So I’m in a perpetual state of hunger but at least the lbs are coming off slowly. Very slowly.
Macaroni Cheese is probably one of my all time favourite meals and it is so easy to make! I add mustard to give it an extra kick…
- 400g macaroni pasta
- 180ml single cream
- 100g half fat crème fraîche
- 1tsp English mustard
- 200g half fat medium cheese, grated
- 4 slices cooked ham, cut in 1cm cubes
- 1tsp olive oil
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 1 pinch salt
Method to the madness
Fill a large saucepan with water. Add a splash of olive oil and bring to the boil. Add the dried macaroni and cook as per packet instructions. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
In a separate pan, add the single cream, English mustard and crème fraîche and slowly melt over a low heat.
Add most of the grated cheese to the cream mixture, reserving some for later, and stir until all the cheese is fully incorporated.
Add the chopped ham to the cream mixture and season with a pinch of salt and black pepper.
Mix the cooked hot macaroni pasta with the cream and ham mixture and place in an ovenproof dish.
Sprinkle some more grated cheese on top and place under a hot grill for 4–6 minutes until a golden crisp surface forms. Gobble up as quick as you can.
So for my birthday Leigh bought me afternoon tea at the Savoy, which was on the London list and one of the things that I really wanted to do when I moved down here.
Although my birthday was a month ago we couldn’t get a reservation until May but we went on a Sunday at 5.30 which I actually think is the perfect time to go to tea!
Everything screams elegance from the second you walk through the door to the polished marble floors, glittering chandeliers and attentive staff.
We were shown to our seats when we arrived, although they were armchairs rather than seats and we were given a menu with 30 different types of tea - I chose Vanilla Black and Leigh had Assam Gold which they bought out to us in beautiful silver pots with silver tea strainers.
Then they bought out the sandwich and cake tiers. 5 different kinds of finger sandwiches - salmon and cream cheese, coronation chicken, cucumber, wiltshire bone ham and mustard and egg mayo. I don’t even like egg mayo but I figured if I’m going to have it anywhere I should have it at the Savoy and it actually wasn’t half bad.
We were allowed to refill the sandwiches as many times as we wanted so we refilled them twice and then had a fruit scone with fresh clotted cream and strawberry jam and a plain scone which I put lemon cream on, they were very good.
When we were eating they started to play Happy Birthday on the piano and they bought me out a special cake for my Birthday which was really sweet :)
We were starting to feel quite full but then the bought out even more cake! 6 different kinds in fact, and they said we could have as many types as we wanted so we both chose 3 different types - I had a strawberry & pistachio tart, a mint macaroon and a peach cake. Leigh had a salted hazelnut cake with gold flakes, a chocolate cake and a strawberry tart as well.
Whilst we were eating the cake they also out more fresh tea and once we had finished the brought out even more cake!
I don’t know how we managed to eat the raspberry and pistachio cake that we picked because by this point I was SO full!
I have to say I felt that I expected the service to be slightly better. Not that they weren’t attentive because they did serve us and they were attentive but there were long periods where nobody came to see us but perhaps that is because we are a couple so they left us alone.
The whole day was really beautiful and the setting was perfect. I would really encourage everyone to do this. I don’t think it was cheap - because its a birthday present I don’t know how much it was but I think it was probably worth every penny.
I don’t know if I will ever be able to eat cake again though, we had so much!
Oh and ps. How amazing is this bathroom!
Yes I’m aware that the above just says ‘Rice’ but I didn’t know what to call this recipe and when in doubt saying it in French always makes it sound good…….
So this is a simple recipe to make and I’m going to be taking it into work for lunch as a welcome change from salad for a while. I’m allowed 50-75g of rice but as I’m just having it as a lunch meal I might take portions of 40g and have some fruit after
I made 2 different types - a fish and a meat but you can add whatever you want and it will work.
So the actual recipe…….
- 300g brown rice
- 1 red pepper
- 1 courgette
- Large handful of spinach
- 5 mushrooms
- Spring onion
- 1 large tomato
- 4 Sausages (meat version - chicken would work too)
- Tin of Anchovies (fish version - I had a tin in my cupboard but you could use any fish)
Method to the madness
So very easy really - boil the rice (remember brown rice takes longer!) Chop up all the veg and chuck it all together in a pan. If you are filling the dish out with meat pop your sausages under the grill. Roughly cut up some spinach and leave to one side.
