Monday, 30 September 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 30th September

So I have come to a decision. After 4 long months of over indulgence, undoing nearly all the hard work I put in earlier in the year, I have decided to get back to some semblance of healthy eating.

Back to Weight Watchers, back to routine and control. No matter how much I love food it gets to the point where you get sick of everything. I want to start eating better, allowing myself occasional treats (treats are no fun if you can have them all the time) and feeling a bit more in control.

Putting this out there for the world to see is scary as I could be setting myself up for a fall (again) but I'd totally appreciate your support on this. So if you have recipes, blogs, stories, or anything to share, please do so. Comment below, or email, tweet, facebook.

Let do this!

Monday
Breakfast: Peanut Butter and Banana Overnight Oats, 40g of oats, 90ml of unsweetened almond milk, one chopped banana and a teaspoon of peanut butter - 7pp
Lunch: Gnocchi with pesto, capers, red pepper and buckets of rocket - 9pp
Dinner: Quorn Chilli with sweet potato wedges - 10pp

Tuesday
Breakfast: Peanut Butter and Banana Overnight Oats, 40g of oats, 90ml of unsweetened almond milk, one chopped banana and a teaspoon of peanut butter - 7pp
Lunch: Leftover chilli with some brown rice - 8pp
Dinner: Pork loin steak with boiled new potatoes and lots of vegetables - 10pp

Wednesday
Breakfast: Lemon curd Overnight Oats 6pp
Lunch: Gnocchi with whatever veg/salad items I have in the fridge in a harissa tomato sauce - 8pp
Dinner:Meatball pasta bake, with a nice spicy tomato sauce and low fat mozz cheese. 14pp

Thursday
Breakfast: Lemon curd Overnight Oats 6pp
Lunch: Leftover pasta bake - 10pp
Dinner: I have an idea for a sort of ramen-esque noodle dish, I haven't worked out the points but I want it to be veggie with some sort of egg for protein.

Friday
Breakfast: Overnight oats or just fruit and coffee.
Lunch: Chicken fajita salad (inspired by Amy) - 6pp
Dinner: I am at Urban Night Feast where there will be all sorts of yummy treats and cocktails to be had, so will be using my weeklies to the max!

I was tempted to put off the healthy eating until after Urban Night Feast, but I have been putting it off too long already. Maybe UNF can be my treat for a good week! Some of my lunch points are a guestimate as I won't be sure until I weigh things and see what I have in the fridge to use, but the points are based on what I will be aiming for.

As usual I have entered my meal plan into Mrs M's Linky.

If any of you guys are also being healthy, doing Weight Watcher/Slimming World etc... Let me know, we can do this thing together! It is always easier with a bit of support.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

A Day in The Life.

This week is National Eye Health Week, I know it seems like each week is a crazy different marketing thing... National Bacon Week, Doughnut Week, International Space Hopper Day etc... But when I was approached by Boots to post about National Eye Health Week I really liked the idea.

Having your eyes checked regularly is not just about seeing if you need glasses, it can help detect a lot of other health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure! So it is really important that we care, protect and check our eyes.

Care – Why?
Long days in front of a computer screen, not managing to eat a balanced diet or forgetting to take your make-up off at night (come on, we all do it!) can all contribute to uncomfortable, irritated eyes.

Protect – Why?
We protect our skin with sun lotion and it’s just as important to protect our eyes from UV rays too.

Check – Why?
Having your eyes checked at least every 2 years will not only help to check how well you can see but also help to detect any eye or underlying health issues early on – making them easier to manage.

Our eyes enable us to see so many great things around us. From our loved ones, to delicious dishes – none of this would be as impactful without healthy eyes to see them. National Eye Health Week runs from 16th - 22nd September so I thought I would show you a typical Monday in the life of me, what I see, do, eat, experience to highlight the importance of good eye health.

So this is how I spent yesterday. It started with about 4 snoozes on the alarm. Getting my peepers to open first thing in the morning is always a challenge.

Once up and at 'em I head off to work, I tend to get the bus most mornings and spend most of the journey with me head in a book. It been pretty chilly this week so the big fluffy coat has been on.

Once at work it is head down and on with my day, most of the day is spent working hard, staring at a computer screen. I am suppose to wear my glasses for screen work, which I am terrible at remembering to do.

I tend to eat breakfast and lunch at work, breakfast yesterday was blackberry overnight oats and a boost juice (which I won in a blog competition from Newcastle Eats). Lunch was a rather healthy quinoa salad. I try not to eat at my desk but some days its unavoidable.

