Baked Ziti

I read somewhere that Baked Ziti is lasagna’s more relaxed cousin and I thought what a good description.

Now I know that my grand-kids love lasagna so I thought I would give this dish a whirl whilst changing just a couple of ingredients so that my gluten-intolerant husband could enjoy it as well.  Instead of using Ziti macaroni, I used gluten-free pasta, used only a pinch of crushed chilli flakes (not too hot for the kids) and made my own marinara sauce with a couple of cartons of chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper and a splash of wine.  You could cheat and buy a jar from the supermarket if you wanted to.


1lb ziti (or gluten-free penne) pasta
Glug of olive oil
1lb extra-lean minced beef
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (oregano, basil, thyme)
½ teaspoon crushed red chilli flakes (optional)
About 32oz marinara sauce
8oz mozzarella, grated
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup grated parmesan


Heat a small glug of olive oil in a pan and sauté the onions for a few minutes before adding the chopped garlic.

Cook for a further minute before adding the minced beef.  Cook, breaking the meat up, until it has browned all over – about 4 to 5 minutes.


Once the meat has browned, add the herbs and crushed chilli flakes if using.  Cook for a minute before adding the sauce.  Stir well and simmer for a minute or two.

Cook the pasta al dente, according to the packet instructions. Drain in a colander and toss with a glug of oil to ensure it doesn’t stick together.  Add a large spoonful of the meat mixture to the pasta and stir through.

Take a 9” x 13” baking dish and spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom. Dot the surface with half of the ricotta cheese and then add the pasta on top.

Pour over the remaining tomato sauce mix, dot with the remaining ricotta cheese and sprinkle with the mozzarella and parmesan cheese.


Bake at 350°F for approximately 30 minutes until the cheese has melted, the top browned and the mixture heated through.

Deliciously moist Baked Ziti

The pasta in this dish stays deliciously moist and the ‘heat’ can be adjusted by adding more or less crushed chilli flakes.

Recipe based on the one from

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Chocolate Cake with Fresh Fruit (Nut-free)

My thanks to Irena Macri of Eat Drink Paleo for this amazing recipe.  It not only looks good, it tastes scrumptious too and the grand-kids loved it as dessert.   I served it with whipped coconut cream.

I used an 8″ loose-bottomed cake tin and there was plenty of mixture for the tin.  There was probably ample mixture for a 9″ tin.


1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut oil
5 tablespoons raw cacao powder
5 tablespoons sweetener, I used raw honey
4 whole eggs, separated
Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries (or other fruit)


Line an 8” (or slightly larger) cake tin with baking parchment.

Pre-heat oven to 170°C / 320°F.

Put the coconut oil into a glass bowl and melt in the microwave (or oven) until just melted.

Add the cacao powder and honey and mix really thoroughly.   Put to one side.

Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and whisk until very stiff.   You should be able to turn the bowl upside down and they won’t slide out.

Making sure the chocolate mix is only luke-warm, add one egg yolk and stir it through the mixture with a spatula.   Add the remaining three yolks and whisk them in really well.

Add one third of the egg whites and stir through until well combined.   Add another third and again fold in well making sure you scrape down the sides as you fold in.

Add the final third of egg white and gently fold it in until there are no white clumps left.  Don’t over-beat as you want the mixture light and fluffy.


Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and gently tap the tin to flatten the top and remove any bubbles.

Place on the middle shelf in the oven for 30 minutes.



After 30 minutes, turn the oven off and open the door slightly. Leave the cake to cool down slightly like this and then remove from oven and leave to cool in the tin for a further 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove from tin and gently peel off the lining paper.

Leave to cool completely before filling with fruit.

Chocolate Cake with Fruit (Nut-free)

Serve with whipped coconut cream/ice cream/chocolate sauce.

This slices beautifully

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Sticky Asian Style Turkey Meatballs

The original recipe for this delicious dish was from Chef Savvy who used minced chicken but as I had some turkey mince in the freezer (thigh and breast), I decided to use that instead.   I have also changed a couple of ingredients to make it gluten-free, plus doubled the sauce quantity.

These meatballs are absolutely delicious, tasty and moreish!  I made my meatballs earlier in the day and reheated them (covered in foil) in the oven before tossing them with the sauce and serving as a main meal with coconut rice.  Alternatively, they could be served on their own as an appetizer.

