Mrs. Jackson Cooks

Life through food

Quick, easy, healthy pie: Pork and potato pie

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I bet you didn’t think that pies could be either quick, simple or healthy.  This one doesn’t use pastry so that does help on all those fronts.  This one uses cubed pork in a tomatoey sauce topped with sliced potatoes.  Great for dinner during the week.  Just throw together and shove in the oven.

I did have a recipe for this, but I can’t seem to find it now.  I was sure it was a reader recipe on BBC good food, but maybe I was wrong. However, it’s really simple so I should be able to do it from memory.

 

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Pork and potato pie

Serves 2

  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 250g boneless pork, cubed
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 pepper chopped into squares, or carrots chopped and/or celery, or mushrooms sliced (whatever you have)
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 200ml beef or chicken stock
  • 1 tsp worcester sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to about 190 degrees celsius
  2. Boil the potatoes until cooked but still firm in boiling water (about 10 minutes).  Drain and rinse under cold water
  3. Meanwhile heat the oil in a pan.
  4. Toss the pork in the flour and shake off the excess.
  5. Fry the pork in the oil until browned on all sides.
  6. Add the onion and garlic, turning down the heat and cook until the onion is softented.
  7. Add the rosemary and whatever vege you’re using and cook for a further couple of minutes.
  8. Add in the tomatoes and stock, and bring to the boil.
  9. Then simmer until you have a good saucey consistency.
  10. Add in the worcester sauce and then salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Tip the pork sauce into a baking dish and layer the potatoes on top
  12. Cook in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are golden (or you can do under the grill, it’s quicker.  Until they’re browned, but I think the oven makes them taste nicer)
  13. Serve and enjoy 🙂

 

 

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Totally delicious low calorie flapjacks

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Having put on quite a bit of weight over the past few months due to my life being a bit chaotic and unpredictable, I’ve decided to try and be healthier and lose a few pounds.

But I need to wean myself off the sugar and carbs slowly as I’m not up for shock tactics. So I thought if I could make flapjacks that are low in refined things and sugar and high in energy boosting things then it would be a good start to cutting down.

I found this recipe here http://cakeincardiff.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/low-calorie-flapjacks/ I’ve heard lots about the hairy bikers diet book – think I’m going to have to get sometime. I do like the Hairy Bikers, their recipes are very doable.

I made 16 flapjacks and adapted the recipe slightly. I worked out that each square has 88 calories so it’s a great diet snack as it’s under the 100 calorie mark, high in fibre and energy boosting oats, low in sugar, got a bit of fruit in it and even some nuts for protein.

And I’ve tried them – they’re delicious, so easy to make – I put it all together in about 5 mins and then shoved it in the oven until cooked. Requires virtually no equipment and you can adapt it anyway you like – use honey instead of maple syrup, substitute some oats for rice crispies, put in any dried fruit and nuts that you like, use any juice you want…and the bonus is – no sweetener in sight – this doesn’t feel like a diet snack. On top of that – these are really purse friendly. Even if you don’t have the ingredients in stock, they’re not expensive to buy – all these ingredients are in most supermarkets’ value ranges – just adapt to whatever you can find.

Cranberry & hazelnut flapjacks

16 squares

  • 200g rolled (porridge) oats
  • 300ml orange or apple juice
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup, honey or golden syrup
  • 60g dried cranberries (or apricots, dates, mixed peel – any dried fruit)
  • 60g raisins (sultanas, currants, whatever)
  • 30g hazelnuts, toasted and chopped (or any nuts)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius
  2. Put the juice and syrup in a pan and heat until it starts to simmer.
  3. Add in the oats and mix well until completely combined (there shouldn’t be juice left it should be absorbed)
  4. Take off the heat and add in the fruit and nuts.
  5. Mix well to combine then turn into a greased baking tray. Push it all out until it fills the corners of the tray and then push down hard so its very compacted (fingers are good for this).
  6. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes or until golden and crispy on top.
  7. Remove from the oven, cut into squares whilst still warm (I used a pizza roller thingy but I knife will do). Leave to cool in the tin.
  8. Turn out and enjoy the fruity chewiness without feeling guilty 🙂
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92 calorie individual apple pies

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Since getting back from Ibiza I’ve really been trying to be good and get back into being healthy. The problem is, I’ve been depressed and craving sugar, and so I’ve ended up in front of the vending machine far too many times. In an attempt to rectify that, whilst not going totally cold turkey I found these fantastic pies.

