Cooking is my passion

This weekend, I finally found an excuse and the time to do some ‘non’ Slimming World baking.  Its been a while and it reminded me so much of how much I miss it.

There must be nothing better than the smell of freshly baked bread or cakes in your house.  Since my hubby has stopped eating Carbs during the week, the opportunities for this have been dramatically reduced.  I don’t eat cakes anyway and on Slimming World, the lovely baked white loaves I used to make would be a no no.

My stepdaughter was over this weekend, so I had the perfect excuse to bake.  I had some lemons that needed to be used up, so a Lemon Drizzle Tray Bake it was.  I went to my favourite baking book for cakes – Mary Berry Easy Cakes.  I’ve had it for around 30 years.  It is full of so many amazing recipes that don’t take long to throw together!

https://youtu.be/33038fcXl0A

It is funny really when you think of my other favourite baker – Paul Hollywood.  I loved them both individually. In fact,Mary Berry’s cookbook was purchased at a time I didn’t really know who she was.  They both went on to great success working together.

I am not sure if it is the fact that I turn 50 next week, but I’m beginning to get really nostalgic.  In my grandparent’s day and even during my childhood, you would make a lot more cakes than you would ever buy.  Who remembers the good old Victoria sponge?  We would even make our own sponge to use in the trifle.

When I was first married in the late 80’s, every weekend I would make batches of cakes to keep us going through the week.  My best ever was a chocolate cake for an Easter party I was hosting.  

If people popped round, you always had something in to offer them with a cup of tea.  Cakes weren’t the only thing I’d make – biscuits and sweets too.  It is a bit sad to think that these days, it is a treat rather than the norm.

I know I blame my hubby and my eating habits for this, but the reality is, I just don’t have the same time as I used to.  The 3 hour a day commute certainly eats into my weekdays.  Walking the dogs and cooking meals from scratch every evening leaves me with only an hour a night to relax or catch up with any other jobs I need to do.

My blogs are written during my train journey.  Multitasking is the only way I can get through the mountain of tasks I have each week.

As time is limited in the week, we tend to leave all our jobs for the weekend.  That then means again that having the odd hour to spare is limited.

Hubby and I were talking recently about what our ideal future would be.  We would both love to work together in a joint business venture.  Doing something where you produce a dish, whether a savoury or sweet would be my ideal.  Hubby said he would be the delivery man!  It’s only a pipe dream, we both know that, but it’s funny how something I really enjoy features so little in my life!

That said you never know. If we won a million our idea may become real, and I do have an idea and a name ! So watch this space !

In the meantime I’m going to keep cooking!

Maybe that is why I love my vlogging.  It forces me to think of new recipes or make the effort to cook something that will help me on my own Slimming World journey, but also inspire others.

I’d like to say I am going to make sure I find the time to do more.  I know the people I work with would welcome some home cooking.  Sadly, I am not sure I would be able to stick to it.  In the meantime, I’m going to embrace every opportunity I can to get into the kitchen.  I have a great platform in my Youtube Channel.  I will ensure I keep motivated each week.  So don’t forget to subscribe to my channel to see what delights I come up with.

 

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The Pioneer Women – My current inspiration!

Do you ever read a magazine or see something on TV that gets your creative juices going? Over the years I have!

In previous years it’s been Jamie’s 15 minute meals, The Hairy Bikers and of course not forgetting, Ready Steady Cook.

My current favourite has to be The Pioneer Women. I’m totally hooked. I’ve even series linked all her episodes.

So who is The Pioneer Women? Ree Drummond! I love her nick name Ree. Her real name is Ann Marie. My own name is Maria but have always been known as Marie to my family. As a kid my nickname was Me Me. My nieces still call me it. Ree is such a great nickname for Marie!

Ree seems to have an amazing life, living on a ranch in Oklahoma in America. She is married to a real cowboy – Ladd – and has 4 children. How romantic does that sound?

Her cooking is every day cooking from dinners to desserts, to things that keep the kids happy!

She always starts the programme with the phrase ‘welcome to my frontier’.

Ree started off blogging about her time on the ranch back in 2006. Her blogs have even won awards.

In 2011 The Food Network awarded her her own Series called what else – The Pioneer Women!

