Wednesday, 30 November 2011

WIAW - Gingerbread Loving!

Good Morning! Happy What I Ate Wednesday! Wednesday seems to have come round so quickly this week!

Thanks as always to Jenn, it's so nice to be able to see what everyone is eating once a week - the link-up is such a great idea! :)

Today post is based on Monday as usual, for some reason I always seem to struggle with taking photos on Tuesdays - indeed, yesterday I only managed to take photos of two things!

I don't know about you, but I always struggle to get back into the weekday routine on Mondays. I'm lucky that I can come home after the school run, so I don't need to worry about eating breakfast before we rush out of the house. I did find time for a coffee though - a skinny latte with lots of white chocolate syrup:

Whittards were sold out of gingerbread syrup when I went in on Saturday. We don't have a shop particularly close to us so I bought a white chocolate syrup to keep me going, but it is (obviously) not the same. It just tastes sweet and confuses me as it hides the taste of the coffee and makes the drink more like a super sweet, not very chocolatey hot chocolate. Boo, I should have just bought vanilla syrup. I miss the sweet spiciness of gingerbread!

After I got home from dropping Izzy at school, I had planned to eat a proper breakfast. That didn't seem to happen though...instead, this did:

Liam bought me this big, 600g bag of lebkuchen from Lidl on Sunday (I checked - no gelatine - but thanks for the potential warning Maria!) and Izzy and I have already finished them! We ate loads on Sunday and she's been taking three in her lunchbox as her "treat", yum!

We like the white ones best, and the white stripey ones (of which there none left by Monday morning!) so when I saw a bag of just white and white stripey ones in Lidl yesterday morning, I had to buy them! I've managed not to open them yet though...only a matter of time!! I can't decide whether I prefer these or the dark chocolate covered, apricot jam filled ones. I love the crunchy icing on these, but then I love the other ones...a nice dilemma to have!! Last Christmas I only ate the chocolate apricot ones, so I'm glad I have branched out more this year! :)

Anyway, back to Monday! After "breakfast", I went in to the kitchen to make Liam some cheese and chive muffins (he takes two to work each morning for breakfast). It only takes five minutes max to make these, but when I came to check on Toby after putting them in the oven, I found this:

Awww! He carried on sleeping while I changed his nappy and put him into his cot, and then slept until 2pm!

The cheese muffins looked fantastic when they came out of the oven! I managed to resist having any on Monday, but did have one for lunch yesterday. Oops, I'll have to make some more muffins some time this week or Liam wont have enough come Monday morning - we always forget to make them on Sundays!

Lunch was therefore a late one. I'd forgotten to put sweet potatoes in the oven so I cooked up some fresh pasta instead. Ready in 2 minutes = my kind of meal. This was spinach and ricotta fresh tortellini, with ketchup and cheddar...just like my Mum used to do! :)

I love this, such a simple but tasty meal. My portion size was perhaps a bit too big though - the pack is meant to serve two and I was only sharing with a 23 month-old...he does love his pasta, but he didn't eat quite as much as me!!

*Newsflash of the post* - I went to the gym on Monday night! I reckon I hadn't been (or done any other exercise) for about 3 weeks, oops! I didn't work as hard as I could have done, but I reckon an hour at the gym, even only at moderate level, is better than an hour at home eating chocolate!

Chocolate was eaten when I got home though - mashed banana porridge with some dark chocolate salted caramels stirred through...

...served in an almost empty Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter jar:

Mmm, this made dragging myself out in the cold to the gym worth it! I adored the Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter (may have to order another jar soon) and the salty caramels mixed with the sweet banana porridge was perfect! For some reason I haven't been eating that much porridge recently. Last winter I ate it every day, but I suppose it hasn't been quite so cold this year. Well, yet anyway, I'm sure I'll be eating porridge regularly soon enough!

