Sunday, 21 November 2010

Easy Roasted Herb Chicken

We eat a lot of roast chicken around here. When I say a lot, I mean like once a week. I think my husband would eat roast chicken, roast potatoes, and broccoli everyday if I let him. Usually I just throw some salt and pepper on the chicken and that's it. A friend of mine posted this recipe on Facebook and I thought I'd give it a go. It was dee-lish-ous!!! The ingredients were things I have in the cupboard, so I didn't need to buy anything special. My friend suggested doubling the amount of marinade and I added some different vegetables. Next time I'll make more veg since it was our favorite part! It smelled delicious when it was done and even my husband was like, you need to take a picture of this!

Roasted Herb Chicken

1 (4lb) whole chicken (you can do larger if you need to feed more than 4)
2/3 cup soy sauce
6 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp ground black pepper
Vegetables to roast:
I used 2 carrots cut into 2-in pieces, 2 sliced onions, and about 10 new potatoes. I'd definitely do more onions and carrots next time as it was barely enough for the two of us. Also good would be parsnips and mushrooms. Just do as many veg as you can fit in your roasting tin!

Preheat the oven, following the directions on the chicken packaging for temperature and length of cooking. Prepare the chicken by rinsing with cold water and patting it dry with a paper towel. Place into the roasting tin, surrounding it with all the vegetables. Mix together the ingredients for the marinate and baste the chicken (inside and out) and baste the vegetables generously. Place into the oven and continue to baste the chicken and vegetables at least every 30 minutes. Stir the vegetables around at the same time. Once the chicken is finished, allow it to rest for 10 minutes before carving.


Friday, 15 October 2010

Broccoli Cheese Soup

This soup may have reformed my husband from a no-soup-for-dinner kind of guy, and it didn't even have meat in it! We both love the broccoli cheese soup at Panera Bread, so we were excited to try this knock off recipe I found on the internet. It's not healthy in the slightest which could be why it was so freaking delicious. It was also really easy to make, so win win! The original recipe is here, but after reading the comments I did make a few changes (there is no half and half in Ireland) and of course I didn't puree mine. Anyone who knows me knows I hate pureed soup.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 tbsp butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 c butter
1/4 c flour
2 c whole milk
2 c chicken stock or bouillon
1/2 lb fresh broccoli, chopped very small
1 c carrots, julienned (I used a cheese grater)
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp dijon mustard
3-4 shakes of Tabasco or hot sauce

Melt the tbsp of butter and saute the onions. Set aside. Melt the 1/4 c of butter and add the flour and whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until it starts to bubble and brown slightly. Slowly add the milk while whisking constantly. Continue whisking and add the chicken stock. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots, and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender, about 25-30 minutes. Add the salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Over low heat, add the cheese, stirring until it's melted. Stir through the mustard and hot sauce and serve.

This recipe serves 4, but if you go to the website you can increase the serving size which will increase the quantities for the recipe. Some of the reviews say it doesn't reheat well, but we thought it was just as delicious leftover.


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Ham and Spaghetti Supreme

When my sister threw a bridal shower for me, everyone brought a recipe. I LOVE this idea for bridal showers because I love trying out new recipes. That shower was a year and a half ago and I'm sad to say this is the first time I've tried this recipe from my cousin. I have an excuse. It calls for a can of mushrooms and I couldn't find canned mushrooms here. I know, that's no excuse. I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with an easy, fresher alternative. So, this is my modified version of the recipe and it was DELICIOUS! It's a great way to use up leftover ham. We had it with steamed green beans.

I apologize for the quality of the picture at the bottom. I had completely forgotten to take a picture and Wes reminded me just as he was about to tuck into his plate.

Ham and Spaghetti Supreme

2 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup (I used low fat)
3/4 c milk
2 c cooked ham, cubed
1 1/2 c shredded cheddar
150 g button mushrooms, sliced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp black pepper
Salt, to taste (my ham was very salty, so I omitted this)
1/2 lb dry spaghetti
1/2 c seasoned dry bread crumbs

Start boiling the water to cook the spaghetti. While making the creamy mixture, cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.

Melt butter over medium heat, then add onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook until mushrooms are starting to brown a little, about 10 minutes. Add soup, milk, ham, 1 c of cheese, and pepper. Mix well. Cook over medium heat until cheese melts, stirring occasionally. Taste to see if you need to add some salt. Add the spaghetti to the ham mixture, tossing to mix.

Spread evenly in a 9x13 in baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs and remaining cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees F (180 degrees C) until bubbly, about 20 minutes.

Makes 5-6 servings.


Thursday, 19 August 2010

Vegetarian Chili

Sorry for the lack of posts on my food blog. I haven't been too creative lately!

This recipe is adapted from my 2004 Cooking Light cookbook. I was looking for a chili recipe and this recipe was a contribution from a runner in Baltimore. It had Old Bay seasoning in it so I was intrigued! I'm always looking for new ways to use my Old Bay, other than on chips and in my shrimp salad! I had to adapt the recipe because it called for V-8 which isn't available here. I added the lentils at the last minute because I knew they would make it much more hearty and my meat-loving husband would appreciate that! If the chili is too spicy, add a bit of sugar to help calm down the heat.

Vegetarian Chili

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 c courgette, chopped
4 c chopped tomatoes
11 oz tomato sauce with herbs
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can black beans
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
2 tsp chili powder
3/4 c red lentils
Salt to taste

In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion, saute for 2 minutes stirring continuously. Add the peppers and courgette, cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans, Old Bay and chili powder. Mix thoroughly, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes on medium-low. Add the lentils, stir, and cook for another 20 minutes.

