Saturday, 31 May 2014

Quick Kebabs

I have to apologise now for the short post. But I have two exams next week so am knee deep in revision right now. Oh the fun.

But I couldn't not share my first post placement meal with you! It seems like forever ago I had a non placement meal, especially with the two week Easter break in the middle. For this momentous occasion I chose Lamb Kebabs with Greek Salad. There is a cute little Greek restaurant that I really want to go to. It even has lace tablecloths. I decided to recreate my own...

The meat was marinated in lemon juice and rind, garlic, cinnamon, dried oregano and seasoning. Then I baked mine as we don't have a working grill, but the original recipe was to use a barbecue... Waiting on the weather for that one!

The Greek salad was a traditional one of lettuce, cucumber, black olives and tomato. I roasted the red onion alongside the kebabs. I also added a courgette, as I am going home on Wednesday and I seem to have ended up with rather a lot of fresh food to be eaten! When the kebabs were cooked, I pulled the pieces off the skewers and topped the salad with them, then added a dollop each of hummus and quark (in place of Greek yoghurt).

I almost forgot, for the salad dressing I just used some balsamic vinegar and a some of the brine from the olive jar. I thought it was quite a good idea myself... But I would say that ;)

Ok, this post went on rather longer than I imagined... Ah we'll, back to work! I will have to share my 'procrasti-baking' with you as well, but for now, back to work...

Monday, 26 May 2014

A Breakfast Bap, Mini Muffins, Luxurious Lunches and Cheeky Chicken

If you have read my blog before, you may know that I like to 'healthify' things a lot of the time. However, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, sometimes only the real deal will do. My lunch today was a mixture of the two. I came upon the idea to have this because I saw that my local supermarket sold turkey sausages and I wanted to try them. I was also thinking about getting bacon for the pancakes, so I combined the two for today's lunch; the Breakfast Bap. When I went to buy the sausages though, they weren't there. I decided to push ahead with the idea and get some different ones. It was a toss up between healthy pork sausages or venison ones. I went with the pork ones in the end. I think either would have gone well, but I felt pork was more traditional to go with bacon. Keeping with the fillings theme of 'English Breakfast', I also added a tomato and an egg. The egg was poached, and the tomato, sausage and bacon were grilled. So healthier than a normal fry-up. The bacon, as I mentioned yesterday, was streaky... not so. But I had my reasons for choosing it! (To find out all about the pancakes and bacon, go to  ).

I nearly forgot to add the egg. But as I was using my nifty microwave poacher, it only took one minute, literally, to cook. I knew something was wrong when I was taking the photos, I just couldn't put my finger on it!

I put the sausage in the oven at the same time as I made... the mini-muffins! Luckily, they needed the same Gas Mark as I wanted to cook them at the same time. As it is my last week of placement this week, I made chocolate mini muffins to take in. I always make something to take, because I like baking and hardly ever get to do it. I made straight up chocolate mini muffins with chocolate chunks. I also added some chocolate glacé icing, as I didn't feel it would be sweet enough for most people... I have to say, my sweet tooth is fading, but I thought I would add the icing for the others, as that is who they are for!

From this... this...

... to this! Be jealous you're not on placement with me ;-)
My luxurious lunch for this week is a wholemeal pitta bread. Which doesn't sound like luxury. But with a filling of avocado, salmon, cucumber, lemon juice, cottage cheese and seasoning it is.

And the pittas were only 50p, which isn't in the luxury price bracket. But I'm not complaining at all. The cheaper the better! And I'm sure the pittas have doubled in size since the last time I bought some. Which again, is no bad thing.

For tea is Chicken Stripper. Ooh la la. It is another Sam Stern recipe, which I am certain I have cooked before, from another cookbook. But they are rather tasty, so that isn't an issue. They are also quite quick to make, which is a bonus in my book. The chicken is simply bashed flat and cut into strips, then tossed in seasoned flour (also with chilli powder), then egg, then polenta, before being baked for 10 minutes. Done. I chose to serve mine with some quinoa, as I wanted to have some last week but the shop didn't have any. For vegetables, a simple mix of peas and spinach. And a dollop of cottage cheese on the side, because seriously, I love that stuff.