As we're nearly in December (and past Thanksgiving for my American readers)...what are your favourite Christmassy treats? I'm not sure I'd even had lebkuchen before Christmas 2010, but it is fast becoming a favourite! I also love stollen, but my local Lidl have stopped selling the mini ones, much to my dismay, and I haven't got round to making it myself yet! Nearer to the big day I will also start eating lots of my Mum's homemade mince pies with lots of brandy butter, mmm! The shop-bought ones just don't live up to Mum's...maybe I should actually try making my own this year so I can have a constant supply! :-D Unfortunately Liam doesn't like any of the things I've just mentioned, which puts me off making them a bit. I've mentioned before that his family eat chocolate cake on Christmas Day instead of Christmas cake/pudding as a lot of them don't like dried fruit...I'm not sure I'll convert him on this one very easily!! ;-(

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Two Things For Tuesday

I originally thought I'd write "ten things", but having just uploaded the camera, it seems I've only taken photos of two things I'll go with that!

1. I made brownies today, lots and lots of brownies. The recipe I use is Averie's Fudgy Nutella Brownies, but I've made quite a few changes to make them my perfect brownies (not that the recipe isn't great as is, it was just a little too rich for us!). I don't use the Nutella or frosting, and I reduce the sugar to 375g and increase the flour to 150g. Perfect.

I normally cook them for 30 minutes at 175C, but the way my oven works there are only a few millimetres between each temperature setting. I think I must've cooked the first batch (on the left) at 180C by mistake, as they were a bit too crisp around the edges and cakier than usual. Still delicious, but the second batch - cooked at 175C - are my idea of fudgy perfection.

Sadly, with the exception of one brownie from each batch - shared with the children as "testers" - these brownies were not for us. After the success when I made them for her last time, my Grandma had asked me to make her another batch of brownies today. Then, when Mum was arranging when she would collect them, she asked if I could make her a batch too!

Bye-bye brownies!! These are so easy to make and taste fantastic! I was tempted to make a batch for us to have too, but as Izzy and I have plans to make muffins tomorrow I decided against it this time. Sad times! ;-)

2. Luckily I had a delicious dinner to take my mind off the "lost" brownies. Paneer and pea curry - or "squeaky cheese curry" as Izzy calls it - is one of our favourites around here. I've simplified the recipe each time I make it and now it hardly takes any time to cook. I just fry the cubed paneer for about 5 minutes before leaving to drain on kitchen roll. Then fry off about 2 tbsp curry paste, add a tin of tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes. Then add lots of frozen peas, simmer for another 5 minutes before finally adding the paneer back in and continuing to simmer the curry for another couple of minutes. Takes about the same time as the brown rice to cook and tastes great. Perhaps "cheating" by using the curry paste, but it makes my life easier and means I make the curry more often, which is a good thing in my book! :)

And that is pretty much all I've got today. I didn't get as much sleep as I would've liked last night and for some reason have only had one I'm feeling even more tired than usual! As there's no school tomorrow, I suggested to Izzy that, Toby willing, we could try to have a lie-in in the morning. Her response was that she doesn't "do" lie-ins, but she's happy to lounge about in her PJs for a little bit in the morning. Sounds good to me!! :)

What would your two favourite things be today? And, important question, do you prefer fudgy or cakey brownies??! Fudgy all the way for me! I also prefer my cookies to be slightly undercooked so that they are chewy rather than crunchy. Izzy pointed out to me today that we "need" to make a trip to Ben's Cookies when we go to Bath this weekend - they sell amazing chewy cookies, can't wait!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Weekend Things - Meal Out + Lots of Chocolate

I'm sure I use first part of that title most weeks but hey ho! How were all your weekends? Good I hope. We had quite a quiet one which was nice.

My Dad was down visiting, so after Izzy had been to gym club on Saturday morning, he had Izzy and Toby for a few hours so that Liam and I could go shopping.

We had lunch first, obviously. We decided to go back to Giraffe, after we had such a nice lunch there a month ago. It is much easier when there are just two of us - we were seated inside immediately! I decided to have a "Hippy Hippy Shake" for my drink - a smoothie of pineapple, passion fruit, mango, banana and pomegranate juice.

