08 April 2013

This Week's Meals #6

Just a quick one this week as we're at Mr A's parents for the weekend so will be eating there.

Monday - Turkish Leek Stew with garlic bread

Tuesday - Dinner at Mum's

Wednesday - Delia's Cauliflower Cheese and Broccoli Soup 

Thursday - Beetroot Risotto from Good Food. 

Meal Planning Monday

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24 March 2013

This Week's Meals #5

Monday: Nigel Slater's Hot Chicken Cakes. On their own these are not substantial enough for Mr A, so I'm going to shape them like little patties and have them in whole wheat burger buns.

Tuesday: Dinner at Mum's

Wednesday: Prawn and Chorizo Gumbo

Thursday: Sausages and Cauliflower Mash 

Friday: Nigella's Spaghetti Puttanesca

Saturday: Middle Eastern Lamb Koftes with yoghurt, salad and pittas (or may even make my own hummus!)

Sunday: Turkey Roulade - I'm going to make this up as I go along but it will be turkey breasts stuffed with sage and onion stuffing, wrapped in bacon

We probably won't get through all 6 meals, as its Easter weekend I'm hoping we'll be out and about. If that happens the meals will just roll over to next week, because I'm good at that!

With baby on the way I've been thinking about how much we currently spend on food and what we can save. We try to be 'careful' but don't really budget. I'll always make sure I plan meals ahead, cook from what we already have and only shop for what we need but I still think we spend too much for just 2 people. What would you say is a reasonable budget for 2 people for a week?

Meal Planning Monday
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Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Soooo easy and so delicious!!! I never really craved anything sweet until I got pregnant so I've been looking for healthier alternatives for things that might curb my cravings. This ice cream from Detoxinista  fits the bill perfectly! Check out her other recipe's too, so many amazing healthy alternatives that don't make you feel like your missing out.

We had this with fresh raspberries....

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Turkish Pasta Bake - 'Firinda Makarna'

'Firinda Makarna' is translated as 'pasta in the oven' and is a really easy, tasty alternative to a usual pasta bake

1 packet of pasta - you can find 'makarna' in Turkish / Greeks and looks just like spaghetti just thicker. If you can't get your hands on makarna I'm sure this would work with any sort of pasta
500g beef mince
1 onion, finely chopped
Dried mint
Parsley - handful, finely chopped
salt and pepper

For Cheese sauce topping:
1 pint milk (I used half full fat, half semi skimmed)
1 packet of halloumi cheese, grated
1 cup grated cheddar
1 egg
1 tsp mustard powder (optional)
3 tbsp plain flour/sauce flour

  • Preheat oven to 200C.
  • Get the pasta cooking according to packet instructions, I break them in half
  • Whilst the pasta is cooking fry the onion until soft and add the mince, salt and pepper and sprinkle of dried mint. Once fried well throw in the parsley and stir.
  • Drain pasta and create layers, starting with the pasta and then the mince mixture. You should get about two layers of each.
  • To make the cheese sauce,, pour milk into a saucepan and before the heat goes on whisk in the egg. Put the heat on low and keep whisking gently. As the milk warms up - before boiling add the halloumi and half of the cheddar in handfuls at a time and keep whisking, don't allow to boil too much. Turn the heat up to medium and add the mustard powder and flour spoonful at a time, whisking in between. Keep stirring well with a whisk until the sauce is very thick and paste like.
  • Once its very, thick take off the heat and pour all over the pasta and smooth over on top. Sprinkle with a bit of cheddar and put in the oven until browned on top, about 30-45 minutes
  • Once its out allow to cool a bit then cut into squares.

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17 March 2013

This Week's Meals #4

I know what you're thinking, what is that ravioli still doing on the menu!? No, we're not eating it for the third week running but I was either too lazy to cook that night or it wasn't what I fancied (or both). But I'm definitely making it tomorrow!

Monday:  Caprese Ravioli with Roasted Tomato Pesto Sauce from 'Proud Italian Cook'

Tuesday: Dinner at mums

Wednesday: Malvani Prawn Curry from 'Enjoy Indian Food' with brown rice

Thursday: Meeting my friend Dea for dinner after work

Friday: Come Dine with Me number 3 at my friend Helen's!

Saturday: Szechaun Hot and Sour Soup from Allrecipes

Source: Allrecipes

Sunday: Turkish Pasta Bake, 'Fırında Makarna.' Recipe and photo's to follow!

Meal Planning Monday
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14 March 2013

Dolma: Turkish Stuffed Peppers, Artichokes, Onions and Cabbage Leaves

This was the first meal on our plan this week. Dolma literally means "to stuff" in Turkish. The most common version of dolma is stuffed vine leaves.

