Monday, 30 May 2011

Bank Holiday Weekend

Hope you’ve all had a great long weekend! It’s been a busy one here, although today has been more relaxing, some chill-out time was needed!

Saturday, as I already posted, we went to a family BBQ, lots of yummy food and the children enjoyed playing with Woody the dog! Liam and I then went out in the evening for a friend’s birthday – excuse the hat – the theme was nautical! I drank lots of Pimms, my favourite summery drink. And I also realised that my old camera is way slower than my DSLR – hence the face!


It was a good night. We only stayed out until about 11pm as Liam had work early Sunday morning, but it was fun to get out for a few drinks and enjoy some adult company!

Sunday, we had another BBQ to go to, luckily the weather was better than Saturday had been as this BBQ was at a friend’s house and she was expecting 100 people!! Would’ve been a lot to fit inside her house if it had rained! We weren’t heading over there until the afternoon, so I made us lunch first. My Mum had boiled some new potatoes for Saturday’s BBQ but had completely forgotten to serve them! So I was sent home with half of them, which added to garlic, 6 eggs and some peas made a yummy omelette…


This was really tasty and so easy to cook, especially as the potatoes were already ready to eat. I would’ve put a sliced onion in it too but we were all out. I added extra garlic for flavour which worked well enough without the onion anyway :)

After the children had napped, my Mum, the children and I headed over to the BBQ (Liam joined us after work). We came across a snake on the road as we were walking!


But we made it to the BBQ in one piece! Daughter was a bit freaked out but luckily the snake didn’t come near us, slithering up the wall into someone’s garden instead!

I didn’t take any food photos at the BBQ (!!), I just ate 2 mini baked potatoes with coleslaw, supplemented by lots of plastic cups of Pimms and Pina Coladas…bit of a boozy afternoon! I did take some photos of the children having fun though :) There were loads of children there, but daughter was a bit shy as they were mostly boys slightly older than her, so she preferred to stay playing with her brother…


And of course eating! Baby spent the first 1.5 hours sat in the chair in pic #1 being brought food by daughter…he was quite happy just sitting there pretending he couldn’t move and munching away! Daughter ate the usual sausages, nachos, burger etc, but her favourite was the popcorn…


There were lots of toys etc to entertain the children which was great – the hosts have 6 year old twin boys so the place was pretty child-friendly. We were able to stay until about 7.30pm which was good for us as the children are normally in bed by 7. Sounds like the party carried on much longer once we’d left though, with many more cocktails involved!!

Today was a quieter day. We had planned to go to a local fete this afternoon but the weather was a bit grotty and we all decided we’d rather relax at home. My morning somehow started with a lie-in and breakfast in bed, bliss, thanks Liam! French toast using Genius bread, topped with banana, pumpkin seeds and Sweet Freedom (he couldn’t find the sunflower seeds or agave but it still tasted good!) He even took photos before bringing the food up to me…very “well-trained”!!!


I love French toast, although it does always sit heavy on my stomach…this kept me going for hours!

Even after lunch-time had been and gone, I still only fancied breakfast foods. So breakfast #2 instead of a late lunch – baked oats – I’ve not had this in ages but it was what I wanted today!


This was my Tropical Baked Oats, except with crystallised stem ginger replacing the dried mango. Topped with Rachel’s coconut yoghurt and fresh raspberries.


I love the soft flapjack texture of this. The ginger was great too – baking had made it not quite so fiery, but it still provided a sweet crunch with a slight kick. So good. Give me breakfast over lunch anytime!

Dinner was a recipe I’d not tried before. When shopping for Saturday’s BBQ I’d been feeling indecisive so had bought halloumi and paneer. As I ended up making halloumi kebabs, I had paneer left to use.


I knew I wanted to make muttar (sp?) paneer, but I wasn’t sure what recipe to use. In the end I followed this simple recipe on BBC Good Food, adding in the leftover coconut cream from the baked oats for extra creaminess. The paneer was really good just after the first stage of frying it off. I couldn’t help sneaking a few pieces whilst the curry was cooking!


It was even better when made into the curry though. Served with brown rice…


We’ve still got another pack of paneer left, which Liam has said he’s happy for me to use in the same recipe again rather than trying something else…so I guess that’s a success all round!

