Cookbooks: June 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, with the changeable weather in June – one week of rain, followed by a mini-Saharan heatwave – I wasn’t really sure what to cook to suit it. However I have been diagnosed with vitamin d deficiency, so my main focus has been on eating more oily fish. With that in mind here are the new recipes I tried over the month:

Salmon and Broccoli Tray Bake
The Hairy Dieters (6) Make It Easy by Si King & Dave Myers
One-Pot Wonders – Page 106

Another colourful one-tray meal from the ‘Hairy Bikers’, which is easy to prep and even easier to cook. Consisting simply of salmon fillets, with a honey, garlic and balsamic vinegar marinade, cooked nestled within a tray of roughly chopped broccoli, salad potatoes, mushrooms, onion and red pepper. A delicious, healthy family meal, that can be whipped up in just half an hour. I will definitely be making this again. Great recipe.


Four Seasons Minestrone (Spring)
Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver
Soups – Page 212

A recipe that makes use of beautiful seasonal vegetables and guarantees you will get your 5-a-day portions in just one serving of this! On top of the basic soup base, there are the spring additions of broccoli, asparagus and baby leaf spinach, and again I added the optional rashers of bacon. This was a tasty spring take on this classic Italian soup, but it is my least favourite of all the seasons: I wasn’t keen on the texture of wilted spinach in it. Good recipe.


Pork Stroganoff
The Hairy Dieters (6) Make It Easy by Si King & Dave Myers
15-Minute Fillers – Page 31

After loving their Beef Stroganoff, I was excited to try King & Myers’ new recipe for a low-calorie, pork version of this classic dish. Made with half-fat crème fraiche, smoked paprika and lots of mushrooms and onions, this makes a smaller amount of lean, high in protein pork medallions go further.  This was quick and easy to make, and absolutely delicious – I enjoyed it even more than the original beef version. Great recipe.


Carbonara of Smoked Mackerel
Save With Jamie by Jamie Oliver
Fish – Page 244

An interesting twist on the classic Italian dish of carbonara, which switches the bacon for smoked fish, but with a traditional, creamy emulsion made with a mixture of milk, egg and a little of the starchy pasta cooking water. Being the first carbonara I’ve cooked, I was nervous about ending up with scrambled egg, however no scrambled egg and it tasted good – just got to work on getting the right consistency on the sauce. Good recipe.


So altogether that’s four fab, new recipes tried. I also remade The Hairy Dieter’s Marinated Fish with Stir Fried Greens (Book 4) and Coconut Prawn Curry (Book 1); their take on a Keralan curry. Not a bad month of cooking. Now here is hoping for more stable, summer weather, so I can try some new salad recipes and eat al fresco on the patio.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

What cookbooks are you reading? Have you tried any new recipes?

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Cookbooks: May – June 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, as the weather has (on the whole) continued to warm up, I have enjoyed trying these easy, lighter recipes:

Easy Cheesy Leek Risotto
The Co-operative Magazine

Having previously enjoyed four of the Co-op’s rice based recipes, I thought I would try another: this comforting baked risotto, that I had cut out and saved; which really is as easy as the name suggests! Soften leeks in a oven-proof dish, then add risotto rice and stock, and pop in the oven for half an hour. Once done, stir in cheese and enjoy! I served with some fresh, baby leaf spinach on the side. Delicious and simple! Great recipe.


Roasted Cod Basa with Spicy Lentils
The Co-operative Magazine

Another Co-op recipe I cut out and saved some time ago now, was this rich dish that had me roasting cod – although I used the more sustainable basa fillets and I think you could use any firm, white fish – on a bed of spicy lentils, tomatoes and spinach. Another simple and tasty recipe, but I did have to serve it with some seasonal Jersey Royal new potatoes, because this wouldn’t have been filling enough for my family’s appetites otherwise! Good recipe.


Easy Crispy Chicken
The Hairy Dieters (1) by Si King & Dave Myers
Grills & Roasts – Page 70

Love some finger-licking, crispy chicken? Well this recipe bakes chicken breast fillets with a delicious coating of breadcrumbs, garlic and herbs, cutting the calories considerably but to taste you would never know! It could be versatile too: with the warmer weather I served it with potato salad and seasonal asparagus, but I think in colder weather it will be equally good with chips or mash, and a variety of veg or baked beans. Yum! Great recipe.