Cook the vegetables until soft, drain the rice, and mix the 2 together. Chop up the sausages or fish and also stir in. Chuck in the spinach and season with salt and pepper.
See told you it was the easiest recipe I’ve ever posted. It’s very tasty though :) and it looks so colourful as well. I’m really looking forward to having this for lunch tomorrow!
(pink plate - fish option / green plate - meat option)
As a bonus here is a picture of me cooking - just because I thought I looked like I knew what I was doing in my apron….
you can see that I am losing weight slowly……
New York seems like such a long time ago even though it was only a week. I blame the time travelling!
I’ve only ever been to America once when I was 12 and I don’t really remember too much of that so it was going to be a completely new experience. We had a nightmare on the way to the airport, we caught the tube all the way down to Heathrow but about half way down I realised that I had packed the wrong folder with the PDF of the tickets. I think my heart stopped for a full 30 seconds before I snapped out of it and got Leigh to download them on to his phone. Thank God for smart phones! I’m always so prepared but recently I have just been really unsettled and scatty.
Anyway – we finally made it on to the airplane and I settled down to watch 7 hours of Disney because Delta have a Disney channel! I was so happy. We watched Brave, Star Trek (for Leigh) Mirror Mirror and then I watched about 20min of Aladdin. It was brilliant J The flight actually made very good time and we arrived in JFK a full hour ahead of schedule, about 1.30pm US time.
We managed to find our way from the airport and met my friend, Chloe, who we were staying with. She moved over to NY about 9 months ago so it was quite exciting to see her. She finished work whilst Leigh and I sat in a bar and I tried to get my head around tipping bar staff. Restaurants I can understand but really?! You want me to give you $1/2 for putting a drink on a napkin? Chloe met us after she finished work and we went back to her place in New Jersey to drop off the suitcase and get changed before heading out into New York! I’d been told by several people that only tourists look up at the buildings so I was deliberately trying to keep my head down but to no avail, it’s quite impossible. I live in London so I’m not stranger to a tall building but they just tower over you there. We fleetingly passed Times Square before being taken into Dallas BQQ where we ordered giant frozen coconut margaritas and pulled pork burgers…
I am ashamed to admit however that although we had tickets to a free vodka bar we had to go home! I pulled something in my back on the flight over and it kept cramping making it really hard to walk, plus it was about 2am our time back home, so we went back to the flat and I finally got to lie down and hope that my back wasn’t like that the whole time.
Luckily I woke up in the morning and although my back felt really tight I was able to stand up straight and walk in more than a shuffle which was great because we were going to be doing ALOT of walking. We headed over to a place called VAMOS where they served brunch and they had a deal – all you can drink frozen margaritas in 90minutes. We ordered food and got right to it – we managed to polish off 5 and a half, it’s actually very difficult to drink frozen margaritas quickly which I feel may have been the idea.
We went to walk along the Brooklyn Bridge but we were told it was closed so instead we walked along the Williamsburg bridge where we could see the Brooklyn Bridge which was probably better. It was a really lovely day, the sun was shining down which was so welcome after the weather in England the last few weeks. Once we got to Brooklyn we sat on a random sofa we found soaking up some sun before heading into a bar, gate-crashing 2 people’s birthday parties and playing a game of pool. Several people commented on the fact that I had an accent and I was just like ‘so do you!’ – I do like the American accent, it always sounds happy. We stayed at this bar for several hours until the drink needed to be soaked up by something so we went to Mcdonalds (of course!) before heading home feeling ever so slightly tipsy.
So the next day we headed out for lunch at Big Daddy’s Diner and we had the biggest meal in the history of meals. We each had a extremely thick milkshake – mine was banana and caramel and then we had 3 eggs,3 pancakes,2 sausages and tater tots. I couldn’t even finish it – there was just too much food. They really do like their big portions!
After we had eaten we went for a walk around Columbia University which was so typically American, but such a stunning set of buildings. It really was like something straight out of the films. It makes me wonder how different my life would have been if I went to America….
