Cashew & Mint Pesto (Dairy Free)

Cashew & Mint Pesto

This is a short post but I wanted to share this recipe with you.  This pesto was a happy accident!  I was in the kitchen yesterday and fancied some pesto for my salad and I remember seeing a recipe a while ago for a cashew and mint pesto, as I had some fresh mint to hand, I thought I’d try and make some.  I cannot believe this turned out so well first go.  Normally when I’m creating recipes it takes two or three attempts until  get a result that I am happy with and I think (and hope) others would enjoy.

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Cinnamon Spiced Avocado Chocolate Pudding (Dairy Free)

Avocado Chocolate pudding

I have never been a particularly big dessert fan.  If I’m in a restaurant I’m more likely to choose a starter and a main course rather than a main course and dessert.  However, there are times when you just need a wee sweet kick and this pudding provides it.  It tastes very decadent but it is actually good for you as the main ingredient is avocado so really not as naughty as you’d think.

If anyone is trying to lose weight they tend to stay clear of avocados due to their high fat content, but they actually contain the type of fat that we need for our health.  They are rich in fatty acids which are great for our skin, not to mention high in vitamin E too, which is also great for the skin and helps protect it.  Tip:  After you’ve scooped out your avocado flesh, take the skin and rub it over your hands – instant moisturiser!

Avocado

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Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (Dairy Free)

Pasta & SAUCE

This sauce goes by two names in my family, creamy roasted red pepper sauce or Happy Dance Sauce, the name my beautiful sister gave it as the first time she tried it she did a wee happy dance round her kitchen.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera near to take a photo of her in action!!

The sauce originally started as a Romesco sauce that I saw in a Prevention magazine.  In my usual way, I’ve re-worked it and Beccy-fied it and this is the final result.  It’s great over pasta, over chicken or veg.

Now some people may read the ingredients list and think I’ve lost my mind using cashews in the sauce but trust me on this, it really does work.  Since I can’t have dairy I have discovered that nuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts et al go creamy once blended.  Genius! Plus nuts are far healthier than cream so that’s a winner in my eyes!

Some notes on the recipe.  If using roasted peppers from a jar, take caution when adding the red wine vinegar as some jarred peppers already contain vinegar, this is why I suggest adding a teaspoon of vinegar at a time – it’s easy to add more, not so easy to take it out!!

I find the longer you soak your cashews, the creamier the consistency of the sauce.  If you are not keen on cashews, almonds also work well, again soak them before using.

Ingredients

-1 garlic clove, finely chopped and soaked in lemon juice for 15 mins then drained

-1 generous cup of roasted red peppers, if using from a jar, drain excess oil

-1 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours, drained

-1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, de-seeded

-1 Tbsp. rapeseed oil or olive oil

-11/2 tsp. smoked paprika

-1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

-salt to taste

How to Make

Put all ingredients, except red wine vinegar and salt, in a blender and blend until smooth.

Blender

Add a teaspoon of vinegar at a time (approximately 3 teaspoons is equivalent to 1 tablespoon), check for taste and add more if necessary.

Add salt to taste and give everything one last blend.

Warm in a pan before serving.

Sauce

This sauce freezes well and stores in the fridge for up to 2 days – if it lasts that long!!

Enjoy 🙂

Butter Bean & Goats Cheese Bake

Well, it’s not exactly jumper wearing and the heating needs to be turned on weather, but the sun seems to have taken a wee break the past couple of days and the grey skies are making me think of soups, casseroles and stews.

Bake2

I have made countless variations of this dish – used cannellini beans instead of butter beans, used feta instead of goats cheese, used different herbs – use whatever you have at hand.  That’s the fun part about cooking, experiment and see what happens.  Yes there will be dishes where you probably wouldn’t even attempt to give it to the dog (although my dog isn’t overly fussy and will pretty much inhale anything given the chance!) but then there are some recipes that the more you make and change, you end up with a great dish.

I know when I first started to get into cooking I was a bit scared to adapt a recipe or I worried that if I made changes and the dish was a failure then that was proof that I wasn’t cut out for this cooking thing.  Well I’ve discovered that yes, sometimes dishes don’t work out as you had planned but more often than not you learn more about the ingredients you’re working with, what goes together, what doesn’t, what’s the best cooking method, timings etc.  As I say in my ‘About’ page, I’m not a trained chef but I like to be in the kitchen trying out new recipes and experimenting with different flavours.

