Beetroot and Apple Soup With Feta and Dill (25 mins)

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This unique, rustic Beetroot Soup recipe caught my eye in Ocado magazine and I gave it a go.  It’s based on the Eastern European soup called borscht, and is particularly delicious topped with feta cheese and dill.  Just what we need as autumn arrives!  Enjoy it with bread – I like those frozen baguettes that you can heat in the oven and pretend you baked yourself…

As an alternative to feta and dill you could have the soup with a swirl of creme fraiche and some fennel seeds.  You need a blender and a spare 25 minutes to make it : )

Beetroot and Apple Soup With Feta and Dill (serves 2 as a large main/4 as a starter)

1 tbsp oil e.g. vegetable/olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped very small

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

500g cooked beetroot, diced

1 apple, cored, peeled and diced

800ml hot vegetable stock

50g feta cheese, crumbled

Small handful of dill, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the garlic, onion and carrot and cook for 7 minutes, until softened.  Stir in the beetroot, apple and stock.  Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Use a hand blender (or pour the soup in to a blender) to blitz the soup until smooth.  Add a little more water if it is too thick.  Season to taste.

Pour the soup in to bowls and scatter over the feta and dill.  Eat and feel warmed up!

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Nadiya’s Chicken and Rice Traybake

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We are big fans of Nadiya Hussain in our house.  When my boys spotted this Chicken and Rice Traybake on her show we decided to try it the next week.  It really was as simple and comforting as we had hoped!   First you briefly bake onions and garlic in a casserole dish, then mix in rice, lay on some chicken drumsticks and pour over stock.  Later add peas.  The oven gently cooks everything through, and the rice goes temptingly crispy at the edges.

Freddy (my oldest) helped rub the chicken with some oil and onion powder for extra flavour, followed by a very thorough washing of his hands.  Robin (my youngest) helped stir in the rice and pour over the stock.

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Then they tucked in!  We all loved it, including Freddy.  Don’t let his face deceive you – he just refuses to smile for photos…

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Here is my simplified version of the recipe.  For an alternative meal you could try different vegetables, and perhaps fish instead of the chicken.  Allow about 10 mins prep plus 1 hour cooking : )

Chicken and Rice Traybake (serves 3-4)

Oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed/chopped fine

160g basmati rice

400ml vegetable or chicken stock

150g frozen peas

For the chicken 

4-6 chicken drumsticks

1 tbsp oil e.g. vegetable oil/olive oil

1 tsp onion powder

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Lightly grease a large roasting tray and put in the onion and garlic. Drizzle over some oil and give the onions a stir. Bake for 10 minutes, making sure they don’t begin to burn.

Meanwhile, for the chicken, mix 1 tsp onion powder and 1 tbsp oil in a bowl. Rub the oil mixture all over the drumsticks (and make sure you thoroughly wash your hands afterwards!)

Take the onions out of the oven and add the rice. Stir well, then put the drumsticks on top. Pour in the stock. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, lift the chicken drumsticks on to a side plate, then add the peas to the rice and lightly stir them through. Replace the chicken pieces and bake without the foil for another 15 minutes.

One-Pot Super Nutty Salad

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This is my slightly simplified version of an amazingly delicious M&S salad I had recently. It is wholesome, nutty and full of goodness and flavour.  I used one of those pre-cooked Merchant Gourmet packets called ‘Glorious Grains’ and cooked everything in one pot before sprinkling it with feta cheese.  It took about 20 minutes.

Pre-cooked Merchant Gourmet packets (or cheaper supermarket equivalents) are generally brilliant for packed lunches and quick dinners so look out for them!

Super Nutty Salad (serves approx 4 people)

Oil e.g. olive or rapeseed oil

1 carrot, chopped small

4 heads of broccoli, chopped in to bite size pieces

1 clove of garlic, crushed

Large handful of edamame beans (frozen is fine)

1 packet of Merchant Gourmet Simply Cooked Glorious Grains (or equivalent)

Tin of black eyed beans, drained

Small handful of salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Small handful of almonds, roughly chopped

1 tbsp soy sauce

Thumb of ginger, peeled, and grated or chopped very small

Optional – handful of roughly chopped coriander

Feta cheese

Heat some oil in a pan and cook the carrot, broccoli and garlic for about 5 minutes, until tender.  Add the edamame beans, Merchant Gourmet glorious grains packet, black eyed beans, peanuts, almonds, soy sauce and ginger and heat for about another 5 minutes, until everything is heated through nicely.

