Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Butternut Squash Soup with Cheddar and Apple Wheaten Bread

HELLOOOOO! I promised you a recipe today and now I am delivering on that promise! I have been working away in the kitchen all morning and have rustled up two different recipes to share with you today! Number one is my Rosemary, Chilli and Garlic Butternut Squash soup and number two is my cheddar and apple wheaten bread recipe! Both are equally delicious and can be served together for a delicious, comforting and satisfying lunch ( not to mention healthy and cheap!). These are the perfect recipes for a warming winter lunch or for a tasty and easy starter to have with your Christmas dinner, you could even get a head start now and pop it in the freezer ready to be defrosted on Christmas day (yes that's too organised for me too!). On with the recipes...



 Butternut Squash Soup

This recipe made two big bowls of soup, one for me and one for the freezer! But if you wanted smaller bowls you could probably get three servings out of the recipe.

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash
1 large onion
1 tsp of dried rosemary
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp. of olive oil
a good pinch of chilli flakes
salt and pepper to season

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and chop and peel your butternut squash, smallish chunks are best.
2. Drizzle over 1 tbsp. of oil and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper and sprinkle over the rosemary.
3. Roast the squash in the oven for about 40mins until the cubes are soft and have browned a little.
4. When the squash is done roasting heat the remaining 1 tbsp. of oil in a saucepan and add your onion and chilli flakes and fry until the onion is soft.
5. When the onion is soft crush in your garlic gloves and fry for another minute. When this is done add in your squash and give everything a good stir. Crumble in the stock cube and add boiling water until the squash is just covered. Simmer for 10mins.
6. When it has simmered for 10mins just use a stick blender until it is your desired consistency. I like mine pretty thick but you can add more water at this stage if you like it thinner. Check the seasoning and there you go, you're done!


Cheddar and Apple Wheaten Bread

I recently discovered how easy this bread was to make when my husband and I decided to stop buying supermarket bread. I have since made this recipe my go to bread recipe every week (the less said about the sourdough, the better!). This recipe makes a pretty huge loaf of bread but you could half the recipe too which would make a perfect loaf for a lunch for three people, perfect when served with the soup. This is not a traditional recipe as I have not used buttermilk, I just use milk and yogurt as I find it hard to get buttermilk and I don't always have it in my fridge like I do yoghurt and milk. My favourite thing about this bread is the cheesy crust and the cheese pockets throughout the loaf, absolutely delicious! The apple just gives little bursts of sweetness throughout and is perfect with the cheese.

Ingredients

1tsp bicarbonate of soda
250ml whole milk
250ml natural yoghurt
100g oats
250g coarse wholemeal flour
250g plain flour
a good pinch of sea salt
100g cheddar cheese, cubed
1 apple, any variety, cubed
25g butter, cubed

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and put all your dry ingredients into a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon.
2. Add in the butter and mix until combined and the mix forms a crumbly texture.
3. Add in the apple and cheese and mix with a spoon until evenly dispersed.
4. Add in the yoghurt and milk (you could use 500ml of buttermilk, more traditional but less handy). Mix until everything is combined.
5. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and sprinkle with flour.
6. Turn your bread mix out unto the baking sheet and shape into a loaf shape. Don't work the dough very much at all as this can make it very crumbly.
7. Take a sharp knife and cut a cross in the top of the loaf and pop it in the oven for about 45mins, until it's golden and crisp on the top.
8. Leave to cool and cut into slices slathered with butter or more cheese (you can never have too much cheese!) to serve.


And this is what it looks like all served up, doesn't that just make you hungry!

