Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi

A super simple, gorgeously light yet filling vegetarian dish that should satisfy even the biggest of appetites.

Advertisements

This gorgeously light, yet filling vegetarian dish is taken up a notch by the addition of golden halloumi.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi - This gorgeously light, yet filling dish is the perfect addition to your vegetarian recipe repertoire. | thehecticcook.com

 

Why hello there. I realise it’s been a while. And that I’m not particularly consistent. Sorry about that. So I could jabber on for a few paragraphs about where life is at the moment (it’s hectic), what I’m up to (not a lot), or what pride-inducing antics my kids are up to (it’s hard to describe the full stabbing-oneself-in-the-eye-with-a-spoon-agony delight of the girls’ putting on their own dancing displays, showing varying degrees of expressive choreography – think Worzel Gummage being electrocuted). But if you’re like me, you’re going to skip to the recipe anyway, to see if it’s actually something you’d want to cook (basically, does it have a gazillion ingredients and require a water bath?). So I’ll keep this simple for you.

The original recipe comes from BBC Good Food, and to be perfectly honest, I’ve not done a great deal to it. Basically I’ve added halloumi. Because, why not?? Halloumi, like bacon and chorizo, can take any dish to a different level. Period. This is a gorgeously light, yet filling dish that should satisfy most appetites (ok, perhaps not the ardent meat eaters out there, I’m not delusional), and is the perfect addition to your vegetarian recipe repertoire.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi - This gorgeously light, yet filling dish is the perfect addition to your vegetarian recipe repertoire. | thehecticcook.com

Ingredients

3 red peppers, deseeded and sliced
150g mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on size
2 courgettes, cut into thick sticks
2 garlic cloves, peeled and bruised (ie flattened with the side of a knife)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
200g couscous
400g can of chickpeas, drained
200-250ml vegetable stock
50g mascarpone or soft cheese
1 block (∼225g) halloumi, cubed

1. Heat your oven to 180°C (fan) and prepare the veg. Note here, you want the courgettes in nice thick batons so that they hold most of their shape on roasting.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi | thehecticcook.com

 

2. Put the peppers and courgette in a roasting tray with the garlic, oil, sugar and some seasoning (don’t be stingy). Chuck this in the oven for 20 minutes, then add the mushrooms, tomatoes and chilli, give a stir around, and roast for another 20 minutes.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi - This gorgeously light, yet filling dish is the perfect addition to your vegetarian recipe repertoire | thehecticcook.com

Note, you can use just one big roasting tray for this dish as you aren’t looking for the veg to crisp, so don’t worry if the tray seems a bit overcrowded. You want them softened and squidgy, releasing their lovely juices.

3. Make up the vegetable stock (it needs to be just made so that it is hot enough to cook the couscous). You can use just boiling water here instead, but I feel the couscous needs the additional flavour of the stock. Stir together in a bowl the couscous and the chickpeas, then pour over the stock until the couscous is just covered.  Clingfilm the bowl and leave it to stand for at least 10 minutes (if it stands for longer, it doesn’t matter).

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi - This gorgeously light, yet filling dish is the perfect addition to your vegetarian recipe repertoire | thehecticcook.com

Once cooked, fluff the couscous with a fork, adding a little more stock if you think it needs it (although it probably won’t).

4. Whilst the veg is still in the oven (after the addition of the mushrooms etc), start to cook the halloumi. Heat a large frying pan over a medium high heat, and spread the cheese out, making sure each piece is nicely spaced. You don’t need oil.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi | thehecticcook.com

The halloumi will release some water, then once the pan has dried out start turning the cheese to get it golden all over.

5. Remove the veg from the oven and stir through the mascarpone (or soft cheese). Divide the couscous between 4 plates and then top it with the roasted veg and some halloumi.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi - This gorgeously light, yet filling dish is the perfect addition to your vegetarian recipe repertoire. | thehecticcook.com

 

This is such a simple and quick dish. You can have it on the table in 30 minutes; unless you cook like me, I’m incapable of getting a meal out in that kind of time, I’m not sure the checking of Instagram every 3 minutes helps…

If you’re looking for a vegetarian dish to try, give this a go, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Halloumi - This gorgeously light, yet filling dish is the perfect addition to your vegetarian recipe repertoire. | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

 

If you’d like to try more vegetarian meals then give my Filling Lentil Curry a try.

