WWW. Beef Noodles and Cranachan.

The cooking lately has been very Jon-directed, largely because I felt I messed up a bit last week and wanted him to have whatever he wanted. So the big ones have been a beef noodles and salad meal and my first attempt at cranachan!

Black Pepper Beef Noodles and Salt and Vinegar Salad Recipes

Recipe 1: Beef Noodles.

First of all the beef noodles. We spied some reduced-price organic beef and Jon wanted to snap it up and make some black pepper steak, so that was what we did. 🙂

Ingredients:

[Makes 2-3 servings on its own, 5 servings with a side.]

-350g beef

-2 small onions

-4 cloves garlic

-200ml double cream

-2 servings rice noodles (soak or boil in advance)

-2tbsp butter

-black pepper to taste

-soy sauce to taste

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-frying pan

Recipe:

1: Finely slice the onions and mince the garlic.

2: Using 1tbsp of butter, lightly fry them until the onions are translucent and the garlic has lost its sharpness.

3: Chop the beef into small, evenly sized pieces. Add to the pan with the remaining butter.

4: Once the beef and onions are brown, turn up the heat and add the cream.

5: Once it has simmered a while, add the pepper, soy sauce and noodles.

6: Stir until the cream has reduced a bit.

Black Pepper Beef Noodles Recipe

Recipe 2: Salt and Vinegar Salad.

A perfect accompaniment for any BBQ, but also for this beef and noodles in black pepper sauce! Spotted some salt and vinegar potatoes in /r/food and improvised a recipe.

Ingredients:

[Makes 2-3 servings on its own, 5 as a side.]

-20 small salad potatoes (fit in a tablespoon)

-2 medium bell peppers

-1/2 an onion or 1 small onion, red or white

-3 carrots

-3 tsp salt

-1 tsp vinegar

-1 tsp chives or mixed herbs

-1tbsp butter

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-frying pan

-mixing bowl and salad servers

-grater

Recipe:

1: Melt the butter in the pan.

2: Slice each potato in half and place in the butter at a low heat.

3: As the potatoes cook, grate the carrots into the bowl.

4: Finely dice the onion. Add to the bowl.

5: Roughly chop the pepper. Add to the bowl.

6: Be sure to turn the potatoes!

7: When the potatoes are brown, add the salt and cook a little longer, to reduce moisture.

8: When they are cooked through and dry, toss them in vinegar and herbs.

9: Add the potatoes to the salad and mix thoroughly.

Salt and Vinegar Salad Recipe

Recipe 3: Cranachan.

This was great fun. Proper Celt food from Scotland. Saw it on a food show and had to try it because it sounded like something Jon would love. He says my end result needs less cream or less whiskey in the cream. He gives my serving a 6.5/8 and his own quantities a 7/8.

As the raspberries aren’t ripe here yet, I made it using our first batch of rhubarb pudding/jam.

[Makes 4-6 servings.]

For the rhubarb:

-6 thick stems

-3/4 cup white sugar

-1/4 cup palm sugar

-2tbsp butter

For the cream:

-300ml double cream

-80ml whiskey

-2tsp honey

-oats?

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-small pot and spoon

-large pot and whisk

Recipe:

1: Peel and finely chop the rhubarb. Place in the small pot and heat thoroughly.

2: Once the rhubarb is soft, add the sugars and keep heating.

3: Once it has melted, add the butter, stir and set to one side.

4: In the large pot, whisk the cream until it’s stiff.

Make a gap. If it doesn't close, it's ready.

Make a gap. If it doesn’t close, it’s ready.

5: Add the whiskey and whisk again until a peak is formed.

6: Stir in the honey.

7: If desired, add oats.

8: Serve with the jam at the base and the cream on top.

My choice of quantities and presentation.

My choice of quantities and presentation.

Jon's ideal mix: 2 digestive biscuits, 4tbsp rhubarb, 1tbsp cream.

Jon’s ideal mix: 2 digestive biscuits, 4tbsp rhubarb, 1tbsp cream.

