Just8 Popular Recipe! Wholesome Lemony Dhal.

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DHAL is simply the Indian word for lentils and is eaten in many Asian countries as a staple meal. It normally has quite a spicy kick to it and is often accompanied by rice. However, rather than having a kick, my version here has a lemony zing.

I like this dish because it is healthy and easy to make (even though it takes an hour, you just chop and fry for 10 mins and then let it simmer for another 50 minutes). Most importantly, I think lemony dhal is delicious! Also, it is really cheap to make.

I use spinach in this recipe to add nourishment. It is considered by many to be the ultimate superfood, rich in antioxidants, iron and vitamins and has even been linked to a array of health benefits. So, I reckon it is worth using as much as possible until someone says otherwise. However, you could easily leave it out or use up another vegetable that you happen to have in your fridge e.g. mushrooms, peppers, green beans, broccoli etc.

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, chopped quite thinly
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tsp Madras curry powder
  • 250g red lentils
  • 800 ml vegetable stock
  • 3 large handfuls of spinach
  • Juice of two lemons
  • Broccoli, rice or flat bread to serve with the dhal

 Method

1. Heat 2 tbsp of cooking oil* in a large saucepan. Add the onion, cumin seeds and Madras curry powder and fry for 3 minutes until the onions are soft.

*It is assumed you have some sort of cooking oil (e.g. olive oil, 1 cal spray, sunflower oil, vegetable oil or butter) in your store cupboard.

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2. Add the red lentils, then vegetable stock and gently stir.

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3. Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring every-so-often, making sure there is enough liquid in the pan. If you ever think it looks like drying out then add some more water.

4. Near to the end of the 45-minute simmer, begin cooking your accompaniment – rice, broccoli or warming your flat bread.

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5. After 45 minutes, once the mixture has a more creamy consistency, add the spinach and the juice of two lemons. Stir in and simmer for another couple of minutes.

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6. Serve with cooked rice, cooked broccoli or even flat bread. Personally I prefer healthy broccoli with this, though rice is the more traditional accompaniment in Asia.

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I normally have some dhal leftover as this is quite a generous recipe. I love eating it the next day or using it as an accompaniment for something else instead of rice or pasta. It tastes even better a day later!

Just8 Glasgow Based Food Blog – New Recipe! Mags’ Amazing Couscous

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I LOVED THE TASTE OF THIS DISH the first time my cousin Mags cooked it for me. In fact, it wasn’t just me, everyone around the table loved it. That’s why I wanted to blog about it – with the permission of Mags – and share it with as many people as possible. What makes it special is the combination of pomegranate seeds (something I honestly haven’t used before), fresh mint leaves and lemon juice. It is such a deliciously novel flavour combination. I also love the way the deep pink pomegranate juice bleeds through the couscous and contrasts with the bright green colour of the mint leaves, making it an aesthetically pleasing dish.

It’s pretty easy to make. I did, however, make one misstep by using a whole pomegranate and scraping out the seeds. It was fine but a little messy. If you can find a packet of pomegranate seeds then I would use these instead – it saves hassle and mess. If you can’t find a packet, then wear an apron whist scraping out the seeds!

Overall, the dish felt pretty healthy, with the use of chicken and absence of anything overly sweet which may contain unrefined sugars or fats. Also small-scale studies have indicated that pomegranate juice may lower cholesterol levels. So on all fronts, it would appear to be a winner.

 

Just8 – Glasgow Based Food Blog Recipe for Mags’ Amazing Couscous

Ingredients:

  • 1 x 110g sachet of  couscous (coriander and lemon flavoured, if possible)
  • 2 x chicken breast
  • 1 x pomegranate (or pack of pomegranate seeds – if you can buy the seeds I would recommend this)
  • 20g fresh mint leaves
  • 1 x juice of a lemon
  • 60ml low fat greek style yogurt
  • 1 tsp mint sauce
  • 2 x flatbread

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Method:

1. Add 1 tsp of cooking oil (I used olive oil) to the foil and spread it around. This is so that the chicken does not stick to it. Add the chicken to roughly the centre and fold the foil around it, so the chicken is enclosed in the parcel.

