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Black Bean Wraps – An Easy Tex-Mex Treat...

Every so often I get a craving for a Tex-Mex style wrap. Anything with beans, cheese and sour cream is an immediate hit with me. This is a very quick and easy meal to make and it tastes fantastic! It is also quite healthy – o.k. adding copious amounts of cheese and sour cream may not be too healthy but the beans, tomatoes and fresh veggies balance everything out (well that’s what I’m telling myself anyway). The spices, lime juice and fresh coriander really bring this dish together and give it that amazing Tex-Mex flavour.

Luna Raye’s Black Bean Wraps (this will make approx 5 wraps)

Ingredients

Black Bean Filling

• 2 Tbsp olive oil

• 1 red onion finely chopped

• 1tsp dark brown sugar

• 1 short green chilli chopped (add the seeds as well for extra heat)

• 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped

• ½ tsp cayenne pepper

• ½ tsp cumin

• ½ tsp paprika

• 1 tin of black beans (I love using Biona organic black beans)

• ¼ tin of chopped tinned tomatoes (the rest safely stored for another recipe)

• ½ cup of sweet corn

• 1 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

• Squeeze of fresh lime juice (just before dishing up)

Wrap Extras

• 1 medium avocado (Peeling and chopping them can get messy so I halve them and just use a spoon to scoop out what I want for each wrap)

• 1 Romano pepper sliced finely

• 1 cup grated mature cheddar cheese

• 150g sour cream

• Handful of fresh coriander (cilantro) chopped

• Handful of cherry tomatoes quartered

• 4 wraps (I love Mission Deli multigrain wraps)

• Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

• Put oven on a low temperature (this is so you can gently warm the wraps)

• Prepare the ‘wrap assembly’ ingredients. Grate, slice and chop so everything is ready to go

• Heat oil in a frying pan and add the chopped onions and brown sugar

• Once onions have softened add the chilli, garlic and ¼ tin of chopped tomatoes.

• Give everything a good stir

• Rinse the black beans and add to the pan along with the cayenne pepper, paprika and cumin

• Cook mixture on medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring regularly. The mixture will start to get nice and mushy

• Add the sweet corn and chopped coriander and mix well

• Add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and turn off the heat

• Place the number of wraps you plan to use right away in the oven so they can gently warm. This takes approx 1-2 minutes(if they are in the oven for too long they will go hard and crunchy. They will still be delicious but not so good for wrapping!)

• Once warmed remove wraps and begin assembling your wrap

• I tend to put some cheese on first and then 3-4 Tbsp of the bean mixture followed by some peppers, tomatoes, a spoonful of avocado and the fresh coriander

• It is then topped off with a big spoonful of lovely sour cream and some salt and pepper

• Wrap it all up and enjoy!

We had mixture for 2 wraps each that night plus there was enough left over so my husband was able to have a wrap for lunch the next day. I didn’t heat that wrap and didn’t add any sour cream but added everything else. He told me that it tasted even better then the night before and when he opened his lunch everyone commented on how wonderful it smelled.

A successful dinner and lunch – what more could you ask for?

Black Bean Filling

Wrap Extras

Black Bean Wrap A Tex-Mex Treat

Fried Halloumi Cheese in Pita with Hummus, Salad a...

Up until a few short years ago I had never even heard of halloumi cheese. For those that know me this may seem strange as I absolutely LOVE cheese. Stilton, Brie, Shropshire Blue, Cornish Yarg, Caerphilly, Roquefort, Mozzarella, Caboc, Gruyere, Double Gloucester, Coeur de Chevre – the list goes on and on and on.

So how I had missed out on halloumi cheese for so long I will never know. Fortunately a good friend invited me over for lunch and she served a mixed leaf and cherry tomato salad with pieces of grilled halloumi on top. It was delicious and I quickly came to the realization that I had been missing out on something quite wonderful!

Halloumi is a semi soft cheese made with a mixture of sheep and goats milk. There are some manufacturers who are bringing cows milk into the process as it is cheaper to produce and it creates a milder flavour. This is not true halloumi however and many argue that you can really only get authentic halloumi in Cyprus. As of the 1990’s the USA has registered halloumi as a protected Cypriot product but it still has not achieved this status within the EU. The question of whether cow’s milk should be allowed in the process is at the heart of this debate.

