Monday, 26 October 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Well last week's plan did not happen at all either on paper or the blog, following a loosely followed one made on the 12th October, I have been subject to an evil flare of acid reflux, which I don't talk much about on the blog (though there was a fair bit of twitter ranting) but it affects me hugely as when it visits it also likes to encourage the old IBS to be a menace too... am back on the med's awaiting a visit to a new gastro doctor...we shall see! It really drives me insane and spoiled lots of recent plans, I am back to making a simple meal plan but having to try and avoid all the things I love I.e. chorizo and anything that is rich and lovely! Am on half portions at the best of times too just to avoid over loading and I've had no wine for over two weeks. My poor liver must be in shock! Not that I drink much but I do miss a glass of red on a Friday night!

This week has started okay... so far... had an appetite so have made myself make a meal plan up! The naughty reflux only woke me at 5am, which whilst unpleasant at least wasn't 2am thanks to starting a new bedtime medicine on top of the morning one!

I had been pretty good lately running off cupboards and freezer but I went a bit mad on Saturday and have re-stocked oops! Though in my defense we were clean out of pesto stocks, which of course is an essential cupboard item!! Not that its on this plan but ya know it might be needed.... 

Am looking forward mostly to tomorrows leftover stew risotto - its a great way of bulking out leftovers and the stew I made yesterday in a rare moment of domestication will be even more lovely to eat, having settled into its flavourings! I'd added a splash of some Fig Vincotto which was a recent gift, and it seemed to work well fortunately! I even made my own soda bread, which was still edible today as well so yay!

Crispy turkey steaks, broccoli and new potatoes 
Leftover beef stew risotto 
Cheesy Bacon and Leek pasta bake 
Fish fingers, cauliflower cheese 
Tuna pizza baguettes 


Thursday, 15 October 2015

Banana Caramel Loaf Cake

A few weeks back, on holiday and staying with lovely family I'd had a rather lovely day out at River Cottage and despite being slightly tired from the driving, I spotted some ripe bananas in the fruit bowl and decided to do some experimental baking! To be honest most of my baking falls in the experimental category and with this I didn't look at any recipes, just used some loose baking knowledge and hoped for the best!! 

After a rummage through the cupboards (always a fun mystery and delight to use other people's kitchens and dishwashers!) I ended up making a rather delicious cake, which I am glad I vaguely scribbled down as the one slice that made it back to my home disappeared in about 30 seconds! Its sweet, lovely cinnamon smell whilst baking will make a tummy rumble and the cake fills that rumble very well! It was also very tasty cold sliced up!

Now I debated naming this cake recipe with the word Caramel in, because it doesn't... but I when you make up the cake batter its rather caramel like and if Dan Lepard can call his amazing muffins 'Chocolate custard muffins' without being chocolate custard then I decided I can too be loose with the terminology....!
See its caramel right?!

Makes 1 x 2lb loaf tin (I guess, its not my tin!)


100g salted butter
15g golden syrup
120g light soft brown sugar
1 large banana, sliced at a diagonal
2 large free range eggs
120g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp demerara sugar

Greasing spray or tin liner to prepare tin


Pre-heat oven to 160 fan/ 180 regular oven

In a saucepan, melt the butter, golden syrup and brown sugar until the sugar has melted and its slightly syrupy - about 6-7 minutes, put to one side

Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder together. Beat in the eggs then fold into the caramel mixture.

Pour half the mixture into the tin, place half the banana slices into a layer, pour over the remaining cake batter, then add the remaining banana slices as a layer, sprinkle over the demerara sugar and bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes away clean.

Eat with lashings of custard.

Linky to Sneaky Veg

Monday, 12 October 2015

Meal Planning Monday

So Monday we meet again! Why do you come around here so often I wonder?! Just about finish last weeks meal plan and boom off we go again! I actually wrote this weeks in the phone yesterday, whilst we were driving (not me I might add!) to go a randomly collect a pouffe halfway around the M25... it was after about 4 hours sleep post a night of late night playing a revolting and vile but also rather hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity and I was trying to recall what was at home to eat!

Last week we stayed fairly on plan, in fact only Friday night changed as we had a fridge full of leftovers and I refused to cook anything more! Wednesday nights Pastitsio was amazing if I do say so myself, I must remember to cook it more often! Unfortunately I didn't get many pictures last week as mystupid phone keeps trying to tell me it has run out of storage, maybe if Apple stop sending me huge updates I can perhaps photograph my dinner again! Answers on a postcard anyone?!

