Courgette Cupcakes with Lemon Curd & Cream Cheese Frosting

 

Fluffy cupcakes filled with sharp lemon curd and covered in delicious cream cheese frosting. These cupcakes are far too tasty to get put off by the fact they have courgette in them!

Courgette or zucchini, whatever you like to call them, they seem to be in abundance at the moment. My parents have an allotment which appears to have the perfect courgette growing conditions because they have grown more courgettes than we could eat this year! They also grew one particularly huge specimen which was so big I made 24 cupcakes, a two layer cake and also a chocolate loaf cake. It really was a beast! 

When I tell people the cakes have courgette in them, you can see a lot of people instantly get put off. Personally I am not a huge fan of courgettes, but in a cake they are delicious. It really isn’t any different than using carrot in cake – and we all know how good that tastes! 

These cupcakes are so summery in taste. The lemon curd in the middle is so bright and zingy which along with the lime in the frosting makes them so incredibly delicious. I add the lime to my favourite cream cheese frosting which could be why I love these cupcakes so much. 

Usually when I am making cupcakes, I fill the liners two thirds of the way which means your cupcake isn’t too much taller than the liner. With these cupcakes, I fill them around half way because if you fill them more than that they seem to rise up and look more like muffins. Muffins aren’t a bad thing, but it makes them harder to frost as you ideally need a nice flat surface. If you do get a bit carried away and they are quite domed, you may want to level them off with a knife before you add the lemon curd. This will all be hidden later when you frost them, and it also means you get to eat the off-cuts! 

If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, I would definitely recommend using this. As well as making it far quicker and easier, it also creates very defined gratings of courgette unlike a hand held grater which can make it more mushy. If you only have a hand held grater this is still absolutely fine, but your mix may be slightly wetter. If the courgette is particularly wet once you have grated it, I would allow it to sit in some kitchen paper so it can absorb some of the excess moisture.  

When you are making the frosting, add enough lime juice to get the right consistency. You don’t want it too think so it drips off the cupcake so don’t add all of the lime juice at once; keep adding small amounts until you have it right. If you do put in too much lime juice, just add a little bit more icing sugar to help thicken it up slightly. 

Makes 18 cupcakes 

For the cupcakes:
250g courgettes
2 eggs
125ml vegetable oil
150g caster sugar
225g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

For the filling:
70g lemon curd (approx)

For the frosting:
200g full fat cream cheese
75g unsalted butter
500g icing sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lime 

Juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp chopped pistachios (not the salted kind)

  1. Preheat then oven to 170ºC and line cupcake tin with liners
  2. Rinse the courgettes and then grate them using a coarse grater – if the grater is too fine, the courgette will turn to mush

  1. Put eggs, oil and sugar into a bowl and mix until creamy. Fold in sifted flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and then stir in the grated courgette

  1. Split the mixture between the cupcake cases make sure you only fill them half way. Bake in the oven for 17-20 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean

  1. Leave to cool for around 10 minutes and then remove from the tins and allow to cool completely on a wire rack
  2. To make the frosting, beat the butter until softened and then add the cream cheese and icing sugar and mix until completely smooth
  3. Add the lime zest and juice. If you have a particularly juicy lime, start by adding the juice of half of it and adding more if needed. Mix until combined and set aside

  1. Once the cakes are completely cooled, make a a hole in the centre of each cake make sure you don’t go all the way to the bottom. I do this using an apple corer but you could use a small knife, just mind your fingers

  1. Fill each hole with the lemon curd – about ½ teaspoon per cupcake

  1. Frost each cupcake and decorate with a sprinkling of chopped pistachios

 

 

 

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Giant Couscous, Tomato & Rocket Salad

 

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Fresh, light and summery, this makes the perfect salad as part of a BBQ or a tasty lunch.

Like a lot of people, I tend to eat a lot of salads in the summer, especially for lunch. After a while, I start to get a little bored of the standard  involving variations of lettuce, cucumber and tomato. That is why I came up with this Mediterranean inspired alternative.

I really love tomatoes marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and salt. I sometimes just mix these together to add to a normal salad because it makes the tomatoes even tastier and acts as a dressing at the same time. If you can leave them to sit for at least ten minutes, the flavours will really develop. Another reason for marinating the tomatoes is it acts as the dressing in the final salad which I was looking for as I think that couscous can sometimes be quite try. The olive oil in the marinade also helps keep the couscous from clumping together in the way that couscous likes to do!

