The perfect bolognese sauce

Bolognese

The days where I ate spaghetti Bolognese with bucket loads of ketchup on top are far (okay, maybe not that far) behind me.

I never seemed to like that traditional Italian dish. Which is odd, because your everyday child will probably put it on their ‘favorite food’ list. It wasn’t on mine, but I slowly got into it thanks to my dear old friend mr. Heinz. Nowadays me and mr. Heinz don’t tend to join forces as much anymore…

At the moment I prefer my bolognese sauce natural and sugar free. And – you could have known – as healthy as possible. So luckily for me, my mom and dad learned me the perfect spaghetti Bolognese recipe (healthyfied with a cupcakesandbeans touch, hence the home made mince). It’s not the ‘real deal’, because a real Italian wouldn’t even consider adding carrots or mushrooms. But hey, I’m only a pretend Italian. So I’m allowed to add whatever the hell I want. Enter: the veggies! 🙂

I went low carb this time and chose courghetti (zoodles) instead off pasta. The boyfriend did go spaghetti all the way. Just one extra pot that needs a clean afterwards, but otherwise: no prob!

You’ll need (serves 2 people, about 495 kcal pp IF you go courghetti instead of pasta!)

For the tomato sauce:

  • 2 shallots
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 4 tomatoes
  • a pinch of bell pepper powder
  • a pinch of harissa
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 3 carrots
  • 200g of button mushrooms

For the minced meat:

  • 150g porc fillet
  • 150 veal fillet
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • (or you can buy some readymade minced meat)

Directions:

First prepare your tomato sauce. Cut up one shallot into small pieces and peel and press a garlic clove. Fry them in a small pot in some coconut oil until it looks glaze. Cut up your tomatoes. Doesn’t matter if they’re still a bit chunky. Add the with the garlic and shallot. Season with salt and pepper, a pinch of bell pepper powder and some harissa. To taste, you can spice things up as much as you please. Let it simmer for a while. Mix the lot until you get a sauce texture.

Now prepare your minced meat. You can find a ‘how to’ here. Fry in a large pan and add to your tomato sauce once it’s done.

Cut up a shallot into small pieces. Heat a large pot (I used my ‘Le Creuset) with some coconut oil on a medium fire. Add the shallot. Peel the carrots and cut them up into small slices. Add them with your shallot when it looks glaze. Season with some salt and pepper. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in small pieces. Add them with the carrots. After a few minutes add the tomato sauce with the mince, now let it simmer for a while.

Meanwhile you can start to boil some water for your pasta or you can prepare the courghetti.

Et voila, that’s all there is to it. Oh, maybe one last tip: bolognese sauce tastes a million times better when prepared the day before. 🙂

Bon appetito!

xo, Kirsten

Bolognese sauce

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Coq au Vin

Coq Au Vin

Chicken in red wine. That’s exactly what ‘coq au vin’ means in French. This is a classic. It’s a great recipe for lazy and slow sundays. Mind that it has to simmer for about a hour and a half, and then we’re not talking prepping and cooking times. 🙂 Usually, it’s not the healthiest of dishes out there. But, I happily invented a clean and healthy version. Well, as clean and healthy as possible since you can’t ditch the wine in coq au VIN. Would make the name of the dish quite pointless, right? But, on a sunday you get to cheat a little and even have another glass of wine on the side.

It’s quite easy to swap most of the ingredients in a lot of stews. Most sauces are made with big amounts of butter, white flour and cream. Let me tell you that all of these have a healthy substitute out there without you ever tasting much of a difference. Whenever a recipe requires white flour I tend to put some (Quaker) Oatmeal in the food processor until it turns to flour. Cream? Believe you me, greek yoghurt also does the trick. Not need for unhealthy cream to create creamy sauces. Even low fat greek yoghurt is still way better than low fat cream. Keep that in mind next time you add cream to your soup or sauce ;).

I did use a little bit of butter this time. And olive oil. I never use olive oil when I use high heat (coconut oil instead), this stew only simmered for hours, so no harm was done with olive oil.

Another side note: I used bacon (pronounced French) derived from the pigs fillet. Not as greasy as normal bacon which is cut from the belly of the pig. Bacon from the belly is much more greasy than bacon from the fillet or ham. I bought it at the supermarket.

You’ll need (serves 2 people, 547 kcal pp)

  • 300g chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp Quaker oats (flour)
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinaigrette
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 250g mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 250 ml red wine
  • 50g Bacon
  • thyme
  • bay leaf
  • 200g parsnip
  • nutmeg
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pepper

Directions

Start by cutting up the shallots and the garlic clove and clean and cut the mushrooms. Remove the seeds from the tomatoes and cut them into small dices.