She prepares every day meals from chicken pie, pork ribs, chicken dinner, pork chops to easy desserts and cakes in her lodge. I think she is now up to series 20!

What I love about her is that she showcases her food in such a way that you can easily transfer that to your own kitchen. She doesn’t use fancy gadgets, just everyday pots and pans like we have.

You have to sometimes translate some of the ingredients as we call some things a different name here in the UK.

I love sitting down in the evening and catching up on an episode. Last night she did a beef stroganoff. I haven’t done one for ages. It’s definitely something I’m planning for next week now.

Now when I say she inspires me, that is exactly what she does. I wouldn’t cook her meals exactly to her recipe as she uses ingredients I wouldn’t, because I’m on Slimming World. Don’t get me wrong, her cooking is amazing and my hubby would eat them just as they are. I just need to shift a few pounds as you know, so a tweak would be needed for me.

She uses cream, butter, oil and salt. All things I wouldn’t use. This is where the inspiration comes in! I look at what she makes and try to work out how I can do it for me on Slimming World. Most things can of course be changed. There are some things she makes though that you definately wouldn’t want to mess with, like her chocolate episode! Marshmallows covered in chocolate and cookie pieces! I think my nieces would have a great time making those.

On the whole though, her recipes easily transfer into syn free versions. This is what I love about cooking. Taking great ideas and making them your own.

I’d love to cook alongside Ree and create great meals together that taste good but work for Slimming World too. Obviously that isn’t her cooking style or requirement. I should image with the work they do on the ranch, they soon burn off any calories.

Ree is such a natural presenter. It’s like a friend showing you how they cooked dinner tonight. She is so easy to watch and I’m also loving following her life on the ranch. Watching her children growing up and going off to college!

If you haven’t seen her programme before, go along to The Food Network and check her out! Maybe she will inspire you to get into the kitchen too!

Another new product for me – Lo-Dough!

So what is Lo-Dough I hear you ask? Well, it’s a completely unusual bread or pastry alternative.

I’d seen it advertised on Facebook for a while now but was never sure. For one, I thought it was expensive, but when I saw they had a 10% off voucher, I decided to google it.

It seemed to be a very good product and low in syns, so thought I should give it a go.

There was another reason to! The ingredients, or to be precise, one in particular. So what is it made from?

Water, Wheat fibre (gluten free), Dried Free Range Egg White, Stabiliser (E464), Konjac Flour, Psyllium Husk Powder, Salt.

My hubby follows a diet during the week, which he picked up from his native South Africa – The Banting Diet!

The basic principle is that you don’t eat carbs or sugar!

One ingredient they recommend as an alternative is Psyllium Husk. I’ve bought it and used it to make a bread alternative etc for him! It’s expensive!! This put this product cost into perspective for me.

It comes in packs of 2 in the shape of a circle, around 8″ wide. A pack of 6 costs £14, so with 10% off it came in at approx £2.30 a piece!

I looked at their website again!

https://lodough.co/

It was a lot more versatile than just being used as a pizza base alternative. This excited me!

I quickly put my order in. Within an hour I got an email back saying it had been dispatched! Wow, what service!

It arrived very quickly and I couldn’t wait to try it!

It’s extremely light and doesn’t roll out, which can make you a bit nervous to begin with.

I decided for my first try, I would revisit a childhood favourite- egg custard!

See how it turned out on my YouTube channel.

I was surprised at how it tasted.

Next, I thought I should go back to basics and do the pizza!

My hubby was blown away by it. The base really worked. Better still at only 2 syns on SW and fitting in with the Banting diet, it meant it was something both of us could enjoy!

Every month we get a magazine from Tesco. My hubby has started to take a real interest in it. So much so, he actually cooked 2 meals for me recently from them! He never cooks! I have a lot to thank Tesco for, that’s for sure!!

In a recent magazine, he spotted a Mexican Pizza recipe and suggested we use the Lo-Dough to make it! It looks like he now has the Lo-Dough bug too! Possibly something for dinner next week. Who knows !

My next recipe is going to be a chocolate brownie. Instead of using it as it is, you make it into breadcrumbs. I can’t wait to see what it comes out like!

If you want to try it too, use discount code RECIPES10 to get 10% off!

