Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Cooking eight Indian-inspired dishes in one night with StressFreePrint #TryMyMenu



I'm getting a little addicted to throwing dinner parties. It's fun to challenge myself to make lots of different dishes, set to a deadline, and as I'm a show off at heart, I can't really get enough of the praise when my meal is well received. Plus, there's always lots of eating and drinking involved, and you may have noticed that I'm a fan of both.

My latest venture was an Indian themed dinner for our friends, and I went all out. I may have mentioned before that it's usually suggested to make a tried-and-tested dish when you have friends round for dinner, and I completely see the logic - there's far less chance of getting it wrong when you know a recipe like the back of your hand. But for those of us who like trying out new recipes, where's the fun in that? There's none. None at all.

Also, part of the reason for throwing this dinner party was because I had real, proper menus printed by Stress Free Print. I had to go all out, or it wouldn't live up to the MENUS. I didn't want to be judged by the menus, you understand. And that's how I ended up making eight different dishes for four people. Don't do things by halves, me.

Behind the cut is my review of the dishes I cooked, which I picked up from all over the place. Not everything went to plan, but it was all tasty and well received, so if you're planning on making any of the dishes, hopefully I've given you a few tips to manage it all a little better. I still considered the night a success - learning is all part of the process!

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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

LBD with The Galleria


I was asked recently to pick out an outfit inspired by London Fashion Week. Both parts were somewhat challenging - I'm quite the stranger to an outfit post these days, and can't say I've felt the urge to attend LFW for several years now. It's not really my thing any more - I mean, I can barely walk on cobbles in flats, let alone heels. Also, I've just never been THAT much of a fashion person, despite the fact I blogged about fashion for many years. Because so much of fashion - especially the LFW brand of fashion - is about standing out and pushing the boundaries, which while I think is pretty admirable, it's not really me. I just like to be comfortable and look vaguely presentable. Sometimes just the first one will do.

Anyway, I headed to The Galleria - which is an outlet mall of sorts in Hatfield, that I remember fondly as being the first inside mall in our area. It was a big deal. It had one of those shops with a crazy candy selection and I bought one of those giant gobstoppers and kept it in a plastic box for an unhygienic amount of time. But I turned out okay, so I condone that activity!

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Saturday, 19 September 2015

Recipe: Aubergine and chickpea coconut curry



As a lifelong fan of mushrooms, which turn everything they touch into an appetising grey colour, I can say with some certainty that the ugliest dishes are often the tastiest. And this is an ugly bugger, isn't it? No amount of cheery red pepper and fresh green coriander can disguise the sludge-coloured sauce underneath.

BUT IT'S SO TASTY.

When I got my Sparshotts box a few weeks ago, it included an aubergine. I pondered what to do with it, and then spied a tweet from someone talking about an aubergine and chickpea curry (was it you?). I did some hunting for inspiration, and then cobbled this little baby together. No, it's not pretty, thanks to the purpley aubergine skin. But it was one of my favourite dinners this month. And I make darn good dinners, people.

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Sunday, 13 September 2015

Recipe: Roasted feta with sweet potato, guacamole and tomato salad


I love cheese. That's a pretty established fact. But what I love even more is when I'm served cheese in an unexpected way, and that's what I'm doing today. Step forward, roasted feta, you glorious thing.

I've cooked with feta before, in pasta sauces and the like - I even tried melting it on toast when I was an eleven year old with a dairy allergy. That experience taught me that feta is not a very melty cheese, so I don't know why I never realised you could pop it in the oven. But now I know, and I'm a bit addicted. It browns and crisps on the outside and goes all wibbly inside - it's wonderful.

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Thursday, 10 September 2015

Life update: living healthier and Weight Watchers


Do you remember my complainy posts earlier this year about how generally rubbish I felt? Well, I'm happy to report I'm feeling a lot better. Hooray! I'm sure you won't miss the moaning.

The thing is, I was at a point where I realised I wasn't taking care of myself, and I could feel and see the results. I was constantly ill, permanently exhausted and just looked awful. It wasn't a life highlight.

A lot of it came down to diet and exercise, in the end. I always wish there was something simpler to do to change things, but in truth, if you're feeling crappy for months on end and don't have anything specific wrong with you, then you kind of have to look at what's you're doing with your body and what's going into it.

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Monday, 7 September 2015

Part-time vegetarianism with Sparshotts


I do think it's funny that a few months ago, everything I read was warning about the perils of gluten and the virtues of veganism, and now everything is saying that actually might be rubbish, and maybe a little of what we fancy isn't so bad after all.

That's always been my philosophy anyway. I've had a wheat intolerance before, so I know what it feels like, and I've successfully lost weight whilst eating gluten and carbs whilst feeling perfectly healthy, so I've never thought that giving up gluten would cure all my ills and turn me into a superhero. And I have STRONG views on veganism. I mean, how can you live your life without cheese AND bacon? Not to mention eggs! You can never have a quiche lorraine! It's madness, I say. Madness.

Buuuut... there is some truth in the fact that certain food groups are better in moderation. And that's why I'm dabbling in part-time vegetarianism at the moment.
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Friday, 4 September 2015

Recipe: Sweet potato, black bean & avocado tacos


Lately, it seems like everything I cook is vegetarian food. I got a veggie cookbook for my birthday last month and I'm a bit obsessed with it. It's also surprising how much money I'm saving by not feeling the need to buy meat for all my meals. Although I am buying a lot more feta. Mmmmm, feta.

Because of said veggie kick, I am buying my body weight in sweet potatoes and avocados right now, so I had them to use up. I had a look in the cupboard, added a can of black beans to my loot and this turned into a "What can I do with sweet potato, avocado and black beans, hmmm?" dinner. I found this recipe as inspiration, but then I pretty much went off book and did my own thing, apart from the avocado yogurt sauce... which was nice, but next time, I'd probably just do normal guac. Because guac is the BEST.
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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Afternoon tea at The Landmark and The View from The Shard


Don't you always find that when you can't have something, you want it even more? At the moment, I'm on a serious budget so spending any money on the non-essentials is out. This, of course, means that I'm craving clothes shopping, holidays and treats. Treats a-plenty!

And this is why blogging can be amazing. As much as it can be hard work sometimes, it's often SO worth it. Just as I was feeling really down about having no budget for fun times, the nice people at The Laughing Cow got in touch to ask if they could help fulfil a craving and I admitted the source of my grumpiness. So, they treated Matt and I to a day of fun in London on Saturday - an epic afternoon tea at The Landmark Hotel (Champagne! Unlimited sandwiches! Two types of scones! ALL THE CAKES!) and a performance of Book of Mormon in the evening (which was INCREDIBLE. Go, go now. It's hilarious, the songs are ridiculously catchy and it's so well produced. Hello!). As I mentioned last week, this was part of their Mini Cravings campaign (although my craving for cheese is rarely mini - more all-consuming).
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