Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cookbook Review ~ Eat Yourself Pregnant by Zita West

I’m not going to lie, when I was asked if I would review Eat Yourself Pregnant by Zita West I was a little hesitant, because to be honest I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to broadcast on my blog that we are trying to get pregnant, but then I thought why not because it’s not exactly a secret, even if I don’t talk about it that much. The reality is that my husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for the last 3 years and are dealing with Secondary Infertility. I’m not going to get into all of the specifics with you but it’s a long, emotional and very difficult journey that we never saw coming and so I will take any advice I can (within reason!), so considering  that I love food, cooking and cookbooks and I am trying to get pregnant I decided why not?!

Zita West is a fertility expert and midwife based in the UK. During her career she has also worked as a nutritional advisor and then as an acupuncturist so she is more than qualified to be writing this book! The recipes however come courtesy of Christine Bailey an award-winning nutritionist, food and health consultant, chef and cookery teacher.

The 160 paged paperback is packed with information about getting your body ready for pregnancy as well as 65 healthy recipes to ensure you get all of the vital nutrients required for conception in your diet. There are questions to help you assess your overall health such as ‘How healthy is your digestion?’ ‘How toxic are you?’ and ‘How stable is your blood sugar?’ and a recommended fertility cleanse if you think you need it. As it turned out everything seemed good for us so I skipped the fertility cleanse and opted to pick and choose my own recipes from the book (the fertility detox is just a detailed meal plan with all recipes taken from the book).

The recipes are divided into chapters including ‘Boosters & Breakfasts’, ‘Light Meals’ and ‘Main Meals’ and the majority are accompanied by beautiful photographs. They literally all sounded so good so I really had a hard time narrowing down which ones to test and in the end have so far managed to test 6 recipes (with more made outside of the testing and more to come!). Since I did test so many I’m keeping the information about the recipes shorter so that I don’t have a novel on my hands!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cookbook Review ~ Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook by Nancy Vienneau

The second Southern Cookbook to be added to my collection, Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook by Nancy Vienneau is a treasure of recipes and stories that celebrate local, seasonal food with family and friends.

What started off as a couple of friends wanting to get together once a month to share good food and company turned into a hugely successful monthly gathering and a cookbook to boot! The book features just over 150 recipes (taken from their monthly potlucks) and the chapters are divided into months which I know I have said before but I personally love! There are quite a lot of photographs throughout the book however a lot of them are for ingredients rather than the recipes which is worth noting. The theme is potluck but this is no ordinary potluck….Instead it is a group of friends getting together to celebrate the local bounty with new and innovative dishes. What each guest brings is a total surprise as there is no RSVP, no assigned dishes and absolutely no rules!

Quite honestly I didn’t even know where to start with this book because I bookmarked SO many recipes (the book was literally a sea of yellow post-it notes!!), however I finally managed to narrow things down and in the end I tested 4 recipes.

Tested Recipes:

Silky Butternut Squash Bisque
Fresh Dill-Feta Quick Bread
Cara Cara Cashew Chicken
Italian Meatballs in Hearty Italian Tomato Sauce

The first recipe to be put to the test was the Silky Butternut Squash Bisque since it looked delicious and I love Butternut Soup. The recipe was straightforward and I really liked the idea of roasting the vegetables first which added another level of flavour. I tasted the soup after each stage (and each new addition of the final ingredients) and I’ll be honest, for me it tasted best before the Greek Yogurt and Vanilla was added. I was definitely hesitant about the vanilla and in all honesty I wouldn’t do it again. It was a nice soup, definitely a bit different from any type of squash soup I have made before but I didn’t love it. It’s unlikely that I would make it again.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christmas Shopping with Ten Thousand Villages

Unless you are one of the super organised, chances are you, like me, are trying to get organised for Christmas! I still can’t believe that we’re already in December and the official countdown to Christmas has well and truly begun, but it has!

I’m always on the lookout for something different for presents and so I was delighted when I was asked if I would review some food products from Ten Thousand Villages. Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit organisation and is the oldest and largest Fair Trade organization in North America. The website is packed full of beautiful artisan gifts, home décor, jewellery, stationery and of course my favourite - food products. But it’s not only an online store, Ten Thousand Villages Canada has many shops across the country. What really makes it stand out however, is the fact that the mission behind Ten Thousand Villages is “to create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair-trading relationships”.

The products I was sent included a bottle of Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Palestine, a bag of Za’tar spice mix and a beautiful square serving plate which could be used for multiple purposes. Both the Olive Oil and the Za’tar came from a company called Zatoun which is a volunteer-run organisation that provides marketing aid to olive farmers in Palestine.

Photographs courtesy of Ten Thousand Villages

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cookbook Review ~ The Loving Kitchen by LeAnn Rice

Out of all of my hundreds and hundreds of cookbooks that I own, I am ashamed to say that I don’t have any Southern American cookbooks on my shelves! I know, I am embarrassed but I was delighted therefore when I was offered the chance to review The Loving Kitchen by LeAnn Rice so I could finally try out some good old Southern comfort food!