Serves 4-6 (I'm using the leftovers to make a tamale bake)


Thursday, 8 July 2010

The easiest cake of all time - strawberry buttermilk cake

I don't have a lot of baked goods in my repertoire and I'm trying to fix that. I'm a little scared of baking since it's a bit more precise and if you screw it up you have to start over. Cakes are really the scariest because if you're serving it to others you can't try it first! I asked Wes what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday and he said a Victoria sponge (a truly British staple). I'm sure my face turned white with fear and he back-pedaled to brownies. My excuse was my lack of round baking pans. ;-)

I'm not sure where I came across this cake, but it is truly the easiest thing I've ever baked. It's a good way to use up leftover buttermilk. My first time turned out a little dry, but this last time it was perfectly moist. I found the recipe on this site, but apparently she adapted the recipe from Gourmet magazine. She says this is the perfect recipe for a brunch and I completely agree. Gourmet uses raspberries for this recipe and someone commented on the other food blog that they think it's delicious with blueberries. A mixture would be nice too!

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1-1/2 Tbsp sugar, divided
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh strawberries(about 5 ounces)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F (I did 180°C in my fan oven); with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round (or square in my case!) cake pan.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla.
4. Add egg and beat well.
5. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.
6. Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1-1/2 Tbsp sugar.
7. Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25-30 minute. (Check after 20 minutes so it doesn't dry out.)
8. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate. (I don't have a rack, so I just let it cool in the pan. It was fine.)


Tuesday, 15 June 2010

A simple summer salad

I love eating salads in the summertime! It makes me feel like I'm at a picnic. The weather here in Ireland is definitely cooperating this summer and we've had some warm (to us!) days. The other week I had lunch with a friend at a vegetarian cafe in Greystones and had a delicious tomato salad. *This is where my mother faints.*

Yes, I said delicious tomato salad.

I grew up absolutely hating raw tomatoes and ketchup, but my taste buds are changing and tomatoes are one of those things that I'm starting to eat. I'm still very picky about which tomatoes I will eat, so definitely not on a sandwich and no ketchup! I think I'm someone who eats with my eyes and this salad really did it for me. The different colors in the salad made my mouth water. The original salad had black olives in it, but I think they're disgusting, so I left them out!

Heirloom Tomato Salad (Measurements are approximations. Adjust appropriately for your tastes!)

500g heirloom tomatoes, in a variety of colors
50g feta cheese, crumbled
10-15 basil leaves, washed
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slice the tomatoes into large chunks and place in a medium non-metal bowl. Crumble the feta cheese over top. Wash the basil leaves and add them to the salad, tearing the larger leaves. Salt and pepper to taste (I was liberal with the black pepper as usual). Coat with a large glug (or two) of extra virgin olive oil. Stir until everything is coated.

Makes 3 generous side servings.


Thursday, 20 May 2010

Couscous, lima bean, and tomato salad

I found this salad recipe years ago in Redbook magazine. It seriously makes my mouth water when I think about it! Since there is no mayo in the salad it's a great option for picnics. When I was in the US I made it with baby lima beans. I had a friend who used edamame beans when she tried it and it was equally delicious. Lima beans aren't available in the UK or Ireland, so here I use frozen broad beans that I've popped out of the tough outer layer. It's a bit faffy, but it does taste so much better if you do this. Use this recipe as a guideline, but don't be afraid to eyeball it and alter it to your taste, particularly with the tomatoes and the feta cheese!

Couscous, lima bean, and tomato salad

¾ tsp salt
1 c couscous
¾ c water
10 oz frozen baby lima beans, edamame beans, or broad beans
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
2-3 Roma tomatoes, chopped and deseeded
¼ c fresh chopped basil
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
½ c crumbled feta cheese

Bring the water and ½ tsp of the salt to a boil in small sauce pan; add couscous, remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a shallow dish to cool.

Cook the beans in boiling water until crisp tender, about 3 minutes, drain, plunge into cold water, drain again, set aside to cool. If using broad beans, you should peel them once they're cool enough to handle.

Whisk together vinegar, pepper and remaining salt in a large bowl; slowly whisk in olive oil. Stir in the couscous, beans, tomatoes, basil, and scallions. Sprinkle with feta cheese.

Makes 6 generous side servings.


Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Chicken and Cashew Stir-Fry

Chinese food in America is delicious. Chinese food in the UK is disgusting. When I was in England a couple of years ago Ching-He Huang did a show on BBC2 that corresponded with her cookbook called, Chinese Food Made Easy. The stuff she cooked looked delicious and fresh!

Last year when I moved to Ireland I discovered that Chinese food here is delicious! Hooray! One of my favorite places to eat in Dublin is a Chinese restaurant on Capel Street. However, it's expensive and I'm trying to be healthy, so this weekend I decided to make something out of my book. Since I had most of the ingredients for it, I went with the chicken and cashew stir-fry. It is really easy to make and much healthier than what you get in the restaurants. Wes liked it so much we had it again a few days later. Everything goes so fast once you start cooking, so I strongly recommend that you have everything sliced and ready to go before you start to actually cook.

The online recipe is slightly different from the one in the cookbook, plus I added a few things. So, I'm just going to post my version. However, you can find the original recipe on the BBC Food website.

Chicken and Cashew Stir-Fry

For the chicken
1 egg white
1 tbsp cornflour
Dash of salt
500g (1lb 2oz) boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced thinly
3-4 tbsp stir-fry oil (mixture of sunflower and sesame oils)

For the stir-fry
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced into thin strips
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced into thin strips
3 tbsp chicken stock
2-3 tbsp light soy sauce
2 spring onions, sliced
4 tbsp raw or roasted cashew nuts*
1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
Salt and ground white pepper
150g Chinese-style medium egg noodles (dry, not straight to wok), to serve**

*If using raw nuts, you may choose to toast them before using them. I just toasted mine in the frying pan over low heat until they started to get slightly brown. I did this while I was chopping up all the veg and chicken. Keep an eye on them, shaking them around a bit, so they don't burn. 

