Wednesday, 21 December 2016

What I Eat in a Day 8

 Hello and Merry Christmas from Portstewart in Northern Ireland. I'm staying with my family in my family home over the Christmas holidays, yay! I'm so looking forward to all the yummy food! How are your Christmas plans shaping up? Today I have a what I eat in a day post and it's slightly different as I am in a different home with different foods, also slightly more pricey ingredients which is always fun! I'm still trying to eat relatively healthy, as I don't want to be feeling yucky over Christmas, I tend to feel like that when I go all out on rich fatty foods. So on with the days yumminess...


BREAKFAST

Lizzie's Granola, Greek yoghurt, strawberries, blueberries, a teaspoon of honey and a glass of apple juice.

This was such a yummy breakfast and a great start to the day! A good few portions of fruit and it kept me full for a while! I never buy Lizzies Granola as it is quite expensive but my parents love it as it has a higher protein content and lower sugar so is pretty healthy (it tastes delicious too). I also had a teaspoon of fancy honey which was so delicious! See what I mean about the pricier ingredients.

MORNING SNACK

A flat white with a slice of Carrot Cake

I was helping my sister finish her Christmas shopping in our local town so naturally we had to pop in to my favourite coffee shop EVER. It's called Lost and Found and is in Coleraine in Northern Ireland. It's AMAZING! The d├ęcor is very industrial and the staff are so nice, not to mention the amazing buns, coffee, breakfasts and brunches. Yum yum! I had a flat white and a slice of their carrot cake, it was so scrummy! I always feel like the test of a good coffee shop is how good it's carrot cake is, this one did not disappoint. If you are ever in Northern Ireland you must check it out :).

LUNCH

Two slices of wheaten bread with cream cheese, cured ham and a handful of grapes.

Bit of a random lunch, we had a smorgasbord of delicious grub. I will still kind of full from my cake so just had a light lunch. I love the combo of ham, cheese and grapes, it's so yummy. I also had to have my obligatory slices of wheaten bread, I love the stuff.

DINNER

Stuffed Baked Pasta Rolls and a big salad (not pictured).

Not the most attractive picture, sorry! I was definitely more intent upon eating this rather than photographing it. I first made this for dinner last week for my husband and I, it was so good, I made it again this week. The pasta rolls are stuffed with mushrooms, spinach, chicken and ricotta and baked with a tomato sauce and parmesan cheese on top. It is delicious and the perfect comfort food with a big salad and a (big!)glass of red wine!

And that was me (plus, a lot of Christmas chocolate, not pictured! ha!). Hope everyone is eating some yummy festive food and enjoying as much as they can the festive season thus far! I will be back soon with another post! Thanks for reading,

Rachael xx.

Monday, 19 December 2016

5 Homemade Gift Ideas

Hello! It's officially less than a week to Christmas now, yay!! I'm heading up to my parents house this afternoon for the week, i'm so excited, it's the first time in about 5 years that I will be able to spend so much time at home over Christmas, yay! Hubby will be joining me later on in the week as he still has work (booo!), so I have a few days of girly fun with my sisters! Coffee will be drank, cake will be eaten, Christmas movies will be watched and I will have many cuddles with the cute pups. This is also why I will not be posting a meal plan this week. In light of it being so close to Christmas and you probably have all your Christmas shopping done (right?!) I have brought you a post today of my favourite easy and quick home-made gift ideas. These have all been featured on the blog throughout the years and are all perfect for gift giving. So let's get on with the show...

CHILLI JAM


I love chilli jam it is such a great gift to give especially around Christmas time. It goes perfectly with leftover cold meats and cheeses, so it will definitely get used in all those cheeseboards. It's also great to use as a marinade for cooking meats or in stir-frys. You can find my favourite recipe here. Nigella also has a really good recipe in her Nigella Christmas Recipe book. Without fail, I make this jam every Christmas, I even made it for wedding favours at my wedding. It's a great one to start now as it can keep for a good month, meaning you can focus on more important things like cooking that turkey.

CANDYCANE CHOCOLATE BARK


Chocolate bark is probably the easiest thing in the world to make and looks fantastic. This one is particularly easy, this is a great gift to give kids or to get them to help make to keep them occupied over the holidays. You can find my recipe here. The bark looks great bashed up into a random shapes and popped in little sweetie bags tied up with ribbon. This is also a good one to make now as it can keep pretty well.

PEANUT BUTTER DOUBLE CHOCOLATE GRANOLA


A slightly more practical option, this would be great to make if you were going to stay with someone over the holidays. On Christmas morning you could produce a big batch of this to feed everyone, yum yum! It tastes delicious and looks pretty good, to make it even more festive you could add in some festive sprinkles. How cute would that look? This would also be a good recipe to make for hampers. You can find my recipe here.

CHRISTMAS PUDDING OREO TRUFFLES


These truffles always go down a treat! You try and have one but you just can't stop! They look so cute and are so tasty, they are perfect with a wee cup of coffee in the afternoon or after dinner. They are so easy to make and keep for about a week in the fridge so they could also be rustled up now and would be ready to gift at Christmas. These would also be great as festive party favours. I love making these as they look much more impressive than they actually are to make. Here's how I make them. Go on give'em a go and your family and friends will be well impressed.

