Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Recipe Post #6: Chilli Beef Tortillas

Sometimes when it gets to teatime after a week of work, simplicity is the key. A few weeks ago I tried out this really simple chilli beef and bean tortillas recipe, which I originally spotted in Sainsbury’s magazine. With a couple of adaptations, here’s the meal we ate:


To serve 2, you will need:



1 red onion, sliced
Olive oil
1 small garlic clove, crushed
250g lean mince
400g kidney beans in chilli sauce
100ml water
4 flour tortillas
Grated cheddar, and anything else you want to serve with


In a large pan, fry the onion in a little olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and mince, stirring until the meat has browned.




Add the kidney beans and 100ml water, turn the heat down and simmer the mince for 20 minutes.



Towards the end of the 20 minutes, griddle both sides of the tortilla wraps.





Serve the chilli topped with grated cheese, wrap into the tortillas and enjoy.




This was beyond simple, and is so filling and satisfying.


What are your favourite quick teatime treats?

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

A Birthday Day Out

So, today is the 22nd birthday of a fabulous chum of mine, Laura. When it came to deciding on presents, she's put us all in a pickle by deciding to disappear off travelling in a couple of weeks, and isn't back properly until this time next year. I decided that meant there was no point in buying clothes/books/makeup etc, and her family are buying her the rest of her travel essentials.

So what better excuse is there for a day out? Food, the hairdressers, and more food, to celebrate Laura's birthday by doing something and having a fun afternoon. And that's just what we did on Saturday.

We started at Salt Bar, a Scandinavian restaurant which has recently been featured on BBC2's The Restaurant Man. It's not food I'd usually go for, so we headed to find out what was on offer. It's quite a small restaurant, with lovely little wooden tables, and simple wall hangings. There is a bar at the back, with what looks like a fairly small kitchen immediately behind it. The menu looks great, it has a variety of foods, but isn't so overwhelmingly big you can't choose what to eat.





We both opted for the vegetarian meatballs - chickpea, spinach and parmesan - mine in the tomato sauce, and Laura's on toast with a beetroot salad. The portions were absolutely huge, but it did taste good.




Unfortunately, we waited over half an hour for our food, which wasn't the ideal situation, and also found certain members of staff weren't the most welcoming. It's worth a visit for the authenticity of the food, but I don't think we'd hurry back...

Next was hair time, and I'd booked Laura in for a blow dry at Roe 11. It's such a nice salon, really open and polished, and the staff were all really friendly. Getting my hair dried and styled at the end of a hair appointment is always the best bit, and I wished I'd booked one for myself too!






The final plan was cake, and as most independent bakeries had closed at 4, we headed to Cafe Nero for big slices of red velvet cake. Their red velvet cake is so yum, and was the perfect sweet treat for the end of the day.





It turned out to be such a lovely afternoon out! It was Laura's birthday treats, but I definitely enjoyed it just as much. It was great to just have a relaxing afternoon out, say happy birthday, and also thank Laura for being a fabulous friend through all of the hard stuff I've been through over the last couple of months. Tonight is round two - Thai food with her family... Roll on 6.30 :)


Friday, 14 March 2014

A Couple of Hours in Prestbury...

About a month ago now, Andy and I headed off to De Vere Mottram Hall Hotel for a night, on our five year anniversary. We stayed close to home, as it meant we could stay somewhere lovely without adding on lots of travel costs! The hotel is set out on its own, so we thought we’d have lunch in nearby Prestbury before going to check in. Although it’s near home, it’s a relatively small village, so not somewhere I’ve ever thought of popping to explore.

I texted my friend Emily for food recommendations, as she used to live in Prestbury, and we jumped on the train just before lunch.




We first went to the Legh Arms pub, right in the centre of the village. It’s a beautiful old building, and had a real ‘local’ feel to it. They offer a quite extensive menu at reasonable prices, and although there was some confusion at first as to whether it was table or bar service (it was half and half) we settled in to a nice tall table tucked in by a wall.





Knowing we would be having a proper dinner in the evening at the hotel, we were both feeling like a snacky lunch, and ordered the garlic bread and fries off the sides menu. The portions – especially the garlic bread – were enormous, and we both left feeling pretty full! The garlic bread was also accompanied by a big salad, and the fries were cooked to perfection.

Emily had told me we absolutely had to visit The Chocolate Box, so after a little stroll we did as we were told. We were so full that we only managed one cake to share, but I’ll definitely be heading back to enjoy more. They also offer afternoon tea, which looks really lovely, as well as lunches. The women working in The Chocolate Box couldn’t have been more friendly, recommending their favourites, and also helping us to find a taxi number.





We went for one of their choices, a Malteaser slice, with Malteasers (of course), chocolate, and general deliciousness. It’s rich, but so tasty. Next time I’ll opt for a slice of cake – they had a sponge and a chocolate cake still on offer, with a few others, and they looked so indulgent. As I said, I’ll have to return without a full tummy, so I can sample a wider range of delights!



Truth be told, there isn’t much going on in the middle of Prestbury, apart from some nice looking restaurants, banks and estate agents, but my first dip into their eating scene was friendly, satisfying, and tasty. Fuelled perfectly to explore our home for the night, we headed on to Mottram Hall.


What would be your pub lunch and cake of choice? 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Challenge Results #3 February 2014

After a busy week, I'm finally sitting down to write up the results of my February challenge. I'll start by saying exactly what everyone else has said: where did February go?! I can't believe we're already at 11th March...

February's challenge was:

to drink 2-3 glasses of juice, and 3-4 glasses of water, per day

Let's start with the juice. I think I was partially influenced here by the amount of people I had seen doing juice cleanses. I can see all the benefits, and the fact it adds another portion of fruit to my daily total, but I have to day the amount of sugar in them was what was at the front of my mind throughout the month. I quickly settled on one glass a day, with my breakfast, and I think I'll stick at that level. Also, I'm so fussy! I've found a few juices I like, so I think I need to branch out more, to add in different fruits and vegetables.

In terms of drinking water, I've done pretty well. I upped my daily target to 6 glasses per day (+ one juice), and I tend to at least get through 4-5, even on a day I'm feeling a bit lazy about it. I have 100% noticed the difference here. Water is one of the only things I drink (no hot or fizzy drinks), so I think I was under the illusion I drank loads of it. In reality, I was sipping consistently, but not actually getting through enough of it.

I pretty quickly felt the difference. My skin has been better than I've ever seen it, and I just feel more energised. I'm finding it more easy to concentrate, and I feel more healthy.

Without a doubt, I will be continuing with my target of at least 6 glasses of water a day. I feel like I've got into the habit now, and I'm loving the benefits.

Are you good at keeping hydrated?

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The Recipe Post #5: Fresh Spinach and Chickpea Curry

This is a meal I made for me and my sister when our parents were away. Kate had a fairly quick turnaround and needed something filling and quick. It has a nice kick to it, and tastes really fresh.


To serve 4, you will need:



1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp mild curry paste
400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped (we used grated ginger root)
400g can chopped tomatoes
500g fresh spinach, stalks removed and leaves chopped
250ml cold water
Naan bread, to serve - we had Asda’s garlic and coriander naans, which were very tasty!


Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat and fry the onion, garlic and ginger for 4-5 minutes, stirring until golden. Add the curry paste and fry for 2 minutes.



Stir in the tomatoes, 250ml cold water and the chickpeas. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until it starts to wilt.




Stir in the coriander, the remove from the heat and transfer to dishes. Serve with warm naan bread.



I’ll definitely be making this again soon, and it was a nice alternative to a meaty curry.


What is your favourite type of curry?
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