Monday, 29 June 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Out for lunch at Indian YMCA
Soup and Bread

Courgette and Corn Taco Quinoa Salad
Cornbread Sandwich with Crisps

Cheese and Onion Quiche with Salad
Sea Bream with Pea Purée (River Cottage Fish)

Cobb Salad
Salmon En Croute with Veg/Salad

Out for lunch


Smoked Mackerel Stuffed Sweet Potato 

Roast Duck with Freekeh and Preserved Lemon

Thursday, 25 June 2015

North African Stuffed Sole

This was rather a tasty treat. I loved the combination of flavours in this dish and obviously if you want it spicier add more chilli sauce. I actually used sole rather than plaice which the original recipe called for but they are pretty much interchangeable. I also served it over bulgar wheat rather than couscous.

North African Stuffed Sole (from WW Nice N Spicy)
(Serves 2)
(10 WW PorPoints per serving)

1 small onion, chopped finely
2 carrots, peeled and grated
small bunch mint, chopped
1 tsp chilli sauce
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp low fat natural yoghurt
2 plaice or sole fillets
400g can chopped tomatoes
125g dried couscous
300ml hot veg stock
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C. In a large bowl mix together the onion, carrots, mint, chilli sauce, garlic, spices and yoghurt to make the stuffing.

Place a large piece of kitchen foil on a baking tray and lay the plaice fillets in the middle. Spoon the stuffing over each fish and carefully fold over the fillets to encase the filling.

Make the foil into a parcel, scrunching the edges leaving the top open. Pour the tomatoes over the fish. Season and fold over the top of the parcel scrunching the foil so the fish is sealed in. Bake in the oven for 30 mins.

About 5 mins before the fish is ready, place the couscous in a bowl and pour over the stock. Cover and leave for 5 mins, then fluff up with a fork. Serve the couscous with the fish and spoon over the juices from the foil parcel.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Herby Smoked Salmon Fritatta

I made this a couple of weeks ago, it was really tasty and I had forgotten the pure pleasure of a frittata/omelette, its such a simple thing but so so warm and comforting.

Herby Smoked Salmon Frittata (from WW Seriously Satisfying)
(Serves 4)

350g new potatoes, halved if large
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped dill
6 eggs, beaten
cooking spray
120g smoked salmon, cut into strips
black pepper

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the potatoes. Bring back to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 mins until just tender. Drain and rinse under the cold tap. Once cool, slice thinly.

Mix the herbs into the eggs and season with pepper. Spray a frying pan with the cooking spray and heat until hot. Add the potatoes, then pour in the egg. Scatter over the smoked salmon piece and cook gently for 5-10 mins until set. Meanwhile, preheat the grill to medium.

Place the pan under the grillyo brown the top. Serve with a green salad.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Meal Planning Monday

So last week was fun. The recording of the Kitchen Cabinet was really interesting, all about Chinese food and there was even a man hand pulling noodles as a demonstration. Paul Merton was good too and Luna Gale at Hampstead was a very thought provoking play.

This week is as busy as ever. Pilates tonight, on Wednesday I'm going to see the Beaux Strategem at The National Theatre, Thursday I have my induction at The Mill, Friday I am going to see Death of a Salesman and Saturday I am meeting a friend to go to Emery Walker's house and then possibly to Kew Gardens. I am mostly eating at home though and it's definitely a freezer week! But then it needs clearing out before the influx of courgettes! And that Egg Topped Soba Noodles with Asparagus and Parma Ham will finally get eaten, I think this is the third week it's been on the plan!

Crab, Spinach and Avocado Salad (Skinny Meals in Heels)

Potato and Smoked Trout Salad (Skinny Meals in Heels)


Eastern Cod Skewers in a Wrap with Sweet Chilli

Salad with Cheese and Ham
Out before the theatre

Out with a friend
Soup or Salad


Saturday, 20 June 2015

Sausage and Chicken Bean Chilli

Ok so not strictly Mexican, I did have some mojito sausages that needed using and I was looking for something Mexican to do with them. I adapted the recipe quite a lot to make it more filling and to use fresh ingredients instead of frozen. 

Sausage and Chicken Bean Chilli (adapted from Sainsburys)
(Serves 4)

4 sausages
1 tbsp  oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 peppers, chopped
200g black beans
390g chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp spicy chipotle chilli paste
100g frozen sweetcorn

Preheat the grill to medium and grill the sausages to pack instructions for 15-20 minutes, turning frequently until golden and cooked through. Remove and slice on the diagonal.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep frying pan over a high heat and cook the chicken until golden brown. Remove from the pan and turn the heat down to medium. Add the chopped onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 mins until the onions are turning golden. Add the peppers and cook for 2 mins.