A few weekends ago my mum came round with some artichokes that someone had sent her from Cyprus so I decided to make dolma with them and other veg we had. Artichokes are notoriously difficult to prep and also start to go brown if you don't rub them with lemon juice after you've prepared them. My mum is a bit of an expert at preparing artichokes, I never really appreciate how good a cook she was until I got in to cooking myself. Anyway, I found this helpful guide on how to prepare artichokes for stuffing.

The stuffing:
250g beef mince*
Handful chopped parsley
1 medium brown onion, finely chopped or grated
2 tbsp uncooked rice
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato or pepper paste
Juice of 1 lemon
1tsp cumin
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together. *For a vegetarian version just leave out the mince and add more rice, or use cous cous or bulgar wheat.

Preparing vegetables for stuffing;
Peppers - just cut the tops off and remove flesh and seeds
Cabbage leaves - add leaves to boiling water until soft, about 3-4 minutes
Artichokes - once prepared the artichokes need to be cooked in boiling water for a few minutes before stuffing
Onion - cook in boiling water until layers come away easily without breaking

Once the vegetables are prepared all you need to do is fill them with the stuffing mixture and place them in a pot. I then made up 250ml of vegetable stock, to which I added 1 more tablespoon of pepper paste (could use tomato paste too) and poured this around the stuffed vegetables. Make sure the stock doesn't go over the top of peppers or artichokes, so full just half way. Cover and cook for approx. 30-40 minutes.

Once cooked, the dolma goes really well with plain yoghurt, tzatziki or hummus (or salad, or home made chips!)

Hope you try this recipe, would love to hear from you if you do!!
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10 March 2013

This Week's Meals #3

Meal Planning Monday

I didn't get to make some of the meals from last week's plan, so the Caprese Ravioli is back on the menu this week, can't wait to try them!

Monday:  Turkish stuffed artichokes, peppers, onions and cabbage leaves from me! Made these on Sunday ready for eating after work on Monday. Recipe and post to follow later in the week.

Tuesday: At mums for dinner

Wednesday:  Faux Prawn and Chorizo Paella from  Eat, Drink Paleo

Thursday:  Caprese Ravioli with Roasted Tomato Pesto Sauce from 'Proud Italian Cook'

Friday: Szechaun Hot and Sour Soup from Allrecipes

Source: Allrecipes

Saturday: Chickpea Base Pizza's from Not Just Apples

Sunday: Cajun Chicken Kebabs with Spiced Yoghurt Dips and pitta from Lavender and Lovage 

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"Fire and Spice" Class at Morgan's Kitchen

I loved this class! Last week me and my sister went on a 'Fire and Spice' class with Morgan's Kitchen in Camden. It was about using different spices and chillies. The class started off with a quick talk of all the different types of chillies and what to look out for when buying chillies. We then got to cook with different chillies and spice blends and made 'Piri Piri Prawns' and 'Chinese Chilli Chicken'. Haven't made either before and they were really tasty. I'll post recipes for both soon.

To be honest I don't think I learnt anything I couldn't teach myself using the internet but it was fun to do something different with my sister. We're going to try out some more cookery classes regularly. It was also fun to do something different with cooking. I'm really enjoying my blog and combining it with all the cooking I do at home. I'd love to turn it into something more, in fact I know I will one day....

Some of our purchases from the class, can't wait to try these out....

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03 March 2013

This Week's Meals #2

Monday:  Caribbean Sweet Potato Patties with Spicy Coconut and Spinach Sauce from Cook, Eat, Live Vegetarian

Tuesday:  Eating at mums. I've just started yoga classes on Tuesdays within walking distance from my mums. My mum is a typical Turkish mum and wouldn't hear of me being that close and not popping in to eat with them, which is absolutely fine by me!

Wednesday:   On Wednesday me and my sister are taking a cookery class called 'Fire and Spice' at Morgan's Kitchen in Camden. We'll learn how to use spices and chillies and make our own mixtures to take home. I'm not that great when it comes to mixing different spices so this class is right up my street. At the end of the class we get to eat our dishes, so I'll post some pictures and hopefully a recipe!

Thursday: Turkish Stuffed Artichokes and Peppers from me! Recipe and post to follow later in the week.

Friday:  Singapore Noodles from 'Dietitian UK'

Source: Dietitian UK

Saturday:  Chilli Marrakech from BBC Good Food

Source: BBC Good Food
Sunday:  Caprese Ravioli with Roasted Tomato Pesto Sauce from 'Proud Italian Cook'

Meal Planning Monday
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02 March 2013

Falafel, Salad and Pickles

This was on this week's meal plan and I found the recipe on 'Flourishing Foodie'. I've tended not to bother making my own falafel as they always turn out too dry or too crumbly, but I really fancied falafel this week! This one was a bit crumbly but I know what to try next time to avoid that, for example using dry chickpeas like the recipe suggests rather than tinned chickpeas that I used. Next time I'll also add a bit more flour (I used gram flour instead of plain) and maybe another egg and keep them in the fridge for longer to firm up a bit more.