Put the chicken parcel on a tray and put in a fan-assisted oven at 180C for 25 mins (or until it is cooked right the way through without any sign of pink bits in the middle). Chicken cannot be undercooked!

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2. Whilst the chicken is cooking prepare the other ingredients:

(i) Add the couscous to a pan and follow instructions on the packet. For this particular couscous I had to add 200ml of boiling water to the pan and leave it for 5 mins. (No need to switch the gas/electric on underneath the pan). In this time, it absorbed all the  water. I then left the pan alone until near to the end of the recipe.

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(ii) Scrape the pomegranate seeds out of the pomegranate using a knife – to cut the pomegranate into a few pieces – and a metal spoon to do the scraping. Wear an apron for this! And don’t have anything within a metre that isn’t easy to clean.

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(iii) Cut a whole lemon into 4 pieces ready for squeezing. Roughly chop all the mint leaves.

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(iv) Mix the low fat greek yogurt with the mint sauce.

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3. When the chicken is cooked, chop it into medium-sized pieces (see below).

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4. Here comes the fun bit. Get a glass mixing bowl – add the couscous, then the squeezed juice of a lemon (I just squeeze it straight into the mixing bowl and pick out the pips if any fall in), the pomegranate seeds and then finally the mint leaves. Gently mix it together.

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5. Warm the flat bread in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the minty yogurt to the flat bread. And warm the couscous for 2 mins, stirring a bit so that it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pan.

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6. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the mixture onto the warm flat bread. And serve.

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You will probably have about half the mixture left in the glass bowl. Keep this until the next day for lunch (you could have it in a wrap or as a side dish) or to have with dinner.

 

I reckon using half the couscous and chicken mixture and one flatbread you are looking at a calorie count of about 400cals per meal.

 

Just8 Tip : Optional extras could be roasted onion (cooked whilst roasting the chicken), green beans and feta cheese.

 

 

Just8 Glasgow Based Food Blog – New Recipe! Simple Quality Quorn Bolognese

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THIS FOOD BLOG takes a good look at the benefits of Quorn mince and gives an easy after-work recipe. We live in a time when we are all being encouraged to eat less fat and less sugar. It is hard to ignore the reduced fat content of Quorn mince versus lean beef mince and regular beef mince. Here are the stats for mince, lean mince and Quorn:

  • Energy per 100g, 209kcal (Mince) vs 124kcal (Lean mince) vs 105kcal (Quorn).
  • And Saturated fat per 100g, 6.5g (Mince) vs 2g (Lean mince) vs 0.4g (Quorn).

The average recommended saturated fat daily intake for an adult female is 20g and for an adult male is 30g.  The first time I tried Quorn mince I was surprised by its similarity to beef mince, especially the texture. I have heard of some people giving it to their other halves and only revealing after a few mouthfuls that they are actually eating Quorn and not beef mince. I do think you can tell the difference but it is not a big difference. I felt full afterwards but not too full, which I sometimes feel after eating meat. Additionally quorn mince is a bit cheaper. For a 500g pack, it is roughly £1.50 less.

So now you know the benefits of Quorn mince and want to give it a try, you can either follow my simple recipe or if you are already the king/queen of beef bolognese just substitute Quorn mince for beef mince. This way you can easily have a meat-free day – something all non-vegetarians are  being encouraged to do.

