Friday 30 October 2015

10 great recipes to batch cook for busy people

I am all about the batch cooking at the moment. I started a new job a couple of days ago, and I had a bit of time at home beforehand. It was nice to hang at home with no commitments, safe in the knowledge I'd be starting a new job in a couple of weeks, but I'm someone who likes to keep busy, and I was determined to use the time efficiently. I know, I'm so fun. But batch cooking was a priority - I wanted to make sure our freezer was full of meals so I didn't have to worry about cooking for the first few weeks.

I've posted about batch cooking here before - I'm a big fan of it. It's a great way to eat healthily, cheaply and it makes your life easier too. It hasn't changed much since that post - I cook for two, instead of one, but I just squeeze two portions into a box instead of one (and often don't freeze the pasta or rice with it).

Not everything suits batch cooking though - there are some recipes that taste better fresh, don't reheat well or aren't freezer friendly. But these are my favourite 10 at the moment, so pop down to your local supermarket and get cooking this weekend. It'll warm you up - always welcome on a cold day - and you won't have to cook all week. Even more sofa time for you. Bliss.


Wednesday 28 October 2015

Review: Dylan's at The King's Arms, St Albans

I've been walking loads lately, and I tend to do the same route around St Albans. The problem is that as I've mentioned, there are loads of great restaurants around here, and walking past them at dinner time is a killer. They all smell amazing and I spend just as long gazing at the menus as actually walking. I tend to come home with a long list of 'Places We Must Eat' which gets longer every time I go out.

One such place is Dylan's at The King's Arms. I go past it pretty much daily, and it's rapidly risen to the top of my list of places I need to go to. Now. This instant. I'm hungry. Spoiler alert: I got to go!


Sunday 25 October 2015

Recipe: Avocado and Feta Pasta

I've recently had to accept that summer is over. I feel we've been able to fool ourselves for a few weeks - there's been a few sunny days, the heating's only had to be turned on a few times and I only got out my winter coat the other day. But it's getting colder and colder, the evenings are getting darker and I'm about ready to commit to putting the heating back on its daily timer again.

It's okay though, because this is a lovely time of year. It's cold but not unbearable, nature is all about the beautiful colour as the leaves change, and we still have Halloween, Bonfire Night and freaking CHRISTMAS to look forward to. It's January and February you've got to watch out for. That's when the colder weater stops being cosy and delightful and starts being grey and depressing. And this is why I don't do Dry January.

Anyway, if the cold weather IS getting you down, then make this nice summery pasta for dinner tonight instead. It's light, fresh and tasty. And there's cheese in it. What more could you want?


Thursday 22 October 2015

Finally learning to use my Nikon D3200 with Pink Lady Apples

I've been using a DSLR since 2009, and I'm ashamed to admit that I've never really learned how to use it. I mean, I've kind of always thought I knew enough. I can frame a photograph fairly decently, I can get in super close and make the background go blurred, and I can fix most things on Photoshop. But it's always bothered me - I've read countless tutorials and blog posts on gettinng better with a DSLR, but I've never quite understood it. For instance, I know that a lower aperture creates a softer background, but I've never figured out HOW to actually change it. And manually focusing is haaaard.

So! When Pink Lady Apples organised a photography masterclass with Aspire Photography Training, I jumped at the chance. It was never something I'd organise to go to by myself, but having it RIGHT THERE - it was impossible to resist. I know what you're thinking - "Apples? And photography?" Well, Pink Lady sponsor the food photographer of the year competition, and were hoping that by teaching myself and some other bloggers some improved photography skills, maybe we'd tap into our unrealised talent and win the whole thing!


Monday 19 October 2015

Review: The new Autumn menu at Pizza Express, St Albans

I've always been a big fan of Pizza Express - they do an excellent job of offering proper, healthy food without sacrificing flavour. That's what I'm all about. Even a lot of the non-Leggera options aren't bad for you. But I love that if I am trying to follow the diet, I can still have pizza without feeling guilty about it. Plus, their Superfood salad is amazing. And huge.

