Friday, 24 February 2017

My Favourite Teas

Hi all and welcome back to The Tea Cozy! I hope you are having a wonderful week. Today I'm going to talk about one of my favourite things, TEA!! As the name of this blog and the title of this post suggest I am a HUGE fan of tea. Firstly, let me just clarify that I don't actually like black tea, I want to, believe me and I have tried, but I just can't drink it. So this post is going to be about my top five herbal/fruity teas. I hope this blog post might help you widen your tea horizons as it's such a big world filled with all kinds of tea out there.


Before I get on to what teas I love, I thought I would just talk for a minute about why I love it and what tea means to me. I love that making a cup of tea is like taking 10mins to myself. You have to boil the kettle, let it steep, let it cool and then sip, sip, sip! The process of making a cup of tea is slow, methodical and cannot be rushed and in my world I'm constantly rushing, constantly planning and thinking about the next thing (and the next!). Making a cup of tea is like giving yourself permission to take a mini-holiday from that and just focus on your tea. I normally have a cup of tea every evening at about 8.30-9pm it settles my dinner, helps me wind down for bed, warms me up and just fills me with that little bit of peace that only a cup of tea can give.


So these are five of my favourites (it was hard to narrow it down to just five, trust me!):

1. Cherry and Cinnamon, Twinings.
This seriously tastes like you are drinking a cherry bakewell tart. What could be better?

2. Peppermint and Licorice, Pukka.
This one is so sweet, it's great for subsiding any after dinner sweet cravings and the peppermint also helps to settle your tummy after a big feed.

3. Mint and Chilli, not sure of the brand, it's from TK Maxx.
Similarly to the Pukka one this helps settle your tummy but also brings a little bit of heat.

4. Strawberry and Raspberry, Twinings.
Like summer in tea form.

5. Peppermint, Tesco.
Pure and simple peppermint tea is the best after dinner drink for me and it makes me very sleepy and relaxed.


And there you have it, my five favourite teas of the moment! Wow, all this talk of tea has really made me crave a cup! What are your favourite teas? I would really love to know, i'm always looking for a new one to try! I hope you enjoyed this post, thank you so much for reading, have a lovely weekend,

Rachael xx.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

What I Eat in a Day 16

Hi all and welcome back to another what I eat in a day post! Yesterday was what you would call a comfort food day filled with some home-comfort type meals. That's me covering my back as my dinner doesn't look that great, it's home-comfort and rustic. I hope you are all having a lovely week filled with delicious and nutritious grub. Anyway, on with the food...

BREAKFAST

Home-made granola with natural yoghurt, honey, apple and cinnamon.

A pretty easy but tasty breakfast. My husband made the granola so don't ask me how it is made lol I just let him work his granola magic. Apple and cinnamon we meet again? It seems I just can't get away from this combination.

LUNCH
Leek and Potato Soup, cheesy wheaten bread and an orange.

I love nothing more than a big bowl of comforting soup for lunch, especially when it is served with melted cheese topped home-made wheaten bread. I've actually got really used to making wheaten bread every week now, I could almost do it with my eyes closed. You can find my recipe for Leek and Potato Soup here. This recipe is slightly different in that I also added some spinach for more greens. You can also find my recipe for wheaten bread, a Northern Irish classic, here, if you fancy giving this a try.

AFTERNOON SNACK

 Two Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with coffee.

I was really feeling the 3pm slump yesterday and needed a sugar and coffee kick (to be honest I need this most days). Thankfully I was at home so was able to rustle up these peanut butter and white chocolate chip cookies. They were so tasty and easy and were ready to scoff in just 20mins, PERFECT!! The recipe is from Nigella Lawson's 'Simply Nigella' recipe book and is one of my favourite go-to snack recipes. On a side note, this recipe book is amazingly delicious, you should definitely try some of the recipes.

DINNER

Chicken Stew with Home-made wheaten bread.

