Baked Arancini & Tomato Sauce | Low Fat Recipes

As part of my 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge (where I’m aiming to cook every recipe from The 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes by Carolyn Humphries) I’m creating my own lower fat versions of my favourite dishes. I’ve used the internet to research calorie content, so please bear in mind it’s not 100% accurate but hopefully a good guide.

So when I said I was making lower fat versions of my favourite recipes, I lied. I’m also making lower fat versions of recipes I’ve never tried in their full-fat glory. This is likely a highly inauthentic recipe, but I’ve never tried a true Silician deep-fried version of arancini. This is, in fact, the only arancini I’ve ever tried. It’s tasty, fulfilling and gives you real satisfaction without leaving you feeling greasy and remorseful.

Be warned: this recipe is a bit of a faff, but it’s mainly because it has numerous stages. It can scale easily and, if the balls were rolled smaller, would make lovely warm buffet nibbles.

Baked Arancini Recipe

Baked Arancini Recipe

Baked Arancini & Tomato Sauce | 500-600 calories per serving | Serves 2 (5 balls each)


Ingredients

For the arancini

  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 75g mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 75g arborio rice
  • 350ml stock
  • 65g grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2 slices bread (white, wholemeal, it’s up to you – recipe is based on worst-case-scenario, scurmmy white bread)

For the sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt & pepper
  • dried mixed herbs
  • 1 can tinned tomatoes

How to make Baked Arancini

  1. Gently fry the onion, mushrooms and garlic over a gentle heat for a few minutes until softened. (I use water to moisten ever so slightly and dry fry)
  2. Add the rice, salt, pepper and herbs.
  3. Pour in the stock and cook over a gentle heat for about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Stir in half the cheddar cheese.
  6. Spread the arancini mixture onto a cling film-lined tray and leave to cool. (I usually go to work at this point…)
  7. Once the arancini mix is chilled and firm, tip into a bowl and stir in the remaining cheddar cheese. The mix should be sticky and fairly easy to handle.
  8. Pre-heat your oven to 210 Celsius.
  9. Whizz the bread in a food processor to make bread crumbs, and turn out onto a plate
  10. Whisk the egg in a separate bowl
  11. Make the mixture into 10 balls – about the size of golf balls.
  12. Roll first in the egg, then roll in the bread crumbs.
  13. Place the balls on a baking tray (lined with baking paper for safety).
  14. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the balls are golden on the outside and hot all the way through.

Meanwhile…

How to make the Tomato Sauce

  1. Tip tinned tomatoes into pan.
  2. Add garlic, salt, pepper, mixed herbs.
  3. Cook over a medium heat for the time it takes to cook the arancini balls – sauce should be thickened, reduced and rich.

Serve the balls warm and delicious on the tomato sauce and serve with a big green salad. Or, make smaller balls for warm buffet nibbles.


The Verdict

Flavour: 4
(1= flavourless, 5= delicious)

Satisfaction: 5 – gives you a feeling of fullness and satiety, without grease or remorse
(1= unsatisfying, 5= satisfying considering low cal!)

Ease of Preparation: 1 – not difficult, but lots of stages to go through
(1= difficult, 5= easy)

Aftermath Factor: 4
(1= tons of washing up, 5= one pot wonder)

Oh yes, it’s a bit fiddly but it’s worth it and I often have the ingredients in the cupboard/fridge. This is a recipe I cook when my not-very-tolerant-of-vegetarian-food husband is away. I use the leftovers to go with plain tomato soup for lunches at work (only a ball or two at a time at lunch). Or, indeed, if I’ve injudiciously tweeted the recipe and everyone wants to sample a leftover ball…

I served this with a really flavourful rocket salad, dressed with balsamic vinegar and a teeny bit of grated Parmesan cheese and a sliced avocado. I feel it makes me happy and full without feeling stuffed, and leaves me with plenty of energy the next morning.

low-fat-baked-arancini-whole

Neato Robotics – Neato XV Signature Pro Review – Vacuum Robot

Vaccuming. My most-hated chore and yet, in my view, the most worthwhile as it makes the house feel the cleanest. We’ve never been able to keep up with it and with two fluffy cats, full-time jobs and more interesting pursuits to occupy our time with, we’ve been considering a robotic vaccum cleaner for a while.