So there you have it two delicious recipes for the price of one! Let me know if you try this recipe, I would love to know what you think of it! I'm really loving soups this winter, I love how you can pack loads of veggies in there and they taste so scrummy! I've been being really adventurous with my soup recipes too, testing out a load of new ones! What are you favourite soup recipes, I would love to know? Anyway, enough soup talk, thanks for reading and I will be back tomorrow with my regular what I eat in a day post, so I will see you then,

Rachael xx.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Meal Plan Monday


Greetings everyone, I hope you're all having a lovely non-mondayish (yes I just made up that word!) Monday! How was your weekend? I had a fabulous weekend filled with Christmas decorating, coffee, Christmas shopping, giant pastries and Christmas meals out, just perfect! I'm back today to share with you my meal plan for this week. I'm definitely getting into the Christmas spirit and so, a couple of festive inspired meals have snuck in there! Well the tree is up now after all :). Don't worry though, if you want some more festive meal inspiration, that will be coming up in next week's meal plan, a whole week of festive inspired meals to get the taste buds going! This week however, it's a bit of a mixed bag, I've got some meals that I still haven't got around to eating from previous weeks meal plans, a few soup recipe favourites and some exciting new recipes to try! I feel I may have planned a few too many meals this week but that's always good for stocking up the freezer (and our bellies) for this busy festive period! So on with the plan...


Monday: Peach and Chickpea Curry with rice and peas, A Girl Called Jack.

Tuesday: Sweet Pea Fish Pie and Veg, Save with Jamie.

Wednesday: Carrot and Parsnip Soup with a cheese toastie, Avoca Soups.

Thursday: Crispy chicken traybake

Friday: Sprout and Caramelised onion soup with wheaten bread, Leon Family.

Saturday: Chilli Hot pot with green veg, Leon Family.

Sunday: Tomato, Thyme, Red Pepper and Goat's Cheese tart with veg, Leon Family.

Monday:  Veggie Burger with Sweet Potato Chips, Leon Family.

This week my recipe inspiration came mainly from the Leon family and friends cookbook! I love this cookbook, it is absolutely one of my all-time favourites. You may have heard of Leon before, they have a small chain of healthy fast food outlets in the UK, I've never been but I have heard great things. I actually got this book for Christmas last year so I though it was about time to bring it out again. The book is filled with family classic recipes with a few culinary twists in there! Every meal turns out so tasty and they have so many hints and tips along the way that really help you expand your culinary knowledge! It's a great book even just to flick through at bedtime to read the stories behind the recipes and look at all the beautiful pictures. I would really recommend this book to anyone who loves to cook delicious, nutritious meals for family gatherings, for anyone who wants to cook tasty meals and learn about cooking in more detail or for anyone who has a big family to cook for! Also, the recipes are very economical and great for eating on a budget (always a win in my book!). I'm slowly trying to collect all their books. So far I have the vegetarian cookbook, the family and friends and the fast food book but there are many more and each offers something new and equally delicious. Give'em a go!

So there you have it that's what we will be eating this week! I'm really looking forward to the veggie burgers and chips, I love a veggie burger almost as much as I love a beef burger! I'm also really looking forward to all the soup recipes, I always crave something warm and cosy at this time of year and can't get enough of the stuff, with a cheese toastie dunked in (of course!). Speaking of soup, I will be back tomorrow with a sneaky Garlic, Chilli and Rosemary Butternut squash soup recipe, so keep your eyes peeled, I might even throw in a tasty wheaten bread recipe if you're lucky! This soup would be great for a starter for your Christmas dinner too, just sayin! Thanks for reading, talk soon,

Rachael xx.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Christmas Candy Cane Chocolate Bark

Howdy all and a very merry second day of Christmas to you! That's right, Christmas starts as soon as December does and I couldn't be happier! We are going to decorate our tree today, TODAY (i'm jumping around whilst typing this)!! So, in light of the festive season beginning I am bringing you my first festive themed post in the form of a really tasty, easy and affordable recipe for Christmas gifts. There's just something so lovely about receiving and gifting handmade Christmas presents! I always think it shows that a lot of time and effort went into the gift. In this consumer driven world we live in, it's nice to take a step back from the mad money panic and do something personal and thoughtful! This chocolate bark is great to make a big batch of and give as gifts to whomever you wish! So easy to whip up, it literally takes about 10mins to assemble, perfect for last minute gift ideas. Also, just a wee hint, I made enough for two gifts and it cost me about £1, so bargainous and no-one needs to know. All you have to do is leave it to cool, break it up and put it in pretty bags tied up with string, sorted! So, without further adieu let's get on with the recipe...


