Sunday, 29 April 2007

Green Fingers

Me? No. Definitely not.

But I have been to the garden centre today & I came home with a big tub, some herbs (how could I resist the 5 for £6 offer?!) & some soil. I had no idea really what I was doing, if I can grow them all in the same pot or if I even bought the right soil but I thought I'd give it a go.

Here they are, sitting on the newly cleaned & tidy balcony...
I thought if I blogged about them I might just remember to water them. Maybe, or going by my track record, maybe not. Lets see!

Weekends, a great time for cooking

On Friday I made another batch of chili which was yummy.

On Saturday, I made nothing, not a sausage, ziltch. In the evening we went out for a drink & ended up going for an Indian. Not much to write home about I have to say.

Today we are having the rest of the chili. So a weekend well spent. Hmmmm.

We did however have a nice morning out in Liverpool, wandering around the waterfront to see what all the developments look like from t'other side of the river. I think its going to be really nice when its finished & I am quite looking forward to it. Work has started on the canal, joining the Mersey from in front of the Liver Building up to the Albert Docks, the new stadium is nearly finished (well, from the outside) & it is starting to look like it is coming together. There is still a lot of building work going on though, cranes everywhere, but I have faith it will be done in time for 2008 & will be great.

Here is a flavour of what we saw...
Can you (just about) make out the cone at the bottom of the dock? As usual the fun lovin' scousers have been up to their tricks, but blimey how clean is the water?!

The beginnings of the canal

Oh and how could I forget, whilst we were wandering we saw a chap sprinting towards us in his red shorts (no top), just as he got past us he headed down to a dock, stripped of his red shorts & dive into the cold water - eek. Yes I had to look away as he stripped, it wasn't a pretty sight but how I could I not post this pic... (if you click on the pic to enlarge it, you might just be able to see the desirable swimwear...)

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Wednesday night cook in

Wednesday nights are great at the moment. First at 8pm we have Neneh & Andi which is an absolutely great non-chef foodie programme.

Followed by some Sweet Baby James - whilst I think the title is quite poor, I do have a small thing for James so I have to watch...

Followed up by The Apprentice, not as good as past years in my humble opinion but I do watch (normally whilst on the 'bag).

And at 10pm we have the finale, Desperate Housewives, I just love this programme & there's not many on telly that gets me cheering & laughing quite so much (Susan & Mike have to get back together!).

A bottle of wine always goes down on a Wednesday too - ahem.

Anyway, back to the food. I went a bit mad last night & made:

  • Bruschetta (toasted ciabatta for ease, & mixed up some tomatoes, garlic & red onion with a small amount of olive oil, serve with a dash of balsamic vinegar)
  • Asparagus & Lemon Risotto (yum) care of Nigel Slater
  • Chocolate Chip Muffins thanks to Nigella's recipe here
  • I also heated through some ciabatta & onion bhajis for lunch today (based on a Philpotts favourite of ours - ciabatta, hoummous, onion bhaji & spicy mango chutney)
Here are a few pics of the risotto & muffins
The muffins are quite nice but not as sweet as we expected so may try another recipe next time.

And here are some tulips Hubby bought on Tuesday after a small reminder that it was our two-monthiversay.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Spicy Lentil Bake

This recipe was on Something For The Weekend the weekend before last & you may have noticed I've been meaning to make it for about a week now.

In the pan we have some colourful carrot, onion, celery & pepper...
Throw in some lentils, stock & a few more bits & bob and after 20 mins add an egg or two...

Served with pita bread (as we didn't have naans) & some yoghurt with cucumber.

It turned out ok, I'd like to try it again but remember to wash & drain the lentils & maybe cook them until they are a bit softer...

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Chester Zoo

Its my sister-in-laws (that sounds weird, am still not used to my new surname nevermind new family members!) - yes its her 24th birthday tomorrow & for ages she has been wanting to go back to the zoo. So today the three of us went for a nice day out. And I had a fab time.

I commandeered the new camera & I think hubby was a bit miffed but we have some nice pictures of most of the animals we saw. We are both extremely tired now. Anyway, here are a few to brighten up my blog.

