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Tuesday

Red Pepper stuffed with pure health (and Mozzarella)

This right here is an actual health post... for the most part!

I confess, there is cheese involved, mainly because cheese is one of the greatest foods to consume. However, aside from that, this meal is pretty darn healthy if I do say so myself. Mum, you will genuinely be proud of this.

It also tastes good. Shocking, I know.
Healthy and tastes good? It just can't be true.
It even looks good. Check it out! All of those vibrant colours just jumping out at you.


Ingredients needed to create this:
A big red pepper [other colours will also work]
Spaghetti, or any pasta of your choice
Mozzarella
Kale
Cucumber
Tomatoes [of various colours]

To make the pesto inspired by Sarah B:
1/3 cup of organic sundried tomatoes 
2/3 cup [150ml] hot water
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 clove garlic 
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and honey to taste, if desired

We'll start with the pesto.

Place the tomatoes in a bowl and top with just boiled water, leaving them for 30 minutes, or until soft. When you have about 10 minutes left, heat up a skillet on about medium heat and lightly toast the pumpkin seeds until they become puffy and make the room smell nutty (in a weird way, that rhymes), making sure not to burn them. Firstly, pulse the clove of garlic in the food processor until minced and then add the rest of the ingredients, aside from the salt and honey if you were going to add those. Blend until smooth and then place in the fridge in a tight container until you need to use it. 

For more of Sarah B's amazing, healthy recipes, go to mynewroots


Now we'll move on to the main attraction.

Preheat your on to 350 degrees F.

Cut the top part of the pepper off and take out all the inside contents. Once you've done this, lightly dab the entire pepper with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place it in a baking tray so it doesn't move and put it in the oven for about 20 minutes. Cut up your slices of mozzarella and put to the side until the 20 minutes are up, put them inside the pepper and put back into the oven for around 5 minutes, or until the mozzarella has melted.

Cut your cucumbers and tomatoes to a desired size and put them to the side.
In the meantime, make sure you are boiling some water for your pasta.

For the kale all you have to do is heat a pan up on medium heat, put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in, followed by 1 cup of hot water and your kale. Cover the top of the pan for about 5 minutes. When the 5 minutes are up, take off the lid and stir the kale so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. When it looks like there are a few minutes of oil and water left, chuck the tomatoes and cucumbers in with the kale to cook them slightly beforehand.

By this point your pasta should nearly be cooked.

Once everything is cooked to perfection, lay your mozzarella filled pepper onto a plate, followed by your sundried tomato pesto spaghetti, (a few more pieces of mozzarella for good measure), and then layer it with the mixture of kale, cucumber and tomato.

You won't be disappointed with the end result. Take my word for it.

PS. With the leftover vegetables and pasta you are able to make a beautiful pasta salad for the following day.



Saturday

Homemade Breaded Chicken

I've been wanting to make this for a while.

Chicken can only be flavored so many ways before it needs something else.
So here you have it, chicken in breadcrumbs.


It's a pretty simple procedure, and there's also a nifty trick you can do with the leftover breadcrumbs.

Now, you can either make the breadcrumbs using stale bread or you can buy them in the store. Obviously stale bread is more authentic, so here we go: cut the crust off the bread and discard it. Spread the bread out onto a microwavable plate and microwave on high for 1 minute to dry the bread out [if you don't have a microwave, then place the bread onto a baking sheet and dry in a preheated oven at 300 degrees F for 20-25 minutes]. Pulse the dry breadcrumbs in a food processor, with thyme, chili flakes, salt and pepper.



Put the breadcrumbs into one bowl and a beaten egg in another.
Flatten out the pieces of chicken, so that all of the pieces equal the same in thickness. Pat the chicken and dry, and season both of the sides in salt and pepper. Following this, dip the breast in the egg and coat it lightly, then hold it on top of the bowl to allow the excess egg to drip off. Then, cover the chicken in the breadcrumbs to coat and place it on a baking tray.


Place your chicken in the preheated oven and cook for around 35 minutes or until juices run clear.


With your excess breadcrumbs, you can add them to pasta, salad, etc. place them in a skillet with around 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat; season with salt; stir until they are golden; then remove them from heat until you're ready to use.



Friday

Smoked Salmon on Ciabatta

My mum has been telling me that she wants me to go in a healthier direction on the blog recipe scheme, so although this is still not exactly what she had in mind, I think I'm on the right track?