You will need:-

100g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
100g white chocolate, broken into chunks
about 3 candy canes, bashed up
some edible glitter
festive sprinkles or whatever you have that would look good

Here's the plan:-

1. Melt your dark chocolate and white chocolate which ever way is easier for you, but remember to be careful we don't want any burnt chocolate in there. I used a bowl over a pan of boiling water for the dark chocolate and the microwave in 5-10s bursts for the white chocolate.
2. Lay some baking paper, shiny side up on a flat surface.
3. Pour the shiny melted dark chocolate unto the baking paper.
4. Immediately after, pour the white chocolate unto the dark chocolate, swirling around as you go!
5. Take the a knife and swirl the chocolate around, letting it spread a little as you go, being careful not to spread it too thin. You should have a lovely swirly patterned chocolate.
6. Take your candy canes and sprinkle over the top of the chocolate.
7. Sprinkle over your festive sprinkles, or whatever you are using. Cranberries, nuts and raisins would work great too! This would be great for a more adult friendly version.
8. Dust with edible glitter and leave to cool where it is or in the fridge, whatever's easier!
9. When it's cooled until it's solid, break it up into sporadic chunks and put in little bags and tie with ribbon. You will need to store this somewhere cool, it won't look so pretty as candy cane chocolate soup in a bag!

And there you have it, a 10minute edible Christmas gift, yummy! By the way, it's perfectly acceptable to make this with the intention of giving it as a gift but end up eating it all yourself, it's Christmas after all, you've got to treat yourself too!

There you go, a very easy and tasty handmade Christmas gift that friends and family will love. It's an especially easy recipe to have children help make, they will love licking the bowl of melted chocolate after (my husband still does this!). Please let me know if you give this a go. Also, do you have any great gifting ideas, please share them in the comments, let's inspire each other through this festive season. I've got some more recipes and ideas where that came from so stay tuned over the next month! As always, thanks for reading,

Rachael xx.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

What I Eat in a Day 5

Hi again! Today's post is another what I eat in a day post and i'm sure by now you are noticing some themes, i'm really quite repetitive with my meals. I always have apples, clementines, a home made soup and cheese toasties nearly every day! But I never seem to get sick of them! This day I tried to be a little bit more healthy than usual as I had quite a lot of food over the weekend, including lots of chips, pizza, takeaways and chocolate! It was amazing and tasty food but my body always feels a bit yuck after eating like that for a few days, so I had to get back to my normal diet and restore some order!

BREAKFAST

A royal gala apple cut into wedges with a tablespoon of peanut butter

This is my sort of lighter breakfast option, I had a takeaway pizza the night before so wasn't really feeling too hungry. I love this combination, peanut butter just goes so well with apple. It's so tasty and very quick to prepare, it's even great to eat on the go! The apple gives you one of your 5 a day and the peanut butter gives you some protein to keep you going, so you don't starve 5 mins later. My only problem is trying not to eat the whole jar of peanut butter (trust me this is a really big problem!). I also had a massive coffee (of course!) and a HUGE glass of water, I really needed it, I was so thirsty after the pizza the night before.

LUNCH

Mexican chilli bean soup, a cheesy pitta and 4 clementines

This soup was part of my meal plan for the week before but we didn't eat it. Since all the ingredients are store cupboard and keep very well,  I decided to make it for my lunch! It's such an easy recipe and is from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe! I've talked about this book before so I won't bore you again but it really is amazing for yummy and very budget friendly meals. This soup is so good for you too, comforting and healthy, it's a win win! It has carrots, onions, tomatoes, black beans, red wine and a secret ingredient! You want to know what the secret is, it's dark chocolate (you can thank me for this sometime!). The dark chocolate really makes this dish taste so rich and delicious and gives it a lovely thick sauce. Dark chocolate is also a great addition to a chilli con carne, apparently the Mexicans do this and that's good enough for me! And of course I couldn't have a bowl of soup without some form of cheese toastie, this time it was a griddled pitta, so yummy dunked into the chilli tomato soup! I finished all that food off with 4 (yes 4!) clementines. They really are one of my favourite fruits, so sweet and they smell delicious!