TEALIGHT CANDLE HOLDER


Not an edible gift but a cute one none the less. These tea light holders are so easy to make and are very versatile, they can be changed up for every season or person. For Christmas gifts, you could put stars, antlers, snowmen or anything festive really. You could even spell out merry Christmas for a mantle piece or table display. The light they give of is so subtle, and is perfect for hygge-ish winter evenings. Your friends and family will be really impressed that you made something so cute out of recycled materials. Find out how I made them here. Crafted presents are great to receive as you know the person has put so much time, effort and thought into making them for you!

Well, there you have it, five great home-made gifts that are both easy, inexpensive and tasty/cute that your family and friends will love this Christmas. Do let me know if you give any of these a try this holiday season. Also, I would really love to know what you are making as gifts this year, I'm always looking for new ideas :). I've already made a HUGE batch of the chilli jam but I think I will also be making a big batch of the truffles this week and maybe some chocolate bark. You really can't go wrong with lots of chocolate at Christmas :). I will be back soon with another what I eat in a day post which will probably feature a lot of yummy festive grub.Thank you so much for reading and I hope you are having a wonderful festive season thus far!

Rachael xx.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Oreo Christmas Pudding Truffles

Hello again everyone! Its Friday, yay!! How's everyone feeling coming up to the last weekend before Christmas? The last opportunity to buy presents, anyone stressing? Hope not! I'm back today with a great festive treat that makes the perfect (last minute) edible Christmas gift! They only take about 40mins and taste absolutely scrumptious, you need to be careful you don't eat them all yourself (I definitely could be guilty of this)! Oreo truffles, i'm sure you have heard of them, everyone has their own way of doing them, today i'm going to share with you my very easy recipe!


Ingredients

2 packets of oreos, I used one double stuff and one normal packet (I also ate 2 biscuits, oops)
1tsp of vanilla extract
200g dark chocolate, chopped
50g white chocolate, chopped
150g of cream cheese
festive sprinkles

Method

1. Use a food processor to blend up the oreos into a fine crumb and empty the crumbs into a large bowl.
2. Add the cream cheese and vanilla to the bowl and mix until fully combined.
3. Line a baking sheet or plate with baking paper. Roll the mix into truffle sized balls. My mix made about 20 truffles but you could make more by making them slightly smaller. Cool in the fridge for about 20mins.
4. Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate gently in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.
5. After the truffles have cooled, roll each one in the dark chocolate to coat and put the tray of truffles back in the fridge for another 10mins.
6. Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate gently in the microwave in 5 second bursts.
7. When the chocolate coated truffles have cooled and the chocolate has hardened drop a dollop of white chocolate on the top of each one. Try and let the white chocolate drip down the sides just like a Christmas pudding.
8. Add your festive sprinkles, I found these Christmas tree and bauble sprinkles that I made to look like holly but anything similar will do! And finally pop in the fridge for 10mins until ready to scoff, gift or serve. These will need to be kept in the fridge until you are ready to give them as a gift as they have cream cheese in them so I wouldn't make them too far in advance!



A really easy recipe, wouldn't you agree? A great one to get the kids involved, they would love mixing the truffles, rolling them into balls and topping with the festive sprinkles! Go on and give them a go, even just to munch on yourself whilst watching Elf (my plan for tonight, wild Friday I know!). If you have any questions, just ask in the comments below. I hope you enjoy making and eating these cuties just as much as I do. I will be back again soon with another tasty post, thanks so much for reading,

Rachael xx.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

What I Eat in a Day 7

Hello again and welcome back to the Tea Cozy Kitchen! I hope you are well and are all organised for Christmas and not stressing too much, tis the season to be jolly after all! I got all my presents wrapped this morning, so I feel like i'm winning at life at the moment. Today I've got my what I eat in a day post for you, I love these posts! I like to look back on them and get ideas for what to eat! Yesterday, when I woke up I was feeling a little under the weather, I had a sore throat and head and feeling generally grumpy! The weather outside was so dark and rainy outside too which definitely didn't help perk me up! I also had a slightly reduced appetite yesterday so I ate a little less than usual (don't worry i'm making up for it today!).

BREAKFAST


 Fruit salad of 3 clementines and an apple

As I said I wasn't feeling great when I woke up so I just had quite a light breakfast and tried to get some valuable vitamins in to help me feel a little better! This was lovely for breakfast, nice and light and fresh, perfect for when you're feeling a bit yucky.

LUNCH

 Bowl of Parsnip and Stilton soup and a slice of wheaten bread

This soup is amazing and the perfect comfort food for when you are feeling a little ill. This is my chicken soup remedy. I made a big batch of this soup yesterday for the freezer so was able to have a big bowl for my lunch. If you fancy making this soup too, you can find the recipe here. It's perfect when served with some wheaten bread or I thought a cranberry and cheese toastie would also work well. I definitely felt a lot better after getting this in me. There's nothing like a thick, creamy, warming soup when your feeling poorly and freezing!