Ingredients wise we have:
Avocado
Ciabatta bread
Smoken Salmon
Mozzarella
Asparagus
Lemon
Chili Flakes

Firstly, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. You are then going to place your asparagus on a tray, drizzle them with a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper and place them in the oven, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, lightly tossing them twice during the roasting.

Whilst you are waiting for the asparagus you can prepare the rest of your meal.

Grab a ripe avocado and slice it up into long pieces. Get a bowl and put your avocado in it, sprinkle it with lemon juice and chili flakes, so that the avocado doesn't dry up.



Then, use a frying pan to toast your ciabatta bread. Sprinkle some olive oil onto the pan and wait until it starts to sizzle, then put half of your ciabatta bread in the olive oil, turning every so often so the bread doesn't burn. Once you have reached the desired toasting of the bread, allow it to cool on the cutting board and do the exact same to the other half of the bread.

Once both slices have been toasted, drizzle them with a little bit of olive oil. Then put a slice of mozzarella on the bread. Followed by your around two pieces of sliced smoked salmon.

Then all you have to do is plate it up, add your avocado and you're good to go. It's as simple as that.

I'll try to go even healthier for you next time, mum.

Peri Peri Chicken

Anyone that's from England will know how big a part of our lives Nandos is. It's a restaurant that was born in Portugal and centers itself around chicken. What better way is there to start a restaurant than to put your main focus on chicken? In my personal opinion, there is no better way. Especially when you combine it with their special peri peri sauces, every spicy food lovers heaven.

Considering there is not a Nandos to be found in New York, I decided it was about time I decided to dab my hand in making my own, with the help of Jamie Oliver and his magical recipes, of course.

For those US readers that live in Washington DC, Virginia, Illinois, or Maryland, you are in luck as there are a number of Nandos restaurants within travelling distance. Check out the link here to see where in the world you can find a Nandos restaurant near you. However, for the rest of you, you are just going to have to take a stab at this incredible homemade Nandos I am about to blow your minds with.



The ingredients you are going to need are as follows:
1.3 kg free-range chicken
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 cloves of garlic
smoked paprika
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
red onion
4 ripe tomatoes
3 jalapeño peppers or 6 fresh chillies, multiple colours if possible
red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil

Sweet Potato Wedges:
2 sweet potatoes 
Smoked Paprika

Jalapeño Salsa:
3 large jalapeños
bunch of fresh coriander/cilantro

Once you have all of your ingredients, then you are ready to get started. 


You are going to get your chicken and cut it directly down the middle, creating two halves. 

Put your thyme leaves into a pestle and mortar (if you don't have one then just put them in a ziplock bag and roll on it with a heavy kitchen object; wine bottle, a meat pounder, rolling pin etc), peel and add 1 of your garlic cloves, followed by the paprika and a pinch of salt. With all of these ingredients together, you then have to bash them to a paste. Once this is done, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and rub the marinade all over the chicken. Make sure you get the marinade everywhere, all the little secret hiding spaces the chicken has to offer, just shove the marinade in there. Trust me, the worse it feels now, the better it will taste in the long run. 

Cover your chicken and place it in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight if possible. 



When the time comes to cook your beautiful meal, preheat your oven to 180 (celsius), 350 (Fahrenheit), or gas mark 4. Put a pan on the stove at high heat, making sure to cut the unpeeled onions into quarters and if the tomatoes are on the larger side, chop them in half. Alongside the remaining unpeeled garlic cloves and the jalapeños or chillies (depending on which way you decide to venture), place them into the pan and grill for around 5 to 10 minutes, or when they are evenly charred - make sure you turn them regularly so they don't burn on one side.

Peel the garlic cloves and the onions and place all of the charred ingredients into a food processor, blending thoroughly. Add a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil and blend until smooth. The add a handful of coriander/cilantro and a pinch of salt to season. Blend it all together and put your first salsa into a bowl. 


After you have made this wonderfully spicy salsa, return your pan to high heat and chuck your marinated chicken on (not literally, but you know where I'm going with this) for around 8-10 minutes and remember to turn it regularly. Then move the chicken to a roasting tray and place it in the oven for around 45 minutes, or until it is thoroughly cooked. 

After this, cut up your sweet potatoes and place them on a tray. Cover them in olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper. Don't forget to get your hands dirty and make sure all of those ingredients are over every part of each potato, this will make them taste especially great once they are cooked and you don't want one potato tasting better than the next!



