Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Salad inspiration

We are being battered by strong storms at the moment and have unfortunately yesterday lost our favourite old hawthorn tree in our garden.  It's devastating because it was really old and such a feature as well as home to many birds and little creatures.  With the persistent rain we've been having, the ground is just saturated and wasn't strong enough anymore to hold on to the tree. :-(


Needless to say that this weather isn't exactly inspiring summer recipes but nonetheless I'd like to share an idea for a salad - not so much a recipe but more of an inspiration to try something a bit different.
I combined quinoa, soya beans, avocado, beetroot, feta cheese and pumpkin seeds for a yummy, filling and healthy salad for lunch.  The different textures and tastes worked together really well and didn't even need a dressing (although a drizzle of olive oil would also have been nice).

I often tend to make the same old salads, so this made a very nice change and has given me a few new ideas.  I hope it has inspired you too!

Monday, 3 February 2014

One-pot curry rice

Dog walking in my local park has become so much more than just that - we appear to have created a walking recipe exchange.  One lady told me about this rice dish she was making for a curry buffet and the next time I saw her, she pulled a print-out of the recipe out of her bag - she'd been carrying it for me, hoping to bump into me.  In return, I promised her one of mine.  The same has happened with other people too and we just go along sharing food ideas - I love it!

Now, this rice dish that was recommended to me is a one-pot recipe and ideal to go with a curry or just some meat or more vegetables.  I'd even be tempted to have it on its own - that's how good it is.  And soooo easy!  It does require a couple of ingredients you may not necessarily have in your cupboard (e.g. mustard seeds - I'd never used those) but none of them are terribly expensive and this dish is so good, you'll be cooking it over and over again, hence not wasting any.  Oh, and did I mention that it can be frozen?  Perfect!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Marinated steak salad

Yay - it's almost the weekend!  Another wet one here, I'm afraid, but that hasn't deterred me from really, really wanting a salad for my dinner.  Not just any old salad though but one that I like to call a "boys' salad": a marinated steak salad with feta cheese and sweet potato (I seem to have a bit of a thing for the latter at the moment).

What I love about this is that the meat is marinated after cooking and hence retains lots of the yummy flavours of the marinade.  This is a great little dish for friends or a quick and easy dinner when time is short.  Oh, and it is absolutely delicious :-)

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Sweet potato cakes

I'm beginning to realise that the secret to eating good and healthy food on a daily basis is planning ahead and being organised.  Well, better late than never, I suppose.  I've been trying to cook batches of food to keep in the fridge and/or freezer and to think a few days ahead to plan meals.  Given that I spend most of my time thinking about food, it's not been that difficult :-)

One of the recipes that's delicious but also easily prepared ahead and frozen are these sweet potato cakes - I topped them with smoked salmon and coriander/cilantro yogurt, served on a bed of salad.  Yum!

You could add a bit of curry powder to the patties or keep them plain as I did here - pretty much whatever you fancy goes!  And just make a big batch when you have time and freeze in portions, so you always have a healthy lunch or snack to fall back on.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Protein bread - easy, tasty, fast

I'm looking forward to the weekend and Mr Happy Larder being back from his trip.  The weather is forecast to be pretty shocking, so we might just have to curl up in front of the fire - love that thought!  I will also probably go for a little run - training is going well, even if it is hard most of the time.  Still, there is nothing quite like feeling your body (and your head) achieve something you didn't think it could.   The other great thing about exercising is that you can eat great food and quite a lot of it :-)
Protein bread

One of the recipes I found recently is one for a protein bread - it's fairly similar to soda bread in that it contains yogurt (or quark) but its texture is much lighter and it is packed with healthy seeds - yum! It's yeastfree, so doesn't need any rising time - ideal if you ate in a rush but want homemade bread.  I hope you like this one!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Back for good...with carrot cake muffins

Now, some New Year's resolutions just take a little longer to put into practice, hence the silence on my blog but now I am up and running again and have quite a few new recipes to share. It's good to be back!

Carrot cake muffins
With my leg healed, I am back in full swing with my training and eating pretty healthily most of the time.  I say "most" because sometimes I just fancy a little treat and to be honest, I think that's how I manage to be good the rest of the time.  Also, people have very different ideas of what is healthy and what isn't - some love bread, others think it is the devil's work.  For me, the good old "everything in moderation" is pretty much spot on.

