Friday, 2 December 2016

Sundried Tomato and Herby Roast Chicken

A few weeks back, stopping to get fuel on the way home, the shop had a decent chicken reduced to about £1.30, I was doubtful as to whether the freezer had space but I picked it up anyway, along with one for my mum which I dropped off at hers and then somehow crammed it in the freezer when I got home. Can always room for a bargain! Roll on a few weeks, I rescued it from its icy lair and then spent ages deliberating over what to flavour it with! Whilst rummagaing through the fridge, I stumbled across several jars of sundried tomatoes..I swear they were breeding in there.. anyway I also saw the lemon juice and the mind started scheming... and a few hours later we tucked into a Sunday night feast!

A roast dinner is quite a rare treat at home, and quite a feat too. When it came to serving up I quickly remembered why a roast dinner is indeed a rare treat, as working with a dodgy oven with a questionable internal thermometer (that the housing peeps assure me is correctly working) and a small space certainly makes cooking fun! However this chicken dinner turned out great, the marinade complemented the chicken perfectly, without overpowering the meat and it also made for very tasty leftovers! For me the best thing about a roast is enjoying all the leftovers for a few days but with less washing up!!

One new gadget that certainly helps when you have a temperamental oven is having a kitchen thermometer, I had a rather ancient manual one that's a bit questionable too but I recently was sent a great little thermometer from Salter, which is battery powered and reads the temperature super fast. Another bonus vs my older one is that the probe is thinner, so less stabby marks in the food too!

In my kit there was also a great set of scales - I love the fact that it covers both metric and imperial - as whilst I'd not long replaced an old set, admittedly with a cheapy version, upon making an old favourite recipe I found it didn't have the older imperial measurements and ended up frantically googling to convert the figures mid baking! The surface is fully smooth and flat and wipes clean beautifully even after a sundried tomato oil bath, no easy feat! The scales are thin too which helps on storage and slides between the chopping boards in my kitchen easily! There is also a handy little magnetic backed timer in the set - I already have a couple of timers but for when doing big meals its always good to have a spare, for example important things such as timing the pudding! Its a great little set and an ideal gift for any budding chef this Christmas.

Whilst space is restricted in my kitchen, my mind never is when it comes to cooking up new experiments and its something I always retreat to and take pleasure in - a few weeks back I received such a lovely complement that really touched my heart - after someone had seen where I cook and it was how on earth do I make such beautiful food here. Okay, I'll be honest not everything gets shown on here or instagram etc, and my photography is very amateur but for me its all about the taste, and until summer comes back around my photos will be reliant on the kitchen lighting!

Whilst trying to decide whether to keep the roasts accompaniments traditional or mixing it up, I went a little over the top as on the cooking day I also picked up a reduced bag of diced swede (so much easier than wrestling the beasts!) and that got turned into lava of buttery mashed swede, then also a tray of roast potatoes, buttered greens and roasted butternut squash. For two people. I do forget how many I am feeding some days...!

A Few hours including marinading, actual hands on time about 10 minutes

1 large chicken
25g sundried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped + 1  tbsp oil from the jar
2 heaped tsp Herbs de provence
10 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp white ground pepper
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil

Sauce/ gravy:
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
200 ml leftover vegetable cooking water

You will ideally need a roasting bag for the chicken, if not use foil to lightly wrap the chicken

Start by mixing up the oils, tomatoes, herbs, lemon juice and pepper, add a little salt too if desired to make a thick paste.

Place the chicken in a bowl, stab lightly and rub thoroughly with the prepared mixture, place in a roasting bag and leave for a few hours to bathe, or preferably overnight. Transfer the bag into a roasting pan.

Pre-heat oven and then cook as per timing for the weight - some chickens will have a handy cooking time on the packaging. mine was 1.6kg, If it doesn't, then I go by 20 minutes per 450g (Lb) and an extra 20 minutes. Once cooked through, allow to stand for 15 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, heat the veggie cooking water, blend the bouillon powder with the cornflour, and slacken with a little water to make a paste, as the water comes to the boil, whisk the paste in and cook until thickened.  Open up the roasting bag and stir in a few spoonfuls of the juices to the gravy.

Carve and then feast!

Disclaimer: The Salter Kitchen set was a gift. I received no payment or was obliged to provide a review of the product. All photographs are the property of Anne's Kitchen

Monday, 28 November 2016

Meal Planning Monday

Tonight I am posting the meal plan, in the vain hope mostly of sticking to it! I woke up Saturday full of cold and its now progressed to today where I've lost my voice and rather amusingly on a phone call at work, they commented that they felt like the should be paying for the call, which made my husky voice even worse by laughing so hard it left me a little speechless! Am soooo annoyed at yet another bug! In the space of two months I've already had a bout of Sinusitis and a cold, so frankly waking up with this has left me pondering what can I do to boost my immune system?!

Sometimes I can't help but wonder if its a result of when I was restricting my diet during the FODMAP trial a few months back, I did the first part quite a while due to holidays and things going on, plus I had a fair amount of stress going on - some good and some bad! Don't get me wrong it really did help when I stuck religiously to it but most re-introductions left me a bit confused even with the support of my lovely dietitian! Nowadays I have figured out a few of my triggers and either avoid them or try to avoid mixing too many FODMAP's together. Right now though my sore throat is craving Honey and nothing else will substitute!!