After about 25 to 30 minutes, take out the sweet potatoes and they should be nice and crispy. If they aren't, then leave them in for a little while longer to get the full potential of these sweet beauties.

Whilst you are waiting for the chicken finish cooking, you can start on your jalapeño salsa. It's probably one of the most simple salsas you will ever make. In your life. It goes like this.. add your jalapeños, add your cilantro, chuck in some olive oil and red wine vinegar and blend away. That's it. I know, mind blown. 


By the time you faffed around doing all of these extracurricular activities, your chicken should be ready to be taken out of the oven. Allow the chicken to cool for about 10 minutes before you cut it. Then cut the chicken in all its glory. You'll get drumsticks, thighs and succulent pieces of chicken. What sounds better than that? Nothing. 

Put a dollop of your peri peri salsa on the plate, followed by your jalapeño salsa, then place a drumstick and another piece of chicken on top of the salsa. Put a few potato fries on this side of the plate and you've created a masterpiece.



Wednesday

A Decadent Burger

My friend Jake text me today, told me he'd been looking at all my pictures of food and decided that he wanted me to cook for him. I asked him what he fancied, and like any normal man, he answered with one word: MEAT. 

I had recently been browsing burgers on the internet when I came across Jamie Oliver's Insanity Burger and The Londoner's Brunch Burger, so I decided to combine the ingredients of the two and make my own.

Pre-warning to anyone attempting this: it takes quite a little bit of time, so set aside time in your day/evening to produce excellence. It all becomes worth it once you create this beauty. It has everything you need; juicy burger patties, streaky bacon, an oozing egg, and much more. This is by far the perfect hangover cure, so on a Saturday and Sunday when you have nothing to do, and quite frankly have zero energy to do anything, then grab up these ingredients and create a masterpiece.


Yes, my friends, that is a burger to be reckoned with. Two slices of ciabatta bread, stuffed with two beef patties, bacon, special jalapeño sauce, egg, and cheddar cheese. 

PURE EXCELLENCE!

























You start off with around 400 grams of minced chuck steak. Your best bet is to go to your local butcher if you have some and ask him to grab the freshest lot he can find, however, if you aren't able to do that, most supermarkets will sell exactly what you're looking for. Divide the chuck steak into four pieces, curl them all into tight balls and then flatten them out. About 2cm wider than your pieces of bread and 12cm wide.

Place them on the grille and start cooking those bad boys. Once they have cooked evenly on both sides, place your slices of cheddar cheese on top and allow to melt around them.


Whilst they are cooking away, you can get started on your special jalapeño salsa. Grab about 2 large jalapeño peppers and chop them up, chuck them in a blender with some coriander and a lug of oil and blend away.



Top tip: Get one of your attractive male friends to do all the hard cutting. 

Slice your sweet potatoes up in wedge shape and place them on a tray. Cover them in olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper, making sure they are all fully covered - so don't be too worried about getting your hands dirty. It's a messy job. 

Preheat your oven until 180 (celsius), 350 (Fahrenheit), or gas 4. Throw them in for about 30 minutes, or until nice and crispy. 


Heat up your pieces of ciabatta bread and spread some mustard on them. Then place your first burger with melted cheese on top. Start making your bacon on the same pan, as it can soak up the juices left from the patty. 



Next, top the first patty with streaky bacon and your jalapeño salsa. 

My friend Jake was not man enough for the salsa, so he opted out. Men! You can't take them anywhere!


Top this with your next patty covered in melted cheese...


...followed by a beautifully fried egg




and finish it off by adding some avocado (we have to get some health on this bad boy), and pushing your top piece of ciabatta down so that the yolk of the egg just oozes everywhere. Finish your plate off with some beautifully seasoned sweet potato fries and you are in for a treat. 

You're welcome. 

Tuesday

Chicken Pesto Pasta

WARNING: if you are not a fan of spicy foods, be wary with this post.

If there are 3 edibles I love in the world (there are more, but these are up there with the best of them) then they would be chicken, pesto, and pasta.

When I lived at home, my mum would always cook all of these wonderful dishes, including this following one I am about to share with you all. It's extremely easy to make and takes a total of about 25 minutes including prep time.


