Sunday, May 22, 2016

What I Eat on Holiday

When I am on holiday, unlike most people who may enjoy eating at local restaurants. I look forward to cooking breakfast and lunch as well as dinner. Having the time to think about exciting creations for different meal times creates a fun challenge...and also means some great food. A few weeks back I went away to the New Forest where I stay in my boyfriends house. As it has a full kitchen, we can cook to our hearts content.
Obviously, good weather and company meant we had a great barbeque. I tried burgers that we made ourselves, full of onion and herb and liked them so much more than bland shop bought varieties.
When the weather isn't holding out, it creates an opportunity to do some baking, and as my niece was visiting, we made some vanilla cupcakes together.
Slow relaxing mornings are perfectly paired with pancakes, and with them we made our own berry sauce from the strawberries that were starting to turn. It was a great way to use up the last of the fruit and lasted us a couple of breakfasts. 
Another thing I love doing on holiday is making my own pasta. I drag my pasta machine with me and the time and space allows us to make our own pasta creations. This time, we went for a tagliatelle with cheese, bacon and asparagus. For dessert, we poached some leftover pears in red wine and some spiced for a delicious dessert.

On holiday (and every other day if i'm honest), I love to picnic. As a natural picky eater, I love eating lots of little things rather than one sandwich, so on this holiday we had a great picnic on the beach (teamed with pimms in a kilner jar of course). We baked some foccacia bread (it was ok, but will be trying other recipes) and some banana bread with the few brown bananas that were left in the fruit bowl. This lasted us the whole week and was a perfect pick me up when walking.

Perhaps one of the more extravagant lunches we made was sushi. When it is warm, this makes for a perfect dinner as well and lunch, so we made a large batch using smoked salmon, tuna and prawns.

Making sure we use up everything in the fridge before heading home is always a fun task as it often results in some surprisingly tasty meals. A favourite of mine was this prawn mayo and salad bagel. Smoked salmon was also finished with a bit of egg for breakfast, and veggies with a planned salmon en route. 

What kind of meals do you eat on holiday?

Friday, May 20, 2016

National Vegetarian Week with Linda McCartney

In the UK, 59% of people are keen to reduce the amount of meat in their diet with the number of vegetarians in Britain doubling over the last 25 years. With factors such as saving money, food safety and environmental factors, the market for vegetarians products has increased.
With the help of Linda McCartney who is celebrating their 25th anniversary, I went meat free for National Vegetarian Week. (See more of her journey here.) After a long day at work, Linda McCartney's frozen products have opened the door to easy meat free meals. With recent new  launches to the range, I got the chance to try a few of the products.
I will start with my favourite meal of the week which came in the form of Aromatic Thai Sweet Potato cakes. These vegetable cakes were full of flavour, bursting with extra veg and with a perfectly crisp outside. I teamed it with some roasted vegetables to finish it off.
I also tried the vegetarian pulled pork burgers which I apired with some red onions, tomatoes, cheese and a side of sweet potato chips. They had a smokey barbeque flavour and held their shape..perfect for a burger bun.
Another favourite was the red onion and rosemary sausages. They filled the kitchen with a fragrant aroma whilst cooking and I enjoyed the strong herby flavour. I wanted to do something which could be used the next day for lunch so put them with pasta, a mix of vegetables and some cream cheese. The following day, I added some red pesto to the leftovers for a lunch that tasted a little different.
I had to try one of the Linda McCartney pies as they are a favourite on every pub menu. I found the country pie in store (a chicken and leek pie has just been launched as well), which is a vegetarian take on a meat pie. The pastry was nice a crispy with plenty of gravy inside. The filling pie was warming and filling and perfect finished off with some mash and veg.
And finally, I went for the chicken-style paella. Normally I would consider paella to include seafood or chorizo so was interested on how the flavour was going to translated into a vegetarian dish. Although it wasn't the classic kind of paella, there was still a nice smokiness to it. The rice is cooked from frozen either by stir fry or in the microwave in a matter of a few minutes so this is perfect so a quick meal on the go. As the portion sizes are not measured for you, this could always be eaten for lunches as well.
I admit I am not normally a massive meat eater anyway, but I was still worried that some of the vegetarian ready made dishes would not keep me full. I was pleasantly surprised not only by how satisfying they were, but also by the convenience of them. Agreed, some (like the pies) may take longer to cook (around 40 minutes) but the fact that there is little prep work involved or standing over a hob makes it perfect for easy and quick after work dishes. Many times, when making a vegetarian meal from scratch, you would have to plan and purchase fresh ingredients, but these are easy to pop in the freezer and go. Look out for them in the freezer section of your local supermarket.

Find out more from Linda McCartney here

Disclaimer: I received these products to review, but as always opinions are my own

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

WIAW Vegetarian Week

Back in my normal routine, I started the day with a reduced cinnamon and raisin bagel from Marks and Spencer with the usual peanut butter and banana. I used the grill in the works microwave which isn't the same as a toaster but still warmed it a little.
This week I am celebrating national vegetarian week with the help of some Linda McCartney products. Lunch was some leftover pasta made with Linda McCartney rosemary and red onion vegetarian sausages which I added some roasted veg and red pesto to.
My afternoon snack was a section of a chocolate caterpillar cake as there was an office birthday. That's vegetarian right?
I tried some paella also from the Linda range which was nice and juicy despite being cooked from frozen in the microwave.
I skipped the chocolate this evening in favour of some prunes. These are from lidl and are so sweet they are addictive, they feel like a naughty treat.
What did you eat today?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Recent Restaurant Eats in London

