Saturday, 1 November 2014

Huevos Rancheros meets Ham, Egg and Chips

I really fancied huevos rancheros today, but as I'd already used my Hex B for my bacon butty at breakfast, I decided to substitute a thick slice of ham for the tortilla.

The advantage of serving it with a cooked salsa rather than raw, is that I could add plenty of onion to really up that superfree.

Husband requested chips, so I made him some black pepper jacket wedges. They're almost chips, and I can't be too compliant now can I?

So, this is what I did:

Serves 2
Syn free on Extra Easy

2 thick slices of ham, all visible fat removed
4 potatoes, skin left on, cut into wedges
salt and coarsely ground pepper
8 tomatoes, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped

To flavour the salsa, I used the leftover spicy sauce from last night's tiger prawns, which consisted of:

a small knob of ginger, minced
a couple of cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp tomato purée
1-2 tsp paprika

Par boil the potatoes, shake well in a sieve or colander to rough them up a bit, place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and cracked black pepper. Cook in the oven on a high temperature until nicely brown.

Meanwhile, make the salsa. Sauté the chopped onion, garlic and ginger in Fry Light until soft, then add the tomatoes. Continue cooking for a minute or two, then add the tomato purée and paprika. You may need to add some water if the mixture is too stiff.

Serve with the ham and a fried egg.

Butternut Squash and Leek Risotto with Garlic-Ginger Tiger Prawns

Serves 2
2 syns on Extra Easy*

* providing you use the cheese as your Hex A

6 large raw tiger prawns
knob of ginger
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp paprika

150g arborio rice
bouillon powder
125ml dry white wine
60g grated Parmesan cheese
1 large leek, sliced
a small butternut squash, quartered

Bake the butternut squash at 210°C until al dente (or as soft as you would like it). When cooked, scoop out the flesh using criss cross cuts which don't go right the way through the skin (much as you would with a mango).

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add the prawns. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the turn pink. Do not overcook or they will be tough. Drain, retaining the liquid, and plunge immediately into a bowl of iced water to arrest the cooking process. When cool enough to handle, peel the prawns.

Sautée the garlic and ginger in a little Fry Light until it is just beginning to go brown, then add the tomato purée and paprika plus a little of the cooking water from the prawns. Just before the risotto is ready, add the prawns to the sauce – either whole or sliced – to reheat.

Place the rice in a saucepan with some of the cooking liquid from the prawns, bring to the boil and stir continuously while the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue adding about a ladle-ful of water each time, adding the wine and bouillon powder at some stage. About half way through (the whole process usually takes 20-30 minutes), add the leeks. When the rice is cooked to your liking, add the butternut squash and stir until the squash it heated through. Take the risotto off the heat and stir in the cheese. Serve with the prawns on top.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Cheat's Chicken Fajita

Fajitas are a favourite in this house when we want something quick and easy for lunch or dinner, so when I discovered that I could have the BFree wraps as my Healthy Extra A, I was very excited. I would normally have (at least) a couple of fajitas, but thinking about it, the filling is what really matters. So I made one HUGE wrap today, full of flavoursome chicken and superfree veggies, with just 1 syn! Result!

I call this a “cheat's chicken fajita” because I used cooked deli chicken instead of chopping and frying my own.Tut tut tut.


Serves 2
1 syn on Extra Easy*

* providing you use the wrap as your Healthy Extra B

BFree Wheat and Gluten Free Wholegrain Wraps
ca 1/3 green pepper, thinly sliced
ca 1/3 red pepper, thinly sliced
ca 1/3 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
250g cooked chicken, torn into small pieces
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp sweetener
4-6 tomatoes, depending on size, deseeded and finely chopped
½ onion, peeled and finely chopped
a few coriander leaves, finely chopped
½ tsp lazy chilli (or to taste)
salt and black pepper
2 tsp lemon juice
4 tbsp fat free fromage frais
4 tbsp Discovery Guacamole Style Topping (½ syn per tbsp)
salad leaves to serve

Sauté the peppers and onions in Fry Light until soft. Add the chicken and stir well. Mix the paprika, celery salt, salt, cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and sweetener and add 2-3 tbsp water to mix. Pour into the chicken and vegetable pan and stir well to coat. Continue stirring, adding more water if necessary, until everything is heated through.

While the vegetables are cooking, make the tomato salsa. Mix together the chopped tomatoes, onion and coriander, and add the lemon juice, lazy chilli and salt and pepper to taste.