There is nothing else I would change as the taste was absolutely perfect!

We had them with lettuce, tomato, olives, gherkins and pink pickles that our neighbour gave us. I think they're pink because she used beetroot but can't be sure because there wasn't any pickled beetroot in the jar!? I also made a tahini sauce, with tahini paste, pinch of cumin, lemon juice and water. The idea was that we choose whatever we want from the platter and stuff them into pitta's, but I skipped the pitta's to save room for more falafel. Either way, this was a perfect Friday, night in meal.
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25 February 2013

Turkish Pea Stew ('Bezelye')

Tonight's dinner was this pea stew. Like most Turkish dishes, the base of this is gently fried onions and either chopped tomatoes or tomato paste (or even pepper paste). You could serve it with it plain rice but its fine on its own with just a dollop of yoghurt. Turkish people tend to eat bread with absolutely everything and I like this with soft buttered bread dipped in the juices, yum! If you're veggie or just want a meat free dish you can easily leave out the chicken without effecting the taste too much.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 heaped tbsp pepper paste
3 medium chicken breasts, cubed (optional)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, cut into small chunks
1 medium potato, cut into small chunks
400g frozen garden peas
1ltr vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper

Fry onions for 2-3 minutes without letting them brown, add pepper paste and fry for another few minutes. Add chicken breast and stir fry until they turn a pale colour, add carrots and potatoe and fry for a further 5-6 minutes. Add peas, give it a good stir and add stock, salt and pepper. Simmer gently until cooked, about 40 minutes.

Hope you enjoy! Would love to hear from anyone that has tried this!!

I'm also submitting this recipe into 'Made with love Mondays' which is a weekly series hosted by Javelin Warrior's website 'Cookin' with Lov'  to "promote, share and celebrate foods made entirely from scratch. Always Fresh, Always from Scratch", my kind of cooking! 

Made with Love Mondays, hosted by Javelin Warrior
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This Week's Meals #1

Because of my recent uncontrollable hunger, unless I pre plan and prepare weekday meals I can quite easily eat whatever is easiest or closest. This usually ends up being a take away or junk food so I'm trying to make an effort to plan mid week meals that's are quick, easy and nutritious. Here are this week's meals, I'll blog about how I get on with them too! The other thing about this weeks meals is that they are all made from ingredients we already had in the house!

Monday - Turkish Pea, Chicken, Potato and Carrot Stew ('Bezelye') from my mum

Tuesday - Eating at Mums

Wednesday: Chicken Wings with cumin, lemon and garlic from BBC Good Food with side of grilled corn on the cob 

Thursday: Sweet Onions and Lentils from BBC Food

Friday: Spicy Falafels from Flourishing Foodie with salad, pickles and tahini sauce.

Saturday: Jerk Chicken with Rice n Peas from BBC Good Food

Sunday: "Tidy Friday Pan Fry" from Nigel Slater on BBC Food

I'll be entering my weekly meals in to 'Meal Planning Mondays' over at Mrs M's blog from now on!

Meal Planning Monday
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24 February 2013

Spinach Lasagne Rolls

I made this a few weeks ago when I was making a conscious effort to eat more spinach for iron. I found it on one of my favourite blogs Skinnytaste. I made it the night before we were going to eat it and then just put it in the oven when I got in from work (love it when I'm that organised!).

I used fresh lasagne sheets from Sainsbury's, they're really wide so I cut them in half length ways and made two rolls with one sheet. I finished it off slightly different to the original recipe in that I covered all the rolls in the tomato sauce and sprinkled on the the mozzarella (shredded a mozzarella ball in the food processor). The carrot made the sauce quite sweet so I might use less carrot next time.

Source: Skinnytaste 

For a pasta dish it was really light and genuinely delicious! A perfect midweek meal that freezes well too! 

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22 February 2013

Nigel Slater's Spaghetti Bolognese

All this talk of beef and horsemeat made me crave Spaghetti Bolognese today. I've made this version before, its Nigel Slater's. Its really rich and tasty. The recipe includes milk and red wine which might sound strange but works really well.

The recipe suggests cooking it in batches and freezing it, a really good idea but with Mr A's amazing capacity for food, we hardly ever have leftovers in our house so I'd have to make huge, industrial size quantities. Having said that if I get really organised before baby comes I am going to make extra portions of meals and freeze them. I'm probably not going to have the time or energy to cook once baby comes. Although I know Mr A won't let us go hungry and will cook us up some meals too!

What's your favourite freezer friendly meals?

