Mince pie cookies (all the flavour in far less time!)

mince pie cookies

I had been looking for a novel Christmas recipe so a big thank you to my friend Cynthia for recommending this one, which is based on a recipe from The Times.  Best of all the cookies are very easy to make so you end up with all the mince pie flavours (using orange zest and shop-bought mincemeat) with a fraction of the effort!  That is my kind of recipe.  A great one for making with kids too if you fancy it.  Brilliant.

Apparently the cooked cookies and the dough both freeze well.  Recipe makes between 20-30 cookies depending on size.

Mince pie cookies

250g unsalted butter, softened
140g sugar
1 egg yolk
Grated zest of a smallish orange
300g flour
1 x 410g jar mincemeat

Heat oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4.  Line 2 or 3 baking trays with grease proof/baking paper (or use a non-stick tray).  Lightly beat the butter and sugar until creamy, add the egg yolk and orange zest and then gradually the flour.  Then add most of the mincemeat and stir/mix with hands to make a dough.

Pull off little clumps of dough, place on the baking tray and flatten slightly.  Dot a small blob of the remaining mincemeat in the middle of each biscuit.  Put in the oven and check after 10 minutes.  They will be ready in 10-15 mins when golden, a little brown at the edges but still a bit soft in the middle.  Be careful not to burn them!

Cool, and store in an airtight container.  Will last a few days.

Based on a recipe from The Times

Spiced whole roast cauliflower (10 mins prep/1 hour cooking)

spiced whole roast cauliflower

I have been wanting to try this all year and can now confirm that it really does work!  You cover a whole cauliflower with a marinade of Greek yoghurt and spices, roast it in the oven until it is brown then put it in the middle of the table so people can cut off chunks.  A unique, low carb/fat and delicious meal and it only takes 10 minutes to prepare then up to an hour in the oven!  Perfect for a mid week dinner.  Serve with a salad.  And don’t be put off by the the fact it looks a bit like a brain…

spiced whole roast cauliflower

spiced whole roast cauliflower

Spiced whole roasted cauliflower

1 medium head cauliflower
4 heaped dessert spoons Greek yogurt
Zest of 1/2 lime
1/2 – 1 tsp chilli powder (depending how fiery you like it!)
1/2 tsp ground cumin/cumin seeds
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp mild curry powder
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°/gas mark 5. Trim the base of the cauliflower to remove the leaves and stem.  In bowl, mix the yogurt with the lime zest, chilli powder, cumin, garlic, curry powder, salt and pepper.

Put the cauliflower on a baking tray and use a spoon to spread the marinade evenly all over it.  Roast until the surface is dry and well browned, for between 45 mins – 1 hour.  Place on the table and let people cut off wedges.  Serve with a salad!

Christmas tree biscuits for a rainy day

christmas tree biscuits

Here is a festive little activity to do with the kids (or not!) All you need are some basic ingredients, Christmassy spices (ground ginger and cinnamon) and a Christmas tree biscuit cutter. We didn’t have anything to decorate the trees with but the possibilities are endless (those squirty icing pens, little edible balls or stars). Kids (including toddlers) can enjoy mixing the ingredients, rolling the dough out and then cutting the shapes and transferring them to the baking tray.  Allow 20 minutes for the dough to harden in the fridge before rolling.

The biscuits should keep for a few days.  For an alternative biscuit recipe that can be hung on the Christmas tree click here:

http://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/im-back-with-reindeer-cookies-to-make-with-kids-and-to-decorate-the-christmas-tree/

christmas tree biscuits

christmas tree biscuits

Don’t worry if the biscuits don’t look perfect – some of ours weren’t even recognisable!

Christmas tree biscuits (makes approx 12)

225g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp each of ground cinnamon and ground ginger (or 3/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp ground all spice)
115g light muscovado sugar/caster sugar
115g unsalted butter
1 medium egg, beaten

Start by preheating the oven to 180°C/ gas mark 4.
Mix the flour, spices and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter, if necessary rubbing it in using your fingers. Add the beaten egg and mix into a stiff dough. Make a big ball and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes to harden a bit.  Knead lightly and roll out on a floured surface until it’s approx 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into Christmassy shapes and place onto non-stick baking trays.  Pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes, swapping the trays around halfway through, until golden brown.
Leave the biscuits to cool then decorate with whatever you fancy.

My first www.katielovescooking.com magazine article!

I am very excited to announce that I recently had my first http://www.katielovescooking.com feature in Waltham Forest Is London magazine, which was delivered to every home in Waltham Forest.  I am really pleased with it.  For the full online article, including more about how I got in to cooking, my work in the local community and a recipe using locally sourced ingredients, click here!

http://www.walthamforestlondon.co.uk/news/katie-loves-cooking-katielovescooking-com/

My fella’s low-calorie roast sweet potato, broccoli and prawn salad (40 mins prep)

If you read my blog regularly you will know that my fella normally only gets excited over Rustlers burgers and biscuits.  Not so anymore.  He has been on a low-calorie health kick and – shock horror! – might actually be getting his five (veg and fruit) a day.  In his quest to eat delicious and filling low-calorie meals, he discovered that you can eat loads of veg and prawns without racking up many calories (in this case we reckon about 300 per portion).

sweet potato broccoli prawn low calorie salad

This salad is a one-tray meal so it saves on washing up. We both agree that roasting sweet potato, broccoli, asparagus, prawns, garlic and chilli flakes in olive oil then squeezing over fresh lemon juice is really tasty and satisfyingly filling.  In my fella’s words ‘it’s so nice I can literally eat it’.  I’m quite annoyed that one of our most regularly eaten dishes was invented by him and not me…

There are lots of alternative ingredient options for this dish – cauliflower, carrots, parsnips and onions are also delicious roasted; soya beans could be heated separately and added at the end; you could top the salad with seeds, spring onions or herbs; and if you don’t eat prawns you could scatter on shaved parmesan or crumbled feta before serving.