Poached Chicken and Tarragon Sauce
The Hairy Dieters (6) Make It Easy by Si King & Dave Myers
Half-Dozen Winners – Page 87

Finally I tried this dieter’s version of the French classic of gently poached chicken with a creamy tarragon sauce, however no naughty cream here but half-fat crème fraiche instead. With only six ingredients this was a super simple and economical dish to make – Perfect served with seasonal Jersey Royal new potatoes and green veg. My only niggle is the sauce was too thin for my liking, that could be easily fixed with more reduction and perhaps some cornflour though. Good recipe.


So altogether that’s four delicious new recipes. I also remade Jamie Oliver’s garlic, sage and honey Pork Chops (30 Min Meals) with his Garlicky Green Beans, and Jool’s Sweet Pea & Prawn Pasta (Save With Jamie). As well as The Hairy Biker’s Coconut Prawn Curry, but substituting the prawn for Quorn, (Hairy Dieters 1) and their White Bean and Tuna Fishcakes (Hairy Dieters 4). What a month or so of great spring cooking, however now I look forward to more sun, trying some new salad recipes and eating al fresco on the patio.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

What cookbooks are you reading? Have you tried any new recipes?

Cookbooks: April 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, as we have moved further into spring and enjoyed some milder weather (plus a mini-heatwave over the Easter weekend), I tried these comforting but lighter recipes:

Jool’s Sweet Pea & Prawn Pasta Shells
Save With Jamie by Jamie Oliver
Fish – Page 240

Perfect for a busy, weekday this can be easily rustled up last-minute from store cupboard and freezer essentials: dried pasta, tomato puree, frozen peas and frozen prawns. The only fresh ingredients called for are garlic and one red chilli, although I think you could probably substitute for dried chilli flakes. So a super quick, super tasty dish, which I served up with a lightly dressed green salad. Yum! Great recipe.


Cheddar & Pea Omelette
Save With Jamie by Jamie Oliver
Bonus Recipes – Page 260

I love an omelette because let’s face it, it is like the best, healthy fast food. For this one, you simply soften half a finely chopped onion, add some frozen peas, mix in your beaten eggs, and finish with grated cheddar cheese, fold and serve! Simple, quick and tasty. I served with a side of salad and pickles, which made a lovely meal for one. Great recipe.


Home-Made Fishcakes
The Hairy Dieters (2) Eat For Life by Si King & Dave Myers
Family Favourites – Page 52

After making the White Bean and Tuna Fishcakes, I thought I would try these more traditional ones made with white fish, smoked haddock and potato. With more fish and less potato these are less calorific and even tastier. Win, win! There are quite a few steps to making these, but they are relatively simple. However one of these wouldn’t satisfy our larger appetites, so I cheekily made two each. Good recipe.


Garlicky Green Beans
Save With Jamie by Jamie Oliver
Beef – Page 150

As I invited my grandad round to celebrate Easter Sunday, I thought this might be a nice, new accompaniment for my favourite, stress-free One-Pan Lamb Roast. And this kept things easy, as it only involved me frying green beans (from frozen) with some garlic! It went well with our roast, which we enjoyed al fresco on the patio in the stunning Easter sunshine. Good recipe.


So altogether that’s four tasty, new recipes tried. I also remade The Hairy Dieters’ Veggie Bean Burgers and Sausages and Rich Onion Gravy (both from Book 2). All in all another good month of cooking and eating.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

What cookbooks are you reading? Have you tried any new recipes?

Cookbooks: March – April 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, as we have moved from winter into spring, I tried these new, comforting, one-pot recipes:

Four Seasons Minestrone (Winter)
Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver
Soups – Page 212

A recipe that makes use of beautiful seasonal vegetables and guarantees you will get your 5-a-day portions in just one serving of this! On top of the basic soup base, there are the wintry additions of beetroot, cavolo nero and kale, also this time I added the optional rashers of bacon. This was a delicious wintry take on this classic Italian soup and I look forward to trying the final spring twist. Great recipe.

(Actually cooked in February, but forgot to post about it!)


Italian Meatballs with Chunky Tomato Sauce
The Hairy Dieters (1) by Si King & Dave Myers
Pasta & Rice – Page 160

Having mastered a good Bolognese, I thought I would have a go at making my own meatballs. This recipe has been slimmed down by using pork mince and adding onion and carrot to the mixture. Once the balls are formed they are gently cooked in a simple tomato sauce. Only problem was my meatballs barely held together – I am blaming the carrot. However they tasted just fine even if they looked ‘rustic’ to say the least! Good recipe.