I’d been set on a Roomba, for no particular reason other than it’s the most synonymous with robotic vacuum cleaners. I’d scoped one out at John Lewis and was (finally) prepared to part with a substantial wedge of dosh to get one, but the John Lewis store I visited didn’t have the model I wanted in stock.

A few days later, my husband was talking about the Roomba excursion when a friend told him about the Neato Robotics vacuum they had. It ticked all the boxes and to my mind was a better proposition in terms of price and functionality. After some research, the Neato was clearly the machine for us.

Household

  • 2 humans
  • 2 cats
  • 2 bedroom flat across 3 levels – mostly carpet

Neato model purchased

I should say that I’ve never owned a Roomba, but I’ve gleaned the following pros and cons of a the Neato vs Roomba we were comparing before we bought the Neato.

Neato vs Roomba Vaccuming Robot Comparison

Neato

Neato XV Signature Pro

Roomba

iRobot Roomba 770

Uses laser-guidance to systematically cover all areas of a room Uses random pattern and bumpers to cover all areas of a room
Uses laser-guidance to minimise bumping into furniture (also has a sprung bumper) Uses bumpers to bump into furniture and walls to guide itself
Squared front edge to get into corners for better edge cleaning Completely round
RRP £449.99 RRP £479.99
1 year warranty included 1 year warranty included

It’s worth noting that the Neato claims to be the most powerful robotic vacuum cleaner on the market. While I can’t do a direct comparison, I was astounded by the power of this little machine.

First Impressions

Within 5 minutes of the Neato arriving (when we’d finally pried Giles off the box) it was plugged in and charging. We had to leave the house to stop ourselves playing with it before it was ready. I advise you to do the same as the temptation will be too great.

On our return, the Neato was flashing green and ready to go. We simply pressed the start button twice and off it went. No difficult setting up process, no long manual to read or programming required. Incredible. As it did the first tour of our home we noticed it was:

Quiet - You can still have a normal-volume conversation when the vacuum is working. It’s barely audible when you’re in another room.

Powerful - More powerful than any other vacuum cleaner we’ve owned. As the pro pet model, we’re astounded at how much fluff and dust it picks up. The dirt tray was full after just one room (oh, the shame).

Purposeful - I love the way it works methodically and predictably, using its laser guidance. You can see its progress and know when it’s going to declare the job done and head off back to its charging deck to sleep recharge.

Quick – Probably related to the above, but it takes no longer than 20 minutes to clean an entire room (our living room is quite large and oddly shaped).

The cats were a little unsure and skittish at first, but now they just stay out of its way and sleep as it trundles beneath them while they snooze.

How the Neato works

Neato has a few functions, allowing it to clean on a schedule, or as required.

Clean house - Manually starts the Neato cleaning an area. Takes 2 clicks of a button.

Scheduled cleaning - Neato automatically cleans an area at a pre-selected time. Very easy to set up.

Spot cleaning - Manually starts the Neato cleaning an area a few metres square. Takes 2 clicks of a button.

Whichever mode it’s in, Neato uses lasers to locate itself and ‘decide’ how to clean the area. It rotates, scanning the area and then appears to work methodically in squares. It cleans the outside edge of a square, then cleans everything within that square. It then locates the next area to clean and repeats the process until it has covered the entire area – whatever its shape. When it’s finished, it returns to its charging station (or its starting location if you started it away from its charging station).

It does not have lighthouses like the Roomba, but the Neato comes with a length of magentic strip that will prevent it entering an area. Our flat has a main thoroughfare with the kitchen, bathroom and spare room on one level. We then have the master bedroom and living room on two separate levels. We’ve put magnetic strip across the bedroom and living room thresholds so Neato is scheduled to clean the main area every day (which gets the most travel and muck). We then put the Neato to clean the bedroom and living room as we want it – for example, when we’re preparing dinner (bedroom) or washing up after dinner (living/diving room) as its barely audible from the kitchen.