While it is traditionally associated with Cypriot cuisine it’s also very popular in Greece as well as the Middle East. Halloumi has a strong salty flavour and a firm texture. It comes packaged in brine with mint which acts as an anti-bacterial ingredient – giving it a long shelf life. Although it can be eaten ‘raw’ (directly out of the packet) it is much tastier when grilled or fried.

If you have never tried halloumi cheese then I highly recommend putting it on your list of ingredients to try!

Luna Raye’s Fried Halloumi in Pita with Hummus, Salad and Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients

• 250 g of Halloumi cheese sliced

• Handful of fresh salad leaves

• Handful of cherry tomatoes quartered

• 1-2 Tablespoons of fresh mint leaves chopped (optional but really tasty)

• 2-3 Tbsp of flour seasoned with freshly ground black pepper

• 1-2 Tbsp olive oil

• 2-3 Tbsp of hummus

• Pita Bread (this recipe can make 4 sandwiches easily)

Directions

• Heat oil in a frying pan

• Coat the halloumi slices in the flour and place them in the heated oil

• Let the slices cook on one side for approx 2-3 minutes. Don’t have the heat too high

• When the slices are a golden brown colour on one side flip them over

• Toast pita breads (I like to allow mine to cool a little before cutting them open because they get HOT! If I had a penny for every time I was burned by hot pita bread I would be very rich indeed!)

• When halloumi is golden on both sides remove from pan and allow excess oil to drain off by placing on paper towel

• When pita is safe to cut into – go for it! Spread hummus on the inside and place a few leaves and tomatoes at the bottom.

• Add 2-3 slices of the halloumi and top up with a bit more hummus, salad and tomatoes

Enjoy!

Warning these sandwiches are highly addictive.

Halloumi cheese coated in seasoned flour and fried

Halloumi in pita with hummus, salad and cherry tomatoes

Brigid, Creativity and Almond Crescent Cookies...

Feast of Brigid Imbolc Offering

Feast of Brigid Imbolc Offering

One of the most wonderful things about children is their pure creative spirit. They draw, sing, write, dance, play make believe and create just for the sheer pleasure of it. Watching them in action you can see just how immersed they become in whatever they are doing. They don’t concern themselves with what other people think. They don’t worry about whether what they are doing will eventually reap financial rewards. They don’t have doubts around what they create – they proudly give their pictures to their parents to stick on the fridge or they show off their latest dance routines for their grandparents. For them it is all about having fun and getting lost in that magical moment of creativity.

I long for those moments in my adult life. Now I am too self conscious to dance in public. There is no amount of money that would get to me to sing out loud for anyone. My husband (an art teacher) recently signed me up to a local college life drawing class. Already I am worrying about other people seeing – and judging – my work. Today I have decided to banish these negative thoughts from my mind and to be more supportive of myself. I realized it’s time to nurture my creative spirit and have some fun!

Today is Imbolc the feast day of Brigid, the Goddess of Art and Healing. She has a particularly strong connection to writers, poets, storytellers and metal workers (smithcraft) as well to those who practice the healing arts. Although today is Her feast day she is watching over us all the time. If ever we need clarity, support or inspiration all we need to do is ask for Her guidance. Lighting candles or using specially blended Aromatherapy oils while sitting in quiet reflection can help connect us with Her powerful energy.

There are other ways to connect with Brigid and celebrate Her presence in our lives. Don’t wait for Imbolc to come around again – start today and remind yourself how wonderful it is to lose yourself in the magic of creativity!

• Write! Write! Write! Poems, short stories, songs or letters to friends and family. Just put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) the main thing is getting your words onto paper.

• Consider crafts. Have you ever thought about taking up knitting, scrapbooking, decoupage or crochet? There are so many different types of crafts out there to explore and have fun with.

• Listen to some of your favourite music (you may even be tempted to kick up your heels and have a dance around the house)

• Sing. Sing a song. Sing it loud. You get the picture! You don’t have to do this in front of an audience. Just do it for yourself and to express yourself through your own voice.