**Follow the package directions to cook the noodles so they finish at the same time as the stir-fry. Mine only take two minutes, so that's how I have accounted for them in this dish. You can also use rice if you prefer.

1. For the chicken, whisk together the egg white, cornflour and salt. Make sure the cornflour is fully incorporated. Add the sliced chicken and stir around to completely coat it. 

2. Start the water boiling for the noodles. Heat wok (or large frying pan) on high heat. Add the oil. Fry the chicken until it's completely brown and crispy on all sides, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.

3. Heat the oil remaining in the pan over high heat. Add the onion and stir-fry about 30 seconds. Add the peppers and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, or until they start to soften. Add the chicken and stir-fry 1-2 minutes. Drop the noodles into the boiling water.

4. Add the stock, soy sauce and Chinese 5 Spice to the chicken stir-fry and allow it to simmer for a minute or two, ensuring the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the green onions, cashews, and cooked (and drained!) noodles. Season with the salt and ground white pepper. Stir everything together until the noodles are incorporated. Serve immediately.

Makes 3 servings or 2 if you're hungry!


Thursday, 15 April 2010

Broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken

This is one of our new favorite recipes, hands down! It's another one from Gina's WW Recipes and it doesn't disappoint. I've made it twice in the past two weeks which means we must really like it! It's a great way to use up leftover broccoli. It's a bit faffy with the rolling up of the chicken, but other than that, it couldn't be easier. If you go to the website you'll see her perfect little chicken parcels. Yeah, my parcels look like something out of a food horror movie! I have to say I actually used less toothpicks the second time I made these than the first. I was really concerned about all of the cheese oozing out, but Swiss cheese isn't a quick melting cheese, so the oozing wasn't too bad. Also, she says that she gets a chicken breast and cuts it into three thin cutlets. I just get one boneless chicken breast for each of us and bang it into a thin cutlet with the flat side of my meat tenderizer. I served it with steamed potatoes and salad.

The original recipe is here and I've posted it below with the changes I made accounting for two servings. You can easily double or triple it.

Broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken

2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, pounded thin (about 1/2 in)
2 slices Swiss cheese, the thinner the better
1 c cooked broccoli, chopped small
¾ c seasoned breadcrumbs
1 egg
splash of water
cooking spray (if your tray isn't nonstick)

Preheat oven to 350F/175C. In a small bowl mix the egg, water, and a pinch of salt to make an egg wash. Set aside. Put the breadcrumbs in another bowl.

Place a chicken breast in between two pieces of plastic wrap. Pound it thin with a meat tenderizer, being careful not to go too thin which will case the chicken to break apart when you try to roll it. Repeat with each piece of chicken. Place a piece of cheese (actually a half slice is usually adequate) on each piece of chicken, then put a little broccoli into the middle. Roll up the chicken and secure it closed with toothpicks. Season with a little salt. Roll each chicken wrap in the egg wash and coat with breadcrumbs (this can be a little tricky with the toothpicks!). If necessary, spray your cookie sheet, place the chicken on it, and bake for about 25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Is it overkill with the toothpicks!!??


Roasted Ratatouille Chicken

We really like roasted vegetables and this is one of the easiest and healthiest recipes I have ever made. You can make as much as you want and omit any veg you don't like. I would definitely recommend using chicken breast with the bone in it as boneless would dry out before the veg were cooked. Use the larges roasting tin you have. I used a 9x13in dish using all of the veg the recipe called for and just two pieces of chicken and it was too small. It didn't allow for all the veg to roast and some of them were boiled in the juices. No worries though, we ate it all! I served it with steamed new potatoes and some of the La Brea garlic bread that we love.

The recipe can be found on the BBC GoodFood website here and I've typed it out for you below:

Roasted Ratatouille Chicken

1 onion, cut into chunks
2 red peppers, seeded and cut into chunks
1 courgette (zucchini), cut into chunks
1 aubergine (eggplant), cut into chunks
4 tomatoes, halved
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
4 chicken breasts, skin on
Salt and pepper
Few rosemary sprigs (or a sprinkling of dried), optional

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C. Lay all the vegetables in a large, shallow roasting tin. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Coat everything with olive oil and toss with your hands until everything is covered. Put the chicken skin side up, tucking them in amongst the veg. I found this better than placing it on top of the veg. Sprinkle the chicken with some salt and pepper and drizzle a little oil on top of the chicken. Roast for about 35 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the chicken is cooked.


Saturday, 27 March 2010

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Anyone notice a trend in the desserts I make?? That's right - chocolate. This recipe was brought to my attention when the Food Network tweeted about it on Twitter. It's nice to know that site is actually good for something! I haven't made a lot of cupcakes from scratch, but these are by far the best tasting cupcakes I have ever made! They were also simple, which I always appreciate! I'm usually not a huge fan of alcohol-flavored cakes and candies, but the flavor is really subtle in this recipe. They were incredibly moist and not too sweet. The icing is sweet, but since the cake isn't overly sweet it works well. Also, the cream cheese compliments the chocolate nicely. I usually make cream cheese icing with butter, but this recipe uses heavy (double) cream instead. I preferred this over the butter recipe and I'll be using it again.

For best results, if you're making them for a special occasion then make them the day before. They'll taste even better the next day.

Here is the original recipe from the Food Network and I've also typed it out for you below.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

¾ c unsweetened cocoa (I used Green and Blacks), plus more for dusting the finished cupcakes
2 c sugar
2 c all-purpose flour (plain or cream if in the UK/Ireland)
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 bottle (12 oz or ¾ of a pint) stout beer*
1 stick (½ c) butter, melted
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs (medium if in the UK/Ireland)
¾ c sour cream or crème fraiche
8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened to room temperature
¾ c heavy cream (double if in the UK/Ireland)
1 lb (450g) confectioners' sugar (icing sugar if in the UK/Ireland)

Preheat the oven to 350°F/170°C (fan assisted).