Really tasty. I drank this way too quickly, but then stuck to tap water.

I actually ordered the same main as last time - a Farmers Market Vegetable Burrito - love this!

As we had the luxury of knowing that our meal wasn't going to be interrupted by the children getting bored, we decided to share a couple of sides as well. More like, I persuaded Liam to share so that I could try more things. It works. We, of course, had some sweet potato fries.

These came with chipotle aioli which was delicious, and the sweet potato fries were the best I've ever had - crispy on the outside but soft on the inside, yum.

We also shared some corn on the cob with red chilli butter.

These were ok, but could have done with being hotter. All in all, a great meal though. We were both too full to even consider looking at the dessert menu!

The main reason of the trip was to take back the dress I bought last time (nothing like leaving it until right at the end of the 28 day return period!) and to try to get my iPhone fixed (fail, it's out of warranty but apparently might be helped by updating the software...if only my laptop didn't take 2.5 hours to get only part way through step 1 of 5 of backing up I might be able to try this out!). We also made a trip to Hotel Chocolat, where I wanted to buy everything in the store. I managed to exercise some restraint though (!) and only buy two things. I let out a little squeal when I saw dark chocolate salted caramels, and fruity Christmassy pretty chocolates sounded great too!

I haven't actually opened the Christmas Mess chocolates yet (what is wrong with me?!!!) but the salted caramel ones, as expected, taste delicious.

At the end of our shopping trip, we went to Marks & Spencer. We had a gift card so decided to use part of it to give us an easy dinner. I opted for a Super Wholefood Salad, which I've seen raved about on several blogs.

I have to say, I actually didn't like this. The peppers tasted really vinegary, and the lemon dressing was too strong for me (even though I only used half of the pot). The butternut squash was also not cooked as much as I like - it was still really quite hard to cut. I ended up just eating the asparagus and broccoli.

Luckily, Liam had chosen a chocolate brownie dessert which made up for it - yum!

On Sunday, we met up with a friend who we haven't seen in ages. She has a son the same age as Izzy so it was nice to catch up. I had a quick breakfast before we went of spiced apple yoghurt with cider apple butter...

Delicious, but not overly filling. I was starving by lunchtime!

I woke up yesterday morning with the most awful shoulder/neck pain. I don't know what it was, and luckily it had gone when I woke up this morning, but it was so painful. I couldn't twist my neck at all and even sitting, let alone moving, hurt. Luckily Liam has had similar pain when he's trapped nerves in his neck, so he was quite sympathetic.

Therefore he took over lunch duties yesterday - he made tuna quesadillas for everyone else, and made egg mayonnaise and avocado (my request, not something he randomly came up with!) for me. He even chopped it all up so I could eat it one-handed, and photographed it too - thank you Liam! :)

I love this combination. I've been craving egg mayonnaise for days, and avocado is always a great accompaniment!

Dinner didn't really happen last night as we were all tired and I was still in pain. Luckily there was a mini pizza lurking in the fridge that fed the children, and Liam and I had unpictured peanut butter on toast, and then lots of chocolate! Perhaps not the healthiest or most exciting "meal", but it did the job!

What was the best thing you did this weekend? Any exciting plans for the week? We are off to Bath next weekend, which I am really looking forward to, I love going to the Christmas Market there. I'm also looking forward to having Izzy at home on Wednesday when the school is closed because of strikes - we've got plans to make muffins when Toby sleeps, and possibly go out on her scooter once he wakes up, depending on the weather - I can't wait! :) It will be nice to break up the week with a relaxed day - I hate the rush to get her to school each morning!

Edited to add: My brain keeps going back to the last paragraph of this post (above) so I thought I'd better add a disclaimer! Not that I can get what I want to say straight either...fuzzy brain!! I didn't mean to sound like I was trivialising Wednesday's strike at all. Obviously the strike is not "fun" and I really feel for the teachers and everyone else who is striking. I was simply talking on the surface level, that I'm looking forward to having an unexpected day at home with Izzy.