• Find inspiration in nature. Get outside for a walk. Breathe in the fresh air, listen to the birdsong and let your mind drift.

• Draw. Doodle. Colour in. Have some fun with pretty coloured pencils, pens or paints. When you’re done – stick it on the fridge!

• Get in your kitchen and bake!

The kitchen was my first port of call this morning. I found this recipe for Almond Crescent Cookies which I was eager to try. I set up a little altar by the hearth and left some of the cookies and a small glass of Cointreau out as a thank you to Brigid (and my ever so helpful house fairy). I sat for a few minutes and thought carefully about everything I want to achieve in the upcoming months as well as those things I need to let go of. Now I am going out for a walk. I feel the need to listen to birdsong and walk off the 4 cookies I just ate. They really are tasty!

I wish each and every one of you a happy and magical Imbolc.

Here is the recipe courtesy of Squidoo.com

Almond Crescent Cookies for Imbolc

Ingredients:

• 1 cup finely chopped almonds (or other nuts) (I used ½ cup almonds and ½ cup walnuts)

• 2 sticks (1 cup) softened unsalted butter

• 3/4 cup powdered sugar plus extra for coating

• 2 teaspoons vanilla (I used 1tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp almond extract)

• 2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).

• Lightly grease two cookie sheets.

• In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until well blended. Add in the 3/4-cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add vanilla and almonds and stir until blended. Add the 2 cups flour gradually while stirring. At this point, you will have to knead it until well blended with your hands.

• Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to make the dough easier to handle.

• Shape the dough into crescent shapes (see picture) using 1 tablespoon at a time. To make it easier, roll into a string shape first and then shape into a crescent. Place onto cookie sheets and bake for 12-16 minutes until the edges are slightly browned.

• Remove from oven and let cookies stand for a couple minutes until firm enough to remove from the sheet. Remove from the cookie sheet and place onto a rack. Let them cool for 10 minutes. Sift the extra powdered sugar over the cookies for the topping and let cool completely.

• If you want to skip the crescent shaping process, just roll them into tablespoon-sized balls and bake the same as above. When the balls have cooled for 10 minutes, roll them in powdered sugar to coat evenly and let cool. You can also skip the nuts in case of possible allergy. They will simply taste like delicious shortbread.

Enjoy!

Almond Crescent Cookies for Imbolc

Almond Crescent Cookies for Imbolc

Blueberry Pancakes and Country Walks...

Shorne Woods Country Park

Shorne Woods Country Park

This weekend the sun finally came out providing the perfect opportunity for a country walk. My husband and I decided to go to one of our favourite places – Shorne Woods Country Park. It’s a beautiful place for a walk and has a good mixture of trails from gentle and easy going to slightly more rigorous ones including the infamous Cardiac Hill. It really was a joy to be outside in the fresh air listening to the bird song and watching dogs happily retrieving sticks for their owners.

After a lengthy hike our appetites were in full swing. What better way to ‘celebrate’ our walk then by going home and having freshly made blueberry pancakes with a generous helping of Canadian Maple Syrup. A pot of freshly brewed Kicking Horse Coffee on the side made this a real North American treat.

Here is the Blueberry Pancake recipe I used courtesy of the BBC GoodFood website.

American Blueberry Pancakes

Ingredients

• 200g self-raising flour

• 1 tsp baking powder

• 1 egg

• 300ml milk

• knob butter
• 150g pack blueberries

• sunflower oil or a little butter for cooking

• golden or maple syrup

Method

1. Mix together the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Beat the egg with the milk, make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and whisk in the milk to make a thick smooth batter. Beat in the melted butter, and gently stir in half the blueberries.

2. Heat a teaspoon of oil or small knob of butter in a large non-stick frying pan. Drop a large tablespoonful of the batter per pancake into the pan to make pancakes about 7.5cm across. Make three or four pancakes at a time. Cook for about 3 minutes over a medium heat until small bubbles appear on the surface of each pancake, then turn and cook another 2-3 minutes until golden. Cover with kitchen paper to keep warm while you use up the rest of the batter. Serve with golden syrup and the rest of the blueberries.