In a large bowl whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the stout, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually mix the dry ingredients in with the wet ones.

Lightly grease 24 muffin tins or use idiot-proof muffin cups like I did! Divide the batter equally, filling each tin ¾ full. Bake for about 12 minutes, rotate the pan, then bake for an additional 12-13 minutes until risen, nicely domed, and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool before turning out, or if in a muffin cup pop them out and cool on a rack. Cool completely before icing.

To make the icing: In a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the heavy cream. On low speed slowly incorporate the confectioners' sugar until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Icing can be made several hours ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Dust frosted cupcakes with cocoa powder.

The icing recipe makes MUCH more icing than you'll need and I'm pretty liberal with mine. Next time I'll halve the recipe. If you need to make a boat load of cupcakes and decide to make two batches, you could definitely just make one batch of the icing and it will be enough for all of the cupcakes.

Also, I covered my un-iced cupcakes with plastic wrap and stored them on the counter. I frosted them as I needed them.

*The recipe suggests you use Guinness, but my Corkonian husband isn't a fan of Liffey water, so I used Beamish in ours!


Friday, 19 March 2010

Pork and Rosemary Lasagne

For the record, I spell it 'lasagna', but the BBC prefers to spell it with an 'e' and it's their recipe that I've based this one off of, so we'll go with it. I never really thought of putting any other type of meat into a lasagna other than beef, so I was a bit wary of this recipe. It turned out delicious! It's low fat AND filling, which is the best combo! As I said, I first used the recipe in the BBC GoodFood Cookbook, but I tweaked it a bit to my own taste.

Pork and Rosemary Lasagne

1 tsp olive oil
400g/14oz lean minced pork
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 tsp dried rosemary
150ml/¼ pint white wine
425ml/¾ pint chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato puree
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp cornflour, mixed to a paste with a little cold water
450g low fat cottage cheese
Generous splash of skimmed milk
1 tsp dried parsley
½ tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper
10 dried lasagne sheets (no pre-cooking required type)
20g freshly grated parmesan + a bit to sprinkle over the top

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and fry the pork until brown and crumbly. Add the onion, celery, rosemary and wine. Simmer for 10 minutes, then stir in the stock, puree, and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the cornflour paste until slightly thickened, then remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 170°C/350°F. Spray a 9inx13in baking dish with cooking spray. Mix together the cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, milk, parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Wet the bottom of the baking dish with a generous spoon of meat mixture. Cover with 3 lasagna sheets. Top with a third of the cheese mixture then a third of the meat sauce. Repeat the steps, so you finish with meat sauce on top. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Allow the lasagne to sit for at least 5 minutes before you cut it.


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The easiest meatloaf recipe ever!

I love meatloaf. I love meatloaf so much that I told the meatloaf that I loved it while it was cooking. Then I felt guilty and had to tell my husband that I love him too. Fortunately he shares my love of meatloaf. He never had it before he met me and he proclaimed, 'it's like a giant meatball'. Yes, yes, it is.

The kicker is that I only like my mom's meatloaf. I don't ever order it in restaurants because it could have green peppers baked inside or ketchup smeared on top. These are two things that can instantly ruin a meatloaf for me. That's okay though, because meatloaf is simple to make. My mom has two recipes, one that requires chopping and eyeballing. Maybe one day I'll make that one. Instead I make the super simple recipe that requires ripping open packets and opening a can. Now, I have no idea where she got this recipe. She certainly didn't make it up, but we've been making it for years. If I were REALLY good I'd serve this with scalloped potatoes. Alas...I cop out and make it with mashed potatoes.

Super Easy Meatloaf

2 lb ground beef
1 egg
1/2 c dry bread crumbs
1 packet dry Lipton Onion Soup mix
1/2 can condensed Cream of Mushroom soup* (reserve other half for sauce)

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Mix all of the ingredients together well and form into a loaf in a 2-qt baking dish. Bake for 1 1/4 hour. For the sauce, in a small saucepan heat up the remainder of the soup, 1/4 c water, and some of the fat drained from the meatloaf.

*Don't like mushrooms? Use cream of celery or cream of potato soup instead.


Friday, 5 March 2010

Brownie Love!

Remember when I said I don't really like to bake? Well, I baked! I baked! My friend posted this Nigel Slater recipe on her food blog and I've been wanting to try it ever since. These brownies are really easy to make and so quick. I kept true to my baking skills when cracking the eggs in the bowl. The recipe calls for 3 large eggs and 1 egg yolk. Well, I'm so used to making scrambled eggs that I did 3 large eggs and 1 egg white. So I had to fish out what I thought was the equivalent to one large egg white. Folks, this is why I don't bake. Regardless of my snafu, the brownies were delicious and we gave them two thumbs up! And of course because I'm American I served them with ice cream on the side, not double cream poured on top. Blech.

I have two excellent brownie recipes now (one US and this UK one) and I have to say, I'll never go back to using a pre-made mix. It's so easy to make them from scratch and they're soooo much better!

Here is the recipe for Nigel Slater's Very Good Brownies:

300g golden caster sugar
250g butter, slightly softened
250g chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3 large* eggs + 1 extra egg yolk
60g flour
60g finest quality cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder

You'll want to use a square baking tin, about 23cm x 23cm. I used my square roasting dish.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4/350°F. Line the bottom of the tin with baking parchment (or spray it with non-stick cooking spray, which is what I did). Break up the chocolate and set 50g aside. You're going to melt 200g and the 50g you have set aside should be broken up into gravel-sized pieces. Melt the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl that is suspended over a pot of boiling water. The bowl should not touch the water.

