Easy Green Thai Noodle Soup

dsc_0049

I think 2018 will be remembered as the year I officially, head over heels fell in love with Thai food.  It’s fresh and filling and colourful (I don’t know about you, but colourful food cheers me up this time of year); more importantly, it’s so quick and easy to make!  Pad Thai (♡♡♡) and Massaman Curry are my midweek meal saviours, and even though that’s not about to change, I’ve been feeling like branching out a little and adding a few more Thai recipes to my arsenal.

I threw this soup together just before Christmas.  I had some Thai Green Curry paste in my cupboard and a can of coconut milk going spare, and, when I reached right to the back I found an old pack of instant noodles.  The filthy kind.  You know the ones, they cost about 30p (or at least they did when I used to buy them on the way back home from High School) and come with a flavour sachet.  So wrong and yet so, so right.  I was just going to whip up the curry and have the noodles with it instead of rice, but then as they were boiling away it occurred to me that the flavoured water they were bubbling in would make a pretty good stock.  So I poured one pot into the other and wham-bam, here’s your Noodle Soup, maam.  It’s vegetarian (as long as you make sure you use vegetable-flavoured noodles instead of the chicken ones, obviously) and perfect for cold and gloomy January nights at home in front of the box.  Just make sure you only add the noodles when you’re ready to eat, because they’ll start slurping up that soup before you get a chance to! 🙂

dsc_0066

Easy Green Thai Noodle Soup (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • Thai Green Curry Paste
  • 400ml can of Coconut Milk
  • 2 packs of vegetable-flavoured instant noodles (cheaper the better!)
  • 250ml boiling water
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • Sliced Chestnut Mushrooms
  • Shredded Red Cabbage
  • Shredded Carrot
  • Sliced Spring Onions
  • Sprinkle of black pepper and sesame seeds
  1. Heat up a deep saucepan with the vegetable oil, then add most of your vegetables – holding some spring onion slices back to garnish with later. 
  2. Stir in the green curry paste until it coats the veg, then pour in the coconut oil – stirring until it turns green. 🙂  Bring the boil, then simmer.
  3. Break the noodle block into a separate saucepan, sprinkle in the flavour sachet and then add boiling water.  Leave the noodles to bubble until they soften.
  4. Once the noodles are soft, pour the stock into the curry to create your soup.  The noodles will soak everything up quickly, so only add them to the soup once you’re ready to eat!  
  5. Garnish with the remaining spring onions, black pepper and sesame seeds – then slurp! 😉

dsc_0056

Happy weekend! 🍜

 

Christmas Biscuits Three Ways

DSC_0038

We made it!  Just 4 more sleeps until Christmas – can you believe it?  I’m already nackered from running around doing that final food shop (…I still managed to forget a couple of things.  Do you think my in-laws will mind going without milk in their tea for a couple of days…?) and wrapping those last couple of presents.  I’m feeling pretty organised and chill about it all, how ’bout you?  Are you sorted… or stressed?  Have you still got a couple of people to buy for?  Well, I got your back.  If you’re looking for a couple of easy handmade gifts then you can’t go wrong with a jar of Chilli and Red Pepper Jam, these fuss-free Chocolate Truffles or, why not bake a box of some Christmas Biscuits?

I make a big batch every year for family and friends to scoff with a cuppa when they stop by over Christmas – but I get bored of making the same sugar cookies, so this year, I decided to fiddle around with the base recipe and come up with a few alternative flavours including Cinnamon, Maple and Pecan and – my personal favourite – Pistachio.  Yum! 🙂

DSC_0005

Christmas Biscuits – Three Ways

Cinnamon

  • 200g Plain Flour (including a little extra for dusting)
  • 75g Caster Sugar
  • 50g Butter
  • 1 Egg, whisked
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Maple and Pecan

  • 150g Plain Flour (including a little extra for dusting)
  • 50g Pecans, finely ground
  • 50g Caster Sugar
  • 50g Butter
  • 1 Egg, whisked
  • 1 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Pistachio

  • 100g Plain Flour (including a little extra for dusting)
  • 100g Pistachios, finely ground
  • 75g Caster Sugar
  • 50g Butter
  • 1 Egg, whisked
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  1. In a bowl, cream together your butter and caster sugar, then beat in the egg (and any other wet ingredients, e.g. Maple Syrup).  Stir in the dry ingredients (flour, nut flours, baking powder and salt) until they pull together into a dough. 
  2. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours (this will make the dough easier to roll and hold its shape when it bakes).
  3. When you’re ready to start baking, set your oven to 170 and line a couple of baking trays with grease proof baking paper.  I like to set up a bit of a production line and work in batches, cutting the dough in half, working with one half and leaving the other in the fridge to cool until I’m ready to use it.
  4. Roll out your dough with a little flour (you might need more for the Maple and Pecan dough – which tends to be stickier – and less for the Pistachio dough – which tends to be drier).  Roll out the dough until it’s about a cm thick, then cut into shapes.
  5. Bake the biscuits for about 10 minutes, then leave to cool.
  6. Decorate with chocolate icing, then scoff!