Friday, 25 November 2011

A Day In The Life Of...

When I saw Maria do a post about her daily routine, I thought it was a fun idea so I decided to do something similar. (I hope you don't mind Maria!)

This is actually my day from last Friday because, well, it's taken me a week to find time to write the post! My week days are all usually pretty similar though - Toby has a nap over lunchtime, so we usually do something in the morning (toddler group/shopping/coffee meet etc) and then he sleeps and then it's time to pick Izzy up. The hours always seem to disappear!

This is how last Friday went anyway...

7.30am - alarm goes off, groan.

7.32am - Izzy, having heard the alarm, comes into my room already dressed. She usually wakes up when Liam's alarm goes off at 6.45am and plays in her room from then while I'm still fast asleep!

7.35am - bathroom, weigh (lost 0.4lb this week...whoop?!), get dressed.

7.45am - come downstairs, take photo of Izzy to send to my little sister (as requested). It was Children In Need day so she went to school dressed in all things spotty!

This is Izzy's idea of posing (without me asking her to)...worrying!

7.50am - make myself a latte, get kids' breakfasts (Nature's Path O's - they love them!). I do sometimes eat breakfast before the school run too, but I'm going out for coffee & cake in 2 hours so don't bother.

7.55am - Izzy eats breakfast. I drink my coffee while filling out Izzy's school lunch form, texting Liam and checking the Internet on my phone. Toby is still happily chatting to himself in his cot which makes things more peaceful!

8.10am - go upstairs, get Toby out of his cot, clean all of our teeth.

8.15am - back downstairs. Do Izzy's hair. She puts her coat on while I get Toby dressed.

8.20am - Izzy ready. Toby and I put coats and shoes on. Check I've got everything I need in Toby's change bag.

8.25am - quick whizz around house making sure lights are off, curtains open, beds made, house vaguely tidy. I don't always have time for this but I managed to get out of bed quite quickly this morning - if Izzy doesn't come in to my room, I often stay in bed pressing "snooze" on the alarm until almost 8am!

8.30am - leave the house to walk Izzy to school. Toby eats dry O's in his pushchair.

There's that pose again!

8.45am - get to school. Hang up Izzy's coat, give in lunch money, pay for milkshake (they get free fruit every morning and then you can buy toast for 15p on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, milkshakes for 30p on Wednesdays and Fridays) and donate some money for non-uniform/Children In Need.

8.55am - kiss and cuddle, leave Izzy at school, walk home.

9.10am - get home. Toby plays with toys while I put away last night's washing up and wash the breakfast dishes.

9.15am - uh oh. Toby is grumpy already. Crying, demanding food, throwing himself on the floor etc (!). Joy. It's not nap time yet, I just hope he behaves better when we're out. Eating out with young children is really not at the top of my list of enjoyable things at the best of times.

9.20am - read a book to Toby to calm him down. Get baby snot all over my top (nice!) so quickly have to change. Come back downstairs to find Toby calmly "reading" book to himself, phew.

Who needs matching socks?!!

9.30am - leave the house again to walk into town to meet my Grandparents.

9.40am - pop into card shop to check out 60th wedding anniversary invites to see if my Grandparents would be better off buying some instead of getting Liam to design/make them. They don't have any wedding anniversary invites at all, let alone specifically 60th ones, boo.

9.45am - meet my Grandpa at the coffee shop. Grandma is running a little late so we sit down to wait for her.

9.55am - Grandma arrived so we ordered. I'd hoped to have something breakfast-like to eat, but my Grandpa insisted on paying and he and my Grandma were just having drinks. Scrambled eggs on toast was more than twice the price of a cake, so I just got a latte and shared a flapjack with Toby.

As is usual when we try to take the children out to eat, I spent most of my time chasing Toby up and down the cafe. Luckily it was really quiet and he is cute and smiley rather than noisy, but still. One woman thought he was so sweet that she gave him 50p to "buy himself some sweets". Nice thought, but slightly embarrassing for me.