See what I mean, dinner doesn't look the best. I tried really hard to make it look better but this was all I got, sorry! It's best not to mention what this looks like. On the plus side though it was really delicious and perfect warming comfort food. I've never made a chicken stew before and whilst I would still stick to the traditional Irish beef or lamb stew, I'm glad I tried this as it was a slightly lighter option and definitely didn't take as long to cook. The stew had big juicy chunks of chicken, carrots, courgette, potatoes, peas and pearly barley. What gave the stew it's flavour was the rosemary and mint, a sort if spring take on a stew. If you're looking for the recipe it is from Jamie Oliver's family classics cookbook. And of course I had to eat it with some more wheaten bread to mop up the sauce.

And there you have it, everything I ate yesterday! Did you eat anything delicious yesterday? Also, I would really love to know what your favourite go-to easy snack recipes are as I always need something come 3pm. Thanks so much for reading,

Rachael xx.



Monday, 20 February 2017

Meal Plan Monday

Hi all, I hope you had an amazing weekend. My weekend was spent dog sitting two very cute puppies, so naturally I went on lots of fun walks and re-fuelled with some delicious grub. I also baked a pretty HUGE red velvet cake, which is all gone already. Cakes don't hang around too long at our house! What did you get up to this weekend, anything exciting? Today, i'm sharing with you my meal plan for the week. A few meals you will recognise from last weeks meal plan as we didn't get around to cooking everything on the plan. Here's what we will be eating this week...


TUES: Fish Pie, Tesco Recipe Card.

WED:
Spring Chicken Stew, Jamie Oliver's Family Classics.

THURS:
Pork Cassoulet, BBC Good Food.

FRI: Butternut Chilli, BBC Good Food.

SAT: Indian Sweet Potato and Dahl Pies, BBC Good Food.

SUN: Cauliflower Cheese Macaroni, BBC Good Food.

MON: Warm Pearl Barley and Roasted Carrot Salad, BBC Good Food.

As you can see I'm mainly using an old favourite of BBC Good Food. A lot of the recipes I will be using this week are available on their website so have a wee look if you fancy cooking along with me this week. I am particularly excited about the cassoulet and the chilli, I LOVE a veggie chilli. Oh and also, the cauliflower macaroni cheese (well, all of it really!).

I hope your week is off to a fabulous start. What will you be making this week? Do you have any exciting meals planned?

Thank you so much for reading,

Rachael xx.



Friday, 17 February 2017

Mars Bar Rice Krispie Squares


Hi all, it's that time again! FRIDAAY!!! Today, I have a little recipe for you guys. If you're anything like me then you'll love making something sweet to have in the cupboards over the weekend, just as a little treat. Well, I have the perfect recipe for that, Mars Bar Rice Krispie Squares. These little squares of yumminess are an absolute favourite of mine. I remember always making these for birthday parties as a child, they are so easy but oh so tasty! I have amped the recipe up a little, just because I can, but they were absolutely perfect in their simplest form, chocolate and krispies as well. These little guys bring back lots of childhood memories. Anyway, enough reminiscing I hear you say, give me the recipe...


Ingredients

160g Mars Bars, chopped
50g Butter, chopped
1/3 of a big box of Rice Krispies
200g Galaxy Chocolate, broken into chunks
50g White Chocolate, broken into chunks

Just a quick note- I used the Tesco version of Mars Bars as they were much cheaper and taste exactly the same. I also used Tesco's version of Rice Krispies (again, cheaper!) and feel free to use any milk chocolate which you prefer. I love Galaxy's creaminess so this was my chosen chocolate.

Method

1. Melt the mars bar pieces and butter together in a bowl over boiling water until completely melted and liquid. Turn the heat off just before this point so as not to burn the chocolate.
2. Add in the Krispies a little at a time, making sure everything is well mixed.
3. Put the Krispie mixture into a baking tray lined with baking paper. Flatten the mixture down so you would have a square about 2cm thick.
4. Put this in the fridge to cool while you get on with melting the galaxy and white chocolate separately in the same way.
5. When the chocolate has melted pour the galaxy chocolate over the cooled rice Krispie mix and smooth out so you have a nice even layer (it will start to cool immediately!).
6. Use a spoon to drizzle the melted white chocolate in straight lines over the Galaxy Chocolate, just one way. Then take a knife and run it through the chocolate in the opposite direction to the white chocolate lines to create a feathered affect. This step is just to make it look a little more fancy but you can definitely leave it out if you can't wait that long.
7. Pop back in the fridge until completely cooled and cut into squares.
8. Scoff away! It's impossible to eat just one, I recommend having two with a cup of coffee. Oh and it's a rule with these, whoever makes them gets the biggest square.


