Tortellini, rosemary and goats cheese soup

I always associate soups with Autumn and winter weather. I just cannot fathom the idea of eating something like leek and tomato soup on a warm day. However this soup has a light fresh flavour and takes about 20 minutes so you won’t be sweating over a hot stove for too long. The tortellini make this a hearty meal – so this is perfect after a busy day. Tortellini is often served as quite a stodgy meal in the UK (although I ate it with just butter in Italy and it was a starter there). However, this is a slightly lighter take on a quick and easy favourite and you will find you eat far less pasta than usual.

To make this soup you will need:

1 pack fresh tortellini (with the filling your your choice)

300ml chicken stock or vegetable stock

2 spring onions cut into slices

2 peppers cut into small pieces (or 1/4 bag frozen peppers)

3-4 frozen spinach brickettes or 2 large handfuls of spinach

1/2 a courgette

About 10g butter

About 50g soft goats cheese

1 sprig fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper

Serves 3

Fry your spring onions, along with your peppers and frozen spinach in the butter until the spinach has defrosted. Add extra butter while cooking if required (If using fresh spinach add this when the tortellini is added). Pour over your stock and add your rosemary and allow this to start simmering. Use a potato peeler to make thin slices of courgette (can you tell this is my new food obsession?) and add to the stock. Taste and season with salt and pepper as required.

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To this add your tortellini and simmer over a higher heat until the pasta is cooked (about 5 minutes). Once the pasta has cooked turn off the heat and gently stir in your goats cheese so a few blobs of the cheese remain.

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This soup also keeps really well for some souper leftovers!

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Crab, courgette and tomato gnocchi

Everyone has food they eat when they’re alone. Something the people they live with dislike but the person in question not so secretly adores. For me one of those things is seafood and another is bread and cheese. D reviewed a gig in Manchester last week and I took full advantage by cooking crab gnocchi and eating it on the sofa (D is surprisingly strict about eating sat at the table). The beauty of this dish is that is takes about ten minutes to cook from eating up your pan to putting it in a bowl so you can go from hungry to stuffing your face with carb based delights in no time.

For crab gnocchi you will need:

1 pack gnocchi

About 150g crab meat (fresh or tinned is fine)

10 cherry tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

Salt and pepper

1 clove garlic

About 10g butter

1/2 courgette

About 4 basil leaves

 

Cook your gnocchi according to the instructions on the packet. While this is cooking half your tomatoes. Crush your garlic and fry on a low heat in the butter. Sprinkle in the chilli powder and season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and use a potato peeler to peel in the courgette so that it forms ribbons. Stir in the gnocchi and the crab meat and tear in the basil leaves.

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DSC_0611 This goes spectacularly with a glass of wine.

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Latest favourites

I’m not very good at these favourites posts am I? Sometimes I get so distracted about the thought of food, and recipes and finding time for recipe and ideas for meals I forget to share other things I enjoy in life. (Plus its nice to play around and write different posts to determine what’s most popular and what I most want to write about).

1. Kenco Millicano Whole Bean Dark Roast

So I got sent (a very generous) sample of this coffee about a month ago and its far far superior to the instant coffee I’ve had before. I don’t generally buy the instant stuff (I use my Tassimo or buy it from coffee shops at vast expense). But this stuff tastes really rich and has the slightly cleaner feeling on your tongue of better quality coffee. I took some of this into my work and the more seasoned coffee drinkers rated it highly too. Definitely try this! (In addition Kenco also do a caffeine free version if you can function without caffeine before 10am!)

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In addition, I also used this stuff to make iced coffee with coconut milk which provided me with a lovely pick me up this evening while I was wishfully looking out of the window hoping for warmer May weather. Just make a small mug full of coffee with 2tbsp of the coffee rather than one and freeze in an ice cube tray (one of my friends got me this woodland creature set for Christmas). Add to your coconut milk and let the coffee melt into the milk.

DSC_0618DSC_06212. Asda Extra Special 70% Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs.

DSC_0622D and I are both trying to make healthier eating choices in general. I stuck this into my shopping trolley last week and for once we actually did that thing doctors tell you about “eating 2 squares of chocolate”. This is decadent enough to satisfy a chocolate craving without either of us going overboard. A little of what you fancy does you the world of good.

3. Our new shelves

DSC_0624I feel positively middle ages getting excited about shelves. However, Papa Ferg found us a bit of an oak based bargain last week and then came all the way to Harrogate to build them for us. What a legend. My parents also managed to deliver my record player as well so we have another means of listening to music. (D got my a Belle and Sebastien record for my birthday that he saw me picking up and pondering buying so its lovely to finally be able to play it).

4. Hair accessories from ASOS (gold clips) and Accesorize (spotty bow)

IMG_0352    DSC_0623I’ve already formed a bit of an attachment to the bow. I adore polka dots and spotty things (a good chunk of my clothes are spotty), but these are both really pretty and cheer up outfits, even when it rains.

5. Getting the right bra fit

Cautionary tale of the month. I hadn’t been measured for a bra since I was 13 and buying my first bra. Partially due to laziness and partially due to shyness. However, none of my clothes seemed to be sitting right so I followed a friend’s recommendation and visited Fit to Bust. The lady there was a highly efficient, practical woman who took one look at me and promptly told me I was wearing a bra several cup sizes too small. Then told me I was nicely in proportion (which is always pleasing to hear). So I have since fallen in love with Curvy Kate which provides some lovely things without the ridiculous price tag associated with being a bit more curvy.