Neato-proofing the house

I would not trust any robot vacuum without first watching how it handles the obstacles unique to your own home. Here are some of the challenges our Neato faced, and how we’ve Neato-proofed the flat to ensure efficient cleaning and no amber-lit pleas for assistance:

- The Neato does not like the IKEA Poang chair. The Neato can clamber over the base and eventually figures it out, but it really does make a meal of it and it’s painful to watch it rearing up and down over the base. We’re looking in to modifying the chair slightly.

- The Neato got wedged under a blanket box which was exactly the same height as the Neato, where it had just enough room to get underneath it but not enough to manoeuvre once under it. To remedy this, we’ve propped the blanket box up, so it’s taller and no longer a problem. Funnily enough, this box was also from IKEA… (not all our furniture is ;-)

- The Neato got upset when confronted with two long coats hung in the spare room. It managed to sit between them, panicking and looking left and right. Its lasers thought it was trapped. To remedy this, we’ve put all the long coats together (rather than long coat, short coat, jacket, long coat) so it doesn’t attempt to get itself into a tight spot.

- The Neato tried to eat the carpet in one place at a threshold (admittedly it’s an old and frayed carpet). We’ve now properly secured the edge of the carpet and glued the fraying parts. It was, ahem, quite amusing to see the carpet unravelling row by row into the Neato – I managed to intervene before it did much damage to the carpet or itself, but this is why I would recommend watching it during the first run or two. Just in case…

1 Week On

It’s hard not to personify the Neato and ours has been named Romeo, as he’s impossible not to fall in love with as he roams around making our home more pleasant.

It’s amazing to be able to kneel and crawl on the floor without being covered in fur. We can tell it’s already making an enormous amount of difference to the fluff levels in our home. While we’re proud to be crazy cat people, it’s nice to have clothes not entirely smothered in the evidence.

Now, there are a few cons.

  • Obviously, we had to Neato-proof the flat so it doesn’t immediately work perfectly.
  • The dirt tray is a little fiddly to remove, and I always fear I’m going to snap it.
  • The magnetic strips are a bit low-tech and annoying to install, but worth the compromise for the lower cost.
  • We haven’t yet had to replace any filters or brushes, so not sure how easy/difficult they will be to get hold of

So far we adore Romeo, but it remains to be seen how long the relationship is going to last… hopefully a very long time!

Update: still not bored saying it.

Any questions?

Do feel free to leave any questions about the Neato in the comments below, or tweet me @frolickingfood. I’ll do my best to reply!

French Onion Soup: 1000 Calorie Counted Recipe Challenge

This part of my 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge, where I’m aiming to cook every recipe from The 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes by Carolyn Humphries. It’s an amazing book… but there are no pictures!

1000-calorie-french-onion-soup-portion

French Onion Soup| 100 calories per serving | Serves 2


Ingredients

  • 300g onions, thinly sliced*
  • 15g low fat spread
  • 300ml beef stock (made with 1 Oxo cube)
  • 2 very thin slices bread**
  • 15g grated cheese

*I felt this was too much, so would suggest cutting down to 200g
** I cut a circle of bread about 10cm in diameter, and I only had brown, but white would have been more authentic


How to Make French Onion Soup

  1. Melt the low fat spread, then fry the onions VERY gently for about 15 minutes – ideally with a lid on
  2. Uncover the onions, turn up the heat and cook for about 20 minutes
  3. Stir throughout, and cook till the onions are a deep, golden colour
  4. Add the stock
  5. Simmer the soup for about 15 minutes
  6. Season to taste
  7. Cut rounds of bread big enough to fit your soup bowls (ours are little rice bowls)
  8. Toast the bread on one side
  9. Flip the bread, sprinkle the cheese on and then toast the other side
  10. Serve the soup into the bowls, then pop the toasted cheesy bread on top

The Verdict

Flavour: 5
(1= flavourless, 5= delicious)

Satisfaction: 4
(1= unsatisfying, 5= satisfying considering low cal!)

