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Protein Packed Brown Lentil & Veggie Bolognese

This recipe I adapted from a brilliantly easy recipe from the I Quit Sugar website.

To be fair most of my inspiration has come from other people’s recipes and ideas, because I’m not quite there yet on the creative flair when it comes to good food.

The reason I wanted to make a bolognese this time, was merely down to the fact that we’d received, via the project, a few packs of diced vegetables brilliantly described as a ‘veg base’.   As the kind of person whom no longer frequents large supermarkets (only on the odd occasion where needs must), it somehow doesn’t surprise me that people are buying these ready made pots of diced veg.

Sadly, in today’s society people are in a rush. They want things now, rather than taking the time to pick (or even grow) their own veg.  They want things already peeled, already washed and now it seems – cut and diced!

Makes me sad, but as I’m not one to throw anything away I had to find a use for these before their use-by date really did go out of date!  Just so you know we’d received these on Friday, 25th March and the use-by date had already passed by two days!   But, funnily enough, they were still OK to cook, let alone eat!

So here’s what became of them!

What you’ll need (if you’ve not got one of those ready packaged diced veg!)

A bit of oil
2 celery sticks diced
1 onion diced
2 carrots diced
1 tin of chopped tomato’s or a jar of pasta sauce (I used a basil & tomato one)
1 tin of 400g brown lentils (mine were out of date by about 3 months)
1 cube of stock (vegetable) plus some water if required
2 cloves of garlic
2 handfuls of chopped fresh parsley (but I’m sure the dried stuff will do just as nicely)
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of chili flakes
a dash of salt and pepper (to taste)
some pasta of your choice (up to you)

What you’ll need to do:

Stick the oil in a wok or pan (non stick), throw in all the diced veg and garlic. Slowly cook on a medium heat until the veg softens, then stick on the lentils, tomatoes (or pasta sauce), the parsley and other herbs and crumble in the veg stock cube.  If the consistency is a little too thick throw in some water to loosen it up a bit so it’s not too dry.

Allow to heat through and simmer for 10-15 minutes or so.  Whilst that’s simmering cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet or however you like it!

Then serve, with a little pit of parsley to make it look pretty!

Nice yeah?

Enjoy

 

Px

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Leftover Veg & Mushroom Curry with Cauliflower Rice

Now I’m not a ‘spicy’ kind of a gal – well not when it comes to a curry – yet this lovely curry made with my own fair hand has a pretty good kick to it.    The beauty of it is that you can add as much or as little of those little red suckers (chili that is) as you want, with even a few dried flakes as you taste!

The trick also is to not boil the curry, to cook is nice and slow on a medium heat to help it all infuse to create a wonderfully delicious vegetable curry – that and slinging in whatever veg you feel like as you go along!   As you know, nothing is wasted in my household and if there’s a mushroom or two going slightly slimy at the back of the fridge or a bendy withered carrot or two then they are going in too!

This dish will work with whatever veg you fancy, so go with it and enjoy!

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Serves 4

What you’ll need:

The Vegetable Curry:

1 onion (red or white)
1 clove of garlic
a splash of oil
1 or 2 (whatever you fancy) chili (doesn’t have to be red) and/or a pinch of chili flakes
1 heaped teaspoon of ground cumin
1 heaped teaspoon of ground turmeric
250g of mushrooms
250g of whatever veg you fancy (I used a bag of frozen mixed veg)
a handful of fresh parsley
a handful of fresh coriander or dried stuff (that’s all I had)
200ml vegetable stock
400g can of tinned tomatos
400g can of coconut milk (or not if you don’t fancy it)
100g of fresh spinach

The Cauliflower Rice:

2 large cauliflowers (if going a little brown cut those bits off)
a splash of oil
a shake of dried coriander leaf

What you’ll need to do:

Peel and chop the onion and garlic, died the chili or chili’s and place in to a pan on a low heat with the oil.  Add the turmeric and cumin so they infuse with the onion and until softened.

