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Slimming World: A Week in the Life

1911353_10152275381477160_591973515_o Last night I got my 2 Stone Award!!

A few of my friends have asked me what I eat since I tend to have consistent weight loss, and when I do have a wobble, I usually know what the cause was. I lose on average 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 pounds per week, which for me isn’t bad! So since I decided to start tracking my food again this week, I thought I would post a typical week. I’ll add recipes at the bottom.

For those of you not on Slimming World, Slimming World has 5 categories for food. Free and Super Free (mostly fruit, vegetables, and other food that fill you up – things like pasta, rice, lean meats, etc.), Syns, Healthy Extra As (something with calcium), and Healthy Extra Bs (something with Fiber). Additional As and Bs can be had, but you count them as Syns. The booklet you get when you join has hundreds of Syn values, and you can find the values for everything else online (or with the ap). If the Syns aren’t listed, you can use the Syn calculator. If an item has Syns, the number is indicated in parenthesis. Slimming World has three eating plans, Original, Green, and Extra Easy. I tend to follow Extra Easy. Unless otherwise stated, the coffee I drink is fresh brewed, sweetened with saccharine tablets and my tea is Tetley “best of both” blend. Mayonnaise used is Hellman’s Lightest, Ketchup is always Heinz Reduced Sugar and Salt, Bread is usually from a 400g loaf of Warburton’s, Squash is no added sugar Robinsons.

Day 1
HEA: 250ml semi-skimmed milk measured out and used in tea/coffee
Breakfast – BLTEP(*) wrap in a Weight Watcher’s Tortilla (5 Syns) with Mayonnaise (.5 Syns), banana, coffee with milk.
Morning Snack – grapes, a pear, 500ml squash, and a cup of tea with milk
Lunch – Leftover Stew(**), 60g sliced wholemeal bread (HEB) with Flora spread (.5 Syns), 500ml no added sugar lemon squash, cup of tea with milk
Afternoon Snack – WW mini cake (3 Syns), apple, cup of tea with milk
Dinner/Tea – Vegetarian Chilli(***), 500ml diet iced tea
Evening Snack – RitterSport chocolate (6 Syns), cup of tea with milk
Total Syns: 15

Day 2
HEA: 250ml semi-skimmed milk measured out and used in tea/coffee
Breakfast – 3 egg omelette with 10g Reduced Fat Cheddar cheese (1.5 Syns), tomatoes, mushrooms, and 1 TBS Reduced Sugar and Salt Heinz Ketchup (.5 Syn), banana, coffee with milk, tea with milk
Morning Snack – Grapes and a plum, tea with milk, 500ml squash
Lunch – 3 Chicken Fingers(^) (3 Syns), seasoned potato wedges, cucumber salad(^^), Ranch dressing dip (made with powder and Greek yogurt) (.5 Syn), 1 TBS Reduced Sugar and Salt Heinz Ketchup (.5 Syn), 500ml diet iced tea
Afternoon Snack – apple and a pear with a cup of tea with milk
Dinner/Tea – I tried making mushy pea curry, but I didn’t like it, so I wound up with beans on toast (HEB), salad, and 500ml squash
Evening Snack – WW cake (3 Syns), tea with milk
Total Syns: 9

Day 3
Breakfast – BLTEP sandwich on wholegrain bread (HEB) with 1 TBS Lightest Mayo (.5 Syn), banana, Coffee with milk (.5 Syn)
Morning Snack – 500ml squash, tea with milk (.5 Syn), beans on toast (5 Syn)
Lunch – Pasta with Lightest Philadelphia Cream Cheese (HEA) stirred in and one Chicken finger(^) cut up (1 Syn), Cucumber salad(^^), apple, 500ml squash, tea with milk (.5)
Afternoon Snack – Pink N White (2.5 Syns), pear, tea with milk (.5)
Dinner/Tea – Pork steaks with mustard and agave(^^^) (1 Syn), sauteed potatoes, sprouts, salad, muller light yogurt, 500ml diet iced tea
Evening Snack – Options hot chocolate (2.5 Syns)
Total Syns: 14.5

Day 4
Breakfast – BLTEP* on wholegrain toast (HEB) with mayo (.5 Syn), coffee with milk (.5 syn), tea with milk (.5 syn), plum
Morning Snack – ASDA Vitality cereal bar (3.5 Syns), apple, coffee with milk (.5 Syn)
Lunch – Jacket Potato with reduced fat Cheddar cheese (HEA), Tuna mayo (1 Syn), and ketchup (.5 Syn), salad, pear, green tea, 500ml squash
Afternoon Snack – Pink N White (2.5 Syns), tea with milk (.5 syn), 500ml squash
Dinner/Tea – Fish and Chips(+) (2.5 Syns), mushy peas, salad, ketchup (.5 Syn), 500ml squash
Evening Snack – green tea
Total Syns: 13