Add the chicken, black beans, chopped tomatoes, chipotle paste and sweetcorn to the onions in the frying pan, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 mins. Just before serving slice the cooked sausage and add to the pan.

Serve the chilli with rice and a sprinkling of the grated cheese if you wish.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Graham Cracker Brownies

I have a box of graham crackers that I brought back from the States and I was looking for something I could make with them that I could take to work and hand out for my birthday. These were perfect and they were gorgeous, so lovely and squidgy. I suspect that it wouldn't work with digestive biscuits, in the same way that they don't work for a pie crust.

Graham Cracker Brownies (from Multiply Goodness)

 22 graham cracker squares (11 rectangles)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180C. 

Place the graham crackers in a large ziploc bag, pressing out any extra air, then sealing the bag. Use a rolling pin to crush the graham crackers into fine crumbs.

Transfer the graham cracker crumbs into a medium-size mixing bowl, then add the sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips. Stir thoroughly until everything is well combined.

Pour the mixture into a well-greased 20cm x 20cm baking pan, then bake in the preheated oven for 25 mins.

Remove the brownies from the oven and let them cool for 30 mins, then cut and remove from the pan.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Spring Lamb and Flageolet Bean Salad

I made this beautiful salad for dinner a little while ago. It was fab and tasty although I like my lamb a little pinker than I cooked it!

Spring Lamb and Flageolet Bean Salad
(Serves 4)

2-3 lamb leg steaks
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
5 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves
juice 1 lemon
400g can flageolet or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper

Rub the lamb with mustard an season with pepper. Put 1 tsp of oil into a frying pan and fry the lamb for 2-3 mins each side. Transfer the lamb to a warmed plate and put to one side to rest for 5 mins.

Make the dressing by putting the parsley, garlic, lemon juice and oil into a food processor and whiz for 10 secs.

Put the beans, lettuce and tomatoes into a bowl and combine with the dressing and season with slt and pepper.

Slice the lamb and place on top of the salad. Serve.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Lemon Drizzle Cake with Elderberries

This is the cake I made for my first Mill Bakers. Basically I have been accepted to be one of the bakers for events and bake sales at my local community centre. I set about making it a couple of Saturdays ago and I had some trouble!

First of all it wouldn't cook, I would guess that the added moisture of the berries caused it to cook slower than my normal lemon drizzle cake, and then I turned the temperature up and of course it burnt! So I did what any girl would do in that situation, I rang my Mum! and she suggested I chopped the top off and covered it in a mixture of lemon juice and icing. I did eat the burnt bits and they were very tasty, so definitely a good cake to make in Autumn when the elderberries are ripe.

Lemon Drizzle Cake with Elderberries
(Makes 1 2lb loaf tin sized cake)

225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 eggs finely grated
zest 1 lemon
225g self-raising flour
200g elderberries

For the drizzle topping juice
1½ lemons
85g caster sugar

Heat oven to 180C. Beat together the butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy, then add the eggs, one at a time, slowly mixing through. Sift in the flour, then add the lemon zest and mix until well combined. Add in the elderberries and mix carefully to combine.

Line a loaf tin (8 x 21cm) with greaseproof paper, then spoon in the mixture and level the top with a spoon. Bake for 45 mins - 1 hour until a thin skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. 

While the cake is cooling in its tin, mix together the juice of the lemons and the caster sugar to make the drizzle. Prick the warm cake all over with a skewer or fork, then pour over the drizzle – the juice will sink in and the sugar will form a lovely, crisp topping. Leave in the tin until completely cool, then remove and serve.


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Creamed Chard Soup

I had a Sunday making soup a couple of weeks ago and one of the soups I made was this chard soup. There is a garden at school which is planted with all sorts of fruit and veg, the chard has been there almost a year and it's still going. So I asked if I could pick some and the Principal said yes. So the soup was born!

Creamed Chard Soup (from Riverford)
(Serves 4)
(3 WW ProPoints per serving)

400-500g chard, washed, trimmed of tough stalks and chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
40g butter or 2 tbsp olive oil
1l chicken or veg stock
200ml milk
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ tsp grated or ground nutmeg
juice ½ a lemon
salt + pepper

Bring the stock to a simmer and add the potatoes. Cook for 20 mins or until the potato is soft.

Add the chard and the milk into the stock pan and bring back to the boil and cook for a further 5 mins. Purée the soup with a hand blender. Season with salt and pepper and add the nutmeg and lemon juice to taste.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Meal Planning Monday

I am so unbelievably tired today. I think finally everything is starting to catch up with me and why oh why I spend my Saturdays running around like a headless chicken after a week at work I have no idea! Yesterday I conked out and slept until 11am! Then ran around again trying (and failing) to get all my jobs done.