Ease of Preparation: 4
(1= difficult, 5= easy)

Aftermath Factor: 4
(1= tons of washing up, 5= one pot wonder)

Oh yes, I liked this! It was a wonderful starter and felt quite naughty even though the portion size was controlled (we used small rice bowls and teaspoons). I love cheese, so this was a good way to get the flavour without having huge amounts.

I did feel the recipe called for way too many onions and so I’d reduce those next time so the onion to stock ratio was a bit more in favour of stock.

Quick, inexpensive, could probably be knocked together out of the cupboard and tastes very much like a treat. Definitely recommended.

Do you use smaller crockery and cutlery to control portion sizes? Do you think it fools the brain into thinking you’ve eaten more?


This part of my 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge <- click the link if you want to find out what it’s all about and see the recipes I’ve already tried. Please note that I tinker with recipe ingredients and meander from the method – the recipe above will deviate slightly from the original book and the method is just the way I happened to cook it this time!

Salmon in Filo Pastry: 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge

This part of my 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge, where I’m aiming to cook every recipe from The 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes by Carolyn Humphries. It’s an amazing book… but there are no pictures!

1000-calorie-salmon-filo-pastry-whole

Salmon in Filo Pastry | 550 calories per serving | Serves 2


Ingredients*

  • 2 small salmon fillets
  • 2 sheets filo pastry
  • 7.5 g low fat spread
  • 1/2 tsp chopped basil

*this is quite a deviation from the book, but only in removing elements rather than anything else! The recipe called for there to be chopped mushrooms and tomatoes within the pastry parcel, and to be set on seasoned passata. That didn’t really appeal to me – I didn’t want a soggy bottom and I wasn’t feeling very tomato-y! 


How to Make Salmon in Filo Pastry

  1. Remove any skin (or bones!) from your fillets of salmon
  2. Melt the low fat spread
  3. Lay out your filo pastry, paint a little spread onto half of the pastry, then fold it in half
  4. Paint a little more spread onto the pastry, then place the salmon in the centre
  5. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of basil onto each fillet
  6. Fold up the parcel so it’s sealed
  7. Paint on any remaining spread
  8. Bake in an oven at 200 C for 15 minutes, or until golden brown

The Verdict

Flavour: 4
(1= flavourless, 5= delicious)

Satisfaction: 5
(1= unsatisfying, 5= satisfying considering low cal!)

Ease of Preparation: 3
(1= difficult, 5= easy)

Aftermath Factor: 2
(1= tons of washing up, 5= one pot wonder)

As a pastry fiend, this recipe appealed to me and I was not disappointed at all. At the time of writing, filo pastry is on offer in Sainsbury’s at £1 for 6 sheets. I bought two packets, portioned them out to two sheets each and froze them in the hopes that this recipe would be delicious.

I was going to use fresh basil within the parcel, but stuck to the recipe using dried chopped basil and I was very pleased with the result. I served the parcels on pea puree (no added butter, just whizzed up peas!) with asparagus and crushed boiled potatoes with loads of pepper and chives.

I’ll definitely be cooking this again where there’s a need for a bit of a treat, but without all the calories.

1000-calorie-salmon-filo-pastry-portion


This part of my 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge <- click the link if you want to find out what it’s all about and see the recipes I’ve already tried. Please note that I tinker with recipe ingredients and meander from the method – the recipe above will deviate slightly from the original book and the method is just the way I happened to cook it this time!

Indonesian Supper: 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge

This part of my 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge, where I’m aiming to cook every recipe from The 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes by Carolyn Humphries. It’s an amazing book… but there are no pictures!

