Friday, 31 October 2014

Review: Cure & Simple Bacon

When an email popped into my inbox that said "bacon by post" I was very intrigued...

Cure & Simple (love that name) offer bacon from pigs that lived their entire lives in the great outdoors in the Suffolk countryside. They have a natural balanced diet and the very highest welfare standards, giving you the peace of mind that when you choose Cure & Simple your bacon comes from happy, healthy, British pigs.

They wanted to make their bacon as easily accessible as possible, which is where the idea for bacon through the post came from.  They use Royal Mail 1st Class to get your bacon to do the door, simply dropped through the letterbox in the perfectly sized packaging so you don't even have to be at home!  You can choose to have your bacon weekly, fortnightly or monthly for £5.95 per delivery for approx. 10 rashers.

So much effort goes into rearing their pigs that I was glad to see that they put the same effort into choosing the best ingredients for flavourings. The herbs and spices used ideally complement their recipes and makes the bacon so very tasty.


When my bacon delivery arrived I was impressed with the packaging. Not only was it perfect letter box shape but it was also really great for presentation.  There was lot's of information about the company on the inside and where the bacon has come from.  They used galangal and caraway giving the bacon a lovely aromatic quality and a quick look on the ingredients shows there is nothing artificial, no added water, and all the bacon is the highest quality back bacon, air dried and cured.

The pack recommends to cook on a medium heat until crispy for best results.  The smell was amazing and like no bacon I have smelt before.  Usually bacon is either smoked or unsmoked, and that's it!  This had a multitude of smells and flavours that I wasn't used to at all, but definitely enjoyed.


Nick said that he thought it tasted a lot like crispy duck, but personally I think he just isn't used to bacon having any flavour!  It was refreshing to not just have an artificial smoke flavouring and also to have such a good quality meat.   There was a sweetness which made for a great crispy edge.  The herbs and spices used enhance the natural flavour of  the bacon,  and don't disguise or obscure the flavour.

I think I may sign up for a monthly delivery!

L x


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Recipe: Slimming World Slow Cooker Chicken Jambalaya

Jambalaya comes from America’s Deep South and combines elements of Spanish and French cooking and I believe it is one of the best comfort food dishes!  It's easy to whip up in one pot but I've made it even easier by making it a in the slow cooker! There's nothing better than coming home to a cooked meal, it makes the winter months a lot easier. I've made this recipe syn free but you could also add some low fat sausages for extra flavour and syn accordingly.


You will need:-

1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red pepper, 1 green pepper and 1 yellow pepper, chopped into chunks
1 courgettes, chopped into chunks
4 skinless chicken breasts, chopped into chunks
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp dried thyme
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
Splash of tabasco
350g long grain rice, dried
1 litre of chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:-

In the slow cooker, mix all the ingredients together apart from the rice

Cover and cook for 7 to 8 hours on Low or for 3 to 4 hours on High. Stir in the rice for the last hour of cooking, keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom, stir occasionally.

L x

Halloween Foodie Round Up

It's almost that time of year again! The nights a drawing in, there is a definite chill in the air and Halloween is getting closer.  I have definitely been feeling the spooky vibe trying out some of the best foodie Halloween products on offer, from cocktail recipes to pasta. Here is a selection of my favourites.

Asda are always great when it comes to their seasonal products.  Not only are they great, but they are always so reasonably priced too.  As well as the food they have some great decorations, like these hanging skulls (£3.00).

You can sink your teeth into one of these delicious iced biscuit lollys (£1.00).  They also sent me one of their Halloween ginger bread house kits and I will be posting all about this separately here.

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies has the perfect selection of eerie edibles to send a shiver down the neck of monsters and humans alike.  The trendy London and online shop is the place for all your scary needs. Each product comes complete with a terrorising, tasty treat, plus a short story by a well know literary name, a nod to the shop’s creative writing background. Contributors include founder Nick Hornby, actor and comedian, Charlie Higson and esteemed novelist, Zadie Smith.  They offer Cubed Earwax that is harvested from humans on a strict diet of Tinned Fear and mysteriously difficult to distinguish from fudge (£1.00) as well as thickest Human Snot, suitable for breakfast or as an exceptional teatime treat in the form of the tastiest lemon curd.  See their full range here

If you are looking for something a little less terrifying, then let Chicago Town provide some frightfully delicious pizzas- perfect for an evening in front of some scary movies or even at a party. Great takeaway taste without ever having to open the door for a delivery driver  (comes in handy if avoiding trick or treaters!) We picked the BBQ Sizzler and the Chicken & Bacon melt.  Think we're going to have to share as I can't pick my favourite! (RRP £3.90)



Halloween is often associated with children consuming vast amounts of sweets.  Walking down the aisles that all the retailers have dedicated to Halloween you will find very few healthy products. What better way than to encourage your children to eat healthy food than to give them pasta at Halloween parties.  This organic pasta is Scooby Doo themed and shaped, great for something a little different but very effective! By fun foods 4 all. Available at Tesco, Morrisons and many independent health food stores (£1.10)