DSC_0008

Well, that’s me done until 2019!  Nadolig Llawen (Merry Christmas)!  Hope you have the best time ever with your favourite people (and pets!).  ❤

*How to Host a Banging Christmas Party in 10 Steps

eHBRgUr

Can you believe that it’ll be Christmas Eve this time next week!?  Crazy!  How many Christmas Parties have you been to so far?  If you haven’t, then I’ll bet you’ve got one coming up this week.  Or are you hosting one yourself?  If so, then this post’s for you.  Hosting at Christmas is one of my favourite things to do (I love planning and organising around Christmas more than any other time of year), but it can also be really stressful (in fact, I wrote a whole post about it here).  So here’s my ten step guide to hosting a banging Christmas Party.  Cheers! 🙂

1. Invitations

Christmas is the busiest time of year for get-togethers and partying HARD.  Office parties, family dinners, drinks “and nibbles” with the neighbours, Black Friday Blowouts… So get that guest list written and those invites sent out as soon as you can to make sure that everyone on your guest list is wide open and able to come along.  It also gives them plenty of time to get those RSVPs in, so you can kick back and get down to planning the good stuff… (i.e. food and booze 😉 )

DSC_0064

2. Dress Code

When you’re writing out your invitations, make sure you let your guests know what they’re expected to wear.  Is it a super-casual friendmas with drinks and games?  Or are we talking bow ties and tiaras – or something in between?

DSC_0021

3. Parking, Logistics and Warning the Neighbours

Maybe this one ought to be done and dusted loooooong before you send out those invitations.  Hosting any party is tough; it’s easy enough to invite everyone around before considering how it’ll actually work.  Like, how will your guests get to your place?  If they’re driving, where can they park without pissing off the neighbours?  And speaking of the neighbours, will they mind you hosting a noisy Christmas Party (and do you care?)?  Which rooms are off limits?  Do you have enough space to host five people?  Ten people?  Your whole neigbourhood?  Where are all the coats and bags going to go?  Shoes – on or off?  Also, what’s your budget when it comes to food and drink?  Get the big questions answered and out of the way as soon as you can – it’ll save problems further down the line or worse, on the night. 🙂

DSC_0019DSC_0011

4.*Food

“Oh Baby, all I want for Christmas is fooooooooood!” Now let’s down to the good stuff!  Because let’s be honest, the best thing about Christmas is stuffing your face, innit?  Before you hit the supermarket, before you even get down to making a list (and checking it twice 😉 ) think about what kind of party you’re hosting because the kind of food you’re going to be serving will depend on that.  Are you planning on serving up a full Christmas Dinner complete with pigs in blankets and a flaming pud?  Are you putting on a “help yourself” buffet?  Or are you just serving up snacks?  Or, are you going to take the weight off and ask everyone to bring a dish (in which case you probably should mention that in your invites, right?)?

Personally, I love putting on a Christmas Buffet and pretty much do it every single year for my family on Boxing Day.  It’s easier than putting on a full Christmas Dinner, you can get it all ready before hand (instead of spending the whole party slaving away in the kitchen!), and everyone gets a little bit of what they fancy.  My go-to every Christmas for party food is *Marks and Spencer because they’re all so easy to prepare, taste amazing and there’s such a fab selection (even for vegans – with these vegan sliders). A festive scoffing sesh in my house just would not be complete without their pork belly squares, profiteroles and baked Camembert – which this year, I have to say is the best yet with its spicy and sweet chilli glaze (the only reason there’s no photo is because it got annihilated within seconds).  Yum!

DSC_0014Cardiff-Cwtch-3

5. Party Games

It wouldn’t be a party without a little entertainment, right?  So have a think about how you’re going to keep the good times rollin’ in between catch-ups and conversations.  How about putting on a pub quiz Big Quiz of the Year style with questions based on things that have happened in the past twelve months?  What about a few drinking games to get the juices flowing?  Or go all out with a monster game of Cards Against Humanity. 🙂

6. Drinks

Once you’ve finished planning your shopping list, make a drinks list.  Check your drinks cabinet (i.e. the cupboard under the sink if you’re like me!) and see what’s in stock and what’s running out.  Put all the drinks and mixers somewhere easily accessible so your guests can help themselves throughout the party.  If you’re feeling fancy come up with a few festive cocktails in pitchers or create a suggested drinks menu! 🙂

DSC_0091_zpsedwydsnm

7. Deck the Halls

If you haven’t already got your Christmas Decorations up, now’s the time!  Consider which rooms you’re going to be using and get them looking festive with fairy lights and garlands.

8. Christmas Playlist

If you’re like me then you’ll already have one of these babies on your Spotify just ready and raring to go!  I don’t like to have a playlist that’s just chocka full of pure Christmas though – I mean, there’s only so many times you can hear The Pogues before banging your head against wall.  I’ve got all the usual numbers old and new, but I like to mix it up with some classics and a few hits from the past twelve months.  I also LOVE sneaking in a few Vitamin String Quartet covers.  If you’ve never looked them up on Spotify, its basically a group of LA-based musicians who work at recording new versions of well-known songs using a string quartet.  There’s something kind of festive about their music, and it’s fun watching people hear a song they recognise reworked in a totally different way.

