Lemon and Vanilla Pancakes

Ok, so we are all aware of my desire to travel around America. 

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This is not new information to anyone. What is new, are the new lengths I now appear to be willing to go to in order to find funding for a trip this year. It, however, seems no one else is happy to commit to the ideas:

Dave doesn’t want to sell the house (something about life security?).

My mum and Dad don’t want to cash in on their life insurance policy (selfish).

My sister seems to really like her son. He is, apparently, not for sale…..(I am a monster).

And no-one in work wants to buy any of my internal organs. How about external organs? Are these a thing? What are they going for on the black market now-a-days? (I want to travel is style.)

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So I’m stuck, and I feel a little lost. We’ve agreed that we will go in 2016 and drive the East Coast but that’s so far away. I have cravings like I’ve never had….and I have had major cravings in the past. But nothing like this.

I am not a high powered, high paid, quirky, emotionally unstable (too easy!) Boston lawyer who lives with her smart mouthed, big haired room mate.

I do not have five friends who spend all their time in my apartment in New York, which I can afford because my Nan’s lease is rent controlled.

Nor am I a girl with two guy friends who work in a pizza place.

It would appear however that I watched too much TV as a teenager and that I have lost the fingertip grip of reality my parents tried to instil in me. I just can not let go of the feeling that I should have been born in an American sit com.

People believe that they are born in the wrong time – me the wrong place.

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“So Jess, what would you do (WWJD) should you stumble across a big ass bag of cash?”

I would obviously hand it in. Then when they returned it to me as a reward for being so honest, I would go out for tea, because well… I’d be hungry from all the excitement… I would then travel through and across America and eat every where I could. I could cook with all the amazingly fresh farmer’s market produce. I would drink in the bars with my friends and I would cook all the food (all the food..? in the world..?) and have friends over and have BBQs and go pumpkin picking and we would dress up for Halloween. …and then, I remember.

The reason I love these shows. The reason I live my life consistently through them is because of the people. The friends, the families, relationships good and bad. The stories and situations they create. They all happen because of the people. The people make those shows I so desperately want to be a part of. If I upped and left – Dave under one arm and a puppy dog under the other, I wouldn’t have what those TV shows thrive on. Because they would all be here. Living the TV show life we created for ourselves right here. They would be going to pizza places, hanging round in each others places, and being borderline emotionally unstable with each other. Without me. Because I would be in America chasing the dream I have here, in a different accent. Slightly smaller and slightly more British but no less TV show worthy.

Todays after school special kids, is to take a minute, and realise you are exactly where you are meant to be, when you are meant to be there. So make pancakes and have your friends over and make TV worthy moments.

Lemon and Vanilla Pancakes
Serves 2
The lightest, fluffiest comforting pancakes I've ever had. They have a thin crisp exterior almost like a crepe and a fluffy centre. The lemon zest is bright and the vanilla is comforting. The best quick and easy breakfast.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 130g (1 cup) plain flour
  2. 2 tablespoons sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  5. Pinch salt
  6. 250ml (1 cup) buttermilk
  7. 1 large egg
  8. 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
  10. Zest of half a lemon
  11. 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil for frying
  12. Maple Syrup
Instructions
  1. Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl so everything is combined.
  2. Whisk the egg, melted butter, vanilla and buttermilk together in a separate bowl, and stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. A few lumps is fine.
  3. Stir in the lemon zest.
  4. Leave for 5 minutes. The batter should look like a thick (maybe a bit lumpy) mouse. It should appear for want of a better word delicate.
  5. Heat a frying pan, I used non stick and melt butter and add the oil. Swirl around the pan and drain off the excess and keep.
  6. Scope 2 tablespoon amounts (I used and ice-cream scoop) into the frying pan and fry on a medium low heat.
  7. When the top starts to bubble the pancakes are ready to flip.
  8. Cook for another 1-2 minutes and keep warm in the oven on a low heat.
  9. Grease the pan again with the left over butter/oil mix and repeat the scoop, fry flip - keep warm routine until all the batter is gone.
  10. Pile on a plate, drown in syrup and inhale with coffee and banter.
Notes
  1. You could add blueberry's, raspberry's or even chunks of white chocolate, when the tops begin to bubble. Definitely add white chocolate chunks.
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
Pestosprouts http://pestosprouts.com/
 

Also, do you think a rich American man will be willing to marry me and let me bring Dave and our puppy dog too? How many rich, single, relationshiply unconventional American men is this blog reaching? My guess is A LOT…..!! My dad has a saying about getting married and leaving out the sex… it’s normally said at inappropriate times to wildly inappropriate people, but I’m being to think it may have legs….

Spicy Fries Grilled Cheese

I’m not even sorry. DSCF5492

There are days when it’s cold and raining when only things made of carbs and cheese will do. Today is one of these days. A day when the both voices in your head align and agree in union that the only thing suitable to eat is cheese. And bread. And spicy fries. And that all this should all be cooked in butter.  I suggest you eat these on the couch, in your jarmies, with a quilt while watching a film you already know the ending of just by reading the back of the box. Ideally it will have Jennifer/Reese /Sandra in it. They are goey, cheesy and spicy. You crunch as you bite through the crisp buttery toasty shell and then get oozy cheese that will drip down your chin and the spice….. ahh the spice it makes it. It just makes it.  Imagine dipping hot spicy chips into melted cheese…. Good right? Ok, now imagine that on buttery fried bread….. Yup. It’s real and it will complete you.

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 So recipe wise, it’s pretty simple so I won’t go into great depths of detail. It a pretty much grab and go.

