Return of the Mac and Cheese.

mac-and-cheese

Nothing is more satisfying than Mac and Cheese, well hold on tight, because if you add broccoli and bacon then you have a dream come true. This loving dish can be on the table in 15 minutes flat, and really 15 minutes, not Jamie Oliver 15 minute meals, that really take 45 minutes. I did use cauliflower, for a take on cauliflower cheese, but it looked too beige, even my 4 year old asked “why is it all the same colour’. So a bit of broccoli and bacon spruces it up.

I’ve gone on a bit about cheese sauce on this blog, which I didn’t realise until now. So I’ll be lazy, due to being in a Mac and Cheese coma,  and just post the link for the cheese sauce from a previous recipe. The secret ingredient is again, nutmeg.

Also if you fancy another take on Cauliflower cheese, then you can visit the archives for this delicious and equally as satisfying recipe. It’s made with coconut milk , if you’re looking for a healthier option.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Floret of broccoli, cut up very small

100g macaroni pasta

Cheese Sauce:

1.2 litres (2 pints) whole fat milk

50g (2oz) butter

50g  (20z) plain flour

250g (8oz) mature cheddar cheese, grated

Salt and pepper

Teaspoon of nutmeg

Method:

Put the cut up broccoli and pasta in a pan together and boil for 7-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan, follow the link for the cheese sauce directions, and add nutmeg instead of paprika at the end.

Stir it all together, then in the frying pan you used for the cheese sauce, cut up 3 thick strips of smoked bacon and fry until crispy. I use scissors to do this.

Add the bacon sprinkled on top to the dishes of mac and cheese.

 

Peanut Butter, Noodle, Soulful Soup

This little bowl of comfort will make all the wrongs in the world right. Its super healthy and cleansing, as its packed with vegetables, and the dollop of peanut butter makes it creamy and soothing. I am currently sneezing and coughing whilst writing this. And I love to make this when I’m feeling run down, ill or in need of some warmth and self love. It’s satisfyingly filling, and I think that’s because there is so much goodness in one bowl. I’m currently up to my eye balls in antibiotics and ibuprofen so I’m not sure any of this makes sense, it does to me in my ill world.

This is so easy as well, as after you’ve prepared the veg, then you basically chuck it all in the pan. If your a ninja veg cutter, you can have this on the table in 15 minutes.

Try with some shavings of cheese or some salmon flakes.

Also just to note I had a  courgette already in the fridge, as due to a wet winter and snow in unexpected places in Europe, there is a shortage of courgettes, I went to buy one and it was £2.30. So they are worth their weight in gold at the moment. So maybe use a spiralized parsnip instead. Or if you don’t care, then sprinkle some gold on at the end. Live a little!

Serves: 3

Ingredients:

Handful of kale ripped up

1 large carrot spiralized

1 courgette spiralized

1 red onion, chopped finely

Tablespoon of peanut butter

Dried wholemeal noodles, enough for 1 person

Chicken stock  (or vegetable stock if you’re veggie) in 750ml of boiling water

Thumb size piece of ginger, finely chopped up

Method:

Prepare all the vegetables, as stated above, shove in a pan and heat gently, and stir continuously for 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and dollop of peanut butter, then stir throughout until the peanut butter is evenly distributed.

Warm until its starting to boil, about another 5 minutes, add a shake of pepper, then serve immediately.

Hygge Gratin, with Bacon and Mushroom

Comfort ‘hygge’ food, to me, includes, cheese and bacon. Therefore, I’ve come up with this little winter warmer. That you can serve as a side, perhaps with the ‘hygge’ salmon salad, or on it’s own is also amazing. This is a bit naughty and probably doesn’t fit with everyone’s January diet plans, but I thought I’d indulge a bit before I check into a chocolate rehab centre, I’m hoping these exist. Plus, my last blog was a salad, so I feel the balance is right, which is what ‘hygge’ is all about.

The only downside to this dish is that you have to use 3 pans. I bet the Danes would just chill out under candle light smugly waiting for each part to cook, but I haven’t got my personality around to being this ‘hygge’ yet. As I get hangry, which is angry when hungry.

Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a side.

Ingredients:

2 baking potatoes, slices into 1cm slices, leave the skin on

10 chestnut mushrooms, cut into thin sllices

3 pieces of good quality bacon, chopped into small pieces with a pair of scissors

Cheese Sauce

1.2 litres (2 pints) whole fat milk

50g (2oz) butter

50g  (20z) plain flour

250g (8oz) mature cheddar cheese, grated

Salt and pepper

Teaspoon of Paprika

Method:

Put the sliced potato into a pan of boiling water, add a pinch of salt, set your timer for 10 minutes.

In a frying pan, fry the chopped up bacon and mushrooms, add a shake of oregano. No oil is needed, as there will be oils from the bacon. Fry until the bacon is cooked.

Meanwhile, start the cheese sauce, the instructions in detail are in my Cheesy, Pleasy Lasagne recipe. Add the paprika before you add the cheese.

This should all take 10 minutes.

Then, carefully construct the gratin. Layer potatoes, then a third of the sauce, then the bacon and mushroom mixture. Do this so it has 3 layers, and then finish with a layer of potatoes and a grating of cheese.

Put this under the grill for 10 minutes, or until the cheese has gone golden and the potatoes on top a bit crispy.

This is on the table in 20 minutes, which probably isn’t very ‘hygge’ but it’s still impressive, no?

Hygge, Warm, Wonderful Salad 

This is a cosy, hearty, wholesome, hygge salad. It has the warmth of the roasted sweet potato and salmon. Then, the crunch and freshness of the lemon and pomegranate. Plus its pretty healthy, whilst being satisfying and warm. This is exactly what we need this time of year, as my post Christmas belly is 33% cheese, 33% chocolate  and 33% Baileys.

I have this with one of the nutmeg cheese curls. You might as well pop some candles on, sit on a sheep skin rug, make a fire and a grow a beard, as this is definately ‘hygge’.

The salmon pieces and the sweet potato pieces are the same size, so that it looks nice, the sweet potato and salmon cook roughly the same time and so you can shovel it into your gob easily.

Ingredients:

Per person.

Drizzle of rape seed oil

Sprig of rosemary, cut up finely

Salt and pepper

1 piece of salmon, cut into cubes

1/2 sweet potato, cut into cubes

Handful of spinach or rocket

1/2 celery stick, cut up into chunky pieces

1/2 pomegranate

Method:

Preheat the oven to 220 deg C.

Drizzle the bottom of an oven proof dish, with just enough oil to cover the bottom, then add the rosemary and salt and pepper. Put this in the oven for 10 minutes.

Whilst, you are waiting for the oil to heat up cut the sweet potato and salmon into cubes, roughly the same size. Then cut the celery, and bash out the pomegranate.

After ten minutes, take the pan of oil out of the oven. Place the cubes of salmon in the middle and skin side down in the oil, so that the skin goes crispy and makes a sizzling noise. The around the outside place the sweet potato, coat the sweet potato in the oil.

Cook for 30 minutes and add to the rest of the ingredients. Then add a squeeze of lemon.

 

Nutmeg, Nordic Cheese Curls 

The epitome of ‘hygge’ seems to be a bread of some sort. Especially  with a cinammon or nutmeg vibe to it. Therefore, these little darlings are so simple and tasty, and they keep for up to 3 days.

Try these with some tomato soup, you can’t get much wintery and ‘hygge’ than that.

Makes: 6

Ingredients:

For the pastry (or you can use ready made pastry)

200g self raising flour

50g butter

100ml whole milk

Filling:

2 teaspoons of nutmeg

50g cheddar cheese, grated

Sprinkle of sesame seeds

Method:

Preheat the oven 200 deg C.

In a bowl add the flour, butter and nutmeg and mix well with your fingers. Breaking up and mixing it all together. Then add the milk bit by bit until it is a doughy texture.

If it’s too dry, add milk, and if it’s too wet add so more flour.

Kneed the pastry for a few seconds and then try and get it into a rectangular shape. The role out to 0.5cm thickness.

