March Roundup

It’s Spring! Yay! I love when the days get longer, the skies get bluer and the lambs get…well….tastier. Sorry vegans. Don’t know about you but we still have the heating on daily and I’m still always cold but it doesn’t matter, because the end is nigh. The darkness has fallen and summer is just around the corner. My skin is in desperate need of a break from the central heating and a good old dose of vitamin D and my feet are itching to make their way into a pair of sandals. It’s time to paint the toe-nails, shave the legs and make a last ditch attempt to lose 2 stone before beach season is upon us. Maybe. Maybe not.

So that’s a quarter of the year done. Already. The older I get the more I find myself saying things like “I just don’t know where the time goes anymore” or “that month just flew by”. I’m only one step away from looking outside and commenting “oh what a lovely day for drying washing”.

Even though March really did fly by, I got up to a few nice things.

  • I went on my very first spa day, how very grown up of me! Breaking my spa day virginity was, unlike losing my actual virginity, everything I had hoped for and more. I swam, steamed and lounged in between having a lovely facial and drinking the best hot chocolate ever. You knew there was going to be a reference to food in there somewhere right?
  • I also got a brand spanking new shiny big girl car. No more rusty little Golf for me (no offence to other Golf drivers, mine was just old and lacking the crucial element of brakes that work), I now have a beautiful white crossover that makes me feel like I’m driving a bus. In a good way. There is no food reference here as food is absolutely forbidden in the new car. At least for the first few weeks.
  • I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate. I mean, Easter, come on. Even just the build up to Easter meant there was chocolate shoved in your face from every angle and I’m weak, helpless even. It wasn’t my fault. One of my work pals re-intorduced me to the delights of a Cadbury Flake. Am I the only one who thought they were extinct? Well apparently they’re not and are just as delicious as I remembered but don’t have the wrapper that twists at the ends anymore, which I must say was very disappointing. Sort it out Cadbury.

I should also introduce you all to my new Facebook page! If you like my blog you can also follow me on Facebook to keep up to date with my posts and see some extra foodie stuff. The link to my page is right here.

If you missed any of my posts from the last month, fear not, as they are all listed below.

Recipe: Chocolate and Pecan Banana Bread / What I Ate in a Day #5 / How to Host a Dinner Party / Recipe: Huevos Rancheros / Recipe: Rhubarb and Rose Bellinis / #Foodporn: Episode Two / Recipe: Pork Fillet in a Mushroom Cream Sauce / Recipe: Chocolate Nest Cakes / What I Ate in a Day # 6 / Recipe: Sweet Potato Bowl / A Little Kitchen Haul / Recipe: 3 Ingredient Oreo Milkshake

march.jpg

See you in April! x

 

Recipe: 3 Ingredient Oreo Milkshake

Oreos. Ice cream. Milk. The only three words you need in life. In fact, this recipe doesn’t even need an introduction, just go and make it. Now. I shall await my thank you card in the post.

Serves 1

What you need:

  • 3 Oreo biscuits
  • 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
  • 120ml milk

What you do:

  1. You know that fancy shmancy blender you got at the beginning of the year with the promise to make healthy smoothies every day packed with chia seeds and wheatgrass? Yes, that one now sitting at the back of your kitchen counter gathering dust. Get that out, you finally have a genuine real-life use for it.
  2. Break the biscuits into the blender, top with the ice cream and pour over the milk. Whizz up for about 20 seconds, pour into a suitable container and drink. I obviously used one of my new milk bottle glasses but really it’s not going to last long in any receptacle so use a plastic beaker for all I care.

Pleasure in liquid form.

20160320_134835.jpg20160320_134912.jpg

GET IN MA BELLY

 

A Little Kitchen Haul

I have a confession to make. I’m addicted to buying things for my kitchen. It’s becoming quite an issue as I’m rapidly running out of space in my cupboards and my purchases are starting to spill into other areas of my house. I don’t mean to, it just happens. I will be casually wandering around the shopping centre and oooopps…what just fell into my basket? I don’t need 90% of the things I buy but I somehow always manage to find a use for them so I convince myself that it’s OK. I will invent recipes just because they will look good served in a new bowl or plate that I’ve recently procured. I just like having nice things and, I will admit, I’m a bit of a show off, so if I have someone over for dinner I like to be able to talk to them about the lovely new cutlery they are using, for example.