The last week

So I had the weeks food all planned out & as usual I start to change my mind thinking 'I cant be bothered making that tonight' or 'I don''t really fancy this today' Wah!

So I made the chilli & it was a success & I did enjoy batch number two.

The lentil bake, well thats still in the fridge - I am aiming to make that for tea tomorrow.

Linda Mc Cartney - pies & chips - were ok, sausages & chips - surprisingly very sausage-like but very salty.

On Thursday I was feeling lazy again but mustered up an asparagus risotto & it was quick & easy to make. It was tasty but could have had a small touch of lemon in just to lift it.

On Friday we went to a sportsmans dinner at Goodison. Hubby supports Liverpool so whilst being in the Everton ground may have been a bit painful for him I did catch him eating the EFC chocolates - and he didn't choke either.
I opted for the veggie option as I am not keen on meat, especially when we eat out. It was all very tasty - tomato & basil soup, asparagus, goats cheese & red onion tart with some verrrry nice balsamic with veg & then a lemon tart served with mascapone. The tart had just the right amount of lemon tang but wasn't half as nice as the brulee tart I made a week or two ago.

Monday, 16 April 2007

A weeks menu

Yesterday we did our weekly shop & for the first time in a while, nothing on the menu is copied from the previous week/s (which happens quite frequently). This week we have a vegetable chilli (serves 4, so thats two sittings), a spicy lentil bake, gridled chicken salad & some Linda McCartney mince pies & sausages & chips! We haven't bought chips for well over a year either.

Last night I made the chilli & I am not a big fan of the stuff but Hubby quite likes it so this was really for him.

From Delicious magazine (May 07)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
300g frozen quorn (Tescos didn't have any so I used a 350g box from the refrigerator section but its £1 more expensive!!)
2 peppers, chopped fairly small
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons of lightly crush cumin seeds
320g jar of tomato & chilli pasta sauce
1 tine of kidney beans

1. Heat oil & cook peppers for 5 minutes
2. Add garlic & cumin seeds & quorn - cook for for 3/4mins
3. Add kidney beans & sauce + a further 160g water - simmer for 20 mins
4. Serve with rice

We also had the suggested sour cream & guacamole.
It was very easy & the cumin really made it for me. For once, I am looking forward to the second serving of this which is sitting in the fridge.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

All Batched Out

Tonight we used the last batch of my roasted vegetables.

I defrosted the veg during the day & at tea time I slowly reheated it in a pan with a small amount of olive oil. Once warmed through I threw about 200ml couscous in, followed by 200ml of marigold vegetable stock & some black pepper. I left it to soak up & then threw some butter in.

I dished it out & left it to cool slightly before serving with yoghurt & coriander. We had a side serving of garlic bread as we would have only gone to waste (any excuse, believe me!). Anyways, this is how it looked:

Verdict: Very tasty & very quick.

Earlier in the week we used up the second batch of vegetables by heating them through with a tin of chopped tomatoes & hey-presto we had a roasted vegetable sauce & pasta.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Easter Monday

We tried to make the most of our last day off work & headed out to Pistyll Rhaeadr - a waterfall near Oswestry. The waterfall is actually higher than Niagara Falls & is quite pretty.

On the way back home we stopped off at the Cheshire Cat in Christleton for a late pub lunch - I had some garlic mushrooms & then an open sandwich of salmon, prawn, creme fraiche & spring onion. It was quite tasty.

After heading back home I heated up the last of the watercress soup for tea - followed by some chocolate of course!

Oh, and here are some of my Easter tulips...

Saturday, 7 April 2007

A lot of hot air

Today was the day where we volunteered to help blow up 1500 balloons for the great balloon race at Zoes Place. I think we did our fair share & managed around 700 - it only took us three hours!!

After 30 mins...
After 3 hours...
And finally they were set free...

