Tagliatelle Arrabiata

Mamma mia, itsa slightly spicy pasta…
Tagliatelle Arrabiata - The Cardiff Cwtch

I’ve said it before, but I tend to steer clear when it comes to cooking pasta at home (…and yet I’ve got a whole cupboard full of dried pasta…). Why? Because it’s TOO HARD, and I’m too fussy. Anyone who says that Italian Food is one of the easiest foods to make at home has never eaten great pasta. FACT. The truth is that I can never seem to replicate the simple perfection of really great pasta in my own kitchen. I’m convinced that it’s the culinary version of Natural Look Makeup; sure, it looks simple – but actually, it takes time and skill to pull off. So I don’t bother trying… much.

The problem is that I really love eating pasta (who the hell doesn’t? My husband, that’s who. Weirdo.); I really want to be able to eat it at home. So occasionally, I give it a go and sometimes – whaddya know – I get it right. Or as close to right as possible without having three generations of Italian passata pulsing through your veins. Slightly spicy, slightly sweet; the sneaky ingredient in this cupboard-ingredients friendly Tagliatelle Arrabiata is baby food. Not kidding. Turns out that puréed carrot does a really great job of balancing out the acidity of the chopped, tinned baby tomatoes. Clever huh? And so easy!

Tagliatelle Arrabiata - The Cardiff Cwtch
Tagliatelle Arrabiata (serves 2)
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste (no need to peel and chop garlic, yay!)
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 100g roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
  • 3 chilli peppers, diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 70g carrot purée
  • 250g chopped, tinned cherry tomatos
  • tagliatelle (fresh or dried, you decide)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • freshly chopped basil to serve
Tagliatelle Arrabiata - The Cardiff Cwtch
Method
  1. Pour the olive oil into a deep frying pan, and gently heat up on a medium heat. Add the garlic paste and then fry the diced onion until soft and translucent. Stir in the tomato paste.
  2. Throw in the chopped chilli peppers and the roasted red peppers (I like to use the pre-roasted ones that you get in a jar because they’re usually preserved in a mix of water, grape musk and red wine vinegar that’ll slightly sweeten the sauce – cool tip).
  3. Pour in the chopped tomatos and puréed carrot and stir. Bring to the boil, then simmer on a low heat for twenty minutes to reduce a little.
  4. While you’re waiting, cook up your tagliatelle.
  5. Toss the tagliatelle in the sauce, season and serve with fresh basil leaves.
Tagliatelle Arrabiata - The Cardiff Cwtch

Have a lovely week! 🍝

What’s in My Beauty Bag? – The Holiday Edition

“It’s the Humidity!”

AirBrush_20190831203051

Is it too late for a summery holiday beauty post? I mean, I’m well aware that we’re technically in Autumn now and that traditionally by now most of us have stashed away our suitcases for another year… but actually, I think more and more of us are jetting off in search of some sunshine all year around.  Case and point: right now, I’m in Florida for all the R&R that I missed out on over the summer while I was sick (check out my Instagram if you’re not sickened by that and fancy travelling along with me…).  These days we’re not as confined to using up our holiday time purely during the summer months, and so Summer Beauty is becoming a year-long thing. More and more of us have that dash-bag of travel-friendly miniatures ready to go. Me included, and I feel like I’ve got a really good mix this year of both tried, tested and true products that I wouldn’t leave the UK without, as well as a few new bits and bobs I’ve enjoyed trying out.

Now that I’ve justified talking about Summer in September (😉), here’s what I’m packing…

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Nuxe Moisturising Protective Milky Oil For Hair

My love for all things Nuxe is no secret, and this bottle never leaves my side when I’m pool-side! I’ve got very fine, easily damaged hair and a scalp with a tendancy to burn if I’m not careful. The Nuxe Moisturising Protective Milky Oil for Hair, packed with water hyacinth oleo-active, coconut oil and kau pe flowers (it smells good enough to swig like a pool-side cocktail – but don’t…) protects your tresses and scalp from UV, salt and chlorine. Good shiz.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic Spritzer

This little bottle of magic comes with me on the plane, to the pool and bangs around in my basket bag until it’s time to head home. The Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic is a handy and gentle moisturising toner infused with lots of skin soothing goodies like aloe vera, calendula, cucumber and chamomile – perfect for calming dry, sun-burned skin.