Filling Lentil Curry - A really substantial and filling vegetarian curry that is simple to make and won't disappoint | thehecticcook.com

Cauliflower Cheese

Cauliflower Cheese – Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself!

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

Cauliflower has become a bit of a super-food in recent times. It’s the go-to vegetable for many a health conscious type. Cauliflower rice, roasted cauliflower etc. If you’re trying to reduce your carbs and be a bit healthier, it’s the veg for you. This recipe then, probably isn’t. This takes a healthy vegetable and covers it in a thick cheese sauce. And then smothers it in some more cheese. Healthy? Probably not. Delicious? Hell yeah!

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

I’ve been making this particular cauliflower cheese for many years now. The original recipe came from Delicious magazine. It’s not as straight forward a cheese sauce as my macaroni cheese, but it’s worth the extra effort (which is still fairly minimal – I’m not keen on effort).

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower
500ml (1 pint) of milk
2 cloves
1 small onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
75g butter
50g plain flour
200g cheddar cheese, grated

1. Break your cauliflower up into florets of similar size (not too big).

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com2. Place the florets in a microwaveable dish, add a couple tablespoons of water, and cook on full power for 8-10 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked through. It needs to be pretty much cooked since although you’ll be putting it in the oven later, I find it doesn’t really cook the cauliflower much more.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

If you don’t want to microwave it just pop the cauliflower in a pan of boiling water and cook until done (similar time).

3. Drain and leave the cauliflower uncovered to dry whilst you make the cheese sauce – this is important because you don’t want soggy cauliflower watering down your sauce.

4. In a small saucepan add the milk, cloves, onion and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, then take the pan off the heat, cover it and leave the milk to infuse for about 10 minutes.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

5. Preheat your oven to 170°C (fan) / 325°F.

6. In a separate pan, over a medium low heat, melt the butter.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

7. Add the flour and stir through. Cook for a few minutes (to cook the flour).

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

8. Strain the hot infused milk (through a sieve) into the butter/flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

Over a low heat, stir the sauce with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens. This won’t take long because the milk was hot when added.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

9. Season with a little white pepper.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

10. Add the grated cheese, leaving a little to top the dish. Stir through until fully melted.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

11. Place the cauliflower in an ovenproof dish (I usually just use the dish I microwaved it in, but I was going for pretty pictures here so changed dishes). Pour over the cheese sauce so that every floret is covered, then top with the remaining grated cheese.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

12. Place on a tray in the oven (there’s a good chance it will bubble over the edge so the tray will save you cleaning your oven) and cook for 25-30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the melted cheese is lovely and golden.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

13. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for a few minutes to let it all come together. Then serve.

This cauliflower cheese is gorgeous served with roast gammon, or roast lamb. It’s equally good served with sausages for a simple meal. Or just serve it as the main dish. It’s that good. Whatever you do, give it a go and let me know what you think 🙂

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

Filling Lentil Curry

This filling lentil curry is a substantial vegetarian dish that will satisfy any appetite, and is super simple to make.

So after all the sharing of cake recipes and last weeks Fudgy Easter Egg Brownies, not to mention the abundance of chocolate everywhere, I figured perhaps a healthier recipe was the order of the day.

I’m one of those people who kids themselves that because I eat pretty healthy meals most of the time, I’m doing myself a favour. I tend to cook from scratch and more-often-than-not stick to meals that are generally classed as healthy. I then conveniently ‘forget’ about the kilo of chocolate I’ll have eaten to get me over the mid-afternoon slump. Or the gallon of ice-cream I packed away whilst home alone of an evening. I do genuinely love healthy food. I also genuinely love cake and chocolate. Oh well.

This is a good example of one of those healthy meals. I love this. If you’re looking for a good vegetarian meal, this is substantial and filling. It’s also really simple. Enjoy it with some fluffy basmati rice and naan bread, and you honestly won’t be disappointed. Add in a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and follow it with a slab of chocolate fudge cake. Winner!