Add the grated cheese to the middle, and then roll the longest side so that it’s like a large sausage.

Then cut into half, and then each half makes 3 rolls.

Push down the edges so that they seal well, and put the swirl side facing up.

Then sprinkle some sesame seeds on each one. Place in the top of the oven for 25 minutes until they are all gooey and brown.

 

A Hygge Cwtch, Hug Life

The Danish word ‘hygge’ is the Welsh equivalent of a cwtch, if a cwtch could be explained as a lifestyle. Think comfort, cosiness, candle light, warmth and love. It sounds amazing, especially with Christmas ending and spending too much, drinking too much, eating too much and Brexit. A sense of calm and warmth that ‘hygge’ or fluffy slippers brings, is a much needed addition to our lives. The Danes are so right, as they normally are, about this ‘hygge’ notion. It’s about being calm, present and connected with others, a sense of family and camaraderie, without the use of your phone.

There is a big focus on nature, and the massive benefits of being outdoors for your mental health and wellbeing. It’s also about bringing nature inside, a borderless unity between the outside and inside. Which is where the inspiration for my  kitchen ‘hygge’ wall of plants came from.

The Danes don’t hide inside sulking about winter like us Brits do, they embrace and celebrate the coldness and the wonder of winter.  It’s about loving everything that winter brings and not just waiting for summer. If we didn’t have the cold months we wouldn’t have Christmas, bonfire night, halloween and new years. Not to mention, crisp winter days, snow, tomato soup, knitwear and slippers. So, get out there in some unfashionable snow boots and a waterproof onsie and explore some woods.

In brief, throw some aloe vera on your window ledge, get enough candles for a seance, get fluffy and furry things, but mostly throws, cushions slippers etc, go out for winter walks and get off your phone.  Plus cook all of these recipes and you will be ‘hygging’ the shit out of life.

A lovely Hygge place in Cardiff, where you can get all cosy and eat amazing stuff is Brod, which you can reread my blog post on.

Coco Nuts for this Curry 

I love this curry, and tend to add veg willy nilly, depending on what’s in the fridge. So feel free to add carrots, green beans, broccoli, baby sweetcorn, sweet potatoe, and what ever you have, that’s the beauty of a good curry recipe. The spices amount sound over the top, but once you have all of these spices they do go in lots of other curries.

This is good for a group of people, or as a family favourite, as it is so tasty and easy to whip up, it can be on the table in 30 minutes. In my house, we love this as a Friday night feast, with some halloumi, or chicken thighs. It freezes well, so keep any left overs, and its a fact, that curry is always better a few days later. You can make it a bit fancy by adding toasted pine nuts on top to serve. Or for extra goodness add a couple of handfuls of spinach 5 minutes before serving. Veggies and carnivores love this.

If you’re making it for your kids, then just leave out the chilli. Mine yum this up, as it’s lovely and creamy. Even one of my children, who is the fussiest eater known to man, will have the sauce, on some rice. Which trust me, means its a winner.

Serves: 4
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Ingredients:
Dollop of coconut oil, or any oil really
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
Thumb size piece of ginger, chopped finely
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Half teaspoon ground cumin
Half teaspoon ground turmeric
Half teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 chillis, chopped finely
Dollop of tomato puree
Can of coconut milk
200g green lentils (if using fresh cook first, I’m lazy and use a tin of ready cooked)
250g button mushrooms
Cauliflower, half of a small one
Pine nuts, cashews, pistachios, if you want to be fancy pants.
Method:
Heat a little of the coconut oil in a pan and brown the mushrooms. Set them aside to add later.
Then add the rest of the oil, onions, ginger, garlic and all the spices and seasoning. Coat the onions in all the scrumptiousness, this bit smells so good. Stir occasionally on a medium heat for 5 minutes until the onion starts to soften.
Add the coconut milk, lentils and cauliflower, cook on a low heat for 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms.
Cook for a further 15 minutes, have it simmering on a low heat as you don’t want to over boil the coconut milk.
Toast some pine nuts (or nuts of your choice) 5 minutes before the end, and/or add spinach if your heart desires.