Thursday, 18 April 2013

Ms Brick Strikes Again, Call me Stephanie and other bits

The woman everyone loves to hate.  Samantha Brick.  Yep she's at it again!  The first article she wrote, I really got my hair off.  I was so cross!  This time, I just laughed and laughed and laughed.  I don't know how to take her.  To me - after thinking about it rationally, she's like Karl Pilkington.  You know, Ricky Gervais's friend?  The bald one?  You watch him and you think 'Surely to God, nobody can be this way really?'   Then you wonder, well if he isn't - then he just might be one of the greatest comedy genuises of all time.  I couldn't call it one way or the other.  It's the same with Ms Brick.  Surely nobody could be that deluded, stupid, I could go on and on and on.  Maybe she isn't.  Maybe she too is one of the greatest comediennes of all time.  She's a troll, comedy gold, or she's an idiot - but whichever way you look at it - The Daily Fail are paying her to churn out this incessant bullsh*t/wonderful comedy, depending on your opinion.   She's just brought out her 'memoirs' and everytime she publishes an article, Social Media goes absolutely crazy.  Mainly with hate and bile in her direction - but what is it they say?  No publicity is bad publicity?   I've looked at her Twitter site today, and she's responded to some of the comments aimed at her.  She's retweeted those in support (naturally) but she's actually defended herself in some of the ones against her.  I'm leaning towards the belief that she is actually - for real.   I stopped buying the Daily Fail a while back after Carol Sarler's disgraceful piece of 'journalism' - 'Why can't we face the truth?  Having an Autistic child wrecks your life'.  Which would have been bad enough if I'd read it myself, and was offended.  No.  My son found it online, and shared a link to it on Facebook, asking if he should have been aborted?  Well done Carol!  So, Carol Sarler?  Liz Jones?  Samantha Brick?   Is this the best we can do?  Really?  Is this showcasing women in their best light, or setting women back by decades?

In Waitrose yesterday, Mum asked me if I had my Waitrose card.  I asked her why.  She said 'You get the Daily Mail free with your card.'  To which I announced, rather loudly (and knowing the out-of-town clientele any Waitrose attracts - in our local one Wills and Kate! - I was shot a few disgusted stares...)

'Mother, I wouldn't even use that rag to wipe my backside on.  Free or not.'   I didn't actually put it quite so daintily.

Enough about her.  Now I'm going to talk about another blonde woman in her forties, this one really is beautiful, not just in her own head.   I read a brilliant book the other day, 'Wild' by Cheryl Strayed.   Now, I don't know who this woman is, but apparently she's an online agony aunt?  I read her book, 'Tiny Beautiful Things', and so I knew a bit about her personal history from the responses she imparted to the advice seekers and I thought it would be interesting.  I wasn't let down.  'Wild' is the story of her three month, 1100 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail when she was in her twenties.  Most of the journey was done solo, although there were other hikers she would ramble with for a while and meet up with for rest stops, she wanted to be alone while doing the hike.  I don't want to bandy the word 'brave' around willy nilly, it's a word that's completely used in the wrong context nowadays, especially by the mass media.   At the end of the day it's something she chose to do... but I really admire her balls.  1100 miles.  Sheeeesh.   

No recipe post today (is that a hurrah I hear?).  Boring food day today, jacket potato lunch and omelette tea.  I have about fifty eggs I need to use up before the end of the month.  Ordinarily this wouldn't be a problem as I'd just bake loads of cakes.  I can still do that.  But I can't eat them so, everyone else can suffer along with me :-)

I won a competition yesterday - I won a year's supply of Hair Colour, the Live XXL Brights ones!  Judging by the amount of grey hair (it's living with Mr G that has done it) that's emerging it's probably just as well.   I don't know what colours I'm going to get, but looking at the range, there's lilac, and blue, and amazing red colours.  Knowing my luck they'll send me the shocking Pink, so I can look just like this in time for my 37th birthday...


In other news... Mr G is being his usual 'helpful' self.  It's not enough that I am cooking every meal, planning every meal, pointing every meal and keeping track whether he has enough points left for an ice cream at night (when I don't...), but when asked a straight question, he still can't help himself.