Meal planning has been a bit hit and miss the past few months. My job has been through a peak of the project and I've quite often been exhausted to even make what we had planned and we often had a takeaway! Also I am trying to run down the cupboards, which doesn't always mean much excitement! Sardine noodles anyone?! Though I do have a very good reason for running down the cupboards - as we are finally going to be getting a home all of our own in the New Year!! Its something I thought at one point would never happen but finally the stars have aligned and now we are just waiting for the date! I can't honestly wait to have my own kitchen again after 5 years of sharing!!

So this week, depending on germ status:

Smoked salmon fillets and orzo with sauteed green beans and courgettes 
Leftover ragu risotto 
Garlic sausage fusilli 
Smoked mackerel frittata, potato wedges 
Sweet chilli pork stir fry with noodles 

Have a great week!

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Smoked Mackerel and veggie packed Buckwheat-otto

Soooo.. its been a while! I had completely lost my blogging mojo and over the past year I've really been questioning in general how much I share and how much time I spend online. Tweeting this, Instagramming that, posting various things on Facebook and updating on other groups meant there was not enough time leftover just for me and so I decided enough is enough, no more blogging and a real cut back of being online. So I did nothing. Absolutely nothing. And its lovely to do nothing. The last year or so has frankly been far too stressful (though there were some good things too) and it was taking a toll on my health and so I took a month off. My inbox is full but it doesn't bother me anymore. My blog has only ever meant to be a hobby and I had been thinking about giving up entirely but I will hang in a bit longer and see how I feel.. 9 years is a long time!!

These winter nights are not helping either with the blogging!! Everything I photograph looks odd and I've spent ages trying to adjust the colour balance!! Fingers crossed in the new year we may also be in pastures new...hopefully with much better lighting too!! Though the whole process is the part of my current stress levels, it will be worth it in the end! I've already decided summer cannot come around quick enough - our current kitchen is freezing and I am currently huddled under my snuggie blanket typing, thawing out from cooking our dinner tonight!!

Comfort food is definitely winning at the moment and this is one of those dishes! I am following my FODMAP about 80% of the time and whilst I think I've worked out both wheat and dairy are not my BFF's, we are alright mates if we don't hang out too frequently! I missed bread to much to carry on long term, also with it being the 'C' season I've been eating out a lot and doing FODMAP + restaurants is always a bad idea!! I have been avoiding garlic but a little in this would be probably rather lovely!!

A few months back when I started re-assessing my diet, I discovered Buckwheat, which isn't actually a type of wheat and is more grain like in texture. Its slightly nutty and its really versatile - it soaks up flavours brilliantly too and I've been making lots of risotto style dishes with it. This dish is also a one pan winner - less washing up is always good!! Its also fairly cheap to make, in a month full of annual type bills its very welcome! 

Serves 3

100g buckwheat
200g smoked peppered mackerel, skinned and shredded
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 courgette, cut into strips
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 small stick of celery, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
5 tbsp parmesan, grated
1/2 tbsp herbs de provence
2 tbsp basil leaves, chopped
S&P to taste

Soak the buckwheat for about 10 minutes in cold water and rinse well. (This helps to remove any wheaty dust etc but isn't the end of the world if you forget!)

Heat a glug of olive oil in a saute pan till hot and fry the carrot and celery for 5 minutes, until starting to soften and then stir in the remaining veggies and fry until the courgette is starting to become lightly golden - about 5 minutes. 

Stir in the prepared buckwheat, herbs de provence and add the tomatoes. Fill the empty tin with water and pour over, cover and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid has absorbed, stirring every 5-10 minutes.

Fold in the prepared mackerel and half the parmesan and heat through. Scatter over the basil and remaining parmesan and serve

Serve in big bowls and enjoy!

Monday, 3 October 2016

Monday Meal Plan

Ahh I feel like such a bad blogger! Honestly I still cook but trying to cook + blog my FODMAP diet and all the fun that entailed + life in general it all got a bit too much! Plus I have lots of exciting stuff going on and its been crazy busy and its left little time for my little blog! I don't want to tempt fate.... but crossed toes and fingers we are on the move....! 

Last week it was my boyfriends and a good friends birthday, which means cake and lots of it so I relaxed a little on the FODMAP rules and also skipped a week of 'reintroduction' I've kinda figured out wheat is a little naughty but in moderation...its okay... plus I missed croissants too much! Dairy is also...a little dodgy I think but again... all in when PMT comes along it blows it out the park so to speak so it was a needed 'week off'!

This week is fairly simple, a mix of favourites and mostly FODMAP friendly. I am a little addicted to Halloumi and have now converted a few more last weekend at a BBQ we hosted for my B's birthday - I made my loved Bacon and Halloumi salad but without the potatoes, as I'd already made potato salad and figured we had enough carbs!! For this weeks lunches, I prepped ahead last night and made a tray of roasted veggies, with smoky chunks of chorizo and a scattering of halloumi crumbed up - my golly it made for a good lunch box today! If only they would invent smell-o-vision!

Bacon & spinach omelette, new potato salad 
(need to use up some leftover bacon)

Spag bol
(gluten free spaghetti)
Squash and halloumi fritters, sauteed courgettes
(trying to figure out a plan for half a chunk of halloumi!)
Grilled gammon steaks, fried egg, roasted new potatoes, sauteed cavolo nero 
(a favourite of ours!)

Smoked salmon & veggie filled rice paper wraps, edamame to start
(really liking some rice paper wraps I bought a few weeks back, sort of DIY supper!)