Over the last few weeks I have bought a lot of new things for my kitchen. Some of them have been quite necessary. I needed a new roasting dish as mine is a little on the small side so I grabbed a new one whilst out food shopping. Likewise, my baking sheets were developing a film of stubborn grease that I just couldn’t live with anymore so I got a new bargain one in M&S. I’ve also been needing (or should that be wanting?) a white rectangular platter for ages and I finally saw one that was cheap but looks good. I found a good sized, heavy plain white rectangular platter in Morrison’s for just £4 so naturally I had to have that.

And really that’s where the necessity ends. If you can call the above necessities. I consider them so. The rest of my purchases have just been plain old impulse purchases because I have an issue with buying stuff that I don’t need but can’t resist.

Let’s start with these gorgeous bowls from Anthropologie. If you aren’t familiar with the brand, I will fill you in. It’s an over-priced, ridiculously showy, Instagram worthy dream of a place, and I love it. They have some really quirky bits for the home as well as clothing, jewellery and stationery. I could spend an absolute fortune in there and plan to, one day. For now, I have these bowls. They were £10 each, so like I said, over-priced, but they’re so pretty and girly. I have one of each colour, so white, pink and green, each with a gold rim.

20160309_125034.jpg Swoon.

20160309_124950 (1).jpg

I’m loving the marble trend at the moment and M&S have launched a line of crockery called ‘Nordic Smoke’ which is absolutely gorgeous. I admit I wanted it all, but restrained myself and just bought two of the side plates. They’re almost completely flat so make a great cake plate. See how I’m trying to convince myself that they have a use? They are lovely though, if nothing else I can use them as decorative items.

20160309_125014.jpg

Pointless but non negotiable purchase number three comes in the form of these milk bottles. I got a box of 6 for £12 which I thought was pretty good. I picked these up from a National Trust gift shop, but you can get similar ones on Amazon and elsewhere on the web. Cue milkshake recipes.

20160309_125116.jpg

The last thing to show you today is this super cute trinket tray. I absolutely adore it. It’s from Jolie Papier at Bluewater, which I believe is part of the Clinton’s group, and is a white china dish with metallic gold writing. They have a few different slogans, it took me ages to decide on one but thought this was a lovely positive message to see everyday. I do believe I am fast becoming one of those knobs that drink green smoothies and have quotes all around their house. Don’t hate me. I’ve not quite found a solid use for this yet, at the moment it holds a hair band so that I always have one handy to tie my hair up with when I start cooking. Seems a good enough reason to have it, don’t you think? I mean, no-one wants a hair in their dinner.

20160309_125503.jpg

I don’t plan on showing you every single new item I buy for my kitchen (I would be blogging almost daily) but I really love the items above and thought it would be fun to share them with you to give some inspiration for things you might like if you’re in the market for unnecessary kitchen-ware. I’m off to invent milkshake recipes so I can use those bottles.

Recipe: Sweet Potato Bowl

When you’re eating for one it can be tempting to reach for a loaf of bread and head straight to the toaster, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but Marmite on toast isn’t the most exciting dinner now is it? I quite like just cooking for me, it means I can eat what ever I want and don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone else. This recipe is perfect for solitary eating. It doesn’t take long to make, tastes great and begs to be eaten from the sofa whilst watching trashy TV.