Right, off to chill for a bit. Liam has work all day tomorrow, so I will be at home with the children. Daughter is off school as it’s half-term, so I’ll have to think up something fun to do! Fingers crossed for nice weather then we can head to the beach or park! :)

How have all your weekends been? Any favourite things? Huge Congrats to Maria who completed the marathon in Stockholm on Saturday…I can’t imagine ever running a marathon, let alone in another country with all the travelling, preparation etc that goes with that too…well done Maria, hope you’ve had a restful weekend since! Open-mouthed smile

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Meat-Free, Gluten-Free BBQ

Well, for me anyway! This afternoon we went to a BBQ at my Mum’s partner, Colin’s house, for his birthday.

I was in charge of preparing vegetarian dishes. There was one other vegetarian, but inevitably I prepared way too much food…luckily, as is usually the case, the meat-eaters ate some too!

I made marinated mushrooms from How Sweet It Is


and halloumi kebabs with peppers, courgette and red onion (which I brushed with a lemony oil mix)…


I served the mushrooms with mozzarella melted into them, and I had mine in a gluten-free ciabatta roll (which was actually pretty good!) with avocado, and then covered the other half of the roll in houmous to eat with the kebab. Plus some coleslaw, boiled egg and beetroot…this was a really yummy plate!


People kept asking me if I missed eating meat, and I was able to answer completely honestly, no. However the one thing I did miss not being able to eat was the homemade chocolate cherry trifle…


Made by Colin, I know from previous tastings that this is delicious. However, the first week into eating gluten-free, my willpower was strong enough to resist, so I stuck to fresh strawberries & raspberries with some double cream for my pud. I wish I'd found time to make Katie's Chocolate Chip Blondies, they would've been perfect! Next time!


Yum. I was so full from my main plate that I didn’t really need anything else anyway. At the time I thought that I hadn’t eaten that much, but actually, it was more than 600 calories in my BBQ plate, not counting the apple juice, fruit & cream, cups of tea etc. No wonder I’m still feeling full now! We didn’t eat until 2.30pm anyway which is really late for us, and we’re off out for a friend’s birthday drinks tonight, so I may well end up having Pimms & lemonade as my “dinner” I think!!

We all had a really good time this afternoon…thanks to everyone involved! Baby especially was overjoyed as Colin’s daughter and her husband had brought along their dog Woody. Children + animals = lots of fun!


I’m not really much of an animal person, but even I think these photos are cute! The children had such a
great time with him...he provided them with much more entertainment than the "boring adults"!!

Right, off to go get ready for this evening – Liam’s Mum is due to be arriving in 10 minutes to babysit. Time has flown by today!

Hope everyone else is enjoying the long weekend! Anyone else been having BBQs? What are your favourite BBQ foods? My Mum had done the usual burgers, sausages and chicken kebabs, but I loved my mushroom burger! The halloumi was really good too, I’d never had it before but it went really well with all the BBQ veggies. Yum!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Attempting To Eat Gluten Free

Apologies for not posting the last few days. When I published mine & Liam's engagement story I wasn’t feeling 100%, but as I’d written most of it over several days (searching for all those old photos took a long time!!) it was easy enough to post it. Since then though, I’ve just been too tired each evening to write a post and I didn’t want to force it. But today I’m feeling a bit better, and eager to share some food photos!

Since Monday, I have been trying to avoid eating gluten as I’ve been having some digestive issues recently and want to see if eating gluten-free will help. Of course, the best way to start a new way of eating is probably to stock up on any “new” foods beforehand. I didn’t do that though. I am hoping to make it to Waitrose tomorrow to investigate gluten-free pasta, bread etc… Any recommendations for good brands to buy? I know I can still eat rice, quinoa, potatoes etc, but as I’ve been feeling sluggish because of my cold too, a lot of my recent meals have erred on the snacky side!

So let’s go back to Tuesday… By the way, please let me know if you see any foods I’ve eaten that contain gluten, there’s lots to learn as I go along!

Tuesday morning, as with most mornings, started with a smoothie. A Cocoa-Raspberry "Pudding" Smoothie to be exact.
My taste buds were back! Chocolatey liquid with a tang from the raspberries. Oh yes.