Be prepared for the tick or treaters with Swizzles Trick or treat bags.  They contain a selection of favourites such as double lollies, palma violets, refresher cars, love hearts, fruity pops and drumstick lollies (£1.49)


Amazon also has some great Halloweeny products on offer.  My personal favourite are these Sweet Boutique Storz Drum of 35 Spiders 437 g, Currently priced at (£12.95)


Shloer have released this delicious berry punch with the perfect winter flavour without the alcohol. It has a lovely light flavour with a lovely fizz that makes it really refreshing.  Although it is completely non alcoholic it has a nice taste of an alcoholic punch, meaning you really don't have to feel left out.  For mums-to-be who still want to share the fright-fest at Halloween parties, or designated drivers who don’t want to miss their favourite haunt, Berry Punch is the ideal accompaniment to give a spooky sense of occasion this October. Shloer Berry Punch & Pitcher Pack is available in Tesco’s seasonal Halloween aisle (£2.25) while stocks last. Offer available between 6th October - 2nd November 2014

For the grown ups- One of my favourite gin breads, Tanqueray, have created some warm autumnal, as well as a couple of devilishly delicious, cocktails -perfect for setting the tone to your Halloween get-together. These tipples contain seasonal taste notes such as apple, cinnamon, plum and clove that will conjure warming thoughts of woolly scarves, leaves underfoot, bonfires and fireworks! Made with Tanqueray London Dry Gin (70cl £21.50, stockist suggestion Waitrose), which has an elegance that sets it apart from the rest and a flavour that shines in sophisticated cocktails and vibrant gin and tonics. Its great flavour is achieved by the blend of the finest botanicals including juniper, coriander, angelica and liquorice.

Mulled Tanqueray Punch

Ingredients:
35ml Tanqueray London Dry Gin
60ml Pressed Apple Juice
25ml Spiced Sugar Syrup
15ml Fresh Lemon Juice

Method: add all the ingredients to a saucepan and add cloves, cinnamon and orange peel, heat up and serve into a latte glass with a clove studded apple slice. (You can multiple the recipe to make a large batch if you are entertaining friends)

Hogarth’s Horror  


Ingredients:
25ml Tanqueray London Dry Gin
25ml Pale Ale
25ml Sauvignon Blanc
25ml Elderflower Cordial
A grapefruit wedge

Method – Shake all ingredients with ice and strain over cubed ice in a rocks glass and garnish with a grapefruit wedge



Burke and Hare

Ingredients:
35ml Tanqueray London Dry Gin
25ml Ginger Wine (Stones)
10ml Maraschino
30ml pink grapefruit juice
2 dashes plum bitters
A cherry

Method – Add all ingredients to shaker and shake with cubed ice, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry

What are your plans for Halloween this year?  What are your top Halloween food ideas?

L x

Asda Gingerbread House

I have always been pretty rubbish at making things other than food!  I used to really like art and technology at School but the truth is I was rubbish at it.  I've wanted to make a gingerbread house for aaaaages now, so I was excited to be sent Asda''s special Halloween Gingerbread House kit!


The kit comes with literally everything you need to make the house including the icing and the sweets to put on it.   It took a while and a very steady hand but we did it! While it may look as though I enlisted the help of a small child, that was just my inability to ice!


This is a great little kit, especially if you have kids- or even if you're just a big kid like me! It is available in store and online for £5.00

L x

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

M&S Food - Adventures In Imagination

Have you seen the new M&S Food advert?  Oh...my...god...it makes me hungry!



Their new season and adventures in imagination sees over 100 new ideas every month. I previously reviewed their taste adventure range with flavours from all over the world.  They kindly gave me a selection of food to try from their new range including a delicious Autumn recipe.

First I tried some "posh dogs".  American-inspired, meaty and smoky hot dog style sausages served in one of their delicious flowery buns.



I am really not a fan of cheap hot dog sausages but I knew that M&S would make the best possible quality!  They were really delicious and went perfectly with ketchup and American mustard.  I made a beef chilli to put on top of one of them to make a posh chilli dog- it was delicious!  Perfect reminder of summer BBQs and also a look forward to bonfire night with smoky hot dogs and toffee apples. 

Cajun Pork Steaks & Crushed Potatoes

I love steak but have to admit I am only used to beef.  These cajun pork leg steaks are made using only the finest cuts from butchers that they trust.  They are ready to pan fry for a delicious spicy taste. I served mine with crushed potatoes, mushrooms and veg.  They are SO succulent and delicious, M&S really know what they are doing!



Crushed potatoes:-

You will need:-

1kg peeled or scrubbed new potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
4 spring onions, sliced

Method:-

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for about 15 mins until completely cooked through. 
Peeling the potatoes isn’t essential, but gives a smoother finish to the dish.

Drain, tip into a bowl, and crush with the olive oil until broken but not mashed. 

Stir through the spring onions and the olives, then season to taste and serve.

Duck Breast & Plum Salad



This recipe sounded amazing and it tastes even better!  I always think about duck as being quite fatty but the breasts from M&S were superb!