INGREDIENTS:  to make 22 meatballs

For the meatballs:
500g minced turkey (breast and thigh)
½ cup dried gluten-free breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 small onion, chopped finely
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of black pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
Small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 egg

For the sauce:
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons Tamari
4 teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
½ teaspoon sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons Sriracha
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar


Mix together all of the meatball ingredients until they are combined.   Either grease a baking sheet with a little oil, or like me, use a pyramid pan mat.

Roll heaped teaspoons of the meat mixture into balls and place on the baking sheet/mat. It’s a matter of choice but if you like larger meatballs, use a dessertspoon. I made 22 meatballs with heaped teaspoons.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes at 200°C turning over half-way through cooking. The meatballs should just be cooked through and slightly browning on the outside.

Whilst the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce by heating the oil in a medium-sized saucepan and gently cooking the garlic for a minute.   Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.


When the meatballs are cooked, tip them into the sauce and gently toss until they are completely covered.



Serve with coconut rice, plain rice, or rice noodles.


Sticky Asian Style Meatballs with Coconut Rice

These meatballs freeze really well but before being covered in sauce.  Open freeze on trays then pack in freezer bags.  Thaw thoroughly before reheating and coating in sauce.

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Cod Fillets wrapped in Parma Ham with Mediterranean Vegetables

This is such a lovely, colourful and healthy way to serve up cod fillets and you can ring the changes by using different vegetables or pesto.

My pieces of cod were quite large so I made four smaller fillets, used more vegetables and dressing.  Thankfully, there were eight slices of Parma Ham in the pack I had bought, so plenty to wrap around the fillets.


2 teaspoons fresh pesto **
2 cod loin fillets
Fresh basil leaves
4 slices Parma Ham (two slices for each fillet)

For the Mediterranean Vegetables:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
10 basil leaves + extra to serve
Vittoria tomatoes on the vine or 15 cherry tomatoes
1 courgette, halved and sliced
2 red peppers, de-seeded and chopped
1 red onion, cut into wedges
8 baby potatoes

** Pesto – I blitzed a handful of toasted pine nuts, handful of parmesan, large handful of fresh basil, 150g olive oil approximately, 2 garlic cloves and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Seasoned to taste.  Adjust oil to consistency you want.


Make the dressing for the vegetables by combining the olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic clove and basil leaves in a blender.

Put the tomatoes, courgette, peppers and onion in a large roasting tin and pour the dressing over – toss.  Season with salt and pepper and roast the vegetables for 25 to 30 minutes at 180°C.


Put the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil.  Simmer for about 15 minutes until just tender.   Drain and slice in half.


Prepare the cod fillets by spreading a teaspoon of pesto over each fillet and topping with a basil leaf.

Wrap each fillet in 2 slices of ham.



Take the vegetables out of the oven and add the potatoes, tossing them so that the potatoes are covered with the dressing.   Make a space and put the cod fillets among the vegetables, spooning some of the juice over them.

Return the tray to the oven for another 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.   Scatter with extra basil leaves to serve.

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Maple Syrup Meringues with Strawberries and Coconut Cream

Just very occasionally, a sweet treat is needed and when I spotted this recipe in my favourite magazine I knew I had found just the one.

The meringue nests kept perfectly in an airtight tin for a couple of days and I made the sauce earlier in the day and left it cooling in the fridge.  At tea time, I whipped up the cream and assembled the meringues and watched everyone dig in.  Needless-to-say, there were none left over and the kiddies were licking their plates clean.

I was delighted at how tasty the meringues were;  not sticky but dry and melt-in-the-mouth yummy.  The freshness of the strawberries and the smoothness of the coconut cream made for a truly delicious treat.


2 large egg whites
125ml maple syrup
½ teaspoon cream of tartar

For the Coconut Cream:
400g can Coconut Milk
1 teaspoon of maple syrup

For the Strawberry Sauce:
1 cup of strawberries (cut into small pieces)
1 tablespoon honey
Grated zest from 1 lemon

Extra strawberries for decoration


Leave the can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight to firm the cream up.

Preheat the oven to 120°C.

