Courgette Parmigiana with Insalata Caprese

Its’s not the first time I’ve raved about HelloFresh delivery boxes, (you can read all about the time I discovered them here.) As a busy, working mum of 3, they’re an absolute lifesaver as they take the stress out of deciding what to cook and having to go buy the ingredients. I’ve just restarted my deliveries after a year break as I’ve found I was cooking the same things week after week.

I’ve only been ordering 3 meals a week so that still leaves a few days, to think up healthy meal ideas. So rather than trawl through my cook books ( that super busy mum thing again) I’ve used their new  Flavour Generator to help find some recipes. I can do all this while I’m on the site choosing my meals for the next delivery so my whole weeks meals are dun and dusted in one sitting.

It’s a great tool for helping you decide what to cook and try out some new recipes, this week I was in the mood for something Italian. You can you can choose between Italian, British, Middle Eastern, Mexican and Indian on the Flavour Generator drop down menu. Once you’ve decided on that, there’s more choices on the next drop down for flavour; tangy, herby, sweet or spicy. Then its spin and het presto! My Italian, herby mood brought up this recipe for Courgette Parmigiana with Insalata Caprese, it’s  a flavour full, tomato based vegetable bake with a breadcrumb top and tomato salad on the side. The pine nuts addition give it a really nice texture and best of all, you get to use up all the courgettes which are in abundance right now and  do some sneaky veggie hiding for reluctant vegetable eating kids.

Courgette Parmigiana with Insalata Caprese

Ingredients

  • half Red Onion
  •  2 Garlic Cloves
  •  1 Courgette
  •  0.5 punnet(s) Cherry Tomatoes
  •  1 ball(s)   Mozzarella
  • Tomato Passata
  •  0.75 tsp  Dried Oregano
  • 1 bunch Basil (20g)
  • 25 grams  Pine Nuts
  • 3 tbsp    Hard Italian Cheese
  • 20 grams  Panko Breadcrumbs
  •  1 Foccacia (I subbed for ciabatta)

Courgette Parmigiana with Insalata Caprese

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees. Peel and finely chop the red onion and the garlic. Slice the courgette lengthways into ½cm strips. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half.
  2. Next cut three-quarters of your mozzarella into slices, as thin as you can (keep a quarter for your salad). Press kitchen paper or a clean tea towel onto each slice to soak up as much excess moisture as possible.
  3. Add a splash of olive oil to a pan and fry your red onion and garlic on medium-low heat for around 5 mins, or until soft. Tip: You can start step 5 at the same time to save some time.
  4. Add in the tomato passata with a pinch of salt, the oregano and a few grinds of black pepper. Bubble the mixture for 5 mins, then remove from the heat to cool down.
  5. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large frying pan on high heat. Once hot, fry your courgette strips in batches. Cook them for 1 minute on each side and then keep to the side. Do not overcrowd the pan as this will stew the courgette rather than brown it.
  6. Put enough (about a third) of your passata in an ovenproof dish to thinly cover the bottom. Top this with a layer of your courgette (you should use roughly half your courgette here as you’re going to repeat this step!). Next, layer on a couple of slices of mozzarella, followed by some torn basil and half of the pine nuts.
  7. Spread on another layer of passata, followed by your remaining courgette, a couple more slices of mozzarella and bit more basil (save some of each for your salad) and the rest of your pine nuts. Finally add one more layer of passata and top your parmigiana with the hard cheese and the breadcrumbs. Bake in your oven for 15 mins.
  8. Tear up a small handful of basil leaves and the remaining mozzarella. Toss these and your cherry tomatoes in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Serve your parmigiana with your salad and foccacia on the side.
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Baileys Bread and Butter Pudding

I’ve not been eating many puddings lately, my sugar intake is always on the high side so I’ve tried honing it in a little to see if I feel any healthier, but I do miss a good stodgy Sunday night pudding treat. So when a whole loaf of fresh bread needing using up pronto I decided to give this much loved old fave, bread and butter pudding, a modern twist by adding some Baileys into the mix.

