Cranberry & Quinoa Turkey Stuffing

OK.. So.. The Christmas Dinner Stuffing – It’s one of the most important components of the Christmas Dinner and one of everyone’s favourite sides.
Families and hosts choose to do their stuffing in many different ways so you can interpret this recipe and serving suggestion to whatever method suits you and your meal. This is a quirky version of the staple side but trust me when I tell you it is actually so tasty and works incredibly well as a stuffing. This can be made in advance too as it freezes so well and can be taken out the night before for your prep.

Again, you can twist this recipe to make it your own by adding different types of nuts or extra seasoning of what you deem suitable. Other fruits such as pears can also be added.
Make sure to make plenty if the people you are cooking for are anything like my family – the stuffing is always one of the first dishes to be finished first and you always need to keep some for the sandwiches later that night and the next day – essential!

Ingredients

100 grams Quinoa, rinsed
400 ml Water (or stock)
1 Brown Onion, finely chopped
1 Red Apple, grated
¼ cup Pine Nuts
¼ cup Dried Cranberries
¼ cup Chopped Hazelnuts
1 clove Garlic, crushed
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dash of Olive Oil

Method

If you prefer Stuffing as a Side Dish:
In a pot on the hob, cook the quinoa as directed on the packet. I usually follow the instructions of bringing the quinoa to the boil, reducing the heat and simmering for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and let stand for about 10 minutes until all the excess water has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
Heat some olive oil on a hot pan and add the brown onion, garlic and pine nuts and cook lightly until browned.
Add the mix from the pan and all of the other ingredients to the cooked quinoa and mix thoroughly.
Serve with your main meal as desired.

If you prefer Stuffing your Turkey before cooking:
In a pot on the hob, cook the quinoa as directed on the packet. I usually follow the instructions of bringing the quinoa to the boil, reducing the heat and simmering for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and let stand for about 10 minutes until all the excess water has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
Add all remaining ingredients to the cooked quinoa and mix thoroughly.
Pack lightly into uncooked turkey.
Roast turkey as directed.

Clo’s Chicken Pie

Happy New Year to all you Lovely Humans! If you are reading this, I hope you have read some of my other posts and if so, I would like to first of all thank you for even bothering 🙂 This blog started as something to do at the weekends, to share my love of cooking and develop my knowledge of healthy food, its benefits to my health and how to make it good enough to eat. I honestly have no idea if people are even reading it so if you are, thank you.

One of my 2017 Resolutions is to develop this blog more and explore other ways that I can share the benefits of healthy eating – and healthy cooking – with you all. I am almost finished a course in Nutrition and Food Science that I have found so informative and interesting. I have been jotting down so many new ideas for The Countertop so “watch this space” – lots of exciting posts and delicious recipes will be coming your way in 2017 if you stick with me.

So, I thought I would kick of the New Year with an easy one – the humble Chicken Pie. If like me, you are not fully ready to dive feet first into Clean January but want to ease yourself in instead, then this recipe is perfect! This pie has all the elements of an indulgent meal but it is in-fact quite the opposite. When you break it down, the ingredients are all generally very healthy – chicken breast, spinach, almonds. Yes, the pastry might be a tad indulgent but when weighed out against the rest of the ingredients you will have nothing to feel bad about. The trick here is the mixture’s sauce. It will look and taste like you’ve landed a pint of double cream over the chicken pieces when you have really just combined some yummy almonds and chicken stock together! I was very excited when this experiment worked and the result really is delicious.

It would be a great Sunday Dinner if you are at a loss as to what to cook today. It is a simple recipe with a truly comforting and tasty end result and will help you settle into Sunday evening nicely.

