Monday, February 29, 2016

Rant Recipe Pictures

Ah!  I cant believe it has already been over a week since Ive last blogged.  I seem to always get on a blogging roll, and then life happens.  Any-who... last week I came down with some very unpleasant stomach bug that caused me to be home stick from work for a day and a half.  I just felt super nauseous for a few days (ginger in club soda helped that a bit), then the second day I had horrible body aches and a mild migraine.  Not fun at all, BUT, compared to the flu that everyone else has been getting that has major symptoms coming out of both ends along with a fever and chills, I consider myself lucky.

To top off the end of being sick, my "lovely" lady time of the month came.  Perfect...  (***Girl rant coming, boys skip to the "Safe Zone" below.  You have been warned!***)  For those of you who have followed my blog for some time, you may remember almost a year ago when I was having major issues with my birth control pills.  I started getting TMJ migraines, I felt constantly tired, and I felt the need to panic about everything, even to the point of causing a panic attack or two.  For anyone who has never had a panic attack before, it feels like you have tunnel vision, you cant breathe but oddly breathe too much, and you sometimes lose feeling to your extremities, including your face.  Its terrifying!  I finally figured out that the hormones in my birth control pill were causing all of these weird symptoms, along with a mild case of anemia.

In the end, I completely went off of the birth control pill to try to get my hormones back to normal and I started taking some iron supplements.  I felt like I was slowly getting better over the summer, and then fall hit.  All of a sudden, my once very regular like-clockwork period was late... or rather, skipped an entire month.  What the french toast!?  After some mild panic crying and several pregnancy tests later, I knew for certain that I wasnt pregnant, but I had to wait an entire month for it to finally come.  Since then my periods have been getting slowly closer together (1 month and 3 weeks, 1 month and 2 week, then this time was 1 month and 1 week).  At this point, I am hoping I will be fully back to normal within a cycle or two.

Why am I telling you this?  Because I think it is important to remember where we have come from and where we are going.  Looking back nearly a year ago, I felt like my health wasnt in my control and that everything that was happening to my body could not be helped.  Now, I feel calm and energized and in control, compared to the sense of panic, perpetual tiredness, and helplessness I felt through much of last year.   Last year made me realize that health is not just a number on a scale, but how you feel during all 24 hours of the day.  I can say that I live my 24 hours a day in 2014 much more fully than I did during most of 2013, and Im truly excited for what this year will bring.

(***Safe Zone, Rant Over***) 

Anyways, I havent had too much time to cook over the last week or two, so no new recipes to report.  Tonight I will be trying a new recipe that I discovered on Whole Foods Markets website.  My husband, Kevin, often likes spicy sausages with hotdog buns for dinner because they are easy enough for him to make and very filling.  Obviously, NOT healthful food, but this last time he ate them, he told me that they gave him an awful gut ache and bathroom consequences later (hmm, wonder why? ;)).  Lately he has been enjoying more meals with beans that I have been making, like teriaki chickpeas and lentil soup, so I thought I might give this recipe a try to replace the spicy sausage in his hotdog buns: Lentil Sloppy Joes.

What has everyone else been making lately?

And here are some fun random pictures:

I feel like all Nutritarians or those who eat a
Plant-Based diet could qualify to wear one of these ;)
My first knitted item for myself in over 6 months!  I got the yarn
 from my mom for Christmas and a pair of beautiful custom made
bamboo knitting needles from my brother and sister-in-law.
I found this at a fancy kitchen gadget store downtown about
a month ago.  It instantly went on my wish list!
Kevin and I got around to hanging up some pictures from our wedding
now that we have some wall space to do it.  This is one of both of our
 favorites when we surprised everyone on our first dance by doing a dance
compilation of Thriller, the Charleston swing, the dance song from
Napolean Dynomite, and Summer Lovin from Grease.
One of my best girlfriends and I sharing a moment while we were out
for our annual Ladys Holiday Evening Out.  This year we called it
"The Night of Sparkles" and dressed up in shimmery cocktail dresses.
I found this killer ab workout that Kevin and I are going to do
tonight at the gym we just joined.  Wish us and our poor abs luck!
Check out this hilarious dinosaur tray.  Love it!
Here is an interesting convo I had with Siri the other day.
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Arabella decided that she wanted to do some baking this afternoon. I then thought it was the perfect opportunity to make the Cadburys creme egg brownies I have been thinking about since finding the recipe on the Internet a couple of months ago. Although in typical fashion I ended up doing all the cooking and all the eating - she chose barbies and haribo - and now I feel like a heffalump!!

