Monday, 22 July 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 22nd July

Happy Monday folks! I have had a lovely holiday but am ready to get back to work and back to eating like a normal person again. I don't know if this is just me but when I am off work I tend to spend the majority of my day standing in front of the fridge plotting what I can eat next. I swear I am obsessed!

A few times I had to take myself off upstairs for a siesta, just to get away from the kitchen. Needless to say I have gained about 4lbs and really need to start getting back to a routine.

It's really hard to stick to a routine when the weather is so nice though, you don't want proper food but just graze through the day. Well, that has to stop so here is my meal plan for this week;

Not a great start as I am off to Clandestine Cake Club tonight. I baked a lovely coconut peach melba cake (more on this later)

Chilli beef and brocoli egg fried rice.

Sticky BBQ chicken thighs with sweet potato wedges and salad.

Chicken enchiladas

Lightly dusted haddock fillets with homemade chips and peas.

I got away for a week (again) on Saturday, but will try to stick to a healthier meal plan while I am away too. I am visiting family in Suffolk, so hopefully we will be kept busy enough so I wont be constantly thinking about food!

What are you guys eating this week? Inspire me!

I have entered my meal plan into Mrs M's linky.


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream.

Let me set the scene for you. Last weekend I was a bit bored and looking for something new to bake/make. I had two rather sad looking bananas that needed using and had already baked banana bread and muffins recently. So, I did my usual and took to pinterest for inspiration.
Now, this recipe is one of those that has been going around for-ever! I always see it and think "Yeah right, as if that works". Out of pure curiosity and boredom I decided to call its bluff, prove it wrong and do some sort of victory dance.

I followed the recipe step by step, it is ridiculously simple. Maybe it is the simplicity that has me convinced that it will never work. I chop the bananas, pop them in the big freezer in the garage and wait...

An hour or so later I pull them out and pop them in my mini-processor. Whizz, whizz, whizz... as if this is going to come together into a creamy ice cream like substance... Oh!

Guess what! It totally bloody works! A brief spin in the processor and I was looking at a creamy, smooth, ice-cream like substance! It was a little runny so I popped it in a little tupperware tub and froze it for a while longer. The flavour is very banana-y, on its own it was a little overpowering so next time I might have to stir some nutella or peanut butter through it. Even some blueberries or nuts would of been lovely! Very adaptable and easy.

print recipe

One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream
  • Bananas
Chop your bananas. I used two and this made about 3 big scoops. Place them on a plate and freeze until solid. (takes about an hour)Pop the frozen bananas into your processor and whiz until smoothYou can eat right away, or freeze until your ready to eat it. Mine was in the freezer for 3 hours and was fine, I am not sure how it would keep long term though.

I whipped up a quick batch of fudgey dark chocolate brownies and we had them for dessert on Sunday. Really impressed with this recipe and will definitely be making them again if this lovely weather keeps up!
Happy summer folks!


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Sunday Summary

I am in full-on Holiday mode as of last Friday! I am off work for a whole blissful week. It is my Birthday on Thursday so I have lots of little fun things planned throughout the whole week. I have always felt birthdays are over far too quickly so birthday weeks are more my style.

I'll fill you all in on my exciting birthday funsies next week, but for now here is what I got up to in the last week.

I baked some delicious treat to take into work in celebration of my birthday. I baked some dark chocolate brownies and some chocolate swirl meringues. They went down an absolute treat! Considering the fact that I spend a lot of time baking I hardly ever take things to work, it is a good feeling having people compliment your baking though.

The meringue recipe was courtesy of Amy from She Cook She Eats who has starting vlogging recently, you should check out her videos, the one for poached eggs is a game-changer. I had never had much luck with poached eggs but thanks to Amy I made some for my dinner on Tuesday, they were perfect!

The Chocolate meringues I made were for the people at work who are on diets. I used "half-spoon" sugar and Weight Watchers cocoa. They were really mallowy in the middle, such a treat!

I also spent a lot of last weekend in the garden. The weather over the last week has been nothing short of glorious so it was great to get out in it. Although the SPF 50 sunscreen was out in full force!

I have a tiny little front yard which has been woefully neglected over the last two years (by me). The weeds were getting a little out of control - to the point that I lost the cat in them! Something had to be done. So I borrowed a spade from a neighbour a got to work.

It took the best part of two days, I was sweaty, red faced and achy by the end but it was worth it! Also, who needs an expensive gym membership when you can work up a sweat in the garden!?

Finally, I thought I would share the book I just finished. Its a lovely story of two teenage girls and their friendship, I would say this was perfect holiday reading material, not a difficult read but just a lovely story which I had trouble putting down! I am always looking for recommendations of books to read, so if you have one please send it my way! I am reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn right now, I'll let you know how I get on with it.

