How Could I Live Without….


I been using Discovery Fajita Seasoning Mix for years now. I’ve tried lots of different fajita spice mixes from different  brands and this is the definately the best.  You can actually make out the individal spices in the mix unlike other brands I’ve tried where it’s more of a powder. Since I started using this no other brand will do, this can be awkward as at times it can be difficult to get in the supermarket.
When this happens and I’m desparetly craving fajitas I mix together chilli powder, paprika, corriander, oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt and pepper. I use more paprika and chilli powder than cumin and corriander do avoid a strong curry taste. I find it handy to have a few packets of this mix in the cupboard as it can be used for loads of different recipes such as spicy potatoes wedges.

Ultimate Comfort Food…..Chicken Fajitas

Some days you just need comfort food. Depending on your mood it could be a baked potato covered in chilli or a delicious spaghetti bolognese. These are both comforting in their own right but I think that chicken fajitas can satisfy all cravings. It’s addictively tasty,quick to cook and it’s actually quite healthy depending on how wraps many you eat!


Ingredients
chicken fillet cut into pieces (roughly 4 chicken breasts)
1 red, yellow and green pepper (cut into strips)
1 onion (thickly chopped)
a packet of Discovery Fajita Spice Mix
a splash of balsamic vinegar
about 2 tbsp of tomato paste
big punnet of red & yellow cherry tomatoes
salt & pepper
tortilla wraps

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large pan, add the chicken and cook fully at a medium-high heat. I spend longer doing this as I use a large quantity of chicken and It’s harder to ensure that the chicken is fully cooked after adding all the spices and vegetables. Once fully cooked, add a splash of balsamic vinegar and stir well.

Add the onions, tomato paste, cherry tomatoes and half of the spice mix, mix well. I usually just add red cherry tomatoes but I had some yellow ones left over so I just threw them in. I like to add the cherry tomatoes early enough to ensure that as they burst and form a “sauce”.  When the onions begin to soften add the peppers with the rest of the spice mix, keep stirring so that everything is coated.

As I had so many ingredients in the pan it’s difficult to keep stirring everything (without splashing yourself!)  so I put the lid on to finish cooking the vegetables. After a couple of minutes, take the lid off and stir the mixture. I like my peppers to be quite soft so I usually repeat this step a few times. If the vegetables are cooked to your preference and the tomatoes have formed a sauce take the pan off the heat. Put the mixture into a big bowl in the middle of the table with some heated tortilla wraps and let everyone dig in.

Southern Chicken, Corn and Sweet Potatoes

I consider this to be a “Southern Style Meal” because of the spicy meat, corn and sweet potatoes. I lived in Texas for a year and these elements seemed to be a part of most meals. I’ve always loved corn on the cob as a child but just fell out of eating it so I’ve now stocked my freezer up with them.

Ingredients
2 chicken legs (in a spicy mexican marinate)
2 frozen corn on the cob
3 sweet potatoes

Preheat the oven at 220 c. Place the chicken legs onto a baking tray, cook for 45 minutes turning halfway.
Par-boil the sweet potatoes, drain and peel the potatoes, cut the potatoes into thinnish slices. I find it easier to peel sweet potatoes when they are warm. Heat oil in a pan, add a teaspoon of chilli flake,  fry the sweet potatoes until crisp on both sides. Bring the corn on the cob to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the corn, melt a tablespoon of butter in the pot, add the corn and mix until the butter coats the corn. Then serve and enjoy!

Guacamole = Healthy TeaTime Snack

I love making guacamole when I feel peckish in the evening. It doesn’t take any cooking and I believe it’s a guilt free snack as avocados are a great source of vitamins, fiber and potassium. The best thing about preparing food yourself  is that you are in total control of the ingredients. To keep things healthy (and because I adore them) instead of salted tortilla chips I used pita bread, toasted and cut up into bite size pieces to scoop up the dip. I swear it’s just as tasty!