This isn’t the first time I’ve experimented with traditional recipes and my favourite christmas tipple, and it’s subtle enough for the whole family to enjoy. I actually cooked up this batch on a Sunday morning and consumed most of it with my sister as we sat around the dining room table digging in and putting the world to rights. The best way to eat food I’d say.

Anyway, I’ll cut to the chase; here’s my take on Baileys bread and butter pudding….

this recipe for Baileys bread and butter pudding is the perfect Sunday afternoon dessert, or just dig in & share straight from the dish when warm

Ingrediants

 

  • 100g butter
  • 
half loaf bread, crusts left on
  • 85g raisins
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 
150ml double cream
  • 150ml Baileys liqueur
  • tsp vanilla extract
  • 25g  caster sugar
  • 25g demerara sugar

Method

  • Heat the oven to 180C, 160C fan, gas 4.  Grease an oven proof dish with butter then use the rest to spread on the bread and cut each slice into triangles. Arrange the triangles so that they overlap in the dish, scattering over the raisins between the layers.
  • beat the eggs and mix with the milk, cream, vanilla extract, Baileys and caster sugar, then pour over the bread. Lightly press down so that the bread absorbs the creamy mixture.
  • Sprinkle over the demerara sugar and bake for 30 minutes until the top is golden and the pudding is just set. Serve warm with single cream or custard for pouring over. Or just dive in with a spoon fresh from the oven!

this recipe for Baileys bread and butter pudding is the perfect Sunday afternoon dessert, or just dig in & share straight from the dish when warm

 

 

 

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Kid Friendly Overnight Oats

I’m a huge fan of time-saving techniques. Being a super busy mum constantly chasing her tale (and turning up late more often than not) anything which helps me hit the ground running in the morning is soon going to find a place in my busy mum tool kit. I’ve tackled the end of the day, too knackered to cook thing by preempting it with a slow cooker one pot meal, so now its happy days by preparing breakfast the night before with some kid friendly overnight oats.

For anyone new to overnight oats, you really, seriously NEED to give it a go. It’s a little bullet of health and nutrition in one sitting a perfect for anyone wanting to start the day in the best possible way. And more to the point; it’s grab and go breakfast. Plus, given the fact that lots of breakfast cereals are loaded with sugar, this is one way of having a little control over your daily in take. You can add optional extra health boosters but it’s totally up to you how healthy you want it. The main ingredients of oats, yoghurt and honey will be enough to keep them going until break time / snack time though.

If you’re making this for yourself, this is a great grab and go breakfast you can eat at work too.

why not make these kid friendly over night oats to help with the morning rush? They super easy and a really healthy breakfast
Ingredients

2 cups of rolled oats

1 1/2 cups of milk (cows, almond or coconut will do it)

1 tbsp of raw cacao (can be substituted with cocoa powder but you won’t get the superfood benefits)

1/2 cup of yoghurt preferably natural but can use a small pot of fromage frais

1tbsp honey or mapel syrup

tps vanilla extract

topping 

handful of blueberries or sliced banana

optional

tsp chai seeds

tsp flax seeds

Method 

combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix

divide between 3 bowls, add the topping if using blueberries but leave the banana to the morning and place in the fridge overnight or for a minimum of 2 hours.

You can always put a few topping choices on the table in the morning to let the kids choose for them selves

why not make these kid friendly over night oats to help with the morning rush? They super easy and a really healthy breakfast

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A Christmas Feast at River Cottage 

So there I was hurtling down the A35 on a dark & dingy November afternoon. I’d watched the TV shows, entrigued by the fact it was all being filmed a stones throw away from me, and today was the day I set foot in that very spot and sample the culinary delights, crafted by the team at River Cottage in Axminster.

Now you’d think that being one of the closest attendees I’d be punctual and know where I was going. Wrong. As always, my navigation skills failed me miserably (a serious weakness I need to address) One of the handful of Devon based bloggers who’d be invited along for this Christmas feast limped ashsmedly into the bumpy car park, where we’d be taken by tractor pulled trailer down to River Cottage head quarters.