Filling Lentil Curry - A really substantial and filling vegetarian curry that is simple to make and won't disappoint | thehecticcook.com

 

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp garlic paste / 2 garlic cloves, crushed 
1 heaped tbsp medium curry powder
1 heaped tsp garam masala
200g red lentils
700ml vegetable stock
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp salt

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and soften gently (about 10 minutes).

Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.

2. Add the curry powder and garam masala, stir and cook for a few minutes more.

Note:

Don’t misread the quantities of curry powder and garam masala, one is a tablespoon, one is a teaspoon!


Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

3. Add the lentils and stir to coat.

Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

4. Pour in the stock and tomatoes, add the salt and stir.

Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

5. Pop the lid on the pan and cook for 30-40 minutes over a medium low heat, stirring often to avoid the lentils sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

The curry is ready once the lentils have absorbed most of the liquid and are soft. If it looks like the pan is drying out before the lentils are cooked, add a little bit more water to the pan.

Filling Lentil Curry - A really substantial and filling vegetarian curry that is simple to make and won't disappoint | thehecticcook.com

6. Serve with rice and/or naan.

I had a bit of a mare with the naan on this occasion. I often make it in the bread machine, and it turns out fine. Not this time for some reason. It was a gloopy, unmixed mess. So cue sending the Husband to Tesco for some naan bread (it’s imperative I serve this dish to the kids with naan bread as Hannah doesn’t eat rice, at all, and at least I know they’ll all have eaten something if naan bread is included – as a parent do you ever feel like a short-order cook?). So I went to take the naan breads from Tesco out of the oven, and promptly dropped them all over the floor. Oh well, dirt is good for kids.

Happy cooking!

If you’re looking for some more vegetarian meals there’s also my Quorn Chilli Burritos, Mushroom Stroganoff, Skinny Veggie Lasagne (excuse the photos, it’s an oldie), and Garlic Tomato & Basil Risotto.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:38]

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup – Warming, healthy and delicious, without the need to cut up a squash!

To me, soup is one of those dishes that I could not be without. It’s a life saver. Seriously. As a busy mum, who has a penchant for the easy life, in those moments of ‘I really can’t be arsed cooking’, soup is my go-to meal. It’s quick; it’s simple; I’ve usually got some in the freezer (or a tin in the cupboard – my kids go gooey eyed over Heinz Tomato Soup, it’s a proper love affair). And the real bonus is that you actually feel like you’re giving them something healthy (maybe not so much in the case of Mr Heinz). A little bit of effort in a moment when you’ve got some energy (fleeting I know, but I’ve got to catch them when I can), and you can feel smug even when Mr Motivation has left the building (not really sure why all these different male characters are popping up).

My kids favourite homemade soup is the lentil soup I’ve blogged before. But this is a good alternative (just go easy on the chilli). It has a lovely sweetness that is offset by the cumin. And the real bonus (certainly in my eyes) is that you don’t have to peel and cube a butternut squash. I think I originally found the recipe in BBC Good Food (it was a while ago and I can’t find it again). But I ended up changing it a bit as I wasn’t satisfied with the end result. I can’t be the only one who is often disappointed by soup? Too bland? No flavour? I’ve made some in the past that really haven’t cut the mustard – I once made ‘Roast Chicken Dinner Soup’. It was boggin. Never do it.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash (about 900g)
40g butter
350g potatoes, diced
2-3 carrots, sliced
1.2ltr vegetable/chicken stock
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed (or 2 tsp paste)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
seasoning

1. Pre-heat your oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3.

2. Cut the squash in half lengthways (you’ll need a big knife, but it’s not actually that hard; if I can do it with my puny arms I’m sure you’ll manage). Scoop out the seeds and discard (or if you’re being all Jamie Oliver you can wash them, and roast them).  Place the squash in a roasting tin and dot it with 25g of the butter.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup | thehecticcook.com

Bake for about 1 hour until softened and caramelising.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup | thehecticcook.com

3. Melt the remaining butter in a large pan over a medium heat, add the onion and cook until softened and beginning to colour.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup | thehecticcook.com

I’m all about making life simpler and so tend to use frozen, diced onion a lot. It may seem is fairly lazy, but I don’t really give a monkeys as it’s a lot easier throwing in some ready chopped onion that I can have to hand in the freezer, than crying over an onion.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup | thehecticcook.com

4. Add the garlic (I used paste), ground cumin, chilli flakes, potatoes and carrot. Cook for a couple of minutes then add the stock, cover the pan, and leave to simmer until the veg is soft – approx 25 minutes.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup | thehecticcook.com

Just for a bit of reference regards quantities, this was how much carrot and potato I used.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup | thehecticcook.com

5. Once out of the oven, allow the squash to cool a little before scooping the flesh out of the skin and adding it to the pan of soup.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup | thehecticcook.com

6. Liquidise the soup either using a hand blender or in a liquidiser, then taste and season as desired (it will most likely need some salt and pepper).

