Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

I was stuck home today with a sick child so I basically have spent the day in the kitchen, which of course I haven’t minded at all and definitely not complaining.

I have been staring at a large butternut squash all week and decided I have to do something with it. When researching recipes I was tossing up between squash fries, a squash and sage pasta sauce or the soup which I made. I think I will have to give them all a try because they were all so appealing. I went with the soup though because it sounded strangely incredible and I knew it would last in the fridge for at least five days. I have to say I am becoming a bit of a fan of regular cooking.

I say this a lot although the house smelt incredible from all the delicious vegetables roasting in the oven that were covered in the spices I coated them in.  The recipe was really quiet strange with the combination of apple, carrot and squash as well as cinnamon and and cumin. The flavours it created together though were of restaurant quality and I can’t wait to make it for my mum back at home who adores soup.

So I did struggle a little bit I have to say, cutting and peeling the squash nearly gave me a workout. I goggled what was the easiest way to do it and read that if you put it in the microwave it loosens it.  I think it worked slightly although I didn’t leave it in long enough. It still was a mission though.

I wouldn’t change a thing when I make it next time although maybe doubling it and freezing some.

TIP: Scrape out the seeds, remove gunk and place in boiling water for ten minutes. Place on baking tray with baking paper and over in a tsp of olive oil. Bake on 180 for 10 minutes. Enjoy.

IMG_9913

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup 
serves 4 – 6 

1 Large Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 – 2 Apples, sliced and cored
1 Onion, chopped
2 – 4 Carrots, peeled and chopped
5 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tsp Cinnamon
1 1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Cumin
3 Cups Chicken Broth

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the butternut squash, 3 Tbsp Olive Oil, 1 Tsp Cinnamon, 1/2 Tsp Salt and 1/2 Tsp Cumin. Mix together, coating the squash well. Spread out on a large baking sheet.

In the same bowl (that the butternut squash was in), toss the Apple Slices, Onion, and Carrots to coat with the remaining oil and spices left in the bowl. Place on the same baking tray and roast for 40 minutes.

In a large saucepan over medium heat add 2 tbsp of Olive Oil.

Add the roasted ingredients and then the Chicken Broth.

Add 1 Tsp each of Salt and Cinnamon.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer. Cover for 20 minutes.

Using a blender, combine and puree the ingredients until smooth.

IMG_9907

IMG_9908

IMG_9909

IMG_9911

IMG_9912

IMG_9914

IMG_9915

Thai & Asian Cooking Class

Yesterday I went to a cooking class at ‘The Smart School of Cookery’ and learnt some fantastic thai and asian inspired dishes. It was an amazing experience and I learnt so much, not just recipes but general tricks and tips in the kitchen. I even bought another four class vouchers.

I sat in the corner hoping to take photos (as it was not allowed) of the dishes although it was really hard. I did though take down notes of things I learnt. These included:
– Freezing fruit before adding to a sorbet or an ice-cream realises the natural sugars which means there is no need for added sugar.
– Freezing chilli distributes the heat through out and makes it easier to grate.
– 90% of a herbs flavour is in the stalk
– Eat and buy fish that is wild rather then farmed as farmed fish grow by consuming each others waste and don’t contain a lot of meat as they don’t have room to swim like wild fish do.
– A pinch = three fingers and a thumb.
– Dry noodles contain a plastic film which keeps them long life. Before cooking with them put them in boiling water and use thongs to separate. The film will come off and the noodles will not be glugy.
– Don’t wash mushrooms as they are to delicate.
– When cooking fish/ seafood make sure you only turn once to prevent it from going watery.
– Use icing sugar to tame the heat of chilli.
– For sticky use short grain rice add twice the boiling water

I learnt all of these new today which I found very resourceful for my future cooking. Especially the icing sugar in chilli, I can’t tolerate spice.

In the class we made a variety of dishes. I will post the ingredients and recipes as well as extra tips I remember.