Add your stew pot (I used my ‘Le Creuset’) to a medium heat with the olive oil and butter. Add the bacon and cook until it starts to look glaze. Now add the mushrooms, shallots and garlic clove and cook for a few minutes. Remove it from your stew pot and set aside for a while.

Add the chicken together with the oat flour to the stew pot and bake until it looks brown. (I cut up my chicken into pieces first because I had to uneven pieces :)). Drizzle some balsamic vinaigrette on top. Add the red wine with the thyme and the bay leaf. Add some cinnamon and pepper too. Wait until it cooks, then add the mushrooms, bacon, shallots and garlic clove again. Wait until it cooks again, then let it simmer for about an hour with the lit on top.

After one hour, remove the bay leaf and thyme and let it simmer for another half an hour without the lit.

Meanwhile peel the parsnip and steam them for about 10 minutes. Put into a pot and add some salt and pepper and a good amount of nutmeg. Now mix until it turns to mash. This is another great carb swap by the way. You wont miss an old school potato mash when you have parsnip mash. Has a tad bit more of an outspoken taste though. But combines great with the coq au vin. The boyfriend mashed some potatoes through the parsnip afterwards.

Et voila, simple comme bonjour: le coq au vin a la cupcakes and beans. 🙂 And besides the wine, healthy and nutritious!

Bon appetit!

xo, Kirsten

Belgian traditional stew: Stoofvlees

Stoofvlees

‘Stoofvlees’ is a famous dish in Belgium. Any self-respecting Belgian household makes it at least once a month. So do I. Especially since my mom gave me an expensive pot roast from Le Creuset for my 25th birthday. I have to use it wisely. So why not for some old school ‘stoofvlees’ (meat stew) with (healthy oven roasted sweet potato) fries and beer. Jep, you HAVE to eat ‘Stoofvlees’ with fries and drink a beer along with it (preferably dark beer. And preferably Belgian beer ;), though I drink it with a cherry beer. Sweet tooth, remember). You can always add a little salad on the side for your daily greens. I have to admit that this recipe isn’t all that traditional. It’s the pimped Cupcakes and Beans version. A mixture of my mom’s recipe, Famous Belgian TV chef Jeroen meus, some internet tips and my own good sense and a secret ingredient. Which goes live from now on all over the internet :). I also add mushrooms. I don’t know why, but I always want veggies. Plain fries, meat and sauce doesn’t really cut it for me. So, if you want to stay traditional: leave out the mushrooms. They’re just a little C&B touch.

You’ll need (makes 2 servings, 600kcal pp)

–          Stew meat (150g pp)

–          Dark beer (I chose a Belgian classic ‘Grimbergen’)

–          1 cane sugar cube

–          A bay leaf and thyme (or a readymade bouquet garni from the supermarket)

–          1 medium yellow onion

–          1 tablespoon of coconut oil and olive oil (for the sweet potato fries)

–          2 sweet potatoes (about 200g pp)

–          Cinnamon

–          Salt and pepper

–          250g button mushrooms

–          1 slice of dark bread

–          1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

Directions

Start by chopping your onion. Keep them a bit chunky. Heat a pot roast (my Le Creuset) on a medium heat with some coconut oil and add the onion.

Meanwhile put a pan on a high heat and add your meat together with some salt and pepper to taste. Fry until it looks golden and brown and after add them to your pot roast with the onion.

Keep your pan on the heat and add half a dark beer (Grimbergen in my case). It’s always a good idea to use a little more. Everyone likes a little extra sauce? Uhu, thought so.

When the beer boils together with leftover meat encrustation you may add it to the pot roast.

Add a cube of cane sugar and your herbs. I added a bay leaf and some thyme.

Now take 1 slice of dark bread and generously apply some Dijon mustard on top. Add it to your pot roast with the mustard facing downwards.

If you don’t want your sauce to get too thick, half a piece of bread is enough for two persons. Now add a pinch of cinnamon (hah, secret cupcakes and beans ingredient! But trust me, it’s dang good!) and let the whole thing simmer away.

Clean your mushrooms, cut them into pieces and throw them in with the rest of the ‘stoofvlees’ (meat stew). Now you can leave it to simmer for up to 3 hours. The longer, the thicker and tastier your sauce will get.

After two hours, you can start with the sweet potato fries.