At the same time that the chocolate is a mixing bowl, combine sugar and butter and beat for several minute until white and fluffy. Count yourself lucky if you have a stand up mixer. This will cause your hand to cramp if you're using a hand mixer. Keep an eye on your melting chocolate and remove it from the heat as soon as it's completely melted.

Break the eggs into a small  bowl and lightly beat them. Sift together the cocoa, flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt. While the mixer is running, slowly incorporate the eggs into the butter/sugar mixture. Increase the speed of the mixture after each addition of the egg (I forgot to do this and mine turned out fine). Once this is incorporated, take the bowl off the mixer (or put your hand mixer down and stretch out the cramps in your hand) and mix in the melted and chopped chocolate. Lastly, fold in the flour/cocoa mixture, trying to keep the air in the mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth over the top. Bake for 30 minutes. The cake will rise and may look more done around the edges than it does in the middle. Stick a fork in the middle and it should come out sticky, but not with any of the mixture on it. If it's not done enough, put it back in the oven for 3 minutes. The brownies will solidify a bit as they cool, so don't worry if they look a little wet. Allow them to cool before serving.

Notice I have no Weight Watcher's points for these. They would be off the charts!



*'Large eggs' in the UK/Ireland are the same size as 'extra large' eggs in the US. Any time I use a US recipe that calls for 'large eggs' or even just 'eggs' I always use the 'medium eggs' here in Ireland. Believe it or not, this actually makes a difference in how your baked goods turn out!

Chicken Ropa Vieja, Cilantro Lime Rice, and Southwestern Black Bean Salad

Another night of dishes from Gina's Weight Watcher's Recipes. I was just going to make the chicken and rice, but then I realized I had all the ingredients for the salad, so I just made all three. I'm a big fan of recipes where the ingredients compliment each other, allowing you to do all of the chopping in one go. Then you just throw them all together in the end. Often times I feel rushed at the last minute to have it all come together, but that wasn't the case with this meal at all.

If you're working you could cook the chicken (either in the crock pot or on the stove) the night before, refrigerate it overnight, then shred it and cook with the peppers the next evening, making it a quick workday meal. The salad can also be made ahead, just adding the avocado right before you serve.

Here are the recipes:

Chicken Ropa Vieja

3 chicken breast halves, on the bone with the skin removed
1 small onion, quartered
1 tomato, quartered
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 c dry white wine
1/2 c tomato sauce (it's passata if you're in the UK or Ireland)
Reserved broth*
1 tsp cumin, or more to taste (I used a heaping tablespoon)
Garlic powder (I didn't have any, so I left it out)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place chicken, tomato, carrots, onion, and two cloves of garlic in a crock pot or large sauce pan. Cover with water. If using the crock pot, cook for 4 hours on high until the chicken is tender. If using the sauce pan, bring to a boil, then turn it down to medium allowing it to simmer for 30-40 minutes. Remove the chicken and shred it using a fork. Reserve the liquid.

In a large, lidded skillet heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the peppers, onions and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the chicken, tomato sauce, white wine, and about 3/4 c of the reserve liquid. Season with cumin, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on low for about 10 minutes, until the peppers are soft, adding more liquid and seasoning as needed. Makes 4 cups.

Makes 4 servings at 4 ww points each. 

* I didn't do this, but in hindsight I would have strained out the vegetables and used the remainder of the reserved liquid for soup. It had a delicious flavor and would have made a great chicken soup! Next time!

Cilantro Lime Rice  - Start cooking the rice when the chicken is simmering.

1 c extra long grain or basmati rice
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 c water
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro
4 tsp vegetable oil

Everyone makes rice differently. My mother uses the evaporation method which is what this recipe suggests. She includes one tsp of the vegetable oil while the rice is cooking. I stink at making rice, so I prefer the 'cook in large quantities of water and drain' method. Regardless of how you make your rice, once it's finished cooking (and drained if that's how you do it), add the lime juice, cilantro, and 3 tsp vegetable oil. Stir everything together and serve.

Makes 4 servings at 4 ww points each. 


Southwestern Black Bean Salad - I am a sucker for anything with avocado, but you can leave this out if you're not a fan. It would still be delicious!

1 15.5 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
9 oz frozen corn, thawed
1 tomato, chopped
1 small avocado, diced
1/4 c red onion, chopped (I didn't have one, so I just used a white onion)
1 scallion, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp cilantro
Salt and black pepper

Combine the beans, corn, tomato, onion, scallion, and cilantro. Mix in the olive oil and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Stir in the avocado right before serving.

Makes 12 servings (if you eat small servings) at 2.5 ww points each.



Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Garlic shrimp in coconut milk, tomatoes and cilantro

Another successful recipe from Gina's WW's Recipes! For me, the biggest success of this recipe is that I actually peeled and deveined the shrimp all on my own! The peeling bit was easy (even though pulling the heads off was disgusting), but it was the deveining that I was most uncertain about. I believe they even make specific tools to do this and all I had was my $1 Pampered Chef Quikut Paring Knife. Fortunately I have watched enough cooking shows and eaten enough shrimp that I could handle it without the special tool! It took me a little while, but the whole process was actually quite cathartic.

Preparing the shrimp was the most difficult thing about this recipe, so if you find already prepared shrimp this is a quick and easy meal. The recipe says to saute the red peppers over low heat until they're soft (about 4 minutes). If you can manage to get something to saute on low heat, then well done to you! I couldn't. So after about 10 minutes of looking at raw peppers in the pan, I jacked up the heat to get some action. I turned it back down before adding the tomatoes and coconut milk. Wes doesn't like things too spicy, so I only used about 1/4 tsp red pepper flake. It wasn't spicy at all, so next time I'll use the full amount. Also, don't be put off by the amount of garlic in this dish. It wasn't overly garlic tasting at all.