Hometime! Most nights I head straight home to watch Breaking Bad and have dinner with Paul, but others (such as last night) I head off for a nice meal out. Last night it was the launch of Dabbawal Jesmond which was fabulous! Great food, great company.

I ended the night in bed watching the end of Dirty Dancing on channel 5, I tuned it for the finale dance, which is totally the best bit! Is there any better way to end a lovely day?

So in the spirit of Eye Health Week why not book an eye test or use The Boots Opticians Eye Check app. If you would like any further information on how to look after your eyes check out this helpful page.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 16th September

Happy Monday! I am doing the rarest of things and posting twice in one day. This is not a usual occurrence for me but this week it is necessary as I didn't get my Great British Bake Off post written up in time to publish last week. Whoops!

I still had my usual meal plan to do, so here I am, spoiling you with double posts!

This week I am organised! I wrote a list, I planned, I shopped and I am prepared. I know, weird right?

Breakfasts and lunches this week will be overnight oats (honestly a post on this is coming soon) and various salads/pastas and leftovers where possible. I didn't buy any lunches last week and it felt so good!

Monday
I am off out this evening to the new Dabbawal restaurant in Jesmond. Dabbawal is a fabulous Indian restaurant, their first restaurant is on High Bridge St in the centre of Newcastle, but they have just opened a second location in Jesmond. Looking forward to sampling the menu with my fellow cake-ladies!

Tuesday
Tonight is Bake Off night! I have a friend coming over to drink tea and watch it, but before that I shall squeeze in a lovely spaghetti and meatballs.

Wednesday
As Autumn is upon us now we are opting for a lot of warming dishes, tonight it is pork chops with mustard mash and green beans.

Thursday
Noodles, I haven't decided quite what to do with them yet but I fancy some stir-fry, veggie, noodle action of some sort.

Friday
Friday is fish-day this week, we have some lightly dusted haddock fillets with homemade chips.

So this is my week in food, as always I have shared my plan over on Mrs M's Linky.

What are you guys eating this week?

Great British Bake Off - Custard Tarts

Great British Bake Off 2013

Well last weeks Great British Bake Off post never happened did it? To be honest I was thoroughly underwhelmed by last week. This was not the fault of the contestants but more the weird choice of bakes. Not a single trifle really stood out to me (plus I don't really like trifle, I tend to just eat the cream/custard and leave the rest).

The îles flottantes looked less than appetising, granted I have never tried them before but I certainly didn't feel inspired to rush into the kitchen and make them. Although after reading Amy's post on real îles flottantes I could be persuaded.

The showstopper petit fours seemed out of place this week, weren't they a final bake in the past? They seemed unrelated to the other bakes and although Beca's teeny tiny macarons did wow me, I just wasn't feeling it last week!

This weeks show however was back on form. I love a good pie!

Pastry is one of my favourite things to make and I love playing around with different combinations; both sweet and savoury. I loved the look of Beca's rhubarb pie and totally agree with her opinion on soggy bottoms. I don't see the big deal on soggy bottom pastry, if its soggy as in raw then yes big no-no, if it is soggy as in soaked in yummy filling and drenched in custardy goodness then YES!
If you are having a quiche or cold tart au citron then a nice crisp base is essential, but in a nice homely fruit pie or a big meat pie with gravy does it really matter? No.

The technical bake this week was custard tarts, it was a bit of a disaster for everyone involved. Custard tarts are one of my favourite sweet treats, I remember when I was a kid going to The Baker's Oven (Holler if you remember the Baker's Oven!!) and getting a custart tart for me and a belgium bun for my sister. It has proper nostalgic connections for me.

I made a small batch of them on Saturday. I have made them a lot in the past, and they even formed part of my bake when I was on Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard. I reduced my recipe to just 6 tarts, as frankly my waistline just couldn't take the temptation.

My tarts were small but full of flavour. I popped a small teaspoon of maple syrup in my custard and topped with freshly grated nutmeg. Beyond delicious.

You can find my Egg Custard Tart recipe here. I halved the custard quantity as I remember I had a lot left over last time for only 6 tarts.

I still think Beca is my favourite on Bake-off although Kimberley is doing really well too. Who are your favourites this year? Next week is tray bakes and biscuits, I am toying with the idea of brownies or caramel shortbread, what do you think?

Friday, 13 September 2013

The Perfect Weekend Breakfast: Pancakes.

Sunday mornings, my favourite part of the weekend. When me and Paul first got together he used to go out and buy the observer and read it over breakfast in bed. We don't tend to do that anymore, which is a shame (note to self; remind Paul to go buy a paper on Sunday).