Day 5
HEA: 250ml semi-skimmed milk used in coffee and tea
Breakfast – BLETP on toast (HEB) with mayo (.5 Syn), coffee with milk, tea with milk
Morning Snack – 500ml diet iced tea (++) (.5 Syn), plum
Lunch – (I wasn’t feeling well) Scrambled eggs, 10g cheddar (1.5 Syns), wholegrain toast (rest of HEB), green tea
Afternoon Snack – Atkins Endulge Chocolate Coconut bar (6.5 Syns), 500ml diet iced tea (.5 Syn)
Dinner/Tea – Roast chicken, roast potatoes, mushy peas, sprouts, ketchup (.5 Syn), tea with milk
Evening Snack – Options Hot Chocolate (2.5 Syn) made up with water and the rest of my HEA milk
Total Syns: 12.5

Day 6
HEA: 250ml semi-skimmed milk used in coffee and tea
Breakfast – Eggs over easy, Toast (HEB), lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise (.5 Syn), Apple, coffee with milk
Morning Snack – ASDA Vitality cereal bar (3.5 Syn), Pear, coffee with milk, 500ml squash
Lunch – Salad – lettuce, tomato, cucumber, chicken, corn, pasta, and dressing(^^), mullerlight yogurt, banana, 500ml squash
Afternoon Snack – 2 cups of tea with milk, no food as we were going out to dinner….
Dinner/Tea – Dinner out at the Fox and Hounds pub — baked sea bass with parsley, boiled new potatoes, salad, and cole slaw (counting 1 Syn for the mayo in the slaw), and then because I had some Syns left and I looked up on the Slimming World App that a basic Lemon Meringue was 8.5, I had that for desert, and 500ml sparkling water
Evening Snack – cup of green tea
Total Syns: I counted today at 15 since we went out to dinner. If the desert was 8.5, I had 14 Syns, but I am counting it as 15 to be safe, though I might have gone over 15 for the day, depending on how “naughty” the desert was!

Day 7 – Weigh In Day!
HEA: 250ml semi-skimmed milk used in coffee and tea+++
Breakfast – Scrambled eggs, baked beans, grilled tomato, apple, coffee with milk
Morning Snack – pear, mullerlight, coffee with milk
Lunch – We went to Morrison’s Cafe since we had a meeting in town. I had a Jacket potato with beans and a salad (no dressing), a mullerlight, and 2 cups of peppermint tea (all free!)
Afternoon Snack – apple, 500ml squash and a cup of peppermint green tea
Dinner/Tea – Eggs over easy, Toast (HEB), lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise (.5 Syn), RitterSport (5 Syn), tea with milk
Evening Snack – 2 Pink N Whites (5 Syn), tea with milk
Total Syns: 10.5

And this week I lost 2.5lbs to finally get my 2 stone award!

Some days I ate lots of food, some days I didn’t eat as much, but the idea is to eat if you are hungry — ie, don’t starve yourself and always eat until you are full. Some days all I really needed to feel full was some eggs and toast. Some days I needed more. Most days I ate salad at least once, maybe twice. I know it’s not the season for it, but a small pile of leaves and tomato with cucumber on the side is manageable.

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* – BLTEP wrap or sandwich is a lean bacon, lettuce, tomato, egg, and pickle (gherkin) wrap/sandwich. I usually use 1TBS of Lightest mayonaise for 1/2 Syn, and either my HEB bread choice or I Syn a wrap. This became my go-to breakfast all week!

** – I made this in the crock pot on Wednesday and had the leftovers for lunch the following day. Combine diced chicken breasts, mushrooms, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, peas, and tinned tomato in your crock pot with 2 Knorr stock pots, mixed herbs, and 3 bay leaves. If you are using frozen chicken and vegetables, you don’t need to add any water. If using fresh, add a mugful of water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. To thicken the stew, take a ladleful of the vegetables and blitz with a stick blender, then stir back in.

*** – See Slimming World Friendly Chilli

^ – I used a bag of 10 frozen chicken fillets from iceland and coated them with a beaten egg and then crumbs made from 2 slices of Hovis bread (10 syns for the bread), so I calculated these at 1 Syn per strip)

^^ – Super easy and free dressing made from 2TBS greek yogurt, 1TBS apple cider vinegar, and 1tsp dill, added to diced cucumbers and tomatoes on a bed of lettuce

^^^ – I coated pork steaks with 1TBS Tesco Whole Grain Mustard (1/2 Syn) and 1TBS Agave syrup (1/2 Syn) in a hot oven for 10 minutes on each side.