Me:  What can I do with prawns?

Mr G:  Goldfish bowl?  Aquarium?


Tomorrow I'll be back with another recipe post - '101 ways with Polo Mints'.  You're most welcome.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Recipe - Chinese Chicken and Coleslaw wraps

I've been meandering around different new blogs this week, drooling over new recipes and I found one the other day that looked so good.  The chicken reminded me of pulled pork, just looked melt-in-the-mouth tender.  The recipe I saw linked back to the original post so I am going to post the links for you.  But my recipe isn't quite the same, more 'inspired by' the other two, in that I am making my own sauce (couldn't find either in the supermarket), and I am going to serve this on tortilla wraps and not baps.  OK - the only thing my recipe has in common is I shredded the bloody chicken.  Anyhoo.  As much as I love bread rolls, I could devour one in three bites (and that's if I'm on my best behaviour - two bites if nobody is watching or it's just Mr G).  I could probably polish off about 6 small bread rolls.  Tortilla wraps are the same amount of points, take longer to eat, I can shove more filling on them, so it's a no-brainer.  The original recipes I saw were here and here.  This is my take on it.

Ingredients:  Serves 2
420g chicken breasts

2 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
2 tsp Dry Sherry
1 tbsp Caster sugar
3 tbsp Chicken stock
1 tbsp Minced ginger
2 tsp Minced garlic
2 tbsp Pure orange juice
1 tsp Chilli flakes
Sliced spring onions
2 tsp cornflour to thicken (optional - I didn't use it)

To serve
226g Reduced Calorie Coleslaw
4 Tortilla Wraps

I cooked the chicken breasts on the George and when they'd cooled slightly I shredded them with two forks.

I was quite surprised at the volume of chicken once it had been shredded.  Whether it's purely psychological, that you think you're eating more, but it took a lot longer to get through than if we'd just sliced through 1½ small chicken breasts and put them on a wrap.  Shredded chicken - it's the future.  I digress...

Put all the sauce ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil, making sure all the sugar has dissolved.

Put the chicken into a bowl or clean pan and pour over the sauce little by little, stirring to ensure all the meat is covered.  I had a little sauce left over in the pan.  I left the meat for about ten minutes so it would absorb the flavours.

Served with a salad (Mr G had rice as well), coleslaw and tortilla wraps, eSource pointed the meal at 22 Propoints per portion - 6 Propoints for the Chicken and sauce, 4 Propoints for the reduced calorie coleslaw, and 11 points for two Mission Deli wraps.  Which actually adds up to 21 Propoints.  There is a scientific reason for this, I can't be bothered looking into it ;-)

This tasted spicy, tangy, sweet and really went well on a tortilla with crunchy coleslaw slathered on top.  Looks a bit of a mess, was quite sloppy to eat (wear a bib and place a teatowel on your lap when eating.  And have baby wipes to hand for your chin) but this recipe is going straight in the 'Make Again (and sooner than 'in five years time')' pile.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Pork and Pineapple with Egg Fried Rice

Recipe retry #5 - I only made this once before and as far as I remember it was really good.  Time to see if my memory served me well in this case!  Ingredients are for three this time, as our eldest was having it too.

Ingredients (Serves 3):
265g Pork loin steak, trimmed of all visible fat, and diced into small pieces
40 ml Pineapple juice
2 tsp Soy sauce
1 tsp Minced ginger
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 pineapple rings, sliced really thinly
1 Onion, red or white, diced
1 tsp Minced ginger
Mixed peppers, diced
60g Plum Sauce
Spring onion (to garnish)

For the Egg Fried Rice
1 tbsp vegetable oil
180g Easy cook long grain rice
1 egg, beaten
Spring onions
Light and Dark soy sauce
Salt (if required)

First make the egg fried rice - directions for how I make my quick and easy (but tasty) rice are here.  You can add what you want to it really, but I'm keeping it simple as it's only going to be added to the rest of the ingredients and mixed in.

Mix the pineapple juice, soy sauce and ginger together and pour over the pork.  Cover and refrigerate for about an hour - or the longer the better, overnight if you're more prepared than I am!