My birthday last week was fantastic, although I spent the first bit of the day at work, I had a meeting in the afternoon which finished early and so I took myself off to Choccywoccydoodah for a treat.

I had the lemon and almond cake with a banana milkshake. It was too much. The chocolate was just too much and the banana milkshake was covered in whipped cream, so it was only half milkshake and half cream, not good. The cake was good and lightly lemony but it really didn't need all the chocolate coating, it was served with ice cream, coulis and chocolate drizzle. If you're going - go with a friend!

I then went for a barbecue at a friends house which was superb. We had grilled veggies, with meat from Muddy Boots butchers in Crouch End. We had steak, which was gorgeous, sundried tomato and goats cheese burgers and sausages. It was such a fab end to a brilliant birthday weekend.

On Wednesday I went to The Eighth Wonder of the World at The Thames Tunnel Shaft. The venue was fantastic but the play was amateurish and not very good. We left at the interval.

I also took park in a Flash Mob yesterday by the Wild Card Brewery in Walthamstow. It was fantastic, we practiced the routine first and then went out on the street and performed. There were about 60 of us in total and it was great to see the looks on people's faces as we randomly started dancing! You can't really see me but this is us dancing!

This week started off fairly quiet and by the end of last week I'm out pretty much every night! Tonight and Thursday is pilates as usual, the on Tuesday I am going to see a recording of Radio 4's The Kitchen Cabinet, not sure about Wednesday at the moment, on Friday I am going to see Paul Merton at the V&A and then on Saturday I am going to see Luna Gale at The Hampstead Theatre. Luckily I am so close to the end of term only a week and a half and then a week and a half until I finish for the summer!



Bacon and Leek WW Quiche with Salad 

Ham and Pea Pasta Bake with Salad
Eastern Cod Skewers with Pitta and Mayo

Soup with Bread

Mexican Mackerel with Tortilla Chips and Cheese

Sausage Sandwich
Pheasant Schnitzel with Celeriac and Kale Mash and Veg

Creamy Beef Pasanda

I wasn't all that impressed with this. It might have been because I used yoghurt instead of creme fraiche but the sauce was a bit thin and watery and there wasn't really enough heat to call this a curry, even a mild one.

Creamy Beef Pasanda (from WW Nice N Spicy)
(Serves 1)
(11 WW ProPoints per serving)

cooking spray
100g lean rump steak
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp ground coriander
pinch ground tumeric
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp curry powder
2 tsp ground almonds
2 tbsp half fat creme fraiche
salt and pepper

Heat a frying pan and spray with cooking spray. Cook the steak for 4-6 mins, turning halfway, until cooked to your liking. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.

Spray the pan again with cooking spray and gently cook the onion for 3-4 mins. Add the garlic and spices and cook for 30 secs.

Add the almonds, creme fraiche and 3 tbsp of cold water. Bring just to the boil, season and remove from the heat. Slice the steak and serve with the sauce.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Daring Cooks June 2015: Lemongrass and Lime Herby Chicken Kebabs

With summer just around the corner, ML Spell from Dry Spell invited us to play with fire! She challenged us to make some mouthwatering eats on the grill for the June daring cooks challenge.

Ok, so, I haven't done a Daring Cooks in ages, in fact in over a year, for a lot of reasons, so this is my first one back and it fitted right in with WeightWatchers as grilling (in the English sense of the word) is a good way to cook without adding oil. I wasn't going to fire up a barbecue just for me so I cooked them under the grill/broiler. I made Lemongrass and Lime Herby Chicken Kebabs. They were fabulously tasty and reminded me that I should definitely make kebabs more often, the meat was lovely and tender and the peppers soft but crisp.
Lemongrass and Lime Herby Chicken Kebabs (from WW Seasonally Sensational)
(Serves 4)
(6 WW ProPoints per serving)

2 tbsp soy sauce
1 lemongrass stalk, very finely chopped
grated zest and juice 1 lime
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp coriander
600g chicken breast, cut into chunks
salt and pepper
2 peppers, cut into chunks

For the tzatziki
4 tbsp 0% yoghurt
juice 1/4 lemon 
handful chopped mint
1/2 cucumber, deseeded and chopped

In a bowl mix together the soy sauce, lemongrass, lime zest and juice, garlic and coriander. Add the chicken and season. Mix well, cover and marinate for at least 30 mins in the fridge.

Meanwhile, make the tzatziki. Mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl, then set aside.

