Spoonful of Sugar

Monday, 31 January 2011

Instant not very beautiful pudding

In the spirit of using things up - instant pudding...
Take one meringue nest. Squash it. Not too much
Mix together mostly-still-frozen berries and low fat natural yoghurt (or something nicer if you're not still bound by point counting..)
Find pretty sundae glass or similar
Splodge in dollop of yoghurty berries
Springle on half of smushed meringue
Dribble about a tablespoon of lemon curd
Plonk on the last half of the meringue
Plop on the last big of the yoghurty berries
If you have the inclination, plonk a bit of mint on top to make it look beautiful. I didn't.

What's cooking? - tonight!

Shredded chicken, peas, leeks, bacon.
All the cidery chickeny juices reduced down with a couple of tablespoons of creme fraiche added at the end. Pasta.
Sat upon a bed of baby spinach.

What's cooking?

For reasons I'm not going to go into as they'd put you off your food (lets just say it was one of the downsides to being a parent or pet owner..) I'm in need of five minutes with a glass of wine and some deep breathing so I thought I'd blog some of yesterdays food..
I baked some flapjacks in the afternoon. Fail. I went back to an old Delia recipe when in recent times I've used a fab Jamie Oliver one that he created for Red Nose Day a few years ago. BIG mistake. Will not be using Delia's flapjacks again *mental note to self*  They're edible, but they're crumbly and stuck to the tin. Lots of faff.
Bad flapjacks and associated crumbs scraped from tin!

Pudding in the evening was also technically a disaster - I was vaguely suspcious when Gordon Ramsey told me to whip creme fraiche until it was stiff but I kept the faith and then it didn't work. Ho Hum. Tasted alright and it all goes down the same way huh..  The meringues were still ace though.
Frozen Raspberries (and the odd cheeky blackberry) from last years crop in the garden

Main course was delish though - Nigella's Spring Chicken. Chicken thighs cooked in cider with leek, peas and bacon with lettuce wilted into it at the last minute and lots of tarragon. Yum.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Yo Yo Dieting

Ok, so bear with me because I might be a bit squiffy, but I blame the weight watchers.. it makes me a bit lightweight when I insist on drinking such a large quantity of points...
Anyway. I wrote a comment on a facebook status about how yoyo dieting was the way forward and actually I believe that to be the case, because I mean it in a long term sense. I might do my normal thing for a while and then have a severe couple of weeks to cut back but more importantly reign myself (rein myself?) in a bit. The problem is though that I adore food, in all its forms, so a "healthy lifestyle" is not for me. All things in moderation, that's my motto. Some weeks that may work out. Sometimes it might take a couple of months to average "moderate"
Life is too short to not experience all the wonderful food that we are blessed with..

What's cooking?

Not a lot today - I recycled some chilli from the freezers and made enchiladas which were nice. Added a layer or two of tomato and veg sauce to lower the points whilst filling me up!
I made some meringues earlier which we can have tomorrow for pudding with a creme fraiche/yoghurt/raspberry filling

Thursday, 27 January 2011

What's cooking?

For the kids? Nowt!
No not me getting all hard all of a sudden and actually starving them. They sat through me having my hair cut (whilst eating crisps, Go Ahead biccies and yoghurt covered fruit flake thingies) so got McD on the way home.
I however have just finished eating this
and I can't move. Fingers crossed Mr Tesco doesn't turn up for half an hour..
(Mine changed from the recipe a bit in that I put peas in it too, and I used potato, carrot and swede on the top without milk and butter mixed in - a nod to WW)

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Nigella's Crustless Pizza - Kitchen

I made this for the kids this evening and they both did quite well on it, but still left crusts!! I must cover them next time..
Make batter and add grated cheese

After cooking for 30 mins, top with pepperoni (for Amy, none for Jack)

and the rest of the grated cheese

Put back in the oven for another 3 mins..

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Get out of my kitchen!!