One of the few times he was trapped into sitting still!

10.30am - leave the coffee shop and go to the local toy shop, which has a ball pool.

10.40am - Grandma leaves to go to her hair appointment. Carry on chatting to Grandpa while Toby "makes" us cups of tea in the toy kitchen.

10.50am - leave toyshop, say goodbye to Grandpa. Go to Julian Graves to buy almonds and Boots to buy nappies.

11am - Toby's looking tired. Start heading home.

11.05am - quick stop at Co-Op to buy some pasta and kitchen roll (oh what an exciting life I lead!) resist buying the reduced custard slice or the half price Ben & Jerry's.

11.25am - get home. Toby has fallen asleep on the walk home so quickly scoop him out of his pushchair, change his nappy and put him in his cot. He carries on sleeping whilst lying on the floor with his legs in the air having his nappy changed which, to me, is just the cutest thing!

11.30am - put a sweet potato in the oven for my lunch. Unload shopping. Quick tidy up of the kitchen.

11.40am - go upstairs to tidy Izzy's bedroom and sort out her ballet stuff for after school. This week she gets to take a teddy in for Children In Need.

11.45am - realise there's not a lot of housework I can do (although I'm sure Liam would always disagree with this statement!!!) as washing up is done, I don't want to do the hoovering as it would wake Toby up, and I did two loads of laundry yesterday so no more drying space at the moment. Yipee. Decide to make myself a pot of coffee. (Friday = extra caffeine it seems!)

12pm - sit down with a cup of coffee and the Julian Grave's magazine I picked up this morning. Peace. Well it would be if next door's builders would stop banging and drilling anyway.

12.05pm - part way through reading the magazine, I get to a section dedicated to vegetarian ideas for Christmas, yey! I love the look of the roasted celeriac, blue cheese and apple stack. Perhaps I'll make it on one of the days surrounding Christmas.

12.20pm - go into the kitchen to continue preparing lunch.

12.30pm - lunch time! Baked sweet potato, half a bunch of steamed asparagus and about half a tub of (delicious, if slightly spicy) Waitrose piri piri houmous.

12.40pm - finish lunch, I really must try to slow down my eating. Wash up dishes. I'm trying to keep on top of the washing up today as yesterday I left the dishes all day and by the evening the whole kitchen had been taken over by them. Oops!

12.45pm - sit down with another coffee and read a few blogs on my phone.

1.15pm - whoops, half an hour has slipped by! Time for some more tidying. Put away everyone's clean clothes, have a sort out of my side of the bedroom (aka the messy side!), and tidy up the sitting room.

1.45pm - knock on the door. The little glass bottles I ordered from the Jam Jar Shop to decant my Christmas vodkas into have arrived! As well as *ahem* the 24x 250ml bottles, I also ordered a couple of large Kilner jars and a mini funnel to make the vodka decanting easier.

1.55pm - decide to use one of the large Kilner jars to soak some almonds - which I then turned into almond milk on Saturday.

2pm - Toby wakes up and we have sleepy cuddles :)

2.05pm - get Toby's sandwiches out of the fridge for his lunch.

2.15pm - playtime with Toby. His favourite thing at the moment is the plastic kitchen my Dad found in a charity shop a couple of years ago. So I got made multiple "cups of tea" and "plates of spaghetti".

2.25pm - Liam phoned on his lunch break. Chatted to him for 10 minutes, then back to playing with Toby. His also really loves books at the moment. We have so many of them, so we read a few before he gets bored and wanders off! We normally have to leave the house at 3pm to pick up Izzy from school, but on Fridays my Mum does school pick-up as she then takes Izzy to ballet.

3.15pm - share a seed stacked bar (from Maria's giveaway) with Toby. Well, I don't have much choice about the sharing part - see that little hand creeping towards the food!

3.30pm - realise there is still coffee in the pot, so have my 5th (and final) coffee of the day.