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Just 8 – Glasgow Based Food Blog Recipe for Simple Quality Quorn Bolognese

Ingredients:

  • 500g Frozen Quorn Mince  ( I use the leftovers the next day).
  • 1 Onion – roughly chopped
  • 2 Carrots – roughly chopped – anyway you like!
  • 1 Beef Stock Cube plus 400ml of water (Instead you could use veg or chicken stock – doesn’t really matter)
  • 400g Carton of Chopped Tomatoes or 400g of Passata
  • Parmesan Cheese (couple of tsps for garnishing)
  • Fresh Basil Leaves (handful for garnishing)
  • 60g Pasta per person  (Instead of pasta could also use baked potato, sweet potato, bulghar wheat, rice, flat bread or fajita wrap,  to name but a few).

 

1. Add a couple of tsps of olive oil to the pan and then add  the chopped onion and carrots to large saucepan. Fry for 3 mins on a medium heat until both start to soften.

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2. Add frozen Quorn mince, stock and chopped tomatoes to frying pan. Mix around a little. Let this mixture simmer for 20 mins. This is really until the carrots soften.

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3. After the Quorn mixture has cooked for 5 minutes or so, put the pasta and a few mugfuls of water into a separate saucepan and boil for about 10 minutes (or however long the packaging tells you the pasta needs). If in doubt put in more water than you think you need, to stop it boiling dry.

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4. Once cooked, drain the pasta. Once the Quorn mixture has finished cooking, put pasta on plate followed by the Quorn mixture.

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5. Always looks and tastes great with grated parmesan over the top and a few basil leaves tucked into the Quorn mixture.

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N.B. Other ingredients which can be used include (but not limited to):  chopped mushrooms, chopped peppers, 2 crushed garlic cloves,1tsp oregano and 1tsp of marjoram. I would add these at the carrot and onion stage. Also 100ml red wine which I would add with the stock etc.

N.N.B…. There are enough leftovers that you can use them the next day with something different, like a baked potato or in a fajita!

Martin’s Pitta Pizzas

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PIZZA is invariably a popular meal. However, I’m always horrified by the calorie count and saturated fat content in a bought supermarket pizza. Here is an easy way that Martin makes a pizza without an abundance of calories and bad fat. Instead of using pizza dough he uses pitta bread which is a much healthier option than pizza dough.

You can easily make a pitta pizza with only 7 ingredients.  You really only need: pitta bread, tomato sauce, a small amount of cheese and your favourite topping. Martin’s favourite topping at the moment is mushroom and spinach. We are using frozen vegetables more and more now in an attempt to have less food waste but fresh vegetables would work just as well on this pizza. Just cook them a bit first.

It is an easy and fun meal to make as you can be really creative with the topping to suit your individual taste. It is a pretty quick meal – takes only 15 minutes. Quicker than getting a pizza delivered!

Be creative, healthy and keep pizza on the menu!

 

Ingredients (for 2 people):

3 wholewheat pitta breads (1.5 each!)

250g Passata – (for the tomato sauce)

2 tsp garlic olive oil

2 tsp basil olive oil

60g feta cheese

4 clumps of frozen spinach

1 handful of frozen mushrooms

 

Method:

1. Add 250g of Passata, 2 tsp of garlic olive oil and 2 tsp of basil garlic oil. Simmer for 2 mins. This makes a tomato sauce for the topping. However, you could use fresh chopped garlic and basil instead of the flavoured oils.

At the same time on the other side of the pan I cook/defrost my mushrooms and spinach! (Trying to cut down on the washing up).

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2. Add tomato sauce to pitta bread and spread across it fairly evenly.

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3. Add your topping! Feta cheese, mushrooms and spinach were used for these ones.

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4. Place under medium hot grill for about 5 mins and/or wait for cheese to brown like a toasted marshmallow.

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Just8 Tip  – we often do these two nights in a row as we have pitta bread and passata already opened and needing to be finished. There are never any complaints!

Thai Green Curry Kit – Morrisons

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I just wanted to say that this wee kit is fantastic . I haven’t been asked to review it, in case you are wondering. I just wanted to tell everyone how great I found it to cook with. Simple to use and provides an extremely tasty meal.