Place one wrap on each plate and top with the salad leaves, followed by the chicken and vegetable mix. Divide the tomato salsa between the two plates and top with fromage frais and guacamole style topping. Roll up – if you can, mine was so fat it was almost impossible – and enjoy. 


Monday, 2 June 2014

Cinnamon Crisps with Mixed Fruit Dip

I love surfing the net for ideas of what to make. I mostly just type in just one or two keywords and press “Images”; and take a look at the pictures that come up. Usually I can find a recipe I can adapt or I get an idea for a completely new one. This is something that I would never even have considered, but it was certainly worth the effort. It's very different and the texture of the crisps goes well with the softness of the fruit. Remember to syn the fruit if you cook or purée your fruit or berries.

** I used frozen mixed fruit (apples, blackcurrants, redcurrants, blackberries and raspberries) from Farrington Gurney Farm Shop. It is available loose, has a lovely fresh taste and saves a lot of chopping. 


Serves 2
Syn free*

* providing you use the wraps as your Healthy Extra B

2 BFree Wheat and Gluten Free Wholegrain Wraps
2 tbsp sweetner
1 tsp cinnamon
finely chopped fruit or soft berries to serve**

Cut each tortilla in 12 pieces and place on a pizza cooking plate. 

 Spray with Fry Light. Mix together the sweetener and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the tortillas. Spray with Fry Light again over the top and bake in the oven at 200-210°C for around 5 minutes. 

You need to keep an eye on it as they can easily burn. They are done when slightly puffed out and have turned crispy. 

Leave to cool on a tray until cold. 

 Serve with the fruit for dipping. 

Leftover Meatloaf Hash

Mondays are nearly always leftover days, and today I managed to empty no less than eight containers when cooking our lunch – not bad going eh? 


This is not a recipe as such, more of an idea of what to do with leftovers. Using the remains of the meatloaf as a base, I added nearly all the leftovers I had in the fridge. The list looks like this:

cooked Jersey Royal potatoes
cooked carrots
cooked baby sweetcorn
cooked tenderstem broccoli
cooked sugarsnap peas
grilled cherry tomatoes

I also had containers with Oriental coleslaw and Vietnamese pickled vegetables which I mixed together, and half a box of salad leaves which I served alongside the hash. 


I started off by crushing the potatoes between two palms, then tearing them roughly with my hands. In a large pan sprayed with some Fry Light, I sautéed the potatoes for a few minutes before adding everything else. I found it to be a little dry, so I added some water to make it a smoother consistency and some chilli flakes to zest it up a little. 

I do love leftovers, and the challenge of creating something that tastes good.

Turkey and mushroom stroganoff

This dish is nowhere near as difficult as it looks and is sure to impress your guests. It has plenty of superfree, especially as I served it with carrots, sugar snap peas and baby sweetcorn. 

 Lots of superfree

Serves 4
Syn free on extra easy

500g turkey breast, cubed
200g mushrooms, sliced
3 leeks, sliced
200g fat free fromage frais
1-2 tbsp bouillon powder
½ tsp mustard
1-2 tbsp sweetener
dash of Worcestershire sauce
500g wholewheat tagliatelli

Sauté the turkey, mushrooms and leeks in Fry Light until the vegetables are soft and the turkey cooked through. Turn the heat right down and add fromage frais, bouillon powder, mustard, sweetener and Worcestershire sauce to taste. Stir until heated through, but make sure it doesn't boil at it will curdle. You may want to add some water to get the right consistency.

Meanwhile, cook the tagliatelli as per packet instructions, and drain. Grease a doughnut-shaped baking tin and stuff the pasta in the ring. Place a flat serving dish over the top and put the whole thing in an oven on very low for a few minutes to firm it up a bit. It is best to have a dish that is quite a bit larger than the size of the ring as the content will spill over the edge when you cut into it if the plate is too small (as I found out). When you are ready to serve, turn the plate upside down and ease the tagliatelli out of the ring. Spoon the stroganoff into the centre and serve with vegetables or a salad. 

Kiwi and Blueberry Cheesecake Cups

I love cheesecakes but they are so not diet foods, but this gives me a little bit of relief from my cravings without breaking the syn bank. This is a nice and easy recipe which is assembled in minutes. 


