Wednesday, September 28, 2016

WIAW Wintery Eats

As the nights are drawing in and the days are getting colder, I have starting to crave the comforting food found in the winter months. My breakfast changed for the first time in ages this morning, with overnight oats made with rice milk, peanut butter, jam, cinnamon and banana.
Lunch was leftover butternut squash soup I made the previous night. I roasted a whole squash, a few carrots, garlic and onion, then blitzed with stock, paprika and a little chilli to make this sweet soup with a hint of warmth. I served it with some homemade ciabatta I found in the freezer and some black pepper.
I had a slice of lemon drizzle cake for the afternoon with my cup of tea. It was part of the #GameOnCooks challenge. You can find the recipe here.
For dinner, we had a tasty chicken and chorizo paella with peas, carrots and sugarsnap peas. I made a large enough batch to take to work the next day as well.
What do you like in the cooler weather?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Lemon Drizzle Cake Bake Off Recipe

The nation are currently hooked on the Great British Bake Off (approx 10.4m) and I'm and no exception. I love watching the challenges and practically drool over their bakes but as much as I love cooking, I rarely bake myself. My Instagram feed is full of delicious bakes, but nothing can compare to the thrill of creating something delicious yourself. Lurpak are challenging people to turn off the TV and turn on the oven. Check out their #GameOnCooks campaign here.
For my own challenge, I made my dad a birthday cake. One of his favourite cakes is a lemon drizzle so I found a recipe in 'The Great British Book of Baking' to go with then Bake Off theme to give it a try. It's a simple put it in one bowl and mix together which means less active baking time.
For the Cake:
200g unsalted Lurpak, softened
250g caster sugar
3 medium eggs, beaten and at room temperature
2 medium lemons, unwaxed if possible and finely grated
250g self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
100ml milk, again at room temp
For the topping:
100g caster sugar
juice of 2 medium unwaxed lemons
finely grated zest of 1 medium unwaxed lemon

-Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas 4. Line a 20cm springclip tin or deep round cake tin

-Place the butter, sugar, eggs and zest into a bowl and sieve over the flour and baking powder. Add the milk and mix until smooth and completely combined

-Spoon the batter into the tin and level it out. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown. A clean cocktail stick should come out clean when put into the centre

-To make the topping, combine the sugar and lemon juice until it creates a runny glaze

-Once the cake is cooked, immediately transfer the tin onto a wire rack and prick the cake all over then spoon the glaze all over

-Leave to cool completely in the tin before serving
Disclaimer: I was given supermarket vouchers to participate in the GameOnCooks challenge

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

WIAW in France

I have just got back from a lovely week in the south of France with 5 of my best friends. As well as being riddled with mosquito bites, I'm missing all the delicious food we ate.
Pretty much every morning for breakfast, someone visited the local bakery and purchased a variety of fresh pastries.
Lunch was a French baguette (fresh that day of course) filled with salad and cheese. Eaten on the beach. Other lunches frequently eaten at the house were homemade mozarella and tomato salads, cheeses and breads.
Of course, a week of relaxing meant a fair amount of drinking delicious French wines.
We are quite a few dinners out but on the last evening we had the objective of eating everything leftover in the fridge. Meg whipped up an amazing veggie frittata with leftover veggies, cooked potato and cheese.
What do you eat on holiday?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Santa Maria Mexican Feast

16th September marks Mexican Independence day, and what better way to celebrate than with a host of Mexican themed food. Santa Maria sent me a selection of their products which tantilise the taste buds with a little heat and lots of flavour. Alot of their products are perfect for using up leftovers or making batch amounts and taking them for lunches.
I saw a recipe in the Waitrose newspaper which used fajita seasoning in a rice dish and works well as a vegetarian dish or you could easily add any leftover meat to extra protein. It was easy and quick and perfect for leftovers, a group meal or even as a side dish.
200g essential Waitrose Easy Cook Long Grain Rice
400g pack Waitrose Lean Aberdeen Angus Beef Mince
1 onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, sliced
28g sachet Santa Maria Medium Fajita Seasoning Mix
400g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
195g can sweetcorn, drained
390g carton Cirio Finely
Chopped Tomatoes
28g pack fresh coriander

1. Cook the rice in boiling water for 12-15 minutes or until tender, then drain.
2. Meanwhile, fry the mince, onion and celery in a large saucepan for 2-3 minutes to brown. Stir in the fajita seasoning mix and cook for 1 minute.
3. Stir in the kidney beans, sweetcorn and chopped tomatoes, then half fill the tomato can with water and add to the pan. Simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Stir in the rice and coriander, then season and serve. 
Mexican food isn't always about big main dishes, I love smaller nibbles and Santa Maria so great tortillas which are lightly salted and perfect for dipping in guacamole or homemade salsa. Salsa is a perfect way of using up older tomatoes and can be made in advance and left in the fridge for the flavours to develop.