And there you have it, my recipe for Mars Bar Rice Krispie Squares. Let me know if you give these a go, they really are pretty easy and the perfect sweet treat for the weekend. What are your favourite childhood treats? Thank you so much for reading,

Rachael xx.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

What I Eat in a Day 15

Hi everyone and welcome back to another 'What I Eat in a Day' post! I hope you had a wonderful valentines day filled with love, family, friends and other halves! As I mentioned in my last post, we don't really do valentine's day but we did manage to treat ourselves yesterday which was nice and we are heading out this evening for hot chocolates and desserts (i'm very excited about this, can you tell?). Anyway, this what I ate yesterday.

BREAKFAST

 Banana and Frozen Mango Smoothie.

I am still loving smoothies in the morning, they are just so fresh and make me feel wide-awake (might have something to do with a bucket of coffee too!). At the moment i'm working my way round all the frozen fruit in Tesco to keep my smoothies new and exciting. So far I have tried the mango, pineapple and strawberries and loved them. I can't wait until a sunny summers day where I will be able to drink these outside in the morning. For now though, I will just have to stick with the sunshine yellow of a smoothie.

LUNCH

  Ratatouille Vegetable Pie with Peas and some oranges.

Lunch was leftover Vegetable pie which was truly delicious. The recipe came from Jamie Oliver's 'Superfood Family Classics'. It was essentially a ratatouille vegetable mix topped with ricotta enveloped in filo pastry. What's not to love? And of course I had to serve this with more veg and the compulsory mini oranges.

AFTERNOON SNACK

 A few squares of galaxy chocolate and a coffee.

As you can see from these posts I always allow myself a little mid-afternoon snack of something sweet. I find that it perks me up but it also helps keep any sweet cravings at bay and sometimes gets rid of them completely for the rest of the day.

DINNER

Pizza, Salads and Rose Wine from Marks and Spencer.

For dinner we treated ourselves to some pizzas and salads in Marks and Spencer and of course we had to have a little tipple, it was Valentine's Day after all. Because we cook from scratch every night it's a big treat to get something pre-made (mainly because there are less dishes for me to do). We were able to relax a little more and take longer over dinner as we didn't have to worry about the mountain of dishes that I usually create when making dinner. Pizza is definitely one of my favourite foods, Sean makes really good pizza too, but these pizzas were delicious. My pizza was topped with roasted veg, spicy chicken and pesto and Sean's was spicy peppers and Italian meats, yummy scrummy.

What are your favourite meals for when you want a treat? Did you end up doing anything nice for Valentine's Day? I hope enjoyed this post, I will be back on Friday with a little treat recipe for you. You know, just to keep you going over the weekend. I always like to have home-baked goods in the house going into the weekend. Thank you so much for reading,

Rachael xx.


Monday, 13 February 2017

Meal Plan Monday

Hello everyone and welcome to a new week! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, I spent my weekend starting a pretty exciting new baking project! It's the week of love this week and I hope you all have some amazing valentine's day plans! My husband and I have decided that instead of doing gifts and cards we are going to take ourselves out for a sweet treat, I'm thinking waffles, crepes and ice-cream and I can't wait! Do you have any exciting plans? Today is meal plan Monday, as you all know by now, and I'm sharing what I will be cooking and eating this week. You may notice a lot of potatoes in the meal plan this week, that's because an old friend of ours brought us a HUGE bag (like 10kg!!!) of potatoes and I just couldn't wait to get started making all my favourite starchy dishes. Anyway, here is what I will be making this week...


TUES: Fish Pie, Tesco Recipe Card.

WED:
Big Greek Stew and Mash, Tesco Recipe Card.


THURS:
Green Veg Pesto Pasta, Jamie's Family Classics.

FRI:
Spring Chicken Stew, Jamie's Family Classics.

SAT:
Leek and Potato Soup, Jamie's Family Classics.

