Too much of a good thing…

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful – Mae West

Oh Mae, you made a lot of sense, but too much of a good thing on this occasion (over-eating) has left me feeling bloated, sluggish and with a poor body image.

It’s no secret that I love roule cheese (Boursin or Tesco) and have discovered that asparagus and courgette wrapped in roule covered pancetta is possibly the most delicious thing on the planet! So I’ve eaten a lot of it, and a lot of everything else too!

(Last night’s dinner was asparagus and broccoli tips wrapped in boursin and pancetta, small jacket potato with applewood smoked cheddar and a crusty roll with alioli)

tea marks and spencer alioli asparagus boursin pancetta

Combine that with not working out as much as I would have liked to, drinking less water and more wine over the weekend, and I’m not feeling great today.

So I’ve written a shopping list, made sure it’s full of whole foods with limited refined sugar and carbs, high in lean protein (there’s no cheese in sight:-() and still full of flavour so I won’t get bored or in the ‘diet’ mindset.

I think I need a new exercise challenge as well, so I’m going to have a look for some local 10kms that I can aim to beat my fresh PB.

Cheers to ANOTHER fresh start!
xoxo

A Proper Salad!

Rabbit

Urgh salad! I hear you say! But fear not my friends, this is a proper salad, one that will leave you feeling satisfied, full and not at all like you are a rabbit munching on lettuce leaves (although some lettuce is included).

I am talking about the salad offered at Eco in Clapham, the Asparagus and Poached Egg Salad, beautifully described on the menu as:

Baked sourdough topped with a poached egg,
asparagus wrapped with pancetta, baked mozzarella
wrapped with San Daniele, mixed leaves and house
dressing.
Now I’m a Yorkshire lass and was visiting my sister in the Big Smoke for a few days when we visited Eco, and I have recreated this salad several times since getting home.
Aparagus and Poached Egg SaladStart with a selection of salad leaves that you prefer (I like rocket, spinach, fricasse and lambs lettuce) and pile onto a plate along with some pieces of cucumber and any other salad paraphernalia you like (at Eco they add Olives, but I’m not a fan)!
Then, you want some grilled sourdough, not too much, just enough to mop up the runny egg yolk. Speaking of which, you will need a poached egg with a runny centre, and pop this on top of your bread. You will now want to crisp up some pancetta in a pan. Next up is the Aparagus – cook it how you like! I like to blanch mine and then add it to the pancetta pan to soak up some of the meaty flavour. And last but not least, the mozzarella! Wrap the soft cheese in an Italian ham of your choice and cook this in the pan used for the pancetta and asparagus. Cook it on all sides until the ham is crisp. Alternatively, you can pop it in the oven to bake for a few minutes.
This is a proper salad that has just enough naughty to balance out the word ‘salad’. It is a hugely balanced meal, enjoy it with some sparkling water or a glass of your favourite white wine and your tummy will be happy for hours!
xoxo

Recipe: Popeye’s Pasta Bake

I call this recipe Popeye’s Pasta Bake because it includes lots of lovely spinach! Also in abundance are peas, asparagus, courgette, pancetta and, best of all, CHEESE!

This is a perfect dinner party recipe as you can pre-make the pasta bake, and just pop it into a hot oven 20 minutes before you want to eat it! Bake and serve in a large attractive baking dish and plonk it right on the table for guests to help themselves to!

It is fairly healthy because you don’t get to much pasta per person, and there are LOADS of vegetables included. The cheese is low fat as well, but the meal still feels like a treat!

Ingredients (Serves 4):

  • 200g Pasta (I prefer tubular pasta)
  • 1 bag of pre-washed spinach leaves
  • 1 pack/16 stalks of asparagus (with the barky ends removed and chopped into bite-size pieces)
  • 1 large courgette (grated)
  • 100g frozen garden peas
  • 1 pack of pancetta (chopped into lardons)
  • 1 ball of low-fat mozzarella (grated or chopped very small)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • Black Pepper (freshly crushed)
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil for cooking

Utensils needed:

  • 1 large frying pan
  • 1 large pan for the pasta
  • 1 large baking dish

Now, from the method below, it may seem like there is a lot to do, but in fact this is a really easy recipe once all of the ingredients have been prepped. So, here goes…

Method:

  1. In a large pan, bring water to the boil and season with salt and a drop of olive oil (this will stop the pasta sticking together) then add the pasta, cook to the packet’s instructions
  2. Meanwhile, heat a teaspoon of olive oil in the frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the crushed garlic, cook for 1 minute but don’t let the garlic burn
  3. Add the pancetta lardons and asparagus stalks to the pan and cook until the pancetta is cooked through and the asparagus is tender, about 3-4 minutes
  4. Turn down the heat to medium, add the peas and courgette, cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the courgette is soft and coloured
  5. Add the spinach and allow it to wilt, stir so that it is distributed throughout the rest of the ingredients
  6. Add a tablespoon of the pasta stock, a pinch of salt and a large pinch of black pepper

The mixture in the frying pan should now be slightly wet from the pasta stock, and all of the ingredients should be tender and mixed throroughly. The pasta should also now be cooked. Turn the frying pan down to a low heat.

7. Drain the pasta and add it to the frying pan, string so that it is distributed evenly throughout the other ingredients

8. Add 3/4 of the grated mozzarella to the mixture whilst it is over the low heat, stir, and allow the cheese to melt. The mixture should be wet, if it is not, add another tablespoon of water, or pasta stock if you have this reserved. Check the seasoning and alter to your tastes.

9. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and top with the rest of the grated mozzarella

10. Add the pasta bake into a pre-heated medium oven for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is piping hot and the cheese on top has melted.

If you are making this pasta bake ahead of time, once you transfer the bake into the baking dish, cover with cling film and put it in the fridge until you are ready to bake it. Take the bake out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to bake it, and then bake for 20 minutes! (That’s a lot of bakes!)

You can add any other vegetables you like to this pasta bake, or use different cheese to suit your tastes!

Enjoy xoxo

Lorraine Pascale’s Warm Pear, Pancetta and Blue Cheese Salad

Did anyone else see Lorraine Pascale’s Home Cooking Made Easy this week? Whilst I am not a huge fan of Lorraine’s wooden on-screen presence, the pear salad she made in the first episode of this new series had my mouth watering!

You can find the full recipe here on the BBC website but I am not a huge fan of blue cheese so here is an adaptation…

Ingredients (Serves 4 people)

Preparation method

  1. Distribute the rocket evenly among four serving plates.
  2. Heat a frying pan and toast the pine nuts for three minutes, or until golden-brown. Remove the nuts from the frying pan.
  3. Heat the pancetta in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook until crispy. Remove and set aside to drain on kitchen paper.
  4. Place a knob of butter and the oil into a clean frying pan set over a low heat. Once the butter melts, add the pears, salt, freshly ground black pepper and honey. Turn up the heat and cook for a further five minutes.
  5. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for another minute, then take the pan off the heat. Remove the pears from the pan, reserving any juice that may be left.
  6. Arrange the pears and pancetta on top of the rocket leaves so each person has four quarters each.
  7. Now put the pan containing the pear juices back on the heat and add the remaining knob of butter, a dash of honey, salt and freshly ground black pepper and the pine nuts. Cook the mixture until warmed through.
  8. Pour the dressing over the pears and the rocket.
Lovely xoxo