I'm an antisocial little thing when it comes to cooking. It's mostly because I'm a rubbish, disorganised, messy cook and have to hide away from people and do things in my own order and my own time. That means I always scorn offers of help when people are here, and generally means I prefer them not to lurk and talk to me. Although that isn't the whole story.
The biggest problems is the kitchen itself. People often walk in and say "ooh what a lovely big kitchen" but it's an odd kitchen design. There's lots of floor space but not enough work top, and there's not enough room to put a table or a breakfast bar or an island or anything useful.
A fairly large kitchen should mean that people can still chat to you whilst you cook but it doesn't.
I've observed two things about people and their nature. One is they need to be grounded.. most people like to have a surface to stand against, to rest on, to put their drink on. The other is they don't like talking to your back. This means they stand in my "cooking zone" rather than at the empty end of the room and I have to "excuse me, no, sorry, Oops, sorry, can I move you the other way" that they get the impression that you don't want them there. That's generally not the case.

We have a dining room that backs on to the kitchen and we have cardboard walls as we live in a new home by a rubbish builder that shall remain nameless... that's for an entirely different blog.
As a result, we could knock through - it would mean building another wall to block off the stairs for fire regs, sorting out floors which would all need replacing, decorating, some electrics moving, cupboards moving and buying, radiators moving, finding a new home for a million pairs of shoes and the hoover.. all that sort of thing. Enough to make it a project that needs serious consideration (and cash)
I change my mind about it regularly.

Reasons for knocking it through -
  1. I could get an island or pull the dining table through a bit so it would be extra working space.. 
  2. The kids could do their homework on the table whilst I cook and am on hand to help (every mother's fantasy huh?!)
  3. It would feel more spacious
  4. People could sit (out of my way) and chat to me whilst I pootled about in there
  5. I couldn't be accused of hiding in the kitchen all the time

Reasons not to -
  1. The obvious ££
  2. When we have guests they'd see the BOMBSITE that the kitchen is when I've dished up and it would be staring me out the whole time I ate.
  3. Separating the dog and cat when we're out of the house whilst letting the cat get outside if she needed to would get complicated..
  4. I wouldn't be able to hide in the kitchen any more.

Swedish Meatballs

Amy has been asking to do more cooking with me and she was bought a book for Christmas for kids recipes so I planned in to make Swedish Meatballs tonight. Now neither of the kids will eat the cream sauce so we didn't bother with that but we'll have that with ours later.
As I will get to blogging about later, I'm not great at cooking with other people in the room so cooking with the kids is a strain. Must find a shop that sells patience in bottles...
To make it easier I prepped everything in advance and let them put it together and make the meatballs on the dining table.

Amy ate 3. Jack had a taste and declared he didn't like it.

Monday, 24 January 2011

What's cooking?

This evening I made some brownies as a gift. Not sure if they're going to be a bit tooooooo squidgy yet. We'll see when they're cooler and I can cut them.
I also made Hummingbird Bakery Oat and Raisin cookies. Odd ones. They didn't do what I was expecting although I'm sure they're ok. I'll have to try them again some time.
For dinner we had leftover roast chicken to use up so I had a look on the BBCGoodFood website. Getting distracted for a moment, I LOVE this site. I get the magazine subscription as a b'day gift from  my Granny and have done for I don't know how many years. The website I visit every day though. Much as I love recipe books, this site is probably the main source of recipes for the food we eat in this house. 
Back to dinner. We had Tasty Chicken Noodles which was fab, and only 8 points on WW! Brilliant..
Stir fry peppers, mushrooms, spring onions and garlic

Add chicken, ground coriander, chilli powder, broccoli & peas

Add a mix of cornflour, fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar, allow to thicken, then mix in cooked noodles

For pud I needed to use up a carton of low fat custard that we started yesterday. I had a quick look at the great little ideas site and decided on Baked Apple Custard. I threw in some slightly soft blueberries that were on the way out as well. It wasn't the best looking dessert ever... it certainly didn't brulee on the top even after a spell under the grill, and it was a bit curdled when you got into it, however, it tasted ok, so not a total fail!

The problem with Food Porn

I often end up in quite a quandry as to what I want to cook. In my world there are 4 factors I have to consider..

1. Are the kids likely to eat it or am I just cooking it for grown ups?
2. Is it going to be expensive?
3. Is it really bad for you?
4. Is it worth cooking something fabulous, just because??

There are so many lovely things to cook, but often they don't fit in with trying to be healthy, or they will cost a fortune, or there's no way the kids will eat it, but we ought to be eating as a family as we haven't all week. I also struggle to buy expensive bits to make an amazing dish when there's no occasion, or no visitors.
But I love to cook. And I want to try new recipes.. But then I have to stop because of one of the above factors getting in the way.