Serves 2

 Pre-heat your oven to the highest temperature it goes to, mine is 240oC/gas 9. Cut 1 large potato and 1 large sweet potato into thin fries. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add in the potatoes, boil for 5 minutes. Drain, and sprinkle on 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon each of pepper, smoked paprika hot chilli powder, oregano and drizzle over 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix to make sure everything is evenly coated. Bake for 20 minutes in the hot oven, turning half way through. Meanwhile, spread 2 tablespoons of butter over four pieces of really good thick bread, grate 2 handful of really good strong cheese, tear up 1 ball of mozzarella and crumble 2 tablespoons of goats cheese. Place the bread in the pan buttered-side down and put half of each cheese on top. Remove the chips from the oven, place half on top of the cheese. Add the second slice of bread, buttered side up, push down on the bread and fry over a low – medium heat until crisp and golden, carefully flip and fry on the other side for a couple more minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to settle before slicing. Repeat with remaining bread and cheese.

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Don’t bother with the rocket unless you’ve eaten four donuts…… Like me.

Lasange Soup

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My time is equally split between thinking about food (both my own food consumption and other’s) and TV relationships. The food thing, most of you understand..ish. The TV realtionship is a whole other matter. I live my life pretty much through TV, it hooks me and then that’s it really. I started watching The US Office. This was a mistake. I’ve just finished season 2. I’m not sure I’ve thought about anything else since I first saw Jim look at Pam. I have pretty much fully given up on real life. I live my life for Jim and Pam. The two of them have fully consumed me. Its possibly because I am fully in love with Jim…….he just loves Pam so much!.

So to sum up, I’ve lost it.

I’ve started thinking about Jim and Pam in real life. John Kransinski and Jenna Fischer – I know a lot about them. Like John went to high school with B.J Novak (Ryan) in real life. I’ve started to think they should be together in real life, dispite John (first name terms), being married to Emily Blunt who I also adore (she snook Donuts onto the set of Devil Wears Prada because they weren’t really allowed to eat on set), then I get myself in such a state I can only be calmed with more episodes of the office…..It’s a vicious cycle. It is, unfortunately, not the first time I’ve been in the TV trance. When I come around – hopefully I will - I am so disappointed by real life I immediately find a new show to live through.

Between my insanity through TV, I found a soup, which is lasagne. In soup form.

What do Lasagne Soup and I have in common? People think we’re weird. We are amazing. You should have us in your lives.

I’m comparing myself to soup.

Do you feel sorry for Dave?

Once you’ve tried this soup you won’t. You’ll realise what I lack in life skills, I make up for in soup skills…….It’s a taste sensation. The Jim and Pam of soups if you will (I know this doesn’t make any sense but they’re still on my mind).

It’s so fresh and flavourful, deep and warming. It’s not nearly as mad as it (or I) sound. It has spicy sausage with onions, and italiany herbs and spices, in a tomatoey based broth, with ricotta and parmesan on top. Simple.

Oh, and there’s pasta too!

Lasanga Soup
Serves 4
A hearty, warming, filling, soupy lasagne.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 tsp olive oil
  2. 4-5 really good sausages, not the ones that stay pink when you fry them. Ideally nice spicy ones from your butchers.
  3. 2 medium onions, diced
  4. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  5. 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  6. 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes - depending on how hot your sausages are and how hot you like it.
  7. 1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  8. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  9. 2 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  10. 1 Sprig Rosemary
  11. 1.5 litres (6 cups) chicken stock
  12. 100g (1 cup) small pasta shapes - some shops sell soup pasta.
  13. salt and freshly ground black pepper
  14. 4 tablespoons ricotta
  15. 3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
  16. zest half lemon
Instructions
  1. In a large heavy bottomed pan heat your oil.
  2. Remove the casing from your sausages and crumble into the hot oil. Fry, breaking up the bigger bit as you go.
  3. Once the sausages have broken down and resemble chunky mince add your onions.
  4. Season well with salt and more black pepper than you think you'll need. I'm talking hurt your arm from grinding amounts.
  5. Fry until the onions are softened.
  6. Add garlic and all the herbs.
  7. Add tomato paste and cook for 2 more minutes. If the paste starts to stick that's ok. Just don't let it burn. Brown = good, black = bad (clever huh?).
  8. Add in tomatoes and stock and cook for 30 minutes at a low simmer.
  9. Bring the soup up the boil and add pasta.
  10. Cook until the pasta is to your liking.
  11. Serve up in big bowls.
  12. Mix the ricotta and 2 tablespoons of the parmesan together with some salt, pepper and the lemon zest and spoon on top of the soup.
  13. Sprinkle over some more parmesan and inhale.
Adapted from A Farm Girl Dabbles
Pestosprouts http://pestosprouts.com/
I’m thinking about Jim.

 

Fight Back.

 

It doesn’t care what you look like. It doesn’t care if you party all night or are tucked up in bed before dark. It doesn’t care if your heart is kind or if you kicked a puppy in the park. It doesn’t care the colour of your skin or your weight or the size of your arse. It doesn’t care what type of car you drive or the clothes you wear. It doesn’t care if your old, nor does it care that you have children or how they behave. It doesn’t care how much money you make or how much water you drink.

It doesn’t care about the hurt and destruction it causes in peoples lives. The pain and loss it leaves behind.

Cancer has no care, no fear. 

Everyone wants to make a change. Wants to be the change that stops the hurt and the pain. Stops the loss and the fear and shows Cancer that it’s not in charge. We are.

Race for life does some fantastic research which makes Cancer quiver in its boots. Race for life has been going for years and this year I plan to conquer the 10k. Which is about 9.6k further than I normally run. July 5th 2014, I’ll be doing my bit to give Cancer the run around.

Please give what you can to this amazing charity that does genuine good. Don’t let it become to late. Don’t let it get to a point where you wish you’d of given something no matter how small to make a big change. If you don’t no-one else will. If you want something to change, YOU have to be the one to change it. You may not want to run, allow me to do that. You can follow my progress here, and my updates on twitter and Instagram. Running 10k, for someone who would rather sit and eat brownies is no easy task, but I can think of nothing more worth while. If we unite we can beat Cancer. Together. 