The Loving Kitchen is described as “a collection of comforting recipes straight from the kitchen of popular food blogger LeAnn Rice”, and I have to say it didn’t take me long to agree that this book is full of comfort food recipes perfect for sharing with your loved ones. The chapters are divided into courses including Morning Fare, Bountiful Breads, Soup and Sandwiches, Entrees and Desserts (plus a few others) and with more than 130 recipes I had plenty to choose from. In the end I managed to try out 4 recipes.

Tested Recipes:

Pasta in Creamy Savory Pumpkin Sauce
Lasagna Pinwheels
Cottage Herb Bread
Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

The first recipe to be put to the test was the Pasta in Creamy Savory Pumpkin Sauce. I was a little dubious as it did sound pretty heavy/ insanely rich(!) with the amount of butter, cream and parmesan but both hubby & Wee One love creamy sauces and it was Autumn so I thought it worth definitely worth a go, especially as it was completely different from anything I would generally make. The recipe was straightforward to follow and didn’t take long to make. The only downside was the ingredients were listed on one page with the instructions on the following so I had to keep switching back but that is me being super fussy! The final result was that the meal was enjoyable. Hubby liked it more than me but that’s just because I found it very rich. Since there was so much sauce left over I made some fresh pasta the following night then added some sauce along with some cooking water from the pasta and I have to admit I enjoyed it even more than the first night. There was SO much sauce though that I had to freeze what was left as it was just too much but it makes for an easy mid-week meal in the near future! If you are a fan of rich, creamy pasta you will enjoy this.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pomegranate & Granola Yogurt Crunch

I seriously debated on what to call this…. Parfait, Pots and Crunch were all up there and to be honest I’m not sure if ‘Crunch’ is the right choice, however what I can assure you is that this is absolutely delicious and the perfect way to start your day!

I love eating this for breakfast and so I decided it was only fair to share it with you, especially since not only does it taste fantastic and is healthy but it looks so pretty that you could easily serve it to friends or family coming over for brunch. I use my own homemade Granola (click for the recipe) but you could easily use your favourite Granola instead – be it homemade or bought! It is so easy to make and the fruit can be changed throughout the year to whatever is in season, but I’ll be honest Pomegranate is my favourite!

Serves 1 generous portion – or enough for Wee One & I to share! (Easily doubled)

175g/ ¾ cup Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt
1 tbsp honey (or to taste)
3 tbsp Granola
½ fresh pomegranate

Mix together the yogurt and honey and stir well before spooning half of it into the bottom of a glass bowl (or alternatively you could use glasses – either pretty tumblers or wine glasses). Sprinkle over 1 tablespoon of Granola and ½ of the pomegranate then repeat with the layering, finishing with the pomegranate.

(Approximately 340 calories per portion however, that will depend on the Granola and Yogurt that you use.)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays Nov. 10th ~ 16th

A short post this week but I am delighted that I have finally finished reviewing another cookbook (so look out for my review of The Loving Kitchen later in the week!). This week therefore I have moved on to another book - The Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook - another Southern cookbook packed with recipes that I can't wait to try, so once again 'Meal Planning Mondays' meets 'Cooking the Books'! Great for us (with so many new recipes to try out) but not so great for you as there aren't too many links available for this week's menu. That combined with the fact that we are out this weekend for meals (yay!) means this week is a little on the short side for Meal Planning Monday so I'm going to share some of the things I will be making throughout the week instead.

I hope you all have a great week with family, friends and of course good food!!

Silky Butternut Squash Bisque
Fresh Dill-Feta Quick Bread
Cara Cara Cashew Chicken
Italian Meatballs in Hearty Italian Sauce
Chocolate Ice Cream

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays & Cooking the Books!

I have been so quiet lately as not only have I been super busy but I was also lucky enough to have my Mum, Sister and amazing nephew/ God Son stay with us for the last 3 weeks! It was so much fun and meant there was no time for blogging even though I was still planning my meals like normal and cooking up a storm (nothing like cooking for family - it is by far my favourite thing)! Now I have a bit more time so Meal Planning Mondays are back, however for the next few weeks I am going to be focusing on some book reviews that are long overdue! I love reviewing cookbooks and putting recipes to the test, however it doesn't make for very exciting Meal Plans for you since there are no or minimal links for recipes, so for the next few weeks forgive me and instead I hope you look forward to reading the reviews! Once I am caught up with the three books I am currently reviewing I'll be back with more recipe links, hopefully some new recipes as well as even more new and exciting book reviews!

So since we are already on Wednesday of this week rather than posting my usual Meal Planning Mondays Menu, here is a list of some of the things I will be making and eating this week (links included where possible):

Pasta in Creamy Savory Pumpkin Sauce
Halloween Cake Pops (hopefully will have a pic to share!)
Mint Chocolate Ice Cream
Cottage Herb Bread
Key Lime Pie

So there you have it! Next week will be much the same with recipes coming from the books I am reviewing. If you are interested to see what books I am cooking from here they are...