1000-calorie-indonesian-supper-whole

Indonesian Supper | 450 calories per serving | Serves 2


Ingredients

  • 120g rice
  • 25g low-fat spread
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 100g chicken breast, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 25 g cooked ham, diced
  • 1 egg + 30ml water
  • big handful coriander to serve

How to Make Indonesian Supper

  1. Start by cooking the rice and then setting to one side. (I use 1.5 times water to rice, bring it to the boil, then immediately turn it down to simmer and pop a lid on and cook till the water has all been absorbed.)
  2. Take half the low fat spread and put it in a wok.
  3. Talk the other half of the low fat spread and put it in a small frying pan.
  4. Heat the wok and quickly fry the onion.
  5. Add the chicken breast, curry powder and cinnamon and gently cook till the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Whisk up the egg and water together.
  7. In the other, little frying pan cook cook an omelette from the egg and water mixture.
  8. Tip the omelette onto the side and quickly chop up.
  9. Next, add the rice, peas and ham to the wok.
  10. Cook through till it’s all incorporated and the peas are defrosted.
  11. At the last second, add the chopped up omelette and the coriander.

The Verdict

Flavour: 5
(1= flavourless, 5= delicious)

Satisfaction: 5
(1= unsatisfying, 5= satisfying considering low cal!)

Ease of Preparation: 3
(1= difficult, 5= easy)

Aftermath Factor: 3
(1= tons of washing up, 5= one pot wonder)

Best. Calorie-Counted. Dinner. Yet.

It looked great, tasted amazing, had loads of different flavours and textures. There was also SO MUCH of it!

It was a tiny bit fiddly, and I did wonder whether the cinnamon would work but it totally did. The omelette fell to pieces (I’m hopeless at the best of times, let alone with a pan losing its nonstickiness, not a low of fat and a water egg!) but it made no impact on the flavour.

I will definitely be cooking this again, and I’m sure it’ll be much quicker next time without having to keep referring to the recipe.

I served this with a sliced red pepper and a big handful of bean sprouts that had been cooked in a hot, dry pan with a splash of soy sauce and Shoaxing rice wine (you can use dry sherry as week). It definitely needed this as a side, for some extra sweetness and moisture.

Highly recommended. Cook it, cook it now (and let me know if you do)!

1000-calorie-indonesian-supper-portion


This part of my 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge <- click the link if you want to find out what it’s all about and see the recipes I’ve already tried. Please note that I tinker with recipe ingredients and meander from the method – the recipe above will deviate slightly from the original book and the method is just the way I happened to cook it this time!

Fruit Jelly Pots | Low Fat Recipe

As part of my 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge (where I’m aiming to cook every recipe from The 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes by Carolyn Humphries) I’m creating my own low fat dishes. I’ve used the internet to research calorie content, so please bear in mind it’s not 100% accurate but hopefully a good guide.

This came about to stave off sweet cravings after dinner and is more an idea than a recipe. I found that I wanted something after my main course, and a lot of people had mentioned low calorie jelly. Now, I’m sure low calorie jelly is all very nice, but I need 1) something to aim for to make the jelly exciting 2) to have a measured and pretty portion (not scooping flabby jelly out of a big bowl).

I know the jelly is full of artificial ingredients, but I’m not suggesting you have it all the time. It’s a useful tool to have in your armoury and you can just keep the two things in your kitchen and know you can have a tasty, low-fat pudding at short notice.

low-fat-jellies-tip

Fruit Jelly Pots | <50 calories per serving | Serves 6


Ingredients

  • Frozen fruit of your choice
  • Low calorie instant jelly

Easy to keep in the freezer and store cupboard.

low-fat-jellies-tip-ingredients


How to Make Fruit Jelly Pots

  1. Locate 6 little pots. The little glass Gu ones are ideal.
  2. Spoon one tablespoon of frozen fruit into each pot.
  3. Make up your insta-jelly according to the ingredients.
  4. Pour the jelly over the fruit. I’ve found that 1 pint of insta-jelly poured over a tablespoon of frozen fruit PERFECTLY fills 6 of those glass Gu ramekins that everyone seems to have.
  5. Leave to set in the fridge. As the volume is small and the fruit is frozen, it doesn’t take more than a couple of hours.

low-fat-jellies-tip-prep

 I usually make these up when I get home from work and they’re ready by dinner time. Obviously these last us 3 days, but the ramekins stack in the fridge so there’s no space issue.