This week - is:

Polish Sausage Noodles
Pasta with a chorizo and leek creamy sauce
Pork and Leek sausages with new potatoes and courgettes
Tuna fish cakes and veg
Pizza baguettes


Though tonight's for me is looking I type this I am waiting for my GP to phone and I don't dare go to cook but I am cutting it rather fine to eat before my pilates class... if all fails its a rather unhealthy bag of crisps and some cheese I think!!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Cauliflower Cheese and Gammon Soup

Now if I recall correctly, I once saw a recipe at some point for Cauliflower cheese soup and it slipped to the dark recesses of my mind as one of those hmm one day recipes... but when faced recently with the usual dilemma of er what to make for dinner but even more so as I was far away from home and in my aunties kitchen, and a fridge full of leftovers the filed away thought magically resurfaced with a ooh could I try it out? Would it work? Would it be weird.... 

On the Sunday prior I had made a fairly majestic mustard spiked cauliflower cheese but despite our best efforts, there was a tub leftover... that was until Wednesday, arriving home post a long drive and day to the lovely River Cottage clutching my lovingly hand made Apple, blackberry and Goats cheese soda bread and wondering what I could serve with it, the Cauliflower cheese soup idea came back to fruition and a star was born! I think in future I will have to make extra Cauliflower cheese purely to make soup with its leftovers! It tasted so good and was a perfect accompaniment to my bread! Oh and my home made butter!

Lovely leftovers!
Now I think it was gammon, it was either that or a bacon joint, either way it was another leftover that got added!

Making the finishing touches:

Serves 2


400g leftover cauliflower cheese
1 clove minced garlic
400ml vegetable stock
1/2 tsp spicy Polish spicy mustard (if not a little more wholegrain-this is presuming your cauli cheese was already containing mustard too)
50g shredded cooked gammon or bacon
1 tsp oil
mint leaves to garnish

Heat the oil in a saucepan, saute the garlic until softened, add the cauliflower cheese and stock, cover and bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the mustard, then blitz with a stick blender adding the gammon at the very end for a few seconds, season to taste

Serve, garnish with mint leaves if you have some or a similar herb.

As my recipe used up lots of lovely leftovers I am entering it into one of my favourite blog challenges - Fab Food 4 All's Credit Crunch Munch which was born from Fuss Free Flavours!

Monday, 5 October 2015

Meal Planning Monday

The past few weeks have honestly flown by! I have been meal planning sporadically, as between both of us starting new jobs, and adopting new routines, on top of a holiday its taken a while for the dust to settle! Was no point doing things by halves was there...!! My brain is being tested to its max with learning a whole new role, so most of meals have been with little effort as I had zero energy left some nights! I also recently had the best part of a week in Devon, which was lovely as always, and coincided with a fabulous trip to the magical River Cottage too! 

There's always that slight bit of emotional deflation after looking forward to something special and then <boom> nothing! However we are planning a mega ribs night with friends this weekend - I've bought four beautiful racks of pork loin ribs, just deciding what sauce to bathe them in to do them justice! In the past I have made Jamie's Epic ribs from the America book but I don't own a food processor and I don't think my liquidiser is up to the same effort. They are amazing so I will try and see if I can scale it back a bit!

This year we didn't manage a summer holiday, with job changes happening etc and now cricket season is over, me and my boyfriend are trying to explore areas within about a two hour drive, so on Saturday we had a lovely day trip to Hastings. It involved yummy scampi n chips by the sea and a lush icecream from Dom's along the seafront- I had cherry and white chocolate ripple.

I also saw my first Imax 3D film! The price was a little eye-watering but I hate to say it was almost worth it! We watched The Walk - it was amazing but a little but terrifying on a gigantic screen! Worth a watch though!

I have decided I must make a better, more focused effort at not cupboard hoarding food. One day I hope to get a place of our own and frankly, I don't want to move with our entire larder contents! (I call it larder but its known here as Narnia!!) There is all sorts of odds and ends and I have been trying to cull some of the endless jars. Though making 5 jars of green tomato chutney was possibly a step backwards this week but it did at least use up my mum's unripe tomatoes!

This weeks plan will be using a mixture of fresh and cupboard stashes - our lunches will be mostly leftovers or some of the 4kg jar of veggie couscous I picked up in Costco! Also known as the never ending jar of couscous!!  I made a giant batch of tuna meatball risotto too last night which will do a few lunches too! 