 DINNER

 Bacon, Cabbage and Veg Hash with Mustard Mash

Dinner was another creation of Jack Monroe but I added the mustard mash for a bit of comforting winter food! I love mustard mash and this was definitely my favourite mash I have ever made. It's so easy, you just boil your potatoes, skin on, for extra nutrition. When they are boiled, you drain them and mash them with a bit of butter, milk, salt, pepper and a good tablespoon of wholegrain mustard, yum yum! And they are perfect paired with this bacon and veg hash. The hash contains good quality smoked bacon, cabbage, peas, onion, carrots, mustard, thyme, white wine and stock. It doesn't look great on the plate but it really is a taste sensation. This is also a great recipe for using up leftover veg in the fridge, any root veg or mushrooms would work well with this, either in the hash or the mash. I have to say that I may have gone for seconds too, it's just the perfect cosy food for this time of year.

For my evening snack I just had a big mug of peppermint tea and a few squares of wholenut milk chocolate and that was me for the day. I completely forgot to take a picture of these as I was deep in Christmas gift planning and buying! Most nights I would have a cup of herbal non caffeinated tea, I just find them great for relaxation and some, like the peppermint tea, are great for settling your stomach after dinner. Peppermint is definitely my favourite but there's also quite a few others I like, liquorice on it's own or with cinnamon or peppermint, apple and cinnamon, fennel or after dinner blends. I might do a post sometime with my favourite flavours and brands, I would also love to hear your recommendations, if you have any?

So that's all I ate yesterday, it was all very tasty and I also felt very good after eating, much better than after the takeaway pizza, although it was delicious! I will be back on Friday with the first of my festive posts, and let's just say it's a tasty one so you'll have to give it a go! So join me then when we can start the Christmas magic!

Thanks for reading,

Rachael xx.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Meal Plan Tuesday

Hey everyone and welcome back to the Tea Cozy! I'm back today with my meal plan for this week, slightly later than normal, hence, the scored off meal on the plan! I had a bit of a busy weekend, we travelled to Dublin on Saturday to see Ireland vs Australia rugby match, Ireland won woohoo! We also did quite a bit of socialising and cooking and i'm only now getting caught up with things! So, this weeks meal plan contains a few meals we did not eat from the plan last week and a few others which use up ingredients which I had in the house! I am again using A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe and Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver. I just can't seem to get enough of these books at the minute and they are perfect for saving that wee bit of extra money before the festive season truly kicks off.

And let me just say, I am so excited for this Christmas! Our Christmas last year was a very sad occasion, so i'm excited to celebrate this year with ALL the cheese, chocolate and wine! Yes! I also have some exciting Christmas posts planned with recipes, gift ideas, craft ideas and meal plans which are festive and use up your Christmas leftovers! So, keep your eyes peeled around the start of December as that is when the festivities commence! Anyway, let's get back to the here and now, this is the meal plan for this week...


Monday: Spring Piggy and Mustard Mash, A Girl Called Jack

Tuesday: Peach and Chickpea Curry with Rice and Peas, A Girl Called Jack

Wednesday: Mexican Bean Soup and a cheese Pitta, A Girl Called Jack (already made and eaten, hence why it's scored out of the plan)

Thursday: Grated Rainbow Salad and Sesame Feta Fritters, Save with Jamie

Friday: Puffy Pea and Potato Pie, Save with Jamie

Saturday: Squash and Spinach Pasta Rotolo, Save with Jamie

Sunday: Mince and Onion Pie with Green Veg, Save with Jamie

Monday: Pork Meatloaf and Vegetables, Save with Jamie.

So, there you have it, that's our food plan for the week. I'm especially looking forward to the squash and spinach pasta, I've made it before and it is so delicious and perfect warming comfort food. I will be back tomorrow with a what I eat post to catch up on how the recipes are going this week. Stay tuned for Friday's post as it's about to get very festive around here, I can't wait to get my festive spirit out! Our tree is going up this weekend and i'm also going to be trying my hand at making our own Christmas wreath for the front door :). Have you guys got your trees up yet? Also, I would really love to know what your favourite festive recipe is? I need ideas! Thanks again for reading, we will talk again soon,

Rachael xx.