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup - Warming, healthy and delicious, without the need to cut up a squash! | thehecticcook.com

It doesn’t really matter what kind of stock you use with this soup. I went to use vegetable stock cubes (4 Knorr stock cubes in this case) and found I didn’t actually have any, so used chicken instead. Still tastes like it should. You also don’t need to add bacon and crème fraîche, I was just trying to make the photo pretty. However, as the Husband said, ‘almost everything is better with bacon in it’. So there you go.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup - Warming, healthy and delicious, without the need to cut up a squash! | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:12]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Macaroni Cheese

A step-by-step guide to cooking this simple and delish family staple.

My girls turned four at the weekend. Four! Woo bloody hoo!! Four just seems better; more independent; almost human. Life is definitely getting easier. Let’s not get carried away, it’s not easy. Three young children constantly asking questions, wanting your attention simultaneously, fighting and squabbling over trivia. But we’re getting there (fist pumps the air).

We had a bit of a get-together to celebrate. I cooked some stovies and made a cake. The kids played pass-the-parcel (20 friggin layers of paper). And the adults drank wine. We didn’t take many photos, but the Husband took some of the girls blowing out the candles on their cake.

The Hectic Cook | thehecticcook.com

That’s the best one. Seriously. We do have 3 daughters. What’s that saying about if you want something doing right…?

Talking of my kids (seamless link), macaroni cheese is one of those dishes they get a fair bit. It’s an old faithful. Plus I always have the ingredients in the cupboard. There is absolutely nothing fancy about this recipe. Many of you will have your own recipe, it’s a classic, and you’ll possibly make it differently. But this is how my mum taught me to make macaroni cheese. So this is how I do it.

DSC_0393

Ingredients (Serves 2 adults / 4 kids)

200g macaroni
30g butter
30g plain flour
300ml milk
80g grated cheddar cheese, plus a little extra for the top
White pepper (optional)

Note:

These quantities can be easily doubled.

1. Cook the macaroni (or whatever type of pasta you wish/have). I find I have to add the macaroni to a boiling pan of slightly salted water, then give it a stir every few minutes to stop it all sticking to the bottom of the pan. It’ll take around 15 minutes.

DSC_0388

2. Whilst the pasta is cooking, grate the cheese ready to go before you start to make the sauce, then there’s no fear of sauces burning.

3. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the flour and stir to fully incorporate (to make a roux).

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

Let this cook for a few minutes to cook the flour.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

4. Start to add the milk. I tend to add a bit at a time and stir it into the roux. Use a whisk to stir your sauce as it’ll get rid of any lumps that might arise, but take a spoon once around the edge of the pan after you’ve added all of the milk in case there’s some solid mixture lurking at the bottom.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

Keep whisking until the sauce begins to thicken. This should all be done on a medium heat, and don’t leave it for any length of time as the sauce will burn to the bottom of the pot fairly quickly (if WW3 breaks out in the living room whilst making the sauce, just let them get on with it).

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

5. Once the sauce has thickened, take your pan off the heat and add the cheese. The amount of cheese is subjective. We like our macaroni cheese fairly cheesy, so 80g works for us. But add some and taste. Work out for yourself how cheesy you like it.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

Stir in the cheese until it has melted, then add a little white pepper if desired (I often leave this out because if I’m heavy handed with it, the kids aren’t happy). Stir the pasta into the cheese sauce and transfer to a heatproof dish. Top with some extra grated cheese.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

6. Pop this under a hot grill for about 5-10 minutes until the cheese on top has melted and started to turn golden.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

And serve.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

I love the simplicity of macaroni cheese. And yet it’s bloody tasty. You can serve it with sausages; with fish fingers; stir through gammon or bacon; or eat it blissfully on its own. However you serve it, just one word of warning. Don’t save leftovers. Second day macaroni cheese is totally boggin’.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

 

Happy cooking!