Toni & Guy Split End Concealer

Here’s one from my pre-holiday Boots Shop of Shame (…we’ve all been there!). I needed to pick up my favourite heat protection spray and tripped into a Toni & Guy 3 for 2 situation. I didn’t have time to get my dead ends trimmed off before going away (that reminds me; I need to book an appointment pronto tonto once I’m back in Wales!), and this little tub was my quick fix solution. I LOVE IT; it’s a tiny tub (no bigger than your average handbag Vaseline tin) and you need very little to get the smooth, moisturised ends that look as if you’ve just stepped out of the salon, as opposed to the frazzled ones associated with split ends. Oh, and it also smells gorgeous.

Processed with VSCO with a5 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Nuxe Rêve de Miel Deliciously Nourishing Body Scrub

I’m pretty sure that Rêve de Miel means “Honey Dream” (pardon my rusty Year 9 French…) – which is precisely what this tiny, travel friendly tub oozes. Firstly, body scrubs tend to come in massive, great big tubs which aren’t exactly travel friendly – however, this beauty is the perfect, travel-sized tub. And secondly, you don’t need great big scoops of the stuff as just a small amount of this honey-textured, nourishing scrub goes a long, long way.

Sally Hansen Nail Polish Remover Pads

If you’re a DIY manicure kind of girl like me, then you’ll know that the neat nail polish you paint on during your pre-holiday pamper sesh isn’t going to last two or three weeks away. No way! I used to lug a whole bottle of nail polish remover with me (which is ridiculous when all you really need is a couple of drops of the stuff!) until I found these handy little sachets by Sally Hansen while I was out in America. Now all I need to do is pop a couple in my bag and I’m good to go. Sadly, I don’t think SH still sell these anymore, but there are plenty of dupes out there that are just as good.

Toni & Guy Get a Grip Prep Spray

The other item in my Toni & Guy 3 for 2; this travel-friendly spray is a bit of a Swiss Army Knife for your hair; it does a lot. It detangles, it smooths frizz, adds volume, injects shine and helps to hold your do in place all day – even when it’s humid. I was umming and ahhing whether to bring my favourite L’Oreal Mousse away with me – I love it, but it’s massive – and wondered whether this could be a good travel alternative for my limp texture-less locks. Well, I wasn’t quite brave enough to ditch my holy grail hair mousse (just in case!), but, turns out that this little spray works almost as well. A couple of spritzes are enough to add a little oomph and ensure it sticks around throughout the day, no matter how muggy the weather gets – a little like sea salt spray but without its drying properties. I love it for my summer holiday, but not for year round use as it can feel a little too sticky and cloying if you use too much.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Sudocrem

I don’t go away anywhere without my dinky pot of Sudocrem. Sure it’s boring, but blimey is it brilliant stuff to break out during a skin disaster. I use it on spots, dry skin, mosquito bites, sun-burn… it’s a lifesaver.

Simple 5 Minute Reset Hydrogel Mask

I love Simple’s range of sheet masks, I’m always popping a few into my basket whenever I’m at the supermarket and spot them on offer because they’re gentle, soothing and nourishing (and cheap!). I’m a big fan of the charcoal mask, but this 5 Minute Reset Hydrogel Mask is so cooling and soothing after a day spent in the sun – plus it packs 40 days worth of moisture. Not too shabby.

Have a lovely week! ♥️

*This post contains affiliate links; to find out what that means – click here.

“On The Go” Huevos Rancheros Wraps

“Ten Minutes to Get Out The Door” Breakfasts Wrapped. Phew.
Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Wraps

Happy September! Can you believe it? Tell you what – and brace yourselves because on the list of unpopular opinions this one’s right up there – I’m so relieved that it’s September. I mean, who the hell would take the September chill over those sticky (or soggy, this is Wales after all…) August afternoons? Me, that’s who. I’ve always loved that fresh September air; there’s something really exciting about that seasonal shift and the whole “back to school” vibe that swings around this time of year. I’ve got plans, man. This year though, I’m just feeling relieved that the summer’s over; I ended up having to take a bit of a break from everything due to some health stuff that’s been going on in the background (you’re probably wondering why I spontaneously dropped off the planet at the start of July, well, tada!). I’m fine now, and I might tell you a bit more about what’s been happening soon, but right now I can’t wait to just pack Summer away with my flip flops, move onto Autumn and get back to shoving a weekly helping of food porn in your face. 😉

Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Wraps
Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Wraps

Speaking of which, I don’t know about you but I could eat Mexican Food every day of the week, any time of the day – including for breakfast. If you’ve never tried Huevos Rancheros before, it’s basically a “Rancher’s Breakfast” of fried eggs, spiced tomatoes, peppers and onions all served up on a tortilla with a hefty helping of refried beans and sometimes a few breakfast potatoes. Yum. I LOVE it; I first tried it out in Arizona before I’d really got a taste for Mexican food and just fell in love with the flavours. Plus, anything with fried eggs is good in my book. Nowadays I like making it at home for brunch on the weekend, but it’s just too much faff for the middle of the week when I’m rushing out the door. Except *drum-roll please* when it’s in wrap form. These Huevos Rancheros Wraps involve a little prep ahead of time, but once they’ve been made up they’ll keep in the freezer or the fridge until you’re ready to heat them up, scoff and go. The only thing they’re missing from the usual list of ingredients are the fried eggs which I’ve swapped out for a smoked paprika omelette. Obviously I’d prefer them fried, but I’m not about getting runny egg all down my outfit just as I’m heading out the door. No thanks.

Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Wraps

“On The Go” Huevos Rancheros Wraps (makes 6)

Ingredients
  • 400g potatoes, skinned, diced, boiled (until soft but still formed) and drained
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 200g roasted red peppers, diced
  • 50g fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce (Let’s be honest, it’s got to be Cholula!)
  • 1 tsp chipotle paste
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 600g refried beans (I really like Lunchito’s Refried Beans)
  • 6 tortilla wraps
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 100g of finely grated cheese (Cheddar works, but Manchego rocks)
  • A good, non-stick frying pan – lightly greased with a little olive oil
  • 6 sheets of foil to wrap
  • 1 large avocado blended with sour cream
Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Wraps
Method
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the diced potatoes, onions, red peppers, coriander, hot sauce, chipotle paste, tomato paste and salt – then mix until everything’s coated and well-combined.
  2. Get your production line set up! In a fresh bowl, whisk together the eggs and smoked paprika and get your frying pan greased and on the hob on a medium heat. Pile up your tortillas, then heat up the refried beans as per the pack instructions – pouring them into a bowl.  On the other side of the hob, have your foil sheets ready to wrap.
  3. Pour a little (1/6th) of the egg mix into your frying pan and swirl it around to coat it (as you would if you were making an omelette).  Scatter a couple spoonfuls of the filling mix on top, then leave to cook for a minute.  Spread one side of one tortilla wrap with some of the refried beans, then place it face down on top of the egg and filling – press until it sticks.
  4. Flip the tortilla in the pan so that the egg side’s on top, then sprinkle with cheese. Slide the tortilla out of the pan and onto a foil sheet, then wrap it! Make sure not to let the tortilla cook for too long otherwise it’ll be way too crispy to wrap!
  5. Leave the wraps to cool, then store in the fridge or the freezer until you’re ready to heat them up and eat them (make sure to remove the foil if you’re planning on using the microwave!)
  6. Garnish with the Avocado Cream and some extra hot sauce, then scoff! 🙂

Have a great weekend! 💚

*Strawberry and Gruyere Summer Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

DSC_0022.JPG

So here’s the thing.  I’m not a massive fan of salads – in fact, I’m not really a fan AT ALL(Great start, I know…)  I’m a big kid at heart, I need to be tricked into getting those greens; I’ll eat them, but there’s got to be a lil’ something-something tossed between the leaves to bring me to the table.

This (kind of Wimbledon-inspired!) Strawberry and Gruyere Summer Salad is really easy to make and really hits the spot served up for an al fresco lunch or alongside a barbecue.  Fresh, sweet and creamy – with a sour, zingy edge thanks to the added raspberry vinaigrette – the strawberries really steal the show on this one, provided you pick the best the season has to offer.  British strawberries really are in their peak season at the moment and these “Red Diamond Strawbs” from my friends at Marks and Spencer are quite possibly the juiciest I’ve ever tasted; their sweet scent filled my car on the short drive back from my local M&S Food and perfumed my fridge and kitchen all weekend!  Get them while you can! 🙂

DSC_0033.JPG

Strawberry and Gruyere Summer Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 150g Strawberries, sliced
  • Italian Peppery Leaf Salad (spinach, lettuce, rocket)
  • 50g Gruyere Cheese, shaved (use a potato peeler 😉 )

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 150g raspberries (I used M&S’s Sapphire Raspberries)
  • 25ml balsamic vinegar
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • a handful of basil leaves
  1. To make the vinaigrette, blitz together the raspberries, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and basil until smooth.
  2. Assemble your salad, then drizzle the vinaigrette over the top and sprinkle with the shaved gruyere. Easy!

DSC_0025

Have a great week! 🍓🍓🍓

*This post contains gifted items from Marks and Spencer, to find out more about what that means click here to read my disclaimer.