+ – I coated the fish with an egg wash and crumbs made from 1 slice of wholegrain bread

++ – Some of the iced tea I was drinking has 0 calories, so it is free, but another brand has 5 calories per serving, so 1L is 20 calories or 1 Syn.

+++ – I always measure out 250ml of milk in the morning and then keep track of my cups of tea/coffee. If I decide to have cheese later in the day, I change the tea/coffee to 1/2 Syn per splash of milk. If I have any milk leftover at the end of the day, I will either drink it straight or have an Options hot chocolate made up with water and topped up with the last bit of milk.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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More Recipes – Banoffee Pie

When I first visited the UK and heard the phrase “Banoffee”, I thought it meant Banana Coffee, and was immediately turned off by the idea. Then, I found out that the -offee in the name comes from toffee. Again, I wasn’t impressed, as I do not like English Toffee. Over a year later, I discovered that what the US food industry call English Toffee is not what toffee is like in the UK. Most toffee in the UK is more closely related to caramel – I’ve even seen the words used interchangeably. This, I could get behind. I’m not a super huge fan of caramel, but I like it a lot better than English Toffee!

With Tim’s promotion, I promised him any treat he wanted. We don’t do sweet treats often unless we have guests over or on special occasions. Tim picked his all-time favourite pudding (US: desert), Banoffee Pie.

I scoured the internet and my cookbooks and came up with a recipe that is Tim-approved. Ironically, this recipe also has coffee in it!

You will need:

3-4 bananas (depends on the size. I’d start with three, but have an extra just in case)
375ml can condensed milk (or caramel)
150g digestive biscuits (about half a pack)
300ml cream (or a pack of dream topping)
75g butter (melted)
1tsp coffee (instant)
1tsp sugar (I used Splenda)
1 bar good quality chocolate
water

pie plate
vegetable peeler
zipper top bag
rolling pin
electric mixer

Time saving tips:
When you’re doing your shopping, look in the condensed milk aisle. You might see a product called Carnation Caramel Dulce de Leche. Buy this instead of a can of regular condensed milk and save a step.

Pick up a pack of Bird’s Dream Topping (they even have a no added sugar version) instead of fresh cream to save on calories and for faster whipped cream (especially if you have problems with whipping cream like I do).

Directions:

Put your mixing bowl for the whipped cream in the fridge along with your beaters (this will help your whipped cream whip better).

If you haven’t found a can of caramel, you need to make it. Boil a pot of water and put the unopened can of condensed milk in the pan. boil for 3 hours, then let the can cool before you open it.

While that’s boiling, make your crust.

Put the biscuits into a zipper top bag and go over it with a rolling pin until the biscuits are a fine powder. Pour crumbs into the bottom of your pie plate and pour over the melted butter. CAREFULLY (it will be hot!) stir until the crumbs are moist and spread over the bottom and sides of your pie dish. If it looks a little dry, add some more melted butter.

After your can is cooled (or if you bought a can of caramel), open the can carefully and spread the caramel on top of the crust mixture. If you used the boil method, put the pie in the fridge for an hour or so to let it cool before the rest of the steps. You don’t need this step if you bought a can of caramel.

Slice the bananas and layer them on top of the caramel. Add as many bananas as you’d like, saving some to garnish the top.

Next, make your whipped cream or dream topping. Once it’s fully whipped, add in the instant coffee and sugar and mix until blended. Spoon this on top of the bananas.

You can make chocolate shavings to garnish by taking your bar of chocolate and running a vegetable peeler over it or by using a cheese grater. Top with some extra banana slices.

Put the pie in the fridge for at least an hour to get it to firm up.

I made mine with a can of caramel and a packet of Bird’s Dream Topping and put the whole thing together in less than an hour.

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Menu Plan Monday

I thought I might join Organized Junkie this week and actually post my meal plan as it’s Menu Plan Monday. Thanks to some last minute plans to visit friends several nights last week, I had some things leftover that I was able to plug into different meals this week, spending only £37 online at Tesco today, and that included splurging on some 2 for £4 hot chocolate mixes and scoring loads of things on special offer, including 2 loaves of bread for £1.50 (like getting the second loaf for 25p!). At the end where it tells you what your order is, It told me my savings were over £9. Woo.

This week, Tim’s on “long weekend” – He should be going back to work on Wednesday, but he has his new medical on Wednesday, so doesn’t actually go back until Thursday. Then, he works the early meal relief turn Thursday-Saturday, followed by a 12-hour Sunday day shift. Ew.