These taste great and the first person I served them to asked me if I’d bought them in Waitrose, so there you have it!

Perfect on their own, but you could add a little dollop of yoghurt on the top if you felt the need.

Marinated Lamb Kebabs: 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge

This part of my 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge, where I’m aiming to cook every recipe from The 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes by Carolyn Humphries. It’s an amazing book… but there are no pictures!

1000-calorie-lamb-kebabs-whole

Marinated Lamb Kebabs | 350* calories per serving | Serves 2

*Please note, this is from the 350 calories per portion section, but I used 100g lamb per portion rather than 87g so my version will be a bit more


Ingredients

  • 200g lamb, trimmed of all fat (this took me about 15-20 minutes!)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped herbs (I used oregano and mint)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 red pepper
  • button mushrooms

How to Make Recipe

  1. Trim any fat from the lamb and slice into, sort of, squares. The recipe calls for dicing but I was unsure of cooking times, so diced them and then cut them in half again (as you can see above).
  2. Put the meat in a bowl and add the lemon juice, herbs and salt and pepper.
  3. Leave to marinate for about an hour.
  4. Thread the lamb, peppers and button mushrooms onto skewers.
  5. Grill for about 10 minutes, turning at regular intervals.
  6. Serve with your chosen sides.

The Verdict

Flavour: 4
(1= flavourless, 5= delicious)

Satisfaction: 4
(1= unsatisfying, 5= satisfying considering low cal!)

Ease of Preparation: 2 – the trimming took a long time, and all kebab skewering is fiddly.
(1= difficult, 5= easy)

Aftermath Factor: 3
(1= tons of washing up, 5= one pot wonder)

I sensed that this dinner had the potential to be a bit dry, so to avoid the temptation of fatty sauces I also grilled some cherry tomatoes for the side. I served the dish with a sort-of low fat coleslaw (shredded white cabbage, carrot spring and spring onion with squeezed lemon – it’s so versatile, we had it with the Butterless Butter Chicken Curry yesterday) and wholemeal pitta.

This dinner had a lot of flavour, but I had to resist the urge to brush olive oil on the skewers or have a big dollop of houmous on the side. I bet that would have tasted awesome…

What bad-for-you things do you find hard to resist adding to recipes, or on the side of finished dishes?

1000-calorie-lamb-kebabs-portion


This part of my 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge <- click the link if you want to find out what it’s all about and see the recipes I’ve already tried. Please note that I tinker with recipe ingredients and meander from the method – the recipe above will deviate slightly from the original book and the method is just the way I happened to cook it this time!

No Butter Butter Chicken Curry | Low Fat Recipes

As part of my 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge (where I’m aiming to cook every recipe from The 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes by Carolyn Humphries) I’m creating my own lower fat versions of my favourite dishes. I’ve used the internet to research calorie content, so please bear in mind it’s not 100% accurate but hopefully a good guide.

My favourite curry is butter chicken, a fairly mild, aromatic and creamy curry that packs an insane amount of fat. This is a drastically reduced fat version that I’ve been working on for some time, to try and recreate the flavour without all of the cream and butter. Please note that I love sauce for curry – so this is a very saucy butter chicken!

no-butter-butter-chicken

No Butter Butter Chicken Curry | 350-400 calories per serving | Serves 2


Ingredients

For the marinade

  • 2 chicken breasts, diced (weighing approx 325g in total)
  • 200ml low fat natural yoghurt
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 cm fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

For the sauce

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves, ground
  • 5 cardamom pods (if you don’t like crunching on them, treat them like a surgical device: count them going in, count them as you pick them out)
  • 1 can tinned tomatoes