This wasnt my most successful recipe as I didnt use the right size dish and I had to cook the brownies for lot longer than suggested and they didnt look as "pretty" as I was hoping. However if you like chocolate, you certainly wont be disappointed!!

Ingredients for around 12 brownies:

185g unsalted butter
185g best dark chocolate
85g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
3 large eggs
275g golden caster sugar
6 Cadbury creme eggs, cut in half (easier said than done)!

Preheat the oven to 170 C and grease a 20cm square baking tray (as I mentioned my tray wasnt big enough). I also added a layer of baking parchment as it is easier to remove the brownie at the end.

Melt the dark chocolate and butter together either in the microwave or in a bowl over boiling water (what I did).

Break the 3 large eggs into a bowl (Arabellas job!) and add the 275g of sugar.

With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy like a milkshake. This should take about 5 minutes and the egg and sugar mixture should have a paler colour and have doubled its original volume. I was very excited to use my new hand mixer for the first time!

Once the chocolate and butter is melted and cooled, fold it into the eggy mousse.

Next sieve the cocoa and flour over the chocolate and eggy mixture, shaking the sieve from side to side, to cover the top evenly.

Then gently fold into the mixture.

Then pour into the baking tin.

According to the recipe you cook for just 15 minutes before you add the creme eggs however I found this was no way long enough. Instead I would suggest cooking for 25 minutes.

Then take out the oven and press in the halved creme eggs (due to my smaller dish I could only fit in 4.5). These were pretty messy to cut!!

Then according to the recipe you are meant to cook for just another 5 minutes however I cooked for another 15 minutes. I would suggest checking after 10 minutes and seeing how its doing.

Finally set aside to cool and then cut into squares and enjoy!

No marks for presentation but 100% chocolately!! Wow! I added a little bit of vanilla ice cream and it was totally delicious - obviously I overdid it so am feeling like a fat little piglet but it was worth it. I will admit I prefer my Break-Your-Diet-Brownies but these are a great alternative and perfect for Easter. I dont know how I am going to resist them tomorrow as I am having a 500 calories day….I might have to lock them in the safe!!

PS It is even better the next day after being in the fridge….I think I am going to overindulge today!!!
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I was so chuffed last week as I managed to book a table at Berners Tavern on a Friday night…or so I thought. They called me a couple of days ago to confirm my table at 8.30….for breakfast not supper…duh!!! No wonder they had space at such short notice!!

Anyway I thankfully then reserved a table at the Bluebird. I used to be a real regular here, Arabella even had her christening party in the private rooms however I havent actually eaten here for about 5 years so it was long overdue.

We arrived at 8.30 (pm) and the place was heaving - a real party atmosphere in both the bar and the restaurant, something I was not expecting. I thought the Bluebird had had its "moment" and would be lacking in ambiance…how wrong I was (again). 

I was truly torn over what to order as it is a good menu - as they always have fabulous fresh seafood, I went for the crab. Pascal was tempted by the oysters but ended up having the foie gras.

Now for another error on my part, I didnt read the menu properly as it is "proper" crab in the shell, not dressed crab. Duh.

It was very good, but I do hate the fiddly bit of taking the crab out the shell & I had a Pretty Woman moment where I flicked crab everywhere…not very ladylike.

Pascal ordered foie gras ballotine with pickled grapes, raisin puree and hazelnuts and unfortunately he didnt fare any better with his starter.

It was delicious but it was too rich for him, he was expecting the foie gras itself to be plain and not so "mousse like". Luckily for me, I can handle rich food, so I helped him out!

Thankfully our luck changed with the main courses - we both ordered burgers with a side of mac and cheese (each of course) and a rocket and Parmesan salad.

The burger was delicious - it was 200g of brisket and short rib Galloway beef, lettuce, tomato, monterey jack and the house sauce. I am not sure what the sauce was but it was incredible - randomly it reminded me of a pimped up big mac but in a very good way (I love a big mac but never eat at MacDonalds as I am too scared to think about what the burger is actually made of etc). The burger was so good, it didnt need any extra sauces which is a very rare occurrence for me.

The mac and cheese was cheesy with a crispy crust, not as tasty as mine but enjoyable. Whereas the rocket and Parmesan salad was spectacular - we were fighting over the last lettuce leaf at the end and even contemplated ordering another!! A very pleasant surprise!!

The pudding menu looked good but we were fit to burst. Despite disappointing starters, the mains more than made up for it and I can safely say we will be back. There was plenty more on the menu to try - I had my eye on the burrata for my next starter - and the brownie and marshmallow sundae has my name all over it.  Although probably for lunch rather than dinner as it was so noisy that we couldnt hear each other talk which isnt ideal for a chatterbox like me (although Pascal properly enjoyed not having to listen to my endless drivel)!!


