Healthy Couscous Salad

Healthy Couscous SaladSummer is coming and it’s always great to have some lighter meal ideas under your belt. I want a bit more from a salad than a bit of lettuce, tomato & cucumber though… I need some flavour! This gorgeous couscous salad recipe (adapted from Oh My Dish) does that by the bucket load. It’s packed full of goodness & it’s seriously tasty! I particularly love the addition of the sweet potato, it really kicks it up a notch.

Here is what you will need to serve 2 as a main or 4 as a side dish:

  • 150g Couscous
  • 300ml Boiling Water
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Sweet Potato, peeled & cubed
  • 1 Shallot, finely diced
  • 1 Garlic Clove, finely diced
  • 1 Aubergine, sliced *
  • 4 Sundried Tomatoes, sliced + the Oil
  • 8 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • Handful of Rocket or chopped Romaine Lettuce
  • Juice of half a Lemon
  • Salt & Pepper

 * I ended up picking out the aubergine but, even if you don’t like it, keep trying! It’s the only way to change your tastebuds. Trust me – I was the worlds fussiest eater as a child!

In a large glass bowl, add in the couscous, a generous helping of salt & pepper and about 1 tbsp of the oil from the sundried tomatoes jar.

Pour in the boiling water, stir with a fork and cover with cling film. Leave to one side whilst we prepare the rest of the dish.

Heat a non stick frying pan over a medium heat then add in about 1 tbsp of olive oil.

Dump in the cubed potato and fry for a few minutes.

Then add in the diced shallot & garlic and fry for about 10-15 minutes until the potato is golden and cooked. (Soft in the middle.) Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Healthy Couscous Salad

Healthy Couscous SaladIf adding aubergine – heat a griddle pan over a medium/high heat. Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil and grill on each side until nice charred lines appear.

When cooked, take out the pan and sprinkle with a little salt.

Healthy Couscous SaladBack to the couscous, which should be nice & plump by now. Remove the cling film & fluff up with a fork.

Healthy Couscous SaladNow all your ingredients are ready, add the sundried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and cooked sweet potato in with the couscous.

Season with a little more salt & pepper if it needs it. Squeeze over the juice from the lemon and add a good glug of olive oil.

Give it all a good stir and divide between serving plates. Top with slices of aubergine and a handful of either rocket or romaine lettuce.

Healthy Couscous SaladI absolutely love this salad. It only takes about half an hour to make, it’s tasty, satisfying & good for you too! In my opinion, it’s a perfect, bright & colourful Spring/Summer dish. Great if you want a bit of light, al fresco dining in your back garden or on the park!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post my lovelies, until next time!

Miss KitchenMason

Back To Basics: Salad

Back To Basics- SaladContrary to popular belief – I do actually try and make an effort to eat well. I can’t live solely on Chocolate Mousse Brownies, Millionaire’s Shortbread & Doughnuts. Despite the fact that I really want to!

Even though I eat far more now than I ever used to, I still have to ‘trick’ myself into eating healthy things. Take this salad for example. It’s seemingly healthy from the outside (not all that appealing to me if I’m honest) but when you look inside? There’s smokey bacon and feta cheese. These two ingredients make anything taste a bazillion times better! Helping me get my “5 a day” (something I find to be unrealistic at best) and making me feel better when I do ram a slice of Ice Cream Cake down my pie hole.

In the spirit of trying to be healthy, here is what you will need to make my “How to train a fussy eater to eat salad” salad.

(Serves 2 as a side for a main course.)

  • 2 Slices Smokey Bacon
  • 1 Whole Romaine Lettuce
  • 1 Sweet Bite Pepper (mini pepper)
  • 2 Large Tomatoes or 6-7 Cherry Tomatoes
  • 2-3 Spring Onions
  • 200g Feta Cheese (I use Apetina)
  • Salt & Pepper

For The Dressing

Back To Basics- SaladFirst up – the bacon.

There are tons of ways to cook bacon but I find this way to be no mess, no fuss & almost embarrassingly easy. Naturally, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

1. Line a baking tray with tin foil and lay on the bacon strips.

2. Place the tray onto the middle shelf in a cold oven & turn up the temperature to 200°C/Fan 180°C.

3. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes, (usually until you can just start to smell it) then turn each slice of bacon over and cook for a further 10mins or so until the fat is crispy. Yeah, non of that god awful stringy fat that a lot of people leave on – crispy. And don’t even think about cutting it off either – that’s where all the flavour is! Crispy.

4. Leave the bacon to one side to cool. When you have done, simply throw away the tin foil & put the baking tray back in the cupboard. No pots to wash either! Win.