Preheat the grill to high. Thread the chicken pieces onto kebab sticks alternating with the peppers.

Grill the kebabs for 8-10 mins turning often. Make sure that the chicken is cooked all the way through.

Serve with the tzatziki with either rice or in a pitta bread with some lettuce.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Butterbeans with Sweet Chilli Sauce and Fresh Herbs

Last week I accidentally opened a can of butter beans instead of chopped tomatoes. Obviously not a substitute! So I had to come up with a recipe using them. I searched through my cookbooks and found Ottolenghi: The Cookbook which I was given last year by 3 girls in Year 9 when I left my job.

So of course the original recipe tells you to spend hours, soaking and cooking the beans which would be great but tinned are not a bad substitute and meant that this recipe was whipped up in about 5 mins flat. I just microwaved the beans for a couple of minutes and then added them to the sauce and I have to say that they were delicious, slightly spicy and lovely and filling. Fab picnic fair.

Butterbeans with Sweet Chilli Sauce and Fresh Herbs (from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi)
(Serves 6)

400g dried butterbeans
6 garlic cloves, crushed
70ml sweet chili sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into 2cm squares
4 spring onions, chopped
35g coriander, chopped
30 mint leaves, chopped
salt and pepper

Put the butterbeans in a large bowl and fill with enough water to cover them by twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight at room temperature.

The next day drain the beans and place in a large saucepan. Cover with plenty of cold water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 35-55 mins, skimming the froth from the surface and topping up with boiling water if necessary., until tender. The cooking time will vary, so check them during cooking.

While the beans are cooking, make the sauce. Place the crushed garlic in a large bowl. Add the sweet chilli sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce and lemon juice and mix well with a small whisk. Add the red peppers, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Once the beans have cooled down slightly but are still warm, add them to the sauce with the spring onions, herbs and plenty of seasoning. Mix gently and serve.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Pork Belly Mantou

I made steamed buns! I really and truly made steamed buns! Mantou are apparently the plain version of Bao which have fillings stuffed inside them. Basically I wanted to use up some pork belly and wanted a challenge all at the same time! The bread dough was actually much easier than I thought it would be although it takes time as it needs to prove, but I love a project and pretty much make all my own bread now anyway. These were great and the pork belly was delicious too. I served it with asparagus instead of spring onion and it was a lovely foil to the sweet stickiness of the pork.

I obviously made these before I started WeightWatchers again, I don't think the pork belly recipe is in anyway WW friendly, but I had some left over dough, which I froze, so I'm sure I can find some healthy fillings.

Pork Belly Mantou (from 101 Sandwiches by Helen Graves)
(makes about 10)

For the mantou:
2 tsp active dry yeast
275ml warm water
30g caster sugar
500g plain flour
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp vegetable oil

For the red cooked pork:
500g pork belly in one piece
1½ tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil 2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 thick slice fresh ginger, peeled
a small cinnamon stick
2 spring onions, cut into several pieces
2 star anise
1½ tbsp dark soy sauce
50ml Shaoxing rice wine
300ml vegetable stock or water

Thinly sliced spring onions, to serve

To make the mantou: Mix the yeast with the warm water and a pinch or so of the sugar and set aside to activate. Once activated, mix with the remaining sugar and all the other ingredients in a large mixing bowl to form a smooth dough. Knead for about 10 minutes (this is much easier in an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment).

Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a clean oiled bowl, then cover with a clean dish towel and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size. Once risen, gently punch down (knock back) the dough and knead again for a few minutes, then return it to the bowl, cover, and let stand in a warm place for 20 minutes. Roll out the dough to form a long, thin rectangle that is roughly 28in x 6in (71cm x 15cm) – don't fret, this is just approximate. Roll up the dough (from a long side) into a long log and then cut into about 10 small lengths, each about 3in (7.5cm) long.

Fill a saucepan with cold water for steaming. Line the steamer basket with muslin or greaseproof paper and place a few of the mantou buns on top (don't be tempted to add more than 3 or 4 as they will expand during steaming). Cover and steam for 20 minutes, then turn off the heat and let them steam for another 2 minutes. Do not remove the lid until the end of the cooking time. Remove the steamed mantou to a plate and repeat with the other mantou. Once they are all cooked, they can then be reheated in the steamer.

To make the red cooked pork: Place the pork belly in a saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, skimming off the scum that rises to the surface. Remove the pork from the pan and let cool. Discard the cooking water. When cool enough to handle, cut the pork into bite-sized chunks.

In a wok over a medium-high heat, melt the sugar with the vegetable oil. After a couple of minutes, once the sugar has begun to caramelise, add the pork (take care, it may spit) and stir to coat. Keep stir-frying this for about 5 minutes.