350 Kings Road
Tel: 020 7559 1000

Square Meal
Bluebird on Urbanspoon
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I love having beauty treatments and my all time favourite is a 90 minute rose facial at The Organic Pharmacy - it is amazing and a real treat. Although after a facial I never look my best as my hair is super greasy from the oil and my face is blotchy from the extractions. So when I arranged to go for supper with my lovely friend Ceri on Saturday night after my treatment, I requested that we go somewhere low key as I wasnt looking particularly glam!

We decided on Bistro By Shot, a petite, cosy French-Italian all day dining venue in Parsons Green. It is relatively new and I had read good reviews in local magazines. It also has two very popular sister restaurants/cafes in Fulham Broadway.

We perused the menu - it was different than the one online which confused me as obviously I had already chosen what I wanted to eat!

Anyway I easily chose again - the seared foie gras with red onion jam and toast followed by the saddle of lamb, olive mash, confit shallots, curly kale and garlic puree. Ceri also chose the foie gras and then she decided on the duck breast, polenta croquette, broccoli puree and honey sauce.

Unfortunately there was only one portion of foie gras left and so we decided to share the one dish as well as having a cheese and charcuterie platter.

While we waited for the starter to arrive, we were given some asparagus tempura which were great, very light, and I always believe a complimentary extra course is a very nice touch.

The cheese and charcuterie platter was a delight - plenty of cured meats and saucisson, cornichons and 4 different cheeses….I am not sure what they exactly were but they were all delicious, especially the soft blue cheese. There was more than enough for two of us and I expect I will be back very soon to share this with my husband Pascal - he would love it.

The seared foie gras was very good, it melted in your mouth, however the portion was minuscule and after we mentioned this to the waiter, he immediately offered to take it off our bill. Unfortunately they were seriously running low on foie gras that night!

I adored my main - the lamb was cooked pink and was so tender, the mash was soft and flavoursome with lots of olives, and the kale with garlic puree was out of this world.

Ceris duck breast with broccoli puree and honey sauce was also delicious however the croquettes had a funny flavour to them - we couldnt work out what spice had been added but neither of us were keen on it (obviously I had to taste it too)!

The pudding menu looked good especially the macaroons and the chocolate fondant but we were stuffed. We did however finish off with a couple of chocolate truffles which were the perfect way to round off the meal.

All is all the food was excellent, we really enjoyed it. The service was extremely friendly and polite but it was also very, very slow - there werent enough staff working. Hopefully this was just a one off occurrence. The restaurant is reasonably priced and I expect it is also a good venue for breakfast and lunch (they also do a set menu). I am also keen to join them on a Friday night (6pm-8pm) for "aperitivo" where you can eat as many canapés as you like for £4…..I will be there in elasticated trousers so I can really get involved!!

Bistro By Shot

28 Parsons Green Lane,
Tel: 020 7371 7533

Square Meal
Click to add a blog post for Bistro by Shot on Zomato
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I am so so so bad at waiting. I just suck at it - honestly. Waiting for the DVDs to arrive - which would take other 1-2 weeks I would assume - is a disaster. Knowing how bad I am at waiting, I also ordered some other stuff online (like shampoo - yes-yes I frequently order haircare online cos I like to try the different types which are not sold in shops in Germany! - vitamins, some clothes...) - so all of it will be waiting for me (notifications at least in my post box) when I arrive back to Bremen. Yey!

But anyway, today my restlessness got to the extremes, I could not simply work... And decided to do at least something! I started preparing myself a little bit for Meta, but thought it would be nice to stick to TAM even now... As I mentioned, I previously had some of TAM DVDs, though never got around to use them. And I thought it would be nice to start getting prepared a little bit. So I took the Beginners Dance Cardio and learnt the first section today and danced it for like 25 minutes, then took the Webisodes for arms, abs and butt (got those from my sis), and done those. All together about an hour. I didnt sweat too much, but then again, the Dance Cardio was quite easy. Will try to go into the second one tomorrow and then combine them together. Might be better then.

As it is Saturday tomoro, Im also thinking of trying the Mat Workout tomoro - will see how it works.

Fingers crossed. And PLEEEEAAASE - post office, work fast! :D
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Sunday, February 28, 2016


Now it is "summer" I am trying to cook more barbecues and protein based meals as it is good for the bikini body!!

This is a salad I ripped out from Olive magazine, it is called the "Green Goddess" salad after the green herb dressing which was very popular in the US in the 1970s - apparently is now having a comeback. We served it with some sausages however you could have it on its own or with chicken or steak or fish or whatever you fancied. It took about 20 minutes to make and was really easy.