Enjoy!

Shorne Woods

Shorne Woods

Canadian Maple Syrup

Canadian Maple Syrup

Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry Pancakes

Scrumptious Bread and Butter Pudding with Homemade...

This weekend I decided to try my hand at making a classic English dessert. Bread and butter pudding is a great (and tasty) way of using up stale leftover bread. Usually it is associated with school dinners but the history of this dessert can be traced back to the 18th century. I decided to use Delia Smith’s recipe for Rich Bread and Butter Pudding but I made a few adjustments.

This is an easy and fun recipe to play around with. Different types of bread can be used such as a sesame seed loaf (which I used) or regular sliced white or wholemeal sandwich bread. Using something like a chocolate or almond brioche would make this dish extra special. Dried fruits, different spices as well as jams and marmalade can also be used to add extra flavour and textures to the dish. I decided to add a half cup of raisins that had been soaked in Cointreau for about 24 hours which gave the pudding a nice boozy hit.

It could have been the few boozy raisins I sampled or the glass of Cointreau I had on the side but I threw caution to the wind and decided to make my own custard to go with the pudding. I found a great recipe by Merrilees Parker which looked perfect for a custard making novice like myself.

While the bread and butter pudding came out beautifully, my first attempt at custard was not a success. I made the mistake of allowing the milk to get too hot. Even though I added it very slowly to the egg mixture it was so hot it actually cooked the eggs, resulting in a scrambled unappetizing mess.

So I started again (luckily it’s a very quick recipe) and managed to get it right. It was a lovely accompaniment to the bread and butter pudding but to be fair I may add a touch more vanilla essence next time and allow it to thicken just a wee bit more. I was probably being over cautious as the thought of a third attempt was not appealing.

If custard isn’t your thing then you can always pour double cream over the top or serve the pudding with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. Bread and butter pudding is quite moist inside so you can actually eat it without any ‘extras’ on top – it just depends on how decadent you’re feeling!

So have a go at this easy recipe. It’s the perfect dessert for a lazy weekend!

Rich Bread and Butter Pudding courtesy of Delia Smith

Ingredients

• 8 slices bread (from a small loaf) – (I used a sesame seed loaf)

• Approximately 2oz (50g) butter

• ½ oz (10g) candied lemon or orange peel, finely chopped – (I didn’t have this so I added zest of one medium sized orange and extra lemon zest. See grated zest of ½ lemon below)

• 2 oz (50g) currants (I used ½ cup of raisins soaked in generous amount of Cointreau)

• 10fl oz (275ml) milk – (I used full fat milk)

• 2 ½ fl oz (60ml) double cream

• 2 oz (50g) caster sugar

• Grated zest of ½ small lemon

• 3 eggs

• Freshly grated nutmeg

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C)

Method / Directions

1. Butter the bread and cut each slice of buttered bread in half – leaving the crusts on. – (I buttered BOTH sides of the bread as well as buttering the oven dish)

2. Now arrange one layer of buttered bread over the base of the baking dish, sprinkle the candied peel and half the currants over, then cover with another layer of the bread slices and the remainder of the currants. – (I just added my Cointreau soaked raisins at this stage)

3. Next, in a glass measuring jug, measure out the milk and add the double cream.

4. Stir in the caster sugar and lemon zest, then whisk the eggs, first on their own in a small basin and then into the milk mixture. – (I added the lemon and orange zest)

5. Pour the whole lot over the bread, sprinkle over some freshly grated nutmeg, and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

6. Serve warm.

Homemade Custard Recipe courtesy of Merrilees Parker and BBC Food

Ingredients

• 290ml/10fl oz milk – (once again I used full fat)

• 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways or tsp good quality vanilla essence

• 2 egg, yolks only

• 1 tbsp caster sugar

Preparation method

1. Heat the milk with the vanilla pod and allow it to just come to the boil. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar.

2. Pour the hot milk over the egg yolks whisking vigorously. When completely mixed in, return to the pan.

3. Stir over a low heat until the mixture thickens sufficiently to coat the back of a spoon. This will take 5-6 minutes.

4. Drain into a bowl, remove vanilla pod (or add essence if using).

Enjoy!!!