AFTERNOON SNACK

 A Large coffee and two home-made double chocolate cookies

By the afternoon I needed a pick me up. It was so dark outside my body clock wanted me to sleep. And what better way to enjoy coffee than with some yummy cookies. These worked a treat and perked me right up! I was also really cold so the coffee helped keep me warm and toasty! This cookie recipe is a new one I hadn't tried before from James Morton's 'How Baking Works' recipe book. You might remember him from the Great British Bake Off. The cookies were absolutely perfect, I wouldn't change a thing about the recipe. They were perfectly crunchy and chewy, just the way I like em. If your keen on baking or know someone who is, this book is fantastic, I would really recommend it!

DINNER

Salmon and Spinach Frittata with steamed Green Veg

Dinner was this delicious frittata from the Tesco food magazine! We both decided that it tasted very festive with the cream cheese and the smoked salmon. This was such a tasty dish and was so easy to make. And of course I had to up the veg factor with a mountain of steamed peas and broccoli. This really was just the perfect mid-week meal. I can't recommend the Tesco magazine enough for recipes, it's just fab!

That's everything I ate on a day where I felt pretty poorly! I still managed to eat good meals, you can tell I really love my food! After dinner we just settled down to watch lost and drink peppermint tea, a lovely relaxed evening. Also, we are nearly on season 3 of lost and can I just say I love Sawyer, that is all! Thanks so much for reading, I will be back soon with another foodie post,

Rachael xx.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Parsnip and Stilton Soup

Hello! Not too long now until Christmas, only a week and a bit! Is everyone excited? Is everyone prepared? If not, don't worry I come bearing some Christmas cheer in the form of this delicious and easy parsnip and stilton soup recipe. As I've said before on the blog, I have been loving soup this season, it's just so warm, comforting and such a tasty way of getting the veggies in! I've been experimenting with different recipes and have decided that this is one of my favourites. This soup is perfect for a Christmas lunch starter or using up any veg and cheese leftovers after the holidays! It's so warming, comforting and kind of healthy ( well compared to other Christmas grub!). 


This recipe makes enough for about 4 bowls of soup and can be easily doubled for a Christmas starter or for storing in the freezer for a rainy day.

Ingredients

2 onions, chopped
6 Parsnips, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 vegetable stock cube
100g stilton
300ml double cream
a good knob of butter

Method

1. Put onions in a saucepan on a low heat with a good knob of butter and a pinch of salt (stops the onions browning). Sweat until the onions are soft and translucent, about 10mins.
2. Crush in the garlic and stir for about a minute.
3. Chuck in the chopped parsnip and the stock cube and fill with boiling water until just covering the parsnips.
4. Bring the pan to the boil and leave to simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15minutes.
5. Turn off the heat and blend the soup until smooth. It will be quite thick at this stage but don't worry.
6. Stir in the cream. This should loosen the soup but if it's still a bit thick add a wee bit more boiling water.
7. Crumble in the stilton, reserving a little to top the bowls with.
8. Taste and season to perfection.
9. Serve up and devour with some lovely crusty bread for dunking or a cheese and cranberry toastie, yum!!


 You can just see my Christmas Tree creeping in there!


And there you have it, an easy, delicious and festive soup recipe to impress everyone over the holidays. You could swap the parsnip for broccoli or just add broccoli into the recipe, that would be delicious also. Or you could fry some pancetta until it's crispy to pop on the top, oh my I wish I had done that now! Hope you like this recipe, let me know if you give it a try! Also, I would love to know what your favourite soups are? I will be back tomorrow with another what I eat in a day post! I'm away now to devour a huge bowl of this soup that has been calling my name! Thanks so much for reading,

Rachael xx.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

How to make a Festive Wreath

Hello everyone and welcome back to a very festive and crafty Tea Cozy Kitchen! Today's post is going to be a crafty one. I'm going to share with you how I made my Christmas wreath for absolutely no moneys, nada, zilch, FREE! I always love festive wreaths but I find that every year they just get more and more expensive,  they just end up dying anyway. So, this year I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my very own unique wreath. Anything that can make Christmas that wee bit cheaper is a win in my book. Let me tell you, it was so easy and only took up about an hour of my time (you can probably tell from the look of mine, it's a tad shoddy! ha!).


First things first, the main reason that this was free is that I just foraged in my garden for foliage that I could use. I was going to go to a forest but chickened out as I thought it could be considered stealing from nature ( I know i'm paranoid!). But if you're braver than me ( let's face it you probably are) then by all means forage for branches and foliage etc. in your local forest.  Just be careful you're not stealing from other people's gardens! Also, let me just say I am no expert, this is just how it worked for me!

The best kind of foliage for making a wreath is some sort of bendy branches to make the shape, bushy but bendy foliage, like pine to fill it out, ivy to wrap around the wreath and hold it together and pretty decorative plants like, holly, eucalyptus or in my case, dying hydrangea. Other decorative items like pine cones, berries, bows, dried fruit and ornaments are also a good idea. I wanted to keep my wreath quite simple and traditional  (for this, read FREE!) so I just used whatever I could find in the house, these ribbons were from last Christmas. I think mine looks very Victorian (for some reason best known to myself!). I love the colours in the hydrangea and how it ties in so well with the ribbon.


