Tummy Warming Roasted Vegetable Soup

 Aldi sell these soup mix packs for €1.49. I decided to roast my veg in the oven to make the soup as I feel you get a more in-depth flavour from the vegetables from roasting them. I peeled and chopped all the veggies into equal sized pieces and sprayed a baking tray with spray oil, seasoned the veg with salt and pepper and sprinkled over fresh thyme leaves. I added two cloves of garlic with the skin left on. I roasted these in a preheated oven at 200 Celsius for 30 minutes.  

I transferred into a saucepan with 1 1/2 pints of boiling water and a chicken stock cube. I squeezed the soft roasted garlic out of the skins into the pot. I continued to cook for about 15 minutes to allow the flavours to develop. I blitzed with a hand blender adjusted the seasoning to taste and added a small bit more water as it was slightly thick. And Voilà! A beautiful autumnal roasted vegetable soup easy peasy! Free on all plans & guaranteed to keep you full. I hope you’re having a lovely Thursday x 

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Exquisite Bacon, Garden Pea & Baby Asparagus Risotto with Manchego Cheese

  

Me & Risotto have a love affair situation going on. It’s creamy & flavoursome, warm and comforting, it’s like a hug in a bowl really. It has long held a bad reputation for being difficult to master but that is far from the truth. It takes a little loving with the time to stir & tend to it, but difficult?… No. This version has beautiful vibrant green asparagus & peas & a note of sweet & nutty manchego cheese. You can have a nice comfy portion for 9 propoints (7 on F&H). Serves 4. Here’s the skinny:  
240g Arborio Risotto Rice

8 Lean Bacon Medallions Diced

2 Large Shallots Diced

80g Frozen Garden Peas

A Bunch of Baby Asparagus 

1 Clove Garlic

45g Manchego Cheese Grated

1 & 1/2 Litres Chicken Stock made with 1 Stock Cube

A Handful of Fresh Thyme Leaves

Salt & Black Pepper 

  
Place your stock into a saucepan over a low heat for the duration of cooking so it stays nice and hot. Heat a large based saucepan over a medium heat & spray it with oil. Cook the Bacon & Shallots for about 5 minutes until the bacon is cooked and the shallots are soft. Trim the ends off the asparagus & add it & the frozen peas to the pot cook for another 3 to 4 minutes stir it gently so you don’t break up the asparagus. Add the crushed garlic & stir for a further 30 seconds. Add the rice to the pot & cook for 2 minutes stirring regularly until the rice goes a bit translucent around the edge with a white centre. Start adding the stock 1 ladel at a time and gently stir the risotto regularly. Wait until the ladel of stock is absorbed before adding the next one. You probably won’t use all the stock just use as much as the risotto absorbs within the cooking time. It will take 20 minutes to fully cook the rice. 

 

About 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time season with salt & pepper and the fresh thyme. When it’s cooked take the pot off the heat & stir in the grated manchego cheese. Put a lid on the pot and allow the risotto to rest for 3 to 5 minutes prior to serving. Serve & enjoy!  

Fabulous Grilled Thyme & Lemon Marinated Chicken & Halloumi Skewers with Harissa Spiced Cauliflower Couscous

  
Tonight’s Lower Carb Dinner. Fabulous Grilled Thyme & Lemon Marinated Chicken & Halloumi Skewers with Harissa Spiced Cauliflower Couscous. Oh My Gosh Just 5 Propoints for all of this! (3 on F&H!) This is the first time I’ve tried Cauliflower Rice or Couscous & I won’t lie I was very sceptical of trying it, I dislike substitute food in general I like real food but made healthy but I have to throw my hands up & admit I was very impressed, it’s a keeper and I imagine a lifesaver for those days when your propoints just won’t stretch. Now I did season the shish out of it with harissa & lemon but the texture was all there & it was filling, I can not give testimony on how it tastes plain (I’d imagine rank but I probably stand to be corrected again!). The halloumi really really makes this dish but if you’re even more desperate than me before trying to fit into a lovely dress to attend a family wedding then you can double the chicken & omit the halloumi to make it free free free on the filling & healthy plan. Don’t say I’m not good to you! Anyway I’m rambling slightly so here it is in all its glory:  
For the Harissa Spiced Cauliflower Couscous:

1 Cauliflower 

1 to 2 tsp Harissa Paste (depending on how spicy you like food)