On with the meals…

Monday (er, that was today) – We wound up with pizza, because I was feeling kind of tired
Tuesday – Chicken Tetrazzini (Modified slightly to be lower fat)
Wednesday – Vegetable Soup in the crock pot (which really comes down to toss a bag of frozen veg in it the AM with some broth and seasoning, then add pasta when we get home)
Thursday – Pork and Apple Burgers
Friday – Roast Vegetable Pasta (again, with modifications)
Saturday – Grilled Chicken salad with fresh croutons
Sunday – Lemon and Herb Crock Pot Roast Chicken (with modifications) with all the usual trimmings (Yorkies, roasted spuds, carrots, parsnips)

Of course, who knows what can happen and if I will actually stick to it this week!

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Food & Recipes

Since I’m a housewife and one of my main responsibilities is cooking for my family, I like to post the new recipes I come up with and find to help out other people who might be struggling for meal ideas, and since I also am a bit of a frugal cook, my meals are often cheaper than going out! So today, I offer several recipes by request. No photos, though.

Barbecue Chicken Wings

Buffalo wings are pretty synonymous in the US with Football, and with the Super Bowl coming up, I thought this would be a good recipe. Wings also go with pizza (in the US), so I made a batch this weekend when Tim and I were over at our friend’s house for a night of Pizza, booze, and Wii.

Buffalo wings hail from Buffalo, NY, but there are several stories and bars claiming to be “the original”. Typical buffalo wings are very spicy. My stomach doesn’t tolerate spicy food too well, so I created my own recipe that still has some kick to it.

You will need:
Chicken wings, about 2lbs
Heavy duty foil
cooking spray
disposable trays (optional, but save on mess!)

For the rub:
1/2 TBS chili powder
4 TBS paprika (if you’re daring and want them to have a kick, try smoked paprika)
1 TBS cinnamon
1/2 TBS red pepper flakes (in the UK, this is called crushed red chili)
1 TBS basil
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt

For the sauce:
one bottle of your favourite barbecue sauce (we use HP Honey Mustard)
2 TBS Splenda or brown sugar

Preheat oven to 200C (400F).
Mix together rub ingredients on your worktop.
Line whatever you’re cooking the wings in with TWO layers of foil and spray with cooking spray.
Dip wings in rub mixture and turn, coating wings on both sides. Arrange in a single layer in your baking tray. Lightly spray tops of wings with cooking spray.
Bake for 12 minutes, turning halfway.

Mix together 1 1/2 cups of your barbecue sauce with the Splenda or sugar.
Brush wings on both sides with barbecue sauce mixture
Bake for 15 minutes, turning halfway.

Because I was taking these over to a friend’s house and I wanted them to stay warm, I used my crock pot to keep them warm and moist. I lined my crock pot with some heavy duty foil and sprayed it with cooking spray before I put the wings in. I also emptied the rest of the bottle of barbecue sauce into the bottom of the crock pot. Then, I sprinkled a little Splenda over the tops of the wings, filled the barbecue sauce bottle halfway with water, gave it a shake, and poured it over the wings. We left this on low at my friend’s house for about 6 hours and the wings were fine.


Apple and Bramble Crumble – No Added Sugar

This recipe is posted by request of the friends I made this for! The original topping recipe came from the US. I never bothered converting it to metric, instead I just grab a smallish mug and use that as my “cup”. It also helps for adjusting the recipe based on how much fruit you are using.

You will need:
3-4 large Bramley Apples, cut into chunks (or Granny Smith)
a handful or two of blackberries (more if you want)
butter (I used Stork to cut on fat content)
3/4 cup Splenda
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup porridge (rolled oats)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg

zipper-top bag
casserole dish

Preheat oven to 190C. Butter the bottom and sides of your dish.
Sprinkle apple chunks and blackberries (and whatever other fruit!) in dish.
In a zipper-top large bag combine 4 desert spoonfulls of butter with the dry ingredients.
Close up the bag and squeeze to mix it all together.
Carefully open the bag and spoon topping ontop of apples/blackberries.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until topping is brown and fruit is hot.


Homemade Chicken Nuggets

I didn’t measure anything out for this since it all depends on how much chicken you have. I also sometimes add other spices to the coating to give the chicken nuggets a flavour. Tim is fond of having Tikka spice added to his, but I prefer adding basil and thyme to mine.

