Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Weight watchers cook smart family food review.

I have probably mentioned in my previous blogs that I am following weight watchers (not the pro plus points, haven't had time to research that) points in order to lose some weight for my 25th birthday. I'm all for healthy eating but my biggest downfall is I love cakes and bakes etc. This cook smart family food book offers great low fat and tasty alternatives for high calorie food which ensures the weight is kept off (or lost). I have cooked several of these recipes, possibly more so than any other of my books this year so far and so far i've lost 10 pounds in 9 weeks. I have my eye on the weight watchers cook smart baking cook book which should be interesting as it will offer low fat alternatives to triple chocolate brownies (well I can hope can't I ?)
I have recently made their chicken meatballs (didn't taste as bad as it sounds) which came in at 300 calories per serving. I also made their low fat oaty pancakes which was delicious!
Here is how both turned out
Chicken taglitelle

Oaty pancakes with blueberry jam
Anyone who is attempting to lose weight should buy and cook the recipes from  this book. I have cooked the following recipes from this book (many pictures are on my previous posts)
Cinnamon french toast with apricots
Oaty pancakes with blueberry jam
Veggie burgers
Turkey burgers
Fish Goujons
Creamy chicken pasta bake
Sticky pork chops
Vegetable rissotto
Lemon meringue pie
Chocolate refridgerator cake

In the words of Gizzi Erskine "learn to cook clever and stay slim forever" (Phrase from cook yourself thin tv show). I wonder if I will still adhere to this philosophy once i'm 25 ?!


Friday, 24 February 2012

Kung Po chicken

I love chicken, chicken is my favourite meat and i'm always looking for new ways to cook chicken. I brought Ching-He Huang's Fast food 110 Quick and Healthy Chinese favourites in January for around £3.50 from WH Smith and thought I would cook a recipe from her book. I've seen Ching- He Haung's programmes and she makes cooking Chinese food appear to be easy. I decided on making Kung Po chicken (p.82) as the picture of the chicken looked tasty and apparently this dish is healthy so bonus points for me. I must admit, I did not follow this recipe to the latter and decided to leave out the cashew nuts (although apparently this is an essential part of the Kung Po dish)  and I used chilli powder instead of fresh chillies.
Here is how my Kung Po chicken turned out:

I added egg noodles with some left over sauce, egg noodles and made a stir fry using carrots, mushrooms and beansprouts. This dish tasted really nice and I will definitely make this again (but will not attempt to eat using chopsticks!)

The recipe for Kung Po chicken

2 skinless chicken breasts
Salt and white pepper
1 tbsp of cornflour
1 tbsp of groundnut oil
2 tbsps of Sichuan peppercorns
4 dried red chillies
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 red pepper cut into chunks
2 spring onions
Handful of cashew nuts

For the sauce
 100 ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp of tomato ketchup
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp of hoisin sauce
1 tsp of chilli sauce
1 tbsp of cornflour.

1) Place the chicken in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the cornflour and mix well to coat the chicken pieces. Add all the ingredients for the sauce to another bowl and stir to combine.
2) Heat the wok over a high heat until it starts to smoke and then add the groundnut oil. Add the Sichaun peppercorns and dried chillies and fry for a few seconds, then add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for 2 minutes. As the chicken begins to turn opaque, add the rice vinegar. Cook for a further 2 minutes, then pour in the sauce.
3) Bring to the boil, add the red pepper and cook in the sauce with the chicken for another 2 minutes or until the meat is cooked through and the sauce has thickened and become slightly in consistency. Add the spring onions and cook for 1 minute. Toss in the cashew nuts, then transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately.


Friday, 17 February 2012

Valentines day food

It was Valentines day a few days ago and I thought I would share my two meals of that day. Usually I'm a branflakes /fruit and fibre/ porridge type of girl, but on this romantic day I thought I would make myself something different. I scoured through the brunch section of my weight watchers book and decided on making cinaman and apricot french toast, as this was low calorie and looked appealing in the book. I did immediately compare weight watchers french toast with Nigella's in her Kitchen book, there was a substantial difference in ingredients, but I thought I would stick to my low fat version. Here is how my french toast turned out:

I decided that it was only right for me to treat myself for my evening meal, and what better way for a singleton to do so by making Nigella's "date steak" (from her Kitchen book). The recipe always appealed to me and after trying Gino's steak and chips (from buonissimo) i've been hooked on this classic combination. Here is how my date steak turned out:
Recipe for date steak:
Serves 2 (But easily halved to serve one)
2 x 15ml tablespoons of dark muscovado sugar
2 x 15 ml tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1x 15ml tablespoon dijon mustard
1x 15 ml tablespoon soy sauce
1 x 15 ml tablespoon redcurrent jelly
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
1 x 15 ml tablespoon ginger
1 x 15 ml tablespoon tomato puree
1 x 15 ml tablespoon garlic oil
2 sirloin steaks

Put the sugar, vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, redcurrant jelly, ginger and tomato puree into a small pan and whisk together over a gentle heat.
Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly; now take it off the heat and leave to one side while you cook the steaks.
Either fry or griddle the steaks: if you are frying, heat the garlic oil in a heavy-based pan first; if you  are griddiling, paint the meat with oil before placing it on a hot griddle.
Cook the steaks for about 3 minutes a side, for warmed through but still rare meat
Take the steaks off the heat and double -wrap in foil; leave them to rest for about 5 minutes out of a draught.
Open the foil and put any juices that have collected there into the saucepan of barbecue, whisking to mix.
Put the steaks on 2 warmed plates and pour or drizzle the sauce over them to tastw.