Ok, not pretty. But looks aren't everything. Expecially not when it tastes so good.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Steak Sandwich and Streaky Bacon

Another steak post... I know. But there were two in a pack so what am I supposed to do... Not eat it?! ;-) at home, we are big fans of steak sandwiches. We don't have them that often, they are kind of a treat. We usually have a big, juicy, grilled steak in a piece of baguette, for tea. Which is delicious. But I was having mine for lunch so I didn't want something so... Big. As you saw in my last steak post , my steaks are quite thin and flat, which was perfect. The bread I used was a wholemeal bad topped with oats, very lightly toasted. The steak was too large for the bad, but when I cut it in half it was perfect. I like to have some sort of veg with every meal, so I thinly sliced an onion and some garlic. I also put a teeny smidge of mustard on each side of the bap. Much as I like the simple baguette version, sometimes it's nice to snazz things up a bit!

Steak sandwich in a sandwich... Steakception?

That was the steak, now the streaky. I eat pretty healthily, so I don't have bacon very often, but I do like to have it every now and again. And I like my bacon crisp. Very crisp. The best bacon for crispness is streaky, so that is what I used. I have had bacon medallions from the healthy range of a supermarket, and they were nice, but more hammy than bacony. So they didn't really kill the bacon craving. I recently ordered some protein pancake mix from The Protein Works which I obviously wanted to try, and some pure Canadian maple syrup. Bacon, maple syrup and pancakes. What a combination.

Protein pancakes with maple syrup, plus cremated bacon. Just the way I like it. I am studiously ignoring my vegetable rule here hehe. Call it a Sunday treat!

And bacon craving is satisfied. I plan to use another rather tomorrow, and freeze the other 12. Yes, that's a lot of bacon, but it was the smallest pack available. And I wanted my crisp bacon. At least I won't be short should bacon cravings strike at an unexpected moment.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Paneer, Pizza and Pasta

Much as I like eating out, I do prefer to cook my own meals. I once had a curry while I was out that was made up of vegetables, and the main component was paneer cheese. I wanted to make something with it, but no shops I knew of sold it. A little while ago, however, the supermarket I do my shopping in started to stock it. I kept meaning to get some, and include it when I planned my menu, but I kept forgetting! This week however, it finally happened. I saw a photo of a lunch that someone had made, which was a naan bread 'pizza' with spinach, tomato and paneer. I decided to have it for lunch today.

The photo is a bit steamy, but I wanted to eat it while it was hot! On it's own, paneer can be a little tasteless, but it soaks up wonderfully the flavours of anything it is cooked with. I used a mini naan as I had some in the freezer... and I have one left, so I might just have to make this again!

I'm not quite sure what happened, but despite careful planning, I ended up without a tea for tonight. It didn't take me long to decide on pasta, as I haven't had it in a long time, so have been sort of craving it. I went through various combinations in my head, and although what I eventuall cooked was nothing like my original idea (as always!), I think I stumbled across a really good combination.

What we have here is wholewheat penne pasta, mixed with smoked diced ham, quark and wholegrain mustard. I wanted to add some peas, but I couldn't get to the freezer- long story- but I still really liked this combination! I am a big mustard fan (seriously, I can eat it right out of the jar), and I have liked the ham and mustard combination for a long time. So what's not to like about this?! I think peas would be a worthy addition, as I can honestly say it felt weird not having a vegetable included. However, it was still good as is. I think smoked ham was the right choice, but I'm sure unsmoked would be nice as well... feel free to experiment and let me know what you think! 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Super Steak, Salmon and Salad

As I am still batch cooking for the week day meals for placements, I like to do something different on Saturdays and Sundays to keep variety. This weekend's meals are the subject of this post, and first on the menu is Saturday Steak.

I have to admit, I didn't really do anything special with the steak, but it was cooked just perfectly and I really enjoyed it- what I could taste of it with a blocked nose! It did feel like a bit of a waste as I couldn't totally taste it, but I still enjoyed it.

As the grill in this house is just silly to be quite honest, I griddled the steak. And I served it with onions which I slow cooked with some tomato pureé and garlic, and spinach which was simply wilted. I didn't put anything on the steak... just plain, meaty goodness!