Mirror, Mirror

DSC_0005

When do you feel that you look most like yourself?  For me it’s about twenty minutes before I fall into bed when I’m in my bathroom and about to take my makeup off (on one of the days where I’ve actually done my makeup – that’s very important; I don’t count the other days).  That moment before I scoop my hair up and run the tap, I lean on the sink and look into the mirror and actually recognise the reflection staring back as most like “me”.  Or maybe the more accurate way of putting it is that I actually like the reflection staring back.  I mean sure, it’s not as polished as the 10am version – but that’s okay and I kind of prefer it that way; it’s more realistic, less maintained (but at the same time not the horror show that is the 7am version).  I’m slobbing around in my pyjamas, my makeup’s worn in, I’ve shed my glasses, the curl’s mostly fallen out of my hair and I’m about to get into bed (the best time of the day, I think you’ll agree) so I’ve usually got a happy little grin going on.

That slightly dishevelled, chilled out and cheerful reflection is what I expect and hope to see in every mirror I come across day to day – not just in my bathroom one – but also in changing rooms, hotels, other people’s houses, the windows I walk past when I’m out and about, in photographs and in the eyes of everyone I know.  Kind of like the evil step mother in Snow White (Mirror, mirror on the wall…).  So, how come I NEVER do!  That bathroom reflection never bloody leaves the house and I feel like I’m constantly being pounced on by other reflections of myself that I don’t recognise AT ALL.  Like the one lurking behind me in that long, tilting mirror you get in every H&M fitting room that lets you see what you look like from a horrible backwards angle (“Jesus christ, is that what my nose looks like from the side???  That’s not me!”).  Shudder.  The horror at seeing a photograph of myself on a day where I thought I was walking out of the house looking absolutely smokin’ in that new skirt when actually – turns out – it makes my thighs look massive.  Yeesh.  Then there’s that weird moment where I try and correlate those two very different images of myself and work out which one is actually real – because there can’t possibly be two.  I’m just one person after all, I don’t have two sets of thighs.  So which is the liar: the camera or the mirror?

mirror mirror

We’ve all experienced those surreal moments when people actually voice how they see you.  The first time I became aware that other people might see me differently to the way I saw myself was when I was about seven.  I was in school, queuing up with the rest of the kids to go to assembly and one of them suddenly turned around in the line and gave me a long, hard look.  “…It must be really strange having one eye bigger than the other,” they said, then shrugged and went off to assembly without realising that they’d just performed the equivalent of a hit and run on my appearance, and man was it a kill shot.  I remember being simultaneously confused and completely horrified, because firstly I’d never noticed anything different about my eyes, and secondly – hold up – “is that what everyone thinks I look like!?  Am I a monster!”   Thinking about that now makes me laugh out loud (kids are dicks, aren’t they?) – I mean, how ridiculous!  But I never forgot it and – you know what? – there might actually be some truth to it because to this day I can never seem to apply my eyeliner evenly.  Oh well.

Why is it that criticisms of our appearance – however wide off the mark and ridiculous – are so easy to believe, but compliments aren’t?  There are some observations that we want to believe, but flat out refuse to – like a mirage.  For example, my husband is always telling me that there’s nothing of me – that I’m stick thin.  I know he’s not lying, but I’m convinced that he sees me as skinnier than I actually am because he’s taller than me and so he’s always looking at me from a slightly skewed angle (isn’t that mad?!).  A few weeks ago my sister-in-law turned around, pointed to my eyes and said they were “quite stunning” because apparently they’ve got a darker ring around the outside of the iris.  Excuse me, what?  Looking at my eyes in mirrors all my life I’d never once noticed this mythical dark ring – but she’s right, it’s there.  How the hell did I miss that?  Why didn’t I see it?

DSC_0012.JPG

It’s a kind of weird, daily challenge that we all face, isn’t it?  Gathering up all these different versions of ourselves and trying to marry them up with the one we accept as the “real” us (and that’s without adding that impossible bar set for us by the media, fashion and beauty industries).  I’m 33 and I still haven’t figured out which is the real one, or whether I care.  Is it that bathroom version?  The skinny one with the stunning eyes my husband and sister in law see?  Or the sloppy one my neighbours see at 7am when I walk the dog?  Or are they all way, way off?  Are my thighs big?  Are my wrinkles easy to spot?  I can’t for the life of me work out how I can look in a mirror and love my appearance one minute and then take a photograph two seconds later only to stab furiously at the delete button.  I have absolutely no idea.  There’s no easy answer except that I’m probably all of these different versions of myself and none of them at the same time – and that mirrors are very, very strange objects.

Fun fact, every time you see your reflection in a mirror it’s out by about 10 nanoseconds – so it’s a slightly younger version of yourself.  *eye roll* In case you wondered, that’s probably the real me – the one who has to punctuate everything with a nerdy fact. 😉