Cod Fillet in Red Wine Sauce

The weekend saw me making a delicious slow cooked beef brisket in red wine. For my non- meat eating guest, I always like to make their meal as similar to the main dish as possible. I am not into making a sub standard non- meat option! I was serving goose fat roast potatoes and piles of steamed vegetables so wanted a protein based dish full of richness.

I went for cod fillet, it is a meaty fish that works well with strong flavours. Here is the recipe. As ever measures not included for all ingredients as you can add them to your own taste.

Ingredients- serves 2-3

  • 3 cod fillets
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 3 shallots chopped
  • Red wine
  • Sundried tomatoes chopped
  • Oregano
  • Seasoning
  1. Lightly fry the shallots in a teaspoon of olive oil
  2. Add red wine and let it warm through
  3. Add the tomotoes, sundried tomatoes, oregano and seasoning
  4. Bring the sauce to the boil and let it simmer and thicken (add a little tomato puree).
  5. Place the cod fillets in the sauce to cook. This should take around 5 minutes but check before serving

The sundried tomatoes added a depth to the sauce that compares to the richness of the brisket flavours. You could add some olives to add a saltier taste too.

It was a hearty and warming winter meal. The fish dish was quick and easy so it didn’t feel like I was cooking two separate meals.

Week One- Project Fab 30!

This week I have been filled with enthusiasm and embraced my new goals.

I have managed to get organised in my kitchen and prepare food to keep us going for two weeks at a significantly lower cost than our normal weekly food bill. We had family over at the weekend and I managed to cook a new dish, albeit not from one of my own books, check out my post in Hearty Recipes and Food Adventures for all the details.

This week I also started a six week course of Fitness Pilates. I have tried Pilates many years ago, but aside from knowing it is similar to Yoga, had no idea what I would be doing!

The class was fantastic. It is not a high impact exercise but it focuses on core strength and using your muscles properly. I found I was stronger than I knew and was able to do some of the more complex exercises with greater ease than I expected. The instructor is friendly and not pushy. It was a very invigorating work out and I can’t wait for the next session.

I have started to look into a charity or voluntary group I can join and am having a think about how I could contribute or be useful before I sign up for anything.

Finally, my new place/ experience this week; shopping in Monmouth. I have been to Monmouth to go to the supermarket, but this was a more indulgent shopping trip. Monmouth is a very quaint market town crammed with beautiful independent shops. One particular company dominated the high street with it’s charming clothes, kitchenware, toy and gift shops. Check out www.saltandpepper.co.uk. The website is just as brilliant as their shops.

All in all it was a great start. Next week includes more cooking, walking and planning some new experiences for our week off at the end of the month. I will also be tackling my nemesis… baking!

Hibernating

In the last 3 months, we have moved house, already decorated two rooms, got a dog, had guests over on 6 weekends, and been out and about at weddings, and other fun events. All the while both working full time over 40 miles away from home. It is safe to say life has been rather busy, and our general domestic organisation has gone a bit awry. We have been grabbing lunch on the go and dinner has been an afterthought at the end of every day, running to the shops and grabbing something quick and easy.

Consequently we are wasting money and probably not eating as healthily as we should be. So I decided to get organised and stock up on delicious hearty meals for the winter.

Our general routine is to plan and buy ingredients for meals in advance from Sunday evening to Thursday night. Friday and Saturday food is planned around other activities. However this does not normally mean bulk or batch cooking, but simply having the right ingredients in to make the meals on the plan.

I see a lot on social media about planning and preparing food to succeed and cooking in bulk reduces cost, but requires time, freezer space and a lot of containers!

So today I have spent £38 which has made enough food for two people for 9 nights (Tue- Thu and Sunday this week and Mon- Thu and Sunday next week), and lunches for two people for 7 days (Wed- Fri this week and Mon- Thu next week). The cost includes the ingredients for the food cooked and the sides required to compliment them; rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, sweet potatoes and vegetables.

I have made;

  • Pork Goulash
  • Bolognese
  • Chicken curry
  • Mushroom soup
  • Roasted tomato, red pepper and basil soup

It goes without saying the soups are full of healthy and delicious vegetables, but so are the main dishes. The curry is packed full of aubergine, squash and broccoli, and the bolognese is brimming with peppers, onions and mushrooms. Using lots of fresh veg is a great way to make your meat go further and ensuring you don’t need to cook fresh veg with every meal to make sure you are getting your five a day.

So for one afternoon of work, I will now save time and money in supermarkets and will have more time for long walks in the forest with the dog and making improvements to the house. Not forgetting putting my feet up with a good book in front of the fire!

N xx

 

Phase One

adventure-2

After a nice walk around our beautiful village last night and some time with my trusty notebook and pen, I came up with my goals for October- December, aka; Phase One.

