Tag Archives: lifestyle

Vegetable Couscous Salad

2 recipes posted in under a week? If you are guessing that I must have something really important to do, and that this is the perfect form of procrastination – then indeed you are right. This is pretty mild procrastination compared to the lengths of my desperation yesterday. I actually entered myself into this month long novel-writing challenge and while I should have been analysing identity theory, I was in my own fantasy world writing pages and pages about an impending apocalypse. I have serious issues when it comes to work motivation.

This recipe is SO easy but I know when it comes to new lunch ideas for kiddos that it is always useful to find a new meal. Ivy is admittedly a fantastic eater but she seems to usually reserve all her open-mindedness for dinner. While I am cooking dinner she is usually so desperate for food that I can get her to literally eat anything. I’m not even kidding. This kid snacks on raw pepper and spinach like its chocolate spread on ice cream. What kind of toddler does that? But when it comes to lunch, she is usually strictly a scrambled-eggs-and-toast kinda gal. A few days ago we had almost nothing in the kitchen and due to my inability to cope with a minor cold, I was still in pyjamas and didn’t fancy venturing out the house, so I came up with this. And it was surprisingly incredibly tasty, made even more enjoyable by watching Ivy shovel down huge chunks of raw tomato and cucumber. You could add anything to this salad, I would have added some chopped parsley or coriander if it weren’t for the still-in-pyjamas issue, and I was going to add  black olives but Ivy was getting so stressed out watching me try to open the jar for 15 minutes that I decided it was best for all of us if I just gave up.

Anyway, this is a yum recipe and would make a good side dish to a dinner of falafel, pitta and tzatziki.

Vegetable Couscous Salad (serves 2)

150g couscous

300ml vegetable stock

1/4 large cucumber, cut into chunks

1-2 salad tomatoes, de-seeded and cut into chunks

1 teaspoon cumin

A dash of lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

Pour the stock on the couscous, cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes or until soft. Combine the rest of the ingredients and serve.

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Evidence (the serious look on her face means she is enjoying it):

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Right, back to the apocalypse.

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Lentil Dal with Cucumber and Mint Raita

So, I learnt a new lesson this week. Dal doesn’t photograph very well. After an entire weekend in London of Ivy-free vodka and beer binging I was too impatient to to spend longer than approximately 5 seconds trying to take a flattering picture of my first proper meal in 3 days. Hangover hunger is scarily powerful. Evidently Ivy had a similar weekend because she wouldn’t even give me 5 seconds before inhaling her own dish.

I am in turmoil here guys. What is better, to post a recipe without photographic evidence at all or to post a picture that could potentially put you off eating dal EVER AGAIN? It kind of looks like baked beans…I really really really dislike baked beans. At best, you will just gently chuckle at my complete lack of photography skills. I actually enrolled in a photography course once, but never went back after the first session as I couldn’t face the judgemental glares after rocking up to the first session without a god damn camera. Fuckin’ pretentious hippies. I’m not bitter at all. Well, I’m sure if my sixteen year old self knew that I would be regularly taking photos of food to show off to people on the internet,I may have either thought twice about quitting or changed my entire life plan.

Anyway, here is the recipe. I definitely recommend making the raita alongside it as they taste delicious together and it is particularly good for anyone with a kiddo that isn’t too keen on spice. So please try it, it really is delicious, plus very cheap and easy to make. If it really is as gross as it photographs, then maybe I will eat nothing but baked beans for an entire week as some kind of macabre punishment.

Lentil Dal (serves 4)

200g yellow lentils

1 medium onion, diced

1 large garlic clove, minced

1cm ginger, finely chopped

1 tablespoon mild curry powder

1 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon cumin

350ml vegetable stock

For the raita:

200g natural yoghurt

1 bunch of mint leaves, finely chopped

1/2 cucumber, grated

1/2 teaspoon cumin

Heat butter or groundnut oil in a large pan and add onion, frying for 4-5 minutes until browning. Add garlic and ginger and fry for a further 1 minute, then adding all the spices for another minute. Add the lentils and stock, stir, cover and simmer for at least 40 minutes until the lentils are very soft. Add water if necessary. For the raita, place the grated cucumber in a sheet of paper towel and squeeze out the excess water. Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl. Serve the dal and raita with wholemeal chapattis or a small serving of rice.