3.45pm - pop outside to give Izzy's ballet clothes to Mum, who has pulled up in her car after having collected Izzy and my little sister from school.

4.15pm - chat on the phone to my Mum for a bit. Several spoonfuls of Justin's hazelnut butter also happened at this point. So good.

4.45pm - I should be hoovering, but instead play some more with Toby. He's so talkative (well not words, but noises) when it's just me and him, and has the cutest giggle when being tickled!

5.30pm - Izzy gets home. Quick chat about her day and yet more cuddles. Cuddles > housework! :)

5.45pm - leave kids slumped in front of the TV and start making dinner - cook pasta, make white sauce etc.

5.50pm - realise we have no cheddar. Gah.

5.55pm - decide Toby's not going to be able to stay awake long enough for dinner (sometimes he manages it, sometimes he doesn't) so give him some quick food and put him to bed.

6.15pm - put dinner (easy, now Brie and cheese string (!!) topped, pasta bake) in the oven. Quickly tidy up downstairs.

6.25pm - Toby wouldn't settle so gave up and brought him back downstairs. Pasta meals are his favourite anyway.

6.30pm - Liam gets home. Weekend time! :)

6.40pm - dinner's ready - pasta bake with a white sauce, peas and cubed basil tofu.

Blurry photo, but tasty meals. I often cook pasta bakes on Friday as by the end of the week we're all tired and they're nice and easy to cook whilst still being tasty.

7pm - children's bedtime. It's Liam's turn to put Izzy to bed (she's very insistent that we take it in strict turns!). I'd been planning to do the washing up while Liam reads Izzy a story, but instead slump on the sofa. Hopeless. At least I've kept up to date with the washing up so there's only this evening's dishes to do - will do them in the morning.

7.30pm - time for Liam and I to relax! When Liam comes downstairs we turn on the TV to watch Children In Need. I had been planning to write a blog post, but feel too tired and drained so just end up lying on the sofa. My tummy started hurting while I was cooking dinner which  doesn't help.

8pm - Liam offers ice cream. Despite the tummy ache, I of course say yes. This was Hagen Dazs caramel brownie ice cream I think.

No idea why bowl looks yellow inside - it isn't really!

10pm - Turn the TV off, get a glass of water and go to bed. During the week, we usually end up going to bed later as we have to make packed lunches etc (and never seem to start doing this until 10pm) so it's nice to actually get to bed on time.

10.30pm - can't sleep. Read a few blogs on my phone. Eventually drift off to sleep sometime after 11pm - better than most nights recently, not sure why I've been having trouble sleeping but some nights I haven't been getting to sleep til gone 1am, yawn.

Whew, that took much longer to write than I was expecting! It took forever to keep track of everything on my phone at the time too...not something I'll be doing regularly!! I enjoy reading about other people's daily routines but I think mine is quite boring - they say that you always find your own kids interesting...but no one else does! And housework isn't exactly fun to do, read or write about!!

What is the favourite part of your day? One of my favourite parts (when it's not raining at least) is the walk to and from school with Izzy - she's always such a chatterbox in the morning, and I like hearing about how her day has gone after school. When she gets home she usually just wants to relax and watch "Horrid Henry" so it's nice to get a chance to catch up with her before the TV steals her attention!!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

A British Girl's Take On Thanksgiving

Alternative title: An Excuse To Eat Orange Foods!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I know we don't traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK, but you know what I'm like with following themes! Izzy's been discussing Thanksgiving at school as well - she came home with a long list of people/things she is thankful for which was cute :)

On to the food anyway...

Breakfast was Oh She Glow's Pumpkin Gingerbread Smoothie...this time in a bowl so I could crumble a slice of pumpkin bread on top:

I loved this. The pumpkin bread made the smoothie even more delicious than it always is! Toby loved it too - he stood by the table the whole time I was eating, eyes fixed on my bowl, waiting for spoonfuls!