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

If you’re the person kicking puppies with no desire to unite against Cancer, I suggest you still donate, just so you can see me get all vomity after running 6.2miles.

 

 

 

Bite-sized Chocolate Cream Pies

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Ok, so these little beauties haven’t photographed quite as well as I’d have liked. The reason is two fold.

1. I still have zero idea what I’m doing when it comes to my fancy pants camera.

2. I kept eating them with one hand while trying to photograph them with the other.

I made a big version for my sisters new years eve party and I am constantly looking for a new reason to make them. Luckily we had friends round for dinner the other week. Unfortunately they were far better at making 2014 healthy, than I was. So I decided that I would just make baby versions, because if its small its calorie free, right?

 The chocolate pudding isn’t hard to make, so don’t be frightened. Its just time consuming and you have to make sure you give it your full attention. I gave it so much attention when I looked to see were my puppy dog was she was 1 foot deep in mud in the garden and had dug up my freshly laid turf……. I looked at my muddy dog and my ruined garden and then I looked at my super smooth liquid heaven chocolate…….totally worth it.

The recipe is adapted from How Sweet Eats, the place I spend most of my free time, and I was scared making the pudding, but I didn’t need to be. Jess guides me to rich chocolate nirvana.

I made mine with digestive (gram cracker) base and plain whipped cream.

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You need to let them set before you add the cream or the cream sinks into the chocolate. This I can assure you is not a bad thing, if, like me, you plan to just crush them into your mouth. If you want to serve them to someone other than yourself refrigerate them before adding the cream.  I added a tiny bit of cinnamon to my base mixture and it brought all kinds of incredibleness from the biscuits. I could taste ginger even though I hadn’t added any, the base took on an amazing caramelised taste. Dave described them as biscuits on crack. I couldn’t argue…. I had a mouth full of chocolate cream pie base wedged in my mouth.

The whole process is time consuming but it really is worth it. If you want to make it like a big pie, use a 9″ loose bottom tin and bake the base for 9-11 minutes, also chilling the filling will take much longer. How Sweet Eats recommends 4 hours.

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Make sure when you whip your cream you don’t over whip. I’ve always been told to whip by hand. This is excruciatingly painful and hard work. But worth it. The cream goes from not whipped to over whipped in three turns of the whisk, so doing it by machine means its almost impossible not to over whip. I’ve got one lovely strong arm with Dwayne Johnson type muscles. This is unfortunate. Lightly whipped cream is definitely worth it though.

Bitesized Chocolate Cream Pie
Yields 24
Two bite chocolate cream pies. Sweet, creamy, chocolate and small enough that you can cram a whole one in your mouth, should you not want to be caught eating one before you've had your morning coffee.
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Prep Time
50 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
3 hr
Prep Time
50 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
3 hr
Base
  1. 370g /13 ounces Digestive Biscuits (Gram Crackers)
  2. 140g /5 ounces Unsalted Butter - melted plus more for greasing the muffin tin
  3. 100g /1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  4. 1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon
  5. 1/8 teaspoon Salt
Chocolate Pudding Filling
  1. 200g / 1 cup light brown sugar
  2. 414ml / 1 3/4 cups cold double cream - I'd measure out 400mg then add in 1 tbsp more. Split the cream in half. Half for the chocolate filling and half for the top.
  3. 180ml / 3/4 cup buttermilk
  4. 20g / 2 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoon cornflour (cornstartch)
  5. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  6. 4 egg yolks
  7. 113g / 4 ounces really good chocolate, chopped - I used 3/4 Dark and 1/4 Milk chocolate
  8. 15g / 1 tablespoons butter
  9. 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  10. Extra chocolate for grating over the top
Filling
  1. Add the sugar, half the cream, buttermilk, cornflour and salt to a large heavy bottomed pan over medium heat.
  2. Whisk continually until the sugar has dissolved and there are no cornflour lumps.
  3. Make sure to get right into the edges of the pan to make sure there is no sticking.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, until it thickens a little.
  5. Turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks and slowly pour in 1/2 cup (about 100ml) of the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, stirring continuously. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the milk and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  7. Stir until it is combined and really think this should take around 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour it into a bowl. Stir in the chocolate, butter and vanilla until, chocolate is melted its all combined, and looks like a thick, shiny pool of chocolate. Cover with a piece of cling film, directly on top of the chocolate pudding and allow it to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Base
  1. In a food processor mix all the ingredients for the base until it a fine crumb. Try to smoosh (technical term) a small amount between for fingers, if it sticks together your good to go, if not add a tablespoon of water and blend again until mixed together.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180oC / 350oF or Gas Mark 6.
  3. Grease two 12 hole muffin trays (or do it one tray at a time) with a little melted butter,dish out the crumb mixture out evenly between a muffin tray. I used a teaspoon to push the crumbs along the bottom and up the sides of each hole.
  4. Bake in the oven for 6 - 7 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  6. Using a butter knife, ease each biscuit case out of the tin and put on flat surface ready for filling.
Assembly
  1. Once the chocolate mixture is cool, top your biscuit bases with the chocolate pudding. I found a heaped tablespoon was enough. Place your now topped bases back in the fridge for a further hour.
  2. Whip the cream, best done with cold, cold cream and in a wide bottomed bowl.
  3. Top your pies with a tablespoon of cream and grate over some extra chocolate.
  4. Keep in the fridge until your ready to eat. Mine lasted until 10am the next morning. So I cant comment on how much longer they'll keep.
Notes
  1. It takes a while to make these, but it is a lot of it sitting in the fridge, so its free time really.
  2. I used a whisk and a spoon when making the filling. I whisk until no lumps and then use a spoon to get into the edges of the pan.
Adapted from How Sweet Eats
Adapted from How Sweet Eats
Pestosprouts http://pestosprouts.com/
 

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Crispy Talapia Tacos

It’s 6 am. I’ve been trying to get up at 6am for about three months in order to exercise before I start my day. what actually ended up getting me up at 6am? These Cinnamon Rolls. It think we can official confirm Sugar Free January was an epic fail.