Have a great week folks x

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Challenge Update!

Well I am happy to report that so far so good! The Glad Fresh Food Challenge has really opened my eyes to how much food I would usually waste and so I have spent the last week really paying attention to what’s in my fridge and pantry and coming up with new innovative ideas of how to prevent wasting my food.

One thing I have to say is that when it comes to saving food, the freezer is your absolute best friend and I don’t know where I would be without one! This past week my freezer has seen the addition of some finely chopped herbs (which I put into little bags and labelled ready for next time I need them) and bread crumbs. I have to admit that when it comes to bread it was high on my list of items being wasted, admittedly not always...but quite a lot. This week I have just taken the time to get out my food processor and whizz up the left over dried out pieces into breadcrumbs and put them into bags and into the freezer. Never again will I buy breadcrumbs….I have plenty right at my fingertips waiting to be used!

Another great use for your freezer is for meat and fish. I am lucky to have a large chest freezer in our garage so it works best for us to buy meat in bulk (it’s cheaper that way). The key to making this work however, is to break things down into portions. Separate chicken breasts, pork chops and steaks into individual portions before you freeze them (in either freezer bags or try Glad Press & Seal for extra protection) and weigh items such as mince, ground beef or chicken thighs into 1lb portions and freeze in bags that are clearly marked with the contents, weight and date. I do this every time I buy meat and it means I waste nothing. If you want to be extra organised (and a bit of a geek like me!) stick a white board on the wall above your freezer and keep track of everything you put in and take out of the freezer so you always know exactly what you have! It works wonders and I love it!

So there you go, week 1 of the #GladFreshFoodChallenge is complete and so far I am on track! 

How would you manage with this challenge? If you waste food why not try it, you will be surprised at how much you usually throw away and aware of how much money you can save if you stop!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays Oct. 6th ~ 12th

Last week I was commenting on how Autumn was definitely here and so I guess it was only a matter of time before somebody got the first cold of the season! I was worried about it being Wee One with him being back at preschool and going to swimming and hockey lessons, but it turns out I am the first victim. Worse still it pretty much appeared out of nowhere and has knocked me for six! Anyway the good news is it's only a cold so I'm sure it will be gone in a couple of days!

This week is SUPER exciting because my Mum, Sister and beautiful nephew are coming to visit! Yay! We are so excited to see them (another reason why I need to get over this cold quickly!!) and are on full-on countdown! But we have a few days before their arrival and so I want to make the most of using up the food we have in the fridge. The Glad Fresh Food Challenge is going well and is really making me conscious of what I can save but I'll write more about that on Wednesday.

So what's on the menu this week? Well it seems like quite a lot of pasta! Saturday night's Cook Club was so much fun and everything worked out well. The theme was 70s food and it was just so much fun. The main course was fondue so I am using the leftover cheese and making a delicious Mac & Cheese for dinner tonight. Tomorrow is leftovers as we have lots! Still it makes for an easy meal so no complaints there. Wednesday night and I couldn't resist a delicious Middle Eastern Bowl which was featured in a supermarket magazine from the Summer. I'll admit it's not very Autumnal but I have all of the ingredients and it looks great. Thursday's meal is my classic Fresh Tomato Pasta - my standard recipe for family arriving after a long journey! It's delicious but not too heavy and we all love it. Friday is our standard hockey night so I am hoping to make something in the Slow Cooker but I'm still undecided as to what at this moment but I'll update it as soon as I have decided. For Saturday I couldn't resist my homemade BBQ'd Pizza and then Sunday we will be with family celebrating Thanksgiving!

So there you have it! Have a great week everyone with family, friends and of course, lots of good food! x

 Monday October 6th ~ 12th

                                  Monday  -       Macaroni & Cheese 
                                  Tuesday -       Leftovers 
                                  Wednesday -  Middle Eastern Bowl
                                  Thursday -      Fresh Tomato Pasta & Salad
                                  Friday -          TBD 
                                  Saturday -      BBQ'd Pizza
                                  Sunday -        Thanksgiving Dinner with Family

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How much food do you waste?

As I mentioned in my Meal Planning Monday’s post I am so excited to be taking part in the Glad Fresh Food Challenge (#GladFreshFoodChallenge). My reason for initially signing up for it was because unfortunately as much as I hate it I am just as guilty as the next person of wasting food every week. I try not to but inevitably something always ends up in the bin. Usually it’s leftovers but occasionally fruit and vegetables that have been forgotten about and are past the point of being revived are thrown away as well.