Serves 2
Syn free on Extra Easy*

* providing you use the cream cheese as your Healthy Extra A

2 kiwis
a handful blueberries
150g Philadelphia Light
200g fat free fromage frais
sweetener to taste
a few drops rum essence
2-3 tbsp caramelised buckwheat

In tall wine glasses, place the finely chopped kiwi flesh and blueberries. Mix together the cream cheese, fromage frais, sweetener and rum essence and spoon over the fruit. Just as you are about to serve, sprinkle the buckwheat over.
American Style Meatloaf

Take one recipe you find on line and start to follow it, then begin your own modifications. You think you have only made a few small changes until you see your notes.... I like to call it “being creative”.

Serves 4-6
Syn free on Extra Easy*

* providing you use the bread as part of your Healthy Extra B

3 slices wholemeal bread from a 400g loaf, roughly torn
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp celery salt
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp dried thyme
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
500g of 5% fat minced beef
1 egg, beaten

500g passata
1 tbsp sweetener
½ tsp mustard powder
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp bouillon powder
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
dash Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp ground cumin

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Whizz the bread to rough crumbs in a food processor and place in a large bowl. Pulse the red pepper in the same way, followed by the onion, but do them separately, making sure they are finely chopped but not processed to a pulp. Mix in with the breadcrumbs and add the cumin, paprika, smoked paprika, ginger, white pepper, garlic powder, celery salt, nutmeg and beef. Mix very well together, then add the egg and continue stirring until everything is very well combined, but avoid squeezing the meat.

Grease a loaf tin and pack the meat mixture into it. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and invert the loaf onto it. Place near the bottom of the oven. 

Combine the passata. Sweetener, mustard powder, paprika, smoked paprika, bouillon powder, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and cumin. When the meatloaf has been in the oven for about ten minutes, brush the glaze over it and continue cooking for 35-45 minutes until it id cooked through.

Serve the remaining glaze as a sauce to accompany the meatloaf. 


Saturday, 31 May 2014

Carrot and Ginger Cupcakes

Another variation on my favourite – and immensely popular – butternut squash muffins. These are dangerously moreish, but at just half a syn (less in fact) each, you can really enjoy a couple without feeling guilty. They don't last very well in the fridge or a cake tin; but they freeze well – I have placed mine in containers with six cakes (without the icing) to take out for as and when we want a little treat, without going overboard.

Makes 36
½ syn each*

* providing you use the oats as your Healthy Extra b and cheese as your Healthy Extra A. Nine cakes constitutes one HexB and HexA.

140g porridge oats
2 tubs fat free thick plain Greek yogurt
100g sultanas
2 tsp baking powder
8 eggs, separated
2-3 tbsps mixed spice
½ – 1 cup of sweetener to taste
1 can sugar free ginger beer
3-4 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
a knob of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
300g cream cheese
sweetener to taste
a few drops of rum essence

First of all, in a small bow, place the sultanas and pour over enough ginger beer to cover. Leave to infuse and swell. Next put the oats in a large bowl and mix in the yogurt and the rest of the ginger beer. If you are using a thinner, runnier yogurt, cut down on the amount of liquid you use.

Leave these mixtures to soak for at least a couple of hours, ideally overnight. Boil the carrots with the ginger and leave to cool. Whizz in a food processor until smooth.

In a large bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Whisk the egg yolks and add the sweetener, mixed spice and baking powder. (Don't do as I did – thinking that I might forget to add the baking powder – I wasn't following a recipe, I was making it up as I went along – I measured it out when I thought of it earlier and just put it on top of the oat mixture for stirring in later. Wrong! By the time I came to stir it in, the baking powder had drawn the moisture from the oat mix and was one hard, white cake. Oops. I managed to break it up by whisking it in with the egg whites, but it was certainly a learning point!)

Stir the egg yolks and carrot mix into the oat mixture, add the sultanas and gently fold in the egg whites, making sure everything is mixed in well. Spoon into well greased muffin cases. I find I like to keep stirring the mixture while I am putting it into the little muffin cases, as the sultanas tend to sink to the bottom fairly quickly.

Bake in the oven at 180°C for 20-30 minutes, until they are cooked through. They should be springy, not fluffy when you touch them gently with your finger, and a skewer inserted should come out clean.

For the icing, mix together the cream cheese, sweetener and rum essence and spread on top of the cakes.


Chermoula Chicken with Tabbuleh

Inspired by an article in the Slimming World magazine this month, as well as my raffle winnings in group, I set out to make Chermoula Chicken for dinner tonight. I adapted the recipe to fit with what I had in the fridge / cupboards, and as we have already had couscous this week, I thought I'd serve it with tabbuleh instead. Tabbuleh is a more recent discovery of mine – the first time I had it was in a Lebanese restaurant in Tripoli in Libya in 2005. It was love at first bite. 

