Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
We must have looked like right winos clanking through the Sainsburys off-licence in Forestside with a trolley full of Vodka, Kahlua, Morgan Spiced and Stella, but when a litre of voddie is £12/less than €14, it's a sin not to take advantage of the bargains! Then it was time to head to Tesco for the beer. As usual, I wandered my way around the store bemoaning the crap stock we are stuck with down here compared to NI Tesco stores... the fruit & veg is much cheaper and the variety is just great - more M&S than Every Little Helps. I located the Reduced To Clear section (my favourite) and got some Finest beef mince and chicken mince for the princely sum of £3. I love this section as it's where I save a bomb and decide on the spot how I'm going to use the cheap meat.
This time, there was only one option... meatballs. I use a mix of beef and turkey mince normally (as it's nigh-on impossible to get chicken mince here) and it cuts the fat content hugely, which helps with my WW efforts. I had picked up some fresh chives & flat parsley in Sainsburys so a recipe was formulating in my teeny tiny brain.
Herby Meatballs in a Tomato & Vegetable Sauce
I started by making the tomato sauce in a large pot... well worth all the chopping. You'll never open a jar of Dolmio again!
2 big onions, roughly chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 aubergine & 1 courgette, diced
Large handful mushrooms, finely sliced
4 cartons chopped tomatoes (390g size)
Saute the onions in some olive oil until translucent & soft. Add the garlic & fry for another 2 minutes. Season with salt & pepper. Add the rest of the vegetables & fry for another 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, taste & re-season if necessary. Bring the sauce to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.
Once you've sauteed the veggies for the tomato sauce, make a start on the meatballs.
75g fresh breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, crushed
400g each beef & chicken mince
1 egg Lea & Perrins
4 mushrooms, finely chopped
Chives & Parsley, finely chopped
1 red onion, very finely diced
Get a large bowl and soak the breadcrumbs in some milk until all the liquid has been absorbed. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. If the mixture is too wet, add some more breadcrumbs.
Heat a large frying pan and add a small amount of olive oil. Fry a teaspoon of the mix to test for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Using a tablespoon, form balls of the mixture and fry until brown on both sides (this quantity makes approx. 33 meatballs). When all the meatballs are browned, add to the tomato sauce, put a lid on the pot and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove the lid and allow the sauce to reduce slightly. Add some more parsley & chives just before serving.
This freezes like a dream... so it's perfect for lazy dinners when all you have to do is cook some pasta, rice or couscous to soak up the gorgeous tomato sauce.
The meatball mixture before cooking
Meatballs & sauce having a little bath together
The finished product
Monday, April 19, 2010
This morning, I wanted to make more muffins but I was getting a bit banana-ed out, so I decided to substitute them for apples. On a whim, I bought a can of apple slices from Tesco the other day and decided they would do the job.
I followed the recipe as usual
1/2 cup sugar
1 can apple slices - mashed
1 egg - lightly beaten
3oz butter - melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix all of these together & add to the following
1.5 cups plain flour - sifted
1 tsp each Bicarbonate of Soda & Baking Powder
1/2 tsp salt
Give it a good mix until everything is well combined & then use an ice cream scoop to fill 12 paper muffin cases (I get mine in Marks & Spencer) in a 12-hole muffin tin. This mix makes exactly 12 muffins.
Bake for 20 minutes at 175/Gas 4 and then cool on a wire rack. They taste the best on the day they're made. And mine are nearly cool enough to scoff... time to put the kettle on!
Friday, April 16, 2010
There is something quite magical about sitting out in the sun, covered from head to toe in Factor 50 to avoid a repetition of Tuesday's sunburn with a huge floppy hat on my head, and singing along with the radio. I have a little technique for this - I turn on Heart FM on the Sky+ box, turn on the surround sound, open the sitting room window and prop one of the speakers on the windowsill. Instant audio entertainment, and they play songs that I can (and do) sing along to.
I dozed off and was woken by The Hubs who decided to skive off early from work, proffering a Brunch. This man knows me well... It's such an artificial icepop, with the gaudy pink crumbs and the sugar crunch, but it does hit the spot. I lay there trying to eat it before it melted, while watching him carrying out the first cutting of the grass. First the strimmer emerged from the shed and neatly edged the grass. Then the new mower came out (the little brother broke the old one... and never replaced it) and made short shrift of the ankle length grass, and finally his favourite toy - the garden vacuum which makes enough noise to raise the dead... and hopefully piss off our charming neighbours!