250g/9oz fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 mild chillies, finely chopped
bunch coriander, finely chopped
salt, to taste
lime juice, to taste
1 tbsp water

Chop everything up small and combine in a small bowl ready for serving.

Taco shells are also a great pick and mix kind of dish where you chop up any veggies and meat you have the fridge. We had a selection of chicken and salmon covered in taco seasoning to filled the crunchy bites with.  I found some red onion seasoning from a Santa Maria Pulled Pork dinner kit that was leftover and used as another side. It has a nice bit of acidity which cuts through the taco flavouring nicely.

 I had never tried enchiladas at home before so was keen to try out the Santa Maria sauce. It comes with a seasoning mix for the meat (I used mince) and a sauce to cook the meat in and cover over the wraps. The sauce became nice and thick with a great hit of flavour that works perfectly with a side salad. I used some Mediterranean wraps from Morrisons which had a nice tomatoey herb flavour which I would definitely recommend as well as the plain soft tortillas.
See what other goodies they do here.

Disclaimer: I was sent these products to review, but as always opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

WIAW Mexican Feasts

It has been a couple of weeks since I have done one of these posts. Although I have been taking photos of my food, I just haven't had the time to upload them.  have been wokring longer hours than normal at work. So it has been nice for things to get back to normal this week so I am able to share my eats with you.
My breakfast was the normal peanut butter, banana, and cinnamon on a bagel thin
My lunch was some delicious leftovers of Mexican rice, leftover guacamole, homemade salsa and lettuce with a squeeze of fresh lime juice on top. The rice made a large batch which was perfect for freezing and lunches.
At work. we have a Great British Bake Off Sweepstake..but with a difference. Instead of adding money to a pot which you can win, if you picked person goes out, you have to bake something to bring in for the rest of the office. This weeks loser bought a show stopper mix of salted caramel brownies and blueberry muffins.
Dinner was was definitely a Mexican kind of day. I cooked some mince in a spicy sauce, wrapped in a Mediterranean herbed wrap, topped with more sauce and cheese and baked. This also produced more than one serving, so have some ready for my lunch tomorrow.
I also had a snack of Skyr which they were giving out on the streets. They are high on protein and have reduced sugar. I find the texture quite strange personally, but like them more when I dip an apple into it.
What did you eat this week?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Prawn and Asparagus stir-fry with Polenta

Polenta is one of those ingredients I don't know enough about but would love to learn how to make it in all the different forms. A couple of years back, I visited Polenteria, a Soho restaurant specialising in the ingredient where I tired it runny, as a pasta, grilled and in cakes. After picking up this Grains as Mains (which is fast becoming a favourite cook book), I found a recipe for Prawns as asparagus stir fry with cheesy polenta. The recipe was simple and fast to make and the results was filling but flavourful and also gluten free. Normally, I think polenta can be seen as a stodgy wintery ingredient, but this recipe helps make it light and summery.
2tbsp oil
3 garlic cloves
2-8 spring onions
45g asparagus
450g prawns
60ml white wine
salt and pepper
150g uncooked polenta
100g parmesan cheese
1 lemon, sliced to serve

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic, spring onions and asparagus. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened. Then add the prawns and cook for 3 minutes stirring, until beginning to look pink.

Pout in the wine and stir to combine. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until the prawns are cooked through and pink. Remove them from the heat and season to taste.

Meanwhile pour 750ml of water and a little salt into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir in the polenta and reduce to a medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.

Divide polenta evenly and top with the prawn mix. Serve with lemon.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Parsnip and Thyme Bread

Flicking through recipe books is one of my favourite past times and there are often occasions when I find a recipe I really like the look of and have all the ingredients in the cupboard. This parsnip and thyme bread from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstalls Everyday Easy was just that...easy and delicious. You wouldn't know it has parsnip in, but you do get a delicious cheesy onion flavour, perfect warm with a slice of bread or dipping into soup the next day.


1 tbsp rapeseed or sunflower oil
1 large onion, sliced
175g self raising flour
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp thyme leaves
50g Parmesan, matured hard goat's cheese or strong Cheddar, finely grated
175g grated parsnip
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
2-3 tbsp whole milk
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and cook gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly coloured. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, thyme, cheese, grated parsnip and some pepper. Add the onion, followed by the egg and 2 tablespoons milk, then mix to form a soft dough, adding extra milk if needed. Don’t overwork the dough, just bring it together with a little light kneading. Shape into a round and place on an oiled baking sheet.

3. Bake in an oven preheated to 180°C for 40-45 minutes, until the loaf is golden and makes a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.

4. Leave to cool for a few minutes on a wire rack, then slice and serve while still warm.