We followed our little foray into American College life by heading over to Central Park. I was really excited about this as it is such an iconic place and it didn’t disappoint. It was filled with cherry blossom trees and bridges and bicycles and well it was quite lovely. We sat in the park for a bit to rest our feet from all the walking and then we headed over to the ‘Friends’ fountain. We walked nearly the whole length of Central Park which I was told would take a long time and it wasn’t really that bad although my feet felt it!
We went for a few beers after that and ended the night with a $1 slice of pizza which tasted quite yummy. I am aware as I’m typing this that we really didn’t seem to do that much but honestly we were just tired, it seemed like we walked the length of New York!
Chloe went to work on the Monday so Leigh and I had to find our own way round. There was a bit of a horrible moment when I realised that we were on the wrong subway and I jumped off but Leigh didn’t in time and I was frantically signalling him when the lovely train driver reopened the doors so he could get off! After that little drama we headed in to what seems like the middle of New York – Times Square. It wasn’t quite as big as I thought but just as bright and bold and loud. We took the obligatory background picture shots and then met Chloe outside the New York public library for lunch before heading over to the Rockefeller Centre so we could see the view. Unfortunately it was the one horrible day of the trip and quite cloudy and foggy so the view wasn’t the best it could have been but you could still see a fair amount and we managed to use the binoculars (someone else’s money hadn’t run out!) so we could even see people on top of the Empire State Building.
We stopped off at Magnolia Bakery and bought 2 cupcakes and ate them in Bryant Park as the weather has cleared up by then which was a relief. I dragged Leigh into Victoria Secret but they don’t have my size and everything is so expensive but I spritzed myself in perfume and contemplated a dressing gown which I did not buy. Instead we went and had a walk around Grand Central which is filled with tourists and actual commuters – you can tell who the tourists are because they try to get as high as possible to take pictures of the golden interior. We met Chloe after she finished work and went to a bar, I’ve realised that I don’t like beer and that I missed cider while I was away. We went to a Five Guys burger place to grab some dinner, you choose how many burgers you want and then add all the toppings. It was so good there was juice dripping out, that’s when you know it’s a good burger! We walked off the burger by walking along the Highline, it’s an old raised railway track that has been turned into a walkway with flowers and benches with views over the streets which is a really clever way of making use of space. We stopped by Target on the way home and I picked up Nerds, Cookie Dough, Recees brownies, maple syrup and some cheap nailvarnish. I wish I lived near a Target!
We woke up on our last day and headed towards the Statue of Liberty. I tried to find Carrie’s steps (SATC) but we couldn’t see them anywhere which made me sad, but then we went to IHOP and although I didn’t get pancakes I did have a really good Philly Steak Sandwich which kind of made up for it. Thankfully the sun was out on Tuesday so we had a really nice sunny stroll down to Ground Zero where we stayed for a little while taking in the fountains and the memorial. They have turned something really tragic into something quite lovely, there were even ducks floating around in the waterfall pool.
We walked down to the harbour then and caught the free Staten Island ferry which passes Miss Liberty, as Sandy had destroyed the island she stands on so nobody can go there for a few months. But we managed to get good seats outside and the zoom on my camera was good enough that I could see her. It took us an hr in total so get there and back which meant we had just enough time to grab a pretzel and a hot dog (just to say that I had) before we rushed off to meet Chloe to grab our suitcase and head back to the UK!
It really was a whirlwind tour, I don’t think that we stopped at all which was brilliant because it meant that I didn’t put on any burger weight and I think that we managed to get everything that we wanted to do in a really short amount of time. There were aspects I liked (the food) and things I found a bit anal (the tipping) but New York was def an experience. I really do think that the next holiday we take is a beach holiday though, I think after Europe and now this Leigh and I really just need some time off!
- 85g finely chopped onion
- 85g finely chopped pepper
- 75g Baking flour
- 75g wholemeal flour
- 1 egg
- 2tsp red pesto
- 100ml milk
- 75g feta
- 2tsp mixed herbs
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp baking power
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 pieces of bacon
Method to the Madness
Preheat the oven to 200c or Gas mark 7.