Breakfast is still a major factor of our Sunday mornings though. We usually go for the traditional bacon sandwich as we settle down to watch Sunday Brunch or more recently; endless episodes of Breaking Bad (we are on series 5 episode 4 right now, so no spoilers please!) Last Sunday I really didn't fancy a bacon sandwich so decided to make myself some pancakes. Paul is a total weirdo and hates pancakes, I know, it was nearly a deal-breaker.

I spotted this Almond Milk Pancakes recipe on The Cake Hunter's blog a little while ago and knew I had to give them a go. I usually opt for the more traditional crepe style pancake with lemon and sugar but I had a little bottle of Clark's Maple Syrup which I had been sent to try and you need fluffy american style pancakes for that!

I fiddled with the recipe a little, adding some spelt flour and a dash of maple syrup and grating of lemon zest in the batter gave a lovely flavour.

print recipe
Fluffy Maple Pancakes
Ingredients
  • 100g Plain Flour
  • 40g Spelt Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 25g Golden Caster Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (plus extra for serving) Maple Syrup
  • 130ml Almond Milk (can use any milk)
  • 1 Free Range Egg
  • 30g Butter, Melted
  • small amount for frying Oil or butter
Instructions
Sieve the dry ingredients together (flour, salt, baking powder, sugar)Whisk the wet ingredients together (eggs, milk, maple syrup, melted butter)Add the wet to the dry and whisk until you have a smooth batter.Heat a frying pan with a little oil or butter.Ladle the batter into the pan, depending on how big you want your pancakes.Once bubbles appear on the top, flip over with a spatula (do not try to flip, it will be messy)Once nicely brown on each side, move on to the next. This batter made 6 medium sized pancakes for me.

These bad boys kept me full pretty much until tea time! I drowned them in a fair amount of Clark's Maple Syrup, they kept soaking it up so I had to keep adding more. A little decedent but delicious non the less.

I definitely want to try these pancakes with different toppings and flavour combinations, they are very versatile. What is your perfect weekend breakfast treat?

On a slight side-note, I have recently updated my blogroll, so if you are looking for some lovely foodie blogs to read check out some of my favourites here.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Coconut Peach Melba Cake.

The Clandestine Cake Club is one of my favourite food-related gatherings in Newcastle. I have been attending cake club for over a year and a half now and cannot recommend it highly enough. I mean, if you love cake and want to meet some awesome people who also love cake... This is the place for you.

There seems to be this misapprehension that you have to be a ridiculously awesome baker or some sort of peggy-porchen-esque super decorator to come along. The purpose of this post is to show you that this is not the case.

If there was any sort of competition involved or minimum standard of cake-beauty I would of been dis-invited long ago. My cake always tend to be the slightly lop-sided one with lots of icing (to cover a multitude of sins). The beauty of cake club is that it gives you an opportunity to try new things, experiment with new recipes or flavours.

Each meeting has a theme which you should bake to, although you can be as vague as you like with it really. The theme is really just a jumping off point to be a bit creative.

For example for July's cake club the theme was "History". Boy did I struggle to come up with a recipe for this theme. I ended up making a peach melba coconut cake. I have been wanting to try a coconut sponge for a while and felt that the peach melba topping was quite retro, sort of like the pineapple upside down cake my Gran used to make.

I have found previous themes a little more inspiring. I made a Harry Potter Butterbeer layer cake for the film theme, and my Shirley Temple Mocktail cake for the drinks theme was a triumph! (both of these recipes can be seen in the Clandestine Cake Club book)

This coconut peach melba cake is the perfect example of not needing to be perfect or even pretty to be polished off at cake club! (it was much tastier than it looks *honest*)

print recipe
Coconut Peach Melba Cake
Ingredients
  • 150ml Tinned coconut milk (low fat is fine)
  • 50g Desiccated Coconut
  • 250g Unsalted Butter
  • 300g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Free-range eggs
  • 260g Plain Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 2 Fresh Peaches
  • a handful Raspberries
Instructions
Start by preheating the oven to 180C and greasing a 23cm round cake tin.Bring the tin of coconut milk to a boil and then remove from the heat. Add the desiccated coconut and vanilla extract and leave for 15 minutes to soak.While this is soaking away nicely, slice the peaches into rounds (they should be doughnut shaped with the hole in the middle) and place them in the bottom of the cake tin. Place a fresh raspberry in the middle of each peach slice. Think of an old fashioned pineapple upside down cake with the little red cherries in the middle.Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated. Don't worry if it looks slightly split at this stage.Sift the flour and baking powder together and then alternate adding flour and the coconut mixture until fully incorporated.Pour the batter carefully over the fruit in the tin and level the top with a spatula.Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer placed in the center of the cake comes out clean. Run a knife around the edge and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes in the tin before turning out.