Thai Fish Cakes

200g Chosen fish/ Prawns, (cooked and flaked/chopped)
60g Mayonnaise
1 Spring Onion, chopped
100g Breadcrumbs
1 Egg White, semi stiff

Mix all ingredients except the egg white and breadcrumbs together and form small balls or cakes.

Roll in the semi stiff egg white then place in breadcrumbs.

Fry in a little oil until golden. Remove to paper towel to remove extra oil.

Sweet Chilli Sauce

2 Chillies, frozen
200ml Water
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Oil

Grate the chillies and place in a saucepan with water, sugar and oil.

Bring to the boil and reduce by half.

IMG_9898

Vegetable Noodel Broth
500ml Vegetable/ Chicken Stock
1 Tsp Garlic Paste
2 Tsp Ginger, frozen and grated
1 Tsp Chilli, frozen and grated
1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
Juice and zest of 1 Lime and Lemon
1 Pack Dried Egg Noodles, soaked to remove wax
Shredded Vegetables – carrot, bok choy, snow peas, mushroom etc
Coriander and Shallots to season.

Chop/ slice all vegetables.

Place egg noodles in boiling water to remove wax film. (Noodles should be al dente).

Bring stock, garlic, ginger, chilli, fish sauce & soy sauce to the boil. Season to taste and add more flavours if desired (you should be able to taste each ingredient).

Add vegetables & noodles for two – five minutes.

Serve with a generous amount of coriander and shallots.

Season with lemon and lime juice.

IMG_9895 IMG_9896

Whole Baked Sea Bass with a Thai Infused Sauce
Whole Sea Bass/ Fish of choice
400ml Coconut Milk
2 Tsp Chilli
2 Tsp Garlic Paste
2 Tsp Ginger, grated from frozen
1 Tsp Soy Sauce
1 Tsp Fish Sauce
1 Tsp Turmeric
Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper

Place fish on a baking tray covered in foil and then baking paper.

Score both sides of a Fish and squeeze lemon in each section.

Mix together the coconut milk, chilli, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce & turmeric.

Pour half of the sauce over the fish.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Heat extra sauce in microwave a pour over fish and rice when serving.

Mango Rice

1 Onion, sliced
Basmati Rice (1 cup = 2 serves)
1 Mango
1/2 Cup Icing Sugar

Sweat the onion in a fry pan.

Add the rice to a saucepan adding same amount of water plus one cup. (e.g. 4 cups of rice, 5 cups of water)

Cover and put in oven on 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until water has all gone and rice is fluffy.

Meanwhile dice mango and place on a baking tray sprinkling with the icing sugar. Place in oven for the last 15 minutes (mango will caramelise).

Mango Sorbet/ Granita
2 Mangoes, cut into chunks
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Water

Place mango in a food processor or blender and puree.

Place water and sugar in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved.

Add mango and heat.

Place on a lined baking tray and freeze until desired.

Restaurant Quality Beef Burgers

What is the point of paying for fancy burger when you can make YOUR OWN version at home for a quarter of the price.

Why I haven’t I made this yet? It was so simple yet the kids thought it was incredible, even saying “we don’t ever need to go to a restaurant again”. Winning.

There is a definite trick to creating such an amazing burger and it comes down to the ingredients used. You can’t just use a regular supermarket patty or a hamburger bun, you have to use a quality meat patty (the ones I used were from Waitrose) and the main component which sets it apart, a Brioche Bun. I also used a good quality cheese and bacon. I finished the burger off with avocado and it looked professional.

544951_10204410787422673_3108103722674369264_n

Another trick is the way in which everything is cooked. I first cooked the bacon, trimming off 90% of the fat and cooked in butter. I then cooked the patty in the bacon juice making sure it was a medium/ rare. I then topped them with the cheese and let it melt into the patty, getting crispy around the side. After taking it off I then placed the Brioche Bun in the pan with all the juices and it soaked all those amazing flavours up.

You can really add anything you like on it. If I was making it for me I would of added caramelised onion, mushrooms and an egg. For the kids though this was perfection.