In a pan, heat some oil and then add the onion and pepper until cook until just soft. Transfer to bowl. Chop up your bacon and use this pan to quickly fry off the bits – saves on washing up!
Next whisk both the baking and whole-wheat flour together, along with the baking powder, mixed herbs, salt and sugar.
Take your onion bowl and stir the milk, crumbled feta, egg and pesto in – only add the bacon at this stage if you want them all to be meaty. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together. Set out your 12 muffin cases and spoon the mixture into the cases. I did half vegetable and then added my bacon to the remaining mixture before dividing it out between the last 6 cases.
Pop in the oven. Now I’ve been having trouble with my oven having just moved from a gas to an electric and I’m still trying to sort out my timings. I left them in for half an hr but they didn’t seem cooked so I left them in for 45min in the end and they had gone a bit brown (black) on top. I’d say 35min and check on them.
They still tasted delicious though and at 80 odd calories a muffin they make for a healthy, low calorie afternoon snack.
Had my weigh in today and I have stayed at a constant. I hate it when this starts to happen, it’s normally about when I get really disillusioned with the whole thing but thank goodness for my lovely ‘diet’ coach who I can’t let down and who isn’t letting me down.
Her words of encouragement are helping immensely and even when I feel like having a bad day she reminds me that it will all be worth it in the end. I think that’s what I’ve always lacked.
Just need to keep what I’m doing and try and get over the idea that it’s all just going to happen overnight.
Going to be attempting to make low calorie ‘pizza’ muffins tomorrow so will post the recipe on here for you all to try :)
• 2 tsp olive oil
• 2 medium leeks , thinly sliced
• 200g chestnut mushrooms , sliced
• 2 garlic cloves , crushed
• 300g wholewheat spaghetti
• 140g low-fat soft cheese (I used Philadelphia Light)
• 85g wafer-thin smoked ham , shredded
Method to the madness
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Chop the leeks then chuck in the saucepan along with 2 tbsp water and some seasoning, Cook for 5 mins over a medium heat until softened. Add the mushrooms and garlic, then cook for 3 more mins. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to pack instructions, then drain, reserving a little of the cooking liquid. I used wholemeal spaghetti which took a little longer to cook so keep this in mind.
Stir the soft cheese into the leek and mushroom mixture, adding enough of the reserved pasta liquid to give a sauce-like consistency. Add the ham, then toss in the spaghetti. I then seasoned with pepper once plated up.
This dish was so good Leigh asked if there was more!
2 lb (1 kg) red cabbage
1 lb (450 g) cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped small
1 lb (450 g) onions, chopped small
1 clove garlic, chopped very small
¼ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ level teaspoon ground cloves
3 level tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons wine vinegar
½ oz (15 g) butter
Salt and black pepper
Method to the madness
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 2, 300°F (150°C).
First get rid of the outer leaves of the cabbage, cut it into quarters and remove the hard stalk. Then shred the rest of the cabbage finely, using your sharpest knife or food processor if you are feeling lazy. Then de-core and peel the cooking apples and chop the onion up.
Next in a large casserole, arrange a layer of shredded cabbage seasoned with salt and pepper, then a layer of chopped onions and apples with a sprinkling of garlic, spices and sugar. Continue with these alternate layers until everything is in. Now pour in the wine vinegar and lastly add dots of butter on the top.
Put a lid on the casserole and let it cook in the oven for 2-2½ hours, stirring everything around once or twice during the cooking. This seems to take forever but it is worth it! It will come out in a lovely smelling purple dish.
You can also freeze this so I’ve put portions into bags to defrost when I need them.
So my friend at work is doing a dietary/fitness course and needs to hand in some coursework. For this she needs to create a case study. I’ve been thinking for a while now that I really need to start making some proper changes to my diet and not things that I stick to for a few weeks, plus I want her case study to look good so I have motivation for someone else as well as myself.
I had to keep a food diary for a week and even as I was doing it I could see the problem areas within my diet, too much sugar and too many carbs, plus portion sizes. She returned the diary to me with comments pretty much the same as above and told me that I should start eating whole wheat pasta and rice and measuring my portions.