I have had fun trying some new restaurants in London recently. I was invited to the launch of The Savannah Restaurant, serving a fusion of African and Asian food in one of Londons most ethical and Eco-friendly spaces. Situated near Euston station, the restaurant is located within the Wesley Hotel and the decor tells a story sustainability and nature with 'time' as the theme. Artwork is sourced from artists using scrap metal which has been recycled, and the furniture uses reclaimed materials.
The Head Chef has previously work in four and five star hotels in London where food is sourced ethically, from sustainable supplied and artisan producers. They also support a growing range of ethical products including Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance and biodegradable ranges.
Dishes you can find on the seasonal menu include African spiced pork belly with scallop, carrot and muso puree, Prawn tempura with spicy tomato fondue on a banana leaf and Monkfish wrapped in Parma Ham.
Find our more about The Savannah here.
Another place I stopped for lunch was Ball and Company situated on Greek Street who do simple food well. As the name suggests, the main theme to this restaurant is meatballs, from Pork balls to Salmon, it can cater for many tastes. The menu allows you to mix and match meat and sauce to produce your personalised dish with delicious sides.
As well as producing delcious mains, their desserts were great. The brownie with candy floss may sound strange, but is not one to be missed.
Find out more about Balls and Co here
A new barbeque restaurant popped up near Caranby Street and I went there with work colleagues for a lunchtime treat. It's not the largest of locations, but the smokey smell is enough to entice you through the leather covered door. We dipped into some drinks before our table was ready and then went for their lunch meal deal for £10. This included a main, side and tea to finish off.
I ordered the ribs with came with pickles and a roll and had a side order of smokey beans. The ribs were far bigger than the picture makes out and with the beans, I was pretty full. The meat fell off the bones in large succulent chunks and the pickles added a nice freshness. We also shared some desserts which weren't to be desired. The blondie was massive and heavy and even three people could not finish it. Find out more about Shotgun here

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

WIAW Post Holiday Food

The first day back at work after a holiday is always be hardest and today was no expedition. I started with a bagel that was leftover from holiday topped with peanut butter. 
My lunch was just things I could find in the cupboards so included tinned tuna and sweetcorn with mayo, salad and rice cakes. After my more exotic lunches of sushi on holiday, this seemed a little boring, but it was nice to get back into a routine.
I snacked on a nectarine from the local market with passion fruit and apricot yogurt. The fruit from the market seems so much nicer than shop bought and you get much more for your money so was glad I walked a little further to get there.
As I didn't have anything in the fridge after returned late the night before, I cooked come breaded chicken from the freezer and any leftover vegetables I could find. It did catch a little as I was on the phone catching up with my parents...but still tasted really good and gave an extra little crunch!
It wouldn't be the same if I didnt snack in the evening, so had a little salted chocolate to finish the day.
What did you eat this week?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

New Covent Garden Soup for Summer BBQs

As the evenings are getting lighter and warmer weather is setting in, it is always tempting to start up the barbecue. Having been stuck inside to eat for the past few months, sunny gardens lure us in as we start dining al fresco. Unfortunately, due to living in the UK, the evenings are still chilly as the winter refuses to leave. But the New Covent Garden Soup Company have thought of a way to stay warm whilst waiting for the fires to start. By using their tasty soups to serve with the classic barbecue food, it's a great way to start enjoying the barbecue weather.

The soups can either be cooked quickly in the microwave or in a ceramic or metal bowl at the side of the grill. I chose the Goan spiced chicken and lentil soup and served it with some chargrilled vegetable skewers. It is part of their 'skinny' range and has 2 of your five a day.
1 carton of New Covent Garden Soup Goan Spiced Chicken and Lentil soup
1 red pepper cut into cubes
1 green pepper cut into cubes
1 yellow pepper cut into cubes
A handful of cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Chicken cut into cubes 
Wooden skewers

Simply soak some skewers in warm water.
Push the chicken pieces onto one skewer.
Push the peppers and tomatoes onto separate skewers.
Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Place the chicken skewers on the bbq for about 5 minutes turning every few minutes
Add the vegetable skewers
Heat the soup and serve with the skewers.
Our barbecue started out promising but was hit by a wave of rain water meaning the soup was a welcoming comfort. As well as passing the soup around to dip into, my six year old niece enjoyed dipping in other barbecued items using it as more of a sauce.
As well as this flavour, New Covent Garden Soup have come up with some other ideas to use others flavours as a dish to serve at barbecues. Why not try the slow roast tomato soup with black bean and kidney bean dumplings or the Tennessee pulled pork and bean with zesty line guacamole toast. With 2 of your 5 a day in each portion you can also get goodness into your barbecues. But of course, you can eat them the traditional way, as they are a great lunch or light dinner option.
Disclaimer: I was asked to try these soup ideas from New Covent Garden Soup Company, but as always, opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

WIAW Birthday Cupcakes

As it gets closer to summer, the weather here has gotten stranger. Going out for my lunchtime walks, I could experience anything from glorious sun to snow. Knowing what to bring for lunch has been a little hard but found a great solution. I got some of this interesting pasta in my Christmas hamper and it works perfectly warm or cold as a salad. So I mixed some leftover leek and garlic pasta with other veggies and created a great salad.

My afternoon snack was courtesy of Janes birthday at work with some hummingbird cupcakes. I tired some of the carrot cake and red velvet and was I a sugar high for the rest of the day.
I felt like I needed something a little healthier for dinner so whipped up a soup with some leftover roasted sweet potato. I served them with some cheese scones I made at the weekend.
As normal I did have a little chocolate to finish the day, but after the cupcakes my sugar craving weren't as bad as normal!
What did you eat this week?