Sorry about the quality of my picture. I had forgotten to take one and Wes reminded me when I had already put the leftovers in the container for him to take to work!

Here is the direct link to the recipe and I've also typed it out for you below:

Garlic shrimp in coconut milk, tomatoes, and cilantro (coriander if you're not in the US!)

1 1/4 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
1/2 c cilantro
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flake (to taste)
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
14 oz can of light coconut milk
Juice from 1/2 of lime
Steamed or boiled rice

In a medium pot, heat oil on low (again, you might want to jack this up). Add the red peppers and saute until soft (about 4 minutes). If you have turned up the heat on the skillet, turn it back down to low, let it cool off a minute, then add the whites of the scallions, 1/4 c of the cilantro, and the garlic. Cook for about 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes, coconut milk and salt to taste, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. The sauce should start to thicken up a bit.

Add the shrimp and cook for 5 minutes. Add the lime juice.

Serve over rice, sprinkled with cilantro and the green onions.

Serves 4 and the WW points is 5.5 (not including the rice)


Monday, 22 February 2010

Baked chicken with dijon and lime

I'm not sure how I found this food blog, but it's my new favorite! There are sooo many recipes on it that look delicious! I made my first recipe from the site tonight and it didn't disappoint. We both thought it was delicious. The only change I made was that I used wholegrain mustard instead of dijon because that's what I had on hand. I imagine any mustard would work except that disgusting yellow kind. Also, I didn't want leftovers which is why I cooked 5 thighs instead of the 8 the recipe calls for. I served this with sauteed courgettes (zucchini) and boiled rice.

Here is the direct link to the chicken recipe and I've typed out the recipe below:

Baked chicken with dijon and lime

8 small chicken thighs, skins removed
3 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp light mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, crushed
3/4 tsp black pepper
Juice and zest from one lime
Dried Parsley

Preheat oven to 400 F (204 C). Rinse the chicken, remove the skin and fat, then pat dry. Place in a large bowl and season generously with salt. In a small bowl combine the mustard, mayo, garlic, black pepper, lime juice and zest. Mix well, then pour over chicken, tossing it to coat.

Spray a large baking pan with cooking spray. Place chicken to fit in a single layer. Sprinkle the chicken with dried parsley. Bake until cooked through, about 30-35 minutes. If you want the chicken to look more brown, place under the broiler for a few minutes (I didn't do this). Serve chicken with pan juices drizzled over the top.

Serves 4
If you're counting WW points, it's 4.25 per serving.


Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Sausage and lentils casserole

This recipe came from Weight Watcher's Cook. I tried to find the book online, but can't find it anywhere. My housemate in England was attending WW meetings and brought this home. After we made a few things I asked her to pick one up for me too. Perhaps it's only available to people who attend meetings. The recipes in this book can be a bit hit or miss, but this one was definitely a hit! I love lentils, so I've been eyeing this recipe up for awhile. We both loved it and I will definitely be making it again. The cookbook describes it as a comfort food and I would definitely agree as it's very hearty and filling. The recipe makes 4 generous servings. If you're following WW, this recipe is 6 points. You can also make it vegetarian by using veggie sausages and stock. Then it would only be 5 points. 

I used the Marks and Spencer reduced fat sausages, but any mild sausage would work well in this recipe. I couldn't find dry Puy lentils, so I used brown which took about 45 minutes to soften. I didn't have mixed herbs, so I used herbs de provence and sprinkled in a bit of parsley.

Sausage and Lentil Casserole

Low fat cooking spray
8 low fat sausages (400g/14oz total weight)
4 shallots, sliced (or one small onion)
2 garlic cloves, sliced
150ml (5 fl oz) red wine
110g (4oz) Puy lentils
400ml (14 fl oz) beef stock
2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs
450g (1 lb) potatoes, peeled and chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Lightly coat a large lidded pan with low fat cooking spray and heat until sizzling. Add the sausages and cook for 4-5 minutes until browned all over. Add the shallots and stir fry for 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
2. Add the wine and let it bubble for a minute before adding the lentils, stock and herbs. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the lentils are soft and the sausages cooked through.
3. Meanwhile boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until soft. Drain the potatoes and mash them.
4. Serve the mash potatoes with the casserole.


Friday, 12 February 2010

Dried apricot couscous salad

I participate in an online forum and one of the topics that you can post in is 'What's for dinner tonight?' I like this topic because sometimes when you have NO idea what to make, you can get some ideas. One day someone commented that they were making couscous. I find my couscous to be really boring, so I asked if anyone had suggestions on how to prepare it. One woman posted this recipe for a couscous salad and I decided to give it a go. DELICIOUS!!! I like that it's really easy to tweak to your tastes. I have posted here the exact recipe she gave, but I made some changes. I'm not a huge fan of mint and one cup was way too much. I only used 5 large leaves and it was perfect. I also only used one clove of garlic since it was going to be raw in the salad. We love garlic and this was plenty! You can leave it out if you don't like garlic.

I think this salad would also be delicious with dried cranberries instead of the apricots. I'm going to try that next time!

1 1/2 c water
1 1/2 c couscous
10 dried apricots, chopped
3/4 c sliced almonds, toasted
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 green onions, green parts only, chopped
1 c fresh mint, chopped
2 handfuls cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

1. Prepare the couscous by boiling the water and pouring it over the couscous, covering it with plastic wrap. All it to sit for 10-15 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork.

