Sunday, 20 April 2014

Cake and Bake Show Manchester

I was lucky enough to get a press pass and plus one for the Cake and Bake show in Manchester a few weeks ago.  I took my sister in law with me again, who is a much better baker than I am - and a significantly better cake decorator!

We took in some of the demos, had a wander through the cake competition, and then spent a long time looking at the stalls. The entries on the cake competition were of a really high standard - the children's ones were much better than I could have done.  I thought this Jungle Book from the adult competition one was the best.  I can't imagine having the patience to produce anything so detailed!

I have to admit that we were conned by one of the stallholders, we were taken in with the promise of a
tarot and palm reading, then once we'd paid found out it was a computerised thing, which did a scan of our hand, then the tarot cards we picked out were entered into a computer and then some numerology - we then got a massive print out - not quite what we were expecting, and definitely a waste of money!  Serves us right for being gullible though.

Our best deal of the day was by far the Billingtons sugar one, where we got 2 bags of sugar and a lovely tin for a fiver.

I also got a gorgeous garlic chutney - which will be the first one on my list to try and emulate for this year's christmas hampers, and some cheeses from the Cheshire Cheese Company - I got the vintage gold and caramelised onion and rioja, they were absolutely fantastic. I wasn't sure if I'd got a good deal, they did them 4 for £15 for me, but when I had some more when I got home I knew I'd made the right choice.  The vintage gold went very quickly, both me and Phil loving it, but luckily I've had the other one all to myself.

We found there to be more food stalls, and less cake making implement stalls this time, which was disappointing but certainly didn't ruin the experience.  I'd be interested in seeing how the London show compares to Manchester, sadly I won't be going this year - I'll either be very overdue and be banned from travelling, or will have a baby that's less than a few weeks old.  There's always next year though!

Thank you again to Nudge PR for the tickets, the refreshments and the use of the press area - it was very much appreciated by us both.

Been a while....

So it's been a while since I last posted, not an unusual occurrence, life sometimes does catch up with me and blogging takes a back seat.  We announced about 6 weeks ago that I'm pregnant again, due with baby number 2 in September.  Like with my previous pregnancy, I've found with this one that I've completely gone off food - I really haven't cared what I've eaten, and food has been strictly for fuel.  I've lost weight on the back of this, but my appetite for food is slowly returning and herein will commence my weight increasing.

I gave up slimming world at week 6, I was struggling so much with food, it just seemed silly to be stressing myself out trying to stay on plan.  I'm half tempted to go back now I can cope with food again - but I'm waiting to see if the swelling will start up, it was around this time last time that I started to balloon up.  I'll definitely be returning when I've had this baby - I may even go back just before baby is due just so I can have a super duper enormous weight loss.... although it is cheating.

I've eaten out quite a bit recently, but mostly just to family friendly places - I've found that I'm loathed to go anywhere small or trendy with Daisy, because I don't feel like those kind of places are welcoming to kids - and that we'd upset the other diners.  We've had some great experiences out with her recently; in TGI Fridays they were brilliant with her, even bringing out some sticks of chopped vegetables because she was hungry before the food came.  I took Daisy and Phil's niece and nephew out for Pizza Hut buffet the other week, and because Daisy hardly ate anything they didn't charge us for her - which I thought was really good.  I'm almost afraid to go places with her that are independent/trendy or don't have room for the pushchair.

I did meet my friend Mrs P for tea quite a few weeks ago, and we went to the Hotel Chocolat restaurant Roast and Conch.  we ordered off the set menu, 2 courses for £18.  I had the Confit of Leek and Potato Nib Cake - it was absolutely gorgeous.  Mrs P had the beef dish, and we both opted for the mousse to finish.  I'd definitely go back again, and I'm really interested in the breakfast menu.  Even though we'd stuffed ourselves and had a pudding, we still picked up some chocolate downstairs - I tried some 50% chocolate and loved it.

I've made a couple of nice dishes that I've thought I should have blogged about, but hadn't thought to photograph, and I've picked up a few new cookbooks recently so I need to get back into cooking properly and back to blogging regularly.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Slimming world friendly Prawn, Pea and Mushroom risotto

On my last meal plan I'd mentioned I was having mushroom risotto.  But then I started wanting prawn and pea risotto.  But I had loads of mushrooms to use up.... So Prawn, Pea and Mushroom risotto was born....

I only made a small quantity of this, but it still did my evening meal, and then leftovers for lunch the next day.

150g arborio rice
1 pint vegetable stock
Cooked prawns
onion powder

You'll notice the usual risotto ingredient of onion missing.  Phil hates onions so I've stopped buying them, and use onion powder instead.  In a dish like risotto they do make the difference though, so I'd definitely use one if I'd had one in...

