Creamy Pasta Bake

When I am at home, I mostly live off the Good Housekeeping diet. I.E 9/10 meals which I consume come from the magazine.

It it my mums cooking bible, but for good reason- every recipe they publish works perfectly and tastes good. It is her (and now my) go-to source of family meals. It is where my favourite halloumi bean stew was born from.

Mum and dad both work at the hospital for the NHS, this means our dinner conversations often revolve around what has happened there that day, it’s not quite Holby but has it’s moments. It also means they work long hours, so tonight I thought I would sort out tea. Cue, Good Housekeeping for this pasta bake.

Creamy Pasta Bake- The Vegaquarium

I adapted the recipe slightly to include some of my favourite things, and changed the white sauce recipe to my staple one. Speaking of white sauce, once you can make it you can make so many dishes! So it’s worth learning.

You will need:

  • 75g butter
  • 75g plain flour (always match the quantities of butter and flour)
  • 900ml milk
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 500g pack of your favourite tortellini, or GHK suggests spinach and ricotta
  • 150g peas
  • 4 freshly chopped chives
  • 1 small broccoli tree
  • 3 x salmon or white fish fillets, skinned and cut into chunks
  • 50g cheddar to top

1) Set the oven to 180 degrees C, gas mark 6.

2) Melt the butter in a heavy bottom pan on medium heat, then stir in the flour. Remove from the heat and start to pour in the milk a little at a time while stirring so it all combines and there are no lumps. Stir in the mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

2) Add the tortellini to the white sauce. I used a 400g pack and made up the rest with regular pasta, I also used scissors to cut the tortellini in half and it worked nicely.

3) Take off the heat and fold in the fish, peas, broccoli and chives before pouring into an ovenproof dish. Top with cheese and bake in the preheated oven for 20 mins or until bubbling and golden.

4) Serve to your hungry, tired family for brownie points!

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Quick and Cheap Student Pizzas

This easy recipe leaves your wallet full and your tummy fuller.

Being back at my university house for just a week has left me with minimal ingredients and to be honest, minimal enthusiasm about cooking! Que, this student pizza, it’s cheaper than dominoes (although this doesn’t come with the garlic sauce which is so worth it!)

Quick student pizza

You will need:

For the base

  • Your favourite wraps

For the toppings

  • Cream cheese
  • Pasata
  • chopped onions/ spring onions
  • Mozzarella
  • Cheddar
  • Your favourite toppings

This is the laziest recipe ever, but I guess it’s short and simple

1) Set the oven to 180 C grill

2) Spread the cream cheese on the wrap, followed by the pasata and chopped onion

3) Add the mozzarella and grated cheddar cheese

4) Top with your favourite toppings- I used mushrooms, pesto and rocket!

5) Grill for 5-10 mins, keep an eye on them! One is great for lunch, or have 2 for dinner. You could even sandwich together the wraps with cheese to make a stuffed base

I ate mine with a pot of garlic mayo… not quite the same as dominoes sauce but it did the job. If you have any other quick, cheap recipes feel free to share.

Quick student pizza

Polenta Pizza with Mushroom, Leek and Mascapone

A polenta base pizza with fresh creamy pesto, soft leeks, mushrooms and mascapone cheese.

What cheese do you use to hide a horse? Mask-a-Pony. (Wheyy)

I have been extremely intrigued by polenta lately, so I thought I would try it in something which I love; Pizza.

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Polenta is gluten free, so this pizza is a lot less bloating. It is also so easy and cheap to make. So next time you reach to ring up dominos, think twice and make this instead! Unless you wan’t stuffed crust, I admit that stuffed crust is hard to beat.

I was a bit scared making this base from scratch because I had never cooked with it. I have experienced some horrid kitchen disasters and I had a gut feeling that this could be an addition to the list… but it went surprisingly well so clearly anyone can do it.

You will need:

For the base

  • 500 ml veg stock
  • 300 g dried polenta
  • pinch garlic salt
  • tsp oregano
  • tsp dried basil

For the topping

  • 1 leek
  • 4 mushrooms
  • 2 tbs mascapone
  • 1 tbs fresh pesto (or the jar stuff)
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 50g grated cheese

1) Bring your stock to boil before adding the polenta, herbs and salt. As you add your polenta keep stirring the mix untill it forms a sort of bright yellow dough

2) Find a saucepan or large round tin and press the doughey mix into it, then leave it in the fridge. Mine looked like this, but don’t use foil like me! It made the bottom of the base soggy not crispy:

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3) Pop it in the fridge for 30 mins. When its cooled you can begin to make your topping. All you need to do is fry the leek, garlic and mushrooms in a pan until they have softened. Then spoon your pesto on to the base and spread it around. Next chuck on your garlic, leeks and mushrooms, before finally spooning on the mascapone and grated cheese.

4) Put it in the oven in the pan you used at 200 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

You can pretty much top this with anything you like! But I loved this combo. You could also add toasted pinenuts, or avocado like me when it is cooked. Let me know if you have ever tried polenta and know any great dishes, it is still so alien to me! And let me know if you try it, I would love to see what you think.

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Posh Mac and Cheese

I would like to dedicate this blog post to my house mate Bridget. Last night I returned from a night out where, by the way, I proudly performed a top rendition of Shakira’s Wherever Whenever. I think she embodied me. It was 2:30am and to my amazement she was cooking a cheese sauce from scratch and making a macaroni cheese! Fair play to her, I can barely manage to butter toast at that sort of time.