2. In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients, then gently fold in the couscous, oil, and salt.


Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Summer-In-Winter Chicken

A couple of weeks ago KD posted the BBC GoodFood recipe for this chicken dish on her blog. Looked tasty to me! So I decided to try it for dinner. I'm not including a picture because KD's looked MUCH better than mine. I didn't have cherry tomatoes, so I just chopped up 3 small tomatoes. I think I cooked them too long, causing them to break down too much, so the sauce got really dark. We had it with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. The sauce was really nice with the mash! It had good flavor and Wes really liked it, so I would definitely make it again I'll just be more careful with the tomatoes!

Here is the direct link to Summer-In-Winter Chicken.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Teriyaki Pork Stir-Fry

This is another tasty low fat recipe from Pampered Chef's It's Good For You cookbook. Once the meat is marinated this recipe is super quick to make, so it's a great workday meal. You could make the marinade in the morning, then just throw the pork into it as soon as you get home. The meat only needs to marinade for 15 minutes.

I used to follow the recipe to the letter, but one day I went to the store and they didn't have fresh snow peas, but instead had mange tout (is that the same as a snow pea?) and baby corn, so I got that instead. You know, that kind of thing. I never thought I liked those little baby corn, but well, I do. Why? Because I love all things corn. Tesco has these great stir-fry packs and I love the variety of vegetables that now go onto this stir-fry.

The original recipe calls for red pepper flake, but since the fresh pepper is included in the pack I use that now. I love this recipe with brown rice. It really does give it a nice nutty flavor, but white rice is a fine substitute. The cookbook suggests substituting chicken if you don't like pork. I have made it both ways and both are great!

Teriyaki Pork Stir-Fry

2/3 c reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp peeled, finely chopped fresh gingerroot (I use the Very Lazy stuff that comes in a jar)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or 2 tsp chopped fresh pepper, veined and deseeded
1 lb boneless pork loin chops, cut into 1/8-in strips
2 c uncooked rice, preferably brown
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-in strips
6 oz fresh snow peas, trimmed (or any stir-fry combo you like)
1 bunch green onions with tops, cut into 1-in pieces (about 6-8)
1 tsp sesame oil, divided
1 can (8 oz) bamboo shoots, drained

1. In a medium-sized dish, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, and cornstarch; whisk until blended. Add the chopped gingerroot, garlic, and red pepper.

2. Slice the pork into 1/8-in thick strips. Add pork to soy sauce mixture; toss to coat. Cover; refrigerate at least 15 minutes to marinate.

3. Cut the bell pepper into 1/4-in strips and cut green onions into 1-in pieces. Start cooking the rice according to package directions.

4. Heat 1/2 tsp of the oil in a large skillet or wok until hot. Remove pork from marinade using a slotted spoon; add to skillet, reserving marinade. Stir fry a few minutes or until pork is no longer pink. Remove from skillet and keep warm.

5. Heat remaining 1/2 tsp oil in same skillet. Add bell pepper, the stir fry vegetables, and green onions. Stir fry 2-3 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Return pork to skillet. Stir in reserved marinade and bamboo shoots. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir 1 minute or until sauce is thickened. Serve over rice.

Pampered Chef says this makes 6 servings, but I'd say it makes 4-5 depending on who is eating it.


Sunday, 31 January 2010

Sausage and Peppers Pasta

This is one of Wes' most requested dishes. I like to make it because it's hearty, low fat, easy, and there is no way to screw it up. You can adapt the recipe easily if you're feeding a lot of people or there is just two of you.

There's a similar recipe to what I make in the Pampered Chef It's Good For You cookbook. I've changed it a bit, mainly because I can't find hot Italian turkey sausage in Ireland so I had to adapt. I use Marks and Spencer's reduced fat pork sausages, but you can use any sausage you like.I used penne pasta because that's what I had on hand, but I've used rotini and farfalle. Whole wheat pasta also tastes really nice with this. Any short pasta will do!

Sausage and Peppers Pasta

400g uncooked pasta
300g reduced fat sausage (I used 5 links from the M&S pack)
1 each red, yellow, and green pepper cut into large chunks
1 medium onion cut into large chunks
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 can (400g) chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp red pepper flake
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Salt and black pepper to taste

This will make enough for 4 generous servings. 

1. Chop the garlic and vegetables and put to the side.

2. Heat a large, lidded skillet with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Either cut the sausage into 1 in. pieces or just blob them out of the casings into little 1 in. balls. That's my preferred method. I think the little meatball shapes are cute. I got about 5 blobs from each sausage. Cook the sausage until it's lightly brown on the outside.

3. Once the sausage is brown, throw in all the chopped vegetables. After this cooks for a few minutes, throw in the garlic. If you put it in too early it will burn. Actually, when I made it on this go around I almost forgot to put the garlic in, so it went in after the tomatoes. No problem. Still tasted great!

4. Add the can of tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, red pepper flake, salt and pepper. They didn't have chopped tomatoes at the store, so I used peeled whole tomatoes. I just crushed them in my hands as I was pouring them into the pan. If you like really spicy, just add a little more red pepper flake. Stir everything together, put the lid on it, turn it down to medium (or 3 out of 6 on my stove). You'll let this cook for 20 minutes or until the peppers are soft.

5. It takes forever for my stove to heat up, so as soon as I put the lid on this, I start heating up the water to cook the pasta. If you're lucky enough to have a fast stove, wait about 10 minutes to start your water. Follow the directions on the package, but you should cook the pasta al dente since it will soak up some of the sauce. Over cooked pasta is yucky. The sauce can sit for a few minutes with the lid on, so it's better if your sauce finishes before your pasta and not the other way around.

6. Drain the pasta and pour it into the sauce. Stir together well and add the cheese if you'd like.

I serve this with garlic bread I've made using ciabatta bread, chopped garlic, olive oil, and italian seasoning.