Drain off the marinade from the pork, and heat the oil in a wok.  Brown the pork chunks for a few minutes and then add the second teaspoon of minced ginger, onions, peppers and pineapples.  Cook for 4 - 5 minutes, until the vegetables are almost cooked.

Add the plum sauce to the wok and stir into the vegetables.  Add the rice to the wok, mix thoroughly, and check the seasoning.  Top with sliced spring onion and serve immediately.

This meal is pointed at 14 Propoints per serving.  We had ours with a portion of Weight Watchers oven chips (5 Propoints).  This was really delicious, nicer than I'd remembered if anything, and so quick and easy to make (especially if you prepare your rice beforehand).

Oh - and finally...

All day, every day... ;-)

M x

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Recipe - Sweet and Sour Chicken Bites

Not a Fakeaway post - because the point of those posts is to recreate, as near as I can, a dish that tastes like it has come from a Takeaway.   I've never been a huge fan of Sweet and Sour sauce, not the kind that you buy from supermarkets, or get in a Takeaway, so I'm not trying to recreate that.   Today, it's more Recipe Retry #4.   This is another dish I haven't made since moving to this new house 4 years ago (I still call it the 'new' house!) and I remember it converted many Sweet and Sour haters, not only myself and Mr G.  It's really tasty, surprisingly low in Propoints, and the beauty is you can alter the sauce to your own liking.  Like it sweeter?  With more of a tang?  No problem.   Adjust the sugar, vinegar, pineapple and tomato sauce levels.

The most obvious difference is - the colour of the dish.   Sweet and sour as I know it is unnaturally orange and very cloying, just tastes really artificial to me - all sweet and no sour.  As Peter Kay once said - 'Never eat anything luminous' ;-)  This dish will be much darker in colour, due to the ketchup and soy sauce.

A popular takeaway dish around here is Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls, battered chunks of chicken in the sauce.  Well, I'm not about to start battering and deep frying chicken (especially after last week's weight GAIN!) so I'm going to use LA Diner's Chicken Breast Bites in my dish - these are very good point wise too, and really tasty!

Ingredients (Serves 2):
250g frozen weight Chicken Breast Bites
½ tsp each garlic and ginger
Sliced mixed Peppers
Red onion, sliced
2 tinned Pineapple rings, cut into chunks, juice reserved
Salt and Pepper

4 tbsp Rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Soy Sauce
3 tbsp Tomato Ketchup
2 tbsp Reserved Pineapple juice

I cooked the chicken pieces according to the pack instructions while I assembled the rest of the meal.

I heated the vinegar up gently and added the sugar, stirring until dissolved.  Then I added the soy sauce, ketchup and pineapple and stirred until combined.  It's not a very good picture, this actually looks darker than what it was.

In another pan I added the peppers, onions, spring onions, minced garlic and ginger, with just a little dash of rice vinegar, soy sauce and water.  Cook in the juices for 5 - 6 minutes.

Because there wasn't loads of sauce, I decided against pouring it over the veggies, it would have been swallowed up within seconds.  So I assembled the dish - rice, veggies, then the chicken bites on top, and the sweet and sour sauce spooned on top.

eSource pointed this recipe at 7 Propoints a portion.  I served this (cheated!) with a bag of Birds Eye Fusions Egg Fried Rice (7 Propoints) and a small jacket potato (3 Propoints).  After last night's (semi) disappointment, this was definitely more my cup of tea!

FTSF #14 - If I could live anywhere I would live...

In a place called Cedar Cove.  You may or may not have heard of it, it's a small town that is the setting of Debbie Macomber's 'Cedar Cove' novels.  I wasn't sure how to take these books at first, I am an avid reader, anything from Chick Lit to the classics, but these books were uniquely different to anything I've ever read before.

Yes, I have this cookbook too!  It's fab!

A place where everyone is friendly, and goes beyond the call of duty to be kind to others.  People go to Church on a Sunday as a family, and support local businesses.  The women cook from scratch (oh the dishes of food are mouthwatering!) and craft - but they're also feisty, independent women.  Not some stereotype, chained to the kitchen sink.  The men are gentlemen, they don't cheat, or lie (well, only little white lies, we the readers know why they've done it - for a greater good - but of course it causes massive problems, break ups, but ultimately resolution).   Friends are proper friends, dependable with no bitching or backbiting.  Everyone meets the love of their life and they marry in quite a short space of time, usually eloping!  Christmases are REAL Christmases, the sort I strive (and fail!) to have every year.