Put in the vegetables, obviously washed and diced if required.  I put in whole button mushrooms and the bag of vegetables to give it a real mixture of size and texture.  Chop the herbs and sling in the pan too. Pour in the stock, and the coconut milk plus the chopped tomatoes and simmer it on a low heat – tasting as you go (I then added the extra chili flakes to make it a little bit hotter).

Simmer it all gently for around 30 minutes, adding more stock if it starts to dry (which shouldn’t happen due to the tomato’s and coconut milk).   Whilst this is simmering away make your cauliflower rice.

Break up the cauliflowers into small portions and then grate one piece of a time into a bowl – be aware this can get messy!  One grated, pour the oil into a wok once heated add the cauliflower a spoonful at a time.  Making sure you keep stiring so it doesn’t stick, making sure the cauliflower is cooked right through. To be honest, even if it’s a little bit raw it gives off a nice crunchy flavor.  Add the dried coriander and cook right through. Should only take 10 minutes to cook it all off.

Once cooked, divide onto 4 separate plates and add the curry on top.

You’re done!

Let me know how it goes, pictures please if you can via the Facebook Page 🙂

 

Paula x

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Courgette, Tomato & Spring Onion Gratin

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I’ve courgettes coming out of my ears at the moment!!! 

After picking up a latest collection from Jacobs Well Care Centre -I was relieved that it didn’t include banana’s this week – instead, to my delight, it contained lots of courgettes!

It seemed an age since we’d rescued courgettes; so to be able to use them in today’s dinner made me very happy – plus I’d seen a rather good (and easy) recipe in ‘A Girl Called Jack‘.

This dish is a little different, firstly it’s vegan so doesn’t include brie and secondly I had a few left-over spring onions starting to go a little bit slimy in the drawer of my fridge.

It’s a really filling dish, mainly due to the rice to bulk it out – but more because it’s very easy to make especially if you have a big family with lots of mouths to feed.  It’s also cheap to make; making sure you use whatever you have in your fridge or store cupboard – because believe me whatever you slip in will make it just as delicious as if you were following this recipe to the letter!

Plus this recipe gets you using your home grown (or like me you have ‘rescued’ some) herbs

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This recipe will feed 4 people comfortably.

What you’ll need:

1 red onion
4 spring onions
150g brown rice (just cos I find it better for you and more nutty, but white rice is fine too)
1 veg stock cube, dissoved in 200ml boiling water
1 x jar of tomato pasta sauce, or 400g tin of chopped tomato’s
a handful of fresh basil
a handful of fresh parsley
1 courgette
a drizzle of oil

What to do:

This is the easy bit!

Peel, dice your onion, and spring onions and place into a pan along with your rice.  Pour your stock in a little at a time on a low-ish heat, stirring most of the time until each part you put in is absorbed.  You may need to add a bit more water if your stock has finished before the rice is cooked, especially if you are using brown rice as that usually takes a bit longer.

Once the rice has just been cooked, add the pasta sauce you have or the chopped tomato’s.  Then add the fresh basil (torn up by hand) and parsley.  Then remove from the heat.

Take your courgette and chop very finely (width-ways).   Spoon the rice, tomato, onion and spring onion mixture into an oven proof dish.  Then place the sliced pieces of courgette around the dish until it covers the mixture.  Then add a drizzle of oil over the top of the courgette pieces to help them cook.

Right – once that has all done place the dish into the oven on about 180 centigrade/350 fahrenheit/gas 4 and leave in there for about 15 minutes until the courgettes are lightly toasted and soft.

Then you are done!

Serve with crusty bread (actually the bread in the photo was rock solid, that was until I learnt to revitalise it) – check out how in my next blog post!

See you soon

 

Px

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Red Lentil, Chickpea and Turmeric Curry

This recipe is to die for!

No seriously it is, it’s actually inspired by an even more delicious (if it can get better) recipe by Ella Woodward.  Ella’s ‘everyday’ cookbook contains a rather splendid recipe by the name of Chickpea, Quinoa and Turmeric Curry.

