Tag Archives: mums

Tuna, Spinach and Potato Salad

So, I am sheepishly adding this distinctly non-vegetarian recipe to the blog because it genuinely is so tasty and is one of the first meals I ever invented. Generally I don’t eat much fish but sometimes I just can’t resist. Steak? Don’t get the big fuss over it at all. Chicken? Way too paranoid about food poisoning to ever truly enjoy it. Pork? My history teacher once told me that this is what human flesh tastes like so….no. Bacon? Oh okay, you got me there. Like a big fat walking cliche, bacon is a temptation that is truly a struggle to resist. But there is just something about fish, it makes me feel healthy. Even if my so-called healthy dinners are followed by ice cream or, er, an entire week’s worth of advent calendar chocolate.

Am I the only one who just isn’t very good at the whole Christmas thing? I am keeping up the festive charade for the sake of Ivy, bless her greedy present-obsessed little heart, but if it were up to me I would gladly trade Christmas for an entire year of summertime instead. Yesterday I decided to buy an expensive Christmas candle off Amazon in an attempt to feel less Scrooge-like but I accidentally ordered it to our old house address in totally different city and by the time I emailed the seller to change the address they had already dispatched it, so the new tenants are going to be receiving a nice little Christmas gift from old Scrooge over here. That certainly didn’t help my Christmas cheer!

But I AM good at buying presents. Well, I am shit at buying presents for friends and family (not as bad as my boyfriend who, 2 years ago, kindly bought me an M&M dispenser and a book by someone he knows I hate) but when it comes to kids toys, I am in the zone. Where I lack in genuine festive spirit, I make up for in genuine materialistic consumerism. And I am definitely not alone there, right?!

Luckily, it seems that Ivy is more of a festive soul than myself – as evidenced by the fact that she spotted these in Tesco a few days ago and has pretty much refused to take them off since. Look how CASUAL she is about it, like this has been her life’s calling all along:

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So seeing her young and innocent enthusiasm for the holiday as made me a little more determined to muster up some myself this year. This weekend will be spent Christmas tree decorating, mince pie making, watching A Muppets Christmas Carol (the superior Christmas film, I can no longer watch Home Alone without thinking about that tragic bee sting scene in My Girl…URGH see how bad I am at this?!) and going to a kids Christmas disco on Sunday, which also happens to be her daddy’s birthday. Maybe I’ll get him drunk and convince him to sit on Santa’s lap and request a present. Nothing could get me in the holiday mood more than seeing that. 

This salad is a great lunch or a good side dish to a homemade pizza or something. Does Pizza Express exist in the US? If not, I am sure any fairly creamy salad dressing would taste just as good.

Tuna, spinach and potato salad (serves 4)

185g tin of tuna in spring water, drained and separated with a fork

1/2 red pepper and 1/2 orange pepper, chopped

50g green beans

6-8 new potatoes, sliced

200g bag baby leaf spinach, washed

Pizza Express light olive oil dressing

Bring pan of water to boil and add new potatoes and green beans, simmer until tender. Place the spinach in a salad bowl, mix in the peppers and tuna, then add the potatoes and green beans on top. Drizzle with salad dressing and serve as a side to dinner or a slice of warm ciabatta bread for lunch.

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So, terrible meal for a true vegetarian, delicious meal for the rest of us flakes.

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Mushroom and Cherry Tomato Ragu

The U.K does not know how to celebrate Halloween properly. Every year, I watch Hocus Pocus approximately 10 times and totally forget that such a quaint and wholesome (minus the witches and zombies) Halloween doesn’t exist here. Sigh. Growing up in South West London, in a wealthy area filled with American families, I got to sample how Halloween SHOULD be. Grottos, street parties, kids overdosing on sugar in uncomfortable masks and cheap witches hats – unfortunately where we live now is not quite the same. On the upside, Ivy had a great time and has subsequently spent today saying ‘trick or treat’ instead of ‘hello’ to everyone she meets. Poor kid doesn’t realised that me and her daddy demolished half her sweet collection while she was sleeping last night – I was thinking about her teeth OKAY???

The funnest part for me is always the pumpkin carving. This year me and my boyfriend were in slight competition as per usual. I obviously won. I needn’t even say which one is mine.

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(But just in case my confidence is a little over-stated and deluded, its the one on the left)

I really wanted to come up with some amazing pumpkin inspired recipe but if I am being completely honest, I just don’t like pumpkin very much. Plus the whole pumpkin carving process was so stressful and treacherous that I had no desire to eat the damn thing once I  was done. When it comes to happy holiday celebrations, I am still learning. Upon second reading, I also realise that this contradicts with my previous statement proclaiming my love of pumpkin carving. But isn’t love stressful and treacherous sometimes? Bit of philosophical thinking for ya there.

So instead I came up this. I have only started liking and eating mushrooms recently. This is a very big deal for me, suddenly being a healthy vegetarian is so much easier! Plus, mushrooms are cheap. And really really tasty. I don’t know what I was thinking all these years.