 

Quorn Chilli Burrito

A really simple family-friendly meal that makes a bit of a change to the usual meals I dish up to the kids.

So it would appear that having four children home for seven weeks straight does not leave much time for doing anything other than basic survival activities (I am so sick of bleedin’ parks). Who would have thought?! However, the summer holidays are (finally) over, and the little darlings are back ensconced (for at least a couple days a week) at school/nursery. Is that fanfare and trumpets I hear?

So I have some time to myself. Some ‘Me’ time – you know, time to drink a hot cup of tea; time to take a shower for longer than 3 minutes; time to take a poo without constant screaming and interruption. Aah, yes. Me time.

And time to get back to my blog. In all honesty, our meals over the summer haven’t been terribly exciting. Lots of meat, chips and salad. But as the weather gets cooler I always find I cook more. And bake more.

This recipe is one that I approached with trepidation, regards the kids. You never know what’s going to go down well, and what isn’t. However, this went down great! I think if you put anything in a bread item – wrap, bap, pitta etc – my kids will eat it. And they seem to prefer Quorn mince to beef mince – I think it’s a texture thing.  If you’re looking for something a little different, but not too different, give this a go.

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic, crushed / 2 tsp garlic paste
1 tbsp oil
300g Quorn mince (1 whole packet)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
1-2 cans of beans (kidney beans, cannellini beans, barlotti beans etc), drained & rinsed
1 oxo cube, crumbled
∼ 200ml water
tortilla wraps
grated cheese

1. Heat the oil over a medium heat and add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes without burning the garlic. As an aside, I don’t buy heads of garlic anymore, it’s either the paste or frozen. I realise this isn’t very economical, but boy is it quicker.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

2. Add the packet of Quorn to the pan and stir through the garlic.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

3. Now add all the remaining ingredients, bar the cheese and the wraps. I used two tins of beans as I wanted to bulk it out, but if you only want to add one, that’s fine. I like to add smoked paprika to my chilli, as it gives a lovely subtle smoky flavour. But if you don’t have any, just leave it out. The cumin and chilli powders are what add the real ‘chilli’ flavour.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

 

 

Stir together all of the ingredients, pop the lid on and let cook on a low heat for about 30 minutes. Quorn doesn’t really need much cooking, but this will give it enough time for all the flavours to strengthen.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

4. Once the chilli is cooked you need to assemble your burritos. Place a couple of spoonfuls of chilli into the centre of a tortilla wrap – don’t try to over fill it as it’ll just spill out and you’ll end up in a bit of a mess. Add a sprinkling of cheese if you so desire – with my kids, cheese is essential. Fold opposite sides in, one on top of the other, and then the other two opposite sides, to make a parcel (I don’t have a photo, but I figure you’ll work it out).

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

 

5. Heat a frying pan to a medium-high heat – there’s no need for oil, these are dry-fried. Place as many burritos as you can into your pan without overcrowding them – you need to be able to turn them over. I used a couple of pans as I was making 7 burritos (the Husband ate two). I made the kids first so that they had a chance to cool whilst I made ours.  

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

 

Let cook for a few minutes, but keep a close eye so they don’t start to burn. Using a fish slice, turn the burritos over to toast the other side for a couple of minutes, again being careful not to burn.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

 

On this occasion I served the burritos with rice and salad, plus a dollop of soured cream.

Quorn Chilli Burritos - a quick and tasty vegetarian dinner for busy weeknights | thehecticcook.com

 

And that’s it! This is a fairly quick and very simple meal, a bit different from the usual kid-friendly dishes I tend to serve up. And it’s versatile – change the Quorn chilli for beef chilli, chicken chilli, chicken fajita etc. If I have any leftovers I’ll eat them for lunch next day, it’s so quick.

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:3]

Garlic Tomato & Basil Risotto

So I admitted defeat today. After almost 6 years, I piled high ready for disposal, all the clothes I’d clung on to from before I had kids, in the vain hope that one day I would fit them again. Ha. Mother nature -1; Me – 0. Sob, sob.

