Kick Ass Chipotle Ketchup

Kick Ass Ketchup

I have a love hate relationship with ketchup. Like I love it, but it is just sugary gak that have been near a tomato at some point. Plus, I personally prefer mayo or tartare sauce on my fries, but I am currently sans food processor (insert crying emoji here), so making my own mayo will have to wait until I rectify that situation. But dry fries are not my favourite either, and I make a lot of fries if you count baked sweet potato, baked parsnip, baked carrot, baked celeriac, baked any root veg as fries. I do. Calling them fries instead of baked veg makes them seem sexier and more indulgent. Language is important. Plus they all taste delicious, better than actual fries in some cases. Plus, they are did easy- heat over, melt oil in baking tray, cover sticks of veg in oil and salt. Put in oven. Take out. Done.

I have tried spicing them up with chilli flakes and other spices- ras al hanout or smoked paprika, and that works well, but I am missing dips, so I thought, why not make my own ketchup? Well, because I don’t have a food processor I am never going to get the smooth texture of shop ketchup, but I could something like the flavour? Yes, as it turns out. I read a lot of labels to see what people like Heinz were putting in their ketchup, and checked out some recipes online from paleogrubs and paleo leap, and then I put in the flavours I like. For my birthday I got a pot of chipotle chilli flakes, amongst other things, so I decided they would definitely be going in. This makes a chunky satisfying and slightly spicy ketchup that I have eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it will definitely become a regular food prep feature.

Ingredients

400g tinned chopped tomatoes

1 Tbsp. tomato puree

2 tbsp. agave syrup (I use The Groovy Food Company light- in colour)

2 tsps. Garlic granules

2 tsps. Salt

2 tsps. Onion granules

A couple of pinches of chipotle chilli flakes.

 

All of the above can be adjusted to suit your taste- salty, sweet or spicy.

Put all of the ingredients in a pan and warm over a low heat. Let it simmer until thickened to the desired consistency.

Put in a container.

You are done. It’s basically as easy as walking to Tesco and buying some ketchup, and my nearest Tesco is a two minute walk.

 

 

Rants and recipes: chocolate chilli with veggie option

I have been writing a lot this week- two whole blogs! One I wrote about my issues with the constant flow of positive mental attitude quotes and memes in my social media. While I fully accept this is my fault because I follow a whole host of people who make their living from being motivational, I also have concerns about the impact of seeing this kind of thing every day. Secondly I wrote about the importance (or not) of measurable targets in education. Both of these things are things that make me mad, irritate me, grind my gears, but neither of them, obviously, are about food. When I first really started blogging, it was all about food. But now it isn’t, and I started to think about why. It isn’t as though I have stopped cooking delicious food- check my Instagram account, which is essentially just food, but I have stopped writing about it. I have been added to a group of UK Health Bloggers and I am feeling a bit of a fraud, as I haven’t blogged about food in forever. But why? I think the answer comes from the role that food, and cooking, plays in my life. My relationship with actually eating food has and continues to be a difficult one, but my relationship with cooking has always been easy. It is my meditation, my place of mindfulness and my stress releaser. It soothes me, and in times of stress or difficult situations and experiences it is my go to thing to do. That and wine, but cooking is healthier really. So I started blogging about food last year while I was dealing with my dad dying. For a long time my relationship with dad has been, at best, complicated, and at worst non-existent. I had boxed up my feelings and put myself in a place of emotional safety for a while by doing so, but I had never really resolved any issues, and with his death, that suddenly became impossible, at least impossible for us to reconcile together. So, as usual I turned to food and the cathartic element of writing about it really helped me to move through the days.

But I write my best when I am angry, pissed off, irritated and a little bit (a lot) sweary. And food just doesn’t make me feel like that. By the time I have cooked my mind is settled, I feel better, and the need to write/rant has disappeared. So, what’s the solution? Delete my foodblogger status and just use Instagram for its only real purpose- pictures of food, exercise videos and cats? Or change my attitude like all those fucking memes tell me I should be doing? Funnily enough it is the second one. Many food blogs I read (ok I don’t read that many) actually don’t write that much about food. It is all about other stuff happening in their lives- fashion, tv, travel, yoga, daily frustrations. So, why shouldn’t I blog like that? A sweary rant and then a recipe? Maybe I should rename my blog? Rants and recipes is so pleasingly alliterative.

So there you go, from now on I will be ranting before my recipes. I’ll enjoy it, and if nobody else does…meh.

Chocolate chilli. I made huge batch of last week, ate some and froze a load so I have ready meals agogo in the freezer. So much easier to stay healthy that way, resist temptation blah blah blah. Except I pass Tesco on the way home and if I feel tempted it’s really not that hard to succumb. But yeah, if I can resist going into Tesco, I’m all good.

Ingredients:

1 red onion cut into chunks

1 yellow pepper cut into chunks

2 green chillis sliced (add more or less depending on your spiciness tolerance)

250g pork mince (mine was 5% fat if that kind of thing interests you) If you want to be veggie then this ingredient should be omitted, obviously.