To offset this superfood meal, I am collaborating with a cafe to bring you an Algerian omelette recipe – naughty, unique and definitely NOT low in calories.  Watch this space!

My fella’s low-calorie roast sweet potato, broccoli and prawn salad (serves 2)

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in to small chunks
Head of broccoli, roughly cut in to florets
6 asparagus tips, chopped in to 1 inch pieces
180g cooked prawns (any kind), drained
Handful pine nuts, toasted (you can do this yourself by heating in a hot, dry non-stick pan for 1-2 mins, shaking regularly until lightly browned)
2 garlic cloves, crushed

Small sprinkle chilli flakes

Juice of 1 lemon
Large glug olive oil

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190 degrees.  Put the sweet potato chunks in a non-stick roasting/baking tray, coat in a large glug of olive oil and mix. Put in the oven for approx 30 mins, turning every 5-10 minutes to avoid burning. Once tender, add the broccoli, asparagus, prawns, garlic and chilli flakes and roast for a further 10-15 mins, turning regularly. Add a little olive oil if necessary. Once everything is cooked through and slightly browned, take out of the oven and add the lemon juice.  Mix.

Serve in bowls topped with the pine nuts.

Kids’ favourite – 7 minute noodles in a cup!

7 minute noodles cup kids meal

This is hardly a ground breaking dish.  But it is quick, tasty, healthy and, most importantly, has the novelty of being served in a cup!  Kids like this.  Mine really enjoyed the ‘oodles of noodles’ and even ‘drank’ the last bits out.  It has a good splash of soy sauce to give it flavour and a bit of saltiness, which also tends to appeal to kids. The possibilities to vary what you put with the noodles are plenty – instead of peas and sweetcorn you could try pepper, spring onions, carrots, broccoli or cauliflower.  Instead of marinated tofu (from a pack – delicious) you could use prawns, flaked smoked mackerel, pre-cooked sausages or chicken.

7 minute noodles cup kids meal

Be prepared for a bit of mess due to all those long, wriggly noodles.  In my opinion this is half the fun but you could always cut them up if you want!

7 minute noodles in a cup (serves approx 4 people depending on appetites)

160g medium egg noodles

100g peas

Small tin sweetcorn

250g Cauldron marinated tofu pieces (or cooked prawns, flaked smoked mackerel, chopped cooked sausages or chicken)

Big dash soy sauce

Boil the noodles and peas together in a pan for 5 minutes, making sure you separate the noodles with a fork while they cook so they don’t stick.  Drain and add the sweetcorn and marinated tofu.  Mix up and add a good glug of soy sauce, to taste (be careful not to overdo it!)  Carefully load in to cups and serve.

Seasonal pumpkin, blue cheese and watercress lasagne

When I saw this seasonal recipe I thought it looked unusual. The roast pumpkin, cinnamon, chilli flakes, garlic, blue cheese and watercress compliment each other perfectly and it makes an interesting change from a more traditional tomato-sauce-based lasagne. It would make a good veggie Christmas dinner option too (although you might need to use butternut squash instead).

pumpkin watercress blue cheese lasagne

You need to allow about 1 hour 45 minutes to make this, but at least 1 hour of that is cooking in the oven so it is not all graft! You could prepare the roast mix in the morning and then layer the lasagne and cook it later on.

The recipe is based on one from Guardian Cook but I have adapted the quantities and used danish blue cheese instead of gorgonzola as it is cheaper. Next time I might try topping it with chopped walnuts.

pumpkin watercress blue cheese lasagne

Instant dry chilli flakes are great by the way – they might not be fresh but they are still delicious! I often use them in salad dressings and when roasting veg. In fact I would even go so far as to say they are an *exciting ingredient* (see the ‘exciting ingredient’ category on the right hand side for more ideas).

For a more traditional veggie lasagne (my signature recipe!) check out this link: http://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/my-veggie-lasagne-50-mins-prep50-mins-cooking-and-the-versatility-of-soy-sauce/.

Pumpkin, blue cheese and watercress lasagne (serves 4)

1 medium sized pumpkin or butternut squash, cut in to wedges and skin chopped off (pumpkin is easier to cut!)
4 garlic cloves, skins on
1 tsp cinnamon
1-2 pinches dry chilli flakes
Salt and black pepper
A glug of olive oil
60g grated parmesan
6-8 dried lasagne sheets
150g danish blue, gorgonzola or stilton cheese, crumbled
2 bunches watercress, roughly chopped
200ml double cream

Heat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4. In a large bowl mix the pumpkin, garlic, cinnamon, chilli, salt, pepper, glug of olive oil and a splash of water. Place on a non-stick baking/roasting tray and roast for approx 30 minutes, until soft. Stir regularly to avoid sticking.

Pop the garlic out of their skins, finely chop and put back with the pumpkin mixture and then add 40g of the parmesan. Mix together. Turn the oven up to 190 degrees/gas mark 6.

Layer the lasagne dish. Start with the lasagne sheets, then the pumpkin mixture, half the danish blue cheese and half the watercress. Layer again with the lasagne sheets, pumpkin mixture, remaining danish blue and watercress and then pour over the cream. Sprinkle the lasagne with the remaining parmesan then bake for approx 40 minutes, until the top is bubbling and golden. Serve with salad.