Instead of using quinoa, I wanted to make use of the kind of ‘ordinary/everyday’ ingredients we all have in our homes.  The kinds of things lurking at the back of the cupboard or fridge, things that are half used or on the way out!

It also requires coconut milk, which I didn’t have. Instead I found this, and voila with 200ml of water & a splash of soya milk – you get coconut milk (sort of!)

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You’ll notice the curry is a magnificent vibrant yellow-orange colour (the turmeric) which is contrasted by the delicious green of the spinach.  Making it, a pretty good dish even before you’ve tried it!

You won’t look back after creating this dish. It’s easy and so moreish you’ll keep going back for more – that I promise you.

What you’ll need:

Serves 2

1 large or 2 medium sized potato’s – unpeeled – cut into bite sized chunks.
1 garlic clove, chopped very finely
1.5 teaspoons turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon of chili flakes or powder
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
200g coconut milk or like me you have pure creamed coconut. Use about 50g, just add 200ml water and a splash of soya milk – add more coconut if it’s too watery although the chopped tomato’s will help thicken.
1/2 tbsp tomato puree
200 can chopped tomato’s
salt & pepper to taste
100g red lentils
200 can of chickpeas (or half a can of 400g)
70g spinach

What to do:

Place the chunks of potato’s in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil, cook until they just start to go tender (you can stick a knife in without them breaking up). Then drain.

Place the potato’s into a large pan, add the garlic, turmeric, coriander, chili, ginger, pure creamed coconut (or coconut milk), tomato puree and chopped tomatoes.  Bring to the boil, add salt and pepper as required.  Then add the lentils, adding around 150 ml boiled water.

Lower the heat to a simmer.  Add the lid and allow to cook for around 20 minutes, stir every few mins or so.  Halfway through throw in the chickpea’s and add the spinach when the 20 minutes is up.  Checking the lentils are cooked and not mushy.

Serve as it is in a bowl with lovely crusty bread, or place on top of nutty brown rice to give it contrast.

Let me know what you think 🙂

P x

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5 Reason’s why it’s best to start as a Veggie when ‘going’ Vegan

Ever been laughed at or ridiculed for your diet choice?

Perhaps you have.   Perhaps you’ve been on all kinds of diets that you’ve simply lost count of which one you’ve tried.  People have said that you’ll never do it, that you simply don’t have the willpower or wherewithal and perhaps those people could be right.  After all changing your diet is a big thing, isn’t it?

You see, food is important and more so when there’s a big old microscope coming from all different angles pointed right at you and your eating habits!   Because, people love nothing more than to point out that what you are doing is pointless.  Or point out that it’s a waste of time and that millions of other people are eating that food you are trying to avoid, so why bother?

It’s been just over a month since I decided to ‘go vegan’ and I am tempted to say it’s been hard (and it has in small ways). However in general , it really hasn’t been as tough as I led myself to believe and that because, in my opinion, became a vegetarian first. I felt it made the transition easier and probably not for the reasons you are expecting either.

You’ve done the hardest part (or so you think)

Most people, and I’m not one of them, find it harder to give up meat when they decide to go veggie.  We are brought up on the stuff, things like bangers and mash (if you are in the UK), toad in the hole and roast dinners are what us Brits are known for. So to be brazen enough to question it, even change it, can be a bit of a taboo subject even these days. It’s like you’re not a ‘real man’ if you don’t eat meat, or you’re losing out on vital vitamins and such like if you cut it out altogether.  Suddenly everyone is more concerned about what you eat than you are!

For me however, I didn’t really eat much of the stuff.  Granted I too had been brought up on roast dinners every Sunday, but as the 15th year of my youth fast approached (coincidentally at the same time my parent’s divorced which left me, my mum and my sister homeless for 6 months), I kind of stopped eating the stuff anyway.   However, going vegan and deciding to no longer have my boiled eggs for breakfast on a Sunday morning, or my cheese toasties at lunchtime – now that was waaaaay more of a challenge.