Here's what you will need:

A wire hanger
Green thread or string
Your foraged foliage and decorations

Here's what to do:

1. Bend your hanger into a circular shape and attach both ends together so it forms a wire loop.
2. Bend your bendy leafless branches around the hanger so it holds the shape. You might need to do about two or three layers round the wire until the shape feels sturdy.
3. Slot your pine branches in between the bendy branches to your preferred fullness. Don't worry if it's a bit messy we will neaten it up at the next stage. I think it's probably a good idea to go fuller than you might think here.
4. Wrap green thread around the shape two or three times, pulling in any stray pine branches and neatening the wreath.
5. Tuck your ivy branch into a secure spot and wrap around the wreath a couple of times, attaching the end of the ivy branch securely. This also helps to neaten up the wreath AND ivy leaves are pretty! You might want to another layer of thread here if the wreath feels a bit loose or untidy.
6. Slot your more decorative plants in your desired spots, making sure that they are neat, secure and you can see them well.
7. Attach your bow and any other decorative pieces and hang on your front door! There you go, a pretty festive wreath for free! Ta-da!


There's still time if you fancy making a wreath before Christmas, it's the perfect thing to greet people as they arrive to your house for festive celebrations. If you have made a wreath before please let me know any hints and tips that helped you as I will definitely be doing this again next year! Also, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments below! I really enjoyed making this wreath, even if it isn't the prettiest, I love it because I made it (and it was free!). You could even get your friends round and have a wreath making night with festive drinks, that would be so much fun! I will be back soon with another foodie related post and maybe even a sneaky recipe! As always, thanks for reading,

Rachael xx.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Meal Plan Monday Festive Edition


Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas (not quite, but i'm enthusiastic)!! Welcome to a very special edition of meal plan Monday! How was your weekend? I hope Monday has been treating you well thus far! Today's meal plan Monday brings you some delicious and festive inspired meals to help get you in the festive spirit or to give you some inspiration for your meals over the festive period. I'm so excited about this meal plan as I love festive food but I also tried to keep it semi-healthy as I know full well that I will over-indulge pretty soon. So, this week you will see some familiar festive ingredients popping up, Brussel sprouts, blue cheese, cranberry sauce and smoked salmon, um yum (my mouth is watering already). These meals would all be great for using up Christmas leftovers, you know when you a vat of sprouts and blue cheese that just need using up. A couple of these recipes could even be great starters for Christmas day or Christmas eve suppers. I really enjoyed coming up with this meal plan, there's always so many tasty festive meals to try and let's face it, three days is just not long enough to eat all the Christmas food, we've got to drag it out! Price-wise, this week was a little more than I normally pay for a week's groceries (only £5, not too bad!) but when you consider the quality of the ingredients and the meals, I thought this was all right. Let's get on with the plan...



Tuesday: Salmon and Cream Cheese Frittata with Green Veg, Tesco Magazine.

Wednesday: Bacon Wrapped Chicken with Roasted Sprouts, Tesco Magazine.

Thursday: Chicken Mushroom and Spinach Pasta Rolls, Tesco Magazine.

Friday: Crustless Stilton and Squash Quiche with Green Veg, Tesco Magazine.

Saturday: Stilton and Parsnip Soup with Wheaten Bread, my recipe.

Sunday: Hearty Whole-wheat Pasta with Brussel sprouts, Nigelissima.

Monday: Cuban Black Bean Soup and Cheese Toastie, Nigella Christmas.



As you can tell, this week's menu inspiration came mainly from the Christmas Edition of the Tesco Magazine. I've said this before on the blog but this is an absolutely wonderful resource for meal inspiration and it's free, which is great for recipes this good! I always pick up the new issue any time I'm in Tesco and keep them to refer back to. You should definitely check it out when you are in Tesco, or any of your local supermarkets, I believe they all have their own magazine with recipes. The other recipe books I used this week both come from the amazing Nigella Lawson. You just can't do Christmas without this amazing lady's input, no-one does Christmas entertaining quite like her. I used both her Christmas cookbook and Nigelissima for inspiration this week. Both are great recipe books and two of my favourites so I would definitely recommend picking up a copy for the holiday period.

I hope this has given you some inspiration for your festive meals and Christmas menu! I'm definitely looking forward to making these this week, especially the frittata, the quiche and the pasta rolls (I LOVE pasta, mmm...carbs!). What are your favourite Christmas meals? Please do share with me, i'm all out about the Christmas food! I will be back tomorrow with another festive post, this time I will be getting crafty (i'm leaving you in suspense ha!). Thanks so much for reading,

Rachael xx.

Friday, 9 December 2016

November Foodie Favourites

Hi all!! So, it's that time of the month again where I give you a run down of all the foodie and not so foodie things which I have been loving! November was a very cold and dreary month here in Northern Ireland. Christmas festivities were in reaching distance but we still had a lot to get through! I spent a lot of time curled up indoors in front of the fire watching TV, reading books and drinking tea (I really could hibernate in the winter). So here's what I have been loving this month...


Peppermint Tea

There's nothing like a steaming cup of peppermint tea in the evening to relax both the mind and the stomach! I find that having a cup of tea before bed helps me sleep and also settles my meal before hitting the hay! This one from Tesco is great in taste and value (so cheap)! I used to only go for the fancy branded tea but this one is just as good as the brands that cost 3 times as much!