It's all completely unrealistic, but I wish I could actually live in a community like Cedar Cove.  All I see in this day and age is 'me me me' and 'Every man for himself' and 'What's in it for me'.  I don't like it one bit.   I'd love life to take a step back to good old-fashioned morals and family values, but in their absence, I can lose myself in the stories of people that have actually come to seem like real people to me.  I've read all the books in the series but I'll still read them over again! 

Reading up online I see that the series has been made into a TV series for 2013!  I should be excited but I bet UK TV won't pick it up - well, not the channels I subscribe to anyway.  Andi MacDowell takes the role of Judge Olivia Lockhart (later Griffin).

If you haven't seen it, you can see the trailer via the link below, and see what I mean.

Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove - Video | Hallmark Channel

Recipe - Cajun Chicken Pasta

Recipe Retry #5 is Cajun Chicken Pasta.  I had only ever made this once before and I remembered that it was H-O-T!   We're talking 'toilet-roll-in-the-freezer' spicy.  I do remember it being very tasty though, and I was glad to see my memory had served me well.  This time I've lowered the Cajun seasoning down to one tablespoon from the two in the original recipe, because coupled with the Cayenne, that's quite a bit of heat for a dish to be packing.  I want to be able to taste it above the burn!

Ingredients (serves 2):
120g dried pasta shapes
3 cooked chicken breasts, grilled, poached or baked - I used George ;-)
ml Elmlea light Double Cream
3 cloves of Garlic, minced
½ bunch of Spring onions, sliced
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp Ground black pepper
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
2 peppers, any colour, sliced
100g mushrooms, sliced

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Recipe - Bangers and Mash Pie

Right, I couldn't choose so I let Mr G pick today's meal - he is a sausage man through and through and I swear - there wasn't even a hint of innuendo as I typed that, nor did I gigglesnort, honest! (I did.  I smirked as I typed and gigglesnorted.  Too honest, see?).   Pre-diet, on occasion he'd ask for sausage and toast - for tea - and enjoy it just as much as if I had cooked him a steak dinner.  I'm not such a huge fan, and when I do eat them, they've got to be a decent, premium sausage.  This dish is very high in points due to the sausages used.  If it's ever made again we can use Weight Watchers sausage for a much lower point value - however this time I had sausage in the freezer that needed using up.  In keeping with my 2013 goal to reduce food waste, I felt obliged to use them before buying more.  Yes, I'm still chipping away at that goal, four months in!

Ingredients (serves 2):
400g potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 Tesco Finest Cumberland pork sausages
18g Onion gravy granules mixed with 200ml boiling water
60g Branston Original pickle
1 tbsp Elmlea Light Double Cream
Baby Chantennay Carrots, topped and tailed and parboiled
Red Onion, finely sliced
Mushrooms, sliced

To serve - portion of Weight Watchers Oven chips, Chantennay Carrots and Cabbage


Place the sausages on an oven tray and bake until nicely coloured.  Cook the potatoes in boiling water until they're soft.  Parboil the carrots.  Drain and set aside.

When the sausages are cooked, slice each sausage into 4 or 5 chunks.  Put into the pie dishes with the sliced onions, mushrooms and baby carrots.  Mix gently to make sure the ingredients are combined.

Mix the gravy granules with the boiling water, add the pickle and stir well.  Spoon this over the pie filling as opposed to pouring it, or you'll end up with all the pickle chunks left in the bottom of the jug ;-)

Mash the potatoes with the Elmlea light double cream, season with salt and black pepper if desired.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.  Spoon the creamy mash on top of each dish and fluff up with a fork.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

Ready to go into the oven!