Pre-heat your oven to 200/220 C° or 392/410 F°.  Peel two large sweet potatoes and cut them into fries. You can choose the thickness you want. I love my fries on the medium side.

Spread them on an oven tray on a baking sheet. Generously sprinkle some olive oil on top and a good amount of cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Now put them in the oven for about 45 minutes up to an hour. Check them regularly and stir them a bit.

Now all there is left to do is serve it with a cool beer and enjoy a good sunday night traditional Belgian dinner! 😉

IMG_1886

Bon appetit!

xo, Kirsten

Skinny Chili con carne

Skinny Chili Con Carne

That’s right. SKINNY chili is what the title says. And that’s exactly the recipe I’m going to hand you. Based on the not so skinny version, off course ;).

I wouldn’t call myself a Mexican Food lover. (And let’s pretend my man and I didn’t have a mexican dinner before our movie-date-night yesterday. Meet the Millers was soooo good btw) But I do love a fajita or some chilli con carne from time to time. I often crave Mexican food because of the beans that are used in most of their recipes. Beans in a salad, between my tortilla or with tomato sauce… It’s always a promise of good food. What can I say, I’m a devoted lentil-eater! Very good food to add for your daily protein intake fyi.

But, as you might know, Mexican food is usually more of a unwholesome treat than a healthy and nutritious meal. With Fajitas, you can easily make it lean and clean by using whole wheat Tortillas and loads of veggies with chicken or steak. Chilli con carne on the other hand is another matter. Luckily for you, I’ve created a skinny chilli recipe. And if my man likes the skinny version, I bet everyone will.

You’ll need (Serves two, about 535 kcal pp):

  • 1 bell pepper (yellow, green of red. I chose yellow to add some color)
  • 200g button mushrooms
  • 1 red chili pepper
  • 2 veal fillets
  • 1 egg
  • Canned Black beans (or white beans, or both. whatever you prefer.)
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Harissa
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

First, make your own tomato sauce! It’s so easy (I promise) and much healthier than the ones you buy in jars at the supermarket. Just add some olive oil into a small saucepan and add the garlic cloves (peeled and mashed) and your onion. Your onion can be chopped up in big chunks. Cut your tomatoes in medium pieces. And add them when your onions start to look glaze. You might have noticed I didn’t write down to remove the seeds or skin from the tomato. Too much trouble and I don’t mind them in this sauce. But you can always remove them, if you’re not a fan. 🙂 Add some seasoning: salt and pepper and some harissa (to your taste). Let it cook, and then simmer for about an hour (or more). You can prepare your sauce a day in advance – or way in advance and keep it in the freezer – the longer it simmers, the tastier and thicker it gets.

Put a pot roast on a medium high heat. I use ‘Le Creuset’ pot roast, which was a birthday present from my mom last year. I know they’re pricey, but they are great and worth every cent. And they look so granny :). Add some olive oil. Meanwhile, clean your mushrooms and cut them into pieces. Slice up the bell pepper into small pieces. Add your mushrooms into the pot roast together with the bell pepper. Now cut up your chili pepper. Remove the seeds! (unless you like things extremely spicey) And also add it to your pot roast. Now let it simmer for a while on a low heat.

Now it’s time to put your veal fillets into a food processor with an egg until it looks like mince (the egg makes it more moist) and add some seasoning to taste: salt and pepper. I also added a little more harissa to spice things up (just a pinch though). You can – off course – also buy prepared minced meat in your local supermarket. I just like to advice everyone otherwise :), because you have no control or idea on what ingredients they use to make the minced meat. Processed foods like supermarket minced meat are no good for you. Just take a peek at the ingredient list on the back of the minced meat, you won’t know or recognize half of the words that are on it. And do you really want to put that in your mouth? It’s extremely fat and unhealthy! Eww! That’s why we started making it ourselves a while ago. Takes you about 5 minutes extra. Max. And it’s so much better, tastier and most importantly: healthier!

Put a pan on a high heat and start frying your – home made – mince. Chop it up during frying with a wooden spatula. When it starts to look golden and brown, add it to your pot roast. Open your canned beans and also throw them in your pot roast. Now also add the tomato sauce and a cup of water and let the whole pot roast simmer for a half an hour to an hour. (I prepared mine a day in advance, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, so the only thing left to do the day after is to warm it back up)

I ate my Chili with a salad on the side, but you can also eat it with rice or a whole wheat tortilla. Think Mexican ;)!

Et voila, skinny chili is all yours!

Chili Con Carne

Bon appetit,

xo, Kirsten