Monday, 19 September 2016

Monday Meal Plan

Sorry I've been slacking - I had a good excuse though - I was very busy drinking Sangria watching the sunset over the mountains in Spain! Despite knowing most beverages fairly well, for some reason I had never overly tried Sangria before and towards the end of the holiday and not being put off it despite one of the guidebook descriptions I was pleasantly surprised - it was a little like pimms but sort of red winey too.. either way very refreshing after another busy day spent reading and lazing by the pool! The picture doesn't quite do it justice- was more fish bowl sized!!

Now I am back home (sob, sob!) Meal planning is back in swing, though I'm still on the FODMAP reintroduction phase which makes it essential in the form of planning but also hard as most things I want to eat are off limits and its hard to stay inspired at times!

This week is super busy - have a full week back at work along with planned cinema trips, friends over, other friend staying with us and a dreaded 2nd root canal treatment on Friday!! 

Curried Corned beef hash, made with extra veg (basically using up some leftovers!) alongside some roasted marrow and carrots 

Chorizo & Cheddar omelette, new potatoes, buttered Kale

Smoky tomato Slow cooked pork stew, rice 

Sardine and pepper stir fry and rice noodles 
(I have never had sardines and I am really unsure about them but need to boost up my calcium levels!)

Dentist in the afternoon... dinner will be most likely either involving porridge or gravy!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Meal Planning Monday w/c 22/08/16

Today is a special day. Its bread day! Now that might not seem very exciting, however when you have not eaten real bread in hmmm maybe 10 weeks actually eating a 'real' sliced is quite exciting!! Not some pappy, dense stuff that makes you really question how much you wanted to eat. Don't even start me on the 'freefrom' crumpets I had yesterday morning - they were a real big disappointment and I struggled to finish them! The reason why its bready day is that last week I met with my lovely Dietitian, who commented how well I had stuck to the FODMAP so strictly (not often as a patient I have been told I am good, I am usually the awkward one who can't tolerate half the meds they want to give me and never conform to how plans should work!) and so after going through the re-introduction and inside nervously thinking how on earth will I manage this I had a long hard chat with myself - I survived nearly 8 weeks of elimination and got this far, we can do this!

To manage the re-intro is a bit of a challenge in itself however meal planning is essential to keep my head straight as you have to have a small portion of one the ingredients on the naughty list, double the next day, and double again the third day! Whilst still eliminating everything else and regardless of the results and if I tolerate it, you have to then not have said ingredient until all completed. Hmm! In my head I think I will try every Monday to re-introduce something though to the Wednesday...

Unfortunately after several really good weeks my IBS flared on Saturday on the tail end of a funny reaction to some pain meds, so I held out till today to re-introduction start. I so hope I can eat real bread again long term!

So this weeks plan is:

Corned beef hash, carrots, kale 
(B's favourite and was requested!)

Basa parcels, courgette and pepper rice noodles 
(easy dinner as getting my hair done!)

Chicken and aubergine pilaff, bread and butter 
(A new recipe cut out from a magazine, have made similar dishes before so hopefully good! The bread addition is part of my FODMAP challenge!)

Mini turkey meat loaves, homemade tomato sauce, buckwheat mash 
(May wrap the meatloaves in bacon...)

Gammon steaks, fried eggs, crispy potatoes 
(Friday night easy dinner!)

Monday, 15 August 2016

Meal Planning Monday W/C 15/08/16

Ooops I missed last week! I had a plan on paper, well my excel sheet but I knew the week was going to busy and subject to change so I never blogged it on purpose! The week flew by, Monday saw the arrival of my dad back from a long holiday and for once the M25 was kind to me and didn't take too long to get him back from the drop off point. However it still meant I was not going to be home anytime before 7pm so we ended up getting a Chinese takeaway! Fortunately one near to us actually are very good about food intolerances and allergies and were really helpful and I managed to navigate the menu and still enjoy my dinner! In the end I had chicken wings, chicken with cashew nuts and boiled rice. Not entirely FODMAP but about the closest I could get! 

The original plan that night was actually for slow cooked pork steaks - I thought I could get home from work, stick them on the back of the hob on low and then let them gently simmer away.. however that would of required prep the night before.. and we actually ended up spending most of the afternoon and late into the night in our local A&E as my boyfriend hurt his knee at cricket! Fortunately nothing is broken but he is rather uncomfortable whilst it heals up. Then on Friday night I managed to take a tumble at home when a stall I was using to put some boxes on top of the wardrobe gave way and I  have ended up a little bruised and scratched so we are a right pair!! 

We did eat a few new things last week - on one of the nights we had some leftover ham slices that needed using up and I made mini baked ham and egg cups - alongside roasted green beans and new potatoes. An easy dinner and was a popular dish!

Some other choices...well may have been made under the influence slightly.... I was next door at my friends... we have opened some wine my Dad bought back... then a bottle of bourbon got opened... then I admitted I'd bought some Pigeon breasts... and well after discussion whether we could get dinner quicker than the Chinese takeaway could arrive... we did indeed manage dinner in 20 minutes! I made stir fried pigeon with 5 spice, aubergine and peppers, really quite excellent basmati rice dressed with sesame oil and very randomly we also heated up some ragu I'd made in case there was not enough meat for the boys! The pigeon wasn't bad at all, quite gamey.

So this week is a little flexible - I am meeting with the dietitian tomorrow to discuss the re-introduction phase of FODMAP (I'm scared!) so I have made a loose meal plan!

Bacon wrapped cod fingers. Green beans and polenta chips 
(only just taken the cod out of the freezer oops! Saw it on tv looked good...)

Quorn 'Chicken' Spanish style with potatoes and tomatoes and chorizo 
(My dad found me gluten free chorizo yay!)

Ikea meatballs for b, me - Salmon fillet. New potatoes and
(two meals as meatballs been in the freezer forever!)