Ok, you ready?

Please just…

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I KNOW, I KNOW.

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Thai Coconut Noodle Soup

Wow, I have been really crappy at keeping up with this blog. That is not to say that we have been eating crap this whole time, just that settling in in Brighton/festivals/enjoying the last of the summer has taken up my time. There isn’t a lot to report, aside from a lot of time watching Ivy go up and down those tacky slides they have along all English seafronts, buying a really expensive bell tent at last minute because the thought of festival-ing with our little shitty two man tent made me want to cry, and watching Ivy grow into a chatty little madam who is impartial to the odd poo joke every now and then.Image

So I came up with this recipe a few weeks ago and was surprised by how delicious it was. I made the mistake of using reduced fat coconut milk though so had to send Dom out on an emergency trip to buy creamed coconut as it just tasted too watery. You could also use a different thai paste if panang is too spicy for your liking, I am practicing the ‘forcing your child into having high spice tolerance’ style of parenting.

1 tablespoon oil (I use groundnut)

150g tenderstem broccoli, stalks chopped off

100g baby corn, halved

A few shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1/2 head bok choy

1.5-2 tablespoons of a thai paste of your choice, I used panang

1 tin of coconut milk

150ml water

1 teaspoon of palm sugar

Thai fish sauce

150g noodles – I used sharwoods ‘straight to wok’ noodles but only because my crappy local tesco didn’t supply rice noodles

A bunch of chopped coriander

Heat oil in the pan and add paste and a splash of the coconut milk and stir fry until aromatic. Add the chopped vegetables, the rest of the coconut milk and water, a few dashes of fish sauce and the palm sugar and simmer for half an hour, adding more water if it begins to thicken too much. Add noodles and simmer for a further 5 minutes then remove from heat, stir through chopped coriander and serve.

Voila.

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Lentil Lasagne

I just wrote a very long and detailed entry about all that we have been upto over this month, and then accidentally pressed the backspace and the entire thing was wiped out. I literally said ‘NOOOOOO’ in the most film-ish way. Why is it so easy to delete a new post? Can’t you be more like hotmail and ask me if I’m sure that I want to leave the page? I can’t believe I am wanting anything to be more like crappy hotmail, but there you go.

So because I simply do not have the will to type out everything again, here are the keywords from the post: last minute camping trip, late nights, unpacking, toddler tantrums and huge argument with psychotic neighbour. Maybe I should just write all my entries like this, to save myself any future backspace accidents. I fear I may break my laptop in some kind of hasty vengeance next time.

I am going to be frank; I really hate making lasagne. There is too much chopping, frying, baking and subsequently washing up for my liking, but because it tastes so good every couple of months I finally stop being so lame and make one. This is the first time I used lentils in one and my boyfriend was very hesitant, but the entire dish was completely annihilated and he said he would have happily eaten double the amount which is probably a good sign. I used merchant gourmet puy lentils but to be honest, it seemed like a shame to add them to a sauce when they already taste to delicious on their own, so next time I would probably just use regular canned lentils. You could use dried too, but only if you have more patience than I do because cooking dried lentils takes waaaaaayyy longer than my brain will allow me to wait.