Serves 1

What you need:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • a large handful of greens (I used shredded Spring greens but you can use any kind of cabbage, kale or spinach)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 rashers of streaky bacon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese

What you do:

  1. Boil the sweet potato cubes in salted water until they are very soft. This will take about 15 minutes if you cut the potatoes small enough, just check them.
  2. If your greens are a little tough, blanch them in boiling water for a minute to soften, then drain. This is what I did with my Spring greens but you wouldn’t need to if you used a softer leaf such as spinach.
  3. Slice your bacon into thin strips. Heat the oil in a pan and add the bacon strips along with the garlic and cook until the bacon is gloriously crispy. Add your greens and stir fry them with the bacon to combine.
  4. Once your sweet potatoes are soft and cooked through, drain them then add the teaspoon of butter and most of the parmesan and mash until you have a smooth mixture free from lumps.
  5. Transfer your mash into a nice serving bowl and top with the bacon and greens mix. Add the last little sprinkling of parmesan and dive in.

20160308_161440.jpg

This is warming and comforting but still a bit healthy. You can change it up to suit your mood too so is a great recipe to play with. A fried or poached egg on top would be wonderful.

What I Ate in a Day #6

I’m feeling a bit grumpy. We’ve got an issue with our boiler resulting in no heating or hot water. ‘Tis like living in Dickensian Britain and as such I am feeling very sorry for myself. Washing in a sink with just a kettle full of hot water is really not the one. Food, glorious food is the only thing that’s kept my spirits up during this cold and miserable time. However, I’ve been needing to get back on the healthy stuff and used a typical work day to get some goodness into me. My office was, for once, blissfully cosy. To be honest I did overtime just to stay warm.

Despite the chilly temperatures in my kitchen, I whipped up a frosty smoothie to take to work with me to start my day right. This one had a pear, a big chunk of cucumber, some frozen spinach and a little apple juice plus a splash of water. It’s a lovely, refreshing combination, probably more suitable for the summer months, but an easy way to inject a little green goodness.

20160314_100228.jpg

Breakfast number two was a few diced strawberries, coconut yogurt and some homemade almond and sultana granola. I make this granola so much, you can see my recipe here. I can’t wait for summer when strawberries actually taste like strawberries. I usually avoid buying them out of season but my local shop was a little low on fruit options this week and I couldn’t be bothered to venture further afield.

20160314_124544.jpg

Now my lunch doesn’t look that appetising, I’ll give you that. But it was in fact very tasty. It’s the chicken teriyaki recipe from Joe Wicks’ ‘Lean in 15 Book’ which has been so popular since it’s release last year. It’s a great book actually, full of really speedy recipes that focus on healthy ingredients. Joe is known as The Body Coach on social media and the like, check him out if you are into fitness and nutrition. Then probably skip the rest of my post as it goes downhill from here.

The chicken teriyaki contained chicken (obvs), noodles, pak choi, spring onions, spinach and lots of yummy Chinese style seasonings.

20160314_150415.jpg

More al desko snacking with some pineapple in the afternoon.

20160314_155715.jpg

Barely an hour later and I need another snack. I tend to avoid cereal bars and the like as they tend to be full of sugar but pointlessly so. I mean, I have no issue with eating sugar when it’s disguised as chocolate and it gives me great pleasure, but just to fill a hole I prefer to have something a bit more nutritious. Anyhow, I had this in my bag for a ‘just in case’ moment, and this was just that. Honestly, I’m always hungry. It was quite nice too actually.

20160314_204034.jpg

And here’s where it all went terribly wrong. Please see below for reason number one of why I’m fat. I just love pizza. This wasn’t planned. Tyler was meant to make dinner but finished work late and we had nothing to make at short notice so ended up buying a couple of pizzas to chuck in the oven. I had a pulled pork pizza by Chicago Town and ate all but a slice. I’m such a pig.

20160314_210826.jpg

Just to finish my day off, I had one of these super cute little Kinder chocolates. They are new (I think) and have the trademark creamy white filling that Kinder are known for. I’m kidding. I had five, not one.

20160314_213653.jpg

This is such a typical day for me. I start out with my fancy little smoothie and homemade granola and end the day in a tracksuit covered in pizza crumbs. I deserve it, I had to wash my hair with a jug of lukewarm water.

Recipe: Chocolate Nest Cakes

Health freaks, turn away now! What is the point of life if we can’t over indulge in a little chocolate from time to time? By a little chocolate I mean a LOT of chocolate. #sorrynotsorry.