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I never really told you much about my honeymoon; I hate to bore people with my happy times. But it was fantastic, even if the fireworks in San Francisco did scare me on the 4th July, and even if were terrified after getting lost looking for In and Out Burger in Inglewood, LA at 10pm in the pitch black. The only downside was the traveling. I’m not talking the road tripping (sleeping), I’m talking about the flights to and from Vegas. The company we flew with are utter garbage and we were delayed 24 hours going, so we missed a day in Vegas and then on the way home they weighed our hand luggage so we were MASSIVELY over weight. I’m talking ‘open your cases in the middle of the airport and panic that we will have to leave all our things’ overweight. The couple in front of us had to pay £270 extra, luckily we had an extra case so we could just check an extra small bag. We were however slightly short on space so we had to through some things away….

I say, we. I mean Dave. I made Dave throw away his shoes. I however still managed to bring home a kilo of body scrub, 4 food magazines, three jars of Trader Joe’s salsa and a bag of mini chocolate chips…… I want to live in Trader Joe’s.

I tried to keep all the salsas for special occasions, like if the Queen came. Or Bradley Cooper. But it turns out that neither seemed in a rush to make an appearance so I let Dave open the Cowboy Caviar and the Roasted Garlic Salsas. We inhaled them. But I did manage to keep the green salsa for something fancier than just my fingers, and I made fish taco’s.

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Fish Tacos are amazing. Fresh fish, grilled, fried, or breadcrumbed and baked, in a soft mini tortilla with shredded cabbage and pickled red onions and a spoon full of tangy spicy salsa. There are few things better or more flavourful or refreshing to eat.

However when I mistakenly emailed my boss instead of Dave with the idea of fish taco’s I was met with a slurry of disagreement. Apparently they sound horrible. They are not. The people in my office are wrong. Fully wrong. The only way for me to prove this is for you all to make them. Then you can tell me they are in fact incredible and I will win. For once. Surely I’m due a win. A fish taco win.

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Ok they more I say fish taco the less appealing they sound. So make them quick before I start to doubt myself.

Fish Taco….

 

Oven Baked Crispy Tilapia Tacos
Serves 2
Fish Tacos are easy, quick and delicious.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Fish
  1. 2 Talapia fillets - or other firm white fish - or Salmon if you wanted but if you use Salmon I'd just fry it and flake it
  2. 1 cup (200g-ish) breadcrumbs - I used Panko because they go crispy in the oven with much oil
  3. 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  4. 1 teaspoon oregano
  5. 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  6. Salt and Pepper
  7. 1 tablespoon olive oil or a few sprays of spray oil
  8. 1 large Egg White
Red Cabbage and Onion
  1. 1/4 Red Cabbage
  2. 1 Red Onion
  3. 1 Lime
  4. Salt and Pepper
  5. 6 Small Wheat or Corn Tortillas
  6. As much of your favourite salsa you can fit into a taco
  7. Avocado mashed with salt, pepper and cumin - optional
  8. Jalapenos - Optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425oF/220oC/Gas Mark, and line a large tray with baking paper.
  2. Mix all the fish ingredients in a bowl except the fish and the egg white.
  3. Cut the fish into chunky finger sized pieces and blot dry with kitchen paper.
  4. In a bowl whisk the egg white with salt and pepper until frothy.
  5. Season the fish.
  6. I tip my breadcrumb mix into a Ziploc bag and I tip my egg white into a separate Ziploc bag and then ad my fish fingers to the egg bag and shake until fully coated and then add them to the breadcrumb bag and do the shake and coat thing again. I saves messy fingers and loads of time.
  7. But you could go the traditional way of dipping the fish in the egg white and then dipping it into the breadcrumbs, up to you.
  8. Place on the baking tray making sure not to crowd them, drizzle on the oil or spritz with your spray oil and bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden and crispy, turning half way through.
  9. While there baking, finely slice your red cabbage and red onion, juice the lime and stir to mix, season with salt and pepper.
  10. Heat through your Tortillas , 30 seconds in the science oven (microwave) should do it.
  11. When your fish fingers come out the oven, assemble. 3 stubby fingers per wrap, a couple tablespoons of cabbage, a smear of avocado, your smuggled into the country salsa and a couple of jalapenos. Fold and ate.
Notes
  1. The general consensus in work that these were basically a fancy fish finger sandwich. I denied it with venom, the they are kinda right. When I haven't been bothered to make the fish myself and we have really good fish fingers in the fridge or freezer I use those.
Pestosprouts http://pestosprouts.com/
MAKE THEM!

 

 

 

Thai Fried Rice

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On Wednesday, I went the toilet in work, tripped, hit the door into the wall, the door bounced back hit me in the face and knocked me into the wall of the next door. Without skipping a beat the person in the toilet I’d slammed into just asked ‘You ok Jess?’ didn’t take a second to consider it may not be me. If there is a trip, slip, slam or fall it will be me. I’m surprised they don’t make me wear a helmet and knee pads.

Anyway that’s besides today’s point; today’s point is Thai Fried Rice.

My mum likes to brandish the word greedy about whenever I’m around, you see if I have to have eat everything, so when I’m making a Sunday Roast, I must have: roast chicken or beef, yorkshire puddings, stuffing, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, cabbage, carrots and turnip, cauliflower cheese, broccoli, peas, parsnips and an abundance of gravy. But I refuse to be labelled in such a manner……. even if I have been caught biting cheese directly from the block while sat cross leg in front of the fridge. Anyway, greed aside, we would always have leftovers and my dad would always pull a face and complain that Monday’s post roast, meant leftover roast dinner and that it looked good but was missing something, it looked like you were about to tuck into a tasty roast again but then you got something that ‘tasted like shite’. My dad. The word smith.