Lentil Lasagne (serves 3-4)

250g puy lentils

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato puree

100ml red wine (optional – depending on how comfortable you are with putting alcohol in your child’s food. I personally am borderline TOO-relaxed)

1 red onion, finely chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 celery stick, finely chopped

1-2 carrots, diced

1/2 red pepper, diced

1 bay leaf

Approx. six lasagne sheets, soaked in warm water

1 teaspoon sugar

Pepper, to taste

Grated cheese (I use a mix of cheddar and mozzarella)

For the white sauce:

25g butter

25 flour

300ml milk

A handful of grated cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 200c. Heat olive oil in a pan and add onion, gently fry for 2 or 3 minutes. Add garlic, pepper, celery and carrots and cook gently for a further ten minutes. Add the red wine if using and turn up to a high heat for a few minutes, then add tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, sugar, lentils and black pepper and turn down to a simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, melt the butter in a pan and stir in flour to form a paste. Remove from the heat and stir in milk slowly, to avoid forming lumps. Put back onto the heat and bring to a boil and then down to a simmer. Add cheese if using and continue stirring until smooth.

In a pie or baking dish, make a thin layer of the lentil sauce, put lasagne sheets on top (you will probably have to break them up into pieces to spread evenly across) and add a generous layer of white sauce. Repeat until you are at the top of the dish – will probably make 3 layers. On the top layer, add white sauce and then sprinkle with cheese.

Put the dish in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until you can put a knife through and feel that the lasagne sheets are soft and cooked, and the cheese on top has browned. Serve with salad or vegetables.

Boring post, but TELL ME THIS DOESNT LOOK DELICIOUS:

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And proof that it wasn’t just the adults in the house who had second helpings:
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Chickpea Fajitas

Yep, chickpeas again.

My ability to stay calm when a sense of urgency is really necessary is a truly well-honed skill. In a couple of days we are moving all the way from Bristol to Brighton, and on top of that today was Ivy’s birthday, I have a uni assignment due in and I also seem to have caught whatever diseases Ivy has decided to pass onto me this week. Colds, by the way, do not seem to be helped by traipsing around in the rain for over an hour while Ivy is pushed around on her new scooter like some kind of queen of the world:

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Dom took Ivy away to his parent’s for 5 days so I can “get us organised” and what do I do? Go to London for two days, come back to Bristol with a chronic hangover and spend the next 2 nights watching 90s teen horror films and sobbing a little bit when thinking about how much I miss Ivy. I am so shit.

It is kind of impossible for me to think about how much we have to do over this weekend without feeling a little like I am about to have a heart attack, so instead I have decided not to bother tidying up Ivy’s birthday crap because it’ll all be going into boxes anyway, and am currently eating the face off of Ivy’s caterpillar cake. So the last few days of living in our lovely house will be spent in a room looking like this:

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Of course, I left the present-wrapping and balloon-inflating until last minute as well so had to make a quick and easy dinner that didn’t require venturing out into the rain and buying ingredients (seriously England, what the fuck? Its July!). Because I was using what was in my kitchen, I replaced soured cream with half fat creme fraiche which was just as delicious. I also made my own seasoning using this recipe:http://cookingtipoftheday.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/recipe-fajita-seasoning.html but replaced the chicken stock cube with a vegetable stock cube. Ivy likes a bit of spice but you can obviously adjust the amount of chilli and cayenne powder depending on how much of a badass your kid is.

Chickpea Fajitas (2 adults, 1 kid)

5-6 flour tortillas

1 packet of fajita seasoning or homemade seasoning from link above

2 peppers (I used green and yellow)

1 tin of chickpeas, drained

1 onion, sliced

Soured cream or creme fraiche

Salsa

Avocado, diced

Heat oil in a pan and add onion for a few minutes until it starts to soften, then add the peppers, chickpeas and seasoning and cook until the chickpeas have softened. Serve with the cream, salsa and avocado and a big side salad and sweet potato wedges.

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Easy and Quick Chickpea Korma

My boyfriend has just taken Ivy out on his fortnightly ‘daddy-daughter day’ to the Aquarium, (so glad I am not included in this, octopus give me nightmares) so because I am nursing a mild hangover I am choosing to ignore my messy house and talk about food instead.