I sometimes find that salads aren’t as filling as you would like because they don’t tend to include any carbohydrate. So I wanted to include something that would give the salad some substance so it would keep you fuller for longer, but also not something too unhealthy. Couscous is a great because it is low in calories but really helps bulk up a dish. I use normal couscous a lot, but wanted to use giant couscous in this recipe so it really stood out as one of the main ingredients. It is slightly softer than normal couscous really absorbed some of the marinade.

I would class the salad as being relatively healthy. The only aspect which is higher in calories is the olive oil which you can always reduce, as long as you reduce the balsamic vinegar as well. This would mean the salad may be slightly drier, but still tasty.

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Serves 2

100g giant cous cous
1 tsp concentrated chicken stock

230g plum tomatoes
1 large pepper
4 tbsp olive oil (plus ½ tsp)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
Black pepper to taste
1 tsp garlic, crushed
10 basil leaves, shredded

A couple of handfuls of rocket
A few shavings of Parmesan

  1. De-seed and cut the pepper into large slices. Cook them in the oven on 200ºC for 15-20 mins until they have softened and coloured slightly. When cool enough, dice the peppers
  2. Cook the giant couscous as per the packet’s instructions with the addition of the concentrated chicken
  3. Cut each tomato in half and add to a bowl along with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, pepper, garlic and basil. Stir and leave to marinate

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  1. Once the couscous has cooked, drain and toss with ½ tsp olive oil and using a fork, stir through. Leave to cool slightly
  2. When all ingredients have cooled so they are warm, add the couscous to a bowl along with a couple of generous handfuls of rocket, the peppers and the tomatoes with their olive oil mixture
  3. When ready to serve, garnish with a few shavings of Parmesan

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Baked Nutella Doughnuts

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Fluffy doughnuts with a rich chocolatey nuttiness – heaven.

If you follow my blog, you’ll know I’m Nutella obsessed. I’m also a pretty big fan of doughnuts too, so this was an obvious recipe choice for me!

Baked doughnuts are so much easier to make because you don’t need to worry about frying them. This also means that they’re healthier, and I’ll take any excuse to make myself feel like baking is healthy! They are just as easy and versatile to make in my opinion as cupcakes. If you were making these for children, you could leave off the hazelnuts and decorate with sprinkles. Or even get the children involved with icing and decorating them as dunking in Nutella is a bit easier for children than frosting cupcakes.

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The only slightly tricky part of doughnut making is filling the doughnut pan with the optimum amount of mix. Too little and you’ll have a thin doughnut, too much and when it cooks the mix with cover the hole. Don’t get me wrong, if you overfill it is by no means the end of the world, but you just don’t get the iconic doughnut hole through the middle.

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If you don’t have the chocolate hazelnut essence, you don’t have to add this as you will still get the delicious chocolate nutty flavour. I use the Foodie Flavours brand.

As with all doughnuts, these are best eaten on the day you bake them.

Makes 12 doughnuts

140g plain flour
70g caster sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder 
¼ tsp salt
125ml milk
1 egg
30g Nutella
30g butter, melted and cooled
Approx 6 drops of chocolate hazelnut essence
Spray oil

For the glaze
90g Nutella, melted
20g toast hazelnuts, chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC if fan assisted) and spray two six hole doughnut pans lightly with oil
  2. In a large bowl or your mixer, mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt
  3. In a large jug whisk together the milk, eggs, melted butter and Nutella
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until everything is just combined; it will be quite wet

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  1. Divide the mix between each doughnut mould. I find the easiest and less messy way of adding the batter to the moulds is by using a piping bag – remember not to overfill!

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  1. Bake the doughnuts for 13-15 minutes until a cocktail stick comes out clean

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  1. Allow to cool in the pan until they are cool enough for you to transfer to a wire rack

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  1. Dip the doughnuts in the melted Nutella making sure they are thoroughly coated
  2. Sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts

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Fiesta Chicken Lasagna

 

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As the name suggests, this recipe is an adaptation of my Slow Cooker Fiesta Chicken. My Fiesta Chicken recipe is really tasty I thought I needed to come up with other ways to enjoy its yumminess!

This recipe popped into my head when I was thinking of what I associate with Mexican food and flavours. Tortilla wraps are a favourite in my house so I thought about using them instead of pasta to make a lasagne inspired Mexican dish. The finished dish was delicious! Another great thing about it is once you have done some very simple assembling, you can chuck it in the oven for 20 minutes and forget about it. This along with the fact that you’re using the Fiesta Chicken you have already made, make it a quick meal perfect for a weekday dinner.