So when I made a roast on Sunday, I took away the chicken, the only part of his leftovers that he likes as punishment for moaning, and to make something tasty out of the leftovers. Sorry Dad <<< Not really.

The chicken was good, real good, roasted with roasted garlic butter under the skin which the left the meat all juicy and even after a day in the fridge it was still moist (I have wracked my brain online thesaurus for a better word, because the word moist make me gag – but the words soggy, damp, wet and saturated seemed a little… gross).

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I promise Dave fried rice all the time. I never deliver. You see Dave’s Dad makes a fried rice which Dave grew up eating and I may be daft (and greedy – thanks mum) but I’m not stupid enough to try and make Terry’s rice.

Instead I took on the rice he ate last time we went out for Thai. It seemed easier this way, and easier it was.

Thai fried rice is incredibly easy and AND if you prep things earlier (the rice is a make ahead must) it takes literally 8 minutes from start to finish. I had Monday off – to watch the Golden Globes, and normally on my days off Dave leaves for work while I’m in bed and comes home to find me moulded to the couch, stinking. You know that saying – I can only be nice to one person per day, today doesn’t look good for you and tomorrow doesn’t look good either…. Well that’s what my shower schedule is like when I’m off. BUT I managed to shower, do the dishes, put a clothes wash on, prep tea and make the next nights tea too…. I am fully aware this is normal every day stuff for people, but not for me. I like to just sit. TV on, I possibly make an occasional drink and get a bit cross when I need a toilet break. Sometimes I watch TV on the laptop and I don’t even bother to plug it into the TV because that means I’ll have to get up to change the show when it’s finished. Ha don’t I sound like I should live in a sewer! Dave chose to marry me too! His own choice!….. I think.

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The prep takes 10 minutes tops, providing you’ve cooked your rice the night or morning before. This is important. You want it a bit dry and completely cold. Leftover rice is handy, spread cooked rice on a tray so it cools quick and then put it in the fridge. Reheated rice can be a bit iffy, apparently rice is the biggest cause of food poisoning….. I have no idea why I’m telling you this before I give you a rice recipe…..

We used leftover chicken, if you haven’t got any cook a chicken breast and chop it up before adding it to the rice. It’ll add 10 minutes to your 8 minutes cooking time.

Note: Thai fried rice is actually called Khao Pad but since I made this up, I’m not convinced it warrants the Thai title. I made this according to the description on the Tampopo menu. Feel free to leave out the pineapple and peanuts. Change the green beans for peas or peppers.

 

Thai(ish) Fried Rice
Yields 2
A great way to use leftover chicken and leftover rice.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
18 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
18 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 Tablespoon flavourless oil – I used Coconut oil which isn’t flavourless but seemed fitting.
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1 White Onion – peeled and sliced
  4. 2 Cloves Garlic – crushed or grated
  5. 1 Red Chilli – sliced
  6. 1 cup Cooked Chicken – shredded
  7. 1 Handful Thin Green Beans – chopped in half
  8. ¼ Cup Pineapple – cut into 1cm dice
  9. 3 Cups Cooked and Cooled Basmati Fried Rice
  10. 2 Green Onions – sliced
  11. 25g Basil - chopped
  12. 1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
  13. 1 Tablespoon Light Soy Sauce
  14. 1 Teaspoon Dark Soy Sauce
  15. ½ Teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil
  16. ¼ Cup Roasted Peanuts
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a wok or very large frying pan until smoking.
  2. While that’s happening, crack your egg into a bowl and give it a whisk as if your making scrambled egg.
  3. When your oil is smoking hot, add your onion, stir for 30 seconds, add in your garlic and chilli and stir for another 30 seconds. Constant stirring.
  4. Add in your chicken, stir fry for 1 minute, then add the beans and pineapple and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Next add your rice, stirring all the time.
  6. Push your rice to one side of the frying pan and pour your egg into the gap in the wok. Stir constantly breaking up the egg, it should cook within about 30 seconds, then mix with the rice.
  7. Add all the basil and sauces except the sesame oil and combine to make sure everything is coated. Add your pepper and sesame oil and combine again and turn off the heat. Split between serving bowls and sprinkle over the peanuts.
Notes
  1. You could add a bit more fish sauce or light soy if your feel like it needs slightly more seasoning.
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Everything that Glitters is Golden.

Ok so I’ve finally reached rock bottom. I took a day off work just so I could watch the Golden Globes. I’m not even sorry. I am all about the award shows. The red carpet dresses, the jewellery, the gracious loser faces and the fact that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are hosting warms my to my toes.

I get to sit in my dressing gown, slopping tea down myself eating fistfuls of anything while I judge everyone!!  This is clearly a positive way to be spending my life. I mean I would much rather walk the walk with all my unreal TV friends, but since my invite got lost we’ll stick to the judging, which I will share with you! Lucky you!

Ok so inside the mind of a Golden Globe watcher:

I love LOVE the idea of Lena Dunham eating a burger minus the bun with her hands before coming to the awards, I love her more for telling Ryan Seacrest!

Margot Robbie is so incredibly beautiful, she always looks so elegant. I just want to watch her at all times……

Bryan Cranston introduced his wife to Ryan Seacrest! Awwwww! Turns out manners in Hollywood are not dead! Bryan and  Aaron Paul seem to genuinely love each other! When Bryan (obviously) won, Aaron was just shouting yes! YES! in his face … yes indeed Aarron, yes indeed. Although, annoyingly Aaron missed out again.  Sometimes I  can’t watch Breaking Bad, because its so dark, written so real and acted so potently. Breaking Bad cleaned up. YEAH BITCH!

Channing Tantum and Jenna Dewan weirdly looked like prom king and prom queen.