Slow cooked bbq pork steaks, buckwheat mash
(aka last weeks dinner!)

I have root canal booked. B can have ready made pork tortellini!
(goodbye money!)

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Chocolate and Almond Brownies - Gluten free and low #FODMAP

For these brownies they are definitely both gluten and wheat free, the FODMAP part is on the border - I did check them out with my dietitian as under FODMAP you are allowed 10 almonds - which after working out the total and scaling down is roughly 8-10 almonds per portion, so if you eat two, ahem, then they are taking you over that almond limit! Not that I ate two of course... that would never happen.. though I did have an amusing conversation at work today with a dental health nurse over a particular form she was showing me and after reading through it (as part of the project I am on) I did mutter the words 'is it bad I had a brownie for breakfast'! Apparently, yes. Oh well...

Baking is a passion of mine - it tends to happen quite organically without much prior planning and I love nothing better than destroying the kitchen and dusting everything with a fine scattering of icing sugar but following FODMAP has definitely tested my repertoire to the max and I've explored whole new areas of baking! After initial hit and miss I seem to be getting into a rhythm and these brownies are pretty darn good! The fact that there are just under 4 left out of 9 from the last night is a pretty good sign they are keepers! (though by the time I have now finished writing this up post a blinking windows update grr there are two!) B even gave them a 10 which is a huge improvement on the previous experiments!

These are not fudgey as some brownies but they are soft, light but not too light and chocolatey. I did umm and arr over putting rum in them but I did resist on this occasion. Maybe next time....(though I think am getting a reputation as at a friends annual birthday bbq the other night I was asked if my flapjacks had alcohol in them!!)

The one main ingredient in making these brownies a little on the squidge side - mashed banana. They need to be very ripe, on the edge of packing their bags and walking out the fruit bowl. You won't taste the banana but they keep the brownies so moist without lots of butter - I found with earlier gluten free bakes they were a little on the dry side but not with these!

Makes 9 brownies


100g butter
125g light brown muscavado sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
75g rice flour
25g ground almonds
25g cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
2 small ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs beaten
50g dark chocolate,chopped
2 tbsp flaked almonds

Preheat oven about 190o (my oven still flexible but basically a medium hot oven)
Line a square tin with baking paper

In a pan melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup until slightly foaming and syrupy, leave to one side

Sift together the rice flour, ground almonds, baking powder and cocoa. Stir in the mashed banana and lightly beat in the eggs.

Use a fork to gently stir through the melted sugary mix until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks. Pour into the prepared tin, scatter over the flaked almonds and bake for 35-40 minutes or until just cooked through.

We had ours in a bath of soya custard (surprisingly nice!)

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Recently In My low FODMAP Kitchen...

Since I started trialing the FODMAP diet back in early June to try and tackle my misbehaving digestion, which frankly now feels like a lifetime ago, a lot has changed:

1 - Our food shop has gone up in price which came as a surprise. I think I went possibly a little over the top finding alternatives to pasta and having to rethink my lunches. Quinoa flour doesn't come cheap, even more so if its still sitting in the cupboard a month later wondering what on earth to do with it! Also special breads and flours are roughly 3 times the price of regular stuff, not that I've used them a huge amount it all adds up. As part of trying to tame the IBS symptoms before starting the FODMAP I also don't eat any leftover pasta or rice dishes any more due to the resistant starches that form when cooled so a packed lunch that is also tasty and filling has proved a very big challenge!

2 - Eating out is frequently frustrating - I have utter sympathy for anyone with genuine food allergies as navigating menu's is a proper challenge! I must admit most places have pleasantly surprised me with their flexibility and even one particular chain said the manager had to take my order for special diets and another when I asked for the vinegar for my chips said no, it was  malt and unsuitable, however I was actually asking for my mum so they let me have it!

3 - I am bored of reading labels. Basically most things not made by your fair hands will be unsuitable in the shop. So its best not to look and save yourself the disappointment. Oh and don't go shopping hungry! This is not always easy and admittedly I was so hungry following a long drive the other night I bought a gluten free fruit loaf in the supermarket and ate two slices in the car fresh out the bag dry with no butter on! Fortunately this Genius loaf was actually quite tasty!

4 - I have discovered as lovely as onions and garlic are, you can still cook delicious food without them. Finally. There was some tears. At least garlic oil is surprisingly allowed... 

5 - Last but not least - and its a biggie. My tummy is happy for the first time. Its not all plain sailing and I miss real cake sooooo very much but not being constantly bloated, able to wear pretty dresses that are fairly snug is quite wonderful. I still have the odd day when perhaps I had a nice chilled fruit cider on a hot day and I accept there may be some comeback on that ... 

Here are a few of the highlights that were all low #FODMAP and also wheat and gluten free:

Thai Pork with rice noodles
Bacon and Halloumi Salad
A rich and meaty ragu with freefrom penne
Lemon green tea and sesame crumbed Tuna steak and stir fried veggies

So hopefully if you are entering FODMAP territory in order to tame your IBS or similar digestive issues - don't lose hope - food can still be your friend, its just learning who your friends are! I can't honestly tell you the relief after nigh on 16 years with IBS symptoms ranging from mild to severe - its been so bad I've even fainted a couple of times, not fun!

Oh and you can still eat cake! Just make sure its wheat and gluten free! These chocolate and ginger buns were delicious!