Add all the other ingredients to the wok and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, stirring frequently. At the end of this time, remove the cover, remove, and discard the ginger slice, cassia bark, and star anise, then reduce the sauce until it is thick and glossy, coating the meat.

 Reheat the steamed mantou in the steamer. Serve the red cooked pork in the split mantou, topped with some finely shredded spring onions.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Smoked Haddock Rarebit

This was really easy and quick to make too. I made it for dinner on Sunday whilst running around maniacally trying to get stuff ready for the week. I don't think I've ever made a proper rarebit before, so making a smoked haddock one was a bonus. I used smoked cod instead of haddock.

Smoked Haddock Rarebit (from WW Cook Smart Easy Everyday)
(Serves 2)
(10 WW ProPoints per serving)

2 200g smoked haddock fillets
400g frozen chopped spinach
75g Cheddar cheese, grated
2 tbsp low fat mayonnaise
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
few splashes of Tabasco
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

Put the haddock fillets into a microwave safe bowl and add 200ml water. Poach gently for about 5 mins until the fish is cooked, the flesh should be opaque and flake easily. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the spinach according to the packet instructions. Drain well and when it is cool enough to handle, squeeze out any excess moisture. Divide between two individual, shallow, heatproof dishes. Season.

Remove the skin from the haddock and the lay one fillet in top of the spinach in each dish. Preheat the grill to medium.

Mix the cheese with the mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and nutmeg. Spread this mixture over the fish fillets to cover them completely. Grill until browned and bubbling. Serve.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Cheat's Chicken Makhani

This was dinner on Friday. This is such a cheat's recipe as it uses pre packed chicken tikka pieces but it totally works. The flavours were lovely and it was so quick to whip up, prefect when I got home from work knackered on Friday. I added some spinach into the pan for the last 2-3 mins of cooking time for no extra points. I served it with 50g brown rice (5) and 1 tbsp mango chutney (2).

Cheat's Chicken Makhani (from WW Seasonally Sensational)
(Serves 2)
(6 WW ProPoints per serving)

230g can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp tomato puree
1 tsp grated root ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp chilli powder
200ml chicken stock
15g ground almonds
1 tsp caster sugar
225g chicken tikka breast pieces
1 tbsp low fat spread
1/2 tsp garam masala

Put the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, ginger, garlic, chilli powder and chicken stock in a saucepan and simmer briskly for 10 mins to reduce.

Stir in the ground almonds, sugar and chicken tikka pieces. Gently heat through for 7 mins and then stir in the low fat spread and garam masala. Serve.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Spicy Chicken Patties

For dinner on Thursday night I had Spiced Chicken Patties. I made them the night before and stuck them in the fridge as I don't get home until 7.45pm after pilates. Then I fried them off when I got home. I served them in a wholemeal pitta (4) with 2 tsp of lighter than light mayonnaise (0) and some lettuce. They were really tasty, just lightly spicy and great in the pitta. I made enough for two and froze the leftovers to have another time. I could easily see myself whipping up a hole batch of them and freezing them for sandwiches.

Spicy Chicken Patties (from WW Fresh and Easy Everyday)
(Serves 2)
(5 WW ProPoints per serving)

150g chicken breasts, chopped roughly
1/2 red fresh chilli, deseeded and chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 cm ginger, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp chopped coriander
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
cooking spray

Add all of the ingredients except the cooking spray to a food processor. Whizz until finely minced and the mixture comes together.

Empty onto a board and using wet hands shape the mixture into six patties. Heat a frying pan and spray with cooking spray. Cook the patties gently for 6-8 mins turning once or twice, until golden brown and cooked through. Serve.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Last week was pretty busy and when I went to WeightWatchers on Tuesday I had lost 5lbs! I suspect most of that has been wiped out by cake and good things over the weekend though!

I had an awesome weekend. On Friday night I went to London Zoo with my sister. We wandered around the zoo and our first stop was the penguins who were just being fed. 

We also saw the monkeys and this was the cutest tiny black cap monkey.

They had a World Food Market at the Zoo, serving all different sorts of food from around the world. Everything from Hog Roast to Falafel Wraps. We went for an Areppa from Venezuela, which was chicken in a yellow sauce with tomatoes, avocado, black beans and cheese in a corn bread.

On Saturday I met some friends in Chinatown. We went to Leongs Legend Continues for Dim Sum  and noodles, which was so good and then to Cutter and Squidge to try a Biskie. They currently have a pop up here until July but they said that they have a confirmed venue in Soho for the summer.

I had a Salted Caramel Smore Biskie which was amazing.