Spoon in to bowls and top with the coriander (if using), crumble over some feta cheese and add a drizzle of oil if you fancy.  Eat!

 

Gazpacho (Chilled Spanish Tomato Soup)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAre you enjoying the sun but feeling super hot?  This Gazpacho (chilled Spanish tomato soup) is the best and most delicious way of cooling down!  I have tried to make the recipe as simple and quick as possible, so all you need to do is put the following ingredients in to a food processor, blitz well and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Even better if you top it with some finely chopped pepper, red onion and cucumber for a little crunch.  And a sprinkle of black pepper.

Gazpacho (serves 2 with bread as a light meal)

Tin of chopped tomatoes

1/2 red pepper, roughly chopped

1/2 cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 red onion, roughly chopped

1 large clove of garlic

1 tsp of vinegar e.g. red or white wine vinegar/sherry vinegar

Juice of 1/2 lime

Blitz the above ingredients in a food processor until completely smooth.  Chill for atleast a couple of hours in the fridge (it will last a few days in there).  When ready to eat, pour in to bowls and serve with a little garnish of chopped pepper, red onion and cucumber.  Eat and feel refreshed!

 

 

 

Family-Friendly Scandinavian Smorgasbord

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Once in a while we have a ‘theme’ night at dinnertime when we try food from another country.      It’s a fun way to be a little adventurous and learn about different cultures.  I sometimes simplify or adapt the original version to make it more kid friendly and not too overwhelming, so there is no need to completely stick to tradition.  Our latest theme dinner was a Scandinavian Smorgasbord consisting of smoked salmon and lemon wedges (the kids felt all fancy squeezing the lemon over the salmon!); potato salad made from boiled potatoes, capers and a little mayonnaise; and rye bread with butter (you can get rye bread from big supermarkets).

If you wanted to be even more authentic you could add meatballs, boiled eggs, crayfish, crackers, beetroot salad or dill and mustard sauce.  Or you could have a look in the Ikea food shop for easy inspiration (they even do vegetable balls as an alternative to meatballs).

There are endless possibilities for theme nights – we have had Italian pasta meals listening to opera and Mexican fajitas after watching the Pixar kids film Coco!  Google will give you lots of ideas.

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Watermelon Sorbet

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I absolutely love this watermelon sorbet, which is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe.    There are only 4 ingredients (frozen watermelon chunks, lime juice, mint and ginger preserve) which results in a wonderfully refreshing summer dessert.  And it takes minutes to whizz up in a food processor!

You should be able to buy the ginger preserve in the supermarket.  Happy summer : )

Watermelon Sorbet (serves 8)

1 small – medium watermelon

Small handful of mint leaves

2 tbsp of ginger preserve

Juice of 2 limes

Cut off the watermelon rind and chop the flesh (seeds and all) in to chunks.  Freeze for at least 8 hours.

When ready to make, remove the watermelon chunks and blitz in a food processor with the mint leaves, ginger preserve and lime juice until a sorbet consistency .  Do this in batches if you need to, as if you overload the food processor it will take ages!  Garnish each serving with a sprig of mint.

Roast Aubergine With Yoghurt Dressing

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This is a sumptuous Middle-Eastern inspired dinner.  The aubergines are sliced in half, rubbed with oil and cumin seeds and baked until soft.  You then top them with a beautiful yoghurt dressing, toasted cashew nuts and fresh coriander.  Allow about 10 minutes of effort and 50 minutes of roasting.

Cumin seeds are definitely one of my most *exciting ingredients*  I also sprinkle them over soups and once had an unforgetful wrap filled with fried halloumi, beetroot, yoghurt and cumin seeds!

Roast Aubergine With Yoghurt Dressing (serves 2)

  • 2 aubergines, sliced in half lengthways
  • Olive oil or vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 200g Greek or natural yoghurt
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp cashew nuts/pine nuts , toasted (do this by frying them on a high heat in a dry non-stick pan, shaking regularly, for about 30 seconds – 1 minute until golden – careful not to burn!)
  • 1 handful of roughly chopped coriander

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200 degrees.  Gently score the 4 cut halves of aubergine flesh with criss cross cuts, then carefully rub/brush over 1 tbsp of oil between them and sprinkle over the salt and pepper and cumin seeds.  Roast for around 50 minutes until browned and soft.

While the aubergine is roasting mix the yoghurt, garlic and lemon juice together.  To serve, spoon the yoghurt dressing over the aubergine then top with the toasted cashew nuts and fresh coriander.