You will need:-
2 tbsp olive oil
4 duck breasts, skin removed
8 plums, halved and stoned
1 star anise
3 tbsp port
2 tbsp soy sauce
125g rice noodles
Thumb-sized piece root ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
½ x 25g pack fresh coriander, leaves only
½ x 25g pack fresh mint, roughly chopped
4 handfuls rocket leaves

Method:-

Heat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius / 375 degrees Fahrenheit / gas 5 (170 degrees Celsius for fan ovens). In a small, ovenproof frying pan, heat 1tbsp of the oil. Season the duck breasts and fry for 2 – 3 minutes each side, until starting to brown. Transfer to the oven for a further 15 minutes, then remove and set aside.

Meanwhile, sit the plums, cut side-up, in a small roasting tin with the star anise. Drizzle over the port and soy sauce. Roast for 10 – 15 minutes, adding a splash of water to the tin if it becomes dry. Set aside.

Cook the noodles according to packet instructions, then drain and refresh under cold water. Heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan and fry the ginger for 2 minutes, until golden. Drain on kitchen paper.

Toss the noodles with the herbs and rocket. Divide among 4 serving plates and add the plums. Slice the duck breasts and arrange on top with the fried ginger, then spoon over any pan juices from the plums.

L x


Monday, 27 October 2014

Week 17 Weigh In

Time for another weigh in! I have been mostly good this week, BUT my oldest friend is going off travelling so we had one last evening together which of course meant LOTS of wine! Wine is bad.   Here are some of the meals that I have eaten this week.





Breakfast

I was super excited to see another loss of 1.1kg (2.42lbs)!!  This means I FINALLY get another award (it feels like so long!) and I am now really close to a 3st loss all together!  Roll on Christmas, fingers crossed for another stone to be gone by then!


Loss This Week- 1.1kg (2.42bs)  

Total Loss So Far- 18.4.kg (2.89 stone)

L x

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Recipe: Choc Shot & Sweet Freedom Treats

Anyone who has ever been on a diet wants to know how to have their cake and eat it. Well, eat their cake and not put on weight to be precise.  Most of us have a love of chocolate but know that it is high in calories or syns.   In my search to find an alternative I discovered Choc Shot, the liquid hot chocolate that's not just for drinking as well as sweet freedom.


It boats some impressive points-

100% natural
Sweetened with our magic ingredient, award winning Sweet Freedom
Only 14 calories per teaspoon
Low GI / GL - no energy highs and lows
Suitable for diabetics as part of a healthy diet
NO artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives
GM, dairy & gluten free
Suitable for vegetarians and vegans

It's secret being that it is made using sweet freedom,  the all natural fruit based sweetener that tastes and sweetens just like real sugar. Some other branded 'fruit' sugars are made from sugar beet and are 100% processed fructose, which isn't the best.  Sweet freedom is produced using a water process with no chemicals or enzymes used so it is much better for you.  They asked me to create some tasty recipes, I love a challenge!

The first thing I wanted to see if I could make was a salted caramel sauce.  Traditionally made by caramelising sugar and adding butter and cream.  As you can imagine the calorific and syn values don't bare thinking about.  The good news is, I made a salted caramel sauce that is just as delicious and with only 3 ingredients.   This recipe makes a decent amount so you can use it over icecream, cakes or whatever you want!  You can keep it in the fridge and heat it up when you want to use it.

Salted Caramel Sauce

This works out to be 2 syns per tablespoon

You will need:-

5 Tbsp of Sweet Freedom
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tbsp fat free fromage frais

Method:-

Add the sweet freedom to a saucepan on a medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula.

Allow to bubble away and caramelise, be careful as it will be super hot!

Take off the heat and add the fromage frais, continuing to stir in until it has all dissolved

Add the salt and stir through.  Allow to cool down, it will thicken as it cools. 

Salted Caramel Cookies

What to do with the delicious salted caramel sauce?  Use it to top a healthier version of the chocolate chip cookie, each one works out to be 2.5 syns each on Slimming World.


You will need:- 


Makes 12 small cookies
50g lighter than light butter
2 tablespoons Sweet Freedom 
100g plain white flour or gluten free floour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
25g dairy free chocolate chips (optional) 

Salted caramel sauce for drizzling 

Method:-

Preheat oven to 175 C / 335 F / gas mark 3.5

Whisk together the wet ingredients and, with a fork, stir them into the flour.  Use your hands to pull and mix the dough together

Stir in the chocolate chips

Take teaspoons of dough and roll into small balls between your hands and place them on baking tray lined with baking paper. Press each one down a bit flatter to form a cookie shape.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Let them stay on the baking tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Drizzle the salted caramel sauce on top and sprinkle with a little extra salt for decoration

Chocolate Porridge Bars

You will need:- 

100g unsalted butter
175g Choc Shot
260g oats
grated rind of 1 orange
25g pecans, chopped


Method:- 

Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas mark 4. Grease a 20cm square tin.

Melt together the butter and Choc Shot in a medium sized pan, stirring to mix them.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix together well.

Spoon into the prepared tin and smooth out, making the top level.

Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, leave to stand for 5 minutes before cutting into 16 squares, then leave to cool completely in the tin.

Store in an air-tight container.


L x