Tonight's version was a variation on a theme, adding more vegetables to ensure I got the required amount of superfree, and I used coriander rather than mint as that is what was lurking in the fridge drawer. You can of course add any vegetables you would like to the tabbuleh; it's great for using up leftovers too.

Serves 2
Syn free on Extra easy

2 chicken breasts
1 tin chopped tomatoes
5-6 cloves garlic
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp celery salt
small handful of coriander leaves and stems
zest and juice of a lime
1 tsp sumac

Mix together all the ingredients except the chicken and the sumac and whizz through a liquidiser. Make deep cuts in the chicken breast and place in a shallow bowl. Pour over the liquid and bake in the oven at 200°C for 20-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Slice the chicken and serve on top of the tabbuleh, sprinkled with the sumac.
Serve the rest of the cooking sauce separately to pour over the chicken at the table.

Tabbuleh with a Difference
a couple of handfuls of bulghur wheat
juice of 1 lime
100g tomatoes. chopped (I used golden pomodorino)
a handful of chopped coriander
a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
100 g cooked green beans, chopped
2 tinned roasted red pepper, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped

Place the bulghur wheat in a large bowl and pour in the lime juice and enough boiling water to cover. Leave to infuse while the chicken is cooking, adding more water if the mixture looks too dry. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. 

Pulled Pork Tortilla Pizza

Having read about pizzas made from tortillas, I was keen to try it for myself, and when I discovered that I could have the Bfree Wheat and Gluten Free Wholegrain Wraps as as a Healthy Extra B choice, the idea was sold. I had terrible trouble finding the said wraps though – they are apparently only available in Asda in this area, but the first Asda I tried was too small, so I ended up driving half way around the West Country to find them. When I finally did, I bought two packets to keep in the freezer.

I used the leftover BBQ pulled pork for my topping, but you could use anything you like, remembering to ensure that you get plenty of superfree foods. My BBQ sauce had onion, cherry tomatoes and passata in it, but even so I decided to serve it with a couple of salads to balance it all out.

Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy*

* providing you use the cheese as your Healthy Extra A

and the tortilla as you Healthy Extra B

2 Bfree Wheat and Gluten Free Wholegrain Wraps
topping as required
60g grated Parmesan cheese

Salad or vegetables to serve

Place the wraps on a pizza cooking trays and spread the topping over the surface leaving a couple of centimetres around the edges. Scatter the grated cheese over the top and bake in the oven at 210°C for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and everything is heated through. Keep an eye on them as the edge can burn easily.

Tropical Coleslaw
As I still had some mooli left (those buggers are huge!) I made a tropical coleslaw to go with the pizzas. I tried grating the apricots too, but it just became a soggy mush, so I resorted to chopping them very finely.

finely grated mooli
finely grated carrot
2 apricots, finely chopped
1 tub zero percent plain yogurt
1-2 tsp mint sauce
Sweetener to taste

Mix together all the ingredients for the coleslaw and serve with the pizza. I also served it with a sweet bistro style salad (bought ready packaged from the store. 

Smoked Salmon, Scrambled Eggs and Potato Rösti

The breakfast of (European) kings. They were selling smoked salmon at half price in Sainsbury's this week, so I allowed myself a little treat for breakfast this morning. I didn't want to use my Healthy Extra B for bread to go with this, so I decided to make some potato rösti instead. 


* I normally add a handful of chopped spring onion tops to my scrambled eggs, but today I didn't have any. I did, however, have some leeks and I did the same thing with the green tops of those and it worked out well.

Serves 2
Syn free on Extra Easy

2 potatoes, peeled and finely grated
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 eggs
spring onion tops (just the green bits), finely chopped*
smoked salmon
tomatoes for grilling, halved
lemon wedges to serve

Mix the grated potato with the cumin seeds and place in four well greased Yorkshire pudding tins. Place on the bottom shelf of the oven and cook at 210°C for 15-20 minutes until golden. 


For the last few minutes of the rösti cooking time, place the tomatoes on the top shelf.

Meanwhile scramble the eggs to your liking, using the spring onion tops, chives or even leek tops as I did.

Serve with lemon wedges and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.