I loved Rice Krispie cakes as a kid and to be honest I still do now. I’ve never been a fan of the corn flake version though, strange huh? I thought about making these a little more grown up and considered adding some salted caramel sauce but in the end went for the nostalgic original, with the addition of some Mini Eggs, not just to add on a few extra calories but to celebrate the fact that it’s almost Easter. If you have some small people that need entertaining over the Easter break then these would be fun to make, but even if you’re child free make them anyway as they’re yummy.

Makes 9

What you need:

  • 400g milk chocolate
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100g Rice Krispies or similar
  • 90g pack of Mini Eggs

What you do:

  1. Gently melt together the chocolate, butter and golden syrup until you have a combined liquid mixture. I find the microwave best for this, just be careful not to over-heat and stir every 15-30 seconds. Use whatever chocolate you like the taste of. If you want to splurge on a bar of Valrhona then be my guest, I used Dairy Milk.
  2. Now add the Rice Krispies to the melted chocolate and stir well to combine. Use a dessert spoon to drop mounds of the mixture onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and use two teaspoons to mould the mounds into rough nest shapes.
  3. Your nests are going to need eggs to look authentic, so decorate each one with three Mini Eggs. I found my 90g packet had exactly the right amount to have three eggs on each of my 9 nests, which worked wonders for my mild OCD. I was left with some mixture in my bowl and you probably will be too so you can either make your nests bigger, make more and buy further Mini Eggs (or leave them out for sadly true to life empty nests) or do like I did and eat the leftovers straight from the bowl. Your finished nests need to go into the fridge for at least an hour to set then you can enjoy.

20160309_133022.jpg20160309_133057.jpg20160309_133114.jpg

Is that not just the essence of Spring right there!?

Recipe: Pork Fillet in a Mushroom Cream Sauce

This is a bit of a grown up dinner, good for a dinner party or a nice meal for two. Pork Fillet is a posh cut of the pig but is still really affordable and makes a tasty dinner when served with a creamy sauce. The mushrooms bring a subtle earthiness which balances out the richness of the creme fraiche and the pork. Plus, I love mushrooms. It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve eaten them as I never appreciated their texture, but now I don’t know how I lived without them. My pork fillet with mushroom sauce is great served with some seasonal greens and mustard spiked mashed potatoes.

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 250g pork fillet
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 20g butter
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • A pinch of dried thyme
  • 60ml marsala wine
  • 150ml creme fraiche
  • A few tablespoons of water

What you do:

  1. If your pork fillet has been presented to you in the form of a whole loin, you need to cut it into medallions about an inch thick then bash them lightly with a meat mallet or other suitably blunt object so that you have about 6 sort of round discs of meat. If your fillet is already in medallions then good for you, you’re ready to move on to step two.
  2. Mix the mustard powder and flour together on a plate and dunk your pork fillet pieces into the mixture and coat finely, dusting off any excess.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook your pork medallions for a couple of minutes on each side until they are cooked through and golden brown. You may need to do this in batches if your pan isn’t big enough to hold all the meat in a single layer. Once cooked, transfer the pork to a plate and cover with foil to allow it to rest and keep warm.
  4. In the same pan, fry off your diced red onion over a low heat until it is soft and sweet, then remove from the pan and add to the resting pork.
  5. Now, to the same pan, add the butter along with your mushrooms, garlic and thyme. Cook the fragrant mushrooms in the butter until they brown and start to crisp. Be patient with this as the mushrooms will need to release all their juices before the frying process can start. Just watch and see, and enjoy the smells floating around your kitchen as you do so.
  6. Next, add the marsala and bubble away for a minute or so to reduce the liquid slightly, before stirring through the creme fraiche. Now it’s time to unite the pork and onions with the creamy mushroom sauce, so add these back to the pan and give everything a good mix. Season gently, add a splash of water and allow this to cook together for a minute or two before serving with creamy mash and some green veg.

20160313_163708.jpg20160313_163747.jpg