For second course, Sunday Salmon and Salad. The salad I did was one that caught my eye last week. It's called Vitamin Boost Salad (a Sam Stern recipe), and as it had just lots of ingredients I love, I knew I had to have it. Dates, nuts, seeds and fruit (in the form of an orange). Right up my street! For a 'dressing' I just thinned down some wholegrain mustard to make it drizzle-able! I could eat that stuff by the spoonful, no kidding... I ended up with salmon because I was looking at the Runner's World list of the 30 Best Foods for Runners and I wanted to see how many I could eat this week (I'll update you at the end of next week!) and salmon was on it. I got tinned salmon as it was on offer, making it only 1p dearer than smoked salmon, and as it is usually quite dear I thought I'd take my chance!

To spread the salmony yumminess, I had half of it in a sandwich yesterday with lettuce and  tomato and half today. The sandwich was simple but delicious, I wish I'd taken a photo of that as well. But never mind, you can just look at my beautifully presented salad ;-)

Another Sunday, another batch of meals cooked. Only one more week of placement after this coming week though! Until next week. See you then.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Bunches of Batches

Soooo, it's that time of the week again. Batch cooking for placement! Approximately two hours, 5 lunches and 5 teas. I haven't got a photo of my lunch as it got all mushed together when I had to fit it in my tupperwares! If I manage to open one and it looks decent, I'll try and snap a pic for you all!

I did get one of my tea however. On my last placement, I made a green lentil salad with a roast gammon joint. This is quite similar really. It's a bulgur wheat salad with sliced ham in. The ingredients I mixed with the lentils and bulgur wheat are pretty similar; think tabbouleh type things. Cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, lemon juice, garlic, that sort of thing. I also bought a new clic loc tub today, which happens to be the perfect size to fit this in.

I think that pleases me more than it should.

In a bit of a backwards order, I now want to tell you about my breakfast this morning. I always always have some form of oats. To cut a looooooong, long, long story short, it took a lot for me to have such a different breakfast. It's still oats, but in a different form.

I really, really didn't know what I wanted so I just kinda chucked everything in. Nothing that I didn't want or felt I should have, just because I'd planned it.

And it was good.

Ok. The base. Half one was half of my portion of oats mixed into fromage frais which was first mixed with maca powder, cinnamon and vanilla. The other half was the other half of oats with just some milk to moisten it. On top was half a banana, some mixed nuts, sultanas, chia seeds and cacao nibs.

And now forward again! Lunch. I almost forgot. You know how mad I am on Quest bars. I saw on Instagram that somebody made Quest bar cereal by making them into balls, baking them and using a protein shake as milk. I won't bore you with my process (because believe me, that would be waaaay too long a post!) but I used a Vanilla Almond Crunch Quest bar with a vanilla protein shake as milk. It. Was. Wonderful. It reminded me of a cereal I had a couple times as a child, I can't remember what it was called but it started with 'Golden' and the logo was a cowboy and a donkey! I love eating healthily, but it was really nice to have a trip down memory lane. I would definitely have that combination again, I love eating healthily and finding healthy alternatives to things. If anyone knows the name of the cereal, please let me know!

And I have just realised, it looks like Cookie Crisp! So much yummier though, I promise. I was hesitant about trying it because I didn't want to 'waste' a Quest bar, but I'm so glad I did. And I will definitely be having again in other combinations.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Naughty Noodler and a Quite Brilliant Quest Breakfast

So. The dish I said I was thinking of for tea tonight didn't happen. It was going to be a pasta dish. But then my julienne peeler arrived yesterday, and I somehow ended up with a spare carrot. I had seen that the julienne peeler can be used as a cheat's spiraliser, and I really wanted a spiraliser! It was only a few pounds so I got it. But I only got about a quarter of a way through the carrot when it broke. I was sad. I did however still make a good dish. I took the time to do it properly rather than a rush wish I usually do.

I sautéed half an onion which I had left over with some curry powder, then added some broken up mushrooms into the pan, and at the last minute some torn spinach. I blanched what little carrot noodles I had and mixed the lot together. I will, however, not give up on my spiraliser quest!

Speaking of quests. I am more than a little bit obssessed with Quest bars. I love all the flavours. I limit myself to one every two days, otherwise I'd go through them waaaaay too quickly. Now. The other day on Instagram I saw a method of making a peanut butter sauce of just mixing hot water with peanut butter. I've done hat several times and topped my breakfasts with it, but then I had another idea. What if I made it really thin, used less milk, and used that mixture to soak the oats for overnight oats? I'm so glad I did. I took one half a spoonful and froze, my thoughts going QUESTBARQUESTBARQUESTBAR. I'd also experimented with mushed up defrosted frozen berries with some chia seeds for jam... Pb and j, one of the best combinations known to man. Peanut butter and jelly, Quest bar, oats. One breakfast. That, my friends is what you call a good dish.