Friday, 25 November 2016

10 Top Tips for Supermarket Shopping

Hi everyone! Today I'm back with another post in my top tips series. Whilst i'm a huge fan of shopping locally and supporting local farmers, I understand that it's difficult to solely shop in these establishments these days and big out of town supermarkets are just so handy! I love going to my local butcher but I still have yet to find a vegetable shop which is just as handy, so alas to Tesco I go!

However, these places are money making machines, quite literally, and they know just how to tempt you out of your hard earned money. So if you can't shop online and you have to go into the store, it's important to keep your wits about you and not be led astray by all the pretty signage and brands. So, I've compiled my top ten tips for keeping in mind when you are racing round the aisles chucking stuff in your trolley. Hopefully this list should help you save a bit of dough, cut down some food waste and make shopping in your local supermarket a little less stressful. One thing to note which I think is the most important is always to go with a list, otherwise you can come home with about 20 different things you didn't need ( believe me I have done it)! So, on with the tips...

1. When buying fresh produce like eggs, milk, vegetables etc. Have a root around and find the product with the longest use-by time, it's usually hiding at the back of the shelf. This means it will keep for longer at home and you will have less food waste. Also preventing you from having to return to the supermarket to replace the item if it goes out of date. Also, have a wee look online on how to store items before you use them to prolong their life after the trolley. Recently, I learnt that if you buy cut herbs or spring onions you can put them in a glass of water in the fridge and this helps to keep them longer.

2. Along the same lines, once you think your loaf of bread is starting to go stale, you can freeze it. Just toast the slices as and when you need it! If you have too much bread you can turn it into breadcrumbs and freeze or dry in oven to make croutons. You could even buy a loaf that is very reduced because it's near it's use buy date and pop it straight in the freezer when you get home.

3. When buying fruit such as berries out of season, buy them frozen. They are often much better value and taste better as they were probably frozen within hours of picking! They are great frozen with ice cream or in smoothies but also work great defrosted on porridge. It's also a good thing to know roughly when certain fruits and veg are in season as they are usually much cheaper during this time and just after.

4. Sometimes it is better value to buy things in bulk e.g. rice and dried pasta. These items will keep for a long time in the store cupboard and will always get used. Make sure when buying these items you look at the price per kg as this will let you know which is cheapest. This is only a good idea if it is something that you will definitely use.

5. If you find you always run out of milk, buy an extra pint or two and pop in the freezer. You can defrost it when you need it, all at once by submerging in warm water or a little at a time by leaving at room temperature.

6. Don't always go for big brands! Some supermarket own brands are really good and contain the same ingredients as the big brands but are much cheaper. Even the value products can be really good too, although this is all about trial and error until you find the ones that you like. I love the value frozen peas from Tesco, they taste so good, even better than the big brand leader.

7. When buying vegetables don't always go for fresh! Frozen and canned are also very good and very affordable, they are sometimes pre-chopped too which is so handy and a time saver. My favourite frozen veg are spinach, peas, chopped peppers, broccoli, broad beans, sweetcorn and cauliflower. Canned tomatoes, beans, lentils and chickpeas are also really good value. You can even get frozen avocados and smoothie mixes now, frozen is definitely the way to go!

8. Don't go for every buy one get one free offer! Only buy it if it's on your list anyway or it's something you will definitely use, like a bag of pasta or rice, not something that will go off very quickly or is too much temptation if you are trying to be healthy ( those biscuit and crisp offers i'm looking at you). The meat offers are usually pretty good value and you can freeze the meat for use at a later date.

9.Consider doing all your shopping with one supermarket, including toiletries, petrol etc and make use of the supermarkets loyalty scheme. You will get rewarded for being a regular shopper and may even save some money.

10. When going to a supermarket, consider the time of day! The best times are early in the morning or late at night! I find supermarket shopping pretty stressful and if there are lots of people about I don't feel like I can make the best decisions as I feel i'm being rushed! But if I go when it's quiet there is more time to think and consider these tips as I wheel around my trolley. Also, don't go when you are really hungry, really not a good idea people, trust me I've been there!

So there you have it! I hope you find these tips helpful and they make that weekly shop just a little bit easier! Do you have any tips you could share with me that I may not have thought of? I always like to hear other people's ideas? Also, it's nearly December now and that means only one thing, CHRISTMAS!! Our Christmas tree is going up next weekend and I am so excited, plus this week we have had the most beautiful winter weather in Northern Ireland, gorgeous sunsets and frosty mornings! I will leave you with a picture of the oh-so beautiful Northern Ireland...Thanks for reading, talk soon!