The natural reaction to such an activity would be to pull up one’s (slightly bigger than desired) trousers and say “Right! I will conquer those dastardly extra pounds!”. Me? I would have headed straight for the Nutella Cookie Cups, had there been any left. However, in their place I had made Mint Chocolate Brownie Slice (blog to follow). Bollocks to dieting.

DSC_0084

And in that vain comes todays recipe. It’s a carb-fest. So not for the Atkins/Paleo etc followers out there. But to be totally honest, it’s not that bad for you. A bit of cheese, a little oil, and that’s about it really. And it’s really tasty. The original recipe came from Delicious magazine many years ago, using barley instead of rice. It’s a vegetarian recipe, and is seriously nice just as it is, but on this occasion I had some ham to spare, so added that. The quantities given will serve two – just double up etc to serve more.

Ingredients

DSC_0001

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion, chopped (or frozen)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed / tsp frozen garlic
150g arborio rice
50ml white wine
500ml vegetable stock
30g parmesan
8 cherry / 3 salad tomatoes
1 tsp dried / frozen basil

1. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion. Let this soften, then add one garlic clove or teaspoon of garlic, and gently cook for a couple of minutes.

DSC_0006

2. Add the rice and stir to get it coated in the oil. Begin to add the stock, about 100ml at a time.

DSC_0007 DSC_0008 DSC_0013

Stir the stock into the rice until it is absorbed, then add some more. Keep doing this until all the stock has been used and absorbed into the rice. Take the pan off the heat.

3. Meanwhile, heat a splash of oil in a frying pan and add the tomatoes plus the second clove of garlic/teaspoon of garlic. Cook the tomatoes until they have softened, about ten minutes.

DSC_0012DSC_0017

4. To the rice, add the cheese and the tomatoes, the basil and some seasoning – I also added some peas for extra colour, and the ham. Put a lid on the pan and leave for about 5 minutes to let the rice absorb the last of the liquid. The pan should be completely off the heat.

DSC_0019 DSC_0020

You could add some bacon in step 2, before adding the rice. I added some ham with the cheese as it was already cooked. Or you can leave it without, whatever takes your fancy. Serve with a lovely side salad and some garlic bread 🙂

DSC_0025

This is a dish that needs a bit of care and attention. I find you can’t just chuck in all the stock and be done. Adding the stock slowly, letting it be absorbed and stirring, before adding more, gives the risotto a lovely creaminess. I tend to make risotto when I’m not refereeing world war three i.e. when the kids are in bed.

Happy cooking!

Very Tasty Mushroom Stroganoff

First off, a bit of a digression:

So I wanted to share with you. I did a bit of ‘good parenting’ yesterday. This is kind of a big deal. It doesn’t happen often (and may not happen again). But I decided to do some baking with the girls. “You crazy person!” I hear you exclaim. Yeah, kind of. But my kids watch a fair bit of tv, so I figured anything that wasn’t telly would be good. Even if it killed me.

So this is them:

DSC_0001

Let’s try that again:

DSC_0004

Okay, one last time, just in case:

DSC_0005

That crazy one in the middle is Alice. And yes, we do actually refer to her as the ‘crazy one’. Or ‘quirky’ if we’re being nice. Mostly crazy. And Hannah on the left, Lucy on the right. The odds of getting three 3 year olds to stand in a line and smile nicely? I think the phrase is ‘…like herding cats’.

So I approached this like a military operation. It was a 6oz cake mix, thus easily divisible by 3, so each got to add 2oz of ingredient, plus crack an egg each (Hannah – fairly good, delicate even; Lucy – a bit more cracked, bit more messy; Alice – totally squished within her tiny paw). They then got to fill the cake cases:

DSC_0013

DSC_0014

Admittedly, a fair amount of mixture didn’t make it to the cases. But they were baked. And iced. And then decorated (by the girls, obviously). And this was the result:

DSC_0020

And I can sleep easier feeling like a good parent. Result!

So, down to the actual recipe (apologies for the detour). This is a great midweek meal. I try to cook at least one veggie meal a week – it’s better for the purse if nothing else – and this has become a firm favourite. It comes from BBC Good Food (such a reliable recipe source), and it’s extremely quick and easy. Which I like.