After avoiding it for so long, it’s now definitely a product which I will use regularly. @Lo-Dough is certainly an amazing product.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on!

On my pizza video, I also give you a review of another new product that you MUST try! Misfits is a nutritious, high protein snack. They have a fab offer on at the moment where you can get a taster pack for only £3 instead of £11.99 with the cost Taste3!

https://missfitsnutrition.com/collections/all

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to see other recipes and products.

How is it Monday already?

Wow, I can’t believe it’s Monday already. How does it come round so fast?

It’s like Groundhog Day when the alarm goes off! While I try to wake myself up to take the dogs out for a walk with hubby, Fido is there jumping all over the bed in excitement! Lola is a bit like us. Actually no that’s wrong. We do get moving when the alarm goes off, whereas she lies there moaning, groaning and stretching! She really doesn’t do mornings !

At least now the mornings are lighter! Chilly but spring is definitely here!

The weekend was good. For a weekend with nothing planned it was fun.

Saturday morning was a leisurely start. An amazing brunch followed by a spring clean! I do love it when you give the house a good going over! Hubby was productive too in the garden. It’s the first time this year he has been able to really get out there! It looks so much nicer now with the spring bulbs coming through and the new shoots appearing. It’s amazing what a bit of sun can do!

Saturday evening hubby had offered to cook dinner! If you know me you will know that rarely happens! He had seen a recipe in the latest Tesco magazine for a Chinese soup! As long as I made sure he had all the right ingredients he would make it for me!

OMG, for a man that doesn’t cook very often it was amazing! I know he followed the recipe, but even his chopping and presentation skills were spot on! Restaurant quality.

You can see what we ate here on my YouTube channel.

We ended a perfect day by watching Bohemian Rhapsody. It was a great film don’t get me wrong, but I’m not sure I’d go and see it multiple times. Hubby thinks we feel that way because we already knew the story, and maybe he is right! I’d still recommend you watching it though.

As the days are brighter we decided on Sunday to take the dogs for a longer walk. We opted for Earlswood Lakes. I haven’t been there for years. I printed a walk off the internet and off we went!

Now, I have to point out that today it wasn’t our fault! I know whenever we go on long walks hubby and I will always take a wrong turn at some point, but today wasn’t down to us!

The route we picked didn’t include a map! The instructions looked clear when we started, but soon they didn’t make sense. We had to ask directions a couple of times. Well I did! Hubby wouldn’t ask lol!

Eventually we gave up on the route and did our own thing. We didn’t mind. It was nice just to get out!

As we headed back to the car it dawned on me! We went the wrong exit out of the car park at the beginning! No wonder it didn’t make sense!

At least it made us chuckle!

The afternoon was relaxing with a visit from my wonderful parents.

As with every Sunday in our house we had a lovely roast to finish off the weekend.

Next thing I know the alarm is going off and it’s Monday again.

As we arrive at the station the car park is more full than usual! I’m dreading the train now. I’m expecting to crush my way on!

As it pulls onto the platform I look through the windows. A few people are standing but there is still daylight! I’m shocked but pleased. What happens next shocked me even more ! I got a seat! Woo hoo! I can’t believe it! Maybe Monday isn’t going to be so bad after all!

Have a great week!

Rules of Ready Steady Lets Cook Slim

Well today, I have officially launched my Ready Steady Lets Cook Slim challenge.

Although I am a keen Slimming World member, and I will be looking to make dishes that fit that programme, I also want to be able to open it out to anyone who is looking to eat more healthily.

I’ve done Weight Watchers in the past, but don’t know how the points are done now. I anyone would like to send me anything to help me give them their points equivalent for Weight Watchers please to do so.

I want this challenge to be inclusive of everyone, whether you are vegetarian, vegan, dairy free etc also.

So what are the rules?

Each week, I will be inviting my followers on YouTube and my Blog to put forward virtual bags. Each virtual bag will have a maximum budget. I will pick at random each week 1 bag.

After I have chosen the virtual bag, I will go shopping for those ingredients. I will then create dishes based on those ingredients and store cupboard staples. So what will those store cupboard staples be?