If you are interested in learning more about Newcastle's Clandestine Cake Club check out the website or chat to Iona on twitter.

Actually Iona's cake from the last meeting was one of my favourites! Check out this ginger jurassic triumph! I need to get my mitts on some of those biscuit cutters.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 9th Sept

Its September folks! That crept up on us a little didn't it? I am heading into a very busy time at work, so I can only apologise if posting becomes a little erratic. Who am I kidding? My posts are always pretty erratic! I keep reading all of these blog-guides on how it is better to have a post schedule and stick to it to encourage regular readership. I tend to start off well then have weeks of nothingness.

Note to self: be more organised.

I am sure you guys don't mind my slight scatter-brain tendencies right?

This weeks meal plan is heavily autumn influenced this week...

Monday
Roast Chicken Dinner, we never got around to it yesterday and opted for ham sandwiches for dinner instead!

Tuesday
Spicy chicken lasagne or enchiladas using leftover roast chicken.

Wednesday
I am out at the Tea Owl Pop Up Picnic tonight, so Paul will be fending for himself.

Thursday
Pork chops with mashed sweet potatoes and vegetables.

Friday
Toad in the hole

For breakfast this week I am making overnight oats, which I will be dedicating an entire post to in the near future. I am deeply obsessed with this breakfast choice.

Lunches - I am trying to not spend money on food through the week, so leftovers and tinned soup will be heavily relied upon this week.

I have entered my meal plan into Mrs M's Meal Planning Monday linky as always.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Pulled Pork Perfection.

pulled pork

I am a bit late to the pulled pork party, as I tend to be with most foodie trends.

Food trends are funny things. Someone comes up with something wonderful, people love it, more people love it, people blog about it, newspapers write about it and then suddenly this saturation point is reached and the tide turns. Suddenly its too readily availble, too many people like it, its suddenly uncool, so last year... Then a new trend takes over, is heralded as the new "insert last trend" and the whole cycle starts again.

Examples of this; cupcakes, cronuts, pulled pork.

Although just because they are no longer the latest thing, doesn't make them any less delicious!

And anyway, much like the latest fashion trends, ain't nobody got time for that!

pulled pork

So that was a rather long winded way of saying I MADE PULLED PORK!

There seemed to be precisely 75 bajillion different recipes for pulled pork on the interwebs. I spent a good two weeks researching, checking blogs, comparing cooking times, sauces, marinades, cuts of pork etc...

After all this research I was no further forward in deciding on the best method so I decided to simply follow the recipe of a blogger who knows her stuff. Anna from The grazer; a local North-east food blogger and supperclub organiser. Although I have yet to attend one of her fabulous supperclubs, its totally on my bucket list.

Her pulled pork recipe was delightfully simple, yet looked super tasty.

pulled pork sandwich

The recipe had a dry rub made up of mustard powder, brown sugar, smoked paprika and salt & pepper. There was no sweet or sticky sauce to this recipe which appealed. The meats own juices provided all the flavour and why would you need to cover these up with anything?

I cooked my 2kg shoulder of pork for 7 hours rather than the 9 Anna recommended. Mainly due to impatience and concern for my little oven which started to howl after 6.5 hours.

After a 30 minute rest wrapped in tin foil the charred meat just fell apart with a mere look! I pulled back the extra crispy crackling on top and went at it with a couple of forks. I shredded the whole thing in about 10 minutes flat.

We opted for Pulled Pork sandwiches when it was still a bit warm. We got fresh white fluffy stotties (awesome Geordie bread buns) and piled them high with pork, spooning some of the juices over the top, and scoffed them straight away. The flavour was incredible, the meat was tender and soft. I had a couple of dill pickles and a beer with mine, and watched Olympus Has Fallen. Gerard Butler, what a fox.

It was the best of days.

The leftover pulled pork was used in both a baked pasta dish and homemade pulled pork pizzas. We added a little heat and some roasted red peppers to the pizzas and they were perfection!

So in conclusion, trends are weird, eat pulled pork.

I think we should invent some foodie trends for 2014, I am open to suggestions.

I have entered this post into the No Waste Food Challenge hosted this month by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary as it served us for three-four decent meals! No an ounce was wasted.

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