You will need:
Chicken breasts, cut up/diced into however large you want your nuggets to be
equal parts flour, breadcrumbs, and cornmeal
pepper

baking tray
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 220C (425F) and spray a baking tray with cooking spray.
combine flour, breadcrumbs, and cornmeal on your work surface. Sprinkle a little pepper on.
Roll nuggets in flour mixture, making sure nuggets are coated.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

For a crunchier coating, shallow fry the nuggets in a few centimetres of oil.

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More Tasty Burgers

Tim said he loves my burger combinations, because it’s an adult update to a favourite kid meal. Tonight’s meal was Turkey Pizza Burgers.

No pic, but here’s the recipe:

500g minced turkey (ground turkey)
2 TBS green pesto sauce (I used Bertolli)
2 TBS tomato sauce (not ketchup, sauce that comes in a jar. I used leftover pizza sauce)
handful of shredded cheese
1 egg
1/4-1/2 cup breadcrumbs (start with 1/4, if it’s still too wet to shape, add the second 1/4)
salt & pepper
sprinkle of oregano

Mix all together and shape into palm sized patties. Cook until done (on the George Foreman this takes 4-5 minutes). Serve on rolls with lettuce, tomato, and fresh basil leaves.

I am well on the way to becoming the burger queen :). Next up? Trying my hand at creating sweet and sour burgers.

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A Trio of Recipes

I know I keep posting recipes instead of blog content, but I love to cook and I love experimenting with new recipes and twisting them into my own, so here’s three recipes I’ve been playing with recently – Roasted Tomato & Spinach Quiche, Cranberry Turkey Burgers, and Lemon Herb Chicken Traybake.

Roasted Tomato & Spinach Quiche

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I found this recipe on the LJ cooking community, but I modified it slightly…or a lot, depending on how you look at it.

This was enough to make two quiches – one in my quiche dish, and the other in an 8-inch pie plate.

You will need:

300 grams baby plum, cherry tomatoes, or regular tomatoes (if you use regular tomatoes, chop into pieces about the same size as cherry tomatoes would be)
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained (I stuck mine in a colander in the sink, then pressed a tea towel over it to push out some of the water)
50g Feta cheese, crumbled (or “reduced fat greek salad cheese”)
300g crème fraiche (or sour cream)
300g milk (yes, I realize milk is a liquid and can’t be measured in grams, but I used the Crème fraiche container to measure the milk)
8 eggs
salt & pepper
2 shortcrust pie crusts

1. Roast the tomatoes – spread tomatoes on a cookie sheet and brush lightly with olive oil. Roast for 15-20 minutes at 200C. When they are done, lower the oven to 190c.
2. Mix together eggs, creame frache, milk, salt, and pepper.
3. line 2 quiche dishes or pie plates with crusts.
4. Divide tomatoes, spinach, and feta between the two dishes
5. Divide the egg mixture as evenly as possible between the two dishes and bake for 45 minutes

My second recipe is for Cranberry Turkey Burgers. Again, I found the recipe online as a link from a blog I regularly read, though right now I can’t remember which blog it was (if it was you, remind me so I can link you)!

So…my version!

Cranberry Turkey Burgers

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You will need:

1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbs dried Sage
500g turkey mince (ground turkey)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg
Salt & pepper
Handful of grated cheese (optional)

Combine all ingredients and shape into patties. Again, I made them about the size of my palm and got 10 out of the mixture. Grill until done. I did it on a George Forman and they only took about 4-5 minutes in batches of four.

I served it with cranberry ketchup and fresh salad leaves from my garden. The recipe for the ketchup was on the blog I found the link on, and it was quite simple. Just combine equal parts cranberry sauce with ketchup. Again, if it was your blog, please leave me a comment so I can give a link!

And the last recipe was created this morning. I had wanted to make the Spiced Chicken Traybake recipe I clipped out of Prima magazine, but when I tasted the spice mix after mixing it, I decided I didn’t like it, so I created my own spices as I already had everything else ready!

Lemon Herb Chicken Traybake

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You will need:

Chicken legs (I bought a pack of 4)
Diced swede (I wound up with a bag of “root vegetables for mash” that also had parsnips and carrot)
Cauliflower
3 TBS olive oil
2 TBS fresh thyme (I used lemon thyme)
2 TBS fresh oregano leaves
1 TBS dried basil (If I had fresh, I’d have used it)
1 TBS dried sage (ditto)
1/2 TBS lemon pepper (if you don’t have lemon pepper, use regular pepper)
1 lemon or lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 220C. Boil the swede/root veg for about 5 minutes (just to get it slightly tender). If you used fresh cauliflower, boil that too.
2. De-skin the chicken. I didn’t do it this time, but I will in the future as there was a lot of fat in the bottom of the pan, and most of that comes from the skin.
3. Combine herbs and olive oil
4. Spread swede (root veg) in the bottom of your roasting tray and arrange chicken on top. Put cauliflower in the gaps between chicken.
5. Brush oil mixture on chicken and exposed veg, cut and squeeze lemon over dish.
6. Bake for 45 minutes, or until juices in chicken run clear.