Mr A's spag bol mountain:
I'm putting this recipe forward for the 'Dish of the Month' challenge hosted by Farmersgirl Kitchen. I know this recipe isn't particularly challenging or different but it tasted bloody good when Spaghetti Bolognese was exactly what I wanted!
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21 February 2013

Easy Dessert: Pavlova

We had friends over for dinner at the weekend. We had poppadoms, dips and onion bhaji's to start and Butter Chicken for main. Dessert is always an after thought for me, I'd much rather spend most of my time on the main that fraffing out with dessert - not sure why? I've never really had a sweet tooth, maybe that's why, although looking at my last couple posts I wouldn't blame you for not believing that!!

Pavlova has to be the easiest dessert ever and that's what I made at the weekend. All it is, is ready made, individual meringue, berries (or any fruit), double cream and icing sugar. Job done!

So, what's your favourite easiest recipe?

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10 February 2013

Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free Chocolate, Hazelnut Cheesecake

I can't believe it's taken me this long to write about this. Late last year, we decided with some work friends that we would start our own version of 'Come Dine With Me', we've had two evenings so far and they've been so much fun. The first night was themed, we all went dressed in costume from our chosen decades.

Charlotte 1940's, David 1980's, Kirsty 1920's and me 1950's! 

I realised that night that eating food cooked by other people in their homes really is one of my favourite things to do! Not sure what that's about.... growing up our lives revolved around food and eating with lots of family and friends so I have lots of good memories of this. Although not many memories of fancy dress and food, so thats got to change!! Anyway one of my friends doesn't eat gluten, so when I was looking for gluten free desert inspiration I came across the mother of all deserts at 'The Sweet Life'.

It's a chocolate and hazlenut cheesecake and it tasted delicious! I made it over three days because each layer has to set before you add the next layer, a bit labour intensive but so, so worth it! It's very rich too so it can go a long way if you serve smaller portions. Enjoy!

My version;

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31 January 2013

Sausage, Kale and Black Eye Bean Soup

According to the midwife I need to up my iron intake. Rather than taking more supplements I've been trying to increase my iron levels by eating the right foods so I came across kale. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef!!! Its also high in vitamin A, C and calcium. So I think me and kale should become best friends during this pregnancy.

I came across this recipe on Pinterest and its on 'Bev Cooks' blog. Mr A made it for us the other night. I came home from a really crazy day at work to find a big, hot bowl of this waiting for me. Proper, tasty comfort food with a  bit of kick...

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26 January 2013

Turkish Style Leek Stew

One of the questions you’re asked regularly when you’re expecting is whether you have any cravings. All I seem to be craving is food 24 hours a day 7 days a week! But recently I've been craving my mum’s food... that is Turkish food. I think this is because its usually really comforting and good for you because its heavily based on vegetables. I don’t normally cook Turkish food since mum is in the country at the moment and I could never cook like she does. I've started to cook more recently but no matter what you do, it never quite tastes like mums! 

Recently I tried ‘prasa’, which is leeks, stewed. Mum explained how to do it and I found a few versions online here and here. This is mum’s version;

2 large leeks cut into rings
4 carrots cut into half rings
3 tablespoons of uncooked rice
400ml chicken stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
Olive oil
Dash of vinegar

Saute the carrots and leeks in olive oil until almost soft, add rice stirring occasionally for a few minutes. Add salt, stock and tomato paste and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, adding more water if necessary. Add vinegar just before the end. Afiyet olsun! (bon appetit in Turkish)

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22 January 2013

Baked Aubergine

I love it when you have all of the ingredients to make the one thing you crave at that exact moment. In my case it was stuffed baked aubergine inspired by this recipe I found on Eat Drink Paleo;

I changed the recipe up a bit;

1 large aubergine
Tinned Tomatoes
Garlic Clove
Fresh Mint
Cheese (I used cheddar but would have used parmesan if I had some)
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 220 C. I cut the aubergine in half and fried it over a high heat in some olive olive oil. I read somewhere that frying aubergine in really hot oil stops it soaking too much oil. Put the two aubergine halves in the oven while you make the sauce. Fry chopped garlic, making sure they don't brown too much. Add tinned tomatoes and simmer until reduced. Take off heat and add mint. Make a hole in the aubergine to add the sauce, I did this by mushing up the flesh of the aubergine a bit. Add the sauce and put back into the oven. Reduce heat to 190 and bake for around 20 minutes. Add cheese, its ready when the cheese is melted and golden. I had this with tzatziki. My version is no way near as pretty but it tasted really good!

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20 January 2013

And baby makes three....!

Yep, Mr A and I are expecting our first baby!! I don't want to say too much as I want to keep it private but I'm sure the progress of my bump will come up in future blog posts. I will say this baby is very much wanted and has made us both very, very happy!!!
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