Finally I met my sister and my parents in the afternoon. We went to the Mac Conner exhibition at The House of Illustration, which was fantastic, such precise and realistic drawings and as my sister said, it's a shame these aren't considered "art". Then we went to get my birthday present, a new waterproof coat! Afterwards we had dinner at Wildwood in Covent Garden, where I had Baked Spaghetti Carbonara. My Mum had also brought some lovely roses from her garden.

After all that Sunday was a quiet day spent making cake to take to work, doing housework and reading in the sunshine. Today as you may have guessed is my birthday and I'm at work, but I am going to a friends house for a barbecue this evening. The rest of this week is busy busy busy, I'm out Tuesday and Wednesday at the theatre, first to see Violence and Son at the Royal Court and then the Eighth Wonder of the World at the Brunel Tunnel in Rotherhithe. I'm going to pilates tonight and possibly Thursday, and I have a school concert to go to on Friday. The weekend, however is quiet and I'm taking part in a flash mob on Sunday afternoon.

BLT Sandwich with Crisps
Out at a friends house for my birthday 

Creamy Celeriac Soup with Bread (WW Seasonally Sensational)
Out before the theatre

Southwestern Quinoa with Salad

Cheese and Ham Salad

Spicy Rice Salad (WW Weekdays)

Burger in a Roll
North African Stuffed Sole with Couscous (WW Nice N Spicy)

Herby Smoked Salmon Frittata (WW Seriously Satisfying)
Nonya Noodle Curry (WW Rice and Noodles)

Italian Fish Stew

This was Thursday lunch. I spent Wednesday evening getting everything ready for Thursday, so the fish stew was easily heated up at lunchtime on Thursday. I added chickpeas as I had 2 points to spare and chickpeas that needed using and I served it with a slice of wholemeal bread. This was very tasty although it could have done with maybe a little more tabasco or some kind of spice.

Italian Fish Stew (from WW Seasonally Sensational)
(Serves 4)
(4 WW ProPoints per serving)

pinch saffron strands
cooking spray
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves crushed
2 red peppers in brine, chopped
2 400g cans chopped tomatoes
300ml veg stock
2 bay leaves
small bunch fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp tabasco sauce
1 tbsp tomato puree
450g cod fillet, skinned and cut into chunks
8 large cooked, shelled prawns
salt and pepper

Put the saffron in a small bowl, add a few tbsp of hot water and leave to soak for 30 mins.

Heat a large lidded saucepan and spray with cooking spray. Fry the onion and garlic for 5 mins until the onion has softened, adding a little water if they start to stick.

Stir in the peppers, tomatoes and add the stock, saffron with liquid, bay leaves, half the basil, tabasco, tomato puree and seasoning. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 mins.

Add the cod and cook, covered, for a further 5 mins. Gently fold in the prawns and allow them to heat through. Check the seasoning and scatter with the remaining basil to serve.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Chilli Chicken with Flageolet Beans

This was actually surprisingly really good and it's low on points, only six. The chilli flakes add a lovely spicy element to the dish and the tomatoes provide a juiciness. Not bad for a WeightWatchers dish!

Chilli Chicken with Flageolet Beans (from WW Nice N Spicy)
(Serves 2)
(6 WW ProPoints per serving)

cooking spray
2 chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves, sliced
6 tomatoes
410g can flageolet beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp chilli flakes

Preheat the oven to 200C. lightly spray a frying pan with cooking and heat until hot. Add the chicken breasts and fry for 3-4 mins until golden on bother sides.

Mix together the remaining ingredients and tip into a roasting tin with 2 tbsp water. Nestle the chicken breasts into the beans.

Cook for 25 mins until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Creamy Smoked Mackerel Pasta Salad

Smoked Mackerel is a kind of a no-no on WeightWatchers in my head, although no food is a no-no really on WeightWatchers, you just have to account for it. Anyway, since I last tried to lose weight things in my life have changed. I discovered that I was insufficient in vitamin D as I suspect are most of the population of the UK and the doctor suggested that I ate oily fish twice a week, which I have been doing for a long while now. Other forms of oily fish are much lower in points but I have tinned and smoked mackerel in the house already and it's going to need eating at some point, so why not start now.

Creamy Smoked Mackerel Pasta Salad (adapted from WW Seasonally Sensational)
(Serves 4)
(14 WW ProPoints per serving)

240g dried pasta
100g tenderstem broccoli, cut into 3 pieces
325g smoked mackerel
4 tbsp 0% fat yoghurt
25g parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions, add the broccoli for the last 3-4 mins. Drain and run under the cold tap. Leave to drain.