They fill the craving hole whilst not ruining your good intentions and they are delicious, and super simple to make. You literally need an oven and that’s about it.

Our neighbour has an apple tree and many of his apples have ended up in our garden, some a bit worse for wear but still edible. So I thought it better to cook them down with a bit of sugar (I actually used sweetener, you can’t taste the difference). Then I added some strawberries that were very cheap in the supermarket but also a bit worse for wear and needed cooking. Both the apples and strawberries were very sweet so didn’t need much sweetener, just a bit to bring out the juices. I added a squeeze of lemon too.

And filo pastry is the best for pastry if you’re watching your weight, it’s a lot lighter than other pastries. I used olive oil spray instead of melted butter between the sheets. I honestly couldn’t tell any difference.

I made about 15 triangles. They’ll easily keep in a box for a few days and are great for taking to work for lunch or a snack.

Apple and strawberry pies

Makes about 15

  • 5-6 eating apples or 2 baking apples, cored and chopped
  • 125g strawberries, hulled and halved (or use strawberry jam)
  • 2 tbsp splenda or other sweetener
  • 4 sheets filo pastry
  • oil spray
  • 1 egg beaten
  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius
  2. Place the apple and strawberries with the sweetener in a saucepan on a medium heat, stiring occassionally until they break down and release their juices. Add a bit of water if its too dry. This takes about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  3. Carefully remove the filo pastry sheets from the package onto a clean, dry surface, one at a time. Spray the top of each one with 3-4 sprays of oil spray before placing the next sheet on top of it. Spray the top of the 4th sheet.
  4. Cut into thirds, lengthwise.
  5. Place a tablespoon of the apple and strawberry mix in the middle of the top third of pastry, towards the left end. Fold the corner of the pastry diagonally across to make a triangle and cover the mix. Cut along the edge which meets the pastry and press along the edges to seal. Place on a baking tray sprayed with oil spray. Brush with the beaten egg, pressing down the edges as you go. Repeat until all the pastry and mixture is used up.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes until cooked through and golden on top.
  7. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and then eat with a nice cup of tea, feeling your cravings subside.
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Hug in a bowl: creamy chicken soup

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The title belies this soup – there isn’t actually any cream in this soup, and it’s relatively low in calories too for a chicken soup – 339. Of course there are soups with fewer calories, but when you want a nice hearty chicken soup, you’re not really thinking of calories. This one hits the spot and it pretty simple to make.

I had made the Italian lemon chicken recipe again with a whole chicken and so used the meat left on the bones when I chopped it up to make this soup. But left over roast chicken or even chicken breasts, pre cooked (grilled for example) would work just as well.

It’s pretty simple to make, doesn’t take long and if you don’t have a blender, leave it chunky. But a chunky soup will be clear rather than creamy.

The original recipe is on my go-to website here: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/9831/roast-chicken-soup

I didn’t bother with the yoghurt and I don’t think it needs it but you can add it if you like.

Creamy chicken soup

Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, finely chopped
  • small handful of thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1.2 litres chicken stock (I made this from the chicken bones but you can use stock cubes)
  • 300g pre cooked boneless chicken, chopped into small pieces.
  • 100g peas
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • salt & pepper
  • heat the oil in a large saucepan, on a low heat, and fry the onions, carrots and thyme until softened but not browned – for about 10 minutes
  • Turn up the heat, add the chicken stock and chicken. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Blend half the soup until smooth, then mix it all together and add the peas, garlic and lemon juice. Season to taste. Give it a good stir and heat through and then serve with some crusty bread.
  • Enjoy the comforting warming soup 🙂
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Simple summer salad: Courgette and chickpea salad

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I got a vege box from one of the farm delivery places – they were doing an offer – and they sent it with a load of recipes, some of which look quite good. This particular company is called Riverford and are local to Manchester, in case you’re interested. So I thought I’d give one of the recipes a go. This salad is so simple and very tasty and can be put together in about 15 minutes. It’s about 400 calories too, so it’s great for a low fat, low carb lunch to keep you going til dinner.