The ingredients you will need are:
Chicken breast
Spaghetti (or any preferred pasta)
Garlic Clove
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Chili Flakes
Jalapeño
Homemade Pesto

To begin with, take your chicken breast and cover it in salt, pepper and chili flakes. Once all of this is done, place the chicken in a bowl and pour some olive oil over it. Then rub it all in with your fingers to create a marinade for the chicken. It's a slimy process, but worth it in the end. Then cut up your jalapeño and garlic clove into small pieces, and leave them on the cutting board until you need them again.


Whilst the chicken is marinading, put your pan onto the stove and rub some oil onto the pan so that the chicken doesn't stick to it. Put it onto medium heat and wait until there is a slight steam coming off of the pan. Alongside this, put your pot for the pasta on the stove and wait for it to boil. Take the breast out of the marinade, place it on your cutting board and slice it into pieces. This will make the chicken much easier to cook and will prevent you from having to do it afterwards.


Once you are able to see the steam coming from the pan, place your chicken in the pan. It should take about 8-10 minutes for the chicken to cook, and make sure you are turning it evenly side to side so that one side doesn't end up burnt. Whilst the chicken is cooking, place your pasta of choice into the boiling water, using a wooden spoon to turn it every now and again so it doesn't stick to the sides or bottom of the pot.

Once your chicken has cooked evenly on both sides, throw in your chopped up jalapeño and garlic and allow them to char. Make sure you are moving the chicken and the pieces around so they don't overly burn.


Once all of this is done, drain your pasta out, chuck all of the ingredients in a bowl, add the pesto and enjoy. If you are not a big eater of the spicy foods, then make sure you cut down on either the jalapeños or the chili flakes when making the chicken. I have grown up in a family full of spice so I am used to it, however, the amount may be slightly too much for some people, so just put as much in as you feel comfortable with. 

Saturday

Homemade Pesto

Pesto is quite possibly one of my favourite things to consume in the world. Whether I enjoy it like a normal person, with pasta, or merely just eat it out of the jar because I like it so much have an unhealthy obsession, it is safe to say that I have a good relationship with pesto. My mum always likes to make her own as she thinks it's healthier - let's be honest, it is - so I figured I would try it out for myself. The results were pest-acular (see what I did there).

It's always extremely tempting to eat pesto out of the jar. It's such a fresh sauce, and I always wonder, how can something so green taste so good?

Not only does the combination of basil leaves, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and garlic sound (and taste) heavenly, the wonderful thing about pesto is that you can pretty much make it out of anything. The leaves don't necessarily need to be all basil, I used a combination of basil and spinach in mine. The parmesan cheese can be switched out if that isn't your cup of tea, and the overly priced pine nuts can be substituted to any desired nut of your choice. Personally I'm a sucker for the pine nuts, but a minor splurge once in a while can't do any harm. What's better than a recipe that you can switch up to your liking? Nothing, my friends, nothing.


In order to make this beautiful treat, you are going to need exactly what I said above:
Basil leaves/Spinach (4 or 5 cups) 
Pine nuts (half a cup)
Parmesan Cheese (half a cup)
Garlic (1 or 2 cloves)
Olive Oil and salt (around a quarter of a spoonful each, depending on personal preference)

Firstly, you are going to put half of the leaves, the pine nuts, parmesan and the garlic cloves into your food processor. Blend all of the ingredients thoroughly, and then blend in the rest of the basil. 


Following this you are going to add the olive oil and salt however you see fit. In terms of pasta sauces, more olive oil will probably be required, however, with spreads you will probably want less oil in order to make it more of a paste. 

Once all of this is complete, taste your pesto and add anything extra you deem necessary. Whether you are a cheese nut and need more, or love garlic and don't mind walking round with garlic breath, nobody is judging you. Just make sure you don't go overboard on anything as you don't want to overpower any of the other beautiful flavours!


These little Ball jars can literally be used for anything. 

As I said earlier, in terms of what to eat with pesto, the possibilities are endless.
However, if you're stuck for ideas, I whipped up a little something after I made this.

Homemade pesto pasta with Avocado, lemon and chili flakes
It's as simple as it sounds. Boil up some water, once boiled place the spaghetti in and let it cook for around 8-10 minutes, all the while stirring it so it doesn't stick to the pan. When not stirring, cut up your avocado into a few pieces and place to the side. Once your pasta is cooked, drain it, but leave it in the pan. Then take half of the avocado and place it in the pan with the pasta, followed by however much homemade pesto you desire. After it is all mixed together, put it in a bowl and add the remaining avocado. Squeeze about a quarter of a lemon onto the dish and drizzle in chili flakes.