Thursday, 24 July 2014

Review: Côte Brasserie

Out of all the places that I have reviewed in Exeter, Côte Brasserie has definitely been one of my firm favourites. We have been back their a few times since, both with work and with family, and the standard there has been consistently brilliant. I was delighted when they kindly asked me to review them again, read my original review here

Côte offer their own unique twist of French cuisine, coupled with gorgeous views out over the Cathedral
Green in the heart of Exeter.  It is always incredibly busy and often noisy here, but we were lucky to get a seat downstairs where, although it was busy, the volume was to a minimum. Over the course of the evening the lights were slowly dimmed and it was lovely and romantic.

As I am currently on Slimming World I tried to be as good as I could, without denying myself anything too tasty!  It was a special treat after all! To start I had Tomates Breton- mixed Breton heritage tomatoes with soft goats cheese, black olives, shallots and capers served on grilled sourdough bread.  It was beautifully presented with lots of colour on the plate.  The goats cheese was divine, so soft and creamy.  All the flavours were amazing together and coupled with the bread made the perfect mouthful.

For our last review here Nick had calamari (his favourite starter) and to this day he holds Côte as being the best he has ever had, so of course he went for that again. It was perfectly cooked; not at all chewy, perfectly seasoned and complimented with the tartar sauce. The breadcrumbs are so light and crispy, we were both unable to fault it!

 I went for a 7oz fillet steak, and because I am trying to be good I swapped the chips out for new potatoes, and of course teamed it with some peppercorn sauce.  This tasted so good, the meat was cooked exactly as requested and was extremely tender. The peppercorn sauce had a real spice to it and was perfect for the rich tasting meat.  The potatoes were absolutely soaked in butter, but divine!

Nick went for a 10oz rib-eye steak with fries and peppercorn sauce. Nick's exact words to describe this were "inconceivably good!" Cooked to perfection and the highest quality of meat.

Because it would be rude not to try one of their desserts (that's what I'm telling myself!) I ordered a Crêpe Chantilly-crêpe with fresh strawberries and chantilly cream. It was heavenly with just the right amount of sweet to finish of an amazing meal!

Côte completely exceeded my expectations once again, and is without a doubt my favourite restaurant in Exeter!  Find your nearest Côte here

Food ***** Atmosphere ***** Service *****

L x

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Recipe: Asparagus Ham Roll Ups

I always find it hard at work to not continuously graze on crap.   I make sure that I take plenty of snacks with me to work, and these are one of my faves.  It takes hardly any time to make and are tasty either hot or cold and is Syn Free!

You will need:-

6 fat spears asparagus
6 slices of lean ham
Fry Light


Boil the asparagus in a pan for 5-7 mins

Drain well and wrap tightly in ham

Sprinkle with salt & pepper and spray with fry light

Bake in the oven for 5-10 mins or until the ham is crispy

L x

Marks & Spencer Picnic Deal

I love M&S food, the inventors of the £10 meal deal. As part of their Summer of Flavour they are offering a delicious selection of picnic food, and if you buy any 4 picnic items you receive a free bottle wine worth up to £8.99.  They kindly invited me to have a picnic on them!

We went to our local M&S Food store and picked our 4 picnic items, plus a few extra.  We packed our picnic bag and the dog and ventured out into the countryside for an early evening picnic.  Of course, this being England, it rained within about 10 minutes of us being outside and we had to shelter under some trees.

Amongst our food was a meat and cheese selection, chilli and coriander king prawns, calamari rings with red pepper dressing and mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes.  We could have chosen Handcrafted Bacon & Cheese Rolls, Continental Meats Antipasti, Caesar Salad Bowl and smoked slamon.

We also got a tomato, basil and mozzarella tart and some crisps, just to finish the meal off.  It was lush!  Even though we were sat sheltered from the rain it was nice to be outside and what felt like a million miles away from the city.

The prawns and calamari were both ready to eat, but having them cold was a little weird. The wine was lovely and I loved the meat and cheese selection! The tart was heavenly, I haven't had puff pastry in a while and had forgotten just how good it was!

It was a great deal for a lovely evening, and it was nice to be able to take Tilly out with us for a review! Find your nearest M&S here

L x

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Review: Dirt Busters Oven Clean

A while ago I bought a Groupon deal for a deep oven clean.  As you can imagine my oven gets used a lot, and I have to admit I have been a bit slack on  cleaning it.  I keep saying to Nick that it needs doing, but something more important comes up!  I booked the appointment for them to come, with a 3 week wait, and on the day nobody arrived.  After much investigation it turned out that the company had gone out of business! In my search to track them down I found a company on Facebook with the same name that are in NO WAY affiliated with the company I bought the Groupon for.  We got talking and I explained what had happened and it turned out that they in fact had a spare space the next day to do my oven, so I booked it in.