The salad is just lovely, summer on a plate, and even better if you can enjoy in the garden – which we did. But even if you can’t the simple zesty flavours just conjure up summer.

The original recipe uses beans – haricot or borlotti – but I didn’t have any so I used chickpeas instead. It worked very well with chickpeas and I’m sure is tasty either way.

Courgette and chickpea salad

Serves 2 (as a main)

  • 2 courgettes, peeled into ribbons
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 100g lettuce, cut into ribbons
  • zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
  • small handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 50ml olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a griddle pan, or head the grill and griddle the courgettes until softened and browned in spots
  2. Put the chickpeas, lettuce and tomatoes into a bowl together.
  3. Blitz the lemon juice & zest, oil, basil and garlic in a blender or mash it in a pestle and mortar into a dressing. Season to taste.
  4. Add the courgettes to the chickpeas and tomatoes and pour over the dressing. Toss to combine and serve immediately
  5. Enjoy the lovely summer flavours 🙂
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Easy peasy banana cake

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Hubby brought home a load of over ripe bananas from work last week, and so I made banana cake. I have such a simple and quick recipe that I use and the end result is always delicious. It’s moist and sticky and very bananary!

The main thing to this recipe is a food processor or blender or smoothie maker – basic an electric thing that wizzes. Even a hand blender would work. This is what makes it simple. Otherwise you’re back to the old fashioned way of creaming butter and adding eggs and hoping they don’t curdle. Basically, weigh everything out (I did this in one bowl, putting everything on top of each other), bung it in a blender or processor, wizz til smooth. Then put in a cake tin and cook til risen, golden and fluffy. And ta da- you are a wonderful cake god(dess)! The prep stage takes about 10 minutes tops. And then you can set the timer on your oven and leave it until it beeps.

With this recipe, the more overripe the bananas are, the better, and the less sugar you need to add.

I’ve no idea where the recipe came from – I’ve had it written in the back of a recipe book for years! And had previously been on a post-it note. It might have even come from my mum or a friend’s mum.

Banana cake

makes 2 loaf cakes (about 10 – 12 slices)

  • 250g self-raising flour (or use plain flour with 1.5 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt)
  • 340g caster sugar
  • 4 bananas, mashed
  • 340g butter or margerine, softened
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tbsp vanilla essence
  • To ice:
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 tbsp granulated sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease 2 loaf tins.
  2. Place ingredients in a food processes or and blend til smooth.
  3. Pour half the mixture into each tin and bake for 45-50 minutes in the middle of the oven, or until a knife comes out the middle of it clean.
  4. Allow to cool slightly in the tins for about 10 minutes, then turn onto wire racks to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, making the sugar glaze icing by dissolving the sugar in the lemon juice. Prick the top of the cake all over with little holes (I use bbq skewers) and pour the glaze over it. It will run everywhere (make sure you do on a plate or cover the surface) but don’t worry, it’ll set and look quite pretty.
  6. Cool and serve with a nice cup of tea. And enjoy 🙂
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Lunchbox lunches: bacon and lentil soup

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My stomach is upset. It’s having an issue (in government speak). Probably from eating too many Easter eggs and drinking too much wine (and cocktails, and g&ts…). So I’m going back to basics and eating simply – nothing too rich, too spicy, too oily or too acidic. And what could be better than a simple healthy lentil soup? Comforting, tasty, easy on the stomach and nothing too exciting to upset it.