Weight Watchers esource pointed this dish at 14 Propoints per pie.  Yes, I'm sobbing too.  Although when all the vegetables were included, it was a full deep pie dish!  Very hearty indeed.  If you were to use 1½ Weight Watchers Cumberland sausage instead, this would make the dish 8 Propoints per pie, which I'm sure you'll agree is much better.  It was very... nice.  Mr G said he'd definitely have it again but personally I can think of many other dishes that I'd make again over this one... I don't see the point in remaking things that are merely 'nice', not when there's so many amazing meals out there to try.  Ah well, it filled a hole in my stomach anyway, it's crossed off my 'To try' list! 

Have a great Saturday night, I'm off to make a coffee and sit down with my Kindle and ponder on how to best stretch my 11 remaining points tonight :-)

Friday, 12 April 2013

Recipe - Homemade Tartare Sauce

Recipe Retry #3 is only a small one.  Tea today isn't very exciting, Cod and chips - straight from the freezer.  I can't be meandering around the kitchen like a fat Nigella every day you know... ;-)  I've always liked to have Tartare Sauce with Cod, and pretty much everywhere I've dined has had the bog standard shop-bought variety.  Only once I've had it homemade.  It was my second date with Mr G, he'd come down for the weekend and we went out for lunch on the Sunday before he went home.  I ordered the Cod, and they brought out a dish of thick, chunky Tartare sauce.  Not the runny, cloying, sour stuff I'd been used to.  Well - I could have eaten the contents of the dish on my own and foregone the fish.  I knew the waitress very well - she also prepped in the kitchen, so I asked her how it was made.  So simple, and so much tastier.  This is how it's done:

Mayonnaise - I used low fat
Fresh Parsley
Fresh Chives
Lemon juice

No amounts here, just initiative.  Chop the capers and gherkins up as fine or chunky as you want.  Add herbs and the seasoning to your own liking.  Simple!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Recipe - Grilled Chicken Tikka Naans

Time to dust down the George (Foreman) and start on Recipe Retry #2.  The amounts shown are for two, Mr G and I have big appetites.  I don't eat a lot during the day, I rarely eat breakfast because I don't find it 'kickstarts my metabolism' - as is bandied about - instead that once I start eating, even if it's just a piece of toast - I'm not able to stop grazing all day.  My evening meal is my time to enjoy food, so it's usually a decent sized meal.  It's what works for me, anyway!

388g Chicken breast
Four Tesco Light Choices Mini Naan Bread
Mango Chutney
Mint leaves, chopped
1 tsp vegetable oil

For the Marinade (whizzed up in a food processor)
75g Natural Yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ tsp tomato puree
½ tsp Mint Jelly (not sauce)
1 tbsp Tandoori Masala
½ tsp Curry powder
½ tsp Cumin (ground)
½ tsp Garam Masala
1 red chilli, deseeded
60 ml Skimmed milk
* Cheat - You could just mix some Patak's Tikka Curry paste into some low fat Natural Yogurt ;-)

For the Honey and Mint Raita
200 ml Natural Yogurt
Salt - if required, I don't use it
¾ tsp Mint Sauce (not jelly - the sauce gives a sharpness to contrast with the sweetness of the honey)
1 tbsp Honey
Cucumber, diced
Pinch of chilli powder, to decorate


Blend the marinade ingredients together in a food processor and then cover the chicken breasts in a shallow dish.

Place in the fridge for a few hours.  Begin to prepare the Raita.

In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt, honey, mint, salt (if using) and when combined add in the diced cucumber.  Sprinkle with chilli powder.  Place in the fridge until ready to eat.

Place the chicken over a rack on an oven tray and cook for 25 - 30 minutes.  Remove to a plate and let cool.

Heat up a George Foreman/Health type grilling machine.  Place the Naan bread on a plate and brush one side with oil.

Turn the Naan bread oil-side down and spread on the mango chutney.  Lay the chicken on top of the chutney.

Top the sandwich with the other mini Naan bread, and place on a fully heated health grill.

Cooking time - to your own judgement.  You'll want the Naan breads charred... I have a grill that you can adjust the height of the press which is great for making pressed sandwiches.

This was absolutely gorgeous - eaten with a knife and fork of course!   Mr G asked if we could have it again tomorrow, so that means a resounding 'result'!

The entire meal (pointed by Weight Watchers esource) was 25 Propoints per portion (serves 2) - including the Indian Snacks and homemade Honey and Mint Raita. 