Mushroom and Cherry Tomato Ragu (serves 4)

250g chesnut mushrooms, sliced

A handful of shiitake or oyster mushrooms, sliced

1 red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 celery sticks, diced

150g cherry tomatoes, halved

Sugar

1 can chopped tomatoes

Tablespoon of tomato paste

Worcester sauce

100ml white wine

Handful of basil leaves, torn

Salt and pepper, to taste

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 200c. In a baking tray, lay out the halved cherry tomatoes, season with a little sugar, salt and pepper and a few glugs of olive oil and leave aside.

In a heavy based pan, heat oil. Add the onion and fry until softened, then adding the garlic, celery and mushrooms, cooking for a further 3-4 minutes. Pour in the white wine and cook on a high heat for 5 minutes, then adding the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to the boil, then simmer, adding the worcester sauce and a teaspoon of sugar.

Once the sauce is simmering, put the cherry tomatoes in the oven and roast for about 20-25 minutes then remove from oven. Carry on simmering the ragu sauce until it is quite thick, then stir in the tomatoes and heat for a few minutes. Serve on buttery spaghetti and add the basil leaves to garnish.

Here is this entry’s slightly more attractive photo:

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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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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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Sweet Potato Cakes

So, we are here. Ivy is already completely in love with Brighton, as are we. The only catch being that our landlord seems to have the most questionable taste in decor I have ever seen, but thankfully has allowed us to change it as much as we like – so we are staying with my mum while Dom makes it semi acceptable. When and how could anyone  ever think that royal blue walls and green carpets look good together? I totally imagined my first summer in Brighton relaxing in the sun on our local beach but thanks to this crappy weather we have been stuck inside for the most part, slowly developing cabin fever.

This isn’t my own recipe, and it is due to Ivy’s grabby hands that I found it. My mum has a freakishly large collection of recipe books (despite the fact that I can recall her making no more than 3 of the recipes since I was, I don’t know, 3) and Ivy is completely OBSESSED with Jamie Oliver’s cheeky little face. She stands by the books constantly pointing at him going ‘J-J!’ and trying to feed and kiss him – its weird and adorable in equal measure. So yesterday she was pulling out all the recipe books and placed an old Waitrose recipe card on my lap and I thought that anything with the words ‘sweet potato’ and ‘cake’ sound right up Ivy’s street. It would be a nice change to the usual sweet potato wedges that I make every time I’m feeling lazy.

Grating the sweet potato took fucking forever but you could be not as cheap as me and invest in a food processor, next time I think I’ll prepare them when Ivy is in bed and keep them chilled in the oven, I served them with veggie sausages and peas but they would make a great healthy lunch too. I only made half the recipe but they were so popular I will definitely make the full batch next time!

Sweet Potato Cakes

750g sweet potato, grated

100g goat’s cheese, crumbled

1 small onion, finely sliced and halved

1 garlic clove, minced or finely chopped

Oil

2 medium eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 220c. Heat oil in a pan and add onion and garlic until softened and browned. Add sweet potato, eggs and goat’s cheese and stir until mixed, shape into cakes (could make 4 large cakes but I made 8 mini ones). Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 25-30 minutes.

So we may have a house of mismatched colours and the rainiest July on record, but it could be worse, right?

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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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Stewed Apple with Manuka Honey

So I have a poorly Ivy this week. I hate seeing her feel rubbish but hey, its an excuse to stay in pyjamas and watch Peter Pan on the laptop so Ivy is coping, little soldier

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It is so tough when they aren’t old enough to verbalise how they are feeling, but going by the fact that she had a temperature last night, a little puke and has been refusing to eat any solid foods today I am guessing that she has some kind of throat infection. Feeding her a cup a soup (her first full sentence today was ‘more soup please’, after saying ‘more please soup’ about 5 times) I just NEEDED to get some vitamins into her, watch her gulp down those horrid salty crappy tasting soups was painful for me.

So I decided to make some stewed apple, then remembered the manuka honey sitting in my cupboard, unused after all those months ago when my mum called me repeatedly and barked the health benefits at me until I finally relented and bought a jar to appease her. Apparently manuka honey is great for healing wounds, sore throats and other general cold and flu symptoms. Usually, I am a bit skeptical of anything that claims to miraculously heal you and make you live to 100 when the prices are usually insanely high, but I figured it was worth a try and it would probably make the stew taste a little nicer anyway.

Here is the very simple recipe. It feels like kind of a waste of a post but given that I haven’t cooked anything for 2 days it was either this or instructions on how to boil water and stir it into soup mix.

Stewed Apple with Manuka Honey (serves 2)

2 dessert apples; I used pink ladies

1 teaspoon cinnamon

15g raisins

1 tablespoon manuka honey

75ml water

Peel and core apple and chop into small cubes. Place the apple in a small saucepan and add the rest of the ingredients, stir, cover and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes until very soft and mushy, stirring occasionally. Next time I make this, I think I’ll try sprinkling some oats and adding a dollop of greek honey and the end, so I can trick myself into thinking I’m eating apple pie.

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It went down well

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As a side note, has anyone else watched Peter Pan recently? I don’t remember him being such an asshole, geez.

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