Also E! gives you the best fun facts, apparently Sandra Bullock lived in Germany until she was 12 and speaks fluent German. Sandra, Sandra, Sandra. There are no words.

It seems unfair that Oliva Wilde looked wow! She’s pregnant and still looks like a goddess.

Does Taylor Swift look somewhat thinner than normal.? like thinner than Giuliana Rancic? Beautiful, but snappy.

Jennifer Lawrence stole my heart last year during award season, ripping her dress, falling up the stairs. This year, walking the red carpet she dropped her stupidly expensive bracelet on the floor. YES!

Tom and Rita – How nice does their marriage seem?  Just so normal. Do you think they’d have me over for tea? She mouthed to Tom when a clip of Captain Philips was being shown ‘ it makes me cry just watching that’ Awwwwww!

P.Diddy, was actually quite funny. This was possibly because I was just distracted by Kate Beckinsale. 

Emma Thompson is a great actress, and an even better drunk.

Robert Downey Jr presented an award. He doesn’t know it yet, but were getting married. One day Robert, one day.

With every fibre of my being I need Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper to get together. I think about this all the time, more than appropriate. If someone could have a word I would like this.

Films we all now need to watch immediately:

12 years a slave

American Hustle

The Wolf of Wall Street

Captain Phillips

Rush

Do they play the music when your speech is going on to long? I’m considering doing that, I’ll just start singing when people bore me. You’ve been warned family and friends…. strangers yet to meet me… You’ve been warned. I believe that if you could play music for a to long blog post, you’d be playing me out right now. But before you do, I was just thinking – how weird would it be to be a Hollywood star and have to go to the awards were at least one ex partner would be, surrounded by hotties? AWWWKKKWARRRD!!!

So if you want to check out the dresses and the men, you can find them here. Nominees and Winners – here        

Green Lentil and Butternut Squash Salad

* Disclaimer. This was due to be posted last Thursday. I have no concept of how time works, forgive me. Also I’ve finally edited my About Me page – go see!

 

 

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So it’s January. It’s here. The begining of a new year. It’s glum, the days are wet, the night is cold, America has frozen over….. and I have given up sugar for #sugarfreejan. Im not a hundred percent sure why in the worst month on the year we decide to give up the things that have made us sane and the generally liveable the previous year. But we do. We unite in January to become better people. Better versons of ourselves that we drunkenly left behind on new years eve. And then again left on the 1st of January as we ate all the food we had left over vowing that the better us will start again on the 2nd January. Or the 6th January when we go back to work.

As I write this, I am bettering myself and living up to the promises I made myself last year and I have actually left my office on my lunch and managed to make it to a coffee shop, laptop in hand (bag) to make sure I write at every free chance I get.

Being here is a dream. Not just because I am away from work and pretending Im actually a freelance writer, but becuase I am all about people watching. I am nosey. I hate not being involved. If your talking to me I can guarentee I am listening to at least 3 other different conversations, and thinking about how I would reply if I was in the said other conversations. It’s exhausting and frustrating for those in my company. I get this from my parents, mainly my mum. It’s ingrained in me. In the fifteen minutes I’ve been sat here, I’ve seen a suited buisness man carry a tray of coffee to two old woman and listened to a man explain on the phone in excruciating detail about how to unlock a cupboard. The latter was actually quite soul distroying. It’s like he doesnt no it’s better yourself January. Like he doesn’t know I HAVEN’T HAD ANY SUGAR!!

Being positive and not having any sugar has been the most exhausting experience of my life.

Also the man on the phone, has just walked past me and he is with his partner! He has been on the phone explaining the lock and key sistuation for 15 minutes?! WHAT?!

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Any how despite it being January and despite being sugar free, 2014 has started incredably well. So good becuase of two things. Both TV related. 1. Sherlock 2. Ally McBeal

I imagine if your reading this in America you may not have seen Sherlock yet. I think it starts on 19th Jan, your year will become infantily better when Benidict and Martin return to your screens making your heart and soul happy again. If you live in England and you’ve yet to watched it. Go. Now. Come back better versons of yourself. It is January after all.

The Ally McBeal thing has been a long time coming. My whole adult life has basically been based on Ally. As a child, she was all I wanted to be, in my eyes she had the perfect life. I set out to be just like here. However watching it back I realised that A. It is not suitable for children. B. I have achieved my goal. C. I should have picked a better role model…. like Miley Cyrus. I adore Ally McBeal, watching it fills me with joy and Dave bought me the box set for Christmas. This came after 2 years ago in HMV, when they told me they didn’t stock it because apparently ‘not a lot of people want to buy it’. I may have cried, and then shouted, something along the lines of ‘what about me? I want to buy it. That’s one person! Who the hell wants to buy Hot Tub Time Machine?! You stock that!. Dave, then promptly removed me from the shop and we never spoke about the incident again.

At my wedding I wanted to do John Cage’s dance to Barry White with my dad, until I realised that I have no co-ordination and I would be in front of a lot of people. In a big dress.

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Update: Two new mums have arrive behind me now. There is a lot of baby talk. And Crying.

So to recap – January has been filled with Sherlock, Ally McBeal, no sugar and bettering ourselves……only until February, we’re bettering ourselves not making ourselves perfect, lets not get carried away!

I’ve bettered myself so much, I’ve even managed to only go the shops once (sort of) and not buy coffee on the way to work (today doesn’t count), and we managed to have salad to tea. An actual meat free salad, as a main meal. It happened. Get on board.

This salad, like all salads is changeable to what you have in the house, what you do and don’t like and if you really want, add chicken. I always have butternut squash in the fridge. It means I can always make a meal that way. You could replace the lentils with barley, the squash with sweet potato or the goats cheese with feta.

It’s full things that will better you, it’s also substantial enough to keep you full.

The lentil cooking method is taken from Smitten Kitchen, which in turn was taken from this book by Amy Bloomfieild.