100g chestnut mushrooms

400g kidney beans (not paleo so don’t include if you are living the caveman life)

2 tbsp cocoa powder

2tsps garlic powder

2 tsps cumin

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp tomato paste

200ml stock (I used beef, but you could use veg or chicken if that’s what you’ve got).

1 tbsp coconut oil (or whatever oil floats your boat)

Method:

Add coconut oil to a large frying pan over a lowish heat. When it has melted add the onions and fry until softened. Add the pork and use a spoon or spatula to break it up. When it has browned through, add the rest of the ingredients to the pan. The order doesn’t really matter, you are only going to stir them altogether anyway. So, once they have been added, you should stir until they are all mixed up, and then turn up the heat a little until it is simmering along the lines of the Goldilocks principle- not too little, not too much, but just right. A Baby bear porridge of a simmer if you like. Then just leave it for about 20 minutes. You might want to stir and check at some point like I always do. Once the stock has reduced and thickened to your desired consistency then you are good to go.

I have served this in the following ways:

  • On its own. Simple.
  • With avocado.
  • With fried plantain.
  • With cauliflower rice.
  • With white potato chips.

You can serve it however you like. Over a big plate of green would be good, sprinkled with feta if you do dairy, or with squash or sweet potato.

Italian? Pasta? Yes please!

This is not a cuisine I usually pay much attention to, but something must be changing because I had pizza on Friday and tonight I ate pasta. The pizza was delicious and if you are in London and you can get to Franco Manca then you should do so. I can eat gluten without any obvious reaction, unless I eat too much at once and then I feel bloated, but that goes for eating too much of anything. If you don’t like to eat gluten, or it actually makes you sick because you have Crohn’s or celiac’s then clearly pizza is not for you, even Franco Manco pizza. I am doing a sad face as I type. But there is pasta that is for you (and for me) created and made by Nomad Food- it is gluten free and fits in with a paleo diet (if that is what you like). I tried the sesame pasta tonight which has 3 ingredients- sesame, tapioca and egg. Vegetarian but not vegan. It ticks a lot of boxes anyway! Super simple to cook- drop in salted boiling water for 3-5 minutes and drain. Done and dusted. It kept it’s shape, with a pleasant firm texture and a slightly nutty and delicious flavour. Had someone served it to me without me seeing the packet I wouldn’t have known it wasn’t just pasta, although the fusilli shape is slightly less chunky than I remember. As I am currently training to do a half marathon, I am quite excited to have a really quick and easy option to add to my diet- nobody wants to be hanging about waiting for food after a long (and at the moment, very cold) run. So I recommend you grab some for yourself and let pasta be a part of your life again.

I served it with my new favourite Italian ragu recipe which is rich and tasty and paleo and whole30 and glutenfree and all those things! Youi can also get ahead on making this if you make up the base from my last blog, as that is where it all starts.

Ingredients (serves 2):

250g turkey mince

1 red onion diced

4 cloves garlic minced

1 ½ fresh chillis chopped small

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

300ml stock (compliant if doing whole30)

3 tsps dried oregano

3 tsps dried basil

Olives (optional)

Coconut oil

Method:

Melt the coconut oil in a heavy frying pan over a low heat and then add the red onion, garlic and chilli and cook for a few minutes until softened. Add the turkey mince and break it up with a spatula, pushing it around the pan and cook until lightly browned. Add the balsamic vinegar, sometimes I add more because I love the richness and piquancy it gives, and the herbs. Add the stock and bring to a vigorous simmer, then turn down the heat so it is a more relaxed simmer. Leave for about 10-15 minutes, depending on how much ‘juice’ you want. If you are going to add the olives, then add them at this point. Once it is simmered to your liking it is ready to go. Buon apetito!

PS Please check out my insta @experimentalmonkeyfeeder for pictures! My computer is playing up and won’t let me upload them 😦

 

Variety is the spice of life: meal prep.

Turkey and Butternut Chilli

turkey-and-butternut-chilli

It feels like I haven’t really done any proper prep and cooking for a while. I was cat sitting over Christmas and New Year (looking after a cat rather than literally sitting on it), and for some reason living in someone else’s place for a short time makes me really lazy, even though they clearly have all the same things in their kitchen I do, plus a fridge as standard, and a local supermarket that sells all the food I would usually buy. I ignore all of that and buy fripperies and snacks and camp out. It has also been a difficult and confusing start to the year- 2017 is definitely going to be one of change. Then last week I was ill and food was the last thing on my mind, unless I wanted to vomit. But this week, I decided I have to get my shit together. I enjoy cooking, I enjoy the process and the eating and having healthy stuff all around. Plus, when I eat it, I feel better. So I went shopping and I prepped. One thing I have stolen from somewhere- I can’t remember where because it was a random video on my facebook was about prepping mince. Normally I would just make a load of burgers, a massive bowl of chilli or some stir fry and that is what I would be eating for the week. I know some people can do that for weeks on end, but I cannot. I get bored and then I go out and buy something different for dinner, which results in food waste and pointless prep. But if you make a simple base that you can add different flavours to throughout the week, then you can still have quick n easy meals on demand, but you also get to mix it up according to your mood.