Tuesday lunch was one of those “snacky” meals I was talking about. Parsnips roasted in coconut oil with a sauce made of smooth peanut butter and Kara coconut milk to dip the veg in.
Yum. Whenever I make roast parsnips I always tell myself I should make them more often. These were so good. The dipping sauce was good too, although a bit runny. It started off too thick so I added a bit more milk, and then it went straight to the other extreme, oops.

The dinner I’d planned for Tuesday was already gluten-free. Risotto. Although we were seriously lacking in fresh veg so it was a bit of a ‘throw whatever we have in’ kind of meal! Risotto with sliced leeks, frozen peas and pesto stirred in at the end.
This was nice, but a bit bland. I didn’t use any stock cube as I’d read that Oxo cubes contain gluten. I don’t know how far to go with the gluten-free foods. I’m not saying I’m coeliac so to some it may be a little obsessive to avoid every little thing, but then what’s the point of trying it if I don’t give it 100%. I’m not going to be able to tell how my body reacts to avoiding gluten if I still let some gluten slip in.

My after dinner treat more than made up for any possible blandness in the risotto anyway. This is one of my new favourite treats – well I did use to eat frozen grapes years ago, so I suppose its a ‘rediscovered’ treat. Frozen grapes with a couple of squares of dark chocolate.
I’d forgotten how much I love frozen grapes…like little sorbet bites! These were really good quality grapes as well that helped, we got them for pennies as the supermarket had messed up on reductions (the grapes were on offer 2 for something but then were reduced as well because of short date, and the way the till works it still takes off the amount as if they were full price to match the offer. Does that make sense?! Bargain anyway!) so it was good to be able to freeze one of the packs so they didn’t go to waste.

On to yesterday, and another smoothie. This time I decided to skip the spinach in favour of a pretty colour! A banana, lots of frozen mango, the last of the fresh strawberries and Kara coconut milk. I skipped the xanthan gum and used extra milk so I could drink this through a straw.DSC_0326
This was sooo good. Tasty and refreshing. And it made two glasses full, yey!

After breakfast, I took baby to Lidl to stock up on fresh fruit & veg. We also have a Waitrose in our town but I prefer Lidl for the quality of fresh produce.
Red grapes, blueberries, pineapple, butternut squash, courgettes, sweet potatoes, broccoli and an avocado. I also bought tins etc for the others (and goat’s cheese for me, yum) but the veggies were what I was most interested in!

Having said that, the first thing I ate after getting back didn’t include any vegetables. It did include grapes though, and goat’s cheese – mini lunch #1 – I ended up having lunch in two parts yesterday as I was in a super snacky mood!
Yum. I love the combination of cheese and fruit, and the goat’s cheese from Lidl is one of my favourites at the moment. I’m so pleased summer is nearly here – fresh fruit being more easily available and better quality is great!

Lunch #2 was another snack type meal. I’ve hardly eaten any “proper” meals the last few days, but all the food I’ve eaten has been delicious regardless. Carrot sticks and chopped apple with houmous to dip.
Baby insisted on sharing this with me, although he kept licking the houmous of the carrot and wanting to re-dip. Cheating!!

After lunch, “disaster” struck. In the form of a half finished jar of PB&Co Dark Chocolate Dreams.
Let’s just say that after I’d finished this jar was scraped so clean that it wouldn’t even be worth making oats-in-a-jar in…whoops.

While the rest of the family ate dinner, I was having my ears pierced. I’ve left it a bit late to wear normal earrings for the wedding/on honeymoon (they say 6 weeks healing time and wedding is in 5.5 weeks) but 3rd time lucky! I first had them pierced when I was 12 or 13, but they never healed properly as Mum insisted on putting the thick starter studs back in each night even after the 6 weeks healing was up! Then I got them done again about 6-7 years ago, but haven’t worn earrings since baby was born 17 months ago, so the holes have closed over. Anyway, ramble over – I missed dinner because I was having my ears pierced.