As I said though, I am not alone with this issue. It turns out that the average Canadian household spends $5572 per year on groceries.  Unfortunately, on average 13% of that food is thrown out which is the equivalent of $725 worth of food ending up in the garbage every year per family[1]. Worse still however is a recent report from the US that states that 40% of food is wasted every year amounting to a shocking $165 billion a year in waste. Of that total 14% of that waste comes from households throwing away food[2].  And in the UK it is reported that around 15 million tonnes of food is thrown away every year with almost 50% of that coming from UK homes. That is the equivalent of the average household throwing away 6 meals a week![3]

The results are staggering and quite simply unnecessary, so it’s time to stop and make a change. The fact of the matter is that a lot of that food just doesn’t need to be thrown out and so with some careful planning, taking the time for some basic food preparation and having the knowledge of how to use or preserve your food, we can all attempt to cut down on the amount of food we are throwing out every year. If you can do that not only will you prevent so much food from being unnecessarily wasted but at the same time you will also be saving yourself big bucks!

So as of today, October 1st, I am starting the Glad Fresh Food Challenge. My challenge is to waste NOTHING for 2 weeks….not even a single lettuce leaf. After researching the issue of food waste and finding out just how much of a problem it is, I am genuinely excited to accept this challenge. My hope is to share new ideas, tips and tricks of how to save food and stop it from being thrown in the bin. I’ll update my blog in 1 week with my progress but I will be updating my Facebook page every day so stay with me and see how much food I can actually save in 2 weeks and keep good food from going bad! Even better why not join me?! Let the challenge begin to keep good food from going, stop wasting and start saving!

[1] Information provided by Glad
[2] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041123095923.htm
[3] http://england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/content/how-much-food-wasted-total-across-uk

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cookbook Review ~ The Macaroni's in the Basement by Fran Claro

When I was given the opportunity to review The Macaroni’s in the Basement I couldn't resist. The name alone sold me on this book so I was really excited when it arrived. The book is a collection of stories and recipes from author Fran Claro involving four Italian-American grandmothers who lives in post-WWII Brooklyn revolve around  family, church events and of course food.

The book is divided into Seasons and accompanying each reminiscent story is a traditional Italian recipe courtesy of one or more of the Nonne. As you would expect from 4 opinionated, no nonsense Italian Grandmothers (Maddelana, Giuseppina, Concetta and Aniella) there are many disagreements as to whose recipe is the best but it is accompanied by wit and charm that makes you instantly feel right at home with them and more so eager to pull up a chair in their kitchens and fill your plates with their wonderful food.

Within the book there are 66 recipes and out of those I tested 5.

Tested Recipes:
Fig Pizza (From ‘Covering a Fig Tree’)
Chicken Milanese & Salad (From ‘Fire Hydrant Days’)
Sausage and Peppers & Bread Salad (From ‘Hurry Up…. The Bride’s Getting Out of the Car’)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays Sept. 29th ~ Oct. 5th

Well Autumn/Fall is officially here and with it comes comfort food! I know I mentioned last week that I love the transition from lighter Summery meals to more warming comforting Autumn dishes but I really do! For about 3 days last week it absolutely poured with rain but since we were tucked up nice and warm inside (for the most part!) it was actually really nice to watch. When you have had an amazing Summer there is something very relaxing and enjoyable about watching rain lash against the windows, curled up with a hot cup of tea or even better a big bowl of steaming hot homemade soup. I absolutely love soup so it will start to feature pretty regularly in my meal plans, whether for lunch or dinner, I love how easy it is to make and the variations are endless! It's also great for using ingredients you have in the fridge that otherwise you are unsure what to do with, which brings me to my Meal Plan for this week. I am excited to be taking part in the Glad Fresh Food Challenge which starts on Wednesday October 1st. The challenge is to not waste ANY food at all - nothing, not even a piece of lettuce, for 2 weeks. I'm not going to lie, after just throwing away the remains of our Bread Salad that we had last week I am happy to be accepting this challenge because I really hate to waste food which is something that I know the majority of us do. I'll write more about the challenge on Wednesday and I'll be updating on my Facebook page daily with how I am getting on and will honestly report any food that I need to throw out with the reasons why.... In the meantime though here is this week's meal plan!

Tonight is good old leftovers - my new favourite for Mondays! Tomorrow is once again about using up leftovers but this time I am taking them and transforming then into a new meal. Last night we had Barbecued Pork Chops so I'm going to take the leftover Pork and make my Pork & Udon Noodle Soup. Wednesday (and the start of my challenge) and we have a very busy day so it has to be something quick and easy so I'm making my Leek Carbonara. Thursday isn't so busy so I am going to make Chicken Korma, a favourite in our house. Again I'm using up what I have so that I don't need to buy anything but more so so that I don't waste anything. Friday and it's back to Slow Cooker Friday's and this time I am putting my chilli to the test by making it in the Slow Cooker which I have never done. Here's hoping it goes according to plan but I see no reason why it shouldn't work! Saturday and I'm excited as we are hosting Cook Club. As of now the theme is a surprise but I'll update once it's done. Finally Sunday is our usual undecided meal for now as it really depends on what we decide to do! As for now I'm off to experiment with a new recipe for soup! (I told you soup is going to feature a lot!) I have a beautiful yellow courgette needing used as well as a leek. I could make Nigella's Happiness Soup but I am in the mood for something smooth and creamy... I'll let you know how I get on!