Restaurant Quality Beef Burgers 
serves two

8 Rashers Bacon
2 Beef Quarter Pounders (high quality beef, these were from Waitrose)
2 Slices Cheese (I used Monterey Jack)
2 Brioche Buns
1 Avocado
Butter

Place a knob of butter in a frypan along with bacon, cook until crispy. Removing to absorbent paper.

Place quarter pounders in the same pan cooking on each side for 3 – 4 minutes.

Place cheese on quarter pounders and let melt. Remove from pan.

Place Brioche Bans in pan and let absorb all the juices by moving around pan.

Once the bun has crisped cover in avocado.

Assemble burger.

The Ultimate Mac and Cheese

Yes this is the ultimate Mac and Cheese because is also has BACON AND CHICKEN in it. Definitely the most delicious Mac and Cheese I’ve had and I guess it isn’t that hard considering the only other time I had it was when working in America at a Summer Camp and I’m pretty sure they didn’t use real cheese and possibly not even real pasta.

If you look at my baking and meals I’ve previously cooked you have properly noticed that I don’t like going with the norm, I like going bigger and better. So when they kids asked for Mac and Cheese I was going to make it extra delicious (and better then the previous AuPair made).

I think the trick to making this meal is the quality of cheese used. I used a combination of cheddar and parmesan and you could really taste difference. The bacon also gave it an incredible flavour although I could of used so much more of it. I then cooked the chicken in the bacon fat and you could tell, this meal is not a weekly event so making it extra fatty with the bacon I believe is completely acceptable.

10460414_10204396787312679_3598292551318750046_n

The recipe below includes the extra ingredients I will use next time.

The Ultimate Mac and Cheese 
Serves 4

2 Cups Macaroni Pasta
8 Bacon Strips
2 Chicken Breasts, cubed
2 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp Flour
1 1/2 Cups Milk
1 Cup Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 Cup Parmesan, grated
Pepper
Salt

Cook pasta as per packet instructions.

Chop and cook bacon in a medium saucepan until crispy. Once done remove bacon leaving fat in pan.

In the same pan add chicken and cook in bacon fat. When cooked, remove. Leave fat in pan.

Add butter to saucepan and melt over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth (should take a couple of minutes).

Slowly add in milk while continuing to whisk (deglazing your pan).

Gently bring milk to the boil, stirring frequently. Allow to thicken.

Gradually stir in the cheese until all has melted. Remove from heat.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in chicken and crumbled bacon.

Add drained pasta to the sauce and stir altogether.

OPTIONAL

Pour into a baking dish and place in oven at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

10734265_10204396786752665_8557560527920095913_n

10806223_10204396786872668_9094554793046565390_n

10540942_10204396787072673_7049447913828115711_n

Apple and Cinnamon Bread

Since my Banana Bread was such a hit at both the bake sale as well as at home I decided to try this recipe that I have been wanting to make for a while.

Sweet breads (loaf tin cakes as they pretty much are) are a hit with both kids an adults and seem to be more acceptable then a slice of cake which pretty much contains the same type of ingredients (anything tasting that amazing can’t be that good for you unfortunately).

Regardless they taste INCREDIBLE and I don’t plan on stop making them anything soon (or ever). There are seriously so many drool worthy fruit and vegetable breads out there that I can’t wait to bake. I’m so fortunate that I already have three amazing and successful recipes (banana, carrot and now apple and cinnamon) that all get rave reviews and recipe requests from anyone who tastes them.

IMG_9585

I have to say that this Apple and Cinnamon Bread is incredible, the aroma it creates is sensational and the taste is even better. This recipe is a must try and I promise it will be a recipe you’ll bake for a long time.

Apple and Cinnamon Bread

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 1/2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
2/3 Cup Sugar
125g Butter, softened
2 Eggs
2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Milk
2 Medium Apples, peeled and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside.

Using an electric mixer combine sugar and butter until smooth.

Add eggs and vanilla and continue to beat on medium speed until combined.

Add flour, baking powder and milk.

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan.

Cover with half of the apples and pat down with the back of a spoon.

Sprinkle with half of sugar and cinnamon mixture.