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Serve with gravy and roasted potatoes. Gives a roast dinner a new spin!

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Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

I don’t have a picture of this, but I made this on Saturday when Tim’s brother and brother’s gf were over for Tea and it went over well. As usual, I tweaked the original recipe a bit…

Lemon and Poppy Seed Drizzle Cake

200g flour
200g caster sugar (Yes, I went to the trouble of going out and buying a small bag of caster sugar instead of using regular)
2 tsp baking powder
Juice and zest (grated peel) of 2 lemons
1 egg
1 TBS water
125ml buttermilk*
2 TBS poppy seeds
2 TBS caster sugar

1. Line an 8×8 cake tin with parchment paper and preheat oven to 180C.
2. Mix together flour, caster sugar, and baking powder
3. Beat together lemon zest, egg, and buttermilk and slowly add to buttermilk mixture.
4. stir in poppy seeds. Bake for about 45 minutes
3. Mix lemon juice with 2tbs caster sugar to make a glaze. As soon as you take the cake out of the oven, poke holes in the top with a fork and immediately drizzle glaze.

*To make buttermilk – Using a 1 cup glass measuring cup, put 1TBS lemon juice or vinegar in it and then fill it to the 1 cup line with milk. Let stand for 5 minutes, then use as you would buttermilk.

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Well, I Can Still Bake….

Two posts in one day! Go me!

My husband is fantastic. And I’m not just saying that because today marks three months of being married and two weeks of me officially living in the UK. When we knew we wouldn’t get to spend Christmas together, we decided to hold it after I arrived complete with all the proper Christmas trimmings…which included a turkey, a Christmas pudding, Christmas crackers, and cranberry sauce. I made Tim a shopping list, and he set out to get everything we needed. I thought he was only going to get me 1 or 2 bags of cranberries….so imagine my surprise when I opened the freezer to find SIX BAGS OF CRANBERRIES!

So this morning I decided I wanted to make cranberry muffins. I have a really yummy recipe from Vegetarian Times I found several years ago, but that recipe was in US measurements and requires stuff like ricotta cheese and orange juice (the recipe is no longer on their website, sadly). I wanted to make simple, easy cranberry muffins, so I went to my favourite British Chef – Jamie Oliver. Sure enough, he had a simple recipe, which I’ve copied below to make it easier for you:


Cranberry muffins

Ingredients
• 60g softened butter
• 155g sugar
• 250g plain flour
• 2x teaspoons baking powder
• pinch of salt
• 125 millilitres milk
• 250g cranberries
• 2 eggs

Method
1)Put the butter and sugar in a medium sized mixing bowl and mix them together until completely blended. Add two eggs, one at a time, beating them into the mixture.
2)Put your flour in another mixing bowl. Add two teaspoons of baking powder and a pinch of salt. Measure out 125 millilitres of milk. Then add small amounts of the flour mixture and milk alternately to your original mixture giving it a good stir each time, until all the milk and flour has been added and the mixture is smooth.
3)Finally, add the cranberries to the mixture. Spoon your mixture into a paper-lined cake tray. Fill the cases 3/4 full. There should be enough mixture for 12 muffins.
4)Pop them in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius or gas mark 4 and bake them for 25 – 30 minutes until they are golden brown. Leave your muffins to cool for about 20 minutes and then enjoy!

I didn’t have any stick butter, and the village shop only had lard in a stick, so I used butter out of the Lurpak (which has the bonus of already being soft). I also increased the amount of berries to 300g, as the bag I had was 300g and I sprinkled some sugar over the tops of the muffins before they went into the oven.

And here’s my finished muffins, all 11 of them (I had to taste one, you see!):

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Recipes that Warm Your Heart

This reminds me of snow days and lazy Saturday’s….

1 can condensed tomato soup
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of flour
4 slices of bread

1. Melt butter on stove, add flour and stir
2. Add soup
3. Heat over medium heat. Add Parmesan cheese and heat until it bubbles
4. Serve over toast

Note to UK cooks: You can make this with a can of uncondensed soup, just double the butter, flour, and cheese. (and you’ll also get enough for 6-7 slices of bread!)

This recipe originally came from my mom’s 1950s Girl Scout Handbook!

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Making a Recipe….