Anyway, I feel new levels of comfort and somehow wearing the right size makes me look several pounds lighter.

While I am trying to say, there’s no need to be wary or embarrassed of seeing a bra measuring lady I’m not going to post pictures of my smalls on here (or at least just yet). Instead you can have a picture of my littlest rabbit who looks very much like a chinchilla on this picture.

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Healthy breakfast ideas part 2

So my quest for healthier things for breakfast has been one of the most fun and delicious food challenges yet. I am finding myself naturally opting for some sort of fruit or vegetable when I start the day. The other thing is that I tend to force myself out of bed earlier to make breakfast and D has even jumped on the bandwagon on days where I prepare things in advance.

You’ll notice that currently there has been nothing with eggs for one reason only – in the mornings when I make my breakfast I am usually trying to do lots of things at once. So breakfast is thrown together (and photographed) while I make my lunch, feed the rabbits and try to put a load of washing in or do some other household chore. I feel I will fail miserably at egg cooking while doing all of the above. Anyway, here are some of the lovely things I have been eating for my breakfast lately.

1. Overnight oats (or is this Bircher? I’m new to this)

DSC_0586DSC_0587DSC_0591DSC_0592Overnight oats have become a favourite in our house. They’re really good value for money to make, they’re filling, they taste beautiful and they travel well. To make 2 portions take a mug full of oats, top with fruit juice to 1cm above the oats (I’ve used apple juice and mango juice so far), cover this and leave overnight. The next morning add a couple of tablespoons of yogurt (I used Alpro Soya yogurt with coconut in mine and low fat lemon on D’s). Then top with whatever fruit, nuts or seeds you fancy. I put D’s in his soup mug and he eats them on the bus – just make sure your container is sealed tightly.

2. Ham and tomato on toast

DSC_0595Obviously this one is pretty self explanatory but its also a good idea for days when you wake up late.

3. Porridge with fruit

DSC_0583DSC_0584IMG_0328I am a recent porridge convert but usually I stick to Oatso simple (which I still love), but trading in ready make combinations for proper fruit keeps your metabolism ticking over for far longer. So here are 2 of my favourite porridges. Banana and raspberry porridge and apple, sultana and cinnamon porridge (grate in your apple, add 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a handful of sultanas).

4. Toast with cashew butter and salami

IMG_0348So I saw a similar thing to this on buzzfeed about healthy breakfasts. Words cannot describe quite how delicious this is. Think heavenly savoury food loving angels singing to your mouth while you bite into warm salami goodness. Bliss.

5. Smoothies!

DSC_0590DSC_0597DSC_0585According to social media, smoothies are insanely popular at the moment. Hardly a day goes by when somebody isn’t adding a picture of a NutriBullet filled with glorious fruit to my instagram feed. You know what though? They do have a point. Smoothies are such an easy way to get more fruit (and vegetables) into your diet and they are so quick to make. I usually have mine going for a couple of minutes while I make a salad to take to work and they come out with a really creamy texture. Pictured combinations are blueberry, cashew butter, coconut milk and banana; raspberry, almond butter, banana and coconut milk; and blackberry (bramble), yogurt, banana and coconut milk. These feel so decadent and filling and the nuts add good fats your body needs to give you beautiful skin, shiny hair and they keep you fuller longer.

It’s funny how I’ve found a little time in the morning has made such a difference to my eating habits. I find I get less bloated and my moods have improved a lot. Plus I get fewer spots which is always a winner!

Chocolate orange cookies

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So this recipe is a simple adaptation of a cookie recipe I have previously written about making during my formative years. Still, sometimes its nice to add a twist to an old favourite – I use less butter in this version as the dough can be quite sticky with the chocolate not being spread through the dough. Terry’s chocolate orange is something I traditionally associate with Christmas, however I made up a batch of these for my birthday gathering as they look wonderful and take hardly any time to make.

In this recipe everything is measured with mugs as it is one from a time before I owned a set of scales – I could weigh it out but to be honest its nice having a few recipes in my head that I can make without having to follow a set of instructions. I like to think if I really, really needed cookies at 3 am I could pull this recipe from my head with no bother.

For chocolate orange cookies you will need:

1 mug of soft brown sugar

110g softened butter

1 egg

1 and 1/2 mugs self raising flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 chocolate orange (eg. Terry’s)

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line 2 or more baking trays with baking paper or thoroughly grease them. Use a wooden spoon to cream together your butter and sugar. To this add your vanilla and egg making sure your beat the mix well.

DSC_1318To this mix add your flour. Once the flour is nearly incorporated into your mix bring everything together with your hands. Roll the cookie dough into balls. Flatten each cookie dough ball and place on your lined baking tray. Take care each cookie has room to spread as they will do so whilst baking.DSC_1319DSC_1320Break apart your chocolate orange into segments. Press a segment firmly on top of each cookie. Bake each cookie for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to cool slightly on the baking tray as the cookies will be sort fresh from the oven.

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What could be better than a delicious chocolatey orangey cookie on a slightly damp May day?

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