Easy Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry

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I think I’ve said it before but I’m absolutely bloody useless when it comes to eating lunch.  I’m a grab and go kinda girl – and that would be absolutely fine if it wasn’t for the fact that the kind of foods that I usually end up grabbing are doughnuts, a bag of crisps, five custard creams, a yoghurt, a cheeky cinnamon bun…  You know?  Not great.  So, when I sit down and make my meal plan for the week ahead, I’ve started factoring in lunch, and – more specifically – one meal that I can batch-cook at the start of the week that’ll serve me through those grab and go lunchtimes.  The provisos are that it needs to be healthy(ish), microwavable and survive in the fridge through to Friday, and this cauliflower and chickpea curry ticks all those boxes.

I absolutely love cauliflower in a curry (my mother-in-law makes the best Aloo Gobi) and Chana Masala is always on the menu if we eat out at an Indian restaurant.  So, why not put the two together, eh?  It’s a quick and easy meal to whip up, and a damn tasty treat for lunchtimes when you fancy something warm and comforting to eat.  Not everyone’s got Indian spices banging around in their cupboard though, so if you don’t fancy cooking the curry sauce from scratch, just cheat and buy a jar of Rogan Josh instead. 😉

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Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry (Gobi Chana) – serves two (double up if you’re batch-cooking)

Ingredients

  • 1 can of chickpeas, strained
  • 200g cauliflower florets
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (fill the empty tin to halfway with water)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste/puree
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1tbsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • chopped fresh spinach to serve
  1. Put the chickpeas and cauliflower florets in a saucepan with some water and bring them to the boil.  Strain, then set aside.
  2. Set your frying pan on the hob on a medium heat, then add the vegetable oil.  Add the diced onion and ginger paste and fry for around ten minutes.  Add your ground spices and burn them off for a couple of minutes.  Pour in the tinned tomatoes (and water), the chickpeas and cauliflower florets.  Pop the lid on your pan and allow the whole mix to simmer for ten minutes.
  3. Season with salt and then serve with chopped fresh spinach and cooked basmati rice. 🙂

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Happy weekend! 😉

5 Things I’ve Been Loving Lately

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Monday, we meet again!  But hey, at least it’s not January anymore; now that the longest month of  the year is done and dusted, it feels like we’re that much closer to spring.  It’s the little things that tend to keep me going this time of year.  You know, something decent to binge watch away those dark nights, fresh recipes to try, colourful spring fashion, and a good ol’ routine that’ll help me keep on top of things – as well as slicing in a little time to do the things I really love. So without further ado, here are five things I’ve been loving lately… 🙂

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1. Snow

I honestly didn’t think we were going to see a sequel to last year’s Beast from the East, but last Thursday evening it started snowing in Cardiff and didn’t stop until 4am the following morning.  It was nowhere near as bad as last year and it was pretty much gone by the afternoon – but there was enough of the stuff to get Bungle excited.  He went absolutely mental when Sunny and I took him out for his walk in the field; it always makes me smile watching him roll around in it! 🙂

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2. Pyjama Shirts

As if I need anymore weird shirts.  Except I really, really do!  Even as I tip-toe further into my thirties, I’m still kind of figuring out my own personal style – but what I have figured out is that I’m a jeans and a nice top kinda girl through and through, and the nice tops I like to wear are shirts.  The weirder the better.  Recently I’ve added a few pyjama shirts to my collection for a bit of variety.  They’re so comfortable and I feel like you can easily dress them up or down.  Sunny bought me a beautiful celestial-printed Neon Rose one for Christmas, and I managed to pick up this green one from Toppers in the January sales.

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3. Outlander

Oh man, I feel like I’ve been totally spoiled for TV over the past few weeks.  My absolute favourite show right now is Outlander (bodice rippers, I just can’t get enough…).  I’m deep into Season 4 which is currently being drip-fed an episode a week via Amazon Prime, and I’ve really reached that point when you watch a series where you’re totally invested and adore every single character.  I LOVE IT.  Also on my weekly watch list right now is  the BBC adaptation of Les Miserables, as well as Cleaning Up on ITV.  I think Sheridan Smith is fab! 🙂

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4. Lunch

If you caught my New Year, New Habits post at the start of the year then you’ll know that I’ve been trying to add a few more easy, healthy recipes to my repertoire – especially for lunch.  I’m absolutely useless when it comes to carving out time to eat a proper meal at lunchtime – I’m definitely a grab and go kind of girl – but it’s something I’m trying to change.  I had a little rejig of my weekly routine at the start of the year and decided to make some extra time to make lunch for myself every day – whether that’s just egg on toast, or something a little fancier like this super easy Mango Chicken.  So far, so good!

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5. Yoga

Another new habit I wanted to set in stone this year was to start either yoga or pilates.  I was slow off the mark on this one, but last week – after seeing a few people talking about it on Social Media – I started Adriene’s 30 Day Dedicate Yoga Journey.  I’m not doing it every single day – bam, bam, bam – just whenever I can squeeze in forty minutes in the morning – I’m a total beginner after all.  Sure, I’d like to tone up a little, but that’s not the main reason I’m doing it – I already feel like having forty minutes of focus and relaxation on a daily basis will be really good for my mental health and general mood.  🙂

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What’s giving you a little boost to get you through to Spring? 🙂

Mini Nutella Palmiers

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Happy Saint Dwynwen’s Day!  Or, for the uninitiated, Welsh Valentines Day!  I went into a little bit more detail on why exactly we celebrate Valentines Day a little earlier than the rest of the world here in Wales in this post (along with a little recipe for Blood Orange Doughnuts 🙂 ) – but it’s basically a Game of Thrones-esque story about a time when Kings had 24 daughters and princesses routinely ran off into the woods and turned their lovers into blocks of ice.  As you do.  😉

For me, I celebrate it in much the same way I’d celebrate Valentines Day; I hunt down a non-soppy card and hand it to him first thing in the morning along with something sweet that I’ve baked.  This year we’re heading off on a little road trip for the weekend so I wanted to make something bite-sized that we can scoff in the car – so I made these sweet little Palmiers filled with Nutella.  They’re as easy to make as rolling some puff pastry and cracking open a jar of Nutella (something I’m very, very good at…) and almost look like hearts… well, I tried! 🙂

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Mini Nutella Palmiers

Ingredients

  • Ready-made Puff Pastry
  • Plenty of Nutella
  • Icing Sugar
  1. Roll out your puff pastry until it’s about half a centimeter thick and then cut off the rough edges so your sheet is shaped like a rectangle.  Thinly spread (and rarely do I use the word “thinly spread” when Nutella is concerned…) your Nutella over the sheet, making sure you go right up to the edges.
  2. To roll your palmiers, think scroll; carefully roll each end into the middle until you’ve got what looks like a rolled up scroll.  Pop it in the fridge to chill for an hour, and then cut it into rounds about a centimeter thick with a sharp knife.  
  3. Spread the palmiers out evenly on a baking tray and then bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 220°.
  4. Leave to cool, then dust with icing sugar.

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Happy St Dwynwen’s Day!

Easy Green Thai Noodle Soup

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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! 🙂

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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! 😉

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Happy weekend! 🍜

 

*How to Host a Banging Christmas Party in 10 Steps

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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 😉 )

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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?

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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. 🙂

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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!

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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! 🙂

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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!

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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.