Toss the pasta and broccoli with the smoked mackerel, yoghurt and parsley and pack into a lunch box.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Baked Chinese Trout

This was dinner on Tuesday evening and it was really tasty. I served the trout over 40g rice noodles (4) and stir fry veg (0). I had forgotten how much I love rice noodles, there is just something so yummy about them, note to self, make more rice noodles in future. 

Baked Chinese Trout (adapted from WW Nice N Spicy)
(Serves 1)
(5 WW ProPoints per serving)

1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
120g trout fillet

Preheat the oven to 200C. Lay a piece of foil out with a smaller piece of greaseproof paper on top. Lay the trout on top and sprinkle over the five spice powder.

Scrunch up the sides of the foil to create a packet but leave the top open. Pour in the sesame oil and the soy sauce and scrunch up the top of the parcel.  Put the parcel onto a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 mins until the trout is cooked through.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Eastern Cod Skewers

This was lunch on Tuesday. I found them fairly easy to make, although I only made enough for two portions and you can't halve an egg so I think they were maybe a little sloppy. I succeeded in turning two of the skewers over under the grill but the third broke apart, so be careful when turning them! I served them in a wholemeal wrap (5) and 1 tsp sweet chilli sauce (0) and a packet of M&S Salt and Vinegar Curls (2) and a Coke Zero (0).

I have discovered that M&S now do a range called guilt free snacking and that the Salt and Vinegar Curls and the Moroccan Chickpea Shells are only 2PP per packet. The other ones I've tried, the Tortilla Chips are 3PP per packet, but you get a lot in the packet for all of them.

Eastern Cod Skewers (from WW Fresh and Easy Everyday)
(Serves 4)
(3 WW ProPoints per serving)

50g wholemeal bread
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 cm ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 small chilli, deseeded and chopped
300g cod, cut into small pieces
1 tsp light brown sugar
15g coriander
1 egg
6 lemon grass stalks, halved lengthways
cooking spray

Using a food processor, whizz the bread into breadcrumbs. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and whizz again. Then add the cod, sugar and coriander and whizz until everything is finely minced. Add the egg and whizz once more until it comes together.

Divide the mixture into 12 portions, then shap each portion around half a lemongrass stalk, squeezing it into shape.

Preheat the grill to medium high. Spray the kebabs with the cooking sprsy and cook for 5-7 mins until cooked through, turning occasionally. Remove from the lemon grass stalks and serve.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Spiced Meatballs with Roasted Carrot Couscous

This was dinner on Monday. I really enjoyed this meal, it was flavourful and tasty and I love meatballs! You really need to yoghurt though I think it would be a little dry without it. I also steamed a whole pile of veg to eat with it and then promptly forgot about it, so when I went back into the kitchen there was a pile of over steamed veg which was a bit yucky and the meal really didn't need the extra veg.

Spiced Meatballs with Roasted Carrot Couscous (from WW Fresh and Easy Everyday)
(Serves 4)
(11 WW ProPoints per serving)

450g carrots, cut into small chunks
cooking spray
250g extra lean beef mince
250g extra lean pork mince
1 tsp ras el hanout spice
30g dried breadcrumbs
1 bunch spring onions, chopped finely
1/2 tsp ground coriander
zest 1 lemon
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C, Put the carrots in a baking tray and spray with cooking spray. Season and roast in the oven for 10 mins until starting to brown.

Meanwhile, mix together the beef and pork mince, ras el hanout, breadcrumbs and white end of the spring onions. Season and divide the mixture into 24 pieces then roll each piece into a small meatball.

After the carrots have roasted for 10 mins, add the meatballs to the roasting tray. Sprinkle the carrots with the coriander and return to the oven for 20 mins, tossing everything halfway through.

Meanwhile, put the couscous, the green ends of the spring onions and the lemon zest in a bowl and pour over 400ml boiling water. Cover and leave for 10 mins.

Fluff the couscous with a fork. Remove the meatballs from the roasting tray and keep warm. Mix the carrots, meatball juices and seasoning into the couscous.

Divide the couscous into four bowls and top with the meatballs and for an extra ProPoint, 1 tbsp zero fat yoghurt each.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Chinese Vegetable Pancakes

This was lunch on Monday, I wish I had reserved some of the sweet chilli sauce to drizzle over the top of the pancakes, a lesson learnt for next time, but other wise these were really tasty, I definitely need to investigate what more I can do with pancakes.

Chinese Vegetable Pancakes (from WW Cooking for One)
(Serves 1)
(9 WW ProPoints per serving)

50g plain flour
pinch salt
1 egg
125ml skimmed milk
cooking spray
150g stir fry veg
pinch Chinese five spice powder
2 tsp sweet chilli sauce

Put the flour, salt, egg and milk into a large bowl. Whisk the ingredients together to make a smooth batter. Set aside for 20 mins.