Bread and Butter Pudding

Sweet, Moist and Scrumptious Bread and Butter Pudding

Bread and Butter Pudding with Homemade Custard

Sausage Hotpot With Sweet Potato Mash...

 

Sausage Hot Pot

It has been cold, dark and drizzly here in the UK (no surprises there really!). This type of weather always makes me crave good old fashioned comfort food. Mashed potatoes had been on my mind for sometime and there was a pack of sausages in the fridge. Bangers and Mash – classic comfort food! Somehow though, it just didn’t seem right. I was in the mood for something a little bit different.

Not being sure what to make I decided to visit one of my favourite recipe websites. The BBC GoodFood website is full of great recipes and ideas. It never fails to inspire my cooking and give me direction in the kitchen.

Their recipe for Frying-Pan Sausage Hot Pot is on my favourites list. It really is an easy recipe to make and it tastes delicious. I decided to use this recipe as a base for my own sausage hotpot which would help use up some of the vegetables beginning to languish in my fridge. It also gave me an excuse to make sweet potato mash which is always a treat.

This is a great recipe to play around with so get in the kitchen and have some fun!

Luna Raye’s Sausage Hotpot with Sweet Potato Mash

Ingredients

• Drizzle of Olive Oil

• Drizzle of maple syrup OR a teaspoon of soft brown sugar to help caramelize the onions

• 2 small red onions thinly sliced

• 6 plump good-quality sausages (I used English pork and caramelized onion sausages) You can keep the sausages whole but I prefer to cut them into thirds.

• 1/3 of a glass of good red wine

• 175ml vegetable stock (My favourite is Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon Powder)

• 4-6 broccoli spears chopped into halves

• 1 large carrot chopped

• 1 can of cannellini beans

 

For the sweet potato mash

(I like to use a mixture of sweet potatoes and white potatoes for this mash – I find it has a nicer texture)

• 4 small russet potatoes

• 3 large sweet potatoes

• 2 cloves of garlic minced

• Knob of butter (approx ½ Tablespoon)

• Freshly chopped parsley (about 4 Tablespoons)

• Season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

 

Directions

1. Heat the olive oil in the pan and add the sliced red onions. Add a pinch of salt and either a drizzle of maple syrup OR a teaspoon of soft brown sugar

2. Cook over a medium heat until the onions are nice and soft. Once soft remove them from the pan and set aside

3. Get your sweet potatoes and russet potatoes on the boil so they will be ready when the hotpot is under the grill

4. Place the pan back on the heat and start cooking the sausages. It’s up to you if you want to keep them whole or cut them into pieces. Just make sure they are thoroughly cooked. Usually 8 – 10 minutes is enough

5. Prepare your grill and turn it to medium / high

6. Add the following to the pan with the cooked sausages:

• red wine

• vegetable stock

• caramelized red onions

• chopped carrot

• broccoli

• drained and rinsed cannellini beans

7. Gently stir and allow the mixture to bubble away for about 5 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken

8. Remove from the hob and place under the grill

9. Check to make sure your potatoes are done. Drain and place back to the pot with a knob of butter and the minced garlic

10. Mash until smooth. Add salt, lots of freshly ground black pepper and the freshly chopped parsley. Stir everything in well to make sure the mash is seasoned throughout

11. Remove the frying pan from under the grill. The carrots and broccoli should be softened and not overdone

12. Spoon the sweet potato mash onto plates and serve up the bubbling hotpot!

Enjoy!

Salmon Fillet Wraps with Horseradish Cream and Sal...

Salmon Wrap with Horseradish Cream

While talking to my mum over the holidays she happened to mention the lunch she made for New Years Day. The very mention of salmon wraps with horseradish cream got my mouth watering and my tummy rumbling. They sounded so good that I was determined to give them a try and today was the day! So here I am sitting at my desk with a very happy and full belly!

I don’t know the precise recipe she used but this is my version of the dish. I used a recipe by Mary Cadogan as a base for the horseradish cream. In a previous post I actually made her original recipe for smoked salmon with prawns, horseradish cream & lime vinaigrette which was sensational!

