Saturday, 1 October 2011

An Organised October with an End of Summer Orzo

I love Autumn - not only does it mean I can indulge in new fashions....hello mustard! But I also use it to try something new; whether eats, exercise or even just a new lip gloss.

This October, I'm trying to clean up spending habits.  Since I've moved back home with my parents after my breakup, I've found myself fluttering money away on pointless things that I don't really need. Or treating friends one to many times.  It's easy done....the Soy Vanilla Latte on the way to work, or the two mags I buy a week when I can read the same things online anyway.  Before you know it, money spent and not much to show for it.

I'm using this 'living at home' to be a little more frugal with money; not only will this enable me to save money for my own place, I can also live more economically and greener and introduce my family to a new way of living.

Laura has set up The Big Budget Challenge & I'm using this as a great way to get kick started.

The guidelines I'll be following are pretty similar to Laura's, but as I live with my parents, the vast majority of grocery shopping is done by them, however once a week I do my own grocery shop to cater for additional ingredients (or Nak'd bars :) ) I require.  I tend to go a bit overboard and end up with a cupboard full of items I forget I've got.

So basically, I'm going to stick to an allowance of £10 per week for additional groceries but prior to this, I'm going to make a vain attempt to use up the items in my cupboard I already have and only replenish staples - see what interesting recipes I can come up with.

I have summarized a few things I'll also be doing in relation to The Big Budget Challenge, but also a few things that are a little more personal to me - making for One Organised October.

We're experiencing a gorgeous Indian Summer, temperatures reached 29degrees yesterday, it was gorgeous.

Even more gorgeous, was this:

End of Summer Orzo Salad

Serves Two

100g Orzo cooked to packet instructions
1/2 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
4 wild tomatoes, chopped
Handful of Sweetcorn
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1.5 tbsp Rico Mexican Kitchen Extra Hot Chipotle Salsa
Handful ripped basil
Handful Alfalfa Sprouts

Cook orzo to packet instructions and drain.
Heat oil in a pan over a medium heat, add peppers and cook for 2 minutes.  Add garlic, sweetcorn and tomatoes.  Cook long enough for tomatoes to begin breaking down but not mushy.
Add orzo to pan and mix, stir in salsa and continue to heat through for a minute or so.
Remove from heat and stir in basil and sprouts.
Delicious warm or cold.

Question: Do you find making lists/goals helps achieve more, or do you prefer to 'go with the flow' ?

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Garlic & Herb Dough Balls (gluten free version)

Two words....Pizza Express.  Then another two.... Dough Balls.

Heaven in my mouth.

I decided to try and re-create my own version, using the remainder of my Bob's Red Mill gluten free flour.

Garlic & Herb Dough Balls

makes approx. 30 balls dependent on size

450g/4 cups flour  - I used Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free
1tsp easy dried yeast
1tsp sea salt
1tsp dried parsley
1tsp dried oregano
1tsp garlic flakes (powder would work too)
Pinch chilli flakes
1.5tbsp xanthan gum (eliminate if not using gluten free flour)
1tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
enough warm water to make a firm dough

Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Sift flour into mixing bowl, stir in yeast, dried herbs and salt.  Make a well in the centre.
Add oil and enough warm water to make a firm dough.
Tip dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. As this is gluten free flour, the texture is slightly different to that of traditional bread flour.
Rub some oil onto the ball of dough, transfer to clean bowl, cover and leave for about an hour - again as it's gluten free flour, you won't see the same rise as traditional dough.  However, it is best to leave it to rest for the same time.
Divide dough into balls and line on parchment paper on a baking tray.
Place in the centre of the oven and bake for approx. 15-20 minutes.

Serve warm with a garlic dip, salsa or hummus.

The herbs and garlic were delicious, but you could adapt to suit taste.  I think next time I'll add some more chilli flakes for a bit of a kick.

I'm hoping to make a trip to London this week whilst I'm off work and hit up Whole Foods.  I can't wait to go. Rachel from Rachel's Delicious Journey went not so long ago, taking some fabulous pictures whilst she was there.  I'm dying to try a smoothie and hopefully pick up some new goodies too, including make-your-own nut butter!

Nut butter heaven.

Tomorrow I have a gorgeous End of Summer Orzo recipe.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Curried Three Bean Stew

When I say three beans, what I actually mean is leftover chickpeas, kidney beans and lentils after re-hydrating and cooking them for other dishes.

In our house, we're trying to be more 'green' and keep wastage to a minimum so rather than let these wonderful ingredients go to waste, I did a bit of a 'throw it all in a pot and hope for the best' kind of thing....

Turned out pretty darn good too.

Curried Three Bean Stew

Ingredients are as specific as can be as it was kind of a stab in the dark and all pulses/legumes were already cooked as they were previously dried.