This morning, after the school run, Toby and I walked into town. After I'd finished all the shopping, I popped into Costa. It was so sunny today that it felt like an iced coffee day - gingerbread iced coffee:

Mmmm, I am definitely thankful for coffee!

I also popped into my local health shop to pick up some dried mango, and spotted that they have started selling Cliff bars. I never thought I'd see that happen in my little town!

I didn't buy any, but it's nice to know they're there if I want to!

When I got home from town, I got a text from my Grandma asking if it was convenient for her to pop round then for a coffee. I quickly tidied up put the coffee machine on, and welcomed her in. I am so thankful for all my family, that they live close by and are all healthy enough to be able to meet up with us. Izzy certainly values having so many family members close by too - she listed them all out by name as part of her long list!!

Once Grandma had left, I ate a chocolate raspberry bar that I'd bought in Costa. I did offer to share it with her, but she only wanted coffee!

This was quite nice, but a bit too dry. Not as many cherries as I'd been hoping for.

For lunch, to go with the orange theme, I had planned to have a baked sweet potato. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any vegetarian marshmallows (I been having serious food envy over all the sweet potato casserole pictures I've been seeing!!) and I discovered my caramelised onion houmous was 2 days out of date (oops) so instead I shared Toby's lunch - I knew I'd be eating plenty later on anyway!

Brie and cucumber baguette and chocolate milk. Tasty, and with the bonus that it had already been prepared for me - Liam makes the kids' sandwiches when he makes his own packed lunch each night.

I'd planned to make tonight's dessert while Toby napped, but I discovered I was completely out of eggs. Grrr, I only needed one! By the time Toby woke up it was time to pick Izzy up from school, so I end up having a very busy early evening in the kitchen!

So tonight's dinner. No turkey here...a) because I wouldn't eat it, and b) because it is way too much hassle - I went with our favourite meal (well, Liam's favourite vegetarian meal) which happens to be orange too! Butternut squash enchiladas - love love love these!

Served with guacamole and soured cream (and salsa for Liam) - Izzy specifically requested the dips as she loves dipping any crunchy wrap corners (that missed the tomato sauce when cooking) into them.

Dessert was Maria's Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake, topped with whipped cream as that is what all the American bloggers seem to do! ;-)

I loved this so much - thank you Maria! The ginger base complemented the pumpkin pie perfectly...divine! :) Izzy loved it too. Toby had gone to bed by this stage, but am sure will enjoy it tomorrow. Liam hasn't "psyched himself up" to trying it yet. I actually bought him a caramel shortbread from Costa as I'm not really expecting him to like the pumpkin pie...but I haven't told him about the alternative dessert's existence until he's tried this one - you never know, he might surprise himself!

This post has gone on quite a lot already so I won't list all the things I am thankful for - that would go on too long perhaps! Oh who am I kidding? I'll just do a mini list! I am, of course, thankful for my family, friends, the house we live in, all the (delicious) food we get to eat etc etc - so many things we are lucky to have and experience. I am also thankful for all of you - people who take the time to read my little corner of the Internet and interact with me through comments, Twitter and emails - it's nice to feel I'm not talking to myself (!!) and it is so nice to share thoughts with people who have similar interests. Most of all though, I am thankful for these two - my lovely children - and a peaceful/happy moment this morning while they ate breakfast!

Izzy trying desperately to have open eyes - they're always normally closed in photos!!
Finally, I'm also thankful for my husband, who despite having been at work all day is currently washing up to thank me for cooking a delcious dinner. I think I've found a good one there! ;-) and tonight we will spend together watching The Mentalist - one of the few TV programmes we both love...oh what exciting lives we both lead!!!

Have you celebrated Thanksgiving at all today? What are you most thankful for?
As I'm guessing most people in the UK don't celebrate it, what is your favourite "special" meal to cook? Butternut squash enchiladas are definitely mine at the moment. When I was uploading today's photos, I realised I cooked them exactly two months ago as well - when Mum and Colin came round for dinner.