SUN:
Carrot, Cumin and Kidney Bean Burgers with Wedges, A Girl Called Jack.

MON:
Gnocchi and Tomato Sauce, my recipe.

As you can see I'm still loving the new Tesco recipe cards. I have to say that I think this is such a fab idea on Tesco's part, I can see it really helping to get people in the kitchen cooking up a storm. I tend to tweak the recipes just a little according to my tastes but all in all I think they are fab. I'm also still cooking this week from one of my faves 'Jamie's Family Classics', it's such a healthy, tasty recipe book with all your favourite dishes in there! Anyway, that's the plan for the week. Are you cooking anything exciting this week? As always I will be back soon to let you know how I'm getting on with these recipes, thank you so much for reading,

Rachael xx.


Friday, 10 February 2017

January Favourites

Hi all and welcome back to the Tea Cozy Kitchen, we are almost at the weekend! Yay! My plan for the weekend is to drink all the coffee and eat all the cake (as always!). I have plans to bake two rather exciting cakes so stay tuned to my Instagram if you want to see how these turn out, I'm @rachheron1 if you want to follow me! Do you have any exciting plans for the weekend? Today, I'm sharing my January favourites, a little late I know but January was such a long and dreary month that it took me a while to think of what I was actually loving. I've got a couple of foodie favourites mixed with some other less foodie favourites. Let's get going...

  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
As you may or may not know, in January I started an evening class at my old university. The course is called 'The Hidden Lives of the Bronte Sisters'. So naturally I have been re-reading a couple of their novels. Wuthering Heights has always been one of my favourite books since I was 16 but re-reading it now (for the 3rd time!) and actually studying it has been a real eye-opener. I'm a real lover of classic literature anyway but this novel is so different to anything else I have ever read. I really recommend giving this a read if you haven't. It's one of those 'must read before you die' books (sorry, things got a bit morbid there!).
  • Smoothies
I have been really loving making smoothies for breakfast or snacks lately. You've probably seen this in my 'What I Eat in a Day' posts on the blog. I have loved experimenting with different fruit and veg combinations. Here are some of my favourites...

Banana and Mango,
Apple, Banana and Spinach,
Strawberry, Banana and Carrot,
Berries, Banana and Apple.

What are your favourite smoothie combos? I would love to know.
  • Baking
In January I started baking a lot more. I used to bake a lot a year or two ago but sort of lost my way a bit with it. But, I'm so happy to back at it. I really love to eat cake so this is a perfect past-time for me. So far I have made a cherry bakewell cake, a coffee cake, a marbled loaf cake, banana bread, mars bar rice krispie buns and a carrot cake. They have been some pretty yummy adventures in the kitchen, let me tell you!
  • Flowers of any description, mainly tulips.
I have really been craving colour lately, everything in Northern Ireland just seems a bit grey in January. I have loved having fresh, brightly coloured flowers about the house.  It's amazing how having bright flowers brightens your mood slightly! Tulips have been my favourites but I also love roses, carnations and of course, Daffodils (but I can't seem to find any at the moment, a bit early me thinks!).
  • Exercise videos on YouTube.
Exercise and me are just not friends, I've never been the kind of person who loved to work-out. I was never good at sports in school, I was always very clumsy and not co-ordinated, so sports were usually embarrassing and possibly dangerous for me to take part in. Over the years I have tried different things but nothing has stuck. I love going for walks in the beautiful countryside but we don't really get the weather for that all year round. But, in January I found 'The Fitness Marshall' on YouTube and have since been loving doing his dance workouts, I have actually stuck with it for about 5 weeks (a record for me!). And from there, a whole new world of different work-out possibilities opened up on YouTube. I love how I can fit in a work-out as long or as short as I like and the best thing is, no-one has to see me trip up or miss all the moves entirely. If you hate exercise but feel like you need a bit of activity this might be something to try, it's free and fun. If you have any exercise videos that you love, please do let me know?

So there you go, a few things that I have been loving in January. I would love to know what you have been loving in January too. January felt like the longest month EVER, so I'm very happy to be into February and hopefully spring is just around the corner with it's longer and warmer days. Thank you so much for reading, I hope you have a wonderful weekend,

Rachael xx.