TV favourite- The Missing

The BBC really hit the nail on the head with this drama! Set over the span of about 10 years in a couple of different European countries, this drama keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end! I absolutely loved it and I couldn't work out the plot, which is fab news for me as I always end up guessing what happens! I don't want to go into too much detail about what happens (spoilers!) but it basically surrounds a family in the army in Germany when their daughter goes missing. It's a lot more complicated than that obviously with lots of twists and turns that had me hooked! I think it's still on BBC IPlayer so you should definitely check it out. (also GILMORE GIRLS!!!! Don't get me started that's a whole other blog post!)

Book Favourite- The Muse by Jessie Burton

Let me just start of by saying that I love Jessie Burton, her writing style is amazing, you really feel like you are immersed in the novel with the characters! If you haven't read her first novel, The Miniaturist, you should (go read it now!). Her second novel doesn't disappoint either, set in two different decades in two different countries, this novel is pure escapism! The novel explores many different themes and gives you a bit of everything. Also, how gorgeous is that cover?

Tesco Chocolate

Let it be known that I am a complete chocoholic, anything chocolatey and I am there in a heartbeat! So imagine my delight when Tesco brought out a new range of chocolates, I just had to try it. It's so reasonably priced compared to my favourites (Green and Blacks, Lindt etc) that I was a little sceptical about the taste BUT it's delicious. The great thing about this chocolate is it's yummy when eaten on it's own but also great for baking. They have many different flavours, my favourite (it didn't hang around long enough for a picture) is the salted caramel flavour and the hazelnut flavour, so yummy! They are only £1 for a bar, which is amazing value for good quality chocolate! I love nothing more than sitting down in the evening with the hubby, a big mug of tea (or red wine!), a bar of chocolate and watching a good film/ TV show binge!

Candle from Sainsbury's

I spotted this candle in Sainsbury's one evening, it was reduced, it was festive and I need candles like I need a hole in the head, so of course I bought it! I'm so glad I had that moment of weakness, it smells deliciously festive! The scent is lovely and lingers all over the house when the candle is lit! I can't remember what the scent is, all I can describe it as is the most Christmassy smell EVER. And it was only £7.50 for a beautifully gilded gold, 3 wick candle, WIN!

Film Favourite- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Raise your hand if you're a Harry Potter nerd?? Just me then (my hand is waving like mad!). When this movie came out I was so excited, it brought back all that Harry Potter excitement. The movie did not disappoint, it was magical and I cheered at every Harry Potter reference in the film (sad, I know). I won't say very much about it, I've been told I give away spoilers too easily, just go and see it if you love Harry Potter or want a magical movie to while away an afternoon.

Wheaten Bread

Last but by no means least, I have been loving making my own wheaten bread! Wheaten bread is a Northern Irish delicacy that I can't believe it has taken me 26 years to master and cherish. It's so delicious and I love that I can rustle it up so quickly! It's perfect with soup or eggs or avocado or anything really, it's just so versatile! You can find my favourite recipe here. I also love that it's quite healthy, the recipe contains oats and wholemeal flour so is full of fibre and I know exactly what goes in to it! You should give it a try sometime.

There you go, that is just some of the things which I have been loving in November, I hope I have given you some food for thought and maybe gave you some ideas. What have you been loving this month? Any recommendations are more than welcome in the comments down below :).

Hope you are having a wonderful day,

Rachael xx.





Wednesday, 7 December 2016

What I Eat in a Day 6

Hello everyone and happy hump day, welcome to another what I eat in a day post! I had quite a busy day yesterday baking and cooking up a storm in the kitchen! Thankfully this meant I has some yummy treats to eat throughout the day and help me through a very cold, dark and drizzly day! I ate quite a lot this day as the day before we had NO food in the house and I couldn't make any tasty treats (major organisation error with the grocery shopping on my part), I didn't have any of my usual meals to look forward to and it was a very sad day for food (think plain pasta for lunch, yuck!). So, we got our grocery delivery the night before this day and voila I had all the food I could possibly wish for (except the dominoes pizza, pastries and cinnamon rolls I always crave!). This is what I ate yesterday...

BREAKFAST

Porridge made with whole milk topped with apple, honey and cinnamon

Back to an old favourite, I just can't get away from porridge at the moment. Nothing gets me warmed up and energised for the day like a huge warm bowl of sweet porridge, just lovely! I'm still trying to think of new and inventive ways to make my porridge in the morning but this is my absolute favourite and feels very festive, perfect to eat looking at the twinkly fairy lights on our Christmas tree.

LUNCH


 Butternut Squash soup, wheaten bread and two clementine's

I posted the recipe for this soup and bread yesterday (you can find the recipe here) and boy was it delicious! I love the kick of heat that the chilli gives in the soup, perfect for warming you up on a dark and dreary day and perfect with the crispy cheesy bread dipped in! Yum yum! And to top it all of, as usual, I had my obligatory clementines!