So here it is;

  1. Try a new sport or exercise
  2. Lose 1 stone
  3. Get more organised in the kitchen to eat healthier and save money
  4. Cook one dish I have never made before once a week (from one of my many recipe books)
  5. Bake once a fortnight
  6. Join a voluntary or charitable group that supports the local community
  7. Visit somewhere new or experience something new every fortnight

It might not seem ambitious, but encompasses most of the things I have been putting off, and who knows what it will lead to.

Let the fun begin, starting with some well earned time in the kitchen!

Time to make a plan!

 

fab-30

Project Fab 30 has begun.

I have exactly 360 days until I turn 30. I want to be the best, happiest version of myself. Some things in life are not in control and can knock you sideways emotionally and physically. I cannot account for those along the way but what I can do is change other things around it.

I am starting to develop a plan. I find it easier to break things down into chunks and tackle them one at a time. So I am breaking the year up into quarters (roughly) and will set myself goals to achieve.

My focus is;

  1. To be proud of myself
  2. To be happy
  3. To improve my health and well being
  4. To challenge myself

Nothing else matters this year. I intend to turn 30 with the biggest smile on my face. This will be my biggest Hearty Adventure yet with lots of little adventures in between.

First up October to December!

 

Project Fab 30

Did you know when something bad happens to us in life, we become a statistic? I think it’s a way of people making sense of the negative impact this could have on you and help them, and perhaps you to get over it.

On my 29th birthday I became a statistic. Not because of my age, the day was merely a coincidence. The statistic means that the  course of my life had been changed from where I thought it was heading. So now I have decided that I am taking control again. I will not be dictated to by a statistic, by a label.

I have had the most amazing time in my 20’s, but some of that has meant I compromised on other aspects of my well being and personal development. Well no more. I intend to spend the last year of my 20’s becoming the best, happiest version of myself and hitting my 30’s with a new energy and passion for life. I will be in control of my own destiny!

Follow my progress over at Project Fab 30 and on instagram @projectfab30.

 

 

A wintry twist…

Winter is a time for hibernating, and not just for animals. I like nothing more than being in my kitchen on a cold winters’ day, making delicious hearty meals for family and friends.

Sometimes you can add little twists to some simple meals which enhance had that comforting wintry taste.

“Every person who cooks something has to make the recipe, the foodstuff, his or her own – not by effortful innovation but just by being true to your own taste.” 

As Nigella says everything should be done to your taste, so sometimes when you think a recipe has gone wrong it might be that the ingredients are not balanced for your palate, so experiment and trust your instinct.

Here are a few of my favourites alternatives.

Vivacious vegetables

  • Cinnamon Braised Red Cabbage (serves four)

This is a great addition to a roast dinner and works especially well with lamb.

Shred a whole red cabbage into an ovenproof dish, grate an apple over it, sprinkle with a teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of brown sugar and squeeze the juice of half a lemon in. Mix together and pop in the oven for 30- 40 minutes at 180 degrees. I prefer less sugar and more cinnamon but this is a good place to start. You could also add a finely sliced onion which draws out the taste of the spice. If you like more aroma try adding some ginger too.

  • Roasted Winter Vegetable Ragout

This recipe is courtesy of the Gluten Free Goddess  and can be found on her wonderful blog. This would make a perfect side dish to roast chicken or as GFG recommends can be made into a stew or served over pasta.

  • Broccoli in almond butter

Steam or boil your broccoli as normal. In a frying pan melt some butter until it starts to bubble and add flaked almonds. Once toasted add your broccoli and coat in the almond butter and serve. A great warming and comforting side to salmon or trout.

Mash Mix-up

Mash potato is an ultimate comfort food, and goes so well with meat, fish and veg in any form. But potato is not the only veg to give you that soft and nutritious warming feeling. Here are a few uncomplicated alternatives.

  • Sweet potato and marshmallow- I cannot claim credit for this one, its all Nigella. You can find the recipe here. This could be mistaken for a dessert but served with well seasoned meat and stuffing it cuts through and adds a delicious contrast to your meal.
  • Celeriac, garlic and spring onion- celeriac is most easily described as turnip with a mils taste of celery. When boiled it turns soft and creamy, and is great just with butter. However if you fry some fine chopped garlic and lightly fry some spring onion (add for last 2 minutes of cooking the garlic), you can create a whole new kind of champ with a little extra bitterness to your normal potato flavour.
  • Chorizo and chilli mash- this really spices up your mash potato. Fry off some chopped chorizo and add some chilli powder or dried chilli flakes. Make your mash as normal, remove your chorizo from the pan and pop onto kitchen roll to remove some of the oil, then stir into the mash. This is delicious with white fish and steamed spinach, or with chicken.