After the DCD incident, I wasn’t overly hungry anyway, so I picked up yet more snacky food from Co-Op on the walk home from town.
Peppadew peppers stuffed with cream cheese, and coleslaw.
The coleslaw was nice but the stuffed peppers were too spicy for me. Liam ate the rest of the pack and even he found them a bit too much!

Right, almost there! Super-long post tonight, but I do like to get back up-to-date when I take a day of two off from blogging – otherwise photos end up not getting posted and stay lurking in my head crowding things up instead!!

Today I have been super tired as I didn’t manage to get to sleep until 3am last night/this morning. I needed a coffee. But I was out of milk. Enter Total 0% Greek yoghurt, 2 tsp coffee and 1 tsp cocoa powder mixed with a small amount of boiling water, and Sweet Freedom. Into the blender, and voila…
This was surprisingly good! A bit tangy due to the Greek yoghurt, but it also meant it had a lovely thick texture. The start I needed to the morning! This ended up counting as breakfast in the end, which wasn’t what I’d planned but I won’t complain. The protein in the yoghurt kept me going until lunchtime.

After my success with the newly discovered frittata making method at the weekend, I decided to make a quick frittata for lunch. I just sliced up one courgette, fried it in a little oil, and then poured 2 beaten eggs on top to cook.
DSC_0335 I made a quick sauce to go with this with tahini, Kara milk and a little agave nectar.
Another frittata success! It cooked through and didn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, yey!
Baby enjoyed this too. A tasty, quick lunch. I’ll definitely be making frittatas more often now I have a more reliable cooking method to use!

Unfortunately, I was peckish again soon after eating this. I ate a small bowl of Rachel’s vanilla yoghurt, Jordan’s fruit & nut granola and fresh blueberries.
I love this yoghurt and granola. It wasn’t until after eating that I realised the granola probably wasn’t gluten-free, oops. What are people’s thoughts re oats and gluten? I’ve read in some places that oats only contain gluten because of contamination, so you can get gluten-free oats. But then other articles/sites say that oats react with the body in a very similar way to gluten anyway. I’d be interested to hear people’s thoughts as I do love my oats, especially in the colder months for porridge! This bowl did give me a bit of a tummy ache, but I think that was more psychological/due to overeating rather than anything more sinister!!

We were meant to be going to Waitrose this afternoon, but I was just feeling so tired and sluggish. Hopefully we’ll manage to fit it in tomorrow instead, I’m all out of tofu for starters…dire times!! I do love a bit of smoked tofu for a quick lunch.

I wasn’t feeling awake enough for anything elaborate when dinner came around either. The others had pasta with a passata/bacon/veg sauce. I fancied mozzarella and avocado, but the avocado isn’t ripe yet. Luckily I had these lurking in my freezer…
homemade guacamole from when I had a glut of avocadoes a while back! Wahey! I defrosted two of these to have with the mozzarella.
Yum. This was delicious. It doesn’t look like much, but it was really filling. I haven’t had mozzarella or avocado for a while. Why do I keep forgetting to eat these great foods that I love??!

Ok, food over. If you’ve read this far well done, and thank you! I have a couple more photos to share…flowers! Our house is looking lovely at the moment, with not one bunch of flowers but two!
Tulips from Liam for our engagement anniversary
and flowers from my Mum as today was her last day at work and she was given, among many other gifts, two bunches of flowers. Plus she’d already got lots of tulips at home from her friend who visited at the weekend, so she passed some of the love on to me!
These are so pretty, thanks Mum! Obviously the flowers aren’t currently sitting on my carpet (!!) (can you imagine with the children…would be a spillage waiting to happen!!) but dotted around the downstairs rooms brightening the place up! I love fresh flowers. I must treat myself to them more often!

Ok…time to see if this posts ok. This has been my first time writing a post using Windows Live Writer. So much quicker to upload photos with it, so if it posts successfully then I will definitely be using this from now on…fingers crossed!!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Flashback To Two Years Ago: The Day Liam & I Got Engaged

24th May 2009. 2 years ago. The day Liam proposed to me.