So, talking of resolutions, I went for a run today and did a few exercises (in the pouring rain, so I deserve extra brownie points, I'd say :-)).  Before I started working out with my trainer, I couldn't do a single pull-up but now - a mere 4 months on - I managed 8 in one go.  That  called for a celebration or at least that's what I am telling myself: carrot cake muffins!  These would work equally well as a tray bake and are so easy and yet completely yummy - definitely worth a try!  I will continue to amend the recipe to bring down the fat content but in the meantime, this version is perfect for a treat. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year

So, here it is - the New Year!  A blank canvas with lots of plans and resolutions of which the first for me simply has to be to start blogging again more regularly than I have done these last few weeks.  My leg injury didn't exactly help but I guess I've been struggling to find new recipes that would also go with a healthier lifestyle.  Well,  I'll just have to try harder :-)  And the main aim is still to go for easy & tasty recipes but I'll just try and keep them a bit healthier at the same time.  Don't worry - there'll still be plenty of treats :-)

Wishing everyone a very happy, healthy & fun 2014!  Looking forward to sharing many more cooking adventures with you!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Cinnamon Stars - a Christmas biscuit/cookie

It's quite cold and grey outside but cozy at home.  Keith the dog is still active as ever but loves to snuggle up in the evening, especially when we have the fire going in the fireplace.  Outside, at this time of year, he really does blend in quite well with nature :-)

Given that Christmas is getting closer and that this time of year always reminds me of home, I have been baking some traditional German Christmas biscuits/cookies: cinnamon stars or "Zimtsterne" as we call these at home.

These biscuits don't have any flour in them whatsoever, so if you have a problem with gluten, they might be a good alternative to other biscuits.  The dough consists mainly of ground almonds with a lovely hint of cinnamon and the topping is like a meringue.  The end result is a biscuit that's crunchy on the outside but still soft in the middle - delcious on a dark winter's afternoon with a cup of tea!
Cinnamon stars - Zimtsterne

Monday, 25 November 2013

Large chocolate buttons with trail mix

I can't believe it is only a month until Christmas - can't wait!

I have always loved Christmas - for us, it really is all about getting together with loved ones, enjoying some lovely food together and generally having a break.  There are little traditions we have as a family (I am sure most families do), for example, no matter how old we are now, we still have to stand outside the living room door and wait to be called in to admire the tree.  At my mum's, we always have a real tree with real candles - always have done, even when we were all small children.  Needless to say, the candles aren't lit the whole time and never without anyone watching but it just makes it so festive and cosy :-)  And there are always lots and lots of different types of Christmas biscuits/cookies my mum makes for the occasion.  Christmas bakery is very big in Germany and there are some classic recipes like cinnamon stars (Zimtsterne) and other decorated biscuits/cookies.  I will see if I can make some cinnamon stars and share the recipe here - it's a great one as it is gluten free, so watch this space.

Chocolate buttons with trail mix
If you like homemade gifts, then you might enjoy this little edible treat to give away in a pretty jar: chocolate buttons with trail mix.

The ones pictured have the added bonus of protein powder thrown into the mix, making them into little protein treats but they can just as easily be made without.  A quick and easy treat or gift that looks really cute and tastes delicious.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Christmas cake ... it's almost that time of year

Gosh, it has been ages since I posted anything :-(  Being on crutches was definitely not very helpful when it came to cooking but I am pleased to say that I can now walk almost normally and that as of yesterday I don't have to use my sticks anymore!  Hooray!  That in turn means that there will be no holding me back from trying out recipes again and skipping around in the kitchen - well, not so much skipping but you get the idea.

At the weekend I did manage to start making our Christmas cake.  I usually make two cakes - one to take home to the family in Germany and one for us to have when we are back home.  I love this particular recipe as you can make it a few weeks in advance or if pushed for time, a couple of days before Christmas.  I love how the flavours develop when you prepare it ahead of time, so that's what I usually do.  I also use a shallower tin, making a much "flatter" cake than is traditional but I always find that it is quite rich with all that fruit and icing, so smaller pieces are not necessarily a bad thing.  There is a non-alcohol option to this cake, using orange juice instead of brandy (although there is not that much of the latter in there anyway).  The decorations pictured are those from last year - I'm still thinking of what the design should look like this year, so watch this space. 

How to make an easy & tasty Christmas cake