Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Vimto braised red cabbage

This red cabbage recipe has recently become  favourite of mine for a Sunday dinner, I took the idea from the Manchester restaurant 'The Refuge' where I went with my family for Sunday lunch when visiting my daughter. It was delicious and I thought I could replicate the recipe at home so had a try and it was very popular.

It's really easy and just looks after itself in the oven and I have also made it in my pressure king pro and I might see how it does in a slow cooker too. I think I'll definitely be making it for Christmas dinner. It is also a great dish to make ahead of time as it reheats really well and you can freeze it too which I certainly be doing on Christmas Day!

Vimto braised red cabbage

1 red cabbage (core removed and sliced thinly)
1 large onion (chopped)
50ml sugar free vimto (not diluted )
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Place everything in an ovenproof casserole mix well and cover with lid. ( If you don't have a lid a piece of foil tightly placed over the dish will be ok) then place in the oven at Gas 2/150/300 for 2 hours stirring every now and then.

Remove from the oven and taste it might need a little more balsamic and salt and pepper.

Syn free

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Celery soup (Slimming World friendly)

It's definitely soup weather and this time of year I tend to take soup for my lunch every day for work. I bought one of those plastic soup bowls with the vented lids it makes it really easy to reheat in the microwave at work.

When I make this soup I keep it in a big plastic jug with a lid on in the fridge it keeps for about 5-7 days in the fridge. I often have some when I get in from work too while waiting for dinner to stop me picking. It freezes well too I freeze in those 'pour & store' bags pick them up from ASDA or home bargains.

Celery Soup

1 bunch celery (with leaves if possible just chopped roughly)
3-4 spring onions (chopped or a ordinary onion chopped)
2 large potatoes (diced no need to peel)
3 pints vegetable stock (from a cube or stockpot is fine)
2 tsp sage
low calorie spray oil
salt and pepper

Spray a large saucepan with the spray oil and add the celery, spring onions and potatoes, Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and fry gently over a low heat for a few minutes until the vegetables start to soften lightly but not brown. Just add a splash or two of water if they start to stick.

Add the sage and stock and bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes until the vegetables are soft.

Blend the soup either with a hand blender in the pan (the easiest way) or transfer to a food processor or liquidiser and blend in batches.

Add salt and pepper to taste (I like a lot of pepper in this soup)

You can also make this in the slow cooker by putting it all in together and cooking on low for 6-8 hours or in a pressure cooker using the manufacturers instructions.

Syn free and serves 4-6

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Slow cooker old fashioned beef stew (Slimming World friendly)

Winter is here and I love making soups and stews and this one is so easy to make in the slow cooker. It's old fashioned in that it's just the meat and vegetables with some thyme and salt and pepper nothing fancy needed here.

I think it is important to brown the meat and soften the vegetables slightly before they go in the slow cooker as I think it improves the flavour but if you are in a hurry you can just throw it all in and it will still be good.

Slow cooker old fashioned beef stew

800g lean diced beef
4 large carrots (peeled and cut into chunks or slices)
1 large onion (peeled and diced)
2 sticks celery (chopped)
2 large potatoes (peeled if you want to and diced)
2 beef stockpots or stock cubes
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp cornflour
salt and pepper
low calorie spray oil

Spray a large frying pan with the low calorie spray oil and over a medium heat gently fry the onions, carrots and celery for a few minutes until they begin to soften slightly but not brown (I usually sprinkle with a little salt to help them soften) if they begin to stick just add a little water. Place them into your slow cooker.

Pat the beef dry with kitchen roll then spray the frying pan again and add the beef in batches and fry till slightly brown then add to the slow cooker or casserole dish.

Add the potatoes, thyme, stockpots and a tsp each of salt and pepper. Add water to just cover the meat and vegetables stir well and then cook on low in the slow cooker for 6-8 hours.

At the end of the cooking remove the lid , stir well and turn the heat up to high in the slow cooker, In a small cup add a little cold water to the cornflour mix until smooth then stir this into the stew and stir well. Cook on high for another 15-20 minutes till it bubbles and gets a little thicker. Taste now as it will probably need some more salt and pepper.

Serves 4-6  and is less than 1 syn per portion.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Chinese chicken and mushrooms in oyster sauce (Slimming World friendly)

I love Chinese takeaways but they can be really high in syns, This recipe means you can have all the flavour with hardly any syns.

You can find all the ingredients in any supermarket usually with all the stir fry sauces, they aren't expensive and don't worry oyster sauce doesn't taste fishy it just gives a lovely savoury flavour to the sauce. I use frozen ginger and garlic paste which is syn free or you could some paste from a jar but check as some have syns but served between four people it wouldn't be much.

I served this with loads of stir fry vegetables for lots of speed as well as some noodles. I used chicken thighs for this as I prefer the flavour but feel free to use chicken breast if you'd rather.

Chinese chicken and mushrooms in oyster sauce

500g chicken thighs (skinless, boneless and cut into bite sized pieces)
1 large onion (sliced)
250g sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
thumb sized piece of fresh ginger (peeled and grated)
50ml oyster sauce
150ml light soy sauce
100ml water
1 tbsp cornflour
low calorie spray oil

Spray a wok or large deep frying pan lightly with the spray oil and add the onions and the ginger and garlic paste, Stir fry over a medium heat until the onion starts to soften then add the chicken and turn the heat up a little and stir fry for another 5-10 minutes until the chicken has started to brown.