 

Green Lentil and Butternut Squash Salad
Serves 2
A substantial salad which is brilliant for tea and can be doubled to make leftovers for lunch. You can cook your lentils and butternut squash the day before, so all you have to do is assemble and you away you go. You could also use ready cooked lentils, either from a tin or fancy pouch, again cutting the cooking time down.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
55 min
For the lentils
  1. 1/2 cup (100g) Green Lentils if you can find them use puy lentils - not pre-soak needed ideally
  2. 1 cup (250ml) water
  3. 2 cloves Garlic
  4. 2 sprigs sage
  5. Or 1 cup of ready cooked Green/Puy Lentils
For the Butternut Squash
  1. 1/2 small butternut squash, seeded, peeled and diced into 1cm chunks
  2. 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  3. 1 teaspoon each sea salt, dried oregano and cumin
  4. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, cinnamon and chilli flakes
For the Salad
  1. 1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  2. 1/2 cucumber halved, deseeded and cut into even sided chunks
  3. 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into similar sized chunks to the cucumber
  4. 2 large handfuls mixed salad greens, I used Romaine lettuce, rocket and baby spinach
  5. 2 tablespoons toasted pinenuts
  6. 100g (3 1/2 ounces) soft goats cheese crumbled
  7. Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
For the dressing
  1. 2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  2. 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  3. salt and pepper
  4. 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  5. 1/2 teaspoon honey
  6. Any soft fresh herbs you may have lying about - I used, basil, mint and coriander
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375oF/190oC or gas mark 5.
  2. In a small pan with a lid, add your lentils, slice your garlic cloves in half add them, the sage and the water. Don't add salt at this point as it will toughen the skins and prolong cooking. Bring to a simmer NOT A BOIL. Reduce the heat and cover, continue to cook at a gentle simmer for 30-40 minutes checking to make sure no extra water is needed.
  3. Mix your butternut squash with the spices, salt and pepper and olive oil and them out evenly on a baking tray. Roast for 25 - 30 minutes.
  4. In a jar with a leak free lid, (I have 6000 jam jars for this job) add the ingredients for the salad dressing. Shake to combine and taste for seasoning, and sharpness. If it's to sharp add a little extra olive oil or honey, and if its a bit zestless (real word?) add a squeeze of lemon or a drop more vinegar.
  5. The lentils are cooked when they're still holding their shape and have soft centre. Drain, remove the garlic and sage and mix a 1 tablespoon of the dressing with the hot lentils so they absorb all the flavour. Taste and season with salt and pepper if they need it. Leave to one side.
  6. Remove the Butternut Squash from the oven when its soft and browned at the edges. Almost caramelised.
  7. Mix all the salad ingredients expect the goats cheese, pinenuts and salt and pepper in a large bowl, and pour just enough dressing to coat the salad lightly, you may not need it all. Toss the salad evenly.
  8. Crumble over half the goats cheese, and mix again.
  9. Serve the salad on two plates, add butternut squash and lentils half to each plate and combine a final time.
  10. Scatter over the remain goats cheese and pinenuts.
Notes
  1. If you are going to take this for lunch, allow the lentils and butternut squash to cool down before adding them to the leaves, as if you are not eating it straight away the leaves will wilt from the heat.
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Squatter Nut Bosh

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I feel the word ‘love’ is used too freely, brandished around without a care in the world. I am the main culprit of this.

I have made many people uncomfortable by telling them I love them despite the fact I do not know them. I love a lot of people and a lot of things.

I love Dave. I love my family, I love my friends and I love my blog.

But… in no particular order, I also love…

  • The guy who massages my head while washing it in the hairdressers. (By the way – who are the people saying ‘no’ to this? Two things – 1st I’ll have yours. 2nd I don’t want to be your friend. I happen to know my sister is one of these despicable people.)
  • Whoever brings me my food in a Restaurant
  • American Sit-Coms
  • Sainsbury’s Jam Donuts
  • Health and fitness magazines
  • Not getting asked to buy a train ticket
  • Parking directly outside work.

When the ‘love’ starts getting spread this thin, it can start to lose it’s proper meaning – kind of like the word Awesome….

I truly adore Dave’s bones. He is my whole wide world. Sometimes I am so overcome with love I can’t bear myself. Times like coming home to find Health & Fitness magazine at my door, because he signed me up to a subscription despite his hatred of them (I can buy  4 – 5 a month), or that he lets me go to Bluebell with KFC without argument. Or when I am lower than low, he is prepared to build me a fort and hide in it with me. It is times like this that I want to tell him I love him…..not like I love the other things. But earth crushing, world stopping, stop eating, love.

At these times, and if you ever have this problem, you should make this pizza. This is the pizza that says ‘this love is the real deal’. You know that Rachel Ray recipe for Vodka pasta that promises that your man will propose? It’s kind of like that. Only I don’t know if anyone will get proposed to…. (if any unmarried friends could make this happen, that would be great. It would make this pizza story sooo much better) but they will love you, forever. You will be forever the person that made this AWESOME pizza. Incredible. Honest. I would not lie to you.

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Ok so the thought of making pizza is daunting. I know this; fear has stopped me from making pizza for 10 years. When I’ve tried before my dough didn’t rise. My toppings were too heavy. But this is like a pizza that you’ve never had before.

The dough is super easy – it comes courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. She gives you different yeast amounts and different times to suit your schedule. I promise you it’s a case of mix and cover. The hardest part is the rolling. Only you don’t roll, you push it gently into the shape you want it, with lots of flour because it will be sticky. If your dough doesn’t rise, it’s most likely because your yeast is dead(You can test this by mixing 1 teaspoon of yeast with luke-warm water, if it bubbles after 10 minutes, your yeast is good. No change? You need a new box of yeast.) Deb has like a million comments on this dough so anything I can’t answer, will almost certainly have been answered here. I have used all three methods, the all-day method and the overnight one and the half day one. The overnight one, so far, has been the best for me, but that could have been because I cooked the pizza off the all day method and reheated it the next day… so….