It is hard to specify the ingredients you will need as they vary depending on how many people you are cooking for. The below quantities provided two large portions. When I say a portion of Fiesta Chicken, I mean enough to feed however many people you are cooking for. The initial recipe can be split into quite a few different portions depending on how many people there are in your family. For example for a family of four, use the amount of Fiesta Chicken you would usually have served with rice, and then allow for 12 small tortillas and between 150-200g of cheese (you can use as much or as little cheese as you want).

Serves 2

Portion of Slow Cooker Fiesta Chicken
1
00g cheese, grated

1 pepper, sliced
1 tbsp tomato puree (if needed)
6 small tortillas 

  1. Add your Fiesta Chicken to a pan over a medium heat and allow to begin heating through
  2. If your Fiesta Chicken has been defrosted, you may need to add some more liquid. I added around 100ml of water from a recently boiled kettle to create more of a sauce as I find when dishes have been frozen they loose their moisture. Add as much or as little as you feel you need. I then added the tomato puree to add a richness back to the sauce
  3. Add the sliced pepper and allow to simmer for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally

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  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC
  2. After your Fiesta Chicken has warmed through you are ready to assemble. I used a 10″ square oven proof dish and began with cutting all of the tortillas in half. I used four of the halves to cover as much of the base of the dish as I could and then added one third of the Fiesta Chicken mix. On top of the mix I added one third of the grated cheese
  3. Repeat twice more finishing so you have the Fiesta Chicken topped with cheese

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  1. Put in the oven to cook for 20 minutes on a rack in the middle of the oven

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Tenderstem Broccoli with Oyster Sauce & Garlic

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Delicious crisp Tenderstem broccoli flavoured with garlic and oyster sauce – what’s not to love?!

I am obsessed with Tenderstem broccoli. Absolutely obsessed. It started about six months ago when I was watching what I was eating as part of my wedding diet. I’ve always liked broccoli, but Tenderstem broccoli is on another level. The stems are delicious and as the same suggests – tender! It also has a slightly different taste to normal broccoli which is hard to describe so you will need to try it for yourself if you haven’t already!

A couple of months before my wedding, I decided to really reduce the carbs I ate. I’m not suggesting everyone should do this, but it worked for me and I actually didn’t miss carbs and it has helped change my view on food. Reducing my carbs meant I was eating a lot more vegetables which consisted of eating Tenderstem broccoli at least 6 days out of 7. I would go to numerous shops searching for it if it was sold out at the first shop I tried. The obsession was real.

We went on our honeymoon for 2 weeks to the Maldives and there was no broccoli in sight, let alone Tenderstem! I ate the most amazing food but my time away from my beloved broccoli made me think new recipes as before I had just boiled it. That is when I came up with this recipe and loved it.

Yes I went and brought some Tenderstem broccoli the day after we got back from our honeymoon!

This recipe is so incredibly quick and delicious that I have now had it a few times instead of a salad or sandwich; its a tasty meal in itself!

The quantities below make enough for one large portion; which in my opinion is the only size portion you need of this!

100g tenderstem broccoli
2 tsp sunflower oil
1 tsp finely diced garlic
1 ½ tbsp oyster sauce
Sprinkling of sesame seeds 

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat and when hot, add the Tenderstem broccoli. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes allowing the stems to get slightly brown and toasted

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  1. Add the garlic and oyster sauce and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add a splash of water if the broccoli tops are getting a bit too crisp
  2. Put on a plate and garnish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds
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Brussel Sprouts with Bacon & Garlic

 

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Crispy bacon with charred sprouts with a delicious hint of garlic, this is not a boring side dish.

Sprouts have quite a bad reputation here and a lot of people don’t seem to like them. Like a lot of people in Britain, I used to only tend to eat brussel sprouts at Christmas.  When we have them at Christmas, they are usually just boiled so they aren’t the most exciting vegetable.

I decided to come up with a brussel recipe a couple of months ago. It came about when I decided to try out a low carb diet to help me drop a few more pounds before my wedding. I didn’t want to cut out carbs altogether, but dramatically reduce them. This meant I was eating a lot more veg – I mean a lot more. I became slightly obsessed with tenderstem broccoli; I can’t get enough of it! But I couldn’t just eat broccoli, so I decided to come up with a sprouts recipe. I’d heard of combining bacon with sprouts before so thought I would give it a go. The recipe turned out great and I now have it at least once a week; my boyfriend now even asks if he can have some when he wouldn’t go near brussels before!

My diet has gone well and with the last few weeks of eating far less carbs, I have managed to loose just over three stone in five months. This recipe is great for everyone to enjoy, not just people trying to loose weight!