Hope you all had a lovely week in the sunshine.


Thursday, 11 July 2013

Manchego and Chive Scones.

I have come to the conclusion through lots of googling and absolutely no medical expertise that I may be slightly intolerant to dairy. I won't get all "embarrassing bodies" on here but having cut dairy out for two weeks in May I definitely felt better. I haven't been able to keep up with the no-dairy thing though, I mean MOZZARELLA! BRIE! LATTE! I just can't stop having all the lovely things! I have zero willpower.

While I was on my no-dairy kick I decided to experiment with a bit of non-dairy baking. I was initially rather proud of these scones, however, someone kindly pointed out on twitter that they aren't dairy-free. I still don't quite understand it as I thought sheep's cheese was dairy-free but apparently not. *shrugs*

Either way it is delicious and cow's milk free which seems to be what causes my issues so I am happy....

I am definitely trying to cut back on the dairy front, substituting cows milk for soya or almond/hazelnut, using Pure soya margarine, trying to cut back on cheese consumption or use lacto-free. It is really hard to cut out completely as so many things have dairy listed in the ingredients but I figure if I cut back and be aware of my reactions to things I can start to feel better without feeling deprived.

I would be interested to hear if any of you have a food intolerance and how you handle it.

These beauties didn't look like traditional scones, but the flavour was amazing. The smokey manchego really came through and the spelt flour added a nuttyness to the dough without being dry. Overall I was impressed with them and had them alongside homemade soup for my lunches all week long!

print recipe

Manchego and Chive Scones
  • 250g Plain Flour
  • 200g Spelt Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda
  • a pinch of Salt
  • 30g Pure Dairy-free spread
  • 325ml Almond Milk
  • 110g Manchego Cheese
  • A handful of Roughly chopped chives
Sift together the dry ingredients into a bowl (flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt)add the dairy free spread and rub it into the flour mixture.slowly add the almond milk to the dry mixture, I use my Kitchenaid to form the dough but you can do it by hand. You are looking for a scruffy looking dough.Finally add the cheese and chives, working it through the dough. (I held back a little handful of the cheese for the tops)I formed small balls from my dough rather than cutting and sprinkled some spare cheese on the top.I baked at 180C (fan assisted) for 12-15 minutes, until nice and golden on the top.

I managed to get 15 scones from this dough, which worked out at 4 Weight Watchers Propoints each.

If you have any tips on how to be dairy-free I would love to hear them, or any recipes you may have please leave me a link!? Thanks!


Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Homemade Tortilla Wraps.

I have never been the biggest fan of wraps, there was a time when the concept of wraps was all the rage, better for you than bread, lighter, different etc... I always us found them a little dry and sweaty, sitting in their plastic wrapping going a bit soggy. The thought of them was just a bit grim. Don't even get me started on weight watchers wraps. *shudder*

There has been the odd occasion where I have eaten a wrap in a restaurant and enjoyed it, but I figured they must make their own which sounds super complicated.

Boy, was I wrong....

Home-made tortilla wraps were so incredibly easy to do and the end product was a beautifully soft, pliable wrap which I immediately filled with delicious falafel and practically swallowed whole. They also freeze really well so you don't have to be making them all the time.

print recipe

Homemade Flour Tortillas
  • 175g Plain or Bread Flour
  • 100g Spelt Flour
  • 75ml Skimmed Milk
  • 25ml Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Baking powder
  • half a teaspoon Salt
Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl (I use my kitchenaid for this, but you can do it by hand, just requires more patience and time)You need to slowly add the milk and oil to the dry mixture, if you are using a mixer just do this with it on a low setting with a dough hook attachment. It will form a soft dough in just a couple of minutes.If you are doing this by hand, make a well in the middle of the flour and add the liquid. Slowly work the flour and liquid together, it will get messy and seem like it will never come together but it will! I promise!Once it has come together into a smooth dough, I leave it for around 5-10 minutes to relax.Divide the dough into equal sized portions, Then roll into ballsYou need a hot frying pan or skillet for the next bit. Roll out your balls of dough into thin rounds and place into a hot dry frying pan.They just need a couple of minutes on each side, you will notice brown spots and parts will fluff up, this is all normal.They don't take much cooking so once they are browned, set to one side and get to work on the rest.

I ate about 3 of them fresh and they were heavenly, then I layered the rest with greaseproof paper and froze them in a ziplock freezer bag. This meant I could get one out at a time, they weren't quite as lovely defrosted as they were fresh but they still were tastier than shop bought by a mile!

This recipe made 8 decent sized tortillas which worked out at 4pp each on weight watchers.

I replaced a third of the flour with spelt which gave a nice extra dimension, but you can just use all plain flour or bread flour if you prefer. Next I want to try some other styles of flatbread and maybe some different flavours.