Sausage Casserole
The Hairy Dieters (6) Make It Easy by Si King & Dave Myers
One-Pot Wonders – Page 114

I whole heartedly agree with King & Myers when they say ‘everyone loves sausages and beans’, and this recipe sees them cooked in one big pot with lots of good veg (onion, celery, carrot and garlic) to make a hearty and comforting dish. Once the ingredients are all in the pot, put the lid on and let it gently simmer away – Easy, peasy. I served it with some fresh, steamed greens for a delicious, healthy family meal. Great recipe.


Hotdog Hotpot
The Hairy Dieters (6) Make It Easy by Si King & Dave Myers
One-Pot Wonders – Page 117

We love Frankfurter hotdogs and we always have a jar or two in the house, so this recipe looked like it would be the perfect, healthier way for us to enjoy them. It joins our favourite frankfurters with onion, potatoes, apple, sage and savoy cabbage to cook together in chicken stock. Another simple recipe, which once all the ingredients were in the pot, I could leave to simmer gently on the hob. However we seemed to lose a lot of liquid – I will try it again in a pot with a heavier lid. Good recipe.


So altogether that was four new recipes tried over the last month or so. Over that time, I also remade new favourites: Trish Sebben-Krupka’s Meaty Mushroom Stew (Plant Based Cookbook) and The Hairy Dieters’ Lean Lamb Hotpot (Book 1), and I have served my family’s firm favourite: Minty Cabbage several times.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

What cookbooks are you reading? Have you tried any new recipes?

Cookbooks: February – March 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, well – except for one glorious week of sunshine, during the school’s half term break – the weather has been wet and miserable in February and the start of this month, so comfort food has been high on my agenda. With that in mind here are the new recipes I have tried:

Lean Lamb Hotpot
The Hairy Dieters (1) by Si King & Dave Myers
Pies – Page 93

One Sunday for lunch, I decided to try King & Myers’ new-wave version of this traditional hotpot of lamb, onions, carrots and potatoes. Just by trimming the lamb well and reducing the amount of potatoes, the calories are lowered without losing out on taste. It was simple to make and made a cracking supper served with garden peas and minty cabbage. Great recipe.


Meaty Mushroom Stew
Plant Based Cookbook by Trish Sebben-Krupka
Soups and Stews – Page 101

I am so pleased I finally got round to making this rich, meaty-tasting stew, with its delicious mixture of onion, celery, carrot, mushrooms, potato, herbs and red wine – It reminded me of beef bourguignon, minus the beef of course! And once all the chopping was done it was a very easy, one-pot dish to make and economical too, as I was able to use a large, value pack of mixed mushrooms to make it. Perfect for veggies and meat-eaters. Great recipe.


Vegetable Chowder
The Hairy Dieters (5) Go Veggie by Si King & Dave Myers
Soups and Salads – Page 60

This veggie take on the traditional chowder keeps the potato, milk and sweetcorn, but swaps out fish for cauliflower and sweet potato. This was my first time making a chowder and I thought this mix of vegetables would be a sure-fire hit for me, but while it was rich, creamy and had a nutty sweetness… it was actually a little too sweet for my taste! I think I need to try making a more traditional fish chowder for a comparison. Okay recipe.


Prawn Stir-Fry with Courgette ‘Noodles’
The Hairy Dieters (3) Good Eating by Si King & Dave Myers
Friday Night Suppers – Page 54

You’d probably never know, or care, that this colourful, vegetable-packed stir-fry with spicy marinated prawns and courgette ‘noodles’ was a dieting recipe! Plus, once you’ve prepped the vegetables, courgettes and prawns, it takes only 10 mins to cook! While there is an extensive list of required vegetables to use, I easily swapped some out for the fresh, seasonal vegetables I had to hand and I used a can of bamboo shoots. Simple, quick, tasty! Great recipe.


So altogether that was four new recipes tried over the last month and a bit. Over that time, I also remade The Hairy Biker’s Cajun Spiced Chicken, which I got the timings right for this time, and well-practised, old favourites: Creamy Haddock With Broccoli and Beef Stroganoff.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

What cookbooks are you reading? Have you tried any new recipes?