Bloggers had travelled from all over to be treated to a brining demonstration by chef Andy, some networking time and then the piece de resistance; the feast.


But back to that brining demo. Even a lacto, I eat fish, vegetarian like myself came away with an urge to brine some pork for Christmas Day. A technique where you soak the meat for up to 24 days in a mixture of salt, muscsvado sugar, cider & herbs (boil the mixture up & leave to cool before adding the meat in a a reactive free pot.) Leave in a cool spot, then bake. It can be kept for days after brine soaking. Perfect for Christmas Day, Boxing Day & the remaining pre new year season.


While we broke off for some time to mingle with fellow bloggers and explore the grounds. (This was a great opportunity to talk the trade & put faces to blogs.) the guys got busy in the kitchen.



Then our Christmas feast began.

Canapés to start; Welsh rare bit made with a melt in your mouth gluten free toast. And goats cheese  topped with sliced beetroot.


Starters began with a celeriac ravioli with wild mushrooms.


Mains was an intriguing rosti topped with poached egg, roasted carrot purée & sided by fried savoy cabbage (my braces completely failed me here as I struggled to chew said cabbage but from the mumors of delight I think it was a surprising hit.)  and braised beans.


Highlight of the evening however was the honeycomb creme brûlée with Apple purer and apple crisps. Oh.my.word! Never in my life have I tasted such a perfectly baked creme brûlée. This has been my signature dessert at Christmas for the last few years anc now the bar has been raised, the challenge is on to try and replicate the River Cottage recipe.


Testament to the theory behind organic, freshly prepared food, my visit to River Cottage has reminded me exactly why I switched to a clean living lifestyle this year. Nothing beats cooking from fresh and putting a little extra effort into sourcing your ingredients. This was just what I needed after being on a restricted diet while wearing braces, I’d completely fallen out of love with food as I sulked my way through my dental treatment.

Family, you have been warned! Mamas back in the kitchen & it’s going to be good!

Many thanks to the Foodies 100 team and River Cottage for organising the evening. 

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What Does Great British Bake Off Do For You?

Are you as easily influenced as me? I mean in the TV sense? Does Kirsty have you reaching for the sewing needles? Maybe Charlie had you digging out the shovel and spending Sundays in the local gardening centre? Or, like me, the Great British Bake Off has you lusting after an Aga, a pastel kitchen and dreaming of wowing everyone with your genius baking skills.

Which is great if you have genius baking skills. I like to think of myself as a ‘tries her hardest’ and as long as I stick in my comfort zone, then they’re usually pretty edible. My carrot and banana cake being my biggest success to date when it comes to filling up hungry teenagers, but they tend to stay away from the more healthy sounding cakes I love to try, like my honey and chai seedlemon polenta and olive oil cake.

a recipe for a honey and chai seed cake

I’m also a thrifty baker, a result of inventing too many  recipes which have flopped or only been connived by yours truly. So I shop around for deals and stock up.  websites like Voucherbox.co.uk have cottoned on to the idea too  with their  Great British Save Off; a weekly price comparison of GBBO recipes and the best value supermarket to buy ingredients from each week. (This week’s Star Saver is Morrisons apparently)

Even Waitrose have joined in on the act with a slap in your face stand, showcasing all their baking special offers as soon as you entered the store. I fall for it every time, my thrifty, money-saving head telling me I NEED more pretty cup cake cases. Which then my tween promptly refuses to eat from as they’re too girlie, thus reminding me I should re think my bargain hunting techniques next time.

So back to my question. Is it just me, or are you as easily influenced by TV shows (as me)?

I guess there’s no harm in grabbing ideas. If GBBO makes me a more ambitious baker then its only a good thing for my boys right? And the bakes that don’t quite cut the mustard are willingly consumed by the dog.

Win, win I say.

I’ll get my pinny.

A deliciously moist carrot and banana cake recipe perfect for using up overripe browning bananas. This does on the healthier side of cakes so no guilt needed and great for indulging all your GBBO urges

 

disclaimer

please see my disclosure policy for more details

 

 

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