So if you want an elegant tasty lunch give these wraps a go!

Luna Raye’s Salmon Fillet Wraps with Horseradish Cream and Salad

(This recipe will serve 2-3 allowing approximately 2 wraps per person.)

Ingredients

3 Scottish salmon fillets

¼ Spanish onion roughly chopped

1 cup vegetable stock (I love to use Marigold Swiss vegetable bouillon powder )

4 Tablespoons crème fraiche

2 Tablespoons horseradish (or to taste)

Squeeze of fresh lime

Salt and pepper to taste

Selection of salad leaves

2 Tablespoons freshly chopped parsley (optional but I love it!)

1 packet of ready made Deli wraps (I like to use Mission Deli wraps)

Directions

Poach the salmon fillets in the vegetable stock and add ¼ chopped Spanish onion.

Once cooked set the fillets aside and gently flake them.

Turn the oven on to gently heat the wraps.

To make the horseradish cream, add the crème fraiche and horseradish to a bowl and blend well with a fork.

Season the mixture with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lime juice.

When making the horseradish cream it’s important to keep tasting as you go along. How strong you want the cream is a personal thing!

Once the cream is made (about 5 minutes) you can start putting the wraps in the oven to gently warm them.

Don’t overheat them as this makes them go crunchy and difficult (actually impossible) to roll!

Once warmed through put them on a plate and begin assembling your delicious wrap!

Add some horseradish cream, a pinch of fresh parsley, some flaked salmon and a small bunch of salad leaves.

Roll and enjoy!

Traditional English Parsley Sauce...

Feeling confident after my triumph with a basic beurre blanc sauce, I decided to try my hand at a traditional English parsley sauce. This is a tasty sauce to have with white fish or salmon cakes and we enjoyed it very much with some smoked gammon. Essentially it’s a basic white sauce with the addition of freshly chopped parsley. When researching recipes I found that many didn’t include a squeeze of fresh lemon juice but it really gives the sauce added zing. I wouldn’t make the sauce without it now!

There is nothing quite like going out to the garden to gather fresh herbs to cook with. Parsley grows quite easily and makes a lovely addition to any garden. If you don’t already grow your own herbs then it’s definitely worth giving it a go! Check out this site for some amazing gardening tips.

Parsley, one of my all time favourite herbs is full of taste and great health benefits. Among other things it has Vitamin C, Iron and is also an excellent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin A and Folate. Try adding it to salads, burgers, omelettes, fresh juices and soups. You can even sprinkle it on pasta and rice dishes as well as over pretty much anything!

So if you want something special to accompany your fish dish or gammon then look no further! This parsley sauce from the Good To Know Recipes website is a real winner!

Here is the recipe from their brilliant site:

Parsley Sauce

Ingredients

• 425ml full fat milk

• Bunch of flat leaf parsley finely chopped (but keep the stalks)

• 1 bay leaf

• 1/4 onion, thickly sliced

• 5 peppercorns

• Pinch of nutmeg

• 20g plain flour

• 40g butter

• Squeeze of lemon juice

• Salt and pepper to season

Directions

1. Put the milk, parsley stalks, bay leaf, onion, peppercorns and nutmeg in a heavy-bottomed pan.

2. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then remove from the heat and allow to go cold. This will help to infuse the milk before making the sauce.

3. Slowly melt the butter in another saucepan. Add the flour and stir continuously for a minute so that you cook out the raw flour flavour. Remove from the heat.

4. Strain the milk through a sieve to remove the infusing ingredients and slowly add the milk to the butter and flour mixture. Keep combining a little more milk every few seconds until you’ve added it all. You should now have a thin, lump-free sauce.

5. Return the pan to the heat and stir the sauce until it starts to thicken. This will take about 5 minutes.

6. Once it’s thick, remove from the heat. Add the chopped parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

7. Serve your parsley sauce with salty roast gammon and new potatoes, crispy fishcakes or grilled white fish.

Enjoy!

Parsley Sauce

Parsley Sauce

Rocket Fuel: Healthy Iced Coffee With A Kick!...