Monday, 1 August 2016

Monday Meal Plan

Hello shiny new Monday. Question, where on earth did the weekend go?! I had all these plans to be super productive including making a gigantic To Do list but roughly achieved other than making some rather fabulous fruit n nut flapjacks, a very late night BBQ (got home at 2am!) and a few hours wandering in the sunshine around Henley yesterday I don't think I did much else! One thing I did at least cross of the to do list was the meal plan- mostly because I'd started it on Friday, actually ahead of going food shopping for once! Not sure I actually spent any less but on the up side I didn't buy any random stuff either!
Last week we actually managed 4 our of the 5 planned meals! The poor Pad Thai got bumped again - as on Friday night I was tired but also going out so dinner became an omelette and B got some very exotic tortellini from the fridge instead! Lets see if its third time lucky this week? We had some real treats last week - the Slow cooked Pork steaks were amazing - and how typical I didn't write down any blinking quantities! Despite rushing home from work, late again I somehow got dinner ready and on the table for 8pm! The pork was so good, just melted in the mouth, alongside a rich tomato and veggie laden stew - it also had a sneaky 1/2 can of ginger beer in - it adds such a nice sweetness to the sauce and the little hint of ginger just complements the rest of the ingredients:

There was also last week a very tasty pilaff, though I don't think B was as enamored by it and wanted more meat - there was enough but it was shredded up and I guess it didn't look very meaty! However for me it was perfect - fragrant rice, oh and an egg baked in at the end was a happy meal for me!

So this week is fairly busy - Mum is over tomorrow and is very fussy (even though she denies this!) but hopefully she will enjoy the halloumi salad!

GF Crustless pizza, carrots-b rocket 
(A Nigella favourite, trying to make a gluten free version, I'm having carrot salad-B wants rocket but I don't like it anymore!)

(This is what I dreamt up the other week, very good it was too!)

Braised Venison with rice 
(I think, found a packet of Venison mince in freezer, either that or meatballs with it!)

Salmon en papilotte with courgettes 
(The new freezer staple meal, all cooked in a paper parcel)

Pork pad thai-rice noodles 
(3rd time lucky?)

Monday, 25 July 2016

Monday Meal Plan

Well a miracle has happened, after over 3 years of asking my dearest what he would like to eat as I was 'doing the meal plan' I finally got an answer that was not the generic 'noodles' - if anything its a bit less exotic - its my corned beef hash! However, it is rather tasty so I can see why he wants it for dinner! At least that was one night crossed off the plan for the week! I am still on the initial stage of the FODMAP diet - I was busy with work and forgot to book in to see my Dietitian before her holiday - I've misbehaved a little with the odd naughty fruit cider so another week or so on elimination is probably my penance! Overall most of my meals are entirely FODMAP, eating out still remains a nightmare but I just try and choose the lesser of the evils and hope for the best!

Last week was as I thought it might be was a bit hit and miss! In between the mini heatwave that's reddened my skin somewhat and not overly wanting to be stuck in a hot kitchen the plan went a bit AWOL! Oh and the power cut really didn't help things either on Monday night as we ended up with a takeaway! I think we only actually managed two of the five planned dinners though! The gammon buckwheat-otto was lovely, even if after finishing off the dish with some kale, to then find out mum didn't like it was a bit of a backfire and the miso aubergine fell a bit short, having had the oven turn itself off halfway through cooking it never achieved that nice soft yet slightly smoky taste! I am normally quite proud of little food to no waste but one of the leftover aubergine portions with rice did get thrown as I didn't realise B hadn't taken it to work and was well over its keep date by the time I found out!

Anyway, this week hopefully will be a bit cooler and we can stay fairly on track! Over the weekend I tried a few new dishes too - fish cooked en papilotte in the microwave following watching last weeks 'Live well for less' was a real hit and I can see it featuring in our future a lot! After a day out in London I was knackered but my version with salmon and courgette was cooked in 6 minutes, a real win! Also another Halloumi salad proved a winner too, definitely hooked on my two slices allowed on FODMAP!

This weeks plan;

Corned beef hash
(is already in the oven, with a layer of sautéed courgette inside!)

Mixed meat pilaff with buttered kale
(Made before from a Nigella recipe, was planning on having more leftover meat for this but we ate most of it, will be a fridge surprise!)

Slow cooked bbq pork steaks with mash
(Keep forgetting bought some lovely giant pork steaks, going to make them FODMAP suitable)

Basa parcels, sweet potato, green beans
(cooked in the microwave as mentioned before!)

Pork pad thai-rice noodles
(should of been last week but forgot to thaw the meat!)

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Bacon, Halloumi and Baby Roast Potato Salad

Ah, at long last. My food mojo is back. The mojo where I dream up random combinations and they make it into reality. I kind of dreamt this one up very vaguely based on the idea of a delicious Halloumi and steak salad we had back at our South African themed Christmas meal (my other half is from SA) and several times since too. I've taken the basics from it and changed it up a little - and made a heavenly salad in the process! This got a big thumbs up from my man (even though it was salad haha! and its low in FODMAP's and gluten free without any compromise on flavour!

The potatoes make this an easily gluten free meal - though you could swap out for another carby item or leave out altogether. Lemon and maple syrup may seem a bit of an odd combo in a salad but the lemon cuts through the sweetness and the slight smoke of the bacon complements the sweetness of the maple so well together - I've used this in a few other salads and it works a treat. And I am fully signed up to the capers club now - only took 34 years!! Plus I am definitely liking Halloumi now, its a bit like aubergine - cook it well its heaven - cook it bad, ah well yeah that will be hell then!!