AFTERNOON SNACK

 A slice of banana bread topped with butter and cinnamon, and a large coffee

This afternoon I definitely needed a wee pick me up and I had loads of over-ripe bananas so I had the genius brainwave of making some banana bread! I love the smell of this baking almost as much as I love the taste! You can find the recipe I use for banana bread here. It's a Nigella Classic and is perfect slathered in butter and sprinkled with the spice of the season, cinnamon. And of course it tastes great washed down with a big cup of coffee for an afternoon jolt of energy! Just perfect for a 5minute break to revive and refresh for the rest of the day!

DINNER

Crispy Chicken Traybake

Dinner was this delicious Italian Crispy Chicken traybake, a new recipe I have not tried before! This recipe came from the Mob Kitchen UK team, you can find their website here with loads more tasty recipes. This dish was absolutely amazing flavour-wise and was so easy to throw together, that's literally what you did, just throw everything in the tray and bake, simple and delicious! The dish comprises some of my favourite ingredients, olives, loads of garlic and crispy ciabatta bread! The Mob Kitchen website/ Instagram is a great resource for recipes, they cater for every dietary need and create nutritious and delicious meals to feed your family. Every meal they create feeds a family of four for under £10, amazing value for a meal this delicious! You should definitely check them out if you are looking for some delicious and affordable recipe inspiration.

Dinner was again followed by a huge mug of peppermint tea, you really can't beat it as a nightcap (for some reason it makes me so sleepy). We drank our tea whilst watching Lost, we finished season one last night and I can't wait to start season two, what a cliff-hanger! I'm such a sucker for a cliff-hanger, they always get me to watch 'just one more episode' (in reality like 5)! And there you have it, everything I ate yesterday, hope enjoyed this peep into my life of food. I will be back again on Friday with another exciting foodie post, thanks for reading,

Rachael xx.



Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Butternut Squash Soup with Cheddar and Apple Wheaten Bread

HELLOOOOO! I promised you a recipe today and now I am delivering on that promise! I have been working away in the kitchen all morning and have rustled up two different recipes to share with you today! Number one is my Rosemary, Chilli and Garlic Butternut Squash soup and number two is my cheddar and apple wheaten bread recipe! Both are equally delicious and can be served together for a delicious, comforting and satisfying lunch ( not to mention healthy and cheap!). These are the perfect recipes for a warming winter lunch or for a tasty and easy starter to have with your Christmas dinner, you could even get a head start now and pop it in the freezer ready to be defrosted on Christmas day (yes that's too organised for me too!). On with the recipes...



 Butternut Squash Soup

This recipe made two big bowls of soup, one for me and one for the freezer! But if you wanted smaller bowls you could probably get three servings out of the recipe.

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash
1 large onion
1 tsp of dried rosemary
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp. of olive oil
a good pinch of chilli flakes
salt and pepper to season

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and chop and peel your butternut squash, smallish chunks are best.
2. Drizzle over 1 tbsp. of oil and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper and sprinkle over the rosemary.
3. Roast the squash in the oven for about 40mins until the cubes are soft and have browned a little.
4. When the squash is done roasting heat the remaining 1 tbsp. of oil in a saucepan and add your onion and chilli flakes and fry until the onion is soft.
5. When the onion is soft crush in your garlic gloves and fry for another minute. When this is done add in your squash and give everything a good stir. Crumble in the stock cube and add boiling water until the squash is just covered. Simmer for 10mins.
6. When it has simmered for 10mins just use a stick blender until it is your desired consistency. I like mine pretty thick but you can add more water at this stage if you like it thinner. Check the seasoning and there you go, you're done!


Cheddar and Apple Wheaten Bread

I recently discovered how easy this bread was to make when my husband and I decided to stop buying supermarket bread. I have since made this recipe my go to bread recipe every week (the less said about the sourdough, the better!). This recipe makes a pretty huge loaf of bread but you could half the recipe too which would make a perfect loaf for a lunch for three people, perfect when served with the soup. This is not a traditional recipe as I have not used buttermilk, I just use milk and yogurt as I find it hard to get buttermilk and I don't always have it in my fridge like I do yoghurt and milk. My favourite thing about this bread is the cheesy crust and the cheese pockets throughout the loaf, absolutely delicious! The apple just gives little bursts of sweetness throughout and is perfect with the cheese.

Ingredients

1tsp bicarbonate of soda
250ml whole milk
250ml natural yoghurt
100g oats
250g coarse wholemeal flour
250g plain flour
a good pinch of sea salt
100g cheddar cheese, cubed
1 apple, any variety, cubed
25g butter, cubed

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and put all your dry ingredients into a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon.
2. Add in the butter and mix until combined and the mix forms a crumbly texture.
3. Add in the apple and cheese and mix with a spoon until evenly dispersed.
4. Add in the yoghurt and milk (you could use 500ml of buttermilk, more traditional but less handy). Mix until everything is combined.
5. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and sprinkle with flour.
6. Turn your bread mix out unto the baking sheet and shape into a loaf shape. Don't work the dough very much at all as this can make it very crumbly.
7. Take a sharp knife and cut a cross in the top of the loaf and pop it in the oven for about 45mins, until it's golden and crisp on the top.
8. Leave to cool and cut into slices slathered with butter or more cheese (you can never have too much cheese!) to serve.


And this is what it looks like all served up, doesn't that just make you hungry!

