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The Fast Diet fry up

8 Apr

Yes, I’m still on the Fast Diet. It was going quite well (5lbs loss) until I got engaged (eeeeekkk!) which is pretty much an excuse to eat out and drink champagne as much as possible for a minimum of two weeks. The diet went out of the window. But now with a wedding to slim into (eeeeeekkk!) I’m more determined than ever so shed a few more pounds.

This post is designed to prove that, even on such a restricted diet, you don’t need to give up your favourite guilty pleasure foods.

A closet fan of the potato waffle, I really fancied some comfort food today and devised the following Fast Diet version of the rather naughty fry up:

  • 2 x Birds Eye Potato Waffles, grilled (210 calories – don’t go for the own brand version, they have nearly double the calories for some reason)
  • 1 x slice of boiled ham (35 calories)
  • 1 x 150g tin of Heniz Baked Beans (109 calories)
  • 3 x grilled mushrooms with a sprinkling of oregano (48 calories)

Total calories = 402

That still left a few calories for a little snack at work. I realise this might not be the healthiest use of my 500 calorie intake, but my Fast Diet fry up hit the spot today.

One of my finer culinary blog posts....

One of my finer culinary blog posts….


Easy shortbread recipe

28 Aug

I’m no Great British Bake Off contestant, but I wanted to share my shortbread recipe. Super easy and super tasty. You need:

130g butter

60g caster sugar (and extra for sprinkling)

130g plain flour

130g cornflour

a dash of salt

an extract of vanilla pod

some grated fresh ginger

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl, then add the flours and salt. Don’t worry if it looks crumbly at this point, it’s supposed to! Add the vanilla and ginger, then pack the mixture into a baking try lined with greaseproof paper. Chill the mixture for half an hour before baking for another half an hour until golden brown. Once cooked, leave to cool and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.

That’s it. Simple.

Simple shortbread with vanilla and ginger

My chilli recipe

4 Aug

Some of my favourite friends came over for tea the other week. I made chilli. My friends were very kind about my chilli (but they have to be, they’ve known me a long time!) so I promised I’d share my recipe with them. I thought I’d share it with you too.

You know me, I don’t really do measures, but the ingredients are: pork mince (much tastier than beef) kidney beans, chopped onion, courgette, carrots and pepper (any colour) tinned tomatoes, coriander seeds (crushed) fresh coriander, fresh chillis, cumin, paprika, a splash of port, grated lime zest and seasoning.

It’s pretty obvious what to do with the ingredients, so I won’t bore you. However, one tip would be to cook the veggies and then take them out so they don’t go soggy and then add them back in later on once everything is bubbling and lovely.

I serve my chilli with brown rice, sour cream, strong cheese. And wine.

Secret weapon: my new chilli plant

Tasty vegetarian korma with a kick

24 Jan

After a weekend of over-indulging I decided that the boy and I needed some sustenance. A meal consisting entirely of vegetables was never going to go down well with him, so I decided to disguise it as a curry. Throwing together a few left overs I was pretty pleased with what I came up with: a spicy korma-style curry that was thoroughly enjoyed by us both.

I recently learned that although only 3% of the UK population is vegetarian, another 5% regularly eat meat free meals out of choice. I may be (occasionally!) in that 5%.

I used: 1 x sweet potato, 1 x courgette, 1 x onion, 1 x pepper, 1 x carrot, 1 x butternut squash, a handful of mushrooms, fresh garlic, chillies and ginger, 1 x lemon, dried turmeric, cumin, cardamom pods fresh coriander and a tub of low-fat creme fraiche.

What I did: I made the curry paste in a pestle and mortar, chopping and mixing the herbs and spices, along with the lemon juice and rind (scraping the cardamom seeds out of their pods beforehand.) Then, chopped the vegetables, parboiled the sweet potato, carrot and butternut squash and then added to the wok, along with the remaining vegetables and the curry paste. Once the vegetables were cooked (don’t let them get too squishy!) I added the tomatoes and the whole tub of

low-fat creme fraiche. I finished off with extra fresh coriander and a spoonful of rice.

It was veggielicious!

My first all veggie curry

One Big Cook-a-Thon

5 Apr


I love my dishwasher

Two Mother’s Days + a good catch up with old friends = a three-day cook-a-thon Chez Jules.

I didn’t quite realise how much work I’d taken on when my other half  and I between us agreed to host three separate meals at our place this weekend, but myself and my good friends Jamie, Delia and Ernst and Julio Gallo (just to keep a spring in my step) managed to pull off the cooking bonanza. I’ll not bore you with each individual menu, but I want to outline a couple of successes for you to try should you find yourself in the same situation.

Success number one: Jamie’s chocolate ganache

You may recall from a previous post that I love Jamie’s book 30 minute meals, but never has one been completed in under and hour and a half in my house….until now. The secret…don’t attempt the full meal, just one course! Ditch the spaghetti and silky salad which Jamie suggests to accompany the ganache and instead, couple the dessert with a simple pasta dish and voila! A 30 minute meal!

Success number two: delicious dauphinoise potatoes

Not a dish I had been able to master until now. But a bit of dabbling with the recipe…and I’ve done it! Slice your potatoes to the width of a £1 coin and layer up into a baking tray or roasting dish. Generously season. Then, boil some double cream, milk, loads of garlic and nutmeg (forgive the lack of measurements – I didn’t use any!) Pour over the potatoes and add a final layer of cheese on top. I used parmesan but today my boss suggested that gruyere is the way forward, so I’ll be trying this out next time! Simply bake for an hour and a half and that’s it. I also found that they can be prepared in advance and just warmed up as required which is very useful indeed when a trip to the pub is on the cards before the guests arrive.

Said potatoes served with stuffed chicken and green beans...on rather large plates

Jamie’s not quite 30 minute meals

7 Feb

Don’t get me wrong, I love Jamie Oliver and his latest book 30 Minute Meals is my new favourite. The tapas recipe is particularly spectacular. However, we’ve had a number of debates in the office about these culinary delights being possible to create in half an hour so this weekend I decided to set the stop watch (well, keep an eye on the microwave timer) and put this to the test.

Being a Friday night I set to work on his recipe for Cheats Pizza which I was pretty nervous about having never made a pizza from scratch before. I’ll not repeat the recipe here, but do check it out and give it a go, the results are fab. The whole process from start to finish took me 64 minutes, worth the wait – but certainly not the half hour breeze I was promised. For your benefit I will outline here some of the challenges which Jamie did not foresee:

1. Making a very sticky dough in the blender and needing to clean out this stickiness in full in order to be able to use the blender again to make the tomato topping

2. Your kind-hearted but heavy-handed other half actually breaking your beloved blender trying to clean it because the dough is so sticky

3. Digging out receipt and warranty for said blender to be able to make pleading phone call to blender company in the morning

4. Flipping the pizza base in the frying pan is a two-man job and takes a while after a few Friday wines – I’d say this added at least 8 minutes

With these hurdles out of the way I then set to work on the ‘super simple’ salads and accompaniments which are delicious, but I guarantee Mr Oliver has an army of choppers and slicers to help with his prep which a normal girl from Leeds just doesn’t have.

That aside, the pizza was yummy and I’ll be trying it out again just as soon as I get my blender fixed.

My delicious pizza