And lentils being good sources of both protein and carbs, means I don’t need bread of any kind with it, which may just push my stomach right over the edge. The bacon gives it a nice flavour but it’s not too intrusive. And keeping it chunky means it’s both simple and quick to make (in fact I made it this morning and let it cook whilst eating breakfast and then just dished it into tupperware to take to work.

This recipe is a variation on one I found in my Leith’s Simple Cookery book and my go-to book when I’m not sure about anything.

Bacon & Lentil soup

Serves 3-4

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 rashers bacon (your choice), cut into lardons
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 200g red or green lentils (choose red if you’re in a hurry they cook quicker)
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 250ml passatta (seived tomatoes – or use pasta tomato sauce)
  • Salt & pepper to taste (be careful if using smoked bacon)
  1. Heat a large saucepan on a low-med heat. Add the bacon and onion and allow to sweat slowly and the bacon to release it’s fats. There’s no need for oil as the fats will provide it and make the bacon crispy.
  2. Then add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
  3. Add in the lentils and stir well to coat in the mixture. Then add stock, tomatoes, and passatta. Bring to the boil, stiring well and then reduce to a low simmer and cover.
  4. Simmer until the lentils are cooked – about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Add salt & pepper to taste and serve with hunks of farmhouse bread, or just eat on it’s own enjoying it’s pleasing chunkiness.
  6. Enjoy 🙂
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Pie attempts: Cheese and onion pie

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I decided to brave it and try a pie again. Not making pastry from scratch – that came out the freezer – baby steps! But actually making a pie and trying to not either have it come out burnt or soggy, or even both.

Turns out one of Mr J’s favourite foods is cheese and onion pie. You think you know someone, and then they go and tell you a thing like that after 11 years – you wonder why they’ve been hanging onto that piece of information for so long! And here I was thinking profiteroles or steak or a cheeseboard were his favourite things!

I found a recipe for cheese and onion pie that didn’t seem too difficult. And thought I’d try it. Then I spoke to my mother in law who told me to blind bake it first and wash it in egg glaze. And to use a metallic cake tin (as I don’t have a pie dish). This proved good advice but did turn the recipe from something that seemed simple to something that wasn’t.

This is not for those of you who are allergic to cooking or not confident about what you’re doing. It’s also not good for small kitchens (I managed to get pastry all over mine, and cover every surface in things, and it’s a good size these days!) Buy it in Greggs instead. It is, however, perfect for the confident vegetarian. Or those adept at pies. Or the foolish (like me).

The original recipe is here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/9650/deepdish-cheese-onion-and-potato-pie

And here is my version including my mother in law’s advice (which I definitely recommend if you’re avoiding burning and sogginess).

Cheese and onion pie

Serves 6-8

  • 1 packet ready made shortcrust pastry (defrost if frozen first)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • bunch of spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 200g strong cheddar, grated
  • 200g creme fraiche
  • grated nutmeg
  • paprika
  • salt & pepper
  1. Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius
  2. Grease and flour a large cake sponge tin or pie dish (about 20-23cm)
  3. Flour a dry clean surface. Roll out your pastry until quite thin (but not so it’s breaking).
  4. Place 2/3 of it in the tin, so that there’s enough overhang (but not too much) and gently push into the edges of the tin. Blind bake (I scrunch up greaseproof paper and then smooth out and place on top of the pastry (including overhang) and then fill with rice – you can still cook toasted rice) for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven. Remove the rice and paper and egg wash the pastry. Cover the overhang pastry with greaseproof paper again (but not the rest) and bake for a further 5 minutes. It should be pale but firm and crispy.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minute.
  7. Add a layer of sliced potatoes to the bottom of the pie, followed by a sprinkling of onions & spring onions and cheese. Shake over a bit of nutmeg and paprika and some salt & pepper. Repeat with another layer, this time putting half the creme fraiche on the top. Then another layer of potatoes, onions, cheese until it’s used up (it will come above the pastry). Gently push the layers down a bit. Then dollop on the remaining creme fraiche.
  8. Roll out the remaining pastry a bit thinner than the bottom pastry until it will cover the pie. Brush the underneath pastry overhang with egg then place the pastry on top, washing all over with egg and pressing it hard to the bottom overhang pastry.
  9. Make 2 small slits in the top of the pastry to allow air to come out.
  10. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then turn down the oven to 170 degrees celsius and cook for a further 30 minutes.
  11. Remove. Allow to cool for 1o minutes then serve with a nice green salad.
  12. Enjoy!