Ingredients

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, crushed / 2 heaped tsp frozen garlic/garlic paste
about 300g mushrooms, chopped
150ml beef or vegetable stock
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, or vegetarian alternative
1 large tbsp soured cream / creme fraiche

As usual, I used frozen chopped onion and frozen chopped garlic. I tend to buy closed cup and chestnut mushrooms in the weekly shop, but I also bought some shiitake mushrooms to add, and made up the 300g with a mixture of the three (the amount of mushrooms is flexible, don’t feel you have to stick rigidly to the 300g). I also tend to have some creme fraiche in the fridge as it’s great for adding to ‘stuff’, so I used that instead of soured cream. The original recipe calls for 1 tbsp paprika. I like to use smoked as it has such a lovely flavour, and you don’t need as much – but you can obviously use paprika if you’d prefer.

1. Heat the oil in a pan and soften the onion over a medium heat. Add the garlic and the paprika, mix well and cook for a minute or two.

DSC_0008

2. Add the mushrooms and let cook for about 5 minutes, until they’ve softened.

DSC_0012

3. Pour in the stock and Worcestershire sauce, bring to the boil then let simmer for about 5 minutes – or as long as it takes to cook your rice/veg, whatever you need to do.

DSC_0019

4. Once ready, take the pan off the heat and add the soured cream/creme fraiche.

DSC_0024

I served this with rice and some green veg (I’m a bit of a broccoli fan).

DSC_0037

If you’re not a big veggie recipe fan, or you cook for someone who isn’t, do give this a go. It’s really good, and you honestly don’t miss the meat. Unless you don’t like mushrooms. Then, as they say north of the border, “nae luck”.

Happy cooking!

Winter Vegetable Soup

It’s a cold, snowy Saturday, so a pot of soup on the stove seemed appropriate. I love soup. It’s filling, usually pretty healthy, and once it’s made, really quick to heat and consume. I really struggle at lunchtime to find time to make myself anything, so having some soup in the fridge is a bit of a lifesaver (or more a waist-saver, as otherwise I’ll reach for anything, usually crap).

This soup recipe comes from my own lovely mum. She used to make this for my dad, to take with him when he went fishing. Hence, it became known as ‘Fishing Soup’, despite there being no fish involved (in either the soup or my Dad’s efforts!). You can play about with the veg you add, whatever you have/like will do. This is our version.

Ingredients

image 2 tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
1/4 turnip, diced
3 medium potatoes, diced
‘some’ frozen peas (whatever quantity you think you’ll like in your soup)
2 tsp garlic (frozen or paste) / 2 garlic cloves, crushed
about 8 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 a courgette, diced
2 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp mixed herbs
800ml beef or veg stock
1 tin of Heinz tomato soup

I used a ready-made pack of diced carrot/turnip I’d previously frozen – these are great for soups and I use them all the time. I read somewhere that you should blanch fresh veg before you freeze it. This is way too much work for me, so I don’t  bother. I really only use veg like this for soups/stews, so it hasn’t proven a problem. There looks to be a lot of ingredients there, but I didn’t have any mixed herbs – which is made up of basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme and marjoram – so I added a smidge of each herb instead (except marjoram which I’ve never used, and in all honesty am not even sure what it is??).

Heat the oil, add the onion and soften, then add the garlic for a couple of minutes. Add all of the veg, except the peas.

image

I had to give the carrot/turnip mix a good bashing to separate. Cook this over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add the puree, stock and herbs.

image

Simmer this with the lid on for about 30 minutes until all of the veg is soft. Add the peas, and then the tomato soup – I realise it might seem a bit odd, adding soup to soup, but this gives it a creaminess which is lovely. Have a taste and season as required (mine only needed a wee bit of salt and pepper).

And serve.

image

I didn’t feed this to the kiddiwinkles, as I couldn’t face lunch taking an hour whilst they picked out all the mushrooms, onion and courgette. They normally get blended soup. But the Husband and I enjoyed it 🙂

Happy cooking!

'Skinny' Veggie Lasagne

This Skinny Veggie Lasagne is a healthier vegetarian take on the Italian classic, that totally delivers on taste.