One of my favourite foods is homemade mac & cheese served with stewed tomatoes. I’m not sure if this is a regional thing (my family is from central PA) or just a family thing, but we always tend to serve them together. We generally buy a can of stewed tomatoes and just open it up and heat the tomatoes to put on top, but around here I haven’t been able to find any. So….I had to make my own.

Because I love the crock pot, and because it’s hard to coordinate cooking on Tim’s two-burner stove (that only can use one burner if you have the oven on), I decided to figure out how to make these in the crock pot. I looked at a few recipes online for both crock pot versions and stove-top versions and created my own.

Crock Pot Stewed Tomatoes

Ingredients:
14 small tomatoes
basil
oregano
bay leaves
salt
sugar

1. Peel tomatoes. I read on a few websites in order to peel tomatoes you put them in boiling water and immediately put them into cold water. That didn’t work for me. What did work was cutting a small slit in the tomato, then putting it into the boiling water for about 5 minutes or until the split started to grow. The skin should at that point just peel right off, but watch out because it will be super hot after being in boiling water!
2. Cut tomatoes into quarters and cut out the seeds/membrane. I didn’t remove all the seeds, just the ones that were attached to the core.
3. Place tomatoes in crock pot, and cover with about 1 cup water. Sprinkle with oregano, basil, and pepper. Add 1 tsp sugar and 3 bay leaves.
4. cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours, or LOW for 6-8.

My tomatoes aren’t as tomato-y as they are out of the can, so I think if I make them again I’ll be adding some tomato juice to flavor them. Either that, or the tomatoes I had weren’t ripe enough and didn’t have that full tomato flavour I was looking for.

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Converting a US Recipe to a UK Recipe

I wanted to bake banana bread today, and I invited Tim’s sister over to “watch the American fail” at converting from US measurements to UK ones. Fortunately, I didn’t have to fail, as there are loads of websites out there willing to convert for you. We used a website offered by French at a Touch, and found it converted everything we needed to know, including temperature.

Here’s the original recipe:

Banana Bread
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup softened margarine
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 ripe mashed bananas
2 cups flour
2 eggs
Mix everything together. Pour into loaf pans and bake @ 350; large loaves take about 1 hr 15 min,
minis should be checked after 40 minutes.

And, converted to being used in the UK:

Banana Bread
227g sugar
113g softened margarine
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 ripe mashed bananas
454g flour
2 eggs
Mix everything together. Pour into loaf pans and bake @ 175; large loaves take about 1 hr 15 min,
minis should be checked after 40 minutes.

Our measurements were approximate – 113g was more like 125 (half of the stick), 227 was probably closer to 225, and 454 probably only 450. We figured those were probably the amounts intended anyway if it had been a UK recipe. We also used 4 bananas instead of three. The result? Three delicious loaves of banana bread.

Does this mean I’m ready to convert myself to cooking/baking in the UK? Perhaps, but if anyone reading this blog has my address here at Tim’s and wants to send me a US measuring cup or set of cups, I’d love you forever.

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French Toast Casserole

I’m trying to plan my meals for my last week and a few days, and also trying to use up the food I have already before it spoils (like the eggs and milk), so I decided to make French Toast Casserole…a dish mom and I had been wanting to try since I found the recipe. I figured this will work as a lunch for me for at least 3 or 4 days, possibly longer as the small bit I ate today for breakfast was really filling.

I modified this recipe a lot to make the smaller version, mostly because I didn’t have an entire loaf of bread to use or 8 eggs left. I used about 6 slices of bread, a half a tub of fat-free spreadable cream cheese, 4 eggs, 2 cups of milk, and I omitted the sugar because I feel fat free cream cheese is sweet, so I figured I’d omit it, but below is the original. I have to admit, the fat free cream cheese is still gross even in baked form…so I don’t recommend it.

French Toast Casserole

1 loaf bread, cubed
1 package cream cheese, cubed
8 eggs, whipped
2/3 cup syrup
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1. Layer bottom of 9 X 13 casserole dish with 1/2 loaf of cubed bread. Arrange cubed cream cheese
over bread. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle half of the mixture over the cream cheese. Layer on
remaining bread. Mix eggs, syrup and milk together and pour over bread. Sprinkle with remaining
sugar and cinnamon.
2. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes, or until bread does not jiggle in the
center.

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Potato Soup

Mom was talking about making potato soup over the weekend, and it got me wanting it, so I had her email me the recipe.  I had to go over to the grocery store to get bread and potatos, and I didn’t feel like walking all the way down to Extra Foods, so I just went to Safeway.  Since I was over at the mall, I also stopped in at A&W for, you guessed it, a Root Beer Float.  While I was sitting there enjoying my treat, I noticed a few funny people I just had to share.