Top Tip: When I am making a cooked breakfast on a Sunday morning, which almost always involves bacon, I cook a couple of extra slices in the same way as above. Once they are cooled, I chop them up and store in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days and then just toss them straight into this salad. Saves time & effort after a days work when, lets face it, we can’t really be bothered to to anything!

Onto the actual salad.

Back To Basics- SaladSlice the whole romaine lettuce into approx 1cm wide strips, then chop a couple of times in the opposite way to make the strips shorter. Dump it all into a large glass/serving bowl.

Slice the sweet bite pepper into small strips.

De-seed the tomatoes and slice the flesh into 1cm pieces. (If using cherry tomatoes, just quarter them & don’t bother de-seeding.)

Trim & slice the spring onions.

Top Tip: Find that you only use a few spring onions and the rest have gone bad by the time you go to use them? Simply trim and slice the whole bunch, allow to dry in the fridge for 20-30 minutes on a plate, then store in the freezer in an airtight plastic tub or plastic bottle. You can use them straight from the freezer in salads. As they’re cut so small, they defrost almost instantly!

Finally, cut the Feta cheese into cubes.

Place all the ingredients into the bowl with the lettuce & season well with salt & pepper.

Back To Basics- SaladTo make the dressing, simply add all the ingredients into a small glass or mug, mix together and pour over the salad.

Using two spoons, toss everything together in the bowl to distribute the dressing evenly.

Then serve alongside some sort of chicken or fish, or whatever you like really!

Back To Basics- SaladIt’s really not that difficult or expensive to make. And with the added bacon & feta – well, they say a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, this is probably the savoury equivalent!

Back To Basics- SaladIt’s also a great way to clear out your fridge of all those leftover vegetables you don’t have enough of to do anything with.

I Hope you enjoyed this week’s post my lovelies, until next time.

Miss KitchenMason

Greek Chicken Salad

Greek Chicken SaladI figured it’s about time I treated you lovely lot to a healthy recipe for a change. Don’t get me wrong, I love my puddings and devilish treats as much as the next person, but every now and then I do eat healthily I promise!

This recipe comes courtesy of Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals book. I was a little dubious when I first got it but I can honestly say that every recipe I have made from this book so far has not disappointed!

Here is what you will need to make more than enough for 2 people. (Easily doubled.)

Couscous

  • 1/2 Mug (150g) Couscous
  • 1 Pepper (any colour)
  • 1/2 Fresh Red Chilli
  • 2 Spring Onions
  • 1/4 Bunch of Fresh Dill
  • 100g Peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 20g Feta Cheese

Chicken

  • 1 Large Chicken Breast (or 2 x small)
  • 1/2 heaped tsp dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Allspice
  • Zest of 1/2 Lemon
  • Olive Oil

Tzatziki

  • 1/4 Cucumber
  • 125g Fat Free Natural Yoghurt
  • Juice of half a Lemon
  • 1/4 bunch Fresh Mint

Place the couscous in a bowl with a pinch of salt. Add in 1 mug of boiling water then cover with cling film and leave to one side.

CouscousPut a heavy non stick pan over a medium heat. Place the chicken on a big piece of greaseproof paper, add salt & pepper, the oregano, allspice and lemon zest. Massage it all in then fold over the paper. Bash the chicken with a rolling pin until it’s about 1.5cm thick.

ChickenAdd the olive oil into the pan then put in the chicken. Fry until golden and cooked through. (About 8 mins)

Frying the ChickenTo make the Tzatziki, coarsley grate the cucumber. Sprinkle over a generous amount of salt then squeeze out all the excess water. Pop it into a bowl with the yoghurt & lemon juice. Finely chop the mint, add it to the bowl with some pepper and mix well.

TzatzikiRemove the seeds & stalk from both the pepper & the chilli. Trim the ends off the spring onions and put it all in a food processor along with the dill. (Reserving some for decoration.) Blitz until it’s finely chopped.

Blending the VegetablesIf using frozen peas – blanch in boiling water first. Then add them into the veg and mix.

Fluff up the couscous with a fork in a big serving dish then mix in the veg. Slice the chicken and place on top. Drizzle over a little lemon juice, some olive oil and scatter on some fresh dill. Crumble over the feta cheese and serve with the bowl of tzatziki.

Greek Chicken SaladThis one really surprised me! It’s refreshing, light, zingy AND it’s super quick to make – bonus!

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for quick and healthy meals to make. Jamie’s recipes somehow make vegetables taste good! Instead of it feeling like a chore to eat healthily, Jamie makes it really rather enjoyable.