Base:

Minced meat (I believe it is called ground in the US). You can use beef, pork, chicken…I used turkey this week because it was on offer. It was 500g but you can use different amounts and adjust your flavours accordingly. It depends on how many people you are cooking for and how spicy you like your food.

Fresh chilli chopped up small (I used one and a half).

Red onion or shallots (I used one).

Garlic crushed (I used 4 cloves).

Coconut oil (I used about a teaspoon full).

Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan (skillet) on a lowish heat and add the onion garlic and chilli. Cook for a few minutes, stirring, until they are softened. Add the meat and turn up the heat a little. Use the spoon to break it up and turn until it is cooked through.

Your base is done- well done you!

At this point I emptied about half the meat into a storage container and stuck it in the freezer.

Turkey and Butternut Chilli:

To the base add the following spices:

  • Cumin
  • Nutmeg
  • Smoked sweet paprika
  • Hot paprika
  • Cinnamon

I usually add about equal amounts of each- about a teaspoon, but feel free to omit any you don’t like, or add any you do.

Add 400g of tinned tomatoes and a big squirt (about a dessert spoon) tomato paste to the mix and then about 200ml of water and stock cube. Stir over a low heat and leave to simmer.

Dice up about half a butternut squash and add to the pan, cover with a lid and leave for about 20 minutes until the squash is tender. Meanwhile dice up a yellow pepper and add to the pan after the twenty minutes is up. Leave uncovered about let simmer until the sauce is at your desired consistency. There you go! One more meal. Mix it up even more by serving it with different things e.g. cauliflower rice, zoodles, lettuce scoops, cabbage ribbons…. You know what you like!

Meal 2: Asian cabbage rolls.

You will need:

1 Lime- zest and juice. I used half the lime zest and half the juice.

Cashew nuts

Fresh chilli- I used about a quarter

Red onion thinly sliced

Fresh herbs- your choice! Lots of people go with coriander (cilantro) but the taste makes me want to puke, so I don’t. You could use basil, mint…

Cabbage leaves (I used sweetheart cabbage).

If you froze the other part of your base then defrost it. I was cooking for one tonight so I only used half the base (leaving me another meal for tomorrow). Add to a small pan with a splash of water and heat. Add the lime zest and half the juice to the pan and stir through the base. Leave it to simmer until the water is almost gone and the meat is hot.

In boiling bubbling water cook the cabbage leaves for about a minute and then leave to steam dry, or pat them dry.

Lay the cabbage leaves out on a plate and pile up with the base, top with a sprinkle of fresh chilli, cashew nuts, red onion and fresh herbs.

Wrap the rolls and eat- messily!

Tomorrow I will probably make up something more Italian inspired with the leftover base I have left. But let’s see how I feel!

 

 

Spicy green chicken and cashew nut salad

So I was going to follow someone else’s recipe for buffalo chicken salad (paleOMG’s recipe to give the credit) because it sounded delicious, but when I read it again it said minced carrot. I don’t know why but this put me off, well I do know. I don’t really like grated carrot, and that is what minced carrot sounds like, so I checked the fridge. The fridge is full of green things, specifically, avocado, celery, cucumber, spring onions and little gem lettuce. Plus, there is spicy mayo that I made at the weekend, and there is always cashew nuts in the cupboard. Obviously I had chicken because I was planning to make buffalo chicken, and so the salad was born.

For two:

I had skinless and boneless chicken thighs. I prefer the flavour of chicken thighs to chicken breast, plus it is usually cheaper, but these came from Waitrose, so obviously I took out a mortgage in order to pay for them. You could use left over chicken, or ready cooked chicken.

Heat some coconut oil in a big frying pan, then roll the thighs out flat and place them in the pan. Sizzle until cooked through- turning them over once helps. Once cooked remove from the pan and place on kitchen roll to absorb some grease. I don’t like too much grease in my food. If you do like grease, then feel free not to place on kitchen roll.

At this point I added some parboiled sweet potato and parsnips to the pan because I like them.

Slice the celery, cucumber, avocado and spring onions and throw them in a bowl. This requires no skill or artistry, unless you are feeling flair then you could juggle the ingredients (juggling optional).

Slice the slightly cooled chicken and throw in the bowl with the green things.

Add as much mayo as you like. If your mayo is not already spicy (because you did not get a bit free and easy with the cayenne at the weekend like I did- sounds more exciting than it is), then add some heat with a few squirts of sriracha or a sprinkling of the aforementioned cayenne.

Lay out some little gem lettuce leaves on a plate. Fill each lettuce scoop with the chicken/green/mayo mix. Sprinkle with cashews, or not. Add the parsnips and sweet potato on the side, if you know, you made them earlier. If not, don’t.

Eat.

If you want to make your own mayo then check my blog, or google whole30 mayo.