Serves 2

120g Halloumi, 1cm dice
3 tsp garlic infused oil
3 unsmoked bacon rashers, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 tbsp. capers, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp. cornflour
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. maple syrup
50g baby spinach
8 new potatoes
Black pepper
4-5 Basil leaves to garnish

Start by pre-heating the oven to about 200o. Coat the potatoes in a little of the oil, place in a shallow baking dish and roast for 45 minutes, or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, coat the halloumi cubes in cornflour.

Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan, cook the bacon until crispy and lift out onto paper. In the same pan, add the capers and tomatoes, fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring often over a moderate heat until the tomatoes are starting to soften.

Push the tomatoes and capers to the side of the pan and add the prepared halloumi, fry without turning for 3 minutes or until golden and turn over and fry until golden all over. Stir in the lemon juice and maple syrup, coat everything well. Season with black pepper.

Place the spinach in a large serving bowl or plate. Halve the potatoes and place on top of the spinach, spoon over the bacon & halloumi. Scatter over the basil.

This is definitely a summer keeper! I love the salty little fried cubes of tasty cheese and they are weirdly addictive! Your salad may lack some depending how ahead you are with timing!!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Monday Meal Plan

This week I tried to get ahead by planning on Sunday but really struggled to get a plan together. We have a fridge and freezer full and yet I still couldn't decide what to cook or what I wanted to eat! I think it was being distracted by catching up with TV from the week - I did manage to pour some red wine into my water glass which was somewhat amusing and probably would of done better doing the plan with the radio on instead perhaps!

Some of the evenings are not finalised, towards the end of the week am catching up with a friend I met through night school a few years back - one drink may well turn into dinner! Also me and my boyfriend have not spent much time together with erratic work hours, so may also have a date night to the cinema. Perhaps that's why I am a bit reluctant to meal plan in full?

Last week was mostly on plan, not that I had blogged it but we had some highlights - a risotto of sorts made with buckwheat on Thursday was really good - so much its made it on to this weeks plan! It was packed with veg and tasted so good and fresh! The FODMAP is still mostly on plan - I did have a bit of an IBS flare earlier in the week which I think was a combination of eating out and a busy schedule! I'm due to see the dietitian again soon to discuss re-introduction..should be interesting!

Anyway - this week potentially will be:

Miso Aubergine, sticky sesame sweet potato + basmati rice 
Gammon buckwheat-otto, courgette, pepper 
Fish pie-salmon & basa, kale
B-pork tortellini
Pork Pad Thai 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Curried Corned Beef Hash - Low #FODMAP

As part of my dabbling with the #FODMAP diet, adapting my current repertoire of recipes is proving to be a thorough mixture of highs and lows, or as the famous Foreigner song goes 'In my life there's been heartache and pain, I don't know if I can face it again, Can't stop now, I've travelled so far, to change this lonely life'. Okay, so maybe lonely life is a little extreme - but faced with hunger, 3pm on a Saturday afternoon and near to tears trying to find something to eat you really do start to think that maybe the IBS wasn't really that bad.....shall I just get a nice warm and tasty pasty?!

Fortunately its not been all bad there has been highs in the form of actual whole days without stomach pain, which after 18 odd years is a revelation - and actually its super useful in identifying triggers. That comes with sadness though too. A cheeky fruit cider on Saturday afternoon left me questioning how much I really did enjoy its beautiful chilled fruitfulness!! I am almost at the end of the elimination phase despite the cider slippages- and I look forward to reintroduction with a mixture of joy at the thought of hot buttered avocado toast and also with some trepidation..!

So as promised a few weeks back - I promised to share some tasty recipes - admittedly there has not been as many show stoppers as I would have liked, however this is the first dish I had seconds of, which is a good sign! Adapting this from my main corned beef hash took a bit of thinking. Baked beans, Worcestershire sauce, onions and the garlic in its raw form were all off the menu; so how would I make it still taste good and be low in FODMAP's?! Admittedly its not lactose free - I added quite a bit of cheese but as my booklet assures me - most cheese, especially the hard ones are low, and therefore suitable... and discovering garlic oil was allowed has been a game changer!

Serves 3-4

1x 340g Corned Beef
1/2 stick celery, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 large white potatoes, diced (skin on or off as you prefer)
1/2 tsp turmeric
3tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
2 salad tomatoes
1 heaped tsp tomato puree
50g red Leicester cheese, grated
1 tsp butter
s&p to taste

Start by boiling the potatoes with the turmeric, drain well, mash well and add the butter, 1/3 of the cheese and 1 tbsp of the coriander. Season to taste and add put to one side. Pre-heat oven to 190o.

Heat the a non-stick frying pan until medium-hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and toast until they start to pop or smoke very lightly, add the oil and celery and fry for 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and fry for a further 5 minutes or until starting to go mushy, turning down the heat a notch. Add the corned beef and break down with a spatula and fry until browned lightly. Make a well in the middle and stir in the tomato puree and a splash of water to loosen and fry for a further 2-3 minutes or until well mixed, stir in the remaining coriander and season with black pepper.

Transfer into an oven proof dish, top with the prepared mash and sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned nicely.

Serve with veg of your choice - we had roasted carrots with dwarf beans.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Monday Meal plan #FODMAP

So after a few interesting weeks adjusting to the first stage of the #FODMAP diet, I'm having less meltdowns, eating more delicious things and actually getting used to it! On the positive side it really has highlighted already a few foods that I probably should long term not make eye contact with- there has been admittedly a few weak moments to find that out! Financially I seemed to of spent more - one would think cutting out half the things I usually buy would mean spending less but in the interest of not entirely losing my sanity I have been trying out things instead - the amaranth porridge was definitely interesting but the cheesy baked millet was delicious and we are total converts to buckwheat mash!