Deluxe Dumplings

Stew and dumplings is a favourite in our house, especially the dumplings. But they can get a bit bland. You can have some fun with condiments to add a new dimension to your dumpling.

  • Beef Stew- add some horseradish sauce into your dumpling mix.
  • Lamb Stew- add some mint sauce to your dumpling mix. Or roast some garlic cloves and squeeze the warm sweet garlic into your mix with a sprinkle of rosemary.
  • Pork Casserole- add some wholegrain mustard to your mix or some smoked paprika and black pepper adds a Spanish flavour to hold on to those memories of summer.

Hopefully none of these twists are too time consuming or expensive alternatives, but will add that little something special to your meal.

 

 

Awesome Autumn

autumn-1

I woke up this morning at my usual time and it was still dark. Although it makes it harder to get up, I looked out the window at the grey sky and the wind blustering through the trees and smiled. My favourite time of the year has arrived.

Autumn has always felt special to me. I have always associated it with change and the start of something new. As a child it was the start of a new school year, and my birthday. The school term was broken up with harvest celebrations, Halloween and the build up to Christmas. There is something so nice about the predictability of Autumn and Winter; the colours change outside, the nights get longer and the weather gets colder. Summer never seems to live up to my expectations in the same way.

Autumn brings new food inspiration, a new comfortable wardrobe and lots of Hearty Adventures in the cold winter sun. It is the perfect season for writing blog posts in front of the fire. So look out for lots more to come. Start by heading over to Hearty recipes and food page to find some simply twists to your vegetables to add that wintry feel to midweek meals or weekend treats!

 

Puppy love!

My hubby was no sooner introduced to me than he was my family pet at the time, Lola. I love dogs and it was an added bonus the man I met loved them too! After five years of moving around for work, living in flats, we are finally settled in our own home and last week we finally achieved one our dreams and got a dog.

Meet Seth, a 2 year old Lurcher cross Deerhound.Seth 1He is a loving, playful dog who did not have the chance to be a puppy when he was younger. Being a rescue ,we know he has had a rough start to life and his behaviour reflects a lack of structure and nurturing in his early years. For us, none of that matters as long as we can give him the loving home from now on.

I have grown up with dogs, both rescues and puppies, but the feeling when you have your own dog is completely different. When they look to you for reassurance, affection and security, its a wonderful feeling, knowing you can give it to them. He is a cheeky pup while he works out what his boundaries are, but nothing we cannot handle. Understanding his behaviour is fascinating, and we intend to make every effort to help him with his fears and embrace the things he loves. He fits into our lives perfectly; he enjoys long walks so an ideal companion for our weekend outings and an excuse for us to find time in our day to make sure he gets a short walk in the morning and a long walk in the evening. Selfishly, it provides us with some time to clear our heads after a day in the office so a winner all round!

My local coffee stop…. The Bearpit Social

Although I am a country girl at heart, there are some fantastic perks to working in Bristol City Centre. Cabot Circus and Broadmead on my doorstep, the Watershed a ten minute walk away for lunchtime lectures and entertainment, but most importantly, so much variety for cafe’s and food outlets.

One thing Bristol is great for is independent food and drink establishments. Stoke’s Croft and Gloucester Road are a veritable feast of unusual eateries. My cafe du jour is The Crafty Egg. Essentially you can have eggs in any way imaginable, and some you may not have imagined! An excellent breakfast, brunch or lunch stop! Fresh whole ingredients, fresh hot coffee and a fresh look on eggs; what more could you ask for?

However I digress. The point of this post is to tell you about my coffee place. Yes, I have succumbed to the city worker trait of not being able to enter the office without a take away coffee in hand (and in my case some toast). Ladies and gentlemen there was The Central Perk, there was Cafe Nervosa, there is Kathy’s Cafe; but you have not experienced coffee until you have been to the Bearpit Social.

This cafe operates from a modified shipping container. Taking advantage of local produce and suppliers (the nearest being the fruit and veg stall only ten steps away) they serve everything from  hot drinks, to fresh juices and smoothies and a variety of freshly prepared lunch options. They could not be more accurate with their description of ‘wildly delicious’. Their coffee is outstanding. It is strong in flavour, just how I like it. Its a roast like I have never tasted before and has fast become my morning elixir!

This place is more special than just it’s coffee. Run by a fabulous team, they have done more than open a cafe, but helped to transform a run down area of Bristol (The Bearpit) into a social hub for anyone who passes through. Read the full story here.

So if you happen to be in Bristol and want something a little different, a little on the wild side. Head to the Bearpit Social.

 

Nxx