I read somewhere that you should have one signature dish that you can always whip up.

Writing this I think Hannah Gale wrote in one of her very fab blog posts. The idea being that on a Saturday at midnight, when you’ve missed the last train home, you can still make this recipe. You can perfectly create it every damn time. You don’t need to weigh out 59603059220 different ingredients. You’ve made it so many times it’s inscribed on the cookery book you keep inside your noggin.

For me that did is homemade pizza. It started last year when I oddly had all the ingredients in the cupboard. I then lived off homemade pizza for six months. (Almost.) T and I recently celebrated two years together and I suggested making pizza. T pulled a face thinking it would take 98 hours. But, I whipped it up in half hour or so. So I’m sharing how you can do the same.

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

Put in your trolley (For the dough.)

200g strong white flour

50ml of lukewarm water (Give or take.)

1tbsp of olive oil

For Toppings

Tomato and basil passata

Sweetcorn

Deli Chicken (We used chicken tikka, T had quorn.)

An egg

Mozzerella

Anything else you fancy topping your masterpiece with.

You may have noticed there is not yeast in this recipe. I like very, very thin and crispy pizza bases so I don’t wait for the dough to rise. I’ve done it before and (with yeast and proving,) and found it unsuccessful. (If you were wondering.)

Step One

Measure out the flour into a bowl, spoon in the oil. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water bit by bit. I add very little amounts at a time – you don’t want it too sticky. Stir with a spoon until it comes together and then use your hands.

Step Two

Put the oven on to pre-heat at 200C.

Take the dough from the bowl and knead. Youtube helps if you’re struggling with the motion. Knead until it resembles mashed potato. Then roll out using a rolling pin. (Or a bottle of tomato sauce.) It will spring back, so keep rolling until it’s circular(ish) and the thickness of a pound coin. Liberally sprinkle a baking tray with flour and place the dough on-top.

Step Three

Top with the passata (quite a lot) and then add your toppings (minus the egg.) We added a mixture of the toppings featured but just use your favourites. Mushrooms, olives, artichoke – whatever you fancy. Pop in the oven and cook for 7 minutes.

Step Four

Once the base is cooked – give it a prod, crack the egg on top and then whip back in the oven. T likes his quite cooked so he put his on a couple of minutes earlier. Once egg is cooked take out, slice and devour.

Numbers (if you’re bothered.)

Depending on how many toppings you use this comes to between 450 – 500 calories which is higher than a lot of the recipes I’ve been posting. But compared to ordering a large dominos you’re onto a winner. It’s a brilliant way to treat yourself without ruining your healthy eating mission.

Recommended Reading

I’m not going to suggest reading for this one. Pop on Project Runway with a glass of diet coke and while the evening away. Perfection.

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

I love slow-cooking. Throw a load of ingredients in a pot and leave for 7 hours – end up with a very good meal.

However, not EVERYTHING works in slow cooker form. I’ve made soups that haven’t been quite flavoursome enough and a pasta dish that tasted like mush. (I ended up getting stuck in London and it over-cooked.) So, having a book to come back to is very helpful. What did I think of The Slow Cooker Solution? Read on to find out.

The Slow Cooker Solution (Go slow and eat well.)

Blurb

The great advantage of a slow cooker is that you can set it and forget it. Throw the ingredients in, leave them to cook and then return home to a delicious meal.

Slow cookers are also economical to run, can be packed with vegetables and also suit less expensive cuts of meat. The deep-flavoured dishes can be created with your favourite vegetables. From carrots and turnips to kale and cauliflower. As well as healthy beans and grains. What is more, when you just don’t want to cook you won’t have to resort to a fast-food fix because they’ll be a tasty meal waiting for you at home.

My Review

I was actually bought this book and a slow cooker when I moved to London. Since then I have used it weekly and the book almost as much. First thing – the book has both English and American measurements. So helpful. Cup sizes are easy to google but it’s nice to have both. All the ingredients have been easy to find which is a plus.

The book has 6 sections. The introduction (full of really helpful tips) nourish, load and leave, comfort, global and wow factor. I love that the sections are so diverse. The wow factor section is a lot more complicated but perfect for dinner parties. The wild mushroom lasagne (in the slow-cooker) is a revelation. I’ve used the load and leave section a lot more – but there’s something for every cook.

Many of the recipes I tend to create just require the slow cooker. With this book even the load and leave recipes sometimes require a little more. For example the boston beans need to be boiled first and onions fried. It’s to produce the best results and flavor but it’s something to note. The book does include calorie counts. Some are very reasonable but I know there are corners that could be cut if you wanted to make the recipes more low-cal. (Which I have done.)