So I urge you all to give this one a go – a true comfort food to get us all back on track for a brand new year full of possibilities! xx

Ingredients (Serves 4)

320 gram Ready-Made Puff Pastry Roll
3 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast Fillets
2 cups Fresh Spinach Leaves
60 -80 grams Almonds
500 ml Chicken Stock in Water
1 Tbsp. Corn Flour
1 Brown Onion, coarsely chopped
1 Clove Garlic, crushed
Dash Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to season
1 Tsp. Dried Parsley

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees Celcius.
Grease a small-medium size oven dish and put to one side.
Chop the chicken fillets into small chunks.
Heat the olive oil on a frying pan on the hob.
Add the chopped onion and chicken pieces to the pan and fry until the chicken is cooked through and has browned.
Remove the pan from the heat.
In a food blender, processor, Nutribullet (whatever you have available), add the chicken stock, crushed garlic, almonds, dried parsley and seasoning.
Blend this mixture until it becomes smooth and creamy – add a little more almonds or stock until you reach your desired consistency.
Once you are happy with your sauce, return the frying pan to the heat and add the sauce.
Reduce the hob to a medium heat and stir the filling consistently for about a minute.
It is at this stage that you can use your own judgement – if you think the mixture needs some corn flour to thicken or more seasoning etc, play around with it at this point.
Once you are happy with the mixture, stir in the Spinach leaves and remove the pan from the heat.
Roll out the pre-rolled pastry and cut it out to cover the oven dish – leaving an extra few centimetres to cover the edges.
Pour the chicken filling from the pan into the oven dish.
Cover the mixture with the puff pastry, securing it tightly over the edges of the dish.
Place the dish on the middle shelf of the oven and cook as per the pastry’s cooking instructions (about 40 minutes usually).
Once the pastry has cooked through, remove this delicious pie from the oven and serve.
This will go great with many different sides. Try some fresh salad, sweet potato fries or steamed broccoli.
Delish!

 

Almond and Red Pepper Sauce

No matter how healthy I eat, there is nothing that can stop my hankering for pasta when I’m feeling the effects of an alcohol-filled Saturday night with my girls. This weekend we celebrated the first girl of our group’s Hen Weekend, it’s hard to believe one of us will be walking down the aisle in a few weeks and oh did we celebrate!

So pasta was on the brain for most of today and as usual, I caved and fired up that fusilli. To ease the guilt somewhat, I decided to team it up with a healthy, homemade pasta sauce and I must say, I was pretty impressed with the end result. Adding almonds to the mix gave this sauce a really creamy finish and gave me the feeling I was seriously indulging in a cream-based pasta sauce when really it was nothing of the sort.

I’m really chuffed with this one actually and I’m sure you will be too if you give it a try. Very simple and really yum – here is my Almond and Red Pepper Sauce.

Ingredients

2 Red Peppers, deseeded and chopped
1 clove Garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
60 grams Almonds
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a frying pan.
Once hot, add garlic and peppers to the pan and coo for about 2-3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let the peppers cool for about 10 minutes.
Add all of your ingredients including the garlic and peppers to a food blender, Nutribullet or you can use a hand blender and puree the entire mix until smooth and creamy.
Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions and drain.
Put cooked pasta back into the pot it was cooked in and pour in your pepper sauce.
Heat the sauce through until piping hot and serve.

This sauce can also be served as a dip too. I chopped up some carrots and had a dip and it was pretty delish!

Homemade Fit Food – Granola

Granola is a really good contributor to a healthy diet – but only if its not loaded with sugar like so many brands available on the market now.
I remember thinking I was only brilliant having granola with my yogurt instead of cereal but it can pretty scary when you read the packet and see what’s actually in there.
So to save myself the bother, I experimented around in the kitchen instead and have started to make my own so I know exactly whats gone into it and I’m not loading up on hidden sugars.
Granola is one of those foods that you can keep versatile, there’s no set list of ingredients you have to abide by.
Nuts and seeds would be my main additions but that’s not to say you can’t use dried fruits among other ingredients, that’s just my personal preference.
Anyway, here is a quick breakdown of how I make my own granola. Hopefully it will inspire you to throw some of your own together for an energy filled breakfast.

Ingredients

1 cup Porridge Oats
1/4 cup Chopped Almonds
1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds
1/4 cup mix of Chia, Flax and Sesame Seeds
1/2 cup Dried Goji Berries
1/4 cup Raisins/Sultanas
1/2 cup Honey

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 Degrees C.
Pour the porridge oats, almonds and all your seeds into a bowl and mix around.
On some greased parchment paper on an oven tray, pour out the oast and seed mix to make one layer.
Place the oven tray into the middle shelf of the oven and toast your mix for about 10-15 minutes or until the mix becomes golden brown.
Transfer your oat and seed mix back into a bowl and add the berries, raisins and honey.
Evenly coat the mix with the honey and spread back out onto a flat dish.
Leave to cool and set in the fridge for a couple of hours and then move your granola into an aitight container.