500g brussel sprouts
200g bacon lardons
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp rapeseed oil

  1. Trim the sprouts and get rid of any outside leaves that don’t look great. Cook in salted boiling water for around 10 minutes so the sprouts are just cooked but not soft. Drain the sprouts and leave to cool slightly

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  1. Cook the bacon in a frying pan on a high heat until crisp

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  1. While the bacon is cooking, cut the sprouts in half or quarters depending on how big they are. Add them to the bacon along with the oil and stir occasionally
  2. Once the sprouts have started to get crisp, add the garlic and allow to cook for a five or so more minutes

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Store Cupboard Slow Cooker Chicken Casserole

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I chose a short and catchy name for this recipe!

I have made quite a few chicken casseroles in my time. They are so versatile as they can be eaten with potatoes and vegetables as a simple and warming dish or topped with some puff pastry for a quick and delicious pie. Although a lot of the recipes I have followed in the past have been delicious, they tend to need some forward planning. I think there is nothing more annoying than wanting to make a recipe but realising you’re missing a vital ingredient. It can’t just be me that writes numerous lists and will still always forget something when you go to the shop?! My housemate and I found a delicious chicken casserole/pie recipe that we would make at uni; but the recipe used creme fraiche which isn’t something I tend to have in my fridge. And then once you have used the small amount you need for the recipe, the rest goes to waste as it sits in the fridge because you don’t know what else to do with it.

I decided I wanted to come up with a chicken casserole recipe that was minimum effort and used mainly ingredients I (and other people) tend to already have in their cupboards or fridges. Obviously you can substitute ingredients still but this recipe will provide you with a deliciously comforting chicken casserole without needing a long shopping list!

This chicken casserole freezes really well. When you reheat it, the chicken tends to break up slightly but I don’t mind this at all! I usually serve this with  small baked potato and vegetables.

4 – 6 people

1 kg chicken breasts (or use a mix of breast and skinless thigh)
500g carrots, peeled and sliced
300g leeks, washed and sliced
400g tin cream of chicken soup
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 tsp dried thyme
350ml semi skimmed milk
Chicken stock pot
Spray oil 

¼ ground pepper
1 tsp salt 
2 tbsp cornflour (if needed)

  1. Cut the chicken into cubes. Brown the chicken in batches in a pan or in your slow cooker on the hob (if your slow cooker allows this) using some spray oil

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  1. Once all of the chicken is browned, add it all to the slow cooker dish. Add the sliced carrots, leeks and the rest of the ingredients apart from the cornflour. I add the soup and then use the tin to measure the milk and then fill nearly to the top with recently boiled water. Not only does this give you the correct measurements but it also rinses out the tin too!

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  1. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8
  2. Once the casserole has finished cooking, check to see if the sauce is the right consistency. If it is too thin, use the cornflour and add enough water to make a slurry. Add this to the casserole and allow it to cook for another 30 minutes

 

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Honey Rum Drizzle Cake

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I am very lucky because my parents have a villa in Fuerteventura which means I can pop over there for some sun. It seems customary to offer shots of honey rum at the end of a meal. Although this isn’t in all restaurants, it seems to happen more often than not following an evening meal. There seem to be endless different brands and each restaurant appears to have their favourite – some are definitely better than others!

When my family were out there over New Year, we hunted down one of our favourite bottles. My Mum and boyfriend started then having a few shots before we went out for an evening meal! Before you panic, it has a lower alcohol percentage than other spirits at around 20%. I say shots, but really my Mum was sipping it which was far safer for her.

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I was also lucky enough to go out to Fuerteventura for my Hen Do in February with some of my closest friends. Honey rum obviously played quite a large part with us losing track of just how many shots we were having. The difference with honey rum to other liqueurs is that honey rum actually tastes nice so is enjoyable which is more than can be said about other liqueurs!

Honey rum has some great memories for me so I wanted to make a cake that incorporated the delicious drink. The first thing that came to mind was a honey rum drizzle cake where I could add the honey rum to both the cake and the glaze. The cake turned out just how I wanted with the flavour of the honey rum but without there being an overpowering taste of alcohol.

If you’re not heading to the Canary Islands anytime soon and still want to make this cake; you can buy honey rum online and it isn’t too expensive.