I meal plan religiously, partly to be organised, but often because it means if I see something brilliant I want to make, I can plan it in, no matter how far ahead, so that I don't forget about it. Often things get bumped when I get nearer the time for one reason and another, but I try to stick to my best intentions so that I make sure I can make new things. I'm finding more and more though that I don't even get opportunity to cook the special stuff when we do have visitors. Either because it does mean the kids are eating with us and they won't try something new or because I get told off by both my other half and my visitors for spending the whole time in the kitchen. Fancy cooking seems to become a distant memory the older and more entrenched in family life and finances I get. I look forward to the day I can really love to cook again.

Carrot muffins - recipe

Here's the recipe for yesterday's muffins.
It's Weight Watchers that I messed with a bit:

250g self raising flour (that's what the recipe said although I'm sure I used plain as that's what you normally put in muffins)
2tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarb
1/2 tsp salt
110g light muscavado sugar
2 eggs
175ml milk
50g margarine (USE BUTTER IF NOT DIETING!) melted and cooled
225g grated carrot
50g raisins
zest of an orange
1/2 tsp mixed spice

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5/190°C/fan oven 170°C. Line a 12 hole bun tin with paper bun cases.
Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, orange zest, milk and melted margarine together. Stir in the grated carrots and raisins. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together until just combined.
Spoon the mixture into the bun cases (they will be quite full). Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until risen and firm. Cool on a wire rack.

They could be iced with a cream cheese frosting to improve them! 

Crikey, an audience..

Oh the pressure of having an audience to write for.
Granted, I write my facebook statuses with an audience in mind (wonder if Facebook could get me all of them since I started - I could publish a book...) but this feels more like writing with the intention of it being read. Not just capturing the moment.

We were once going to move to New York. Most people who know me know the story, and as I wouldn't have got a work permit, I had this lovely vision that I'd sit in my apartment looking out of the window writing like Carrie Bradshaw. I don't know where that came from because were you to find an English teacher from my school days you'd learn I lacked imagination..

Anyway. Thought I'd wiffle as I had no photos to show, or nothing deliberate to write about.

And I had Leek and Potato soup made with very funny coloured chicken stock as I threw half a red onion in when I made it. Was good soup tho.
School run beckons and I'm debating being a lovely mummy and making cookies with the kids when we get home. Oh, there's two new posts right there.. One about cookies, one about it being MY kitchen and my dislike of sharing my space..

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Carrot muffins

They're weight watchers but they're not bad...
I scorned their addition of vanilla essence in favour of a smidge of mixed spice and some orange zest..
Flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb, mixed spice

Carrot, egg, milk, melted marg (YUCK - normally that would read butter), raisins, orange zest..

One day I'll buy an ice cream scoop so I don't make a mess...


What's cooking?

It hasn't been overly exciting this week as it's been the bedding in to Weight Watchers week. It should get better.. when I don't feel the need to blow 18 points on a bottle of wine because I've been feeling deprived!
This however was delicious - runner bean, bacon, mushroom, brocolli and leek pasta with a splodge of creme fraiche and a dollop of pesto, followed by fruit and yoghurt.
I tend to have soup for lunch and this was a bit of a success, an Oriental stir fry pack with a bit of added garlic, ginger and chilli and some chicken stock - 0 points and it made 3 lunches!
Note the dumb Cravendale bowl.. despite the characters inside it, I love it, it's just the right size and shape. Well. Sometimes. I'm almost as picky with bowls as I am with mugs. It has to be the right one for that particular moment.

Food Porn

I love recipe books. They are total food porn to me. This is my "in use/current faves/standby" collection in the kitchen. The rest are stashed in the living room behind the door. 
The problem is there's only so many days in the year and only so many special occasions I can justify cooking something that requires extra ingredients, or an expensive piece of meat, or something that can only possibly serve 8.. So many recipes, so little time.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


I think that might be an apt title for what isn't going to be a very structured post.