Store Cupboard Staples

  1. Anything from the Spice Rack
  2. Vinegar – all varieties
  3. Salt & Pepper
  4. Stock cubes, bouillon powder or stock pots
  5. Mustard Powder
  6. Soy Sauce
  7. Oyster Sauce
  8. Tomato Puree
  9. Fat Free Dressings
  10. Sweetener
  11. Low Calorie Cooking Spray such as Frylight
  12. Gelatine
  13. Bovril
  14. Marmite
  15. Mint Sauce
  16. Thai Fish Sauce
  17. Tabasco
  18. Vecon
  19. Vegemite
  20. Worcester Sauce

All other ingredients will need to be part of the bag.

The Virtual Bags

  1. Budget Bag – Maximum Value £3.50
  2. Classic Bag – Maximum Value £5.00
  3. Bistro Bag – Maximum Value £7.50
  4. Gourmet Bag – Maximum Value £10.00

What can you put into the virtual bags

You can put anything you like in the bags as long as it can be bought at most supermarkets.

If the value of your items doesn’t reach the maximum value and you want some additional ideas, you can give me the remaining balance as a wild card. This wild card will allow me to spend the remaining budget on any other ingredients I feel may enhance the dish.

You may tell me if you have any special dietary requirements for the dishes. You can also say if you are looking for specific meal time ideas such as dinner, lunch or breakfast or a mixture!

I will cook the dishes and publish them each week on my YouTube channel. I will let you know how they were made, how many they serve and anything else you might need to know to help you replicate it yourself at home!

To ensure I provide you with the best food options possible and have the chance to go shopping, I will be looking for the virtual bags by 5.00 pm on the Tuesday each week.

I’m really looking forward to this challenge and I hope you are too.

So start thinking about your virtual bags and leave a comment on my YouTube video here.

See you next week for the results!!

An apology to Paul Hollywood!

Anyone who knows me, will know I have a celebrity crush on Paul Hollywood!  It’s been going on for many years.  I’m not sure if its the beautiful blue eyes, the cheeky smile or just his rugged good looks that attract me too him, but I also think he is an brilliant baker too!

Before anyone worries, I also think he has a look of my hubby too!

So anyway, back to Paul! 

I’ve been a massive fan of Paul as I said for years.  I have many of his cookbooks.  In my old house, a couple of them were pride of place on my kitchen top.  Everyday, I would get my Hollywood fix!  Sadly, in my new house, I don’t have the same work space, so he is now on a book shelf in my hubby’s study!

Whenever I need to bake, I first go to Paul for inspiration and direction.  Whether it be from one of his many books or online! So when we arranged a GBBO mince pie competition at work, there was only one man to help me!

I wanted to stand out, and Paul didn’t disappoint with his recipe.  The filling took a normal jar of mince meat, and turned it into something special.  By adding chopped apple and satsumas, it was delicious.  The problem for me was the pastry!

I can make bread, but for some reason pastry just doesn’t go right for me!

My mum bakes regularly.  As we were to make vegetarian pies, I asked her for advice.  She suggested Trex!  So I substituted butter for Trex.

As my Youtube video will show, it all went a bit wet at first, but with a bit of flour I got it sorted. 

I decided to not do a full lid, but be creative with a star!  Hum!  Maybe I didn’t think that through, as the filling leaked over the edge!  Now I couldn’t really tell if they were fully cooked or if it was the juice catching!

I finally pulled them out of the oven and left them to cool!

They certainly didn’t look anything like Paul’s would!   In fact I’m a bit embarrassed, but as I had run out of ingredients, they had to do!

I brought them into work and placed them on the plate with my name on the underside.  We had 4 staff blind judging them on taste and look!  As I expected, I didn’t win!  Apparently, they tasted good, but I had a soggy bottom!!  

I mean, what would Paul say to a soggy bottom!

I suppose I should be grateful that my other colleagues got comments too like, the filling was missing, the pastry wasn’t good enough or the filling was too sweet!  

Oh Paul, what did I do wrong?  I’m so sorry that I took one of your amazing recipes and turned it into a complete disaster!

I’m not going to be beaten though!  I’m going to keep going until I can master the pastry!  Or if Paul is out there and wants to show me where I’m going wrong, of course I wouldn’t be offended!!

Happy baking!!