Anyway, I was invited recently to try out their new Autumn menu, which I was all for - and even more so once I took a look at it. Chorizo and butternut squash pizza? Salted caramel profiteroles? Speaking my language. So off we popped to the St Albans branch, for a most excellent meal.


Friday 16 October 2015

New York City - wishlist and planning

Excitingly, I've booked myself a week's holiday in New York! I'm flying out at the very end of November, so we'll still be there for the first week of December when all the Christmas windows are going up and the big tree at Rockefeller Centre will be lit. I CANNOT WAIT.

I visited NYC in 2013 and had a pretty amazing time, but as is always the case when you visit somewhere that big and bustling, I felt like I barely scratched the surface. There's so much more I want to do and see and EAT - I'm going to be in serious planning mode this year.


Tuesday 13 October 2015

Weight Watchers update: September

Well, it's been a month since my last post about Weight Watchers, and I feel like I've made some good progress. It's reached the point where it doesn't feel like a diet any more - this is a lifestyle change, and living a bit more healthily is part of me. And it's made a difference - I feel so much healthier in myself.


Saturday 10 October 2015

BYOC - Bring Your Own Cocktail, Covent Garden

It was Matt's birthday a couple of weeks ago, and I excitedly launched myself into planning an excellent day for both of us. I know, I know, his birthday should be about HIM, but I want to have fun too! It was always going to be difficult to top the Burger Crawl - truly one of the best days ever - but I worked hard to turn it into a great experience.

After brunch at home, we headed to Duck & Waffle for a late lunch, which I will write up at a later date (but I was super impressed). And then - BYOC. BYOC is a cocktail bar with a twist, as they don't have an alcohol license. Instead, they have a room full of unusual mixers and the guests are tasked with bringing their own spirits. I LOVED this concept when I read about it on Curious London, and felt pretty confident that Matt would too so I booked us a couple of places. It's £25 a head, plus whatever booze you choose to bring, and they aim to give you five cocktails each. Five cocktails for £25 in Covent Garden is pretty much a bargain, even when you're supplying the alcohol.


Wednesday 7 October 2015

Recipe: Caramelised chorizo and sweet chilli butternut squash salad

Here's the thing with cooking - if you're working with lots of different components that you like, then you're pretty much guaranteed to like the final product. That's science, that is.

But sometimes, those ingredients surprise you and do something magical in the cooking process to surpass your expectations, and that's exactly what happened here. I was just using up some bits to make a warm salad for dinner, and didn't expect it to be anything special, but it was amaaazing. The oil from the chorizo seeped into the butternut squash, giving it a smoky, spicy flavour and the sweet chilli sauce took to the edges of the chorizo, making it all sticky and almost caramelised. It was SO good. So this, really, is barely a recipe, but I reeeally want you to try it, because I think it'll blow you away too.

Sunday 4 October 2015

Afternoon tea and cake delivery with Betty's Tearooms

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to enjoy afternoon tea in London with Betty's and a lovely group of bloggers. I'm a big fan of Betty's tearooms - we missed out when we were in York last December as I was poorly, so my last visit was five blinking years ago. I've been itching to go back ever since, so I was very happy to be invited to their London event. I dressed up in my finery - because pretty dresses and shoes are a must for afternoon tea, right - and hopped on the train. I wore this dress from Mela and these shoes from Spartoo, in case you're wondering.

Sadly, it doesn't mean that Betty's is opening in London - they're Northern, through and through - but they have just launched a delivery service, so if you're jonesing for some epic cakes, you can get them to your door. In teams, we set up our own afternoon teas from boxes of goodies packed as if they were to be delivered, and so I can vouch for the quality and the packaging. Wouldn't an afternoon tea in a box be an excellent present?


Thursday 1 October 2015

Flower delivery with Appleyard London (plus 33% off)

I've become obsessed with buying fresh flowers this year - I just think they brighten up a room and make it seem extra happy. There's also something grown-up about buying flowers for yourself, I've always thought. It might only be a few quid here or there, but it seems luxurious to me. I always feel like having a vase of fresh flowers in my living room makes it look like I have my shit together.

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