They arrived promptly and I was very apologetic about the state of my oven!  In just an hour it went from over used and under cleaned to brand spanking new! I was incredibly impressed with both the service and the high standard in which my oven was cleaned, and only for £19.99! Worth every penny to not do it myself!  They also offer carpet cleaning and cover a wide area of the South West.  You can find them on Facebook

L x

Review: Propercorn

Cassandra was inspired by her fathers ability to make great popcorn.  She says that they would spend hours experimenting with different flavours and seasonings, impatiently waiting for each kernel to pop so she could try out their latest recipe.

Combining those recipes and her memories she started Propercon. They now pride themselves on making sure their popcorn is delicious and that every pack is guilt-free so there doesn't need to be a trade-off between happiness and health.  Currently available in 5 flavours, all 130 calories or less! I have been sent some to try out for myself.

Lightly Sea Salted- Only 88 calories this has been hand popped and then seasoned with a little sea salt. Perfect saltiness and a great savoury snack.

Sweet & Salty- Hand popped butterfly corn with soft brown sugar for a golden coating and then seasoned with a little sea salt. The perfect balance of sweet & salty.  Only 129 calories

Sour Cream & Chive- hand popped corn then delicately tumbled with Sour Cream & Chive seasoning. The recipe is secret, but it's been blended in creme fraiche and roasted onions to give it an extra creamy depth of flavour. Only 94 calories

Firey Worcester Sauce and Sun Dried Tomato- hand popped corn tumbled it with Fiery Worcester Sauce & Sun-Dried Tomato seasoning. The Worcester Sauce is blended from scratch with a pinch of Indian, red chilli thrown in for an extra kick! Only 96 calories.  These have a real spice and kick to them, which is something I have never experienced with popcorn!  I really enjoyed them, the taste was similar to that of a spicy sausage.

Sweet Coconut and Vanilla-hand-popped and tumbled with a little British Rapeseed oil, Sprinkled with a blend of fresh coconut and Madagascan vanilla for the ultimate, uplifting snack with only 109 calories!  Lovely and sweet and you can taste both the coconut and vanilla at the same time, perfectly balance.  I really like these, they are something a little different from the normal sweet popcorn

Available at Waitrose, Ocado, Harvey Nichols, Benugo, and Whole Foods for RRP £0.90.

L x

Monday, 21 July 2014

Recipe: Slimming World Mexican Chicken Lasagne

I wanted some real comfort food on a Sunday and was weirdly craving Mexican.  I decided to resolve the cravings by making this spicy, tasty and very filling Mexican chicken lasagne! I slow cooked the chicken for 6 hours then pulled it apart with a couple of forks. You could even cook it in the slow cooker while you go to work! Add lots of tasty veg and you can feed 4 people, or save left overs for lunches! It's Syn Free on the 'extra easy' plan if you use the cheese as your Healthy Extra!

You will need:-

4 large chicken breasts
1 tablespoon dried cumin 
1 tablespoon dried coriander leaves
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Juice of half a lime
1 butternut squash, cubed
2 tablespoon of fat free fromage frais
1 courgette, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large pepper, diced
handful of frozen sweet corn
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1 carton of passata
500g fat free natural yogurt 
2 eggs lightly beaten
A pinch of nutmeg, salt and freshly ground black pepper 
12 lasagne sheets


Mix the cumin, chilli flakes, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, mustard powder, and fromage frais together to form a paste.

Slowly add some passata, a small amount at a time to mix together to form a Mexican tomato sauce. 

Add chicken breasts to a slow cooker as well as your onions, peppers, sweetcorn and butternut squash and lime juice and pour the sauce over mix together well and leave.  Leave on low for 6 hours. 

Pull the chicken breasts out the slow cooker and pull apart with 2 forks until you have really small shreds of chicken. Mix this back into the slow cooker mixture.

To make the bechamel sauce, mix together the yoghurt, eggs and nutmeg until smooth.

Spray an medium sized oven proof dish with fry light and poor half the chicken mixture on the bottom.  Layer with bechamel sauce and lasagne sheets and repeat until all the mixture is gone.  Finish with a layer of bechamel  and sprinkle with cheese

Bake in the oven for 30 mins,

L x

Week 4 Weigh in

I have now completed 4 full weeks of Slimming World and have really enjoyed the food I have been cooking and eating!  This week though was the first time that I have been dreading getting on the scales.   I found out at the start of the week that I got a new job, so decided the weekend was a celebration! I had a 3 course meal, wine and a posh M&S picnic and just really enjoyed myself!  I was convinced that I would probably put on weight! Here is some of the food I have eaten this week.

 Incredible meal out at Cote, review to follow soon!

Beans and egg on toast

Chargrilled Chicken Pasta Salad

Strawberries and Yoghurt

Cucumber bites

Posh M&S Picnic with wine!

I got on the scales, not wanting to look...and to my surprise I had actually lost 0.7kg/1.5lbs!  Not only that, but I got my 6kg award, which is the equivalent of just under a stone in 4 weeks!  Now I have the additional motivation of starting a new job to keep me on track.  My aim is to buy some nice new clothes to start in, hopefully a few sizes smaller than the last time I went shopping!

Loss This Week- 0.7kg (1.5lbs)  

Total Loss So Far- 6.0 kg (13.2lbs)
L x