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Chorizo and feta tortilla

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This one is an entirely made up MrsJacksonCooks recipe! Based on the basic tortilla recipe, with my own things thrown in it. This is great for leftover antipasti and marinaded veges. It’s also very simple to do, and quick so it’s perfect for midweek meals.

My mum brought me back some chorizo from Spain, which was the starting point for this recipe, and also the desire to make something quickly. Uncooked chorizo is best, but cooked chorizo is fine, just cook it for less time.

Chorizo and feta tortilla

Serves 3-4

  • 3-4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 70g chorizo, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large red chillis, sliced
  • 1 red pepper sliced, or 4-5 marinaded pepper pieces sliced
  • handful of olives, drained and halved
  • 6 eggs beaten
  • 100g feta cheese, crumbled
  • salt & pepper
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley or basil
  1. Boil the potatoes until cooked, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside til needed.
  2. Meanwhile preheat the grill on high.
  3. Then heat a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add the chorizo and fry until it starts to release it’s juices. Then add the onion and fry until softened and starting to brown.
  4. Then add the garlic and chilli and fry for another couple of minutes.
  5. Next add the peppers and olives, stirring them through well.
  6. Beat the eggs together with some salt, pepper and the feta cheese. Then stir in the parsley
  7. Add the potatoes stirring well to coat in the chorizo juices.
  8. Spread it all out so it’s evenly spaced around the pan, then pour over the egg mix, ensuring even distribution. Tip the pan to allow it to move around the pan to even it out.
  9. Cook on a medium heat until it’s done underneath. Then pop under the grilled until cooked and golden on top.
  10. Serve immediately with a green salad
  11. Enjoy 🙂
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Vege dinner party option: mushroom and blue cheese tart

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This is a super simple, very delicious and fancy looking dinner party main for the vegetarians in your life, or perhaps if you just fancy doing something vege. It’s delicious. I actually did it for dinner one Wednesday! If you have pastry in your freezer it couldn’t be simpler. But it’s great if you have veges coming for dinner and aren’t sure what to do. If you left out the cheese you could even satisfy vegans (I think! Just make sure the pastry isn’t made with butter).

The original is from the BBC Good food website (where else?!) http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/333631/onion-walnut-and-mushroom-tarte-tatin and I didn’t change it that much really. Perfect way to use up the bit of blue stilton left over from Christmas slowly getting more and more ‘fragrant’!

Mushroom and blue cheese tart

Serves 4-6 (depending on if its starter or main)

  • 4 onions, cut into wedges
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g mushrooms , halved (chestnut ones are good if you have them)
  • 2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 50g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 100g blue cheese (eg Stilton)
  • 1 pack puff pastry, defrost if frozen
  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Select a medium sized low sided frying pan. Roll out the pastry and cut a circle just wider than the pan (easiest done if you put the pastry on a floured surface and place the pan upside down on the pastry – then just cut around it leaving a 5cm lip)
  3. Heat the oil in the pan and add the onion wedges. Cook over a low heat until lightly coloured.
  4. Add mushrooms, sugar and salt & pepper to taste. Cook for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are softened, stirring well.
  5. Stir through the walnuts and cook for a couple of minutes. Then remove from the heat and crumble over the cheese.
  6. Place the pastry over the top of the pan, tucking in the overhanging bit.
  7. Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  9. Then place a large plate on top of the pastry and invert the tart, tipping it onto the plate, pastry side underneath.
  10. Serve with a green salad and enjoy immediately!

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