This will keep for a good few days and can be used to mix through some yogurt for a really yummy breakfast.

Homemade Fit Food – Peanut Butter Dip

This little winner is so simple to make and will help you keep on track with all the healthy changes you’ve been making.
Packed with protein and energy, this dip will fill you nicely before or after a workout or will wait quietly for you in the fridge for when you have a burst of craves.
Give it a lash and let me know what you reckon?!

Ingredients

½ cup (Low Fat) Greek Yogurt
¼ cup good quality Peanut Butter (crunchy is better in my opinion for this but up to you!)
½ Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Method

Not even a recipe guys, throw all 3 ingredients into the blender or Nutribullet or even use a bit of elbow grease and mix until even.
Chop up some fruit or veg or whatever you want to dip in and enjoy the yummy goodness 🙂

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Homemade Fit Food – Granola Bites

Another bangin’ treat bursting with energy and flavour, these granola bites are as quick to make as they will
be to eat. As usual, the optional extras can be whatever you fancy or whatever you have handy in the pantry.
They are also a no-bake recipe so they’re ideal for those who are time poor. I actually put them together in the time it took to boil the kettle and make a cuppa.

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Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (toasted) porridge oats
1 cup raisins or sultanas or 50/50
1/2 cup Almonds, chopped
1/2 cup Hazelnuts
1/2 cup Mixed Seeds
1/4 cup Peanut Butter
1/4 cup Honey
(any optional extras e.g. chocolate chips, walnuts, goji berries, dried cranberries, peanuts etc)

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Method

If you are toasting your oats, preheat the oven to 180 Degrees C and pour the oats onto some greased parchment paper.
Put the paper on an oven tray and pop in the oven once preheated for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
If you are not toasting the oats, skip to the following step:
Pour oats, hazelnuts, almonds, raisins/sultanas and mixed seeds into a large mixing bowl.
On a low heat, warm both the honey and peanut butter together in a pot and mix together.
Once combined, pour the mixture into the mixing bowl and mix all of the ingredients evenly.
Add the chocolate chips at the end and mix through (the warm honey and peanut butter will start to melt the choc-chips if you add them too early).
Once you’re happy with the mixture, line an appropriate sized baking dish with parchment paper and transfer the mix onto the paper in the dish.
Press firmly down on the mix to fill up any cracks and gaps and smooth out evenly.
Keep pressing until it’s fully compressed.
Cover the dish with cling film and pop in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours.
*After about an hour, I melted some dark chocolate in a pot and poured it over the top of the bar for extra yumminess.
Once fully chilled and set, remove from the dish and cut up your bites into whatever size you like.
I did about 1 inch X 1 inch so I could make loads and share them out.
These guys will be good to store for a few days as there is very little to them.
Keep stored in the fridge in a lunchbox to make them last.

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Almond Flour

Almond flour is fast becoming a go-to alternative to regular flour for many dishes that require some element of the ingredient, most notably breadcrumbs or flour.

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A much better alternative, almond flour or almond meal is so simple to make and provides far more nutrition to your dish than your every day white or brown flour.
It is also suitable as a part of a gluten free or low carbohydrate diet as it is literally just almonds.
Depending on what kitchen appliances are available to you, the simple method requires you to mill your almonds until you reach a flour-like consistency.
I use the Nutribullet with the milling blade to make mine but a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder are also suitable.

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Check out my recipe for Chicken Dippers using a spiced and seasoned almond flour to coat the chicken strips. They are absolutely delish and taste a lot naughtier than they actually are.

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Any of my recipes that have breadcrumbs or flour as an ingredient can use almond flour as an alternative but it is totally up to you which one you want to use.

I personally try to always use the almond flour just because Bread and I are not friends since I entered my mid-twenties.