Chickpeas are definitely one of my favourite pulses. I have this weird thing about Quorn, something about the texture about it makes me feel all funny and grossed out, so I usually end up resorting to either chickpeas or lentils. For a long time Ivy refused to partake in any chickpea-eating activities much to my chagrin, until I discovered that if I call them ‘chicken peas’ she will laugh hysterically and then shovel them all down. That’s a bit weird, right? So now we have chickpea meals at least once a week, chickpea fajitas being my most recent discovery but a chickpea korma is definitely our favourite. I never thought I could say chickpea so much in one paragraph.

I feel like a bit of a cheat including this because I don’t make the paste myself but it is such a great meal to make if you have had a busy day, got home late and in a rush to make dinner before the little ones crash out. Sometimes in that situation I find myself resorting to making some pretty dull and not particularly healthy meals so this is a great one to have planned. I usually use Marks and Spencers korma paste but I’m sure any would do, or you could even make your own ahead of time and keep it in the fridge!

Chickpea and Spinach Korma

1 medium onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1cm ginger, finely chopped or minced

1/2 jar korma paste

1 tin of coconut milk

1/2 yellow pepper, diced

200g fresh spinach

1 tin of chickpeas

Vegetable oil

Basmati rice, to serve

Heat oil in a large pan and add onions, cook until softened. Add ginger and garlic and cook for a further minute, then add the paste and stir fry until aromatic. Pour in the coconut milk, bring to the boil, add chickpeas and yellow pepper, then turn down to simmer. Cover and simmer for approx. 20 minutes until chickpeas and pepper are softened. Stir in spinach until wilted and then serve with steaming hot rice.

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heh heh heh heh. Chicken peas.

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Simple Vegetable Risotto

It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that risotto is not a culinary masterpiece and total pain in the ass to make. As a student, I thought that I could call myself a ‘good cook’ because I was capable of putting a quorn fillet in the oven and boiling pasta, anything that involved chopping an onion was considered too scary and abandoned. It still makes me embarrassed when I think of the look on my boyfriend’s face when he discovered that I didn’t know how to fry an egg, (I DONT EVEN LIKE EGGS WHY DO I NEED TO KNOW HOW TO COOK THEM????) but since having Ivy I have turned into a pretty decent cook, and oh how I love to prove that man wrong.

So, I digress; once I finally braved my risotto and realised it was pretty simple, albeit a little tedious, it has become a staple in the house when I need to use up vegetables in the fridge. My other using-up-veg failsafe meal is a vegetable thai green curry but it is so easy it doesn’t even warrant a post: Tesco thai green curry paste (the most mild), coconut milk, vegetables of your choice, a splash of fish sauce and a teaspoon of sugar, simmered for 20 minutes. Done.

The risotto takes a bit more effort (and even, GASP, involves chopping an onion) but the effect of this meal is magical, Ivy will literally eat anything that I hide in risotto. I could probably make a risotto of brussel sprouts and old pieces of play doh and she would still ask for seconds.

We don’t have a t.v because we are weirdos, so keeping Ivy entertained while staying close to the pan sometimes proves to be a bit of a challenge and I resort to In The Night Garden on BBC Iplayer so Ivy can dance to that stupid makka pakka song (what is that shit?) and I can stir in peace, but often she just sits on the countertop and “helps” by dipping a wooden spoon in and out occasionally and eating Rice Krispies out of the box after I ask her not to.

Vegetable Risotto (this serves 4 people)

Knob of butter or olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

250g arborio risotto rice

Vegetables of your choice – in this risotto I used 1 carrot quartered, half a pack of asparagus halved, half a head of broccoli chopped and frozen peas

1 litre vegetable stock

2 tablespoons of soft cheese

Head oil or butter in a pan until hot and add onion and fry gently for 5 minutes until softened. Add vegetables and garlic and fry for a further couple of minutes, then add the rice and fry until the rice is hot, stirring frequently. Pour in a good amount of stock (about half) and bring to the boil, then simmer. Once the stock is absorbed, add more with a ladle and keep adding until the rice is soft and cooked – it may take a little more than advised but the risotto still retain a good texture and shouldn’t be congealed. Add the soft cheese and stir through and serve.

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Great risotto. Shame my Rice Krispies stock is depleted.

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