So there you have it! Have a great week everyone with family, friends and of course, lots of good food! x

 Monday September 29th ~ Oct. 5th

                                  Monday  -       Leftovers 
                                  Tuesday -       Pork & Udon Noodle Soup
                                  Wednesday -  Leek Carbonara Tomato & Pea Pasta
                                  Thursday -     Chicken Korma with Basmati Rice
                                  Friday -          Spaghetti Bolognese  
                                  Saturday -      Cook Club 
                                  Sunday -        Barbecue Beef Stew with Fresh Pasta

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays Sept. 22nd ~ 28th

Well today is officially the first day of Autumn and it certainly feels like it! After the most amazing send-off to Summer at the weekend (temps of 27C and nothing but clear blue skies) the clouds rolled in yesterday and today it hasn't stopped raining! Still no complaints here (other than I couldn't find ANY of my umbrellas this morning!) as it really has been the most amazing Summer ever. So now I am caught between using up the last of the best Summer ingredients and starting to edge more towards warming Autumnal Soups, Stews and Roasts. I'll be honest I like this time of year and I love the food so I'm looking forward to making the transition.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays Sept. 15th ~ 21st

This week's meal plan is more than a little late to say the least! The reason being that I actually wasn't going to do one... Initially I had no links so it seemed a little pointless but then as the week went by things changed and in a bid to completely clean out my fridge I found some great new recipes to try which do have links! (Thank you BBC Good Food!) The downside to that is that I am desperate to try some new recipes from books that I am meant to be reviewing so unfortunately they have been postponed another week, however I will have the reviews up soon!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kale, Tomato & Bean Soup

Normally when I post a new recipe on my blog I like to try it several times first to make sure everything is just right, however this is a new recipe for both you and I! I've been watching a lot of Nigel Slater recently and I love his relaxed approach to food and cooking and just using what you have and what's available, so perhaps he inspired me because the other day a friend came round to visit with her kids and they brought a huge bag of Kale and Tomatoes that they had grown in their garden. They were so amazing and I couldn't wait to use them in something, but since I had my meal plan done for the week (and was desperate to finish all of the curries from the weekend so I had some room in my fridge!) I thought how about a delicious, healthy soup! So that's what I did. I knew before I made it that it would taste good and it did - it was so good and even Ben absolutely loved it! 

The quantities for the tomatoes and kale are approximate since it just depends on what you have and your own tastes. I had more of both but felt that the amounts below were perfect for this batch, plus it means I still have enough kale leftover to enjoy a bowl of Spaghetti with Kale, Garlic & Lemon for a quick Saturday night supper after a day on the boat - double bonus! 

This soup is what cooking (and growing your own vegetables) is all about - using what you have at the right time of year paired with a few pantry staples and ending up with something so simple and easy to make but full of wonderful fresh flavours. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays Sept. 8th ~ 14th

Well I survived the Birthday weekend and I have to say, it was great although I did spend 3 days cooking and baking for it! Still it was well worth all the effort! On Saturday we had a lovely time with friends and all of the kids so it was a great catch up with lots of good company and tons of great food! As I posted on last week's meal plan we had Burgers and I made a giant batch of Coleslaw for everyone as it also disappears so fast. There were so many other salads that had been made (Pasta Salad, Bean Salad, Tomato & Cucumber Salad) as well as lots of fresh, local Corn on the Cob and roasted potatoes and vegetables! It was a true feast and it was finished off with lots of Cupcakes (Vanilla & Mint Chocolate), Top Hats, Krispie Cakes and 3 delicious cheesecakes! You certainly can't complain about that!! The weather was absolutely beautiful and it really was just a perfect party.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pork & Udon Noodle Soup

I’m not going to lie – this recipe was the result of a rainy, cold day and me needing and craving a satisfying but light soup to warm me up. Since I had some leftover Chinese BBQ Pork in the fridge and am currently addicted to Udon noodles, this soup was a natural choice. I hadn’t made this version before but being a lover of Pho I used that as inspiration and simply used what I had in the house. Even better I had homemade chicken stock in the freezer just waiting to be used in a dish just like this. I have to admit there is something really satisfying about using what you have and creating exactly what you were craving. This soup took no time to make at all and was absolutely perfect….The perfect pick-me-up for a rainy, cold September day.

Serves 2 generously (easily doubled)

750ml chicken stock (homemade or the best quality you can get)
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
3 slices of ginger
1 star anise
1 red chilli, sliced (remove the seeds for less heat)
2 or 3 lime leaves (fresh if possible but dried is fine)
1tsp fish sauce (or to taste)
½ lime
200g packet of udon noodles
Leftover pork, shredded (or other meat of your choice) – as much as you have or want in your soup
Handful of sugar snap peas (approx. 100g), cut in half diagonally
Sprinkling of fresh coriander (optional)

Put the stock into a medium sized pan then add the garlic, ginger, star anise, red chilli, lime leaves, fish stock and a good squeeze of lime juice. Bring it to a boil then leave to gently simmer for about 5-10 minutes to let the flavours infuse the stock (you can leave it for longer if you like, it’s more about how much time you have, just don’t let it reduce too much).