How to Make No Butter Butter Chicken Curry

  1. Prepare the marinade and marinade the chicken breasts, ideally for at least 30 minutes.
  2. In a pan, add the oil, onion, garlic, salt and spices and cook for 5 minutes or so till the onions for are softened. Add a little dash of water (rather than more oil) if it needs it.
  3. Add the tomatoes and sugar and simmer gently for 10 minutes to reduce down the watery-ness of the tomatoes.
  4. Retrieve the cardamom pods.
  5. This stage is optional – you can blend the sauce at this stage if you want to.
  6. Add the marinated chicken and all the marinade to the sauce.
  7. You could add chick peas, peppers or other veg at this stage if you fancied it.
  8. Cook, covered with a lid, for 20 minutes or so or until the chicken is completely cooked.

Serve with heaps of shredded white cabbage, carrot, spring onion and cucumber dressed with coriander and lemon juice. Serve with either chapatis or rice. Or poppadoms if you’re feeling naughty… yum yum yum (approx 2g fat per poppadom)!


The Verdict

Flavour: 5
(1= flavourless, 5= delicious)

Satisfaction: 5 – give you that lovely, greedy, full-up curry feeling with a lot less guilt!
(1= unsatisfying, 5= satisfying considering low cal!)

Ease of Preparation: 3
(1= difficult, 5= easy)

Aftermath Factor: 4
(1= tons of washing up, 5= one pot wonder)

This is a lot spicier than a standard butter chicken, but I feel it needs it. With the ginger, cloves and cardamom it’s also very aromatic. I really do love this recipe, but it will never had the same greasy-lipped satiety of the full fat version. It does, however, tick all the boxes of having a filling curry but without that horrible over-stuffed feeling.

Splitting is a bit of an unfortunate compromise with this recipe. I don’t believe it does anything bad to you, but it does detract from what would (in full fat butter chicken!) be a glossy, thick appearance. To counteract this, and because it’s DELICIOUS, I throw coriander and sliced red onion on top.

You really need to serve this with a delicious side. I’m one of those people who nabs the bag of salad that comes with curries, so I usually go with shredded white cabbage/iceberg lettuce, carrot, cucumber, spring onion and coriander salad. I sometimes serve it with homemade, low fat chana masala or cauliflower bhaji (no, alas, it’s not deep fried!) for extra veg. 

Bacon and Mushroom Souffle Pie: 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge

This part of my 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge, where I’m aiming to cook every recipe from The 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes by Carolyn Humphries. It’s an amazing book… but there are no pictures!

1000-calorie-bacon-and-mushroom-souffle-pie-whole

Bacon and Mushroom Souffle Pie | 450 calories per serving | Serves 2


Ingredients

The original recipe given in the book is to serve 4, but as a souffle won’t freeze I had to trim it in half (not easy splitting 3 eggs into 2!). It did seem to work though and these are the ingredients I used.

  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, scrubbed (they both fit in my open hand, as an idea of size)
  • 25g low fat spread
  • 4 lean bacon medallions, diced
  • 50g button mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 10g plain flour
  • 75ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 15g mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs, separated – with egg whites whipped to stiff peaks

How to Make Bacon and Mushroom Souffle Pie

  1. Boil the potatoes, whole, until cooked through. Leave to cool and then slice them. Line a medium-sized oven proof dish with the potatoes and set aside (the one I used, pictured, could have done with being a bit bigger!)
  2. Preheat the oven to 190 Celsius.
  3. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.
  4. Melt the low fat spread and gently cook the mushrooms and bacon pieces.
  5. Add the thyme and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add the plain flour and stir through.
  7. Add the milk and mix till it becomes a thick, incorporated sauce.
  8. Quickly beat in the egg yolks and cheese.
  9. Gently fold in the whipped egg whites.
  10. Spoon the souffle mix over the potatoes.
  11. Put the souffle pie into the middle of the preheated oven and cook for around 25 minutes.

The Verdict

Flavour: 5
(1= flavourless, 5= delicious)

Satisfaction: 5 – great comfort food
(1= unsatisfying, 5= satisfying considering low cal!)