I've started back on Weight Watchers. This shouldn't make the foodie bit toooooo boring to read as I do try hard to keep it interesting so I don't give up. It also shouldn't be for too long. Really, the plan is to stop eating the kids' tea, stop eating lots of stodge whilst cooking the kids' tea, stop eating chocolate at work, exercise a bit more, and eat more fruit and veg. All things I should be able to do on my own, but my nature is weak unless it's told what to do. Give me a plan and I'll stick to it. If "computer says no" then no it is.

I don't need to lose much so a couple of weeks and a bit of maintaining and I hope to be there, without so many bad habits.

Food-wise then, not so much baking for a while. Dammit. Although those squashed fly biccies are only 2 points which is a bonus! Lots of soup though. At the moment I have carrot and cumin on the go - 0 point, nice and thick and filling. Dinner last night was veggie risotto with a good dollop of grated parmesan stirred through.

Tonight however I took the easy option. In more ways than one. The kids had a not very healthy snack after school, and not very healthy tea which meant not a lot of fuss for me..

I made it look pretty though which was obviously just to ease my guilt.

Some friends believe I'm some kind of masterchef and I don't think they know how wrong they are. I just like pootling in my kitchen.
Our dinner tonight was a whoopsied chicken breast in a sauce type bung in the oven thingy with a load of veg. Oh, and then I stuck some apples in the intellichef to bake, but got distracted halfway through doing it and forgot to score them so they exploded. Oops. Looked a state but tasted great.
Sums up a lot of my cooking..

Sunday, 16 January 2011

It's a conspiracy!

We had a kids party to go to today from 11-1 so I got up early and prepped lunch to go in the oven on the timer.. pot roast lamb & potato gratin, and put veg in the intellichef to get steamed when I got back. Steve got back from some shopping with Amy 10 minutes before I did and rang me to say all the electric had tripped so dinner wasn't cooked at all. Arse.
I stuck it on when I got in and took the dog for a long(ish) walk and then when I got back I realised I'd forgetten to do pastry for pudding. Double arse. We had crumble instead of pie.

It was delish tho, and I now can't move - sign of a good Sunday Lunch.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

What's cooking?

I was going to write something meaningful tonight, but I'm tired so am not sure the words would come right. Instead I'll just post some pics..
Nigella's Brownie Bowls - before I tried to turn them out!

They turned out! Woop Woop!!

AG making Chicken Escalopes for tea

The beginnings of toffee sauce

Squashed Fly biscuits

Brownie Bowls with Ice cream and toffee sauce
Am feeling very full :)

Friday, 14 January 2011

A brief interlude

I'll start this with a pic which is entirely unrelated to the rest of the post..
Aren't they cute? It's a bus made out of a big box that was lurking about waiting to get thrown out. Found that earlier when looking for the sweet n sour pics.
I digress

I thought that I ought, for those who know me, try and explain why I'm Kate on here, rather than Kath, or Kathryn as most other people know me.

However now I come to write it, I'm not entirely sure I can explain. I'm a bit schizophrenic about my name. Certain people get away with calling me different names (insert joke here..) and if the wrong name comes from the wrong voice it sounds odd. I introduce myself as Kate or Kath in different circumstances. Don't know why. It's instinctive.

Only one person gets away with Katie. Actually, two. I think my mum could still use that without me cringing.
Nobody, but nobody calls me Kathy!

To Takeaway, or not to Takeaway

I got offered champagne (which has been in the fridge over a year) and takeaway as a Friday night shake-me-out-of-my-slump treat yesterday. I debated it for a minute, then as I'd already bought ingredients I decided to run with it and cook what I had planned. Clearly I didn't turn down the fizz tho... hic
So, dinner was from the Hairy Bikers Mums Know Best book. Boy, they do know best, but they also know stodge, so I rarely cook from it consistently, just dip in here and there.
I'd gone for Sweet and Sour Pork. I rarely order this from the Chinese as I find the pork is often really tough and horrid so mostly go for the chicken version.. but I do try to have faith in recipe books so thought I'd give it a try.
It was deeeeeeeeeelish.. a touch too vinegary perhaps but I suspect I didn't quite cook the sauce out long enough. Anyway. Other Half said that he thought it was fab, way better than takeaway and "Real Food".

Rice cooking in intellichef

Pork frying in wok
(Mucky looking oil due to cornflour coating..)

Veg - stir frying to go with..

Sauce cooking

Finished dinner :)