So now I’ve rambled about the pizza dough, let me tell you what makes this pizza so special. It has no tomato. The base is butternut squash. With cheese. That’s it. Then when it’s out the oven, you sprinkle over crispy sage, crispy bacon, caramelised onions and chilli flakes.

Allow me to describe what happens when you bite in. You’re teeth sink in through hot, stringy mozzarella, you then get a caramel-y onion flavour which is both savoury and sweet, through to soft sweet creamy butternut squash and then through a crisp chewy bready base. As you chew, you get savoury sage, intensely smoky salty bacon and finally the spice of chilli.

Sit back, light a smoke, you are done.

The mouth burn you get from the cheese….Totally worth it.

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Butternut Squash, bacon and sage pizza

I know it looks like a lot of ingredients and a lot of steps but it comes together quickly. You can do it bit by bit, and more than that, it is definitely worth the effort. I honestly think that you could pull this pizza together for an after-work tea, if you had pre-roasted the squash, and had a stash of ready caramelised onions – which I highly recommend.

The idea for this recipe came from How Sweet Eats. She didn’t have a recipe but she provided me with an idea that has changed pizza eating in the Duggan house.

She also made a body scrub which makes you smell like brownies. The woman is clearly a genius. Also – her name is Jess. Must be something in the name…. she looks more feminine than me though…I bet she doesn’t get called Geoff.

You could use this butternut squash puree tossed with pasta too.

Butternut Squash, Sage Bacon Pizza
Serves 4
A dough version of love.
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Prep Time
24 hr
Prep Time
24 hr
Ingredients
  1. Dough
  2. Taken Directly from Smitten Kitchen
  3. 3 cups (325g) plain white flour
  4. 1/8 teaspoon dried active yeast – I used Allinson’s
  5. 1 and ¼ cups (310ml) water
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. Butternut Squash
  8. ½ butternut squash cut in half length ways
  9. Salt and pepper
  10. 1 teaspoon oil – I used coconut
  11. 1 tablespoon of a mixture of ground cumin, dried oregano, chilli, flakes and cinnamon – these spices go real nice with butternut squash and I always have them around in my cupboard. You could leave them out if you don’t have them.
  12. ¼ cup mascarpone or ricotta
  13. Caramelised onions
  14. 3 white onions
  15. 1 tablespoon oil
  16. 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  17. Salt and pepper
  18. Pizza
  19. 1 ball Mozzarella drained
  20. 1 tablespoon of chilli flakes – more or less depending on spice tolerance, but I definitely wouldn’t miss them out all together
  21. 3 slices smoked bacon
  22. 1 tablespoon butter
  23. 10 sage leaves
  24. Parmesan - optional
Instructions
  1. The night before you want your pizza, mix flour and salt in large bowl, add yeast and then mix in the water. When all combined cover with Clingfilm and leave it for 22 – 24 hours. I like to shape mine into a ball shape-ish before I cover it.
  2. Preheat oven to 180oC/Gas mark 6/ 35oF.
  3. Place butternut squash on a baking tray, scoop out seeds and spread oil, spices and salt and pepper over butternut squash.
  4. Bake for an hour, or until completely soft.
  5. Once the butternut squash is soft remove from the oven, and increase the oven to as high as it will go. Place an oven tray/pizza stone on a low shelf and place a self in the middle of the oven so you’re ready to put your pizza in. Scoop out the soft squash and add it to a food processor, add the mascarpone/ricotta and blend until smooth-ish. You could just mash it with a potato masher if you don’t have a food processor. I found mine to be wetter than i’d expected. So I heated a pan and added the butternut squash mixture and cooked it for about two minutes until it started to firm up. You may find you don’t need to do this, but I would recommend it.
  6. Slice onions finely, heat the oil in a large pan and add onions. Lower the heat, add salt and pepper and sugar and cook for between 15 – 45 minutes until completely soft, fragrant and jammy. You’ll need to keep an eye on them and stir from time to time, but as long as the heat is low enough they shouldn’t burn.
  7. Your dough should have risen, not to great heights like normal dough but you’ll notice a difference. Flour a surface well, and dump your dough onto it. I like to use greaseproof paper so I can just move it straight onto the pizza stone/oven sheet. This is the hardest part of it all. Because it’s so sticky you have to push, press and generally be patient (something I don’t have) trying to push your dough into the shape you want it. I like to push, pull and then flip it over to make sure it doesn’t stick to the paper/worktop. You should get a roundish, squarish shape enough to feed 2-3 people. The dough can tear, just push it back together and pull at it somewhere else. Do not use a rolling pin. It will be useless, get covered in sticky dough and make you unhappy. I like to make it thicker at the crusts but do as you please.
  8. Drain your mozzarella and tear into bite sized chunks, spread over your butternut squash pizza base, top with the mozzarella and good grind of black pepper.
  9. I used Dave for the next part.
  10. Remove the hot tray/stone from the oven and slide your greaseproof onto it and put back in scorching hot oven on the middle shelf you prepared earlier. Bake for 15 minutes, turning half way through if your oven doesn’t bake evenly.
  11. While it’s baking, heat a frying pan and fry your bacon until really really crisp. Remove, add the butter and fry sage until crisp.... (bacon-butter fried sage!)
  12. Crumble the bacon and the sage, and mix in the chilli flakes.
  13. Remove the pizza from the oven when golden all over, scatter over your onions and sprinkle over the bacon – sage mix.
  14. Grate over some parmesan.
  15. Eat. I burnt my mouth. I’m ok with it.
Notes
  1. Deb's dough recipe makes two pizza's. I made one pizza and it worked the best for me.
  2. Some of the photos look like I added the onions before cooking. This was a big mistake, they just burnt because of the sugar and the high heat. Add them at the end.
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