Add the mushrooms, keep stir frying and meanwhile take a  jug  and add the oyster sauce, soy sauce and water and mix well.

Pour the oyster sauce mixture over the chicken mixture and keep stir frying over a medium heat for a couple of minutes.

Put the cornflour in a small dish and add 2 tbsp cold water and mix till smooth then add to the wok and keep stir frying  for a few more minutes till the sauce has thickened.

Serves 4 and is less than 1 syn each.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Bloody Mary soup (Slimming World friendly)

I made this soup after thinking about the flavours I love in a Bloody Mary cocktail and how good they would be in a hot soup in this cold weather. I made it and took it to my class Halloween party tonight and it was very popular.

You can adjust the heat as you like the tsp of chili flakes I used made it slightly spicy 'bit of a kick' but not burn your mouth hot so if you like it spicy add more if you don't like spice at all leave it out the other ingredients give the soup tons of flavour anyway.

There is no vodka in this so I suppose it's a Virgin mary soup but feel free to add vodka if you like but remember to syn it!

Bloody Mary Soup

1 large onion (chopped)
2 sticks celery (chopped)
1 clove garlic (crushed)
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 x 500g cartons passata
2 pints vegetable stock (from a cube is fine)
2 tsp celery salt
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried chili flakes (more or less to taste)
salt and pepper
low calorie spray oil

Spray a large saucepan with the spray oil and over a low heat fry the onion, garlic and celery sprinkle with a little salt as this helps the vegetables to soften but not brown which is what you want. When the vegetables are soft add all the other ingredients and stir well. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for about 20-30 minutes to let the flavours blend together.

Blitz until smooth either with a stick blender right in the pan (which is what I use) or by blitzing in a blender or food processor but be careful as it's hot.

Bring back to the boil in the sauce pan once blended and taste if it needs salt and pepper and season to taste I usually add a tsp of pepper and just a little salt as some was added at the beginning.

Serves 6 generously and is syn free

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Welsh lamb broth (Cawl) in slow cooker (Slimming World friendly)

  • This is a traditional Welsh stew known as Cawl (pronounced cowl) It's so easy to make in the slow cooker just put it all in and then when you get in from work it's ready. It's a really comforting warming dish and so simple just seasoned with salt and pepper although I do sometimes use vegetable stock instead of water to give it a bit more flavour. 
  • This dish is really good made the day before and reheated it seems to deepen the flavours and if you aren't a fan of lamb you could use beef if you prefer to but I really think you need to use lamb or mutton preferably Welsh of course!

  I have a huge slow cooker so if yours is smaller then just halve the ingredients or you can  make it in a saucepan you just bring to the boil then simmer on a low heat for a couple of hours. 

Welsh lamb broth (Cawl) 

2lb lean lamb (diced)
3 pints water (or use stock if you prefer)
2 large potatoes (peeled and cut into chunks) 
3 large carrots (peeled and cut into chunks)
2 large leeks (washed well and sliced)
2 large onions (peeled and cut into chunks) 
1 swede (peeled and cut into chunks) 
salt and pepper 

Put all the prepared meat and vegetables into your slow cooker and add the water or stock . Season with a tsp each of salt and pepper. Cook on low for 6-8 hours and then season to taste with more salt and pepper. 

Syn free 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Liver and bacon (Slimming World friendly)

I LOVE liver and bacon but I know its not everyones cup of tea (I made it for myself cos hubby was out at the football) . Its so savoury, rich and tasty it really is one of my very favourite comfort foods but a lot of recipes use quite a lot of oil for frying and with the flour for coating the liver the syns could really add up. This way you can make it with all the flavour and a tasty gravy too but low in syns.

Liver and bacon

1lb lambs liver (washed, trimmed and dried on kitchen paper)
2 large onions (sliced)
1/2 lb lean smoked bacon (all fat removed cut into strips)
1 tbsp plain flour
1/2 pint beef stock (from a cube is fine)
low calorie spray oil
salt and pepper

(You will need a plastic food bag for this too)

Turn the oven on to 180/350/gas4.

Spray a large  frying pan lightly with spray oil and cook the onions over a low heat until soft then add the bacon and cook for a few more minutes until bacon is cooked then place it all  into an oven proof casserole dish .

In the plastic food bag add the flour and a good grinding of black pepper and a 1/2 tsp salt and mix well, Add the slices of liver , secure the top of the bag (IMPORTANT if you dont want to redecorate your kitchen!!) and then shake the bag lightly until all the liver is coated with flour.

Spray the frying pan with more spray oil and heat and then shake off any excess flour and lay the slices of liver into the frying pan. Give the liver a couple of minutes over a medium heat until a crust has formed underneath the liver then flip the pieces over and cook for another minute on the other side and then place this into the casserole dish .

Add the beef stock to the frying pan and stir well to scrape up all the savoury bits from the bottom of the pan then pour over the liver, bacon and onions  in the casserole dish.

Stir everything well, cover the dish with a lid or a double layer of foil and then place in the oven for 30 minutes, Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 10 minutes

Serve with lots of veg and some potatoes,

1 syn per portion and this recipe serves 4...

Enjoy xx