Pour in the remaining batter and top with remaining apples and brown sugar/cinnamon mixture again pressing down with a spoon.

Bake for 50 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

IMG_9720

IMG_9570

IMG_9572

IMG_9573

IMG_9586

Chicken Noodle Soup using leftovers

Who does not love using leftovers to create a completely different meal? I’ll put my hand up for that.

In this day and age we live in a time where there is hardly any. Work hours are getting longer and with the power of connecting to the internet from just about anywhere in the world, work is no longer from 9 – 5pm. So in saying all of this using leftovers to not have the same meal two nights in a row is a win.

A few posts back I found a recipe to make delicious and easy mexican chicken (https://becconquest.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/shredded-chicken-for-burritos/), I have since made it again and the last time had a fair bit left over, so this is where my latest creation came from.

This recipe is literally just ingredients thrown into a pot and surprisingly it worked and tasted delicious. Next time I would suggest adding sweetcorn, mushrooms or spring onions using either all or separately to mix the flavour up.

IMG_9686

NOTE: If chicken is not in juice place it in 500ml chicken stock.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 2 – 3

Leftover Shredded Chicken in Juices (about 500g)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
1 Packet of Chicken Noodle Soup
100g Rice Noodles

Saute chopped onions in olive oil until soft.

Add chicken in juices to large saucepan and bring to the boil.

Add chicken noodle soup mix followed by the rice noodles.

Stir through until noodles are soft.

IMG_9683

IMG_9685

IMG_9684

Turkey Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

There was some turkey mince in the freezer so I decided to make some meatballs. I haven’t used turkey before I always use sausage mince in a simple recipe my Nanny uses which I also love to make. It uses three ingredients and is great for a quick meal to pull out of the freezer.

I found a recipe using the turkey I thought looked nice using breadcrumbs and apple. It was quiet easy to make especially since I made use of the food processor and chopped the onions and apples in it. What a time saver, why haven’t I used it before?

10625147_10204391918110952_391323742412425810_n

When frying the meatballs they seemed to fall apart, they tasted delicious although just didn’t look right. When making again I will add an egg so they bind together (I’ve added this to the recipe).

I also made a simple tomato sauce to go with them. I served it with rice and the kids enjoyed it. When making it again I would serve it with a brown rice (or for me zucchini pasta) though for some more flavour and to make it a little more healthy.

Turkey Meatballs with Tomato Sauce 
Serves 3 – 4

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Onion, chopped
80g White Breadcrumbs
100ml Milk
500g Turkey Mince
2 small Apples, peeled and grated
1 Egg Yolk
2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
Tsp Salt and Pepper
2 Tbsp Flour, for dusting

For the tomato sauce
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, crushed
800g Tin Chopped Tomatoes
200ml Water
1 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 Tsp Dried Oregano
Salt and Pepper

Put all of the chopped onions (for meatball and sauce) in a frying pan and soften for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, soak the breadcrumbs in the milk for 10 minutes in a small bowl.

When onions are done, take out 1/3 and place in a bowl. With the remaining onions add crushed garlic and sauté for another minute.

Add all other sauce ingredients to the pan and bring to the boil and then simmer, cover for a further 10 minutes.

Continue with the meatballs by adding the turkey mince, apple, thyme, egg yolk, salt, pepper and soaked breadcrumbs to the onions and mix together.

Using floured hands roll the mixture to form balls.

Heat up olive oil and begin to fry meatballs on a medium heat turning around after 3 – 5 minutes. Make sure they are completely cooked through and transfer to a bowl that has absorbent paper underneath.

Cook rice or pasta according to packet instructions.

Either add meatballs to sauce or serve over the top.

1653918_10204391917110927_270116924946566366_n

63778_10204391917390934_6254726343101739752_n

10251891_10204391917510937_1070557345306861091_n

10261975_10204391917710942_5398136598077134168_n

1507016_10204391917870946_1125379928501545425_n

10647196_10204391917990949_4428616581243966027_n

10270556_10204391918230955_2540869371897705931_n