Feel free to share your own flatbread/tortilla recipes below, I really want to get experimenting with different ones! Oh and let me know your favourite fillings too!


Monday, 8 July 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 8th July

The last couple of weeks at work have been pretty full-on. Lots of stressful, headache inducing, long days which inevitable led to crashing on the sofa evenings where cooking was the last thing on my mind. The dishes piled up, we ate a lot of pasta based dishes; it was not pretty or fun.

Now its over I am keen to get back on the straight and narrow, not only with housework/cooking but also being a little healthier. My Weight Watchers membership ran out a few weeks ago and I haven't been in the right mindset to rejoin. I have gained a couple of pounds but I am reluctant to rejoin straight away as I was beginning to get a bit complacent and if you are not in the right mindset it can just be a tremendous waste of money!

So anyway, here is me trying to be organised and stuff...

My breakfasts this week will be cereal with milk/yoghurt and fruit, my lunches will be soup/salads/leftovers.

Breakfast will consist over bacon, either in sandwich form or alongside some form of egg.
We will then have a lovely roast pork dinner in the evening, with all the trimmings.

Quorn and black bean chilli with brown rice.

Leftover chilli enchiladas with salad.

BBQ chicken thighs with sweet potato wedges and salad.

Harrisa and chorizo pasta bake (with plenty of leftovers for lunches)

We have a choice of either king prawn linguine or lightly dusted haddock filet with boiled potatoes and veggies. All depends on if we are a bit pasta-d out after Thursday.

Saturday night will be homemade pizza night!

I did everything the right way round this week, planning the meals and then ordering the food online, so we only spent £46 (including cat food and litter) and have everything we need! Bonus.

I have entered my meal plan into Mrs M's linky.


Friday, 5 July 2013

Bourbon Spiked Banana Bread

I have a confession to make. I am slightly obsessed with Joy the Baker. Not in a crazy/stalker/worrying way, but in a totally healthy girl-crush/ I want to be you a little bit - way. I am a little late to the party with this obsession as I know friends of mine have been following her for a while. I guess I was reluctant to try any of her recipes as they were American and what the heck is a cup anyways?! However, after I binge-listened to about 95 episodes of the Joy the Baker podcast I finally succumbed and bought her cookbook.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Flicking through this book, I don't think there is a single recipe I don't want to try. From the buttermilk cinnamon rolls to the pimped-out rice crispie treats... I want to try them all!

However as soon as I clapped eyes on the bourbon laced banana bread I knew, it was meant to be. If there are two things that are always readily available in my kitchen its rotting bananas and bourbon. The chocolate is a little harder to come by (as I tend to eat it before I get a chance to bake it) but a quick trip to the corner shop for emergency bournville and I was all set.

The batter was so easy to make, just a few minutes in the Kitchen Aid, and then pour into a loaf tin. It took quite a while to cook (slightly longer than stated in the recipe) but was well worth the wait. The bourbon came through really strongly and my whole house smelled like boozey/banana-heaven. It took me about 3 days to polish off the whole thing, I refused to share this one (sorry coworkers, this one is MINE!)

Now listen, I am probably going to irritate you now but not actually posting the recipe. The reason being, you should totally buy this book! I rarely do this, as I rarely find a book that I don't mind actually paying for (I am a cheap-skate). This one however is totally worth the £9.59 its selling for on Amazon.

If you don't have the cash for a new cookbook right now, there are plenty of recipes on Joy's blog to keep you going in the mean time.

So, I am sorry if you were expecting a kick-ass recipe and ended up reading a book review. I think over the summer I am going to totally experiment with this basic banana bread recipe and create my own rockin' version. So keep an eye out for that!

Also, my birthday is just around the corner (July 18th!) so if you have any cookbook/gadget recommendations let me know as that birthday money will be burning a hole!


Thursday, 4 July 2013

Lazy Girl: Gym for the Win?

As you know I have been making a concerted effort to be more active. So, when I saw this "Gym for the Win" campaign over on Where are my Knees, I thought it would be a great way to try out a local gym, see if its for me. The main objective though was to see if it was good value for money.

I haven't been a fully fledged member of a gym for years. I joined a local gym back in 2008 for a year, paying £25/month and went a total of twice! So it was a super duper waste of money basically. I was pretty reluctant to sign myself up to any kind of contract again as quite frankly I can't afford to waste that kind of cash, especially if I didn't actually like it.

So thanks to Money Supermarket I joined Eldon Leisure gym (part of Impulse Fitness) for one month, which cost £40. I would never have paid that if it was my own money to be honest. The cheaper rates were only available on annual contracts and as this was really just an experiment I just went for the one month option.