I think it's time to fire up the BBQ for dinner as a reward for his hard graft today. Chicken kebabs should keep him happy.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Warmer weather means lighter food and with that in mind, I scoured through my semi-well stocked fridge to see what was on offer. Seeing as I'm the only one who fills it, I should have known the answer to this already!
Let me take you through the contents from top to bottom, left to right...
Top Shelf : Dairygold, M and S Tomato Salsa & Sour Cream dip (reduced fat), skinny Philadelphia, sugar free jelly, Muller Lights, Tesco skinny Creme Fraiche, fresh Breadcrumbs & Laughing Cow Deli Light cheese, Boyijan Lemon, Lime & Orange oils
Middle Shelf 1 : homemade Curried Veg soup, Cornichons & Dill Pickles, Guinness (eh, not mine), Tesco Finest Apple Sauce, Aldi Tomato Chutney & real butter
Middle Shelf 2 : homemade Tuna Salad, homemade Coleslaw, Ham, Cheese, Tesco Finest Caesar dressing & Maille Balsalmic dressing
Bottom Shelf : M&S Pears, Courgettes, Vine tomatoes, Cucumber, tail end of a bottle of Pinot Grigio, more Tomatoes
Salad Drawers : Tesco Value salad, M&S Green Beans, M&S Tenderstem Broccoli, Carrots, WW Chocolate Mini Rolls, Romaine Lettuce, Aldi Specially Selected Parmesan, Scallions, Limes, Lemons, Celery, Curly Wurlys
Door : Connaught Gold skinny Butter, Eggs, Capers, Squeezy Branston Pickle, Tesco Garlic and Chili in tubes, Sundried Tomato Puree, Tesco Ingredients Anchovy Puree, Ballymaloe Relish, Aldi Specially Selected Green & Red Pesto, Tomato Puree, Garden Gourmet Mediterranean herb blend tube, Aldi Apple Juice (nicest in the world...), Skinny Milk, Semi-skinny Milk, Skinny Hellmans Mayo
So what fascinating insights do I reveal about myself? Not too much really except
(a) I like food and cooking - and eating
(b) I'm trying to be good in WW hence the skinny versions of loads of stuff. However there are some things i.e. real butter, wine, that will never be compromised upon!
And what did I end up having for my lunch? Flatbread stuffed with coleslaw & tuna salad. It was only gorgeous (well, I made it myself!)
Friday, April 9, 2010
Then I asked if she wanted to come out with me to see her Nuncle in work and then go to the Post Office. This was a gamble as she's very attached to her Mum, especially after being away from her for almost a week. She declined my offer initially, preferring to eat cheese on toast and watch some Disney crap on the telly. Then as I was waving goodbye, I heard a howl of "wait - I want to go tooooooo". So the fluffly haired maggot was sent upstairs to wash her face & get dressed. Down she came, semi-clean face visible, and a pair of bright purple wellies on her feet. No point in even asking, because god knows what answer you'd get. So we waved goodbye to Mum and went off on our Nadventure Day.
First stop was Nuncle's place of work - we rang him en-route as I had a feeling he was on lunch. Lulu roared at him to hurry up as we were coming. When we arrived, she demanded to go up to him in the canteen & was rightly peed off when this request was denied! So, she dragged me around all the tellys on display and then all the DVD's - possibly in the hope that I'd buy her one, but I'm not that soft. We concluded our business with the Hubs and set off down the town to attend to our other business.
I got given out to for parking too far away from the Post Office, the lazy article. So off we set with the promise of a visit to "the shop" when we were finished. I never told her which shop, so as we passed every store on the street, I told her it was that one. She gave me the dirtiest of looks when I started these antics... she gets that from her mother! Eventually she chose the newsagents where I was informed that Peppa Pig was stupid and smelly as she browsed through the mahoosive selection of kids magazines. I was astounded when she picked a packet of Hot & Spicy Monster Munch as her surprise - she's a cheap date, my niece! I was also very impressed by her not dropping or smearing them all over the back of my car so we had a race to see who could eat the crisps fastest on the way home, and I let her win...
Here's to many more Nadventure Days!