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Old fashioned chocolate cake

Happy Valentines day! I first discovered this cake after watching Nigella feasts on youtube, an episode that focused entirely on chocolate. As i've stated before I love chocolate, but wondered what made this cake different the chocolate cakes i've made before? The only difference I identified is the sour cream ingredient, which adds moisture to this cake. Making the cake was easy and simple, a lot like all of Nigella's other recipes. As I made this the week coming up to Valentines day I decided on using my new heart shape tins and decorate the cake with some refreshing strawberries. The recipe for Nigella's old fashioned chocolate cake can be found here: old fashioned chocolate cake. I really enjoyed eating four slices from this decadent cake, after eating all my healthy food in the week.

Am not sure how many weight watchers points this cake has but the strawberry has 1 point!

My cakes out of the tin and cooling.

My cake after I applied the chocolate icing.

This is another entry I will be submitting to Maison cupcake for the Forever Nigella blog hop .


Thursday, 9 February 2012

Turkey and spring onion burgers and the 5,000 calorie burger

I have enjoyed cooking from my weight watchers cook smart book over the last few weeks and marked out several recipes on my "to cook list". Most people including me love a good burger or two and weight watchers turkey and spring onion burgers appealed to me. Not meaning to go on about calories etc, but this burger has only 270 calories per serving, so not only does it taste good but it's also good for you.
Here is how my low fat, low calorie burger turned out. I made homemade chips from Gino D'acammpo Buonissimo cookbook, got to love Gino!.

Recipe for turkey and spring onion burgers.
Serves 4
500g chicken or turkey mince
6 spring onions
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
zest and juice of 1 lime
low fat cooking spray
salt and freshly ground pepper

To serve
4 medium burger buns
2 tablespoon tomato ketchup
salad leaved, tomato and cucumber,

1) Mix together the mince, spring onions, garlic parsley, lime zest and seasoning. Shape into four patties then heat a non stick frying pan and spray with the low fat cooking spray. Fry the patties for 5-10 minutes on each side until cooked through.
2) Meanwhile, split the buns and toast lightly. Spread each halfway with 1/2 tablespoon of tomato ketchup then arrange the salad on the base of each bun and place a burger on top. Squeeze a little lime juice over, replace the top half of the bun and serve.

I'm not usually a low fat kinda girl,  just trying to lose some pounds for my 25th birthday. I love nothing more than tucking into a high fat, high calorie lovely burger. I visited an American style diner in Telford, last year that specialised in calorific treats, the Daily Mail sent a reporter to sample burgers from Oscar's diner 5,000 calorie burger so I had to sample it too!.

A calorific and tasty treat 

Me and that burger!

I also love a good cocktail x

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Blondies and Quadruple chocolate loaf.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my three week break from university, moping around in my wonzie, drinking several cups of coffee a day and attempting to finish of my 12,000 word dissertation. But what really lifted my spirits is another opportunity/excuse to bake another tray bake to share with my uni amigos. I find that I can easily become fascinated with my latest new book, marking out recipes only to do the same in 30 days time (when I get paid) which means I do not get the full opportunity to enjoy the book. I looked at my bookshelves and Nigella's kitchen appealed to me. As I have mentioned in a previous first post this Nigella's kitchen was my first Nigella book, thus holding a special place in my heart. I have made one other tray bake in this book, the treacle slice, but thought I would attempt to make blondies. I've never tasted a blondie before but surely I couldn't go wrong with white brownies.
Here is how my blondies turned out

The stages of making blondies were very easy (as with most of Nigella's recipes)
Blondies mixture, the 1tablespoon of mixture tasted lovely!

Blondie awaiting to be cooked.

Cooked and ready to be eaten

I also made Nigella's quadruple chocolate loaf from my latest Nigella purchase, Feasts. I wish I could say the loaf turned out fantastic. In truth it was my fault as I did not let the cake cool when attempting to take it out the tin, leaving the loaf to crumble. The cake turned tasted lovely, moist, luxurious and rich. I will definitely make this loaf again but let it cool and not be so eager to eat!. The recipe can be found here: Quadruple chocolate loaf.
Here is how my chocolate loaf turned out
I've learnt it's always good to share my bakes as it tends to cheer everyone up.