It is so simple to use because it takes the hassle and expense out of chopping up loads of herbs and buying a myriad of spices (that you will probably only use occasionally). And it tastes great! It is full of flavour and a little spicy – just enough to make your lips tingle but not enough to make you think about taking a big gulp of water. It contains a ready made paste and a wee pot of desiccated coconut and spices to sprinkle on the dish to finish it off.

I used this with two chicken breasts, red pepper, mushrooms, fresh coriander and half a can of reduced fat coconut milk. I served it with rice. That’s about 7 or 8 ingredients altogether! However, with this kit you can be really flexible with the ingredients you use – beef, spinach, Brussels sprouts (only joking ;-)) would all be good alternative ingredients.

So, if you want to impress your other half with your Thai curry making skills, this is the business! Available in Morrisons for £1.59.

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Olive oil, lemon and pasta

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THESE THREE INGREDIENTS are a powerful combination. Inspiration for this goes to Antonio Carluccio, who I first heard talking about this triad of flavours. I cannot find this recipe in his ‘Simple Cooking’ cookbook, however, he talked about this blend when promoting this book at a book launch in Glasgow.

I believe you can add lots of different vegetables to these three ingredients. In this recipe I chose to add mushrooms, onions and coriander but really anything you have left over will do the job. This is sooo easy and must be pretty healthy too and there is no cream etc used.

Ingredients:

  • Pasta – enough for 2 people
  • Butter – 15 grams
  • Olive Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Mushrooms – handful
  • Onion – Half roughly chopped
  • Fresh Coriander – handful

 

1. Place pasta in a saucepan and boil for 12 minutes (or even better – check cooking time on the packet).

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2. Fry onions and mushroom in the butter for 3 minutes.

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3. Once pasta is cooked, add it to the onions and mushrooms. Then add the juice of one lemon to the mixture.

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4. Add the coriander to the mixture. It looks pretty and adds another flavour to the mix.

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5. Et voila! Sooo simple.

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Chirpin’ Chicken Stronganoff

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CHIRPIN’ CHICKEN STROGANOFF is a great dish for a quick dinner. It is really easy and is pretty speedy for an after-work dinner. I love the smoked paprika, lemon and creme fraiche flavour combination. Normally stroganoff would use beef instead of chicken, however, this Just8 take on it is a lighter, healthier option.

Ingredients:

  • 2 portions of rice
  • 1 medium sized onion finely sliced
  • 150g of mushrooms
  • 500g of diced chicken
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 200ml creme fraiche
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Handful of parsley

1. Boil rice for 12 mins (or however long your rice tells you to cook it for).

2. Whilst the rice boils, get started on the chicken stroganoff. Add olive oil to a wide frying pan and add the chopped onion and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms start looking like they are reducing in size.

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3. Add the chicken and fry for 6 or 7 minutes stirring every-so-often. Make sure the meat is cooked all the way through.

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4. Add the smoked paprika and stir it in for a minute.

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5. Add the creme fraiche to the pan and gently simmer for 30 seconds.

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6. Add a squeeze of lemon.

7. Serve the chicken stroganoff on a bed of rice with a sprinkling of parsley.

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Mmmm – nice with a wee glass of white wine.

White fish in a tasty tomato sauce

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THIS healthy recipe is a nice, easy tomato sauce, which you can make beforehand followed by steaming white fish. For this recipe I used whiting but you could use whatever fish that you fancy.

I liked it a lot because it was easy, tasty and only 8 ingredients. I liked the anchovy in this dish as it gives the tomato sauce a really nice flavour.

Ingredients:

  • 2 white fish fillets (I used whiting)
  • Large onion, chopped
  • Can of tinned tomatoes
  • 100 ml of chicken stock
  • 2 anchovy fillets in olive oil, chopped
  • Pinch of caster sugar
  • Basil leaves to decorate
  • Rice to serve with

1. Cook onion for 4 minutes in a wide, heavy based pan over a low heat.

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2. Add the chopped anchovy and fry for 1 more minute.