Ingredients

2 avocados
2 garlic cloves  (crushed)
a handful of fresh chopped coriander (I just happened to have fresh herbs in the fridge I usually use ground coriander)
salt, pepper
the juice of 1 lime
2 pita breads

Scoop out the avocado and place in a bowl. Add the garlic, coriander, lime juice, salt and pepper a bit at a time. Keep tasting until you achieve the ratio you prefer.  Personally I love to lash in the lime juice.  Serve with pita bread, toasted  and cut up into pieces.

Sichuan Pork with Cucumber

I mentioned in my last post I was trying different recipes from “Chinese Food in Minutes”. The majority of which have turned out great however when you are experimenting with new ingredients you are bound to find something you don’t like.
Last week I tried sichuan pork with cucumber and shock horror! I didn’t like it! This doesn’t seem like a big deal but when you go through the effort of shopping for specific ingredients and spend time cooking it’s such a disappointment. I absolutely hated the sichuan peppercorns, I found them potent and thought they overpowered the whole dish, which is a shame because I think it, could have been really tasty without them. I wish I’d taken a picture of the dish (the image above is from the “Chinese Food in Minutes” website) because it looked just as appetising as it did on the telly, which made it even more disheartening. I don’t want to put anyone off trying the recipe, my granda finished off what I left behind and was raving about how tasty it was so I guess it’s just personal preference.

Chinese Food in Minutes

Chinese Food in Minutes is hosted by Ching He Huang and it is my new favourite programme. It’s addictive viewing as it does exactly what it says on the tin. The recipes really do take minutes, I’ve tried about four new dishes this week alone without much exertion.

In every episode we see Ching shopping for ingredients at a local asian supermarket. Chilli bean paste, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, cornflour and groundnut oil are the ingredients she continuously uses in different combinations. I already had half of these ingredients so I followed Ching’s lead and bought the rest at an asian food shop which didn’t cost an arm and a leg. These ingredients made such a difference as they added a quintessential chinese flavour that I thought only a high quality restaurant could provide. In particular the rice wine vinegar made a huge different as it added a sweetness that balanced out the other intense flavours.
As I mentioned before you can use a lot of the same ingredients in different combinations to create diverse meals once you have the main elements to mess around with. I tried this garlic chilli beef and mushroom pak choy recipe which tasted incredible and was so simple to prepare and cook. I then experimented with the recipe substituting chicken for beef, I added spring onion and omitted the brown sugar as it was only used to carmelise the beef. I also substituted the rice for straight-to- wok noodles to safe on time (and cleaning up). I tend to go through phases of particular foods,  I’m not sure how long this chinese phase will last but I’m loving the fact that I can cook, eat and clean up in under an hour…

Rainbow Salmon Salad


I put my rainbow salad to good use today with some hot smoked salmon that we had left over from Christmas.  Hot smoked salmon is ideal for a salad as it’s thicker than regular smoked salmon and it’s already prepared so it’s very little effort.
I placed the salmon onto a plate and put it under the grill for a few minutes. It’s not necessary, I don’t know why but I just prefer my food to be warm. Because I’d made my salad the day before I just had to take it out of the fridge, drizzle my white wine dressing over it and place the warmed salmon over the salad. Simple as….yet so tasty!

Rainbow Side Salad

rainbow
“Rainbow Salad” is a  phrase I read in the food section of  The Sunday Times Style supplement. It was part of a diet plan which basically suggests that the more visually appealing healthy food looks the more likely you are to want to eat it. Simple but true.  So I made the most basic yet colourful side salad.


Basic Rainbow Salad

Mixed Baby Leaf  Salad
Yellow and Red Cherry Tomatoes
Red Onion ( sliced thinly)
Carrot ( long thin strands peeled with a vegetable peeler)

I find it’s the easiest salad to add to different dinners. You can vary the ingredients by adding cubed beetroot, chickpeas, spring onion…Or you could make it a more hearty meal by adding chicken and baby potatoes or prawns and noodles.