You see, once you are through the other side of the leaving the meat behind side of things, you’ll see giving up anything to do with animals at all that little bit easier – unless of course you are like me that is! But even so, being a vegan is more than giving up what you love and I’ll explain more about that later.

Just remember you’ve done the hard part!

You’ll know how to deal with the non-vegan nosy parkers and jokers!

Believe me when I say it, going Vegan isn’t something you want to tell everyone about.   Especially, like me, in your ‘day job’ you work in a small company making sandwiches when the only thing that resembles anything even remotely vegan is a cucumber and red onion sandwich!    Plus your boss actively tells you how he ‘hates’ vegans and continually takes the p**s out of you for not eating meat.

To be fair, I wasn’t a ‘tell everyone about it’ vegetarian in the first place.  I kind of came to being vegetarian in a haphazard way, with no real reasoning about it so I never felt the need to preach.  Yet, you’ll come across situations where you have to declare it.  Perhaps you share lunch with your friends, you need to book your place on the staff Christmas lunch and you have to state if you have any dietary requirements – then you have no choice.

If you become a vegetarian first, well you’ve already put yourself through the p**s-taking mill already. You’re an old hand at the witty comebacks to someone’s not so witty jokes about how animals need to be eaten; otherwise they’ll take over the earth or some other rubbish.  You’ll probably have lost count of the times someone has asked you why you decided to go without meat, or the stupid question ‘what do you actually eat?’  Believe me that question is asked ten times more when you finally decide to go all out and do the vegan thang!

So look at it this way, you’ll be a pro. You’ll be able to knock those jokes right out of the ball park and shrug it all off with a quick little retort – or worse say absolutely nothing.  You’ll, no longer care what others think and at the end of the day you know you are part of the solution rather than being part of the problem.  So go you!

You’ll love food all over again, like it was something you thought you invented!

I can’t cook, or at least that’s what I thought for over 20 years.  My ‘signature’ dish was shepherd’s pie, and believe me it was hit and miss at the best of times!  To be fair, since starting to cook for The Real Junk Food Project Portsmouth my cooking repertoire has improved significantly.  I can now cook curries, tagine’s, soups, casseroles, chili’s, bakes and other such vegetarian delights.  But I’ve never cooked, or been so interested in my food since becoming a vegan.

I mean I’ve started a blog about it – that must tell you something!

You’ll already feel like you are doing something astoundingly kind and unequivocally compassionate

Yep, you knew this was coming right?  Look, I’m not one for preaching about how not eating meat or anything derived from animals is the only way to go and if you don’t you’ll end up in hell.  It’s just not how I do this.  But, there are times when you might slip up, become tempted or even worse you end up eating something you thought was vegetarian but instead later (usually pointed out by a non-veggie person) that it’s not cruelty free after all (like who are they to judge huh?!!)

It’s going to happen, like it or not and you know what – who cares!?!

OK, perhaps those were the wrong words, but it goes like this. You are on a journey. A blinking good, kind and compassionate journey at that – make no bones about it.  You, actually give a damn about others.  Not just people, but other living human things. You are also giving an actual damn about the environment and this beautiful planet, and rather than sitting on your bum following the masses you, yes YOU, are doing something about it.  You’ve given up meat, something some people can’t even imagine doing in their life time, just cos ‘that’s how it’s always been’.

Deciding to start somewhere is not only amazing, it’s monumental.  Because ‘you are the change, you wish to see in the world’ (isn’t that a quote??!!)  It’s good, caring people like you that will make a difference, albeit a small one at first, but so what – it’s better than not at all!

Being a vegetarian will give you ammunition towards then deciding to go all out and becoming a vegan, cos you’ll not want to stop – believe me – it will come a ‘knocking!

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Me and Tommy at our allotment!

You’ll embrace your own weirdness and love it!

You know there are many stereotypes of a typical vegetarian.  The ‘tree hugger’ or ‘hippie’ or any other weird and wonderful descriptions.   People will see you as ‘weird’.  You don’t fit in like you used to and more so with the people you used to spend time with, especially your family.   Its part of the process I’m afraid.  Going vegetarian first will alleviate that pain and the loneliness at first.