And those are our favourite meals from this week! What were yours? Found any cool recipes lately?

Fit Friday XX. Fat Friday VII. I have no patience.

This past couple of weeks I’ve been working on my weight. Trying to keep active, keeping carbs and calories low and focusing on good quality proteins for the bulk of my meals. And the rewards are mostly there. Body fat dropped, water retention dropped, weight a little lower, probably a lot lower when I consider the amount of fibre accumulated in my body from all those tasty salads.

But, whilst the rewards have been pretty quick and steady, I’m, of course, running out of patience. I’m sticking with the diet because I feel awesome and it tastes amazing, but I really want my 6 week results already!

Jon has really intensified my training regime, so I should be gaining mass fairly steadily too. Unsure how to balance weight gain with fat loss, so I’ll have to eyeball it and trust Jon when he says I haven’t ballooned into some hippo-Jabba hybrid.

Keeping at the high veg, carbs crept up but will be hammered back down, slightly increasing calories to match my workouts. Will kill some iron and see where I end up.

The tastiest thing I ate all week was a fish pie, but only because I was missing potatoes that badly. The naughtiest thing I ate all week was probably a cumulative effect of grapefruit, oranges, potatoes and chocolate today. Too many carbs!

Been lazy in terms of work a little, so I need to step up a bit, even if my housewifery has kept stable or even improved.

Next week, more weights, more protein, same low carbs and more work.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How has your week went? What fitness and diet goals have you met or fell short of? What was the tastiest thing you ate all week? What are your plans for next week?

How To… make a great salad.

At the moment I am living off salads. Love them. But too often people go wrong with salads, especially for weight loss. Either they’re just a pile of tasteless leaves or they’re so swimming in dressing, croutons, mayo, cheese or other calorific foods that they’re no better than any other lunch.

Personally, I primarily use salads to get some vitamins and minerals, some pickles, some fluid and other assorted things into my diet and only secondarily use them as a calorie-control method. Still, by using these techniques you should be able to make a largely raw, plant-based, low carb, low fat, low calorie salad that is also textured, flavourful and filling.

Step 1: Your base.

The first thing you need is a base of greens. Fill almost the entire bowl with greens. I like using lettuce, spinach and finely sliced cabbage, but all mild-tasting, leafy greens are good.

Step 2: First layer of texture and flavour.

Skip the croutons and crunchies. Leave the nuts and cheeses for now. What we need to add is around a fistful of onion, pickles, celery, carrots, etc per serving. Good quality tomatoes, radishes and watercress is also part of this category. The best bet is something crunchy and something strong, so a fistful of onion on its own, or half a fistful of carrots and half of pickles. Make sure these are all very finely diced.

Step 3: Booster texture and flavour.

This is literally a pinch of something. Maybe chopped chilies, sunflower seeds, fresh basil or pomegranate seeds. Not even enough to make a calorific impact, just for visual stimulus and a little variety of texture and flavour. Some things from the first layer can be added here in smaller quantities, but many boosters are just too rich, calorific or textured to use as the first layer.

Step 4: Topper. [Optional.]

You don’t need a topper. You can just have the salad as-is, or with the dressing. But, if you want to feel a little fuller for longer, then a topper may help. Pick something rich in protein and moderate to low in fat and carbs. Keep the portion fairly small. So a handful of walnuts, 20g of cheese, 50g of lean meat or a boiled egg. Increase if you need more calories or protein, decrease if you want a little bit but don’t want to eliminate it entirely.

Step 5: Dressing. [Optional.]

This is the bestest way to make a very low calorie dressing that helps you digest, adds lots of flavour and keep you healthy.

1 part (olive, coconut) oil to 3 parts (white, cider, balsamic, brown, rice) vinegar.

1-2tsp dry herbs (thyme, parsley, oregano, basil, rosemary, mint, etc) and spices (chilli, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, anis, cumin, etc); any mix

1tsp mustard (fresh, raw, unsugared, unsalted if possible)

1-2tsp honey or sweetener (agave, stevia, coconut, sugar, cane, etc)

Put all the ingredients in an empty jar and shake until well mixed. Shake before pouring every time. Around 300ml makes enough for 6-8 well dressed salads or 8-12 lightly dressed salads.