Sunday, 24 January 2010

Ham Pot Pie

There is only one way to describe ham pot pie: comfort food. This was my very first attempt making this family favorite and I'm pretty darn proud of myself! Up to this point, I would only eat it when I was at home and my mom could make it because it seemed so daunting. I mean, you have to make dough and roll things out. Mom would always be concerned if it was 'too stodgy' or 'the broth was too thin' or 'there's too much ham'. Yikes! My sister, dad, and I would just roll our eyes and pile up our plates. It always tasted good to us!

Now that the ham pot pie isn't quite as convenient to us and because I had a craving for it, I announced to the husband that I was going to attempt to make ham pot pie for dinner. Since being introduced to pot pie on his first trip to the US it is a new favorite of his, so he was all for it.

There are really only two steps to making ham pot pie: making the ham broth and making the pot pie dough. Oh, I should also point out that you can make this with chicken, beef, or any other kind of meat. Even squirrel if that's your thing. My mom always made ham, so that's what I prefer. Whatever type of meat you choose, you need to make the broth. I used a 1 kg piece of unsmoked, cured ham. Why 1kg, unsmoked, and cured? Because that's what the had in the store. Another time I made ham broth I used smoked ham. Honestly, I think it all tastes the same and I don't recall a particularly smoky taste. I still can't figure out ham in this country. So, I put the ham in a large pot, covered it with water, brought it to a slow boil, then turned it down to simmer. While the ham was boiling I peeled two large potatoes, cut them into 1/4 in slices, and left them in cold water until I was ready for them. I boiled the ham for a little over an hour, pulled out the meat, and cut it in chunks before throwing it back in the broth. After that was done, I made the dough.

The recipe for the dough comes from this cookbook:

The Granddaughter's Inglenook Cookbook was first published by the Church of the Brethren in 1901 and was updated through the years. This version was published in 1976 and includes recipes for things like American Chop Suey, Perfection Salad,  Eggs a la Goldenrod, and Baked Carrot Ring. Interesting... My grandmother gave each of her granddaughters a copy of the cookbook and as far as I know, no one has ever made a thing out of it other than pot pie.

The recipe for pot pie is as follows:

2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp shortening
3/4 c water

Mix as for pie dough but roll out somewhat thicker. Cut in squares or strips.

That's it. Oh, and if you don't have a rolling pin, a bottle of beer works as a pretty good substitute.

Once you have your broth with your chunks of ham in it, you bring the broth up to a boil and start dropping in your dough squares and potatoes. Mom always did one slice of potato per each slice of dough, so that's what I did too. I let that cook for about 30 minutes and that was it! Done!

It turned out pretty good and I will most definitely make it again, but I did learn a few things:

1. Make sure you take the plastic sleeve-thing off the ham. Yes, I took it out of the packaging, but there was this weird plastic thing around it that I found floating in the broth. Oops.

2. Know your potatoes. The red rooster potatoes that we have here break apart really easily. They're great for mashed or roast potatoes, but don't stand up to long periods of boiling. I put the potatoes in at the same time as the dough, which was too long for them to cook and they broke down. If I use those  potatoes again I will wait about 15 minutes before I put the potatoes in, which means they'll only cook for about 15 minutes.

3. I prefer the taste of Crisco over Frytex. Wes didn't notice a difference in the taste of the pot pie, but that's because he's an amateur. If I had never had it made with Crisco, it would have been fine, but 35 years of taste-testing this dish means I can taste the difference in my shortening. Unfortunately, we can't get plain Crisco here so I'll be importing some.

I guess that's how it works with these handed-down family recipes. You keep working at them until you get them perfect for you and your family. Fortunately, my mom has been making it perfect for years, so I can keep getting tips and tastes from her every time I go home!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Oatmeal, Cinnamon Chip and Raisin Cookies

For my bridal shower I got lots of tasty recipes from friends to test on my new husband! Kim gave me this cookie recipe and it's delicious! I'm not the best baker, but these are really simple to make and the recipe made a ton of cookies. Wes' work colleagues like me a lot!

Word of warning: if you're not in the US you probably won't be able to get cinnamon chips where you are. Kim gave me two bags of chips to get me started and they are definitely something I'm going to have to bring back with me from now on. I'm sure you could buy them online at one of the many American food sites.

Oatmeal, Cinnamon Chip and Raisin Cookies
1 c softened butter
1 c light brown sugar
1/3 c white granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour (I used cream flour)
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 c quick-cooking oats
1 10oz pkg Hershey's Cinnamon Chips
3/4 c raisins

1. Heat oven to 350F or 160C (fan assisted)
2. Beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in bowl until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
3. Combine flour and baking soda, add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in oats, chips, and raisins.
4. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.
5. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Makes 4 dozen

Mixed Bean Salad

The recipe I use for this tasty salad was originally for a low fat white bean crostini that I found on the internet years ago. It is delicious as crostini, but I prefer to eat it as a salad with some French bread or like tonight, we had it as a side dish with a Spanish omelette. I also mix it up a bit by using the tinned mixed beans instead of white (cannellini) beans. If you make this as a salad, you can be a bit chunkier with the red pepper and onion. If you choose to make it as crostini you will want to finely chop the veg.
BEWARE OF THE GARLIC!!! We love garlic and even I still find it can be too much at times. If your cloves are large I would recommend using one rather than two. You can always add more if you want a bit more flavor.

Italian Mixed Bean Salad
2 cans (15 oz or 440g) of mixed beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 c onion, chopped
1/3 c red wine vinegar
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, or 1 tbsp dried
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper

In large bowl combine beans, bell pepper, and onion. In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, parsley, oil, garlic, oregano, and black pepper. Pour over bean mixture; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. Serve with crusty French bread.

Makes 2 dinner servings or 4 side servings.