After signing up and paying upfront I was booked in for my body assessment. This is where they put you on a special machine and measure your body fat and muscle mass etc... With the aim of seeing results at the end. Unfortunately I couldn't get booked in for 6 days so I had to wait. After the body assessment I was then booked in for my gym induction (there was some confusion with this as I assumed they would happen at the same time) which was another 5 days. So basically I had paid for 11 days worth of gym membership, and couldn't actually use the facilities.

On the day of my induction I got a call from a lovely lady asking to rearrange to 7pm, she suggested I try a spin class at 6 to "warm-up" which seemed like a good idea at the time. Holy crap! Spinning is evil, I couldn't walk or sit down for nearly a week!

I then had a 10 minute induction on a few of the weight machines and the exercise bike, and was then left to my own devices. I managed a 30 minute work-out and left feeling OK, if still a little scared of the machines I wasn't introduced to.

The gym itself was quite small and very busy, so there was a lot of waiting around for machines, and I felt pretty self conscious. The fitness classes (which is the bit I was most looking forward to) were first come first serve, so you had to arrive at the gym an hour early to book a place then wait. A telephone booking system would of been so much more convenient for those going straight from work.

My final week of being a gym member I was struck down with a chest infection so couldn't go, in total I visited the gym three times in the month, so each session cost me £13.

Obviously if you are going to go every day and go to classes etc... It could be worth the money, but for a complete novice like me I just felt like an alien in that environment and it didn't encourage me to go back.

Pounding the pavements is much more enjoyable than a treadmill.

In conclusion I don't think the gym-environment is the right one for me. Paying £25-40 per month for a service which you don't enjoy seems crazy to me. I mean I totally get that some people love it, and maybe their gym is nicer than the one I tried but to be honest I think I will stick to my zumba at £3 a session and my running (for free).

I definitely think doing some form of physical activity is super important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle (and being able to eat cake), I don't think the annual membership system works well for all.

This is part of my Lazy Girl series which follows me in my attempt to get a bit fitter

My month's gym membership was paid for by Money Supermarket for the purposes of this post, but all opinions are my own.


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Roasted Strawberry Scones

Oh Pinterest, you do know how to tempt me and spark my imagination! Pinterest is an interesting place for picking up on food trends and I started seeing a lot of roasted strawberry recipes popping up on blogs a few months back. It may have been the early season strawberries or a collective yearning for summer but ever since I clapped eyes on roasted strawberry related pins, I knew I had to give it a go.

I am a lover of strawberries in general, there is nothing quite as lovely as nice bowl of fresh, vibrant strawberries sprinkled with sugar, or covered in fresh cream or yoghurt. However, roasting them is not something I had ever really considered before seeing the idea on pinterest.

I mixed them in a bowl with sugar and a splash of honey and spread them over a lined baking sheet. I baked at 160C for around 35-45 minutes, until the strawberries had softened and turned into lovely little blobs of intense strawberry flavour perfection.

I really didnt have a recipe in mind when roasting the strawberries, I just wanted to try them out and taste them. When they were ready though I just knew I wanted to taste them in scone form. My original idea was to just make some beautiful plain scones and use the roasted strawberries as jam, but of course, me being me, I had to go and get all experimental.

They are by no means perfect, the wet strawberries made the scone dough quite heavy, which turned them into more of a rock bun than a scone. But biting into that buttery scone and getting a zing of strawberry was mind-blowing.

I'm definitely going to keep experimenting with the recipe, see if I can get it a bit lighter in texture but if you fancy giving them a go in the mean time...

print recipe
Roasted Strawberry Scones
  • 220g Self Raising Flour
  • 55g Butter (cubed)
  • 25g Caster Sugar
  • 150ml Milk
  • Pinch of Salt
Rub the butter into the flour (I use my Kitchenaid to do this but it is easily done by hand) until you can still see small lumps of butter. Add the sugar and combine.Gradually add the milk to form a dough.I added the strawberries at this stage and continued mixing slightly in the Kitchenaid. In hindsight I think it might of been better to incorporate them by hand while rolling. I decided due to the wetness of the dough to just shaped rough balls with my hands rather than cutting the rounds out. You can do either, both work well. Bake at 180C for 15-22 minutes until golden. Check the bottom of the scones to ensure they are cooked through.

If you don't fancy the scones I would totally reccomend roasting some strawberries, spread them on toast, sandwich them in cake, pour directly into your face... However you fancy them, do it!

On a slight sidenote, what do you think of my little foray into a food styling? I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to photography, my kitchen is made up mostly of crockery leftover from my student days, I own about 6 teatowels that I bought from Wilkinsons and my dining table is a fold out one from Ikea that lives under the stairs.

Despite the effort and hassle I definitely enjoyed trying to make a bit more of my photos, felt like a proper food blogger for the day! (Lets not mention the total mess I made in the process OK?)

Now, on the subject of strawberries, who is watching Wimbledon? Is it Murray's year? *C'mon Tim*

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