And that’s how I make my salads. Some examples, to give you an idea.

Spicy surprise.

Base: lettuce and savoy cabbage.

Layer 1: onion.

Layer 2: chillies.

Topper: 50g cambozola cheese.

Dressing: brown vinegar, olive oil, smoked paprika, onion powder, dijon mustard, honey.

Pork salad.

Base: lettuce.

Layer 1: onion, pickles.

Layer 2: chillies.

Topper: 100g roast pork.

Dressing: brown vinegar, olive oil, onion powder, salt, dijon mustard, honey.

Light salad.

Base: lettuce, spring cabbage.

Layer 1: tomatoes.

Layer 2: onion.

Dressing: brown vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, american mustard, honey.

Egg salad.

Base: lettuce, spinach, cress.

Layer 1: tomatoes.

Layer 2: onion.

Topper: hard boiled egg.

Sweet salad.

Base: lettuce, spring cabbage, cress.

Layer 1: tomatoes.

Layer 2: pomegranate seeds and orange bits.

Dressing: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, onion powder, salt, palm sugar.

Hopefully that gave you some great ideas for light Spring and Summer salads!

What about you? What are your favourite salads? What is your biggest issue with salads? Do you prefer them sweet or spicy? Are you all about the greens, all about the fruit or all about the starch? Leave your thoughts, ideas and recipes in the comments.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

The Wonderful Wednesday Wok (And Not-So-Wonderful Stomach Bug)

So, I prepared a proper packed lunch for Jon today, as I had planned. Sadly, neither of us had planned that he’d get one of the stomach bugs that are doing the rounds. He did. He managed the potato with butter and a bit of salad before he had to quit. Fortunately, he isn’t vomiting and keeping warm seems to help. Also fortunately, my robust immune system seems to have endured whatever he’s carrying, as I’m well enough to look after him (although we’re both hoping he’ll be better for tomorrow).

 

That in mind, here’s the lunch I packed for him.

Lamb Burgers.

I decided to see how far I could stretch a 470-500g pack of minced lamb by making it into burgers. Seeing as around 100g is the minimum for how much meat should be in a meat-meal without eggs or dairy*, I settled on making 5 lamb burgers.

*I then included eggs anyway, but I was committed to making five by then.

Ingredients:

-500g minced lamb/mutton

-300g boiled/mashed potato

-2 raw eggs, beaten

-1 onion

-mint

-chives

-garlic

-paprika

-salt

-pepper

Utensils:

-1 pot or mixing bowl

-1 fork

-1 baking tray

-a willingness to get your hands messy or a rice-ball-forming device

Recipe:

1: Mash the potato.

2: Mix the potato and lamb together.

3: Add the seasoning.

4: Carefully fold in the eggs.

5: Mix until the consistency is even.

6: Take 1/5 of the mix and shape. (Ball, burger, square, Hello Kitty, whatever you fancy.)

7: Make a small indent in the top of the burger. This is so it cooks evenly and doesn’t grow a bulge in the middle.

8: Place on a lightly greased tray. Repeat for all the other burgers.

The sheer size of the beasts. My hand as reference.

The sheer size of the beasts. My hand as reference.

9: Bake in the oven at 160C for 35-50min.

10: Serve with something green.

20140120_184429

As the lamb was £2.60 for 475g, this worked out as around 60-65p/burger, including spices.

The rest of his lunch included about 300g of baked potato with 20g of butter and a salad that was a small carrot, a pepper and lamb’s lettuce. I added a Nakd bar for his pudding, as we’d got up late and I didn’t have a chance to whip together something creative.

20140122_065748

20140122_065914

 

Sadly, he only managed his break-time fruit, the potato, the Nakd bar and a few bites of salad before he felt to unwell to eat anything. Something tells me he’ll be staying home tomorrow. 😦 Any good-wishes, prayers and good-luck charms welcome.