I am entering the blondies to Maison cupcake and will probably enter more as I will be cooking from her Feasts and Kitchen (date steak for one, anyone?!).
I am entering the quadruple chocolate loaf to mikes baking

Monday, 6 February 2012

Coffee cream eclairs and weight watchers lemon meringue pie

I thought I'd share my last two Sunday desserts. These desserts could not be more different if I tried, rich coffee cream eclairs and low fat, low calorie lemon meringue pie. I did not intend to make eclairs to begin with, oh no, I had my eyes set on attempting the Jo Wheately, rather flamboyant limoncello and white chocolate croquembouche from the Great British Bake Off for my Sunday dessert. The plan was to make the profiteroles in the week, freeze, defrost on Sunday and then assemble. Unfortunately with an ever nearing dissertation deadline i felt out of my depth recreating this masterpiece so settled on eclairs which I thought would be easier. How wrong was I? It was easy in the sense of making the pastry piping etc, but had to make in two batches due to me popping out and it was all very rushed. Anyway, my eclairs turned out ok, although next time I would attempt to use the right piping nozzle .....
Here is how my coffee cream eclairs turned out..... it's the first time I have made French patisserie.
I made a Weight Watchers lemon meringue pie, i've never made lemon meringue pie but at 5 points and 300 calories per quarter I thought I would try this out. I made the pastry first (using a cake tin and not a flan tin as my flan tin was far to big for a very small weight watchers pie.

A very unappetising mixture
Low fat meringue pie
This pie looks nothing like say a Nigella lemon meringue pie but I suppose it is low fat so I can hardly moan about the appearance.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

St Tropez chicken, smashed potato gratin and green beans

I purchased Nigella's feasts cook book after watching her feasts series on youtube (instead of writing/reading my dissertation may I add) and fell in love with her easy, no fuss approach to making comfort food appear easy. Immediately after receiving feasts courtesy of Amazon I began to make a "to cook and to bake" list of all the recipes that appealed to me. The St Tropez chicken which comes under the "wedding" chapter appealed to me alongside other chicken dishes. I've never been to St Tropez in France, only Paris but the idea of sun kissed chicken with wine sounded too irresistible to pass up. I decided of adding green beans and leeks instead of French peas as Nigella suggested, as I didn't think peas was filling for someone with a health appetite.
Here is how my dish turned out:

I thought attempting to type up the recipe would be very time consuming and luckily have the recipe for Nigella's St Tropez chicken, it can be found here St Tropez chicken. I tweaked the recipe slightly and used white wine that my nan brought from Spain instead of Rose.
The recipe for the smashed potato gratin, taken from feasts (p.426) is as follows:
1.25kg floury potatoes
750ml milk
1/2 stick of celery
4 spring onions
black or white pepper
100g butter
2 tablespoons semolina

Preheat the oven to gas mark 7/220c. Butter a shallowish roasting tin, approximately 36*25cm
Peel and chop the potatoes, and cut into approx. 1cm*3cm chunks. Put them into a saucepan with the milk, salt, celery, whole spring onions, a good grinding of black peeper and about 75g of the butter. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Fish out the celery and spring onions, and then pour the milky,buttery cooked potatoes into the prepared roasting tin and mash them lightly with a fork. You can leave them made up to this point to sit for a while.
When you are ready put them in the oven, sprinkle over the semolina and dot with the remaining butter. Cook the smashed potato gratin for 30 minutes or until hot through and beginning to catch and scorch in parts on the top.
I am entering this picture to a blog hop at Maison cupcake A Blog hop is something I have recently discovered but would like to participate in more (ok pictures permitting).


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

New books

I received my bursary two weeks ago and have had great pleasure in buying non essential items! It was also my last day on my first placement and was given a cookbook (they got to know me very well) called one ingredient, four ways from Marks and Spencers. There are several recipes that I aim to cook from my one ingredient and four ways cook book and will be doing some over February. The chocolate peanut butter brownies, maple syrup brownies, chocolate fudge cake and double chocolate brownies have all caught my eye. There are also some traditional recipes and some recipes that I have not tried before such as crispy sea bass, pork strogonoff (tried the beef version in Brazil), meatballs in almond sauce, Tuscan beans on ciabatta toast and potato, bacon and garlic gratin. I also brought a weight watchers book called cook smart (one day I will loose weight) and have the turkey burgers, sesame chicken, penne and meatballs, braised lamb chops on my "to cook and to bake" list. I have already made the chocolate refrigerator cake, fish goujons and will make their lemon meringue pie this Sunday. Another purchase I made was Nigella's feast, the list of "to cook and to bake" is too long to write, but I made St Tropez chicken and smashed potato gratin yesterday and was amazing. Ching He Laung quick and easy Chinese meals caught my eye as it was £3.50 on WH Smith online, haven't really looked through this yet but I'm up for healthy Chinese food. Pretty Party Cakes also caught my eye as I want to improve on my decorating skills. I look forward to sharing my pictures  and blogging about my new culinary discoveries.
Recent purchases

Recent purchases plus 1 Ingredient book a gift from my placement 

I also went on a very random purchase of food related goods today. As I am making a Valentines cake for one, I may as well have the cake tins for it.
I no longer buy books with my bursary lol
 More new purchases courtesy of Amazon and Wolverhampton market/town centre. My cake book which uses root vegetables instead of oil/butter, palette knife, cake slicer, icing sugar shaker, edible flowers, bun tin, espresso mug and chopsticks (for when I cook from Ching he Lang book). Need to get back to Leicester where I don't know many home/food shops lol x

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