We managed to stay fairly on plan last week, though the calamari was moved to Friday night and the sausages I will use another night, probably the weekend instead. Thursday was a wash out - couldn't decide what to eat and by the time I decided the tenant downstairs went into the kitchen at the exact moment and started cooking instead, so I had a FODMAP flapjack and B had a sausage from the takeaway counter! Very glam!

Eating out still is frankly a nightmare and Saturday night proved even more fun - I accepted a last minute dinner invite to a popular pizza chain and managed to find a shard of glass in my dinner which cut my lip. Last time I order a gluten free pizza base! No idea where it came from but certainly an unwanted surprise!

Two highlights from last week are:

GF Breaded mustardy Pork steaks with cheesy baked millet:
(the lemon was ginormous! Not fully FODMAP as bought the wrong GF breadcrumbs!)

The majority of my sauces are made from scratch - and previously always had garlic or onion in - so adjusting so not having them has been a challenge but the below was really good! The flavour profile is so different but in a good way! Lots of fresh coriander pimped it up perfectly, combined with a little grated carrot to start and sweeten the sauce, finished with smoked paprika and gently simmered for about 2 hours until perfect!

Smoky Tomato and fresh coriander sauce - garlic, onion free and #FODMAP friendly- so tasty!

This weeks dishes are all adapted to suit the FODMAP plan. Breakfast is the usual overnight oat's pots, I usually make up 5 on a Sunday night as part of my meal prep to make things easier! Lunches are mostly involving a combination of salad veg and suitable leftovers - this week am super busy working cross-sites so it will be a very portable feast!

Italian Baked eggs 
(a real favourite, make this one regularly but today's will be bean free to adapt!)

Corned beef hash, carrots and dwarf beans 
(Fancy some comfort food!)

Cheesy bacon GF pasta bake 
(Lots of cheese to use up!)

Smoked cod & squid Paella 
(Not had paella in ages, bought a small smoked cod fillet reduced to this will stretch it out!)

Eating out potentially!
(A nightmare on FODMAP but have chosen a pricy steak place!)

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Banana, Sultana and Choc Chip Muffins #FODMAP

Yesterday I was very lucky to spend it attending a full day workshop on Quality Improvement for healthcare, which working for the NHS as part of a project to improve patient safety it was super beneficial and very interesting. I am really lucky to work with a great bunch - and a great Trust which is committed to improving quality to benefit both us staff and patients. I knew the provided sandwich lunch would be a no go on FODMAP but I had planned ahead and took some leftover baked millet & veggies. However, the hardest part was in the afternoon when trays of amazing looking and smelling cakes appeared - there was glossy topped caramellos, fancy cupcakes and lots of other treats and not a single one was suitable! All I could think about was cake!!

So last night after dinner and still craving cake, I decided to try again with some FODMAP suitable baking, last weeks banana bread was not a huge hit but I decided to persevere with a the banana theme, mainly though as I had two very, very ripe ones to use up! After a rummage through my cookery books I dusted off a copy of 'the egg book'. Its not a book I've admittedly used very much but it does have a few good recipes inside... I chose the banana muffins recipe but tweaked it to be FODMAP friendly, also I increased the liquid to allow for the gluten free flour - which seems much thirstier, and changed the honey to maple syrup. I also had no ground almonds so subbed for ground rice too! Oh and I added some suitable dark chocolate chips and sultanas and left out the nutmeg!

The mixture looked quite sloppy and I easily filled 12 cases rather than the 10 stated! I didn't hold out much hope but was pleasantly surprised and it satisfied my cake longing! The resulting muffin was light and taste rather good even if they did stick super well to their paper cases! Oh and as ever I had great fun making a mess!

Make 12 muffins

225g gluten free plain flour (I used Dove's Farm)
3 tsp baking powder
25g ground rice
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
50g light soft brown sugar
2 large mashed bananas
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150ml soya milk, unsweetened
3 tbsp maple syrup
50g sultanas
50g dark chocolate chips (check labels for suitability)

Pre-heat oven to 190o

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ground rice together.

Separately mix together the eggs, banana, oil, milk and maple syrup. fold into the dry mixture gently and stir through the chocolate chips and sultanas, spoon into prepared muffin cases.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden and a skewer comes away cleanly

Monday, 27 June 2016

Monday Meal Plan..... with FODMAP

Ah my sweet meal plan...You and me had such fun together... Sunday nights with a glass of wine, poring over cookbooks longingly gazing at the photos of all the delights to dream of, rummaging in the freezer and cupboards for inspiration....flicking through the never ending pile of recipes torn from magazines currently halfway between being filed in a binder or in a the pink tray under the sofa patiently waiting.. and then FODMAP came along.. like some wicked witch of the west... that despite consenting entirely to try it out... and knowing why I was doing it... well I never figured meal planning would go from a necessity to a staple but at the same time enough to hate meal planning!!

The best piece of advice I've received over doing FODMAP is focus on what you can eat as honestly, the no list is seemingly endless and I can see why people would struggle to get past the first day, yet alone week! I am currently sort of 3 weeks in - most days I have scraped it, some not so much. I am not sure if fortunately or unfortunately I have quickly realised I may never eat pasta in its normal form again and I really regret stock piling and bulk buying pretty much every pasta variety!! In a weak, tired moment last week I cooked up some ready made tortellini.. yeah .. not again...!! I am still making mistakes and discovering new things -who knew buckwheat mash could be so good? The jury is however still out on Amaranth and Millet caused a lot of budgie comments in the office!!

