Monday, 30 May 2016

Indian Feast - Chicken 65, Lentil Rice and Creamy Chickpeas

It was my birthday yesterday! And I celebrated it.. In work. Luckily my lovely boyfriend got me some great presents and delicious slices of cake to sample. AND he booked us a dinner for tonight to my favourite Indian restaurant. It's my favourite because the food is great and they encourage you to order a lot. It is an Indian street food place, so they encourage you to eat tapas-style. And everyone knows, tapas = ordering insane amounts of food.

And this restaurant inspired me to make something delicious recently. I’ve said it numerous times, but while Mexican food is my absolute favourite, Indian cuisine is my real and true first love. The first thing I ever learned how to cook from scratch was a curry. It wasn’t super delicious, but it was mine and it wasn’t from a jar, and I loved having created something from basic ingredients. I still make a version of that curry today and it has fond memories for me.

The ingredient list might be daunting, but pretty much all of them are my absolute cupboard staples!

But, we all know that Indian food is about a lot more than curries, and this is my take on some Indian-style street food, with a bit of everything – spiced fried chicken, flavourful lentils and rice, and some creamy chickpeas. Of course, these elements can be mixed and matched, but I like piling them all on my plate together – a feast for the senses – it looks good, smells FANTASTIC and tastes amazing!

Friday, 27 May 2016

Spiced Bean and Mince Pilaf

So, I have been super busy and vaguely stressed out recently. That, combined with the boyfriend nipping away for a teaching week, meant that I didn’t really have the need or time to cook much. So, I turned to my fridge and cupboards the other day and was GOBSMACKED to find that I had run out of pretty much all beans as well as garlic and spring onions. The cupboards were basically bare. It was a modern day fairytale-nightmare.

So, I went off on the mammoth task of acquiring groceries, which was highly successful.

However, I am kind of terrible at planning and if you combine that with just assuming that I have certain ingredients, it can make a recipe for disaster. So, I currently have NO tins of chickpeas (despite doing a massive grocery shop) but I have two full tubs of baking powder AND of bicarbonate of soda. And a ton of lentils.  And loads of coconut milk. None of which I need for this recipe, unfortunately.

So, this post is brought to you by the letter S. For “Sorry, I don’t have any chickpeas.” Borlotti beans are close enough. Not really. But still delicious.

I’m kind of newly obsessed with turkey mince. It’s really versatile, healthy, and quick to cook. And it goes really well here, though I’m thinking lamb mince would also have been killer. Other substitutions – you can always use white rice instead of brown, but I’m trying to make healthier choices at times when I’m not eating a Chinese takeout.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Best Peanut Butter Cookies EVER

Dear readers, (all 2 of you. Yes, hi, mum) I am going to give you a big treat today. I have been a little negligent lately (life!) but I am back to my regular scheduled programming and I want to reward the unending loyalty..

The best peanut butter cookie recipe EVER EVER.

There are a few things I love to do when I bake. I love using nuts. I love baking things that are already all portioned off and easy to eat with your hands. And I absolutely, positively love rolling things in cinnamon sugar. All these things make me happy. And you get ALL of that goodness in one handy, scummy recipe!

In all the sugary goodess

It has peanut butter, it has cinnamon, it has a sugary outer coating and the cookies are the best tasting thing I’ve had all year. I can’t really explain much more than that, just make them and you’ll see.

The perfect cookie, just look at it

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Fajitas, Tomato Rice and Salsa

Oh, you know I love a bit of Mexican food!

I can't help myself, and I know that I have done fajitas before on the blog (and this recipe is much the same) but I’ve added some absolutely scrummy sides which just serve to enhance the whole shebang, so I’m posting them again, this time as part of a full meal.

The sides in question are a flavourful roasted tomato salsa and some spiced tomato rice. Now, I know. I am not the biggest fan of tomatoes, and this meal is fairly tomato-heavy. But we all have whims, and I just felt like having tons of tomatoes that day! Feel free to make the salsa and go with plain rice if it all feels a bit  much, or ditch the salsa altogether. Speaking of salsa, you can use this recipe at other times, especially excellent for dipping tortilla chips.

I will finish by saying that I love fajitas. I don’t know who doesn’t (well, apart from my long-suffering boyfriend). For me, fajitas are the perfect midweek meal – meaty morsels of succulently spiced chicken, balanced on top of some flavourful rice and wrapped up warm in a tortilla blanket. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Chicken and Falafel Salad - Or: My First Salad

I'm going to take the blog in a slightly different direction for this one, because.. THIS IS MY 200th POST!

And for that, I’m going to let you all into a secret.

I’ve never made a salad before.

Because I had always held the belief that..

And to be honest, this is definitely true..

I was never particularly bothered about it, apart from having a sneaking suspicion that I am missing out on something which could be quite delicious. I had never really considered salad a dinner. It was what you'd eat when you were punishing yourself for whatever reason. It was about tolerable on the side of something actually delicious, or on top of a burger. 

I resolved to make a foray into salads after eating a particularly delicious one while on holiday in Lisbon. It had crisp lettuce, delicately spiced chicken, a host of veggies and a balsamic dressing. I was smitten.

I decided that I’d give salads a go myself, seeing as we are coming into salad and beer-garden season (HAH! It's been snowing recently..). But to keep it safe, I wanted to stick to flavours and textures which were familiar to me, so I thought I’d try an Eastern-inspired chicken salad with some sesame baked falafel on the side. It's simple, but tasty. And I'm using it as a springboard for more elaborate salads in the future!

And while simple, it's goooood. The parts themselves are delicious together or separately. Those falafel would be really delicious in a hummus pitta. The chicken would be equally delicious over couscous with roasted vegetables. Go wild!