Serves 3-4ish

300g chickpeas (equal to around one can I'd say)
75g brown lentils
250g kidney beans
100g spinach, frozen
1 vegetable stock cube
2 cloves of garlic, left whole but crushed slightly
1 red chilli, sliced in half
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
5 cardamom pods
1tbsp tomato puree
1tsp garam masala
1/2tsp cumin, ground
1/2tsp coriander, ground
pinch fennel seeds
salt and pepper

Place all ingredients into a large pan or slow cooker, pour in enough boiling water to cover ingredients and to give you enough broth.
Cook on slow (or very gentle simmer) for about 6 hours.
Before serving, remove garlic, chilli, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and cardamom pods.

Enjoy, then mop up the juices with a nice chunk of fresh bread.

I have a week off from work next week (hurrah) so I'll be indulging in some cooking, taking some nice walks, actually cleaning my car instead of talking about it and hopefully doing a spot of studying too.  If the weather's nice, I may have a venture to London and do a bit of shopping too.
Time for a cuppa I think now.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Gluten Free Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies with Spiced Chocolate Glaze

At my local Waitrose (where I only go when I need an ingredient Asda won't stock) I spotted some Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking flour.  I've tried previous gluten free flours without much success so I decided to give this one a whirl.  Plus it's rare you get American brands in the UK without having to order online.

I've never been much of a baker, but I love eating baked goods.

Especially brownies.

And these are no exception.  But the best part about it is I made them myself.

And they tasted good....for a change.

Gluten Free Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies with Spiced Chocolate Glaze

adapted from Noelle @ Singers Kitchen

Makes approx. 12 servings

1 cup (~125g) GF flour (I used Bob's Red Mill GF All Purpose)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
3 tbsp nut butter of choice (I used almond)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
100ml maple syrup
1 tbsp light tasting oil (I used coconut)
60g chocolate chips
60g dark chocolate squares

Preheat oven to 180degrees and lightly grease a sandwich tin.
Melt chocolate, nut butter and (if using) coconut oil either in a microwave or in a bowl over hot water.
In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together.  Then, add in all remaining ingredients (except for chocolate chips) and mix well.
Fold in chocolate chips then pour mixture into tin and bake in the oven for 30 mins

Spiced Chocolate Glaze

65g icing sugar
20g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp water

Mix together well until glaze coats the back of a spoon.

Drizzle generously over brownies and indulge.

I can't wait for my second third helping.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Goat Cheese and Rocket Omelet

So last night I was watching Titanic for about the hundredth time (it was on TV and there was nothing else on) and I discovered that I could recite it almost word for word.  I think it must have been something to do with the fact I had a major crush on Leo circa 1998 and would watch Titanic every. single. night just for the scene on the stairs where he 'brushes up well'.  Slicked back hair - yum.

Anyway, once that scene had passed, I no longer wanted to sit through another 2 hours of Jack! Rose! Jack! Rose!

So I made an omelet.

Goat Cheese and Rocket Omelet

3 organic eggs
1/2 white potato, cubed
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped                                            
50ml milk of choice (I used skimmed)
1tbsp olive oil, (I used extra virgin)
75g goat cheese
handful rocket (arugula)
salt & pepper

Heat oil in a heavy based pan.  Add potato and cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add onion and garlic and further cook for 10 mins or until potato soft.  Stir regularly.
Beat eggs and milk and season with salt and pepper.  Pre-heat grill to a medium heat. 
Pour egg mixture into pan covering potato, onion and garlic.  Cook for 5 minutes until edges look firm.
Add rocket and goats cheese and place pan under the grill for a few minutes until cheese has melted and the egg mixture has set.
Cut into wedges and serve with salsa verde.

I think it's time for brunch now.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Beauty of Cornwall

British Summer is hit and miss - it's either a complete washout or it's scorching.  Back in April, we experienced a mini heatwave and I decided to make the most of it and head down to Newquay for the weekend.

After a nice four hour drive we arrived at the B&B, unpacked and headed straight for the beach.

I love talking walks on the beach and finding more quiet and secluded spots of beauty - perfect photo opportunities.  There's something so peaceful about the sound of waves crashing on the beach, the occasional seagull crying and the distant hum of the crowds.

Walking takes you to unknown places and we discovered a fairly uncrowded beauty spot to take some stunning pictures.

Who knew such beauty was right on my door step?

Monday, 19 September 2011

Ooh La La...Paris!

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to travel to Paris for a long weekend.  It was a magical weekend & I was lucky to share the trip with a friend.

I stayed at the Hotel Waldorf Arc de Triomphe and it was in such a great location, literally a two minute walk from the Arc de Triomphe itself.

It was a windy day.

After getting a little lost on the second day through the streets; we came across a fabulous food market selling everything from pastries to vegetables to fish.  My favourite picture of the day...

It was gorgeous to walk along the River Seine and as we neared the Eiffel Tower, I was blown away.  I literally stood in this position for ten minutes...

Paris truly is a mesmerising place and I feel so fortunate to have spent time there - not as long as I'd hoped but long enough to take in some of the magic and charisma that keeps people going back.  And I too plan to go back there; but I wont be going back for a 50euro cocktail....

They say Paris is the city of love - and it is, I fell in love too.