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3. Stir in the stock and tomatoes. Leave to simmer for about 30 minutes.

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4. Add the fish fillets into the pan of tomato sauce and cover with a tight-fitting lid, if you have one. Steam the fish over a medium heat for 5 minutes until it is opaque.

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5. Serve fish with generous spoonfuls of tomato sauce and a sprinkling of basil leaves.

 

Just 8’s Simple Mincemeat Recipe

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HAVING SURVEYED people over the festive season and experimented with the recipe, here is a simple recipe for mincemeat. Admittedly it is a bit late for this year, but at least I have a recipe nice and early for next Christmas!

In this recipe, there are only 7 key ingredients. And I guess the glace cherries are optional, as I know some people aren’t a fan. But for me, I like my mince meat with them in.

I was surprised by how incredibly quick and easy it was to make mincemeat. Essentially, all you are doing is chopping the fruit and then mixing in the other ingredients.

 

Ingredients:

  • 150g currants
  • 150g raisins
  • 75g glace cherries (optional)
  • 100g of cooking apples (peeled and cored)
  • 100g butter (or suet)
  • 200g Demerara sugar
  • 60ml Brandy (optional)

1. In a mixer, chop the currants, raisins, glace cherries and cooking apples. Probably just for about 10 seconds. You don’t want the mixture to be too much of a mush.

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2. Melt the butter and mix. Or instead of butter add suet (no need to melt this). Add the sugar to the mixture. Then add the all important Brandy. A mince pie would not be a mince pie without Brandy, in my opinion! However, again I know some people prefer their mincemeat without this.

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3. Stir well and leave covered for a couple of days. Though to be honest, I used some almost straight away and I didn’t think it made a lot of difference. However, the purists say to make it in advance. This enables the flavours to mix well.

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4. If you don’t use all the mince meat straight away you can store it in a jar for quite a long time (I think even a couple of months).

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Now you are all set to whip up a batch of homemade mince pies, whenever you have visitors.

 

Other ingredients could be sultanas, cranberries, cut mixed peel, orange juice and zest, lemon juice and zest, 1 tsp of mixed spice.

 

Kirsty’s Sensational Sugo

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SUGO. Apparently this is just the Italian word for sauce. There are lots of different Sugo’s out there but this is the one the Kirsty’s household adheres to. Whilst on holiday, Kirsty’s Dad tasted ‘Sugo’ at a local Italian trattoria and liked it so much that he asked for the recipe.

Sugo it very similar to bolognaise, the only difference being that once it is all cooked you blend it. This makes for a much lighter sauce. I also think that the blending makes the mixture more tasty as it releases all the flavours. This different take on bolognaise, is great for cooking up a big batch and using up the next day. Moreover, it is even more tasty the next day.

Ingredients:

  • 500g beef mince / (I reckon quorn mince would work too)
  • 1 sliced red pepper
  • 1 stick of celery chopped up
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbs dried basil
  • 3 cans chopped tomatoes
  • Bunch of fresh parsley to taste
  • Pasta

1. Brown the mince on a medium heat for about 5 mins.

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2. Add sliced red pepper, chopped up celery, crushed garlic and 1 tbs of dried basil. Let this fry for 3 mins.

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3. Add 3 cans of chopped tomato. Stir this in. Let the mixture simmer on a low heat for 45 minutes.

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4. Cook the pasta for however long your cooking instructions tell you to. (As a guide – fresh pasta – ~ a few minutes, dried pasta – ~10mins).

5. Transfer the mince mixture to the blender. Add a bunch of fresh parsley (leave a small amount of parsley to add later). Switch on the blender for 20 seconds.

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6. Plate up. Pasta first, then the mince mixture and then a little of the left-over parsley chopped up on top to make it look pretty.

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Ta-dah!! Goes nicely with a glass of Chianti.

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