So there you have it two delicious recipes for the price of one! Let me know if you try this recipe, I would love to know what you think of it! I'm really loving soups this winter, I love how you can pack loads of veggies in there and they taste so scrummy! I've been being really adventurous with my soup recipes too, testing out a load of new ones! What are you favourite soup recipes, I would love to know? Anyway, enough soup talk, thanks for reading and I will be back tomorrow with my regular what I eat in a day post, so I will see you then,

Rachael xx.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Meal Plan Monday


Greetings everyone, I hope you're all having a lovely non-mondayish (yes I just made up that word!) Monday! How was your weekend? I had a fabulous weekend filled with Christmas decorating, coffee, Christmas shopping, giant pastries and Christmas meals out, just perfect! I'm back today to share with you my meal plan for this week. I'm definitely getting into the Christmas spirit and so, a couple of festive inspired meals have snuck in there! Well the tree is up now after all :). Don't worry though, if you want some more festive meal inspiration, that will be coming up in next week's meal plan, a whole week of festive inspired meals to get the taste buds going! This week however, it's a bit of a mixed bag, I've got some meals that I still haven't got around to eating from previous weeks meal plans, a few soup recipe favourites and some exciting new recipes to try! I feel I may have planned a few too many meals this week but that's always good for stocking up the freezer (and our bellies) for this busy festive period! So on with the plan...


Monday: Peach and Chickpea Curry with rice and peas, A Girl Called Jack.

Tuesday: Sweet Pea Fish Pie and Veg, Save with Jamie.

Wednesday: Carrot and Parsnip Soup with a cheese toastie, Avoca Soups.

Thursday: Crispy chicken traybake

Friday: Sprout and Caramelised onion soup with wheaten bread, Leon Family.

Saturday: Chilli Hot pot with green veg, Leon Family.

Sunday: Tomato, Thyme, Red Pepper and Goat's Cheese tart with veg, Leon Family.

Monday:  Veggie Burger with Sweet Potato Chips, Leon Family.

This week my recipe inspiration came mainly from the Leon family and friends cookbook! I love this cookbook, it is absolutely one of my all-time favourites. You may have heard of Leon before, they have a small chain of healthy fast food outlets in the UK, I've never been but I have heard great things. I actually got this book for Christmas last year so I though it was about time to bring it out again. The book is filled with family classic recipes with a few culinary twists in there! Every meal turns out so tasty and they have so many hints and tips along the way that really help you expand your culinary knowledge! It's a great book even just to flick through at bedtime to read the stories behind the recipes and look at all the beautiful pictures. I would really recommend this book to anyone who loves to cook delicious, nutritious meals for family gatherings, for anyone who wants to cook tasty meals and learn about cooking in more detail or for anyone who has a big family to cook for! Also, the recipes are very economical and great for eating on a budget (always a win in my book!). I'm slowly trying to collect all their books. So far I have the vegetarian cookbook, the family and friends and the fast food book but there are many more and each offers something new and equally delicious. Give'em a go!

So there you have it that's what we will be eating this week! I'm really looking forward to the veggie burgers and chips, I love a veggie burger almost as much as I love a beef burger! I'm also really looking forward to all the soup recipes, I always crave something warm and cosy at this time of year and can't get enough of the stuff, with a cheese toastie dunked in (of course!). Speaking of soup, I will be back tomorrow with a sneaky Garlic, Chilli and Rosemary Butternut squash soup recipe, so keep your eyes peeled, I might even throw in a tasty wheaten bread recipe if you're lucky! This soup would be great for a starter for your Christmas dinner too, just sayin! Thanks for reading, talk soon,

Rachael xx.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Christmas Candy Cane Chocolate Bark

Howdy all and a very merry second day of Christmas to you! That's right, Christmas starts as soon as December does and I couldn't be happier! We are going to decorate our tree today, TODAY (i'm jumping around whilst typing this)!! So, in light of the festive season beginning I am bringing you my first festive themed post in the form of a really tasty, easy and affordable recipe for Christmas gifts. There's just something so lovely about receiving and gifting handmade Christmas presents! I always think it shows that a lot of time and effort went into the gift. In this consumer driven world we live in, it's nice to take a step back from the mad money panic and do something personal and thoughtful! This chocolate bark is great to make a big batch of and give as gifts to whomever you wish! So easy to whip up, it literally takes about 10mins to assemble, perfect for last minute gift ideas. Also, just a wee hint, I made enough for two gifts and it cost me about £1, so bargainous and no-one needs to know. All you have to do is leave it to cool, break it up and put it in pretty bags tied up with string, sorted! So, without further adieu let's get on with the recipe...


You will need:-

100g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
100g white chocolate, broken into chunks
about 3 candy canes, bashed up
some edible glitter
festive sprinkles or whatever you have that would look good

Here's the plan:-

1. Melt your dark chocolate and white chocolate which ever way is easier for you, but remember to be careful we don't want any burnt chocolate in there. I used a bowl over a pan of boiling water for the dark chocolate and the microwave in 5-10s bursts for the white chocolate.
2. Lay some baking paper, shiny side up on a flat surface.
3. Pour the shiny melted dark chocolate unto the baking paper.
4. Immediately after, pour the white chocolate unto the dark chocolate, swirling around as you go!
5. Take the a knife and swirl the chocolate around, letting it spread a little as you go, being careful not to spread it too thin. You should have a lovely swirly patterned chocolate.
6. Take your candy canes and sprinkle over the top of the chocolate.
7. Sprinkle over your festive sprinkles, or whatever you are using. Cranberries, nuts and raisins would work great too! This would be great for a more adult friendly version.
8. Dust with edible glitter and leave to cool where it is or in the fridge, whatever's easier!
9. When it's cooled until it's solid, break it up into sporadic chunks and put in little bags and tie with ribbon. You will need to store this somewhere cool, it won't look so pretty as candy cane chocolate soup in a bag!