Add the udon noodles and cook for a couple of minutes (or according to the time on the packet). For the last minute add the pork and the sugar snap peas and cook just long enough to warm the pork and slightly soften the peas. Taste to check the balance of flavours and adjust if necessary adding more lime or fish sauce as needed, then ladle into deep bowls and serve at once. Chop sticks are optional but they are perfect for slurping up the noodles!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays Sept. 1st ~ 7th

I love long weekends.... In fact I think that Monday's should always be a holiday!! Although with it being Labour Day I don't like the idea that Summer is now technically over.... I'm hopeful that Mother Nature thinks otherwise and we see a final burst of sun before Autumn takes over!

Last week once again saw a few changes to our meal plan... The Nicoise Pasta made so much (and that was with me messing up and putting in 50 grams less pasta than suggested!) that it pretty much lasted us for 3 days! So the Risotto was pushed to Friday, Pizza was Saturday and once again Burgers were kyboshed!! This week however we are absolutely having Burgers! Seriously!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Grilled Halloumi with Quinoa & Beetroot Salad (& my struggle with blogging)

Before I jump to the recipe for this delicious salad there is something I need to address with regards to my blogging...

It's hard to believe it but I started blogging 5 years ago. My reason for starting this blog was simple....I loved to cook and this was the easiest way for me to share my often-requested recipes with family and friends. To this day I still love cooking, I am a total food-oholic! I get excited about shopping for food, finding new ingredients, getting reacquainted with recipes and ingredients from my past and exploring new cuisines throughout the world from the comfort of my own kitchen.You are far more likely to find me reading a cookbook or food magazine than any other book and with a library of 1000 cookbooks (and growing) I'm never short of something to read! Of course the books and magazines just feed my enthusiasm for cooking by offering endless new ideas and inspiration and so it was only a matter of time before I started reviewing cookbooks and really putting them to the test to see if they were worth a place on my overloaded, sagging shelves! I love reviewing cookbooks and so I do plan to do a lot more of that on this blog but without doubt my favourite thing to do still is come up with my own ideas and recipes and share them with you. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays August 25th ~ 31st

Wow, another week has flown by and I'm having a hard time remembering where it went! After Mum & Dad flew back home I tried to keep Ben and I as busy as possible so we had trips to the beach, parks and visiting our family here. All of which were fantastic and definitely distracted us from how quiet the house was. Thankfully we are lucky enough to still be enjoying a beautiful Summer, unlike poor Mum & Dad (and everyone else in Scotland I think!) who returned to jumpers and the fire on! Scott was also away most of last week so once he was home we made the most of our weekend and spent the majority of it on the boat which was the perfect way to spend our Saturday and Sunday.....Chilled out, relaxing, enjoying the sun, a spot of fishing and I even went swimming in the lake for the first time ever! Quiet an achievement for me since I don't like cold water at all!

There was a slight variation to last week's meal plan after a trip to the supermarket on Friday where I spotted the most wonderful looking fresh tuna on sale so I of course just had to buy it! After a quick think of how to serve it I decided on a Tuna Niçoise Salad which has become a new favourite of mine. I improvised a little to use up some extra things in the fridge and it turned out to be the 'Ultimate Tuna Niçoise' which was absolutely delicious! Since we had that on Friday the Quesadillas were moved to Sunday night (perfect quick meal after a day on the ocean) so no burgers last week meaning we'll be having them this week most likely, especially if we go out on the boat. If the weather doesn't cooperate this weekend (as the forecast is predicting at this point!) then I might go for something a little more Autumnal and take inspiration from one of the cookbooks I am currently reviewing.

So onto this week's meal plan and I am once again making the most of what we have in the fridge. My plan is to clear the fridge up completely so that come next Monday (and scarily the start of September!) I can start afresh and do the giant shop that is needing to be done (once I have room!). I'm also excited this week to finally be enjoying the few but very delicious tomatoes we have growing in the garden which I will use in Tuesday's pasta dish. Monday is a new recipe that I am promising to have on the blog later on in the week. This is such a delicious quick and easy meal and perfect for Meat Free Mondays. Wednesday and I'm using up the leftover Tomato Sauce from last weeks Arrabiata which I popped in the freezer. I'm adding to it some beautifully spiced Chorizo but you could easily miss that out for another fantastic vegetarian meal. Thursday and I am assuming we will have some leftovers needing eaten and then Friday I'm excited to try a new recipe from a cookbook that I am reviewing. The weekend is always iffy as it really depends on the weather and what we get up to, especially this weekend as it's a long weekend here in Canada, but for now I'm happy with the idea of Burgers. If it changes then c'est la vie!