Heat a frying pan and spray with the cooking spray. Pour in half the batter and swirl it over the base of the pan. Cook over a medium heat until the top has set, then flip over to cook the other side. Repeat with the second pancake.

Meanwhile, heat another frying pan and spray with cooking spray. Add the stir fry veg and cook, stirring for 3-4 mins until done. Sprinkle with five spice powder and add the sweet chilli sauce.

Share the veg between the pancakes and fold into triangles. Serve at once.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Last week went well, although I got a bit of a shock. I thought as I was doing a WeightWatchers week I should probably go back and get myself weighed at a meeting. So I went back for the first time since November. Although it should not have been a shock, I had put on 10lbs, and it was a shock. I knew my clothes hadn't been fitting so great (read half don't fit anymore), and although I'd been trying to cut back and had in fact succeeded in losing about 6lbs, I was under the impression, because my scales at home hugely underweigh, that I was still at least somewhere near my goal weight, oh no, I was 8lbs over! So I had to pay. And although I'm still almost 2 stone lighter than I was when I started in 2012, it still feels like a bit of failure. I hate that there are pictures and adverts of cake and chocolate everywhere, that I have to walk past the sweets/crisps/chocolate aisle to get to the fruit in the supermarket, that I'm now 7 weeks into term and don't get a break till July, and I'm knackered and because the weather has been beautiful, everyone's eating ice cream and I want them all. It makes this so much harder!

So I guess it's a good thing that I started this WeightWatchers week and I have to remember that this is a lifestyle change and not a diet. So now I'm stood in the supermarket with the app trying to work out the points of things!

As a bit of an ironic twist to that I went on a Cupcake and Macaron tour on Saturday with a friend. I went on the same tour last year with my Mum and because some of the places we originally visited had closed this was a slightly different tour. So, both Lorraine Pascal's Bakehouse and Sweet Couture have closed in the intervening year and instead we went to BB Bakery and Crumbs and Doillies. We had mini cupcakes in both. I had a raspberry cupcake from BB Bakery, which came with a whole raspberry in the middle of the cake, the icing however, wasn't anything to write home about.

I had a Cookie Dough cupcake from Crumbs and Doillies, which was delicious, my friend had biscoff and said that was very good. That's Ruth modeling the cupcake in the photo above. She gave us a little bit of background to the bakery and said that they change their flavours every day and although the company has been in business for 9 years, they've only had the shop in Kingly Court since December. Patisserie Valerie seems to have been dropped from their route, so there were 6 tastings instead of 7. We still went to La Duree, Hummingbird, Yauatcha and finished at Fortnum and Mason where this time we had a cupcake rather than a macaron. In Yauatcha I had Yuzu macaron and a Pandan one, going for their more exotic flavours. All in all I didn't think the tour was as good as last time, the guide wasn't as good and they were definitely less generous although there was still a fair amount of food.

I then spent Sunday being crazily productive, making soup, doing housework, going grocery shopping and I decided at 6pm to start defrosting the freezers!

This week is busier, I have not one but two pilates classes, I am off to see Buckets at The Orange Tree theatre on Wednesday and then I am going to Sunset Safari at London Zoo on Friday evening with my sister. I am also going out for lunch with some old work colleagues on Saturday to Chinatown. So there's a lot of soup being had this week, it's a good job I made more yesterday!

Smoked Mackerel, Spinach and Potato Dauphinois with Salad
Butter Beans with Sweet Chilli (Ottolenghi)

Creamy Beef Pasanda with Rice (WW Nice N Spicy)

Ham and Pea Soup with Bread
Out before the theatre

Multi Veg Paella
Salmon Sandwich Pie with Crisps

Asparagus and Farro Soup with Bread
Out at the Zoo

Out for lunch with friends

Lamb and Flageolet Bean Salad (Salads)
North African Stuffed Sole (WW Nice N Spicy)

Super Berry Blitz

This was the first recipe I tried from my WeightWatchers cookbooks last week. It was just like the smoothies I have been drinking but using water instead of milk. It does fill you up and because it just contains fruit it has no points. You can use skimmed milk instead of water for 1 PP per person and add 80g oats to the recipe to make it a proper smoothie for 2 PP per person.

Super Berry Blitz (from Cooking the WeightWatchers Way)
(Serves 4)
(0 WW ProPoints Per Serving)

200g blueberries
200g strawberries
200g raspberries
2 bananas, sliced
1 tsp vanilla extract
425ml chilled water

Put all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Pour into glasses and serve.