So this week, ha - its already nearly 9pm and dinners eaten - weekend flew by and I only planned tonight after getting home late from work (which is fun but crazy busy right now!!)- majority has been adapted to suit FODMAP diet:

Minced steak with chilli and soya sauce, lettuce wraps, basmati rice

GF breaded mustard coated pork fillets, roasted tomatoes with courgettes & millet

Pulled pork filled peppers, cheesy baked polenta

Calamari either fried or in seafood pancake form GF

GF sausages, buckwheat mash & veggies

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Pulled Pork with FODMAP Ginger Barbecue Sauce

Since my last posting, about starting a FODMAP diet in order to try and figure out some of my ongoing digestive 'issues', it sent me into a bit of well, frankly a meltdown! I think trying to start anything that has such a big impact on everything, combined with a super busy time at work, plus being rather hormonal at the time, it was just heading for a disaster!! I did mention I was on the edge of a meltdown previously and I have never cried in a super market but it came very, very close the following day!! One thing I've learned, is do not go shopping when hungry and whilst doing FODMAP!! Nothing will be suitable and you will only be sad and disappointed!! Not to mention quite close to pretty much offending anyone you love! (Sorry B!)

So, towards the end of last week, in an attempt to get back on plan, afterall on the days I did follow it I REALLY noticed a difference digestively, planning was key in it all and with Father's Day fast approaching and the thought of navigating a restaurant menu bought me out in a cold sweat, I knuckled down and after poring over the FODMAP books, again I decided to do pulled pork.Meat after all is easy, the sauce is where it gets interesting... pretty much any ready made sauce, condiment or flavouring is very much on the no list, and so I decided to make a FODMAP friendly barbecue sauce...

Starting was the hardest part - how to do it without any garlic-honey or onions! Previously I have relied on my trusty 'Winter Barbecue sauce' but couldn't make it due to the aforementioned 'banned' items, along with also not being able to have dates or apple, that sauce was doomed. Also another no go was the sauce I make for my pasta! What to do?!! It was time to start a clean slate, wave goodbye to my beloved garlic and embrace a new food challenge... and its time to say Mr Celery! He will be your new friend!! It substitutes very well for when you would normally be browning your onions etc! The spice Hing was also recommended by my dietitian as a sort of replacement to the flavour that onion gives - I am not entirely sure on quantities but thought would start with half a teaspoon and go from there!!

Fortunately all the hard work paid off and its actually a pretty low maintenance dish whilst still being delicious! The sauce was really tasty, with a sweet smoky depth and also fresh tasting and no one missed the onion or garlic, including my brother commenting it wasn't bloating compared to a regular version. This sauce is now definitely my base sauce!! I adore ginger and would eat it in copious quantities, though the overall finish of the dish is not very gingery at all, if it was just for me I would of added some extra ground ginger!

For the pork - it takes a long time to cook, so plan appropriately. I woke at 6am Sunday morning to put mine in the oven, I recommend a later time but it depends on your guests schedule...

Serves lots - maybe 8? Depends on greed of guests!


Approx 2 kg joint Pork shoulder
1 x 440ml can ginger beer (check label, mine was from Tesco)
1 tin good quality plum tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 stick celery, finely chopped
25g dark soft brown sugar
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 heaped tsp English mustard powder
1/2 tsp hing (also known as Asafoetida)
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
4 heaped tsp tomato puree concentrate (roughly 1/2 a small tin)
1/2 bunch fresh coriander, shredded

You will need a roasting bag OR lots of foil

Oven 150o (mine is still broken but medium!)

Place the pork joint in the roasting bag and tip in just under half the can of ginger beer (save the rest), seal and place in a baking tin. Or do equivalent making a tight foil bag around the pork. Place in the oven and roast for 6-7 hours or until cooked through and falling apart almost just by simply staring at it.

For the sauce -roughly 3 hours before the pork is going to be ready:

Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan to medium/ hot heat, fry the celery for 4-5 minutes or until starting to brown, add the red wine vinegar and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Stir in the bay, smoked paprika, hing, mustard,sugar and tomato puree and saute for about 3 minutes until well incorporated and its a lovely reddish brown colour, stir in the chopped tomatoes and most of the remaining ginger beer (I couldn't resist a sneaky sip!), cover and reduce the heat down low. Simmer for a good 2 1/2 hours, giving the odd stir.

When the sauce is done, stir through 2/3 of the chopped coriander, leaving the prettier leaves for garnish. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove the pork from the oven, cut open the bag/ open the foil up and fold back the sides. Lift the pork onto a suitable chopping board (I have one with a drainage area purely for these dishes!) Drain off most of the liquid into a jug and use a little to enhance the barbecue sauce - maybe 1/2 a cup or so at the most.

Remove the rind from the pork - if you want crackling, scrape off most of the loose fat, and return to the oven on a thin baking tray until done to a desired crunch. (I am not a fan but my dad and brother are far more fond of crackling)

Using forks (and maybe a large knife to hack into chunks first), shred the pork into a deep sided baking dish.

Pour over the prepared sauce and return to the oven for about 25 minutes to warm through.

Garnish with remaining coriander leaves and feast! We had ours with a mountain of fodmap suitable roasted veggies and roasted new potatoes

Do not attempt FODMAP diet without consulting a registered dietitian.
OR when in crazy busy month.
I am also very new to this whole diet thing so tailor to your own individual needs and follow advice given by your dietitian!
*Celery is not to be eaten in large quantities on FODMAP but I used a small amount, spread across a large amount of sauce
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