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For the cake
250g margarine
250g caster sugar
4 large eggs
250g self raising flour
100ml honey rum

  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC and line a 1kg loaf tin
  2. Cream together the sugar and the butter until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat on a high speed
  3. Add the flour and mix before adding the honey rum and mixing again until just combined
  4. Pour the mix into the prepared tin and smooth the top slightly

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  1. Bake in the oven for 45- 50 mins or until a cocktail stick comes out clean. If the top is getting a little too brown, cover it loosely with foil

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  1. Allow the cake to cool slightly in the tin before turning out and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack

For the icing
3-4 tbsp honey rum
100g icing sugar

  1. Mix the icing sugar and rum together until smooth
  2. Drizzle all of the cooled cake

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Cous Cous Salad

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Fresh, colourful and versatile. This cous cous dish is delicious as well as being healthy.

Growing up I didn’t like cous cous. Well I told myself I didn’t as the only time I had come across it was when my Mum made her version of Tabbouleh. This was never going to be the best cous cous dish for me to try as it is packed with herbs such as parsley, mint and coriander – all of which I can’t stand. After years of thinking I didn’t like it, my Mum made a version with no herbs and very similar to what I make today and I realised I did actually like cous cous!

Along with my Mum, my sister and I have been making this recipe for years but with different variations. This recipe is great for adding things you like and leaving out anything you don’t. My Mum and sister make theirs using tomatoes and spring onions as well as the ingredients I use. I like tomatoes but I don’t seem to have them in my fridge every week whereas I always have the other ingredients. So please feel free to add anything else you fancy. I decided to call is Cous Cous Salad because I tend to use basic ingredients that I’d put in a salad – imaginative I know!

The versatility doesn’t end with the ingredients in the cous cous, you can also add a whole range of ‘toppings’. We usually have this cous cous with marinated chicken, but we have had it with chorizo, grilled halloumi and my new favourite; chicken sausages.

This is now my boyfriend’s favourite recipe to make for his lunches during the week. If he can make it, then you can too!

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Serves 4
350g cous cous
750g boiled water
1 tbsp chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 peppers
1 x 340g tin of sweetcorn, drained
¾ of a cucumber, diced
20g butter (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. De-seed and slice the peppers. Put them on a baking tray and roast in the oven for around 30 minutes, turning half way. You want them to get slightly blackened
  2. Put the cous cous in a large bowl. Add the chicken stock, olive oil and water to the cous cous. The water should just cover the cous cous by around 1cm. Stir with a fork and then cover with cling film
  3. While the cous cous is cooking, dice the cucumber and drain the sweetcorn
  4. After around 15 minutes the cous cous should have plumped and cooked. Test it is ready by trying it, if it is still a little hard recover for a few more minutes

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  1. Once the cous cous is cooked, add the butter if you are using it and fork through to fluff up the cous cous2016-07-12 19.12.52
  2. Remove the peppers from the oven and slice up. Add to the cous cous along with the sweetcorn and cucumber and fork through to mix

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Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

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Delicious soup which is full of flavour perfect for lunch or as a light dinner.

As you may already know, I am incredibly fussy with many things; soup being one of them. When I was a child I had a bad experience with tinned soup and since then I have tended to stick to homemade soup.

I have a soup maker which makes the whole process of making soup so much easier and quicker; if only for the fact it blends the soup as well as cooking it which means less washing up! It also means I can use the base ingredients and quantities to come up with lots of different soups depending on what vegetables I have in the fridge that need using.

This Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper soup is a staple in my house. I roast the vegetables to give them more flavour in the soup, but if you want to make this really quickly you can miss this step out and go straight to adding everything to the soup maker. If you do this, I would reduce the garlic to 1-2 cloves though.

This recipe will make three generous portions which keep well in the fridge for a couple of days or can be frozen. If frozen, you can either defrost the soup or heat it from frozen. What is even better about this soup is each portion is only roughly 150 calories which makes it fantastic for those people trying to be healthier in the new year; or for people who just like tasty soup!

If you don’t like the idea of having tomato seeds in your finished soup, you can either de-seed your tomatoes before you roast them or pass the soup through a sieve after it’s been blended. Personally I don’t mind the seeds so I just leave it as it is.

5 large tomatoes
2  red peppers
3 cloves of garlic
300ml semi-skimmed milk
600ml chicken or vegetable stock
Sprinkling of frozen basil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

  1. Heat the oven to 180ºC. Chop up the peppers and tomatoes and add to an oven proof dish along with the garlic cloves, salt, pepper and thyme. Spray a couple of times with spray oil. Put the vegetables in the oven for roughly 30 minutes
  2. Take your vegetables out of the oven and add to your soup maker/pan with the stock and milk

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  1. If using a soup maker, set to the smooth setting and leave the machine to do the work
  2. If using a pan, cook for approximately 15 minutes and then blend until smooth

 

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