So there you have it! Have a great week everyone with family, friends and of course, lots of good food! x

 Monday August 25th - 31st

                                  Monday  -       Grilled Halloumi with Quinoa & Beetroot Salad (new recipe!)
                                  Tuesday -        Niçoise Pasta (using tomatoes from the garden)
                                  Wednesday -   Spicy Tomato & Chorizo Risotto
                                  Thursday -       Leftovers 
                                  Friday -           Fig Pizza (from The Macaroni's in the Basement)
                                  Saturday -       Burgers or Porcetta (from above-mentioned book)
                                  Sunday -         Dinner with family

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays August 18th ~ 24th

Well after a longer than normal absence from blogging I'm finally back! It's been a busy month but a fantastic one as I have had my parents and aunt over to stay and therefore have been making the most of Summer and family and generally just having a great time! As always the time flew by but within the 4 weeks we had a great 2 weeks in Whistler where we went for daily bike rides, hikes, many trips up the mountains, to the lakes and of course enjoyed many delicious lunches out and about! Lucky for me this included going to Araxi for my Birthday treat from Scott where I had (again!) one of the best things I have ever eaten - Steamed Asian Buns with Duck Confit served with a Cucumber Salad.... Delicious doesn't even come close to describing how unbelievably good it was so you are just going to have to take my word when I say it is definitely in my Top 5 best things I have EVER eaten!!

As well as our 2 weeks in Whistler we also managed to fit in a couple of trips on the boat and a weekend camping so really it was a great time that I will always remember. As always for me food featured heavily and during our time we feasted on many, many wonderful meals including our Best Ever Ribs, Curries, lots of pasta dishes (ideal holiday meals!), Steaks, Burgers and even a deliciously fragrant but light Thai Chicken Soup which was ideal after a long days hiking as it was quick and easy but also nourishing and very satisfying. Holidays for me always have to include delicious meals, they just have to be simple and straightforward but still packed with flavour and all of our meals were just that!

The downside to the last 4 weeks was that after returning from Whistler my laptop finally decided to pack it in and crashed in spectacular style and wiped everything. Of course it is my own fault as it has been acting up for a while and rather than backing things up I kept thinking - I'll do it next week..... so no back up this year. Stupid I know but it is what it is. I think I have most photographs but I have lost a few blogging things such as book reviews I was working on but also my recipe for 'Scott's Best Ever Ribs'. I'm just hoping I can remember what I changed from the original recipe but we may need to do a couple of tests to make absolutely sure it is just right!! I'm really disappointed about the book reviews that I have lost but I'll get there with getting them back and I have lots of  other book reviews coming up which I am super excited about testing.

So what's on the menu this week?! We started it off well with Chicken wrapped in Prosciutto which I served with a fresh Tomato Sauce, Caesar Salad and plenty of French Bread. Tuesday was all about leftovers and with enough steak leftover from the weekend Ben & I were treated to Steak Baguettes which we both devoured. On to Wednesday and Ben was desperate for Pasta ("tubes") with tomato sauce (his all time favourite!) so I made a tame version of my Arrabiata for a quick and easy mid-week meal which we love (with extra chillies on the side for me!). I am very excited about tonight's meal as I am debuting my brand new bread maker so we will hopefully enjoy some delicious homemade bread with a big bowl of Courgette, Potato & Cheddar Soup, thanks to our good friends who gave us one of their amazing giant courgettes/zucchinis fresh from their garden. Tomorrow night once again is all about clearing out the fridge as we have so many little bits of this and that so I am making Quesadilla's - pizza style! It's the first time I have done it (that I can remember anyway!) but I don't anticipate any disasters, just a quick and easy delicious Friday night meal. Saturday and we are heading to friends for a BBQ and Sunday I imagine will be spent on the boat so I'm thinking perhaps Burgers when we get home as they are quick and easy to prepare and cook, not to mention a firm favourite in our house!

So there you have it! Have a great week everyone with family, friends and of course, lots of good food! x

 Monday August 18th - 24th

                                  Monday  -       Chicken wrapped in Prosciutto with Fresh Tomato Sauce; Caesar                                                                Salad & French Bread
                                  Tuesday -       Steak Baguettes
                                  Wednesday -  Penne Arrabiata
                                  Thursday -      Courgette, Potato & Cheddar Soup with Homemade Bread
                                  Friday -          Pizza Quesadillas (experiment!)
                                  Saturday -      BBQ at friends
                                  Sunday -        Burgers

Monday, July 21, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays July 21st ~ 27th

Well after a fantastic weekend camping we are now home and back to the daily grind! Unfortunately the sun seems to be taking a bit of a holiday as well as it has clouded over and cooled down, but after the extreme temperatures of last week the cooler temps aren't too bad!