Butter beans

Anyway, back to the this bake. I love butter beans, they have a soft, slightly floury texture but if you don’t like butter beans try cannellini beans.  You can easily double the recipe if you’re making it for a crowd and when it comes to seasoning I’d go lightly with the salt as the cheese can be quite salty.

Ingredients

-1Tbsp. olive oil or rapeseed oil

-1 red onion, diced

-1 carrot, diced

1 stick of celery, diced

-2 cloves of garlic, crushed

-1/2 tsp. dried oregano

-1 Tbsp. tomato puree mixed with 1/4 cup water

-1x400g tin of chopped tomatoes

-1x400g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed

-1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

-60g soft goats cheese, crumbled

-Salt & Pepper to taste

How To Make

Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F

In a large pan heat the oil over a medium heat and add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic with a pinch of salt (the salt will help draw water out of the vegetables)

Sweat the vegetables over a low/medium heat for about 10-15 minutes.  The vegetables should start to soften and the onion should become translucent.

Once the vegetables have softened, add the oregano and stir.

Next add the tomato puree with water, tomatoes and butter beans.  Stir well and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the balsamic vinegar and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

Season to taste (try a bit of your cheese to check for saltiness to determine how much salt to add to the dish)

Pour the mixture into an ovenproof casserole and crumble the cheese on top.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.  Add a little water if you notice it is drying out.

Butter bean & goat bake

This is delicious served as it is or try it as a filling to a baked sweet potato or with a big green salad on the side.

Enjoy 🙂

Strawberry & Chia Jam

Strawberry chia jam

When I was growing up and went to visit my Grandma – whom we called Nina – she used to have an endless supply of the most amazing freezer jam.  She was the kind of Grandma who was always cooking or baking.  You would walk into her house and be hit by smells of home cooking – lemon drizzle cake and corned beef and onion pie were amongst my favourite things she used to make in addition to her freezer jam.  She always seemed to be cooking and feeding everyone who came to visit.

I can’t recall Nina ever referring to a recipe and the recipes she had written down, weren’t very clear and I am exactly the same!  I’ll read a recipe and then ‘Beccy-fy’ it to make it healthier and suit my tastes but whilst I’m changing it I normally don’t write down quantities/times etc. I just wing it.  Doing this blog is helping me be more precise but I think it’s great to get into the kitchen, grab some ingredients and see what happens, don’t be scared of the ingredients. Having said that I wouldn’t try to throw things together when it comes to baking…that is a science right there!  Anyway I digress, back to jam.

This jam reminds me of Nina’s jam and it freezes well too.  I had a glut of strawberries which I didn’t want to waste so came up with this recipe.  You don’t need a kilo of sugar to go in this jam just a quarter cup of honey and yet it’s still sweet.  You can add more honey if you prefer a sweeter jam but I don’t like food to be overly sweet and the strawberries I had were already lovely and sweet.

The chia seeds, which are a powerhouse of goodness, help thicken the jam as they absorb liquid.  Chia seeds, if you are not familiar with them, have been dubbed a superfood, and it’s easy to see why.  Chia seeds contain a wealth of antioxidants, high in dietary fibre and complete proteins.  You can have them sprinkled over porridge or in a smoothie.  If you’re not too keen on the texture of them in a dish, like this jam for instance, you could grind them up into a powder, I don’t mind the texture so left them whole.

Chia

Ingredients

-1kg strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped

-1/4 cup honey

-4 Tbsp. chia seeds

How to Make

Place the strawberries and honey in a large pan over a low heat.  Stir well to coat the strawberries with the honey.

Cover the pan with a lid and allow to cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 20 minutes, the fruit will be soft to mash gently with a wooden spoon – depending on how you like your jam is how much to mash.

Strawberries cooked

Put the lid back on the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes over a low heat.

Add the chia seeds and stir well until combined.  Cook for a further 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool.

If you’d prefer your jam to be a thicker consistency, add another tablespoon of chia seeds.  If you prefer a sweeter jam add some more honey.

Place jam in airtight containers and freeze or keep in the fridge.

Enjoy 🙂