The first group were three older adults, the youngest-looking of the three using a walker.  They all came into the restaurant and sat down near the door and just stared at the front counter and the menu board.  After about five minutes, the one man said something to the other about “bad service”.  I honestly think they expected the girl behind the register to walk over to them and take their order!  The man with the walker made a big deal about getting up and then walked without his walker up to the counter to place an order.  Weird.

Across the mall from the A&W is a clothing store.  I watched a customer undress the window mannequin because the mannequin was apparently wearing her size.  I also watched while she just left the poor half naked mannequin with a purse slung over it’s bare chest so she could buy her sweater!

In addition to the potato soup, I decided to make some instant pudding for dessert….only, I had forgotten until yesterday that I had put half my milk in the freezer while I was camping so it would last longer when I got back…..and it’s still frozen.  I managed to squeeze out the 2 cups I needed by scraping the milk-ice..kind of like a milky snowcone, and then waiting for that to melt in the measuring cup until I had 2 cups.  Whoops.  Hope enough is thawed by the morning for my cereal!

It’s going to get down to 4C tonight, so I hope my pajama pants are dry soon!  (I’m also doing laundry today)

If you want my mom’s potato soup recipe, here it is:

Potatoes  diced   – about  8 cups
2 or 3 hard boiled eggs (depends on the size of eggs)
parsley (optional)
1 pint half and half or light cream
butter

After dicing potatoes, cook in large pan with water until slightly soft, Meantime
cook eggs.  Add milk, eggs, and parsley, don’t let it boil but bring
just to boiling point add small bits of butter (also optional) I
usually pepper and salt to give a little flavor.

I served mine up with some pillsbury breadsticks I brushed with egg and topped with poppy seeds.  Yum!  (although, mom’s is better….)



And because no post is complete without cat photos:



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Good Food, New Friends, Lots of Fun

Yesterday I attended a Barbecue over at C and J’s. They also invited their friends L and B and their children, who I’ll just refer to as K1-K4. K1 is 7, K4 is 6 weeks old. Later on in the day, R and his wife (another)C showed up. J set up the kiddie pool for the bigger kids (as compared to the babies) to play in and C, L, and I made two fantastic hot dips and a cucumber salad. I don’t know what all goes in the Spinach and Artichoke dip, but I do remember what went into the broccoli dip, since I made part of it-

Ingredients:
1 packaged thawed chopped broccoli (we used fresh though)
1/2 cup roasted red peppers (we used fresh red pepper)
1 cup miracle whip
1/2 cup parmesean cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella

mix it all together and put it in the oven at 350°F until bubbly and melted (15 minutes or so).

So yummy with some whole grain Tostidos. I made some Freezer pickles a few days before with part of the mountain of cucumbers C gave me. I couldn’t remember mom’s recipe, and she wasn’t online for me to ask her, so I looked it up online and sort of combined two recipes into one.

Ingredients

Thinly sliced cucumbers
Salt
1 cup sugar (I omitted this and used a few packets of splenda….should have used more!)
1 cup cider vinegar or white vinegar (I used white, and way more than a cup)
Diced onion (I used a leftover red onion Sarah and Joe left)
Dill or celery seed.

Put the cucumbers and onion in a bowl. Add a few tablespoons of water and some salt. Let sit for 2 hours. Drain, but don’t rinse. boil sugar and vinegar until the sugar has dissolved. Add dill (until it tastes the way you want it to) Combine it all into a freezer safe container. Freeze. In two days, you have pickles, or you can keep them in longer and get it out when you’re ready for them!

By omitting the sugar I made *really* tart pickles though, so I don’t really recommend doing that, or if you are going to do that, use more Splenda than just three packets!

We started being attacked by wasps, so we went indoors and the three older boys were watching DVDs. They picked “Enchanted”, which I hadn’t seen yet, so they invited me to watch it with them. I liked it, and the boys were cute in “spoiling me” (the plot was pretty predictable, so I had fun gasping at the appropriate places)

So, here’s some photos from yesterday…or not, because WordPress seems to not want to add photos today. *sigh* Photos later, then.

Okay, photos working now.



Baby C pets the kitten


K4 is only six weeks old. L calls this “burrito baby”.


K1 & K2 were “dissecting” a dead wasp.


C and Baby C


C’s cat, Luka, sitting in the grocery sacks


Hobbes, licking his lips after licking the dill off a chip…he kept begging for one, and Sarah told me if he kept it up to give him one to see what he would do…he just licked off the dill and left the chip on the floor!

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