The thing is when you decide to actually think for yourself, and do something about what you put into your body you begin to find out who you really are.  You’ll dig into your own uniqueness and actually spend time looking at why you make the decisions that you do.    It’s a big giant step into the unknown, which is by far the biggest way to grow both mentally and physically.  You’ll, start to rediscover things about yourself that you never knew existed and believe me being ‘alone’ isn’t a bad thing at all.

Embrace that weirdness, cos believe me when you go vegan that will only increase tenfold – and that can only be a good thing!

So dare to be different.  Go vegetarian first, if that helps because it’ll put you in good stead for when you decide to go the whole hog.  You’ll thank yourself for it.

Let me know how you get on.

P x

 

 

 

 

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Breakfast Banana & Blueberry Pancakes

What to have for breakfast on a beautiful Saturday morning….hmmmmm

These were my very thoughts after my morning walk with Tommy (the dog) and the fact that yet again we’ve received two boxes of perfectly edible banana’s.  All in pretty good nick, with the odd brown/black bits – but that’s the best way to have them right?

Sadly, most people don’t see this fact which is why Banana’s seem to always be in our collections each week.

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I’m always trying to come up with different ways to eat them. I’ve tried them on toast, bread, muffins and even in curries – oh and french toast (remember my post a few weeks ago?)   Banana’s go down really well as a breakfast, so to quench my banana thirst I made up these beautiful ‘stack-able’ pancakes; with a few blueberries thrown in for good measure!

They are sugar free, other than their own natural sugar’s of course and great for filling you up till lunch time!

What you’ll need:

(serves 1) 3 stack-able pancakes

1 tablespoon of oil
1 large-ish banana mashed
50g self-raising flour (or if you only have plain 50g plain with 1/2 a teaspoon of baking powder)
50ml of soya milk
a handful of blueberries (or whatever fruit you fancy tucking into)
a handful of sultana’s
a splash of lime juice (I like to use lime instead of lemon, but feel free to go with what you prefer!)

What to do:

Mix all the ingredients from mashed banana’s to blueberries into a nice batter (might be lumpy depending on how mashed the banana’s are). Heat the oil in a non-stick pan (i used my wok, just cos my non-stick sticks!) on a medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of batter at a and fry on each side for 1-2 minutes, do as many as you like – however this made about 4 pancakes in total. As each one is done, stack them on top of each other and then add the lime, honey or sugar if you prefer and a sprinkling of sultana’s.

I ate them without the sugar, just because the honey, banana’s and lime made them yummy!

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Now eat 🙂  I promise you you’ll be wanting more!

Lunchtime?

I will be!

Px

 

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Tea & Vegan Strawberry & Banana muffins

(OK the muffins don’t have tea in them, but we can’t have a muffin without a cuppa can we?!!)

I love strawberries and so do doubtless many people.  Yet, why in February do we need strawberries in our lives?

The last few weeks during our Junk Food Project collections, we’ve been intercepting lots of strawberries.   Lots of big juicy red slightly over ripe strawberries, but nonetheless beautifully tasty.
Fruit is so important and although (after a little bit of research) strawberries aren’t actually fruits as their seeds are on the outside – they are in fact runners and are not produced by seeds; strawberries are high in vitamin C, K and a great source of fibre, potassium and so much more.

Yet in February, in the UK, strawberries are not yet ready for harvest let alone ready to be planted! So why are we so insistent on having them when they simply aren’t ready?   So rather than wait we ship them in from abroad, because ‘that’s what we are used to’.

Which is why we have so many going to waste right??!!!!

I would, and could, go on about the environmental impact on such waste.  The throwaway society we have, and the constant need for more above and beyond what nature intended.  But I think you may already know my view point on that if you’ve been following The Project or even been to our cafe.