One final note – I would like to wish my lovely Mum a very Happy Mother’s Day today, and all the other wonderful Mum’s out there too! I hope you were all spoilt rotten and had a great day.

Hope you enjoyed this weekends post chaps and chapettes!

Miss KitchenMason

Duck Salad with Potato Crisps

Duck & Potato Crisps SaladFancy a salad but want something warmer in the cold winter months? Try this duck and potato crisps salad! I came across the recipe over at the Pithy & Cleaver blog and just happened to have a couple of duck breasts in the freezer begging to be used up. Here is what you will need to serve two people.

  • 1/2 tsp Chilli Flakes
  • 250ml Warm Water
  • 2 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 2 Duck Breasts (Skin on)
  • 125ml Fresh Orange Juice
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Honey
  • 1 Baking Potato

For the Salad

  • Bag of Mixed Leaf Salad
  • 1/2 Large Tomato
  • Few Slices of Beetroot
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

First, put the chilli flakes into the warm water and stir – leave to one side.

Chilli Flakes in WaterMeanwhile, roughly chop the garlic cloves and put them in a pestle & mortar with the Chinese 5 spice. Bash until a kind of paste is formed then smear this over the duck breasts. Place in a sealable plastic bag.

Ready for the MarinadeNext, pour in the chilli flakes and water mixture. Then measure out the orange juice, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and honey and add it into the bag.

Seal it and give it a good shake to make sure all the flavours are mixed well then leave on the kitchen worktop for an hour or 2 to marinade. Give it a shake half way through too.

Marinading The DuckThinly cut the potato into 2-3mm thick slices and leave to soak in a bowl of cold water whilst the duck is marinading. This will draw out the starch which helps them go crispier than they would do normally.

Soaking the Potato SlicesPreheat your oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C and put an oven proof skillet/frying pan over a low-medium heat on the hob.

Drain the potato slices and pat dry with paper towels.

When the pan is heated, take each duck breast out the bag (let the marinade drip off) and place skin side down in the pan.

Note!

Do NOT add any oil into the pan – the duck will release plenty of  fat as it is.

Fry the duck breasts for about 5 minutes on each side then turn the duck skin side down again. Add the potato slices around the edge then place the pan into the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes.

Ready for the Oven!Take the pan out of the oven and remove the duck breast. Wrap them in tin foil and leave on the side to allow the meat to relax.

Resting DuckTurn the potatoes over and return them to the oven for about 15 minutes to crisp up OR you could just fry them on the hob. Either way would be fine.

Crisping the Potatoes It is worth mentioning at this point that I actually put the duck breasts back into the oven with the potatoes and subsequently overcooked them. The flavour was still great but I can’t deny that I would definitely have preferred them to be pink in the middle. This is why I am telling you lovely lot to do it differently. Do as I say – not as I do! (Or something like that anyway!)

That being said – *confession* this is the first time I have ever cooked duck so I was pretty much destined to get it wrong anyway haha!

Meanwhile… prepare the salad. You can pretty much have whatever you want in this to be honest but here is what I chose.

Roughly chop a bag of mixed leaf salad and place in a large bowl. Dice the tomatoes and beetroot and add to the leaves. Then mix together the olive oil & balsamic vinegar and drizzle over the salad along with some salt & pepper. Mix well and divide between two plates.

Trim the skin/fat off the rested duck breasts and cut into slices. Place the slices on the salads and top with the potato crisps.

And there you have it – A hopefully not overdone duck salad with potato crisps!

Hope you are all ready and raring for Christmas.

Until next week my little elves!

Miss KitchenMason

House Warming Special!

So, I had a family house warming this weekend. I think it went pretty well, out of all the food that I put out (and there was a lot) we were left with 4 BBQ chicken dumsticks & 2 slices of lemon tart. Not bad!

Just in case any of you are planning on hosting anything in need of a buffet, here is a list of everything that I laid out for my guests.

Cheats:

  • Crisps & dips – obviously!
  • Sausage rolls (bought frozen then cooked)
  • Salad items (Prepared by my lovely Mum!)
  • 2 x Quiches & Home made bread rolls (made by my amazing Gran!)

Home Mades:

  • Chicken drumsticks in BBQ marinade
  • Mini muffin pizzas
  • Potato salad
  • Halloumi/bacon rolls
  • French stick platter
  • Malt chocolate cheesecake
  • Lemon tart

Now, no matter what anyone says, you need some cheats. If you tried to do absolutely everything yourself you would dig yourself an early grave! The most important thing is to be able to spend as much time with your guests as possible & be a good host, you can’t do this when you are pulling your hair out in the kitchen!