What I really like, is how this book has stretched my knowledge of what you can cook in a slow-cooker. The cavolo nero, goats cheese and sun dried tomato frittata for example. Or the strawberry cheese-cake, it’s quite exciting to be able to use the slow cooker for more that soups/stews.

Favourite recipes include pork with stuffed apples and new clam chowder. Both are wonderful.

Final Thoughts

This book is fantastic for newbie slow-cooker chefs or more experienced home-cooks. I loved how this book stretched my repertoire. It’s made me a better cook and helped me get more out of my slow-cooker.

The Slow Cooker Solution (Go slow and eat well.)

The Slow Cooker Solution (Go slow and eat well.)

The Slow Cooker Solution (Go slow and eat well.)

 

I love Tzatziki,

Shit didn’t I say this two weeks ago.

MY insistence on eating the same thing. Or a tweak on something I like A LOT is becoming apparent on MLBB. I love to read food blogs, but some days I think HOW. How did you have the time to make 7 individual dishes that week.

I use My Fitness Pal most days and each of those days tends to be a take on the day before. Breakfast might have an egg included one day, the next I might hard boil it and have it with lunch. It’s good to mix it up.

This week I wanted tzatziki chicken for breakfast, but I wanted an egg also. So that’s what I did. Some days I might have pasta/pizza/cake for breakfast. That day I will share it with you. Today I used my tzatziki recipe to make a good bladdy breakfast and I’m going to share it with you. (Relatable AF.)

Tzatziki Chicken Scramble

Put in your trolley

50g Greek yogurt

50g  mayo

cucumber, grated (about 2 inches long)

lemon wedge (ready to be squeezed.)

3 sprigs fresh dill, chopped

garlic powder (if you have any hanging about.)

salt and black pepper, freshly cracked

Two Chicken Thighs         

To Serve

Two Eggs (Do I need to tell you – free range.)

Two slices of toast (I use weight watchers because two slices equals one regular slice. I can’t tell you what it will do to your insides though.)

20g of red onion

Birdseye chillies

Crushed Garlic

Hot Sauce

PRE RECIPE NOTE: I recommend making the tzatziki chicken before and keeping in the fridge and then using when you so fancy. IE the pitta’s I made or a breakfast recipe! The recipe above is a guesstimation of how much I make at a time for two but it might be wrong so don’t hate me!

Step One

Pre-heat the oven to 200C and pop in the thighs. Bake for 20 minutes then check by slicing open/slide in a skewer. You could use deli meat instead or pre-cooked chicken but I keep these in the freezer most of the time. Take out the oven, chill and shred.

Step Two

Once again I have included measurements for the Greek yogurt/mayo but I tend to double/triple the recipe and use it all week. But you could just make one serving. Today I’ve used a good 50g of each. Once you’ve added them together, grate the cucumber into the bowl and squeeze in a lemon wedge. Add the chopped dill and a sprinkling of the garlic powder, salt and pepper. Do this to your personal taste.

Step Three

So this is where we stray from my chicken pitta recipe. Mix the chicken and the tzatziki and set aside. Chop up the birdseye chilli, and the garlic and gently fry in a pan. Add onion and fry for another couple of minutes. Add  a big dollop of the tzatziki and chicken mix and keep the heat gentle.

 Step Four

Due to being V lazy I just cracked the egg straight into the pan and then stirred with a wooden spoon. If you’re not lazy you could mix in a cup and then add. Stir until the egg cooks into the mess in the sauce pan. Pop in the bread to toast. Whip of the eggs thirty seconds or so before they are done and dollop onto the toast and add hot sauce.

Numbers if you’re bothered

This comes to a perfect 270ish calories. If you’re looking for a hearty recipe you could double it and still be in line for a very healthy day. Or you could just add another egg. This recipe is quite protein heavy so it will definitely keep you full till lunch.

Recommended Reading

I recommend reading – The Big Sur by Jack Kerouach. I’m just getting through it and it’s brilliant. GO read, it’s classic.

 Tzatziki Chicken Scramble

Tzatziki Chicken Scramble

I love to cook. Like really like to cook.

But I also want to look after my weight/health, so tend to buy cookbooks that reflect this. I go home every couple of weeks and one trip back I unearthed this book. I don’t know a lot about Nadia Sawalha (I think she was once in Eastenders.) However, the book is wonderful and a brilliant tool for cooking delicious recipes that are healthier for you. Thumbs up.