A few years ago my husband and I were visiting my sister in Toronto. As a special treat she took us to a wonderful restaurant called Fresh and what a treat it was! This has become one of my all time favourite restaurants. Whenever we are back in Toronto a trip to Fresh is always top of our list.

The first thing I ever had at Fresh was one of their speciality espresso shakes called ‘Rocket Fuel’. This is a healthy (and much tastier) alternative to those incredibly sweet full fat iced coffee drinks you can get now at most coffee shops.

The original recipe calls for vanilla soymilk but as I was unable to find any I used a chocolate oat based drink instead. Although it does have a different taste to the Rocket Fuel I remember the addition of chocolate is never really a bad thing – is it?

So here is my slightly altered version of their recipe. This has been a much needed kick in the pants for my husband and I during these cold dark UK mornings.
(Please keep in mind this for 2 people so I have doubled everything.)

Ingredients

2 dbl. shot espresso or brewed coffee (My favourite is Kicking Horse )

10 oz Oatly Healthy Oat Chocolate Drink

2 bananas, peeled

2 tsp maple syrup (Canadian is best!)

1.5 shakes cinnamon

5 ice cubes

Directions

Brew up the coffee.

Add the oat drink and bananas to the blender.

Start the blender on a low setting and gradually add the coffee, maple syrup, cinnamon and ice cubes.

Put blender on a higher setting for 1-2 minutes to make sure all the ice is blended.

Pour into 2 tall glasses.

Enjoy!

About my first Visit to Fresh:

On that first visit I noticed a cookbook for sale by the main till. It was called Fresh At Home. I loved the variety of healthy recipes it offered and the photos were gorgeous! Unfortunately worries about being able to fit it in my luggage with everything else I had accumulated kept me from buying it. Damn my sensibleness! It was a decision that would haunt me until we returned to Toronto 2 years later. Sadly the book was no where to be found in the restaurant so I enjoyed my meal and put thoughts of the cookbook out of my mind.

Bring on Christmas and Santa had a very special treat for me this year. There, waiting under the tree, was the newest addition to the Fresh library – simply called Refresh. It has some of the old favourites as well as plenty of exciting new recipes to try. I am looking forward to getting stuck into some seriously healthy food!

If you’re interested in the original Rocket Fuel recipe from Fresh follow the Directions above but use the following ingredients instead. (Please note this is for a single serving)

1 dbl. shot espresso or brewed coffee

6 oz vanilla soymilk

1 bananas, peeled

1 tsp maple syrup

1 shake cinnamon

6 ice cubes

And of course – Enjoy!

If you are planning a visit to Toronto or you live in Toronto and haven’t been – then put Fresh on your to do list. You won’t regret it! Check out their site here for more information.

Rocket Fuel: Healthy Iced Coffee

Rocket Fuel: Healthy Iced Coffee

These are a few of my favourite things.

These are a few of my favourite things.

Easy Peasy Baked Beans...

This is an extremely easy recipe for home made baked beans. You can use chopped up bacon if you like but I preferred using the leftovers from the gammon joint we had the night before. The molasses and barbeque sauce really give these beans a wonderful rich flavour.

They are filling, healthy and delicious. Once you’ve tried these home made beans you won’t want to go back to the tinned ones.

Luna Raye’s Easy Peasy Baked Beans

Ingredients

1 Spanish onion

Drizzle of Olive Oil

1 orange or yellow pepper chopped

2 cans Cannellini Beans

4 tablespoons molasses

2 tablespoons soft brown sugar

4 tablespoons barbecue sauce (make sure to taste as you add it as you may want less or more) – I used a honey smoked sauce for extra flavour

1/2 cup left over gammon joint chopped into bite sized chunks

1 Tbsp of Worcestershire sauce

Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Saute the chopped onion and bell pepper in olive oil until just softened

Add the gammon and beans. Gently mix.

Gradually add the molasses, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and barbeque sauce.

Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes

Season with freshly ground pepper

Serves 4 to 6

Great on its own or with a baked potato.

Enjoy!

Easy Peasy Baked Beans

Easy Peasy Baked Beans

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