So I started by marinading the chicken drumsticks the day before the party. I used a bought BBQ spice mix, there is no shame in this! After a few hours in the fridge,  I grilled them in the oven for 20mins each side until the juices ran clear and my kitchen smelt divine. Once they were cooled I simply covered them up, put them in the fridge and crossed it off my “to do” list.

Next came the Malt chocolate cheesecake. I found the recipe on the BBC GoodFood website a while ago and have wanted to try it out for ages! Now was the perfect excuse. First I made the biscuit base as it said in the recipe.

Next I made the fillings… and of course, licked the bowls & spoons after I had layered them on top of the biscuit base! The first layer is a malt drink & milk chocolate flavoured layer & the top layer is white chocolate flavour.

Once I had finished layering this mass of deliciousness I decorated the top with Maltesers & left it in the fridge until it was time for the grand unveiling the next day. And what an unveiling it was. There were several that didn’t believe that I had even made it & a few that kept asking for seconds & thirds! I was rather chuffed to say the least! Definitely one I will be making again.

After I had made the cheesecake for the chocolate lovers I thought i’d be a good host and make a ‘non chocolate’ pud for those strange folks that aren’t too fond of the cocoa bean. I decided on one I have made a couple of times before & has always gone down a treat. Heston Blumenthal’s Lemon Tart. I will put my hands up here and admit that, this time, I didn’t make the pastry as I normally would. I quite like my hair where it is and didn’t want to take on a really silly amount of work. The recipe I would usually use is Rachel Allens shortcrust pastry. I kid you not, it is the easiest thing in the world to make! Simply change a pinch of salt for a pinch of sugar if you are making a sweet pastry. The tart is another thing I made in advance and kept in the fridge until the night of the party.

At this point I realised that my guests may like to eat something other than puddings so cracked on with the nibbles on the morning of the party. First I boiled a 1kg bag of baby potatoes (all chopped to roughly the same size)  for the potato salad to allow them time to cool before adding the dressing. Later in the day I actually ran out of time (shock horror!) as my guests started arriving. So my wonderful other half made the dressing for me. The ingredients he used are as follows:

  • 2 x Cloves garlic , chopped finely
  • 1tsp Mustard (he used Maille Honey Mustard)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 5 tbsp Mayo
  • Splash of olive oil
  • 2 tsp White wine vinegar
  • Dried chives

This potato salad is a firm household favourite and pretty much always gets made when we need to do a buffet of sorts. The next thing I prepared was the Halloumi/bacon rolls from BBC GoodFood. These babies were unexpectedly delicious. They were so simple to make to! All you do is get a 10 pack of bacon rashers ( I used smoked back bacon which worked really well) and a 250g pack of halloumi. Don’t get the low fat crap, if you are going to do something wrong, do it right! Cut each bacon strip in half (to make 20 strips) and cut the halloumi block into 20 pieces. Then sprinkle the bacon with chives & pepper (Do NOT use salt, bacon and halloumi are both naturally very salty.) & roll ’em up!

Pop in the oven at 200°C for about 15 mins or until the bacon starts to go crispy, then wait for the yummy noises from your guests!

After these were done I got to work on the mini muffin pizzas & the french stick platter. The mini muffin pizzas are really easy to make & a mega crowd pleaser! My brother came to the party quite late & only managed to get one, then spent the rest of the night telling me how much he wanted another mini muffin pizza! All you have to do is get some packs of muffins & cut them in half. Spread a teaspoonful of creamed tomatoes or passata on top along with a generous amount of grated mozzarella cheese. Then top with whatever you want. I left some as cheese & tomato, some I topped with ham & the rest I topped with Pork.

Put them in the middle of the oven, at whatever temperature you happen to have your oven at for other party food, until the cheese is golden & bubbling on top. Lip-smackingly-yummy!

The french stick platter is probably the prettiest looking food at the table in my opinion. It’s really easy to make but can be a little fiddly, messy & time consuming. I got the idea from the Philidelphia App but changed it slightly to suit my tastes. I got a large french baguette, cut it in half, length ways, then spread Philidelphia cheese over the top and cut into smaller pieces. I then took single basil leafs and placed them in the corners of each piece, followed alternately by cherry tomatoes & Parma ham.

I then laid them neatly on a circular tray as above and that was that. My buffet was complete. And it went down far better than I could have hoped for! Not a bad first attempt at a house party me thinks.

Let me know what you think. Is there is any way you would adapt the recipes I used? What are your favourite buffet recipes? Have you got any neat time saving tricks or cheats for buffets? Maybe between us all we can compile the best buffet in the world!

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As always, thanks so much for reading. Can’t wait to read your comments.

Miss Kitchen Mason