Recipe Wednesday: ‘chicken’ pesto

Back doing Recipe Wednesdays again – ’cause I’m hungry, and I can’t cook tea until Geth’s done the dishes.  Sadly I’m not making ‘chicken’ pesto tonight ’cause I don’t have enough syns left before weigh-in tomorrow, but I thought I’d share this recipe anyway.

'Chicken' pesto
‘Chicken’ pesto, or spirali alla genovese if I’m being fancy.

It’s another super-simple pasta recipe.  Boil some pasta for fifteen minutes, and five minutes in, start boiling another pot of chopped mangetout, chopped green beans and garden peas (make sure there’s plenty of the first two if you’re doing Slimming World).  Meanwhile, fry some Quorn chicken style pieces (or you could use real chicken if you’re not veggie) in Fry Light until it’s nice and crispy.

Once everything’s cooked, mix it all together in a giant pan then stir in a jar of supermarket pesto* (12 syns a jar, so 6 syns per person if you’re cooking for two like I am).  Shower with parmesan (30g for a Healthy Extra A) and serve.

This is a longtime favourite of Geth’s, so I make it at least once a week if I’ve got the syns going spare!

*I’ve tried making my own syn-free pesto but it never tastes right!

Easter!

Happy Easter!  I’ve had a great day, and am now in possession of so much chocolate that I’ll be eating it for weeks (got to eke out those Syns carefully).  I’ve also had some lovely ciders this weekend, so there’ll be a couple more cider posts in the next couple of days!

Greatest Loser 2018

In the midst of all the house chaos, it was a nice surprise at Slimming World yesterday morning when I won our group’s Greatest Loser 2018 award!  Apparently I’ve lost more weight than anyone else in our group.  I got a certificate, a sash and some lovely flowers:

Vase of roses
The roses I was given. I bought the vase specially, ’cause I reckoned that now we’re grown-up homeowners, we should probably stop displaying fresh flowers in a pint glass.

I’m really happy to have recognition like this – it’s been hard work, but I have lost a lot of weight (3st 12lbs so far!) over the last year and a bit, and now I’m so close to target I can almost taste it.  I think it must taste like the 100-syn bag of jam doughnuts that I will be devouring on the day I reach that magic number, before angelically returning to my healthy fruit and veg.  Well, I’ve got to have something food-related to look forward to!

Recipe Wednesday: potato ‘n’ carrot pasta

It’s still emphatically winter (I was too busy with work to leave the house today, but Geth informs me that it was snowing again) and so I thought I’d start my weekly food series with my most stodgy, wintry pasta dish.

Potato 'n' carrot pasta
It’s stodgy, ridiculously carb-heavy, and one of my favourites, especially at this time of year.

I’m a lazy cook, so like everything I make, it’s ridiculously easy.  Boil chopped peeled potatoes, chopped carrots and chickpeas for 25 mins (no measuring free foods on Slimming World – I just make sure that the carrots constitute a third of the total food I’m eating); with 15 mins to go, start boiling some pasta in another pan.

While everything is boiling, I make up my pasta sauce (passata, tomato puree to thicken it up, lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper, dried basil, dried oregano, hot chili powder and the lifesaver that is Very Lazy chopped garlic, all to taste) and grate some parmesan (30g for me as my Slimming World Healthy Extra A, lots for Geth).

Once the 25 mins are up, I drain everything, mix it all together, mix in the sauce, and serve with the grated parmesan.  Highly comforting on winter evenings!

Burns Night

It’s Burns Night…and I’m not eating haggis.  I know, I’m a bad Scot.  But getting the stuff in England tends to be a right faff, which means acquiring a Burns Supper has become a lot more ‘interesting’ since I moved away from Scotland in 2011.

A brief history of my Burns Supper eating:

  • 1985-2002: Burns Supper at home, cooked by parents, complete with horrible off-key chanter playing by my dad (who is a good musician but not a regular chanter player) as we ‘piped in the haggis’ and people reading the Selkirk Grace off a teatowel
  • 2002-2011: as above, except that I no longer lived at home so went round to my parents’ specially; my dad had given up on the chanter playing by this point as well
  • 2012: our first Burns Night living in Southampton – Geth bought extortionately-priced veggie haggis from a butcher and made a decent if not entirely presentable job of cooking it, but I felt SO HOMESICK
  • 2013: went to eat at a cafe in Southampton where they were serving ‘haggis’ made out of tomatoes and had people onstage reciting really patronising attempts at ‘Scots’ poetry – had to leave before table flipping occurred
  • 2014: still in Southampton; had friends round for Burns Supper, which was slightly ruined by Geth buying the wrong veg due to English supermarkets’ insistence on calling neeps by the wrong name (they call it ‘swede’ instead of ‘turnip’ for some reason, so he ended up getting something completely different that did not mash well at all)
  • 2015: we were preparing for a stressful move from Southampton to Newcastle, so Burns Night, along with various other late winter celebrations like Valentine’s Day and Shrove Tuesday, fell by the wayside that year
  • 2016-2017: took advantage of only living a 90-minute train journey away from Edinburgh to go land on my parents for Burns Night again, just like old times
  • 2018: did vaguely plan to go up to Edinburgh…but house moving has struck again, and we’ve been too busy/tired to get organised

Dry January also means no toasts with whisky or Thistly Cross cider.  I couldn’t even find any Diet Irn-Bru at the supermarket today.  Living in England strikes again.

To make up for the lack of the haggis picture that would obviously accompany this post had I cooked any, have a link to Tam O’Shanter, my all-time favourite Burns poem.

Pasta

One of my favourite things about the Slimming World plan – and I don’t think I’d have been so successful on it if this hadn’t been the case – is that pasta is a ‘free food’, so you can eat as much of it as you like (within reason – I have been cutting down on my portion sizes as I’ve got closer and closer to target – but I still eat pasta nearly every day):

Pasta and pesto
Pasta and red pesto, my all-time favourite. Used to be a regular meal but now just a ‘treat’ – I need to add lots of veg and use my ‘syns’ to make it Slimming World friendly!

My favourites are Quorn bolognaise, Quorn chicken pesto (after months of unsuccessful attempts to make my own syn-free basil pesto, I gave up and went back to using the stuff in jars for 3 syns per tablespoon), Quorn lasagne (did you guess I’m vegetarian yet?) and, when I’m in a super stodgy high-carb mood, pasta with potatoes, carrots and chickpeas.  I love carbs and I’m so thrilled I’ve found a way to lose weight without having to cut down on them too much.

One of my ambitions for this year is to try and find more pasta favourites.  I’ll keep you posted!