*edit* I've just noticed that Jenn has organised a Thanksgiving version of WIAW so I'm going to add this post to that for a slightly not traditional take on the holiday! Happy Thanksgiving again everyone, thanks Jenn!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

WIAW - Portion Sizes

Hello! Happy What I Ate Wednesday everyone! Thanks as always to Jenn for getting us all together :)

This post will be based on Monday's eats as a) I didn't take many photos yesterday and b) pretty much everyone I ate/drank yesterday was either or coffee or chocolate covered...whoops!

Monday, on the other hand, started with this delicious pumpkin bread...

My Mum bought this at the Christmas Fayre we went to on Saturday. She'd planned to give me half of it anyway, but it was a bit too sweet for her so she gave me most of it, yum! I love it, it is sweet but also spiced and 100% delcious!

As well as having a couple of thin slices as a pre-school run snack, the pumpkin bread also featured in my breakfast. This was divine - Yeo Valley spiced apple yoghurt, an apple that I diced and microwaved with some cinnamon and a tsp of sugar, some cider apple butter (also from the Christmas Fayre) and a slice of pumpkin bread...

I loved this. It felt like a lighter variation of the appley French toast I ate on Sunday. There probably wasn't actually much difference calorie-wise, but hey ho, my mind/stomach thought it was lighter!!

Lunch on Monday was leftovers from Sunday night - Mama Pea's Quinoa Courgette lasagne. It looked prettier than this the first time I served it!!

Yum. Liam wasn't as keen on this as the rest of us were, as he has decided he doesn't like courgette. Grrr. He definitely praised this dish the three or four times I've cooked it in the past though, so I will probably still cook it again in the future!! ;-)

Mid-afternoon I had another, unpictured, slice of pumpkin bread. That loaf is going to be gone before I know it - I must try to recreate it soon!

Izzy has started swimming lessons after school on Mondays. It is a bit of a rush to get from school down to her swimming pool, and then keeping Toby enternained during her half hour lesson certainly keeps me on my toes...but she loves it, so it is worth it. Last week was her first week, and afterwards the teachers comment was "It's great that Izzy has the confidence to go underwater, and has been encouraging the other children by doing so, but she does need to understand that when I'm giving instructions she needs to stay above water to listen." Haha, whoops...I was saying to the other mothers that I was most worried about Izzy having too much confidence and not listening!! This week was better though, I think - the teacher didn't say anything to me anyway!

I needed an easy dinner to cook after swimming, so I cooked some wholewheat spaghetti and made a sauce using a tin of green lentils, a punnet of finely chopped mushrooms, garlic, a tin of chopped tomato and lots of vegan worcester sauce.

I put a little cheese on top after this photo as well. Tasty, but look at my portion size compared to Liam's - I'm so jealous that he can eat whatever/however much he likes and not gain any weight!!

Unfortunately I find that no matter how much or how little I eat at dinner time, the munchies always strike in the evening. On Monday evening I ended up eating a Nakd gingerbread bar (which seemed more spicy than I remembered - anyone else?)...

and a whole bar of Conscious Cherry Christmas chocolate. I love this but always get so annoyed with myself when I eat a whole bar at once as it is so expensive!!

If you cook for more than yourself, how do you deal with differing portion sizes? Or even if you cook for yourself? When I used to just cook for myself, I used to find it (relatively) easy as I used to weigh my carbs and split my main dish into freezer bags for leftovers as I was serving up. Now I cook for all of us, I often find myself serving the same size portions for me and Liam!! Not a good idea when he is a good stone lighter than me and trying to gain weight, whereas I am trying to lose it! The last couple of days, I have been making a conscious effort to serve myself smaller portions, but I've still been cooking the same amount as usual so Liam has been getting huge servings!! I also can (rarely) never not finish a chocolate bar - I don't understand when people say that raw chocolate is so rich that they only eat a piece or two...not me!! I sometimes can control myself around 100g bars, but usually end up eating the whole bar through lots of nibbles over a few hours! Long rambly "confession" clearly shows my lack of self-control!!
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