Anyway, since then I had been craving a mac and cheese, so I decided to make my own. However at a slightly more normal time…

You will need:

  • 40g of plain flour
  • 40g of butter
  • 1 pint milk
  • 250g grated cheese
  • 30g parmesan
  • 2 slices of that fake plasticky cheese (Ok this really isn’t posh…)
  • 250g pasta tubes
  • 2 balls of frozen spinach, you can get it in the frozen veg aisle and it’s genius
  • handfull of chopped tomatoes
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 2 chopped spring onions

1) Cook your pasta for 10 mins and leave until needed. Then set your oven to 200 degrees.

2) Make a roux by melting the butter in a saucepan, then stirring in the flour. Cook that for 2 mins before pouring in the milk bit by bit and whisking. Bring it all to the boil, then turn it down and keep whisking until it thickens into a gloopy sauce. This takes about 15 minites.

3) Stir in all of your cheese, including the plastic one which you may want to slice up. Leave a little bit of parmesan to go on top!

4) Pop in the spinach balls, and while it defrosts in the sauce fry off the tomatoes with oil and sugar. The sugar may sound strange but it works! Fry them till they’s squidgey and add them to the cheesy sauce.

4) Put your pasta tubes and the sauce in a bake-proof dish then top with the cheese and spring onion. Grill for 10 mins. Then serve. I had mine with avocado which worked really well. Oh I also put Quorn chicken in incase you are wondering what the chunks are! But that is definitely optional.

Twice Baked Sweet Potato Skins

Ok I lied. I only baked them once because I am a big lover of the microwave at the moment. Don’t judge, its quick and I like to think it uses less electricity…

It doesn’t really matter though because they still tasted like sweet bowls of amazingess.

I’m sure you have all come across potato skins before, however they are likely “cook from frozen”, covered in plastic cheese and bacon pieces. My potato skins are healthier, yummier and not covered in bacon pieces. Plus as you know, I am a big fan of sweet potatoes, especially in the form of wedges. Saying that, you could just as easily use a regular joe potato and I am sure these will taste just as good.

You can pretty much put anything you like on these, but mine are sour cream and chive, with spinach and lots of bubbly melty cheese.

You will need:

  • Sweet potato
  • Spring onion
  • 1 clove of galric
  • handfull of spinach
  • 2 tablespoons of sour cream/ greek yoghurt
  • lots of cheeeeeeeese

1) Bake your tatty! Or cheat and microwave it for 10 mins. Sweet potato skins are more sugary and harder to crisp up, so it doesn’t actually make much difference if its baked or zapped in the microwave. Once it is cooked, leave it so it is cool enough to handle, then cut it in half and scoop out all of its mushy insides. Be careful to leave the skin in tact so that you can refill it later and make your potato whole again.

2) Fry off your spring onion, garlic and spinach before adding your potato squidge for a few minutes. Then pop it all in a bowl and mix in the sour cream.

 

 

 

3) Now all you need to do is refill the skins with your mix and top them with cheese. Put them in the oven at about 200 degrees for 15 minutes.

 

Other ideas for potato stuffings could be:

  • Brie and cranberry (and bacon if you eat it)
  • Greek style- feta, tomatoes and olives
  • Pizza style- Mozzarella and tomato
  • Hawaiian- Cheese and pineapple
  • Cheese. Just lots and lots of cheese.

In my hungover state that is all I can think of right now… But please send me all your ideas! These are so easy and quick I think I will be cooking them a lot more often!

Chilli chickpea burgers

While it may not feel like summer for us Brits right now, we can still act like it is! These burgers dont need a real BBQ, but still taste like summer, especially with a crisp green salad and fresh crusty roll.

Unfortunately, in all my excitement and hunger, I didn’t take a picture of the finished product once it was cooked. You will have to find out for yourselves! But I will make sure I put my blog before my belly in future…!

Press some Halloumi or Mozzarella into the middle of the burger and cover with some more burger mixture for a squishy middle!

You will need:

  • Can of Chickpeas
  • 2 reds onion chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 4 Button Mushrooms
  • 200g Bread crumbs
  • Squeeze of sweet chilli sauce
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • Mozzerella/Haloumi
    Blend and go!

     

    In terms of making these babys, the process is simple.

    First, blend up your chickpeas with seasoning to taste. Then add all the other ingredients once they have been chopped, and blend them too!

    This should leave you with a thick brown paste.

    Prepare a surface with some cling film on. With your hands make plumb shaped balls of paste and pop them onto the cling film.

    Next take your small chunks of cheese and push them into the blobs as shown in the top photo, then hide the cheese with more paste and squish down into a flatter burger shape. Simples!

    Once you have made as many as you can from the mixture (I got about 6) pop them in the fridge for 30 mins.

    Heat up some olive oil on a frying pan and carefully put in the patties you made earlier. They should take about 15 mins to fry off, but remember to flip them!

    As always, feel free to alter these veggie friendly burgers! Instead of chilli sauce, try reggae! Pop in some Lemon juice and mint, or even some tangy ketchup! I winged this recipe from what we had in the cupboards and the fridge, so it’s a great last minute panic option. Let me know how you get on!