Sweet chilli Chicken wings n noodles
Jacket potato with creamy chorizo and leeks
Chickepa pancakes with vegetable curry
Pizza baguettes & chips


Tuesday, 29 September 2015

A Day at River Cottage

Last Wednesday I was very lucky to get the opportunity to spend a day at the iconic River Cottage in beautiful Axminster, in East Devon. After watching the original TV show originally headlined by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for many years, since the beginning really, to get the chance to spend a day there was really one of those golden ticket moments! I had it penciled in my diary for what seemed months and even more luckily managed to tie it in with a few days holiday with my auntie, so the night before unsurprisingly I didn't sleep very well, think I was a bit too excited perhaps!

The actual River Cottage itself is a 17th century traditional long house, which was somewhat derelict 9 years ago but has been lovingly restored by the team there and the certified organic smallholding farm now has around 16,000 visitors a year! Within its 90,000 acres of land there's a mixture of livestock,fruit and vegetables, plus flowers and herbs, all for use within the farm's employees and visitors. There's now a wind turbine to generate energy and they use well water only, along with some special reed system for waste disposal.. Its all about sustainability, and what they can't produce comes from local farms. There is also now under the River Cottage banner a number of 'canteen's' (I had a rhubarb fumble last year which was quite divine!)  and the on site cookery school and courses which holds a whole host of things to do from foraging to fishy feasts, oh a restaurant for special occasions and you can arrange corporate events. Something for everyone!

I am lucky enough where we are in Surrey to be a little bit rural but part of me does crave the River Cottage, sustainable farming lifestyle, though I am not sure physically my body could manage so much to have my own farm! Despite not living anywhere near Devon, it has always held a very special place in my heart, having been lucky enough to have family in Devon, I have had many a holiday there! I grew up knowing neighbouring farms and opportunities to see happy livestock and it was a joy to see the happy animals at River Cottage, and of course the rather stunning views!

Our day was a mixture of food styling - cooking - eating and a tour of the River Cottage farm. A good day in all! Crop rotation is in full force and I learned why there are flowers tucked in with the veggies -  its all part of the organic pest control, with the flowers attracting the birds n bugs they will hopefully leave the good stuff for us humans to enjoy!

The beautiful grounds and kitchen garden at River Cottage - I so want one of those gorgeous swing seats in a future garden! The gorgeous orange hue of the pumpkins also reminds my halloween is coming around fast - where has this year gone?!

Our Food styling workshop was run by the lovely Lucy from Capture by Lucy - its a new blog for me too devour her beautiful photography and I picked up a lot of tips and advice - hopefully it will improve my own photos, especially with the dreaded winter light coming! I did get a bit concerned over finding out red is hard to photo on white... I may have bought just  the night before a new set of crockery which is er, red and white! We shall see!!

Among the photos below you will spot some rather unusual coloured yellow raspberries - they are known as 'All gold' and as they look 'unripe' the birds leave them alone! They are lovely though and I was glad the birds had left us plenty as my group devoured their fair share of them!

After the tour of the farm and building up a good appetite we enjoyed a lovely, very tasty lunch of Dexter beef ravioli with an end of the summer vegetable stew - the beef was unctuous and so, so tasty! Followed by a heavenly pudding of vanilla icecream with roasted damsons, crmble and fennel infused meringues! Despite really needing a nap after all that lovely food it was time to make my very own soda bread and butter with the group head chef Gill Mellor- I added violets, rosemary and fennel seeds to the butter - it was so easy, if a little joyously messy to make, definitely something to do now I am back home! It was really good to be able to make butter from scratch and use the leftover buttermilk to make the bread! 

Though a slight interval for me ended up getting to ride in HFW's red land rover to go and move my car! I thought the ride down hill in the tractor trailer was kinda fun but the ride up in the land rover holding onto the seat for dear life beat it hands down for saying my prayers!

So after a non stop whirlwind of a day it was time to say a fond farewell - fortunately the sat nav made a smoother journey on the home run compared to the mornings 30 minute detour via Dorset! It really was a thoroughly enjoyable day and despite my shyness I did enjoy meeting and talking to lots of lovely bloggers!

Many thanks to Foodies 100 and River Cottage!

You can check out some other blogs of the day over at:

Disclaimer: I received my ticket free with no obligation to write a positive review

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