Ease of Preparation: 1 – took a long time, very fiddly
(1= difficult, 5= easy)

Aftermath Factor: 1 – bowls, pots, pans, jugs… the list goes on
(1= tons of washing up, 5= one pot wonder)

I’d never cooked a souffle before so was not sure entirely what to expect. As I was weighing out the ingredients for this, it felt meagre and the directions only said to use a “large ovenproof dish”. I kept looking at the ingredients and at the dish I’d selected. I was beginning to relish dread the thought of having to nip to the pub for their Tuesday Pint & Pie.

Unfortunately, it turned out well and had great flavour. The souffle acted a bit like a sauce and the whole dish had a scrummy, comfort-food feeling to it. I’ll definitely be cooking this again – though probably more in the winter months!

The downside is that this one took a lot of weighing and used a lot of bowls, so definitely not one to turn out in a hurry or if you hate lots of washing up.

I hate showing photographs with frozen veg on my blog – it feels like someone seeing your underwear drying on the washing line. It’s a bit embarrassing, you worry it looks bad, but you know everyone has to do it. So if you could overlook that, I’d be very pleased.

I’m also feeling self conscious about my souffle (a sentence I never thought I’d say). Too wobbly? Too brown? What do you think? Any tips?

1000-calorie-bacon-and-mushroom-souffle-pie-portion


This part of my 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge <- click the link if you want to find out what it’s all about and see the recipes I’ve already tried. Please note that I tinker with recipe ingredients and meander from the method – the recipe above will deviate slightly from the original book and the method is just the way I happened to cook it this time!

Spanish Rice: 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge

This part of my 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge, where I’m aiming to cook every recipe from The 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes by Carolyn Humphries. It’s an amazing book… but there are no pictures!

1000-calorie-spanish-rice-whole


Spanish Rice | 450 calories per serving | Serves 4


Ingredients

  • 175g roast chicken, shredded
  • lemon juice
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 225 g rice (I used Basmati)
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • chives to garnish

How to Make Spanish Rice

  1. Shred the roast chicken, squeeze over lemon juice and set to the side.
  2. Spray a little oil into a large frying pan (one that has a lid) and gently cook the green pepper, red pepper and red onion until slightly softened, which should take 5 minutes or so over a gentle heat.
  3. Tip the rice into the pan and stir around for a minute.
  4. Add the vegetable stock and turmeric.
  5. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken, frozen peas, cherry tomatoes and spring onions. Season to taste.
  7. Put the lid back on and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the rice is thoroughly cooked through.
  8. Garnish with chives or other herb of your choice (the book recommends parsely, but I despise it).

The Verdict

Flavour: 2 – could have done with chilli
(1= flavourless, 5= delicious)

Satisfaction: 3 – plenty of it, but needed more flavour
(1= unsatisfying, 5= satisfying considering low cal!)

Ease of Preparation: 5
(1= difficult, 5= easy)

Aftermath Factor: 5
(1= tons of washing up, 5= one pot wonder)

I felt like this recipe was tasty, well-textured and filling. I would definitely cook it again and the principles of a one-pot veggie and rice dish is one I’ll look to adapt in future for quick, flavoursome, healthy meals.

The original recipe only calls for boneless chicken meat – I used leftover garlicky, herby roast chicken and added extra lemon juice to moisten it up. The fact it was previously roasted probably added a few calories, but I feel it also added some crucial flavour and proved to be quite frugal! A bit of chilli or cayenne pepper would have given this dish a kick, which I think it could have done with.

This recipe says that it serves 4, so we only ate half of it and will be freezing the remainder in portions to take with us to work for lunches. Win!

1000-calorie-book-spanish-rice-portion


This part of my 1000 Calorie Counted Recipes Challenge <- click the link if you want to find out what it’s all about and see the recipes I’ve already tried. Please note that I tinker with recipe ingredients and meander from the method – the recipe above will deviate slightly from the original book and the method is just the way I happened to cook it this time!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.