Ingredients for 2 people:

60g quinoa
100g peas
2 tbsp lemon juice
50g rocket leaves
An avocado, chopped
8 slices of smoked streaky bacon, chopped
80g feta, chopped into bite size pieces

Green Goddess Dressing:
2 spring onions, chopped including the green bits
Half a lemon, juiced
2 tbsp of mayonnaise
A small bunch of basil (about 8g), chopped
A small bunch of chives (about 8g), chopped
3 tbsp water

Cook the quinoa according to the packets instructions - mine took 15 minutes in simmering water.

At the same time cook the peas in boiling water. Mine were frozen and took 4 minutes.

Grill the bacon according to the packet instructions, mine took about 10 minutes.

Our salad bowl has cracked :-( and so we had to improvise with a different style dish.

Once the quinoa is cooked, drain and rinse and then add to the bowl along with the peas, lemon juice and some seasoning. Top with the bacon and feta.

Then add the avocado and rocket.

Mix all together.

For the dressing just add the spring onions, lemon juice, mayonnaise, basil, chives and water into a food processor and whizz into a puree.

Then drizzle over the salad and tuck in.

This was really really good - so fresh and mouthwatering. My husband Pascal had typically turned his nose up at it once he saw it had quinoa in it but once he tasted it, he couldnt get over how delicious it was. If you dont like feta, you could use goats cheese or mozzarella or even leave it out. The same goes for the bacon, if you are a vegetarian, you could go without. As I said at the beginning you can have the salad with something or on its own - I think it would be a great summer lunch idea with some crusty french bread….and maybe some more cheese ;-)

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I had a really good weekend - shopping, theatre and lots of eating!! Pascal and I went over to Covent Garden on Saturday and it is wonderfully Christmassy, sparkling lights and Christmas trees everywhere and even Santa in his sleigh with all the reindeer built out of Lego. We saw The Woman in Black which was just as scary as it was when I saw it 20 years ago (gosh I am getting old) and wonderfully acted…Pascal did amuse me as he thought we were seeing a musical…obviously never listens to a thing I say!!

We went for supper at 6.30pm and despite the early hour all the restaurants were heaving, thankfully we had made a reservation at Flesh and Buns as I had wanted to go there for ages. As we were shown to our table, Pascals face dropped - they wanted to seat us at a HUGE central shared table - Pascals idea of hell (I am not too keen either). We asked if we could sit elsewhere which they thankfully quickly arranged - knowing how much we normally eat, we would have annoyed the other diners by taking up too much room.

The menu is full of sushi staples such as maki rolls, sashimi, ceviche and so on and then they also serve "flesh and buns" - a meat or fish, sauce, lettuce all in a Bone Daddies bun. (Bone Daddies is their hugely successful sister restaurant, both created by the ex head chef of Zuma and Nobu).

Like always we could have ordered the whole menu but actually we were quite restrained (for us). We started with chips and dips of rice crackers, avocado shiso and tomato jalapeño.

This was absolutely delicious - a perfect way to start a meal, light but tantalising for the taste buds. We then had the tuna tataki jalapeño ponzu and garlic chips. 

I was slightly worried when it arrived that Pascal wouldnt like it as he doesnt like sauce but it was very fresh and full of flavour - a favourite of mine.

We then had the fried squid with Japanese pepper and lime.

These were good but had quite the kick to them. Surprisingly Pascal adored them but they were a little spicy for me - at least they increased my water intake!!

We then had the chicken yakitori which are Pascals favourite - these were great, very tender chicken with a sweet and spicy, sticky sauce.

I could have ordered every maki roll on the menu but ended up just ordering the soft shell crab one with jalapeño mayo and chives, as I was trying not to overdo it. 

These were incredible and I resented sharing them!! 

For "mains" we had the flesh and buns - the crispy piglet belly with mustard miso and pickled apple and the crispy duck leg with sour plum soy and beetroot pickle.

The pork was the best I have ever tasted, so moreish - it was crispy yet also melted in your mouth. Unbelievably good. Unfortunately the duck didnt fare as well - it was a bit dry and tasteless - I would have much preferred to have more maki rolls or the tuna tataki again.

Unfortunately we were too full to order pudding which was a massive shame as the majority of people in the restaurant were toasting marshmallows over their own personal "fires" and it looked delicious, especially when they were then squeezed in between chocolate crackers - I think orgasmic is the only word…..

Anyway an AMAZING meal, I would really recommend this place, delicious food, efficient service, buzzy atmosphere and a great venue for groups. There is no reason not to go!!

Flesh and Buns

41 Earlham Street
Tel: 020 7632 9500

Square Meal
Flesh and Buns on Urbanspoon
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