I thought I'd take a little trip down memory lane. More for my sake than anyone else's - I like having something to look back on to help my (ever worsening) memory :) Sadly quite a few of the photos of that day are missing - I found an "engagement day" folder on Liam's laptop, but it doesn't contain the photos I was expecting, so I think I must've lost the photos from my camera when my old laptop died (I don't have much luck with laptops, but am pleased to report that writing this is the first time I've used my laptop since it came back from repair and, touch wood, it seems to be working so far!) I'll have a look on Facebook in a minute to see if there are any photos I can use from there.

Anyway, back to two years ago. It was a Sunday, just a week or so after my birthday. Liam, daughter and I went swimming (hence my bedraggled look!) and then went for a picnic on the hills overlooking the sea...

even back then there was lots of food...

although I hope the overall quality of my food has improved slightly in the last 2 years - the above was a 'pick it all up from Tesco' jobby - unlike the recent picnic we had for my 25th birthday - same blanket, but no Pimms or fresh fruit here! There were lots of sweets though - this is my favourite photo from that day - the only one we look back on really, I quite often have this as the screen saver to my laptop :)

I think Liam must've been a bit nervous about proposing as he left it until right at the end of the picnic. I will use this opportunity to admit (sorry Liam!!) that I had half guessed what was going on. I'd had no birthday present as my "special" present was delayed, Liam had started being secretive and wouldn't let me look in the boot of his car, so I knew he was hiding something in there! Plus we had discussed getting engaged a month or so back. I tried to test the water by putting a Haribo ring on my finger etc to see if I'd get a reaction, but no game. By the time he actually got up the nerve to propose, I had almost given up - assuming I'd got it wrong - and was lying down half-dozing in the sun. He got daughter to tap me on the arm, holding the box with engagement ring in, and the Liam said the classic words... "Lucy, will you marry me?" I was so busy admiring the pretty ring that he had to prompt me to actually give an answer!!

I said "yes" though, clearly - we are now only 5.5 weeks away from actually getting married, exciting!! :)

No "Engagement Story" would be complete without a photo of the ring right?! Sadly no photos from back then, as my old old camera (ok, so I'm just not very good with technology in general...I get through a lot of cameras/laptops!) couldn't cope with the light flashing off the diamond. But a more recent photo - excuse my pale hand!!

the engagement ring has since been joined by a diamond and emerald (Liam's & my birthstone) eternity ring, which he gave me when baby was born in January 2010. It looks even better now - as much as I loved my engagement ring before (my first "grown-up" piece of jewellery!!) the slenderness of it kind of emphasised my not-so slender fingers!! Whereas now, as a pair, the rings are chunky enough to suit my hands. And of course, before long they'll be joined by another ring...note to self: must buy our wedding rings!!

Moving on from jewellery, I thought it'd be nice to have a look back at some of the photos of Liam and I over the years. Apologies if this doesn't interest you...I'll be back posting about food tomorrow! There aren't that many photos of the two of us together as one of us is usually behind the camera, but here are some photos I managed to find:

September 2008 - Holiday in Corfu
October 2008 - Liam's Freshers Ball
October 2008 - My Graduation in Winchester
February 2009 - Valentine's Weekend in Falmouth
September 2009 - Mini-Holiday in Bath
September 2009 - TGI Friday Bristol - 5 months pregnant & looking huge!!
May 2010 - Ice Bar in Bath for our birthday weekend
October 2010 - going to a friend's wedding
I have loads of photos of me & daughter, Liam & daughter, me & baby, Liam & baby etc or on the rare occasions that we go out for meals/drinks I have photos of each of us on our own that the other has taken. Hardly any of the two of us...October 2010 was the most recent I could find! Shame. Must get people to take photos of us more often!

Anyway, that concludes my trip down memory lane. It's been fun looking back over the last 3 years. We've had lots of good times, and of course these photos share just a few of them. Hopefully many more years and memories to come! Happy Engagement Anniversary Liam!!

Oh, and for those of you who want to see food photos (ie me!), I found this photo whilst looking back at all the old ones. My birthday cupcakes from when we went up to Bath May 2010. How cute are these!

We got these from Bath Coffee Festival - 2x Oreo (Dad & Liam), Strawberry (daughter), Caramel Macchiato (Dad's then girlfriend), Black Forest and Coconut-Lime (both mine - birthday girl got two!). These were really good...mmmm...definitely some good memories in this post!! :-D
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