To make the meringues:

Whisk the egg whites, maple syrup and cream of tartar together in a large bowl (I used a balloon whisk).   Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and continue whisking for three to four minutes or until the mixture is very frothy and has increased in volume.

Remove the bowl from the pan then use an electric whisk to continue whipping the mixture for a further three to four minutes until the mix is very stiff and shiny and won’t slip out of the bowl if you turn it upside down.   The mixture increases considerably in size.

Using a tablespoon, heap mounds on parchment-lined baking sheets ensuring there is a slight hollow in the centre.   My mixture made 10 good-sized meringue cases.

Place in a preheated oven 120°C for 90 minutes.  Turn the oven off and leave the meringues for a further 30 minutes to crisp up.  Carefully remove them from the parchment and leave to cool on a rack.  If not using immediately, they will store in an airtight tin for a few days.

To make the strawberry sauce:

Place the strawberries (cut into small pieces), lemon zest and honey in a saucepan and gently simmer for about ten minutes until the strawberries are breaking down and very soft.  Rub through a sieve to give a thick sauce.  Cool.

To make the coconut cream:

Remove the can of coconut milk from the fridge and remove the lid. Carefully remove the thickened cream and put in a large bowl.  Discard the water or use in a smoothie.  Using an electric whisk, beat until very thick.   Add the maple syrup and vanilla extract and whisk again.

To serve:

Put a meringue nest on a plate. Fill with coconut cream. Decorate with sliced fresh strawberries and pour the sauce around and over it.

Strawberry meringue nests with coconut cream

I spotted this recipe (using different fruits) in the Sainsbury’s Magazine and it was by Alessandra Peters, a blogger from the Netherlands.

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Smashed Salmon Hash

Yet another delicious recipe from one of my favourite magazines, Sainsburys.

The original recipe called for hot smoked salmon which I was unable to find but I used sweet chilli roast salmon which was warm, sweet and lightly smoked and this worked really well.  I think this dish would also work well with just plain cooked salmon

I’ve used capers many times but have never fried them until crispy.  What a difference this makes and it is very hard to leave them alone as they are so tasty.

I like this recipe as everything can be prepared in advance;  the potatoes boiled, the capers fried, the onions chopped etc. and even the dressing made so that it takes only a short while to put together and heat through when ready to serve.


300g new potatoes, halved if large
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons capers, drained
3 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
150g cooked salmon, skinned and flaked
½ pack dill fronds, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons natural yoghurt (or soured cream)


Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water for about 15 minutes or until tender. Drain in a colander and leave to steam.

Sliced spring onions, dill and crispy fried capers



Heat a fry pan with the butter and oil and add the capers. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes until they are crispy. Put to one side.




Add the potatoes to the pan and roughly break them with a wooden spoon. Fry for 6 to 8 minutes until golden and crispy around the edges.


Add the spring onions and fry for a further minute and then scatter over the salmon and half of the dill. Toss a few times, season and cook for 1 – 2 minutes for the salmon to warm through.  Scatter over the crispy capers.


Mix the remaining dill with the yoghurt and serve with the hash. I also like to add a squirt of honey and a squeeze of lemon to my yoghurt dressing but this is a matter of choice.

Smashed Salmon Hash with Dill Yoghurt Dressing

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Raspberry Coconut Bites

Energy Balls or Bites seem to be the ‘in’ thing at the moment and they are so convenient to have in the fridge/freezer to nibble on or when unexpected guests arrive.   Also extremely handy for lunchboxes, picnics, or taking down to the beach, especially as the summer holidays are here.

I saw the recipe for these Bites one evening and was tempted to try them out straight away.  I had recently been sent a trial packet of freeze-dried raspberry powder which was lingering in the cupboard and being so quick and easy to make, I soon had the balls chilling in the fridge.

They were so successful with some friends that my second batch was made a couple of days later.

INGREDIENTS:  makes approximately 20 small bites
1 cup gluten-free oats
1/2 cup smooth cashew nut butter
2 tablespoons freeze-dried raspberry powder
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons desiccated Coconut (unsweetened)
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Coat:
2 tablespoons freeze-dried raspberry powder
2 tablespoons desiccated Coconut (unsweetened)


Mix together all ingredients for the bites either by hand or in a food processor, until well combined.

Blitz the coating ingredients in a blender until fine and tip into a bowl.