I have been thinking of how to make the other flavours of Quest bars in this kind of way, keeping the base as the peanut butter soaked oats. I sense experimentation is in order...

Monday, 5 May 2014

Pancakes, Chickpeas, Breakfast and Bakes

You know when you just get a sudden wanting for a certain food? Well that was me the evening before yesterday. I wanted pancakes. But healthy ones. So yesterday for lunch I had sweet potato pancakes! I made them with coconut flour and an apart from a pinch of ground ginger an egg and a splash of milk, that was everything. I cooked them more like little Scotch pancakes than crêpes, but I'd like to experiment with a more crêpe like batter in the future!

They were really yummy and satisfying. The texture wasn't as 'pancake like' as I thought it would be, more just like little sweet potato cakes. This isn't a minus point by any means, just an observation! I believe more experimentation is required ;)

As I said in my previous post, I have been at home for a little while until last week. To cut a very long story short, my mum and I were thinking of combinations of fruit and nut to go in yoghurt as a small dessert, or for lunch. I had half an apple that needed using, so the night before last I'd planned to have apple, mango and coconut. Alas, I was too full. I didn't want the apple to waste, so I decided to use the combination in my Bircher muesli today for breakfast. Let me tell you, it was wonderful! Apple and coconut may not be a classic combination, but it certainly worked. And mango and coconut always go well together. This one definitely gets ticked off the list!

If you're wondering, the black dots are chia seeds! They make it thicker and creamier, and help keep you full.

For lunch today I had something that I have been wanting to try for quite a while now- the classic combination of an egg in an avocado baked in the oven. Another success story, that will be repeated. I also had a slice of toast cut into soldiers for dipping, but it isn't strictly necessary. With or without, you have to try this!

Another part of lunch was roasted chickpeas. There are tons of combinations out there on the Internet, but I just rolled mine in cinnamon. They take on a crunchy texture with a kind of nutty taste. Good as a snack or part of a meal. The flavour combinations are many, so take a look around and you'll be sure to find one you like; sweet or savoury, there's bound to be one to suit.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Pilaf Perfection

Hello! I realise that there has been an absence of posts lately. I can explain. I visited home for a few weeks, plus I started placement again a few weeks ago. I say this every time, but I am going to make a concious effort to keep doing posts whilst at home and on placement, because I really do enjoy writing them! And hopefully someone, somewhere, enjoys reading them...

So the posts aren't too long, today I will just tell you about what I made today. And tomorrow, as I am having the same meal for tea, I will tell you about some things I made at home. I have plenty of photos, so lots to choose from! I nearly always take a photo of what I make, with the intention of blogging about it, but it doesn't always happen. However, it does mean that I have a good lot of things to post about whenever there is a gap and I don't have anything to write about. So I may end up talking about things that I made weeks or maybe even months ago, but I don't think it really matters. I have the memory of an elephant, so all should be good.

So, without further ado, the main subject of the post, my tea. As you may well have realised by now, I have a habit of aimlessly flicking through recipe books. A lot. I have decided to stick to my student ones, as I want to do as many of the student recipes as I can while I am actually still a student! I was looking through one the other day, when this recipe caught my eye: broccoli and almond pilaf. I have obviously been past it many times before, but I think it jumped out this time because I was thinking about how much I like broccoli. Yes, I do have some strange thoughts sometimes.

I like pilafs, because I rice cooked this way (in stock) is totally different to how it is cooked in water... it's more 'juicy' somehow. I am a big fan of plain rice and pasta, I just like to try different things. As I said I chose it because I am a broccoli fan, but also because of the fact that is was topped with toasted flaked almonds. I also love nuts, so I think this dish was destined to be a success. I didn't buy the almonds ready toasted, I just got flaked and toasted them myself; the ones I got were 15p cheaper than buying them ready-toasted... hey, every little helps, right?

While eating this, I was also reminded of how much I like mushrooms. I mean, I know I like them, but... you know what I mean. I love that some food can be more than just a meal, it can remind you of memories and experiences, how much you like something, or inspire you to make something new. Speaking of which, I did get an idea for one of my meals next week from this dish- which I PROMISE I will make a post about! ;-)