And there you have it, a 10minute edible Christmas gift, yummy! By the way, it's perfectly acceptable to make this with the intention of giving it as a gift but end up eating it all yourself, it's Christmas after all, you've got to treat yourself too!

There you go, a very easy and tasty handmade Christmas gift that friends and family will love. It's an especially easy recipe to have children help make, they will love licking the bowl of melted chocolate after (my husband still does this!). Please let me know if you give this a go. Also, do you have any great gifting ideas, please share them in the comments, let's inspire each other through this festive season. I've got some more recipes and ideas where that came from so stay tuned over the next month! As always, thanks for reading,

Rachael xx.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

What I Eat in a Day 5

Hi again! Today's post is another what I eat in a day post and i'm sure by now you are noticing some themes, i'm really quite repetitive with my meals. I always have apples, clementines, a home made soup and cheese toasties nearly every day! But I never seem to get sick of them! This day I tried to be a little bit more healthy than usual as I had quite a lot of food over the weekend, including lots of chips, pizza, takeaways and chocolate! It was amazing and tasty food but my body always feels a bit yuck after eating like that for a few days, so I had to get back to my normal diet and restore some order!

BREAKFAST

A royal gala apple cut into wedges with a tablespoon of peanut butter

This is my sort of lighter breakfast option, I had a takeaway pizza the night before so wasn't really feeling too hungry. I love this combination, peanut butter just goes so well with apple. It's so tasty and very quick to prepare, it's even great to eat on the go! The apple gives you one of your 5 a day and the peanut butter gives you some protein to keep you going, so you don't starve 5 mins later. My only problem is trying not to eat the whole jar of peanut butter (trust me this is a really big problem!). I also had a massive coffee (of course!) and a HUGE glass of water, I really needed it, I was so thirsty after the pizza the night before.

LUNCH

Mexican chilli bean soup, a cheesy pitta and 4 clementines

This soup was part of my meal plan for the week before but we didn't eat it. Since all the ingredients are store cupboard and keep very well,  I decided to make it for my lunch! It's such an easy recipe and is from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe! I've talked about this book before so I won't bore you again but it really is amazing for yummy and very budget friendly meals. This soup is so good for you too, comforting and healthy, it's a win win! It has carrots, onions, tomatoes, black beans, red wine and a secret ingredient! You want to know what the secret is, it's dark chocolate (you can thank me for this sometime!). The dark chocolate really makes this dish taste so rich and delicious and gives it a lovely thick sauce. Dark chocolate is also a great addition to a chilli con carne, apparently the Mexicans do this and that's good enough for me! And of course I couldn't have a bowl of soup without some form of cheese toastie, this time it was a griddled pitta, so yummy dunked into the chilli tomato soup! I finished all that food off with 4 (yes 4!) clementines. They really are one of my favourite fruits, so sweet and they smell delicious!

 DINNER

 Bacon, Cabbage and Veg Hash with Mustard Mash

Dinner was another creation of Jack Monroe but I added the mustard mash for a bit of comforting winter food! I love mustard mash and this was definitely my favourite mash I have ever made. It's so easy, you just boil your potatoes, skin on, for extra nutrition. When they are boiled, you drain them and mash them with a bit of butter, milk, salt, pepper and a good tablespoon of wholegrain mustard, yum yum! And they are perfect paired with this bacon and veg hash. The hash contains good quality smoked bacon, cabbage, peas, onion, carrots, mustard, thyme, white wine and stock. It doesn't look great on the plate but it really is a taste sensation. This is also a great recipe for using up leftover veg in the fridge, any root veg or mushrooms would work well with this, either in the hash or the mash. I have to say that I may have gone for seconds too, it's just the perfect cosy food for this time of year.

For my evening snack I just had a big mug of peppermint tea and a few squares of wholenut milk chocolate and that was me for the day. I completely forgot to take a picture of these as I was deep in Christmas gift planning and buying! Most nights I would have a cup of herbal non caffeinated tea, I just find them great for relaxation and some, like the peppermint tea, are great for settling your stomach after dinner. Peppermint is definitely my favourite but there's also quite a few others I like, liquorice on it's own or with cinnamon or peppermint, apple and cinnamon, fennel or after dinner blends. I might do a post sometime with my favourite flavours and brands, I would also love to hear your recommendations, if you have any?

So that's all I ate yesterday, it was all very tasty and I also felt very good after eating, much better than after the takeaway pizza, although it was delicious! I will be back on Friday with the first of my festive posts, and let's just say it's a tasty one so you'll have to give it a go! So join me then when we can start the Christmas magic!

Thanks for reading,

Rachael xx.