Blurb

Nadia Sawalha has always loved cooking, but until recently rarely ate her own food. Like a lot of women, whilst her family tucked in to delicious dishes, she nibbled on diet food. Later, ravenously hungry, she binged, somehow convincing herself that the calories didn’t count if nobody saw her eating them. Two years ago, after decades of fluctuating weight, she decided enough was enough: She wasn’t going to start a new diet tomorrow. She wasn’t going to start a new diet ever again. She was going to eat normal meals with her family and, most importantly, she was going to do so for the rest of her life.

Since then, Nadia has lost and kept off 3 1/2 stone, by simply throwing away the diet books. Instead she shaved off the hidden calories, all without anyone noticing. A little less oil here, a different cut of meat there; brown rice instead of white, more herbs, spices and colour; and a dessert every day! The result is ‘The Greedy Girl’s Diet’, which is packed with more than 100 delicious recipes, and Nadia’s invaluable tips and advice on how to achieve a slim, fit and healthy body.

My Review

I was skeptical about this book to begin with. Celebrity diet books often tend to be suspect. But I really like Nadia’s approach. The book begins with a very down to earth explanation of how she’s lost and kept off the weight. Many of the feelings and habits she described hit home for me. I have been the lazy girl who lived of low cal ready meals or takeaways in front of the box. Yo-yoing between weight-loss and gain. This book encourages you to re-think your eating habits and re-align your goals with your personal life. No, we won’t lose 2 stone in two weeks – but you might in a year. The book focuses on giving us fuel through food but making it tasty. (And moving around too.)

It seems obvious but Nadia makes your foodie favourites better for you. Mac and cheese for 400 cals  portion just by upping the strength of the cheese and using semi-skimmed milk. Or creamy scrambled egg – just stir in light cream cheese instead of nobs of butter. Very few of the recipes have tens of ingredients making the recipes super easy to make. The book details breakfasts (Lazy Weekends, Breakfast on the run) lunches, (soup glorious soup, ladies who lunch, spectacular sandwiches) dinners, (yummy mummy, dinner for two) and desserts. Yes it’s a little tongue in cheek but Nadia’s down to earth, friendly descriptions of the recipes make it feel genuine.  Oh and all the nutritional information is listed, making it very accessible.

 

My favourite recipes include the creamy advocado soup, salad nicoise sandwiches and the tandori chicken. But, the desserts are also fantastic. Coffee and walnut cake, chocolate cheesecake and mousse pots all feature. Nadia doesn’t make you cut things out she just makes very simple but clever changes. Changes that you and your family won’t notice but your waitstline will.

Final Thoughts

In terms of delivery, the images are beautiful but there could be more of them. Secondly the recipe don’t have a complete cooking time (which would be helpful.) Saying this, the book is fantastic for those attempting lose a little weight but not lose their favourite recipes. I think it’s wonderful.

 

Another recipe post today. Starring Salmon Pâté (and Quark)

Now before you ask Quark is a type of fresh dairy product made by warming soured milk. Yes it sounds a little gross, but mixed in with something else, it’s a brilliant low fat alternative for cheese. Perfect for making into dips and Pate. I learnt about quark from Slimming World instagrammers. They appeared to be using it for creamy pasta, or lasagne. I found a recipe for salmon pate and thought I would give it a go. And it is A-OKAY. Recipe below.

This is a really simple recipe, good as a spread on Ryvitas or toast for lunch, in a sandwich or as a dip with crudités. Perfect.

Healthy Salmon Pâté (using Quark)

Put in your trolley 

(Makes 2-4 servings.)

200g skinless and boneless salmon

200g quark

Good pinch of dried chilli flakes or other spicy seasoning

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped parsley or coriander (optional)

salt and ground black pepper to taste

Step One

Cook the salmon in the oven at 200c. Should only take 15 ish minutes but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overcook. Nothing worse than over cooked salmon. Allow to cook and then chop up into the same sized chunks.

Step Two

I tend to put all of the ingredients in the blender to make a smooth mixture. But you could mash up with a fork if you prefer something a little coarser. Either way, add all the ingredients into the blender and then blend until the preferred consistency. Check to adjust the seasoning and then blend again.

Numbers (if you’re bothered.)

This works out at about 150cals a portion. You can double or triple it if you want to take to work one day, or could use different fish to add different flavours. I’ve added capers before to add saltiness and red pepper also!

Recommended Reading

I recommend reading All the missing girls by Megan Miranda – a creepy, claustrophobic but brilliant book. 

Healthy Salmon Pâté (using Quark)

Healthy Salmon Pâté (using Quark)