Roll teaspoonfuls into balls (or dessertspoonfuls depending how large you want your bites).  Using a teaspoonful, I made 20 balls.

Roll the balls in the coating and chill in the fridge in a single layer.

Delicious Raspberry Coconut Bites

These bites will keep for 5 days in the fridge in a sealed container.   I have also frozen them successfully and they should keep in the freezer for at least one month.

If you have coating left-over, this keeps well in a sealed container in the fridge until you next make the bites.

The original recipe Raspberry and Coconut Energy Bites from My Fussy Eater used peanut butter which I substituted for cashew butter.  I also had raspberry powder rather than freeze-dried raspberries but the subs worked perfectly and these were just so delicious.  Many thanks to My Fussy Eater for the excellent recipe.

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Middle Eastern Yoghurt Chicken

Sumac is ground from bright red berries, is very versatile and widely used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking.  It has a slight lemony, sour tang and adds a glorious colour to any dish.  It pairs especially well with vegetables, chicken and lamb.

Although I found this recipe in a recent Sainsburys magazine, I have used a version of this marinade for a long while as it imparts such a lovely flavour to the chicken.  My butcher sells packs of thinly sliced chicken breast fillets which are perfect for this dish.

I like to serve the chicken with a tomato salsa and a green salad, adding some sweet potato ‘chips’ if anyone is extra hungry.

Yoghurt marinade


150g natural yoghurt
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1 teaspoon sumac
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
½ teaspoon sea salt
650g skinless chicken breast fillets


Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl.

Cut the chicken into strips and stir them into the marinade making sure they are completely coated.   Leave for at least 30 minutes, or preferably overnight.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large fry pan and cook the chicken (in batches) for three to four minutes on each side until cooked through.

Serve with a tomato salsa, green salad leaves and sweet potato wedges if extra hungry.

Middle Eastern Yoghurt Chicken with Tomato Salsa

I made my tomato salsa with chopped baby tomatoes, diced cucumber, diced avocado, sliced spring onions tossed in extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice.

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Nut Brownies (Walnut and Cashew)

These brownies were delicious – chocolately, nutty, crunchy and a definite hit with everyone.  One of the main advantages being that they were so quick and easy to make,  with another that they don’t need cooking.


2 cups of mixed walnuts/cashew nuts
½ cup cacao nibs
1/8 to 1/4 cup cacao powder (to taste)
2 dates, pits removed (I prefer Medjool as they are lovely and sticky)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
1 ½ tablespoons melted cacao butter
Pinch of sea salt.


Line a baking dish with parchment paper.    I used a 9” x 7” pan and the brownies were a perfect depth.

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor for about 45 seconds to 1 minute or until there are no large chunks.

Pile into the lined baking dish and press down all over with the back of a spoon until even.

Cover and chill in a fridge for at least 2 hours. Cut into squares and serve.

These brownies will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

I understand that the original recipe for these brownies was taken from the book Eat Fat, Get Thin but I was given a slightly different version to try and I also decided to mix my nuts as I didn’t have enough walnuts to hand.  The result was really tasty.  Another time, I may try a different mix of nuts – i.e. hazelnuts, pecans, almonds etc.

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Smoked Salmon, Vegetables and a Minty Yoghurt Dip

It must have been one of the hottest days of the year (so far) whilst our grand-daughter was staying with us.  After spending the morning on the beach we managed to persuade her to get some shade by sitting under our huge sun-umbrella whilst I rustled up some lunch.  Swimming and building sand castles makes for hungry people.

Our lunch looked so decadent, but as I had a packet of smoked salmon in the fridge, and loads of vegetables and ‘bits’ it didn’t take long to put together.

I love making a dip using loads of freshly chopped mint, natural yoghurt, lemon juice and honey.

Surrounded by baby corn, black olives, sweet red pepper strips, thinly sliced carrot, avocado, babybel cheese, baby plum tomatoes and some green salad leaves – even without the salmon it was lunch fit for a king.

Grand-daughter loved most of it – rice cakes spread with avocado and salmon (with a squeeze of lemon juice) went down really well;  for me the baby corn dipped in the minty dressing were my downfall whilst my husband loved it all.  There wasn’t much left for the birds (which were hovering very close by).

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.



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