Colourful ingredients are great however a tasty dressing really brings a salad together.  I’ve been using a white wine vinegar dressing I had at a friend’s house. She got the recipe here http://littlelightmagazine.com/olive-oil-and-white-wine-vinegar-salad-dressing-recipe/ . The only thing I changed is that I took out the mayonnaise.
I also use an olive oil/balsamic vinegar dressing or olive oil/balsamic vinegar/whole grain mustard dressing ( this one is really good with chicken and baby potatoes). The ratio of oil to vinegar is usually 3:1.  I keep the salad and dressing separate in the fridge so the leaves don’t wilt and the salad lasts longer. Dressings keep in the fridge for ages, just whisk it with a fork before you use it.

Semi-Roasted Tomato Soup

I made this soup one day to use up leftover
carrots and celery and it was so tasty I now
make it all the time.  I thought by partially
roasting the tomatoes it would give the
soup a sweeter kick.


Ingredients

a punnet of  Cherry Tomatoes
2 cloves of Garlic
Basil, Salt, Pepper
600ml Beef Stock
a sprinkle of Balsamic Vinegar
a drop of Worcestershire Sauce
1tsp of brown sugar
1 medium Onion
1 Carrot
2 sticks of Celery
a splash of Olive Oil

Coat the tomatoes and garlic in olive oil, add  the balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and basil. Mix well and place in a pre-heated oven ( 180 c) for about 20 minutes.  I wanted to simply blister the tomato skins,  not blacken them so I kept a close eye on them. I had to use dry basil as my basil plant died the same death as my last two plants. When I use fresh basil I add it at the end.
Fry the onion, carrot, celery for about 10 minutes. Add the tomato puree, stock, worcestershire sauce and torn bay leaves to the pot.
Add the tomatoes and juices from the baking tray to the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and season/vary ingredients accordingly.
Now Blitz!

I ♥ San Francisco

I ♥ San Francisco

Here are some of the spots I found in San Francisco that tantalised my palette to say the least…….

Dottie’s True Blue Cafe: We had heard good reviews about this popular breakfast joint, which makes me a bit skeptical sometimes as my expectations are higher than they usually would be. These were worries we had while waiting starving in the queue outside. That is the one annoying thing about this place; there’s always a queue. Although it’s to be expected as it’s such a small and popular place.  Though we can’t really complain we were waiting no more than 5 minutes the 2 times we went.  (I would be weary about going on busy day like Saturday).
I ordered whiskey fennel sausage scramble, spinach, potatoes and grilled cornbread special. Yikes, it’s more like breakfast and lunch combined than just brekkie, I still managed to put it away…lol. It was just so tasty and not at all greasy which I find a lot of the food in Houston to be.
The grilled cornbread in particular was outstanding – it’s the main reason I went back the second time! I’m going to make it as soon as I’m back, hopefully that will curb the craving…for now at least….

Chinatown: The aroma alone walking through the Chinatown area is intoxicating and the food really is something else.  The main restaurant we went to was called  Golden Mountain, a huge 3 floor restaurant that was packed full of people, mainly Asian people which we took to be a good sign. I had a scallops/vegetable stir fry dish (I’m sure that they had a much fancier title in the menu) which was yummy. The scallops tasted very fresh and delectable, I was relieved that they weren’t doused in an overpowering sauce which I think can ruin their delicate flavour.

The Italian District: The restaurants/cafes in this area of town were some of the more expensive we came across, not hugely expensive but for someone on a tight budget they were.  However we did find a spot that was reasonable enough with a buzzing atmosphere: Cafe Puccini.  I ordered spaghetti with salmon in a creamy tomato sauce which was incredible. My boyfriend ordered seafood marinara;  I scoffed my face with his left-overs later that night so I can also vouche that this meal is delish.  It really was the best Italian meal I’ve had in a long while.  I also went into some of pastry shops in this area which were incredible.

Fisherman’s Wharf: This is such a beautiful part of town. We didn’t stop into any of the restaurants in this part of town instead we picked up some sea food at the stalls along the pier.  I had a crab sandwich and marinated calamari along with numerous other tasters, even the dreadful seagulls couldn’t ruin this delicious meal. Unreal! This is definately the part of town I will come back to first for food.