I love cooking, always have. I enjoy nothing more than finding new things to cook and create in the kitchen and find it a good de-stressing mechanism. Sadly though, I am finding less and less time to be creative in the kitchen.
As a single parent the one thing that is in short supply constantly is time. There is never enough of it. By the time I walk in at just after 6pm with Addison who is starving from after school club at the moment dinner is consisting of salads or quick oven meals like fish finger pie, or warmed up dinners that I have previously frozen. I’ve even resorted to keeping a couple of Weight Watchers meals in the fridge, otherwise it can be 9pm before I start to sit down and eat once I have done the whole bedtime routine.
There is also the other side of the coin in that cooking for one is well, really not that exciting and actually more of a faff than cooking for two or four as you have to adjust recipes so much it seems pointless getting all the ingredients, and sometimes can be costly too.
The dilemma rages on; I am constantly on the look out for ways I can have healthy, nutritious food quickly without compromising on the fresh quality food I love to eat.
Enter my new kitchen gadget the Tefal Actifry Express XL which the lovely folk at IdealWorldTV have kindly sent to me to try out and see if I can get back to creating quick healthy meals that don’t eat into my valuable down time of an evening – MASSIVE THANK YOU!
Now I have to admit the thought of a frying machine reminds me of deep fat fryers of the 80s, fat fires and greasy chips. One quick look online for Tefal Actifry recipes and it is easy to see that the Actifry Express XL is much more than just about cooking chips. With the ability to cook curries, risottos, stews and bolognese in as little as 20 minutes this revolutionary dry fry method cooks food evenly and there is no compromise on taste. You can use olive oil, canola oil or coconut oil (my oil of choice because of the health benefits) in the machine and once you’ve set the timer, thanks to the self stirring mechanism you can simply leave your dinner to cook and enjoy some time to do other more productive things – like a cup of tea and your feet up for 5 minutes!
There is a recipe book included in the box but as I was cooking a family meal for Addy, J and I over the Bank Holiday I needed something that was a firm favourite and would be demolished by my little fussy eater. A quick Google for recipes revealed an adaptation for spaghetti bolognese which would be ready in just 30 minutes – bonus! I adapted the recipe slightly by adding in tinned tomatoes rather than fresh and also a beef stock cube for a bit of extra flavour together with a tablespoon of tomato puree and some oregano.
Without even reading the instruction (a test of just how easy a time-saving gadget is) I plugged it in and warmed up my oil using the simple one touch timing buttons. Once warm it was a case of throwing in my carrots, onion and celery for just 10 minutes and time for a quick game of animal snap with Addy as you can walk away and leave the Actifry to cook for you thanks to the automatic stirring paddle.
After 10 minutes the machine bleeped and it was time to add in everything else and re-set the timer for 20 minutes and pop on a pan of water for the pasta. Already a gorgeous smell was wafting around my kitchen and the pan is a good size for doing a meal for four with plenty of room for the ingredients to move around and cook evenly.
After 20 minutes I opened the Tefal Actifry Express and was greeted by a rich, delicious smelling spaghetti bolognese which on quickly tasting (chef’s perks) was full of flavour and bursting with taste.
I was obviously so excited by my first meal in the gadget that I forgot to take a finished picture of it in all its glory. The evidence in just how good the meal tasted was in the fact that every last bit was eaten by the hungry hordes and there was even a request for more.
I loved the fact that instead of slaving over my cooker for the last 30 minutes I had been able to put a fresh, healthy meal together and enjoy time with my daughter and even better there was just one pan to rinse and wash up – surely every busy parents dream!
I am already planning my next meal and cannot wait to cook some of the legendary chips. The machine is currently priced at £249.99 which is a hefty investment to make, but if you like cooking, want to spend time with the family rather than in the kitchen and create a range of delicious healthy meals then I’d definitely recommend it. It really is so much more than a fat fryer.
Do you have a Tefal Actifry Express? If so what’s your favourite thing to cook in it?