This will be my third week of keeping a food diary and its looking a lot better already. I am eating from a smaller plate and measuring my food so I know what my calorie intake is. I have also made the switch to whole wheat. I don’t mind the pasta but I’m still unsure on the rice. Sugar is still quite a big problem for me, I like to finish a meal with something sweet but I have been trying to have yoghurt or a couple of figs.
In a couple of weeks time she has said that we will review again to see what else can be changed so my body doesn’t get used to it.
It seems to be working so far though, in 2 weeks I have lost 6lbs just by making a few changes so hopefully it will continue to drop off.
If I keep filling my plate with veg. and keep weighing my cheese I’m sure I will start to see results. I’ve given myself a treat day as well so I don’t feel like I am depriving myself – although what with it being my Birthday the weekend just gone was definitely a treat weekend….
I have my weekly weigh-in in 2 days so fingers crossed that at least a pound has come off because that will be half a stone then :)
Just need to get back on the exercise motivation track now.
I am so ready for Christmas day! We are going to Leigh’s parents this year, so although I wont be with my family I still have such a lovely time.
We have hired a car this year which will make the journey to Bath so much easier, we have to really because of Pumpkin as well, she will be driving home for Christmas with us :) Leigh hasnt driven a car in about a year and a half so he is quite excited about it. We will be travelling down to my parents on Boxing Day, staying for a couple of days before driving back to London for New Year.
I have done all my present buying and wrapping apart from a couple of things which I need to go and get tomorrow! I had to wait until payday but I cant think of anything worse than going to Westfields on Christmas Eve Eve.
I can’t believe it is only 2 days away! December has gone so quickly, but I can’t wait to start tucking into pigs in blankets and supping on some mulled wine :)
I do love Christmas! xxx
1kg (2lb) braising beef, trimmed and cut into chunks, 200g (7oz) chorizo, cut into chunks, 1 onion, peeled and cut into wedges, 3 cloves garlic, crushed, pinch crushed dried chilli, 250ml (8 fl oz) red wine, 500ml beef stock, 1 small bay leaf, 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 300g (10oz) diced butternut squash, 1tbsp butter, softened, 1tbsp plain flour, plus extra for rolling out, 500g (1lb) puff pastry, 1 egg, beaten
Heat the oil in a large pan. Season the beef and brown in batches then add the chorizo and brown. Set aside on a plate.
Add the onions, cook for a few minutes, then add the garlic and chilli and cook for a minute. Return the meat to the pan and pour in the red wine. Simmer for a minute then add the stock, bay leaf, butternut squash and tin of tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for an hour.
Take off the heat and fish out the bay leaf.
In a small pan, melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Stir into the main dish until the sauce thickens, then pour the filling into a pie dish.
Preheat the oven to gas 5, 190˚C, fan 170˚C. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface, so that it’s slightly larger than the pie dish. Brush the rim with water and top with the pastry lid. Press down to seal. Brush with beaten egg and cut a steam vent in the top.
Place on a baking tray and cook for about 40 minutes, until puffed and golden.
For the Couscous
180g couscous, 350ml boiling water, 1tbsp olive oil
For the chicken/chorizo
2tbsp olive oil, 2 chicken breasts, 4 chorizo sausages, 1 onion, peeled and sliced, 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, 1tsp ground cinnamon, ½tsp ground cumin, ½tsp chilli powder, 50g raisins, juice of ½ lemon, 150ml water
Put the couscous in a large bowl and pour in the boiling water and olive oil. Cover the bowl tightly with clingfilm and leave to stand for five minutes. Fork through and set aside.
Next heat the olive oil in a pan and add the chicken. Sauté until golden in patches. Whilst the chicken is cooking, cook the sausages off in the oven. Add the sliced onion and garlic and fry until golden.Chop the sausages and add to the pan along with the spices and stir to coat the mixture thoroughly, then add the raisins.
Pour over the lemon juice and water and leave to simmer for five to ten minutes until you are left with a couple of tablespoons of water at the bottom. Combine the couscous and chicken mixture in a large serving bowl. Season and serve.
I’ve doubled up so I can take it to work all next week, its bloody lush!