I'm so excited this week as Mum & Dad are coming to visit - yay! We have been on countdown for so long and finally it's just 1 more sleep until we get to see them. That means this week's Meal Plan is taking their arrival into account and I have also had a quick look at the weather forecast as well to make sure I'm not cooking for hours when it's 35C out! Tonight it's just Ben and I so I'm going for a quick and easy Mac & Cheese which he has been asking for for a while. Tomorrow and it's my all time favourite pasta dish - a super simple Fresh Tomato Sauce served with Penne Pasta. You never know how you are going to feel after travelling and being stuck on a plane for hours so I'll have this made up and ready to go but I'll also have lots of Antipasto as well in case Mum and Dad just feel like snacking. Either way I will be delighted as I absolutely love both dishes! Wednesday and with rain being on the forecast and all of the ingredients in the house already I thought a Thai Red Curry would be perfect. Unfortunately the chillies in the garden aren't quite ready but I always have plenty of fiery red chillies stashed in the fridge which I'll serve on the side so that Ben can enjoy it as well! Thursday is my Birthday(!) and my ideal evening is to hopefully sit out in the garden with a glass of Prosecco, a big sharing plate of antipasto and a super thin pizza cooked on the barbecue! Perfect! Now I can control the food but not the weather so here's hoping it cooperates so that we can relax outside. Friday and although I have a few ideas I'm not entirely sure so for now that's still to be decided but Saturday is all organised as we are having a big Birthday meal here. Not only is it my Birthday this week but it's my Mother-in-laws on Saturday and my Brother-in-laws on Sunday! (Busy week for my husband!) so every year we always get together to have a big family meal and this year we are hosting. I am keeping things really simple and everyone is helping out by making a dish or a starter/appetizer. The star of the show will be a delicious Spiral Ham that just needs warmed up and covered with a delicious sticky, sweet glaze. My Sister-in-law is making some Schwarties (delicious potato dish that Scott's family introduced me to and I now love, but Dauphinoise Potatoes would be just as good if you prefer). I'm going to make a big bowl of coleslaw and then will just serve a nice big green salad with my standard viniagrette and a lovely tomato salad as well. Finally on Sunday Scott is making his Best Ever finger-licking Smoked Ribs (recipe to hopefully appear on my blog this week!) to end the week on a high note!

So there you have it! I'm so looking forward to this week. Have a great week everyone with family, friends and of course, lots of good food! x

 Monday July 21st - July 27th

                                  Monday  -       Macaroni & Cheese; Green Salad
                                  Tuesday -       Penne Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce
                                  Wednesday -  Thai Red Curry with Chicken & Bamboo Shoots; Jasmine Rice
                                  Thursday -      Antipasto and BBQ'd Pizza
                                  Friday -          TBD
                                  Saturday -      Spiral Ham; Schwarties; Coleslaw, Tomato Salad & Green Salad
                                  Sunday -        Scott's Best Ever Smoked Ribs (recipe coming very soon!); 
                                                               Coleslaw & Salad

Monday, July 14, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays July 14th ~ 20th

Well I'm not going to lie, this is going to be a quick post because it is scorching here and I literally am melting sitting here at my laptop (just as well I can type really quickly!). The only thing cooling me slightly is the fan I have switched on but even then it's not really cutting it! Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining, I love Summer but 35C/ 95F is more than I can handle! Thankfully it's going to cool down a little after Wednesday and back to a more manageable temperature.

You'd think since it is SOOOO hot that I would have gone for something incredibly easy for dinner tonight, say for example a refreshing salad where I can just grab everything out of my nice cold fridge and throw it together...nope. Apparently I am a complete glutton for punishment but to be honest I came up with most of this week's meal plan last week when it wasn't quite so hot and I went shopping yesterday (where of course the supermarket was nice and air conditioned so you forget how hot it is outside!). So tonight on the menu is Turkey Meatball Korma....I'm hoping it's good and that the theory of eating hot food when you are hot actually cools you done works! Last week I was given a beautiful big courgette/zucchini from my friend's garden. I used some of it on our pizza on Saturday but I still have a lot left so I am making Zucchini & Feta Fritters tomorrow. Wednesday thankfully is a leftovers night so just some quick reheating necessary. Thursday and Ben specifically chose Chicken Strips for dinner which is fine by me as I'll serve them with a nice crisp green salad and perhaps for a treat some homemade aioli or other indulgent accompaniment .... Friday and we're away camping! Yay - I am so excited to go. Of course by the time we get there and set up we want something quick and easy and our first night go-to always seems to be some nice sausages in rolls with perhaps some sauteed onions to top them. Saturday is undecided but I'm hoping perhaps for a nice fresh crab which we enjoy very simply with lots of lemon, some spicy garlic butter and a green salad. What more could you ask for when you are camping?! As for Sunday I have no idea but I am guessing it will be something we can quickly put on the barbecue!

So there you have it! Have a great week everyone with family, friends and of course, lots of good food! x

 Monday July 14th - July 20th

                                  Monday  -      Turkey Meatball Korma
                                  Tuesday -       Courgette & Feta Fritters with Green Salad
                                  Wednesday -  Leftovers
                                  Thursday -      Chicken Strips & Crisp Green Salad Lemon Spaghetti
                                  Friday -          Sausage Rolls (not the puff pastry kind!) with Sauteed Onions
                                  Saturday -      Steamed Crab with Garlic Butter & Lemon; Green Salad
                                  Sunday -        Spaghetti with Crab

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