Super quick panini sandwich

So this post is ultra late on account of my excitement at all the Christmas food at home – anyway it is just a super quick sandwich that you can fill with anything really, but toasting it in the oven just gives it that extra warming feel.

I bought a pack of panini rolls (you could use ciabatta, or ordinary round rolls) and cut them lengthways in half. Drizzle with a little olive oil if you like and place flat side up in a hottish oven (around 180 degrees Celsius) for 10-15 minutes or so until crisp and golden.

Panini bread

Meanwhile, prepare your filling. I just used a lot of salad vegetables, baby gem lettuce, thinly sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and some grated cheese. For another lunch I used tomatoes, cheese and some pesto for an Italian take. That was yummy too.

Panini salad filling

Then the fun part. Sandwich assembly – just organise your filling inside (I like to put the cheese straight onto the bread so that it melts). The only thing is that because I stuffed the sandwich it was a little bit ‘high’ so I had to squish it together to eat.

Salad Panini lunch

I think this makes a quick and easy lunch by itself (two when you’re hungry) or served with other things – and I would love to hear your favourite sandwich fillings in the comments below to give me some more ideas too!

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Homemade garlic bread

After seeing quite a few shop-bought garlic bread packs taken out of neighbouring freezers and shoved into the oven – I thought I would do a quick post of how to make your own garlic butter. I always find shop-bought garlic bread is nearly always far too buttery, so making your own is a slightly healthier alternative and in my view tastes fresher! To completely make your own garlic bread, you could make lovely little rolls or a baguette from a basic bread recipe – wholemeal is even better. I saw these ‘bake at home’ rolls in Tesco’s on sale and was inspired to make use them for garlic bread so used those instead.

All you will need is some:

-Butter

-Garlic

-Mixed herbs

-Bread rolls

Garlic bread ingredients

Now there isn’t really an exact ‘recipe’ for this garlic butter so you can just season according to personal taste. Crush and finely chop as much as possible some garlic cloves depending on how much garlic butter you want. For the six rolls here, I used one clove.

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Add a large knob of butter and mix together thoroughly. I also added in some dried mixed herbs at this point. Cut the rolls lengthways with a sharp knife and spread some of the garlic butter inside.

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These garlic bread rolls are easy to freeze so you can defrost them as and when you need them. Leftover garlic butter is delicious on toast or a served with steak. I actually ate them with the roast chicken wings, carrots and rice I had for dinner a few nights ago – it was a hearty meal for a starving person!

Hearty dinner

I actually par-boiled the carrots beforehand and then put them underneath the roasting chicken wings to absorb the flavour and juices for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.

Fried Rice with Peppers +

I know a did a previous blog post a while ago on egg fried rice with some broccoli and sweetcorn, but I really couldn’t resist doing another post with some colourful veg! This time I used peppers and also added a few other things to make it a wonderfully warming winter meal that you can make in no time at all.

First I prepared the colour array of peppers by slicing them into quite thin strips (similar to julienne prep) and then turning then and cutting again almost into small cubes. This way they hardly need any cooking and will still retain a crunch providing some contrast to the rice.

Rainbow peppers

Now onto the actual cooking. I added a few finely chopped shallots into a hot oiled pan just to give a bit more flavour. After a while, add in the cold rice to warm through and allow it to become a bit crisp. Make sure you break up any large chunks and turn it in the pan. I also added in some fresh root ginger (chopped as small as you can, and also slightly crushed) to the pan. Recently I have really been loving the smell and taste of ginger and find it really gives a warming sensation to the rice (I think it’s also good for colds as clears your sinuses etc.).

Then to the eggs. I like to make a ‘hole’ in the middle of the pan and crack the egg into here. Then gradually half scramble/mix the rice gradually so that it is distributed throughout.

Fried rice with a funny looking egg

When the rice is nearly ready, I added in the colourful peppers for a few minutes to warm up. Switch off the cooker and drizzle a little soy sauce at this point if you have any to spare – it gives a wonderful seasoning. And there you have it!

Egg fried rice with multi-coloured peppers

Chicken

So first off, apologies for not quite sticking to my ‘post a week’ aim, I seem to be slacking as I generally tend to leave about 8-9 days between posts on my blogs – must try harder!

I have had quite a busy few weeks but food-related topics have been pretty non-eventful. But it’s Christmas soon which means I will be going back home where there is sugar, cake tins and baking parchment galore! (just thought I’d give you a heads up – although I’ll probably be too preoccupied with the eating rather than blogging). This week I cut up a chicken, not like with no idea! – I should have said I prepared a chicken. I was  nearing the end of my freezer stock and as meat is relatively expensive, I took up the suggestion to buy a whole chicken instead and then divide it into sections myself. Now obviously you could just roast the chicken whole if you have time and then divide it, but I wanted the satisfaction of putting all the different cuts in their own freezer bags because I’m weird like that.

First off, you NEED a super DOOPER sharp knife. Mine was not sharp enough sadly, I found out after properly trying to thump my hand into the top of the blade to get it to cut through a bone. I used a very useful video which can be found here from the lovely chaps at sorted food to guide me through the mysterious world of meat preparation. So first I removed all the packaging and string etc. easy peasy! Then I attempted to find the wishbone, first off I must admit I looked for it at the wrong end and then I thought well this isn’t going well so I gave it a miss! If anyone has a simple way of describing it’s position, please do feel free to enlighten me in the comments below. Then I proceeded to cut off the chicken wings (where a super DOOPER (thought I’d have fun saying that again) sharp knife is a necessity!) which took about 20x longer than it should have. But eventually I got the legs and breast + fillets too. Now they all sit happily ever after in my freezer, that is until they are eaten.

Chicken carcass: Don’t through this away! You can make a flavoursome stock with this especially (so I’ve read) if you roast it first. Now I thought the sight of this would scare my flatmates a bit if they found that in the oven next to their pizza and chips – so it’s currently residing in the freezer until they’ve gone back home for Christmas (yes my course finishes a week later than everyone else meaning I will have a empty flat all my myself until 4 days before Christmas!) – then I’ll whip it out and conjure up some lovely stock using my recipe here.

So I hope you enjoyed my chicken encounters and I hope you are all having a lovely December! I would love to hear of any ‘must-try’ Christmas recipes you have in the comments below or just any Christmassy comments in general!