The new cooker is awesome! It does this amazing thing, that when you turn the heat up, it gets hotter! And when you turn the heat down, guess what? It cools down!! Like, immediately – no waiting half an hour for it to return to a temperature cooler than the sun! Amazing. I’m one very happy camper.

So tonight we had another ‘adult’ meal, and I made veggie lasagne (the kids had mac’n’cheese). The ‘skinny’ in the title is slightly misleading. By ‘skinny’, I mean relatively, when compared to normal lasagne. I probably wouldn’t go so far as to class this as diet food – but it’s definitely not as bad for you as the meaty, cheesy originator of the name. I try to include one veggie meal in the weekly menu – it definitely helps to reduce the weekly budget a bit, and hopefully we’re doing our bit for the planet as well?

Ingredients

Sauce

your choice of veg
Quorn mince (I used this to bulk this dish as I was feeding the Husband, but it’s really nice with just veg)
tinned tomatoes (or passata)
Oxo cube (if you’re a genuine veggie, this could be substituted with a veg stock cube)
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika (an amazing spice I add to a LOT of meals. If you haven’t got it, it’s totally worth buying)
1 tsp garlic paste / 1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp chilli flakes (or depending on taste)
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

Skinny Veggie Lasagne | thehecticcook.com

Note:

There’s a fair few ingredients in that there photo. But it’s mostly veg. It’s totally up to you what you put into your sauce, which is just a bolognese really. On this occasion I had some veg to use up (see the little bowls), plus I chucked in the leftover pizza sauce from the other day (the white lidded tupperware). I’m a great believer in ‘chucking stuff in’. Any leftovers, if you can use them, fantastic. I hate waste. I didn’t have any chopped tomatoes so I had to use passata. Again, use what you’ve got. This is why I love cooking, you don’t need to have every little ingredient in a recipe. You can often change to suit what’s in your cupboard.

1. Preheat your oven to 190°C (fan). Cut the veg up into small cubes and place in a roasting dish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Pop in the oven.

Skinny Veggie Lasagne | thehecticcook.com

Note:

Today I had carrot, parsnip, aubergine, courgettes, onion, sweet red pepper, mushrooms, green beans and butternut squash (which I buy ready prepared – I honestly can’t be arsed peeling and cubing a squash). I kept the beans, mushrooms and pepper out for the first ten minutes, as they take less time to cook.

This all takes about 25-30 minutes to roast. Take them out a couple of times and give them a good shake before they’re done.

At this point my camera roll is interrupted by this:

thehecticcook.com

The joys of children.

2. Once your veg is roasted, heat the remaining oil in a pan and add your Quorn mince (if using). I used the whole bag of Quorn mince, but I only used half the resulting sauce (I’ve frozen it for next time). Start it cooking then add all of the remaining sauce ingredients plus some water to make it ‘saucy’ (technical term).

Skinny Veggie Lasagne | thehecticcook.com

This is what mine looked like. I then let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Unlike with meaty mince, you don’t need to simmer Quorn forever (it’s pretty soft already), and all the ingredients here were cooked, so it didn’t take long.

Remaining Ingredients

8 tbsp creme fraiche (I used the 3% fat one, which is yum, but use whatever kind you like)
30g parmesan, grated
lasagne sheets

Skinny Veggie Lasagne | thehecticcook.com

3. Layer up, starting with the sauce, then lasagne, then sauce, lasagne etc. I used 4 layers of lasagne. Skinny Veggie Lasagne | thehecticcook.com

After the last layer of lasagne I spread over the creme fraiche and sprinkled with the parmesan.

Skinny Veggie Lasagne | thehecticcook.com

4. Chuck it in the oven, temperature lowered slightly to 180°C (fan), for about 30 minutes, or until the top is lovely and browned.

Skinny Veggie Lasagne | thehecticcook.com

Because I was serving the Husband a veggie dish, I always feel I’ve got to compensate with something else (food wise I’m talking). So I made some garlic bread using the same pizza base dough recipe from the other day (in the breadmaker), slathered it in a mixture of butter, garlic, parsley and salt (the parsley really only adds the green bits) then sprinkled over some of the cheese leftover from the pizza. Et voila.

Skinny Veggie Lasagne | thehecticcook.com

And wine was consumed. Obviously. It was Saturday night after all, and we have kids, so this is about as rock’n’roll as we get.

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:39]