9. Game Plan (timings etc)

I like coming up with a game plan before a party, especially when it comes to food.  I like to know exactly what time I need to put the oven on, put food in, take food out etc… Making a list helps me keep on top of things and saves a lot of stress on the day.  It’s also great if you’re co-hosting – that way you don’t have to keep touching base with each other, you can just check the game plan!

DSC_0083

10. *And if you’re going to a party…

Don’t forget to take a little something for your host!  It’s good manners and is always well appreciated.  Sure you could take a bottle of something, but how about spoiling them with an extra special box of chocolates?  This box of fancy chocs from Marks and Spencer not only looks gorgeous, but is an absolute treat.

Thanks to Marks and Spencer for the fabulous food and drink! Happy partying! 😉

*This post contains gifted items, read more about what that means here.

 

“Extra” French Toast

DSC_0009

What do you eat for breakfast on Christmas Day?  Well, for starters, is there even time?  I mean, do you shove down a couple of slices of toast and a cuppa before the kids come stampeding into the bedroom with their stockings?  Do you just skip it and starve yourself knowing that you’ll be cradling a turkey-sized food baby in a few hours time?  Or, do you put away the Terry’s Chocolate Orange from the bottom of your stocking whilst parked in front of The Life of Brian(Knowing that I have no children, which one of these scenarios is moi, d’you think?  I’m a very naughty boy girl!)

Well, I’ve got the answer; how about whipping up a batch of “Extra” French Toast the night before?  Pop it in the fridge on Christmas Eve and then bake it on Christmas morning while you’re busy unwrapping those presents.  Is it “Extra” because it’s made of croissants – and so, extra-French?  Is it “Extra” because it’s got a shot of cream liqueur in it?  Or, is it “Extra” because it’s definitely a breakfast for this side of Christmas (my husband might or might not have called it a heart attack on a plate when I put it in front of him over the weekend…)?  Whatever the reason, it makes a perfect (and easy) treat for Christmas Day. 🙂

DSC_0088

Extra French Toast (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 2 croissants
  • 1 slice of bread cut into stars (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 200ml milk
  • 50 ml of cream liqueur (I love Penderyn Distillery’s Merlyn ♡)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 50g fresh raspberries
  • 50g chocolate chips
  • a dusting of icing sugar
  • 25g gold crunch (optional)
  1. Roughly chop up your croissants (and bread) and arrange them in an oven proof dish with the raspberries and chocolate chips.
  2. In a jug, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon and cream liqueur and then pour over the croissants.  Cover with foil. (If you’re making it the night before, you can whack it in the fridge overnight at this stage).
  3. Set the oven to 180 and bake for 20 minutes with the foil, and 10 minutes without.
  4. Dust with icing sugar and sprinkle over the gold crunch.

DSC_0009
DSC_0010

What do you like to eat for breakfast on Christmas Day? 🙂

Christmas Jaffa Cake… Cake

DSC_0008.JPG

Bye bye November!  Hello December – which means Christmas isn’t just around the corner anymore; it’s literally on the block.  Maybe you’re ready for it, or maybe you’d prefer to just shut the curtains and pretend you’re not at home.  I might not be anywhere near ready (I say I’m going to be more organised every year and every year I fail), but I’m definitely ready for the food. Am I ever not ready for food? 😉

I haven’t baked a cake in a while and seeing as it’s the first of December tomorrow I fancied making something a little bit festive.  So, I decided to make a giant Jaffa Cake.  It’s a plain sponge threaded with orange jelly (which makes the cake really moist) and decorated with candied oranges and chocolate.  Yum!

DSC_0019

Jaffa Cake Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 200g Butter
  • 100g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Pack of Orange-flavoured jelly
  • 100g Chocolate
  • 25g Hazelnuts

For the candied Oranges:

  • 2 Oranges cut into slices
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200ml water
  1. Grease a 20cm cake tin and set your oven to 180°.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and caster sugar.  Stir in the eggs, then fold in the flour and baking powder.
  3. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 30 minutes (or until an inserted skewer comes out clean).  Put to the side and allow to cool.
  4. While the cake’s cooling, get started on making your candied orange slices.  First, cut your oranges into slices that are about half a centimetre thick.  Bring a deep saucepan of water to the boil and soak the orange slices for 3 minutes until the peel is soft.  Have a bowl of cold water ready, and drop the slices in there to cool.  Heat up a saucepan with the sugar and water – don’t be tempted to stir, leave it until the sugar all dissolves and then add the blood orange slices.  Let them simmer in the sugar water for 30 minutes, making sure you soak both sides, then put them on a sheet of baking paper and leave to cool.
  5. Next, use a skewer to poke holes in the cake (make sure you leave a gap in the centre and try not to poke all the way through to the base otherwise you’ll get a soggy bottom!).  Mix up your orange jelly as per the instructions on the pack and then slowly pour the mixture over the cake, concentrating on the holes you made.  Pop the cake in the fridge for a couple of hours for the jelly to set.
  6. Decorate the surface of the cake with the candied oranges, melted chocolate and hazelnuts (add a little orange zest if you want a little more zing!). 🙂

Have a lovely weekend!