Recipe - Creamy Tarragon Chicken and Latest child insult

Well, I've reverted to 'Crap Blogger' mode since Easter.  Nothing noteworthy to report, the weather was far too cold to do anything but stay at home, clean and cook.  If you're getting this post via email, you'll see that I had a weight gain this week, and I am very, very cross.  I've been good, I've really been trying - but yes I did cheat and I had a fairy cake or two at my niece's party.  And maybe a handful of mini sausage rolls.  But this is me on a healthy eating plan.  Deprivation.  You know those people who can eat and eat and eat, and eat anything they want to boot, without putting an ounce on?  Well, I eat like one of those people.  Unfortunately, where we differ is that I do put weight on.

If you follow me regularly you'll see from the recipes I post that I like a good feast.  I don't like rubbish or unhealthy food - don't get me wrong.  I love a takeaway as much as the next person, but the cost is ridiculous, not to mention the impact on my weight.  If I can find a way that makes a recipe healthier without impacting on the taste of the dish - I'll do it.  When I 'diet' (I hate the word) I tend to become very boring and predictable with my meals (hence no meals of interest to blog about!).  Jacket potatoes, salads, prawns, rice, couscous, chicken - all good food, but salad doth not a blog post make, sadly.   Something had to change, otherwise 95% of my blog content will all but disappear (Praise the Lord for my children, whose insults make up the other 5% and remain to this day - more on that later...).  I found my old recipe folder, recipes I'd tried out in the last ten years, when I first went online and my interest in home cooking was piqued (I was like something possessed gathering recipes from here, there and everywhere and printed hundreds out into folders!).  While Mr G and the kids were still asleep, I went downstairs and pored over them with a coffee, and doing some rudimentary calculations in my head, realised that some of these recipes were very low in Propoints.  I gathered up a handful of recipes that I thought would be nice to retry, and made a list of the ingredients and fresh herbs I was out of.

I apologise that there's no pictures to go with this post - Adam had a friend over for a playdate and they were having McDonalds for a treat.  We had the drain men over jetting the drains up the street as they were blocked further up and this was backing up raw sewage into my kitchen drain.  I was so harrassed and hungry that the instant this was dished up I wolfed it down.  The next time I make it (which I will, soon!) I will insert the pictures in this post.

*Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
476g chicken breasts (I left mine whole)
Salt and ground black pepper
100g seedless green grapes
1 small bottle (187cl) white wine
150 ml Weight Watchers West Country Thick cream
Handful of fresh tarragon leaves, torn by hand
Flat leaf parsley, to garnish

*The recipe dictates that you fry the chicken breasts in a little oil and garlic for 4 minutes on each side until cooked - I omitted this (and saved the points I'd have spent on the oil!) by cooking the chicken on a health grill.  I added the garlic later.

When the chicken is cooked, add the garlic, white wine, grapes and tarragon.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 3 - 4 minutes until slightly reduced.  Remove the chicken from the pan to a plate and cover with foil.  Stir in the double cream and bring back up to the boil.  Season to liking.

I served the chicken breasts with jacket potato, Chantennay carrots, and leeks, with the sauce drizzled over the chicken and garnished with parsley. 

WeightWatchers esource pointed this recipe at 11 Propoints per portion (not including the potato and vegetables).

And now for the insult.

Me:  Are you signing up for this netball class after school, Caitlin?  I hate netball.  Hate, hate, hate it.  I was awful at it in school.  *Ponders*  But then I was awful at everything sporty at school.

Mr G:  You'll be ok Caitlin, you're tall enough for it.
(I am 5 ft 2 inches, Caitlin is nearly as tall as me, maybe 5ft 1 - and she's only 10).

Caitlin:  People at school say I'm a midget.

Me:  You're not!  You're nearly as tall as me!

Caitlin:  I know, right?  So I said that I was nearly as tall as my Mum, and they said to me 'Your Mum must be a Hobbit then'.

Thanks... but that's not all...

Me:  What did  you say to that?

Caitlin:  Well, she's got the hairy feet for it...

In her defence - I have got feet like a Griffin.  And on that note... Merry Brandybuck - out!