1 Lemon

1 Handful Soft Herbs (I used Basil)

Black Pepper (add salt if you wish, I’m avoiding it this week)

For the Lemon & Thyme Marinade:

Juice 1 Lemon

Juice 1 Lime

Black Pepper 

1/4 Tsp Dijon Mustard 

Handful Fresh Thyme Leaves

  
For the Grilled Chicken Halloumi Skewers:

1 Medium Chicken Fillet 

80g Halloumi Cheese 

Red Pepper 

Yellow Pepper

Red Onion

Courgette

Cherry Tomatoes 
Mix all the marinade ingredients well in a bowl together. Dice the chicken into largish chunks & toss into the bowl coating well. Cover, refrigerate & allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes or as long as you can spare on the day. Soak 4 wooden skewers in a large baking tray of water, this stops them from burning whilst cooking. Chop all the skewer vegetables except the courgette into equally sized medium chunks. Slice the courgette lengtwise with a vegetable peeler. Arrange the chicken, halloumi & veg chunks onto the soaked skewers & concertina the courgette into a fab shape before skewering onto 4 skewers. You should get approximately 3 medium chicken chunks & 2 medium halloumi chunks per skewer depending on the size you’ve cut them. Sprinkle over some more thyme & black pepper & set aside covered & refrigerated until ready to grill. Heat a large griddle pan & spray it with oil. Grill the skewers for 15 to 20 minutes turning occasionally or until the chicken is cooked & the halloumi is roasted (If you’re not familiar with halloumi you can grill this cheese it doesn’t melt & holds its shape) Meanwhile place the washed chopped cauliflower florets into a food processor (you may need to do this in batches) pulse until fine like couscous. Heat another pan & spray with oil. Gently fry the cauliflower cous cous for 5 to 8 minutes until heated through & add the harissa & the juice of a lemon (as much as desired to moisten & flavour the couscous, add half & if still a bit dry add more) Mix well over the heat for a few minutes & add the chopped basil just before serving. Plate up the couscous & top with two skewers per person, add a lemon quarter for garnish/squeezing over & Enjoy! 

Tender Griddled Fillet Steak with Creamy Sweet Potato Mash, Sautéed Asparagus & Balsamic & Dijon Reduction

  

I adore steak, I just absolutely love it & usually have it with homemade fries & peppercorn sauce but fancied a change. Try this creamy sweet potato mash for a different take if you’re tired of sweet potato fries and looking for something new. A lovely little easy & very quick dinner. The juicy steak & balsamic reduction is so flavoursome & asparagus & balsamic is a match made in heaven! Just 11 propoints or free on the filling & healthy plan.
180g Fillet Steak

187g Raw Sweet Potato 

2 Tsp Lightest Philadelphia 

Fresh Thyme 

Salt & Black Pepper 

Asparagus Spears

For the Balsamic & Dijon Reduction:

1/3 Cup Balsamic Vinegar 

1 Tsp Dijon Mustard 

1 Tbsp Tomato Purée 

A Few Dashes of Worcestershire Sauce 

2 Pinches of Allspice 

Salt & Black Pepper   

Take your Steak out of the fridge at least an hour before cooking & allow to come to room temperature. Meanwhile peel & chop the sweet potato. Steam the sweet potato for approximately 12 minutes until soft (alternatively place in boiling water until soft) mash the sweet potato with the lightest Philadelphia cream cheese, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle on some fresh thyme. Place a griddle pan over a high heat until hot & spray with oil. Rub black pepper into the steak, season the asparagus with salt and pepper & place the steak on the pan with the seasoned asparagus spears for approximately 2 to 3 minutes each side if you like your steak very rare like me, cook for a few minutes longer each side for medium rare (4 per side) medium (6 minutes each side). Remove the steak from the heat onto a plate, cover with tinfoil & allow to rest for at least 5 minutes (this ensures the meat relaxes & becomes tender & the juice goes back into the meat making it soft & juicy). Remove the asparagus once brown griddle marks appear & the asparagus has softened slightly & keep warm if not serving immediately. To make the balsamic & dijon reduction simmer the balsamic in a saucepan over a low to medium heat for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, stirring regularly until thickened (their will be a strong smell of vinegar at first but this burns off eventually you may need to open a window! But it’s worth it) add the remaining sauce ingredients & simmer for 5 minutes over a low heat stirring & making sure it doesn’t stick. Serve the reduction immediately over your steak with the sweet potato & asparagus spears. Enjoy!