Same as a normal risotto, but... use fry light, then fry off the mushrooms (and onion if you're using) then when they've cooked a bit, add the rice.  Give that a minute in the pan and then add a small amount of vegetable stock.  Stir it in then let it soak in to the rice.  Repeat until you all the stock is added - on the last addition add the peas and prawns.  They only take a few minutes to cook through.  Once the liquid is all absorbed, and your rice is tender then the risotto is ready.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Recent Eats

I've been eating out when I really shouldn't be... or I should be making better choices when I do eat out I spose...

In the past few weeks I've been to Trinity Kitchen a couple of times, for the famous Manjit's Kitchen Chilli Paneer Wrap, I have to admit that I did think that £6 was pretty steep for a wrap...then I saw the SIZE of it.  Enormous.  I could share this and still be full.  I didn't even manage to finish my wrap yesterday. (Managed to eat all the paneer out of it though...).

It being my long awaited pay day yesterday, I also treated myself to a Magnificent Milkshake too, I opted for the vanilla creme brulee.  Delicious, although if I got one again I'd ask for it without whipped cream.

I popped out for lunch with a work colleague the other week, to get to know her a bit better.  With it being so close to work we went to LS6.  I opted for the roasted med veg and cream cheese sandwich, with a side of chips.  I'd assumed the med stood for Mediterranean but the only veg in it was carrot and mushroom - so perhaps it means medium?

All last week I'd driven home hearing the Toby Carvery advert, by the powers of persuasive advertising I was insistent that I had to have a carvery last weekend, so we popped along to our local one.  I declined the yorkshire pud, but did have some roast and mashed potatoes, and a bit of gravy, so it was quite synful.  I like that they give a free plate for little ones that you can put veg and potatoes on, and get a yorkshire pud - although Daisy only ate her yorkshire pudding and the turkey off my plate, barely touched the veg I'd got her.

Garofalo Gluten Free Pasta

I was kindly sent a couple of packets of gluten free pasta to review, penne and casarecce.

I found the gluten free pasta to be easier on my stomach than normal pasta, so I didn't feel quite so bloated and sluggish after a pasta meal.

We did, however, find that if you left the pasta to cook and didn't stir it then it formed a congealed lump in the pan - not good.  It might have said to keep stirring in the instructions, but as they were in italian then I don't know!  I made sure that we kept stirring when we used it after our messy pasta situation, and it worked beautifully.  If I'm cooking then I tend to stir everything quite a lot anyway - Obsessive Compulsiveness.

If I saw this pasta on offer, then I'd definitely buy it, but I unless I had a health need to move to gluten free pasta I can't see me choosing it over normal pasta.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Another week of meal planning

How are we back to Monday again!

On our meal planner this week:

  • M - ham and vegetable pasta, in tomato sauce, using the gluten free pasta I've been sent to review
  • T - jacket potatoes and beans
  • W - slow cooker beef stew, mash and vegetables
  • Th - meat (whatever looks appetising at Aldi this week) and savoury rice - rice cooked in vegetable stock with peas, sweetcorn, mushrooms and peppers (peppers for me only)
  • F - fish fingers, beans, wedges for everyone else, mushroom risotto for me
  • Sa - tuna pasta bake, garlic bread for everyone else, salad for me
  • Su - mince, veg and mash
We didn't do badly at following our meal plan last week, although I forgot to get the beef for the stew on Sunday - oops.  Saturday I very nearly caved and demanded a chinese takeaway, but Phil being supportive ignored my unsubtle hinting about getting a takeaway and we had some lovely gammon again.

I lost 5ib at my first fat club weigh in, hoping to get my half a stone award this week!

Linking up, as usual, with Mrs M and her meal planning army.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Recent Eats - Christmas, New Years and First week of Jan

We had a lovely christmas and new years, although tiring!  Christmas day we went to my parents for christmas dinner, I brought some Parmesan coated parsnips (delia christmas book) and the cheese board which was made up of cheeses bought from Leeds Market and Millies (the port soaked Stilton was immense).

Duck opening her stocking
Duck in her best party dress, ready to open more presents

We stayed over and had the traditional boxing day party and buffet the next day.  On Christmas Eve I'd made a bacon and egg pie (from the new Paul Hollywood Pies and Puds book) and a Tiramisu for the buffet.  I rewarded my hard work with an excessively large esspresso brandtini... I paid the price of that with a headache christmas morning...

For New Years the duck went to Grandma and Grandad's and Phil and I shared an M&S meal (pie, cauliflower cheese and peas and carrots) and had a couple of glasses of our favourite prosecco.  (You can just about see my VW Camper van wine rack!).

This weekend I was treated to a grown up afternoon and headed out to the shops with Mrs P while Phil entertained Daisy.  I picked up a great bargain in the sale with a new coat, and we headed to Trinity Kitchen for lunch.

I was torn between Fish& and Donostia Social Club, being in the mood for a spanish beer Donostia won, we both had the chorizo stew - it was delicious.