesan (optional) 

Method 

1. Preheat your oven to 225 degrees Celsius, you are going to want to make sure your oven is HOT when the pizza goes in. Heat a skillet on high heat and fry the bacon until crispy, about 4 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels and tear into small pieces using your hands. 

2.Roll out your pizza dough until its diameter is about 12 inches and the shape vaguely resembles a circle (I struggle to get the PERFECT circle) 

3. Place a piece of mozzarella cheese close to the edge of the pizza and pull the dough over the cheese and tuck it in so that the cheese is hidden. Repeat along the whole circumference until you have something that looks a little like this: 

  
4. Combine the ingredients for the garlic butter brush in a small bowl, and using a pastry brush, carefully apply the garlic butter to the whole of the pizza, paying special attention to the crust. 

5. Add the ingredients for the sauce together in a small bowl and spread the sauce over the inner circle. Top with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, distribute the diced pineapple, crumbled bacon and diced peppers. If you’d like, you can drizzle some barbecue/chilli sauce over the base at this stage before topping with the other half cup of mozzarella cheese. If you feel like being fancy, you can sprinkle the grated parmesan carefully over the crust.

  
6. Bake the pizza in the hot oven for 15 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown and the cheese is bubbling. Serve and ENJOY

You can never go wrong with serving this 😉          

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Spicy Sweet and Sour Baked Chicken Nuggets

Hey there, welcome, bienvenue and thank you for visiting my blog! What I have for you here is golden. Pure gold. It’s even written here in the crunchy spicy coating on this delectable chicken.

  
The first time I fell in love was at the tender age of 8. And that was the day I first had chicken nuggets. Every week I would beg my mother to purchase more of the frozen goodness that was the ray of sunshine in my life. And then all too soon, my world was plunged into darkness when the company closed down and chicken nuggets vanished from my life. I still remember them: a crunchy coating with a tender inside and just the right combination of spice on your taste buds. That is exactly what I went for when making these nuggets.

Storytime: About 2 weeks ago, I had an insatiable craving for sweet and sour pork. Which transmutated itself into a craving for chicken nuggets. Then my indecisive stomach and innovative brain came up with an idea: Why not combine the two into the most amazing hybrid food ever?! I marinated the chicken in a sweet and sour sauce, coated in a breadcrumb and cornflake mixture then baked for half an hour. With minimal effort, I was so pleased when this experiment succeeded and I end up with what is now my favourite snack. Added bonus: it’s kinda sorta pretty much healthy!*

 

*Healthy if one doesn’t add ranch dressing. And if your line between healthy and unhealthy is as blurred as mine
 
Yes, it is. If the coating makes you a bit nervous, you can leave it out and bake the chicken in the sweet and sour sauce, no problem (great chicken, just without the crunchy goodness). Worried about the spicy bit? You can always choose to reduce the amount of chilli you add, it’s all about catering to your taste.

I like to serve this with a ranch dressing dip, recipe adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon, under their recipe for these stellar Chicken Fried Potatoes, calling them amazing would be an understatement.

  
Spicy Sweet and Sour Baked Chicken Nuggets                               serves 3-4

Chicken marinade

Ingredients

500g boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces

4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp of your favourite chilli sauce (optional)

1 tsp of the following spices:

Salt

Black pepper

Chilli powder (can increase/decrease amount)

Ginger

Chicken seasoning (optional)

Chicken coating (optional)

2 slices wholewheat bread (or any other kind) or 1 cup breadcrumbs

½ cup cornflakes

2 tbsp mixed herbs

3 tbsps melted butter

Ranch dressing (optional)

¼ cup buttermilk (a.k.a lacto)

2 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp thyme

1 clove minced garlic or 1 tsp garlic salt

Method

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the ranch dressing in a small bowl and store in the refrigerator until needed later.
  2. Toast the bread for 5 minutes in a toaster and let cool at room temperature.
  3. Combine all the ingredients for the chicken marinade together in a small bowl and let sit at room temperature whilst you prepare the coating or for a period of 20 minutes if you decide not to make the coating.
  4. Tear the bread into fairly small chunks using your hands, and add to a food processor along with the cornflakes. Blend until both the bread and cornflakes have been reduced to crumbs. Add the mixed herbs and stir until combined.
  5. Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a 9×13 inch roasting pan with aluminium foil.
  6. The Assembly:   
  7. Remove a piece of chicken from the marinade and press into the breadcrumb/cornflake mixture, making sure that the entire chicken piece is coated in the mixture. Place in the roasting pan. Repeat until all the chicken pieces are coated. 
  8. Pour the butter and any residual marinade over the chicken pieces and bake 15 minutes, turn once, then bake a further ten minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately (with ranch dressing).

  
 Now THIS speaks to my soul.