I had also invited my mum & dad around for dinner so this morning, before we left for the balloon race, I made a passion fruit & lemon brulee tart. Now I haven't made pastry since I was a child, nor have I ever attempted a brulee. The pastry was supposed to be made using a food processor - which we don't have. I was tempted to use the hand mixer with the dough hooks but then decided my hands were just as good! The pastry was surprisingly easy to make into a dough & roll out. My difficulty came in transferring the dough into the dish. The first attempt collapsed dreadfully so I re-kneaded & rolled out again. The second time I managed to get most of the base in, in one piece & some of the sides so I decided to patchwork the rest together.

After baking blind & egg-whiting it the case looked ok...

I then prepared the creme brulee centre & the passion fruit smelled so delicious, I couldn't wait to try some.

It went in the oven at 100° for 45 mins. The recipe said it should be set but still a little wobbly in the centre. I pulled the shelf out & a tidal wave of filling nearly escaped the pastry case. Set my @*se! As we had the balloons to get to I gave it another 10 mins & then had to leave. It was still very much liquid & I was quite annoyed after spending all morning working on it. I left it in the oven, with the door slightly ajar (after my steaming escapade earlier in the week).

After stopping at Sainsbury's and buying a vanilla NY cheesecake on the way back, we got home to find one set filling... Surprise!

After eating our main course of lemon marinated chicken with greek yoghurt accompaniment (with spring onion, cucumber, chilli, garlic, coriander & mint) I got round to sprinkling it with icing sugar & starting up my new chefs blowtorch...

It was delicious, tangy & sweet, crunchy but gooey. Very very nice, I have to say!

Friday, 6 April 2007


Friday 6th April
Ah, a bank holiday means a day off work :) So hubby did some DIY & I did some baking for the open day at Zoes tomorrow - I made some traditional crispy cakes/nests, a malteser tray bake & a rocky road - the latter two being essentially the same recipe -

Some rocky road (this one included a few cherries, marshmallows, left over maltesers & sultanas - oh, & a few mini eggs for good measure!!) *recipe below:

And after a baking morning I put together a ratatouille bake (from Delicious magazine) for tea, so that's batch one of my Tuesday cook-down used! Served with garlic bread & some nice Italian prosecco...

This was very tasty but the olives we had put in it were the worst we have ever had so we picked them all out!

And whilst I was cooking, Anthony managed to finally put the wallpaper up that we bought some 6 months ago!

On Wednesday I put together a greek salad for tea.

We haven't had one in ages & its the kind of thing you can eat too often. But once in a while & its really fresh and tasty - especially with some nice crusty bread & butter.

Salad: Lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, green olives, feta (was in oil so this was drizzled) & balsamic vinegar.

Rocky Road Recipe:
100g butter
200g dark chocolate
3 tbsp golden syrup
225g digestive biscuits (finely crush half of them and lightly crush the other half)
Anything else you want to chuck in (I threw in some sultanas, cherries, marshmallows, left over maltesers - but they were difficult to cut through & mini-egg - cos it was Easter!!)

All you need to do is melt together the butter, chocolate and syrup in a pan then add all the biscuits and anything else you want to throw in. Mix together quickly then pour into a swiss roll tin that has been lined with cling film then chill till set (though I used a loaf tin)

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Batch Cooking

This is something I've tried to do occasionally over the last few months but I either
  • never get around to the mass cooking
  • forget to freeze the stuff in time, or,
  • i forget it is in the freezer , or how long its been there & throw it out!
From now on in I am going to make more of an effort & I started yesterday with a large batch of ratatouille - care of Delicious magazine & some watercress soup care of of Delia (the first batch of which was delicious).

Note to self: next time you do this - do not leave the vegetables to cool in the oven - it gets steamy!

Now I just need to make sure I use it!!

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Chocolate Billboard

Funny news story on the BBC!

Monday, 2 April 2007

My First Nigella Cake Bake

At Christmas I received my first two Nigella books - I'd been craving some of her books as she is the level of Domestic Goddess I could only dream of becoming! I just love her colourful books & the pretty things she bakes - I am a sucker for pretty sweet things. So when I took the books off the shelf (whilst wedding planning, cooking was the last thing on my mind!) I decided my first venture into Nigella world would be her Chocolate-Cherry Cupcakes.

My husband loves cherries & chocolate so it was quite an obvious first choice. They turned out OK too & when I took them into work as a thank you they went very quickly.