Rachael xx.

 Porstewart Strand, Northern Ireland featuring my dog George


Porstewart Strand, Northern Ireland at Sunset

A Pretty winter sky



Wednesday, 23 November 2016

What I Eat in a Day 4

Hi all and welcome back to another what I eat in a day post! I hope you are still enjoying these posts as much as me! This day was a bit of a comfort food day for me, it was freezing where I live so I thought I would eat some pretty cosy and comforting foods to help keep me nice and toasty! This day was also very good for me as it featured quite a lot of chocolate, always a winner in my book. So let's get cracking...

BREAKFAST

 Home-made Double chocolate and peanut butter granola with milk and sliced banana and a HUGE coffee!

I actually managed to have something different from porridge this week, yay go me! This granola keeps really well so i'm still eating from the batch I made last week. You can find the recipe for it here, so go ahead and give it a try, it really is delicious! I just served mine up with some cold whole milk and a sliced banana, yum yum and very simple and quick! I also washed this all down with a huge mug of coffee, I really am very grumpy in the morning until I get my coffee and then I become a much nicer person ( the real me, just caffeinated ha!). Is this anyone else too? Please tell me i'm not alone in this!

LUNCH

 Home-made Broccoli soup with a cheese toastie and satsumas 

We didn't have enough leftovers from the night before to have for lunch this day so first thing in the morning I went diving into my freezer to see what I could find. I love doing this, it's like a pot-luck, you're not really sure what anything is going to turn out as! But luckily I managed to find a tub of home-made broccoli soup which I made a couple of months ago. Yay, score! And what goes well with broccoli, cheese! So, naturally I had to  make a cheese toastie. This soup was lovely and light and paired perfectly with a cheese toastie dunked into it, perfect warming winter food. And of course I had to have some lovely satsumas or clementines, I can never tell which! I love that is the season for these again, they are one of my favourite fruits. And perfect for that winter hit of vitamin C.

AFTERNOON SNACK

 Some fruit and nut chocolate and a coffee

I was having a bit of a mid-afternoon slump and needed a hit of chocolate and coffee. I believe it is one of life's simplest pleasures to be able to sit down with a hot cup of coffee and some chocolate. I even like to dunk my chocolate in my hot coffee until it melts a little, is that weird? Five minutes of bliss and a hit of sugar and i'm ready to get up and go again. Oh and I always make my afternoon coffee really milky and pretty weak as I need my beauty sleep and go to bed pretty early, I don't want anything to mess with that!

DINNER

Sausage and beer casserole with some garlic sautéed peas and cabbage

This recipe came from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe and it is one of my favourites in the book. It's such a winter warmer and tastes delicious, especially with great quality sausages from our butcher. The casserole contains onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans and sausages and is a whopping 4 of your 5 a day. I was also fancying something green with it and had loads of cabbage in the fridge so I just sautéed some cabbage in a non-stick pan with garlic and a little butter. Then I added in some frozen peas ( I love peas, did I mention this? if in doubt, add peas, that's my motto).  This is a really great side to rustle up quickly and easily and will add instant healthiness to your meal. It's great with a roast dinner or any sort of pie or tart! I love cabbage and it is so good for you. Cabbage is really high in vitamin C which is perfect for this time of year. This dish is so yummy, easy to prepare and pretty healthy too.

And there you go, that's what I eat in day. I also had a big mug of peppermint tea in the evening whilst watching Lost. I didn't take a picture of that, but you've probably seen a mug of tea before, they all look the same! Also, can we just talk about Lost. Ahhh I love it, it just became available on demand on virgin media and i'm so excited. I'm up to the very end of season 1 and i'm completely hooked. I briefly got into it a while back but then couldn't find it anywhere ( I didn't want to buy a 6 season box set) but i'm so happy I can now watch it for free. Do you like Lost? I know i'm really late to the party, are there any other TV shows you would recommend like this?

Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts on life and food,

Rachael xx.