Friday, 30 May 2014

Caramelised Basa Fillets with Tamarind

Trey kho umpil

We first encountered this Vietnamese dish at a small beach restaurant in Dai Lanh near Nang Tra back in 1997. To reach the restaurant we had to traverse the river on a rickety old wooden footbridge, and the place itself looked run down and maybe not the sort of place I would normally have chosen to eat; but the fish was very fresh and absolutely delicious! The sweet, sour and spicy flavour combination has stayed with me ever since, although this is the first time I have attempted to make it at home. 


I'd stocked the freezer with lots of different fish when I went to Morrisons last week, and I asked Husband to take out a random packet of fish for tonight's supper. I was looking on line for inspiration about how to prepare basa fillets when I saw this recipe and the memory of this ramshackle beach café in Vietnam came back to me.

Basa is a type of catfish native to Vietnam and Thailand and has a somewhat unusual consistency but a nice firm flesh and good flavour. We both loved this dish and I shall definitely be cooking it again.

* The recipe called for fish sauce, but as I am not very keen I substituted some extra thick soy sauce. You can of course use normal dark soy sauce, but the consistency will be thinner. You can get it at Chinese supermarkets – I bought mine at Wai Yee Hong OrientalSupermarket in Eastville. 


Serves 2
Less than ½ syn per serving

2 basa fillets
2 small onions, very finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp extra thick soy sauce*
1 tbsp tamarind paste (½ syn)
1 tsp sambal oelek (or lazy chilli)
2 tbsp sweetener
1 bunch of spring onions, sliced diagonally in 1 inch slices

Sauté the onion in Fry Light over a low heat until translucent and soft. Add 200ml water, the soy sauce, sweetener, tamarind paste, garlic and sambal oelek and stir well. Place the basa fillets in the liquid and simmer gently until they are cooked through, some 7-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets, turning half way through to ensure the fish is coated in the mixture. 2-3 minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the spring onions.

I served this with brown rice with a handful of frozen chopped vegetables added for the last couple of minutes of the cooking time; tenderstem broccoli and Do Chua Vietnamese pickles. I used a bit of a cheat's recipe for the pickles, as I made them up fresh rather than actually pickling them. Husband said it was very refreshing and went well with the fish. 


Do Chua

½ daikon or mooli, grated
1 large carrot, grated
knob of ginger, grated
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp sweetener

Mix all the ingredients together and serve. Any leftovers can be kept for several days in the fridge. 

Kale and Mint Salad

I had some kale in the fridge that needed using up, and I was searching the internet for inspiration when I came across a recipe that I managed to doctor enough to fit in the Slimming World Plan. Normally I would just fry the kale in some Fry Light until crispy, so this was the first time we've had it raw. 


Serves 2
Less than ½ syn per person*

* providing you use the cheese as your Healthy Extra A

1 packet kale, picked over to remove the thick hard stems
1 packet of mint, leaves roughly chopped

zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 small garlic clove, very finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp red chilli flakes
30g finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp plain fat free yogurt
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together and add water until you get a dressing-like consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in to the kale and mint leaves until thoroughly mixed.

I served mine with some chilli and garlic grillsticks from Joe'sSausages for an almost syn free lunch with lots of superfree.

We both found the texture of the raw kale a little unusual, but agreed that its chewy consistency was not unpleasant. I would definitely have it again. 


Thursday, 15 May 2014

Red Velvet Cupcakes

These work out at under than half a syn per cupcake providing you use the oats as your Healthy Extra B and the cream cheese as your Healthy Extra A

Makes 12 little cakes

70g rolled oats
1 tub Müllerlight toffee yogurt
1-2 tbsp water
4 tbsp cocoa powder
sweetener to taste
3-4 beetroots, depending on size
1 tbsp baking powder
4 eggs, separated
150g reduced fat cream cheese
200g fat free fromage frais
a few drops of red food colouring

Soak the oats in the yogurt for at least two hours, ideally overnight. Add the cocoa powder and sweetener to taste. Add some water if necessary to make a soft consistency.

Peel and cook the beetroot until soft and mash using a potato masher or a fork. Be careful at this stage as it can be quite a slippery customer and bits have a habit of flying out of the bowl and staining whatever they land on.

Mix the beetroot in with the oats and add the baking powder.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks. Mix the yolks with the oats and beetroot and carefully fold in the whites. 


Spoon in to 12 greased muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes at 180°C until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool.

For the icing, mix together the cream cheese, fromage frais, sweetener to taste and a few drops of red food colouring. When the cakes are cool, pipe the icing on top.