So instead, I wanted to make use of these beautiful fruits, rather than see them go mushy and furry in the back of the fridge or worse – in the bin! (not that this would ever happen with me, they’d go to compost)

So I made…..

Strawberry & Banana Muffins! (cos we always get Banana’s – but that’s another story!)

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What you’ll need:

113 g vegan margarine melted (I used pure sunflower spread)
125 ml soya milk
2 large banana’s
150 g strawberries chopped
320 g flour
150 g light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

What do to:

Preheat your oven to 180 c (a bit less if you have a fan assisted oven), and place the muffin cases in the muffin tray.

Melt your marge. You won’t need to melt it for too long as vegan margarine is pretty soft and then let it cool down to room temp.

Mash your banana’s with a fork, add the milk and the vanilla extract – then once all mixed add the melted margarine.

In another bowl mix all the other another ingredients and then throw in the strawberries. Make sure they are covered with the flour mixture, just so they don’t all sink to the bottom of each muffin (you want to see them!)

Add the banana mixture to the strawberry mixture and combine. Not too much though, just enough so they all coat each other – you don’t want your muffins to come out like bricks!

Then fill each muffin cup, you might have loads left over as I had enough to make about 13 – but I am sure one more won’t hurt! 🙂

They’ll take about 15 – 20 minutes depending on how good your oven is.  Let them cool, as they aren’t as tasty too warm!

Let me know how they went, would love to see your pictures if you can! 🙂

Px

Read More:http://www.egglesscooking.com/strawberry-banana-muffins-recipe/

 

 

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Garlicky Kale with Tomato’s & Cashew Nuts on a load of Spaghetti!

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What’s all the fuss about with Kale?

OK, I’ll be honest with you.  This is the first time I’ve ever cooked and eaten kale (let alone saved it from going to landfill!).   Whilst we get quite a bit of veg from our waste food collections, kale isn’t top of the list, that is until last Monday night when we rescued bags of the stuff!

Kale has many great benefits, even if your’e not a vegan (obviously), but more so because it’s a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron and Vitamin K (and so much more!).   So I was as eager as a child at Christmas to get my mitts on a bag or two – so this Monday was my lucky day!

It’s a great vegetable to use with pasta, so that’s why I chose to use it with spaghetti, tomato’s, lashings of garlic,  a handful of cashew nuts and sultana’s to give it that extra dab of deliciousness.

And for a change, I wasn’t wrong!

Try it, and believe me you’ll be asking for more – I know I did.

Garlicky Kale with Tomato’s & Cashew Nuts on a load of Spaghetti

What you’ll need (feeds 1-2)

A couple of handfuls of spaghetti
2 table spoons of olive oil
2 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 Onion (chopped)
2 handfuls of kale (torn up into bit sized chunks, remembering to remove the stalks)
A dash of salt and pepper
A handful of cashew nuts
A handful of sultana’s
A splash or two of lemon juice
2 handful’s of cherry tomato’s (cut in half)

What to do:

Cook your pasta and put to one side (making sure it’s not too overdone) or use up any that’s sitting in your fridge (like mine was after Monday night’s cafe night) – wondering what to do with it!

Whilst that’s cooking, heat up a frying pan or wok with the oil.  Add the chopped onions, garlic and a shake or two of the salt and pepper.  Let them cook, but not brown, for a couple of minutes letting the onion become infused by the garlic.

Then add the kale, the tomato’s, cashew nuts, sultana’s and a splash or two of lemon juice.   Fry them on a medium heat, stirring constantly coating the kale with the oil and the garlicky onions – until the kale is tender and the tomato’s soften.

Once all mixed and softened take the pasta off the pan or boil a kettle and pour the hot water over the spaghetti (whilst in a jug) to reheat it.    Drain the pasta, place in a bowl and then top that with the garlicky kale mixture.

All done.  Let me know what you think 🙂  I especially loved the sultana’s added to it – just gave it that little bit of extra sweetness to the savoriness of the dish.

Enjoy!

 

Px

This recipe was inspired by a similar recipe on RealSimple.com

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