The Co-operative Christmas Event

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So last Friday (27th November) I was late for a blog event like I have never been late before. Driving from Leeds to Manchester was a nightmare, with whole stretches of the M62 gridlocked. I spent most of my journey bashing my head against my steering wheel cursing myself for not taking an afternoon off to drive over. But you know, I actually had a pretty great evening. The Co-op PR team, SEO and other head office staff adapted the even really well (apparently the traffic affected a lot of attendees) so that everything as timed for later in the evening.

I was greeted in the Foyer of the Head Office (which FYI looks like a giant beehive), by friendly Co-op employees bearing Prosecco, which was delicious. Sadly I was drving so I had a thimble full of the (award winning) stuff. I was delighted to find a bottle of it in my goody bag.

Anyway, I was absolutely starving when I arrived so I set about stuffing myself with pate and then my first Christmas dinner of the season. I could happily have eaten more of the turkey in particular. I adored the stuffing. I also really liked the salmon (which for a seasoned salmon hater says a lot, possibly I am growing as a person?)

 

Anyway, this was followed by some pretty nice festive party food. (I wish I had a second stomach sometimes). Anyway there was dim sum, sausages with popping crackling – apparently somebody’s Grandmother had a recipe for this and it was developed for this Christmas and some sausage roll swirl type things. I think sadly the food had been cooked much earlier in the evening but I think it tasted decent considering and it certainly looked pretty.

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What I thought was to finish was dessert (and dessert wine) and a panel with more seasoned bloggers answering questions based on their experience. I actually find the panel really interesting and informative, as was talking to other bloggers. I think its always worthwhile discussing experiences within the blogging community, there’s always something you haven’t considered and I always find you meet such lovely and interesting characters. It also made me feel better knowing that within this network of interesting and articulate people (mostly writing parenting bloggers) that people do get tired and sometimes a hiatus is needed so you feel refreshed and ready to write new content.

If you are a regular reader you know I have a sweet tooth and it was certainly true last Friday. What I really liked most though was the dessert wine. It wasn’t as cloying or syrupy as I expect dessert wine to be. It was light and citrussy and I would imagine it would work wonderfully with mince pies or Christmas pudding.

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To finish there was wonderful cheeseboards and some demonstrations. I entirely regret not being able to eat very much cheese at all, but in my defence I was full for most of the following day.

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Sadly all good things must come to an end and I was soon back home with D and we opened the loveliest goody bag. We have way less to stock up for at Christmas now. Thank you!

I would like to give a massive thank you once again for the generosity of everyone at the Co-operative. Most especially I think I will be stocking up on Christmas wine with you! It really was a shame I couldn’t try much at all. In addition I would like to say thank you to my fellow bloggers.Its been a while since I attended anything on my own and you all made me feel so welcome, gave me tips and made me appreciate the community spirit there is online.

Sun dried tomato, feta and spring onion turkey burgers

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I think sometimes the best thing about being a bit of a “throw everything together and see what happens” sort of cook has its advantages. Since I started blogging I am far less thrown when I race in after working later and I need to throw together a tasty meal. Necessity is the mother of invention and all that. I had actually planned this recipe in advance where I would have at least an hours chilling time for these while I prepared sweet potato wedges. However, the fates (or the Gods of Science) decided that I would rush home and throw everything together. But, I think it worked out really well and these burgers were juicy and tasted really good. Plus, while curly fries are perhaps not the most sophisticated meal accompaniment, they do put a smile on my face.

For 5-6 turkey burgers you will need:

500g lean turkey mince

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon sundried tomato paste or approx 6 sundried tomatoes chopped into small pieces

3 spring onions

100g feta cheese (crumbled)

Salt and pepper

Making these burgers is simple. Place all the ingredients into a large bowl. Use your hands to make sure everything is evenly mixed. Once the mixture has bound together make your burger shapes. At this point, if you have time chill for at least 1 hour. Otherwise get straight on with grilling the meat.

DSC_0455Heat up your grill onto a medium heat, or place a grill pan on a low heat. Once Whatever you are cooking with has come to temperature grill the burgers for 10 minutes on each side, taking care not to break the burgers as you turn them.

DSC_0457DSC_0458These burgers taste lovely when served in wholemeal pittas, but we had the leftovers with pasta salad and it was euwally enjoyable. As turkey is a lean meat, this is definitely a good alternative when you have a massive burger craving but you’re trying to be good. Sometimes the best healthy dishes are the ones where you enjoy it so much you feel like you’re not denying yourself a thing.

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Parmesan crusted baked turkey

I rarely think to cook turkey. I don,t know why really as its lower fat than chicken and is really versatile (turkey burgers can be amazing, for example). However, I do think you need to cook it with something tasty as it can be pretty bland on its own (except in Christmas dinners obviously). This recipe is an absolute dream midweek. It tastes lovely and is a dieters dream. I barely used any oil in this (just a drizzle) but even though this dinner is low fat and high protein it really packs a punch in the flavour department.

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For baked turkey you will need:

Turkey breast steaks (1 per person)

1 red onion

1 clove garlic

1 tsp sun dried tomato paste (or sun dried tomatoes)

20g parmesan

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Basil leaves

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Place your turkey on a baking tray and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle your parmesan, sun dried tomato paste, salt and pepper evenly over the turkey. Slice your onion and garlic clove. Pur this in the tray with the turkey and finish by tearing up a couple of basil leaves and adding this to the mix. (As a side note I bought a load of basil last week and this recipe would also work with something like dried chives, or mixed herbs if you have them in instead.)

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Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through.

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I served mine with roast vegetables (no point wasting a hot oven). But this would literally go with most things. I think I will cook turkey a bit more often in future.

Stuffed marrow – with turkey, spinach and sweet potato stuffing

So after what can only be described as a few weeks of gluttony, I decided to clean up my act food wise. Nothing too over the top, just a few vegetable filled meals to get me back on the right track. Thankfully, I actually love vegetables and decided to see this as a bit of a challenge. I also made friends with a greengrocer, but that’s a story for another day.

This stuffed marrow recipe is really straightforward and filling. It is a little time consuming to make but its well worth it. The sauce is pretty nice, but if you’re unsure you could always try stuffing your marrow with your favourite Bolognese recipe. I actually did a half quantity and froze half my sauce but the recipe below serves 4.

To make this you will need:

2 marrows

4oog mince (I used turkey thigh mince)

1 sweet potato

1 can chopped tomatoes

2 handfuls frozen spinach

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

100mls chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

Vegetable oil

2 tablespoons plain yogurt (I used soy yogurt and it was fine)

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

 

Preheat your oven to 180°C (my oven seems to be constantly on at this temperature). Boil your kettle. Half your marrows and scoop the insides out with a metal spoon.

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Put onto a large tray and cover with your boiling water and leave to one side while your sauce cooks.

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Peel and chop your onion and crush your garlic. Peel and grate your sweet potato.

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Fry your onion and garlic until soft.

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Add your mince and really work it into the pan, so everything is cooked and no strings of mince form (if you are using quorn I doubt this will post a problem).

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Add your tomatoes, spinach, sweet potato, stock, chilli flakes and paprika. Mix together and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

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The sweet potato should thicken the sauce nicely

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Take off the heat and add the yogurt.

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Add sauce to each half of the marrow. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the marrow goes soft.

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Enjoy! As a variation you could leave out the yogurt and top with cheese, or add in any other vegetable that you fancy.