Cookbooks: January 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, rather belatedly, due to my being so behind on my book reviews, here are the comforting new dishes I tried over the cold month of January:

Chicken Turkey and Ham Tangle Pie
The Hairy Dieters (1) by Si King & Dave Myers
Pies – Page 80-82

On New Year’s Day, I had my grandad round for lunch and decided to use up the leftover Christmas turkey in this new pie. Made with smoked ham, leeks, white wine, half-fat crème fraiche and cooked turkey (instead of chicken), this pie tastes so rich and creamy you’d never know it was low-fat. Rather than one large pie, I prepared three small individual pies with puff pastry lids, and served with new potatoes and Brussel sprouts. Yum! Great recipe.


Baked Bananas With Chocolate Rum Sauce
The Hairy Dieters (4) Fast Food by Si King & Dave Myers
Speedy Sweets – Page 182

In the comments for my last cookbooks posts, I discussed how I never try new dessert recipes – Something I thought needed remedying. So for dessert on New Year’s Day, I decided to try these bananas, baked with a little rum and demerara sugar, with this divine, homemade dark chocolate and rum sauce. Which I served with a small, naughty scoop of vanilla ice cream. Super easy, super quick and super tasty. Great recipe.


Sweet Carrot Smash
Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver
The Meals – Page 92

With carrots not being a particular favourite in my family, I have to be canny about how I serve them. So this delicious yet simple side dish recipe was perfect for me. The carrots are simply sliced and boiled, with some olive oil, seasoning and thyme, then roughly mashed. That good it has already been lapped up several times by my non-carrot-loving father. Good recipe.


Courgette, Mint and Lemon Soup
The Hairy Dieters (5) Go Veggie by Si King & Dave Myers
Soups and Salads – Page 56

I absolutely love courgettes, so I was thrilled to find this lighter, Vegan-friendly recipe not made with milk or cream, as many other courgette soups are. Instead King & Myers have kept this simple with a healthy blend of courgette, peas, baby spinach and a little potato to thicken it. All given a fresh tang with a touch of lemon and mint to. All in all a tasty, super green soup, which should help keep us lean! Good recipe.


So altogether that was four new recipes tried back in January. Over the month, I also remade Jamie Oliver’s Veggie Bolognese and Super Leek & Potato Soup (Super Food Family Classics), and Minty Cabbage (30 Minute Meals) several times. As well as The Hairy Bikers’ Quick Cod and Prawn Gratin (Hairy Dieters 1).

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

What cookbooks are you reading? Have you tried any new recipes?

Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019!

Happy New Year! Now it is time to say goodbye to 2018 and hello to 2019, I am going to round off my reflection on my reading year with a few statistics:

Books Read: 49           New Reads: 45              Re-Reads: 4

Fiction: 33                Non-Fiction: 16

In 2017, I finished 51 books so I am only a tiny bit behind that this year, but there has been a small downward trend over the last two/three years which I would like to remedy in 2019. However, overall, I am pleased with the amount of fiction and non-fiction read, and the quality of books I have read over the year too. Now for some fun meme categories to help me reflect on 2018 and look forward to 2019:

  • Best Fiction – The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier.
  • Best Non-Fiction – Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi.
  • Best Classic – The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë.
  • Best Cookbook – Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver.
  • Best Re-Read – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
  • Best Series You Discovered – Six Tudor Queens by Alison Weir.
  • Favourite New-To-Me Authors – Peter Bartram and Michael R. Miller.
  • Most Memorable Character – Alison Weir’s courageous Katherine of Aragon, who I was left in awe of.
  • Most Read Genre – Historical Fiction (13), Science-Fiction/Fantasy (10), Christian (8) and Mystery (7).
  • Multiple Reads of an Author – Alison Weir (3), Peter Bartram (2), Mark Black (2), Suzanne Collins (2), Laurie R. King (2), Karen Maitland (2), Daphne du Maurier (2), Michael R. Miller (2) and Geoffrey Trease (2).
  • Ambitions for 2019 – I would like to continue to make more time for re-reading old favourites, as well as reading more new-to-me books by my favourite authors. I would also like to get fully back into The Classics Club with my second list.

That completes my reflection on 2018, which also consisted of My Top 10 Books of 2018 and My Top 10 Adaptations of 2018, so please do check those out too, if you haven’t already. Later this week, I hope to have up my end of month posts for books read and adaptations watched in December too.

What did you read and love in 2018? Any ambitions or plans for your reading in 2019?