Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Sex and the City 2 Premiere


Finally, the second Sex and the City film is almost upon us! The premiere was last night and as you know, I love a good frock so was excited to see the pictures this morning. Remember when SJP wore this...


Yes, it was a little but nuts but it definitely had impact and was a big talking point back in 2008 so I was expecting big things however I was slightly let down.

Sure, she looked lovely (aside from her eyes freaking me out a little, what's with that?), tanned, and immaculately groomed but it was a bit safe really wasn't it? Loving the sunshine yellow though. Kim Cattrall looked fabulous. I'd love to look like her when I am her age - hell I'd love to look like that now! She is oozing old school glamour.


I thought that Cynthia Nixon looked beautiful, but almost blonde? Where's the red gone? Dress is slightly unflattering on the mummy tummy but she looks a gazillion times better than I would in a dress like that.

Kristin Davis looks pretty in pink, perfect as ever. I did immediately start singing Material Girl in my head but it's gorgeous, really elegant.


There are no words for Liza Minnelli's get up so, you know, a picture paints a thousand words and all that...


and finally, of course it's not a Sex and the City premiere without the boys is it. All of which are not doing it for me at all anymore. I find that quite distressing but Big, well he's looking a bit dad-like now to me and Aidan has always made me want to yack a little bit so that just leaves me with Smith. Ah, I guess he will do.


Any thoughts?
love & kisses
Mrs M x

Monday, 24 May 2010

Oven Chips



Okay, so chips - it's hardly rocket science is it? Yet it still amazes me how many people reach for the bag of Mccains - I'm not being snobby about it, I used to love a portion of crinkle cut home fries but once you've made your own oven chips it's quite hard to believe you settled for the frozen variety. Homemade just taste so much nice, much fluffier and far far tastier.

My chips are made in the usual straightforward way - scrub the potatoes (leaving the skin on), cut them into chunky chips or wedges, rinse them - dry them well, lay them on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and a bit of salt and roast them in the oven at around 200degrees for about 45mins and voila! Delicious homemade chips.

I now own a deep fat fryer and recently tried making stringy fries in it, but as yet have not tried chunky chips. I fear it will be a slippery slope if I start making chips in the fryer so am resisting as much as I can.

For more homemade chip recipes - well more flavours and other resources check out Love Chips, a website that was setup by the Potato Council for National Chip Week.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Giveaway: Rachel Allen Cookbook Winner!

Sorry I am a bit late with this, Mr M and I had both had a bit of a crappy day so we decided to go to Pizza Express for dinner! I am afraid that my need for a nice dinner outweighed my need to blog...

Anyhow, here I am with the winner of the Rachel Allen cookbook.


Yes, comment number 6 otherwise known as Amy Lane who has the fabulous blog Cooking, Cakes and Children and makes the most amazing cakes! (Check out her Hello Kitty cake! My girl would love that!). Don't forget to bookmark her website Cake Shop Corner which will be coming very soon.

Congratulations Amy, the book will be winging it's way to you very shortly, and thanks to everyone else for leaving a comment!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Thai Minced Chicken Salad


This. Is. Beautiful. And you know me, I wouldn't tell a lie.

I made this salad from BBC Good Food last week for the first time, and wow, it was good. The lemongrass mixture smelt delicious and authentic Thai and it was spicy but not too spicy - the crisp cold vegetables helped to cool it somewhat.

We'll definitely have this again and I recommend you try it. It's so easy to make aside from a bit of chopping (again, I used my mini chopper for this as it's so easy to bung all the bits in and whizz them up) and even better if you don't decide to mince the chicken by hand...

Thai Minced Chicken Salad


Ingredients

2 lemon grass
4 lime leaves, stalked removed
2 red chillies, deseeded
3 garlic cloves
finger-tip length piece fresh root ginger
4 skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp chilli powder
50ml fish sauce
1 red onion, chopped
3 tbsp lime juice
handful each of mint, basil & coriander leaves, chopped

To serve;
3 Baby Gem lettuces, leaves separated
1 cucumber, seeds removed and cut into strips lengthways
200g bean sprouts
lime wedges to serve

Method

Roughly chop the lemongrass, lime leaves, red chillies, garlic and ginger, then throw them all into a processor and blitz until everything is very finely chopped together. Mince the chicken breasts into tiny pieces.

Heat a wok over a high heat and add the vegetable oil and the sesame oil. Throw in the lemongrass mixture and fry briefly before adding the minced chicken and the chilli powder. Stir-fry the chicken for 4 mins then splash in the fish sauce. Turn down the heat a little and allow the chicken and fish sauce to bubble together for another 4 mins, stirring, then add the chopped red onion and cook for another min.

Remove from the heat, pour over the lime juice and toss in the herbs. Serve with the salad veg and a lime wedge on the side.

The above should serve 4 as a (very) light meal! I halved this recipe for two of us and it was not nearly enough food to be considered a meal, but perhaps we're piglets.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Neighbours From Hell


I moved to the countryside for peace and quiet. I'd had enough of living on a housing estate surrounded by other peoples noise - drums day and night, dogs locked out all day and barking loudly, footballs being kicked at my fence, lawnmowers at 8am on a Sunday morning...I had it all. It all got a bit much so the For Sale board went up and quicker than you can blink we were out of there.

So now I have my own little patch of peaceful English countryside. Sure, we live close enough to the airport to occasionally feel that we might have a 737 land in our field but you get used to it and generally it doesn't bother me (boo yah sucks to you Emirates). We live set back off the road so we don't really experience any car noise and the best thing? No neighbours.



No human neighbours anyway. Just a herd of dairy cows. My bovine friends don't normally tend to cause much bother, during the winter they are absent and they start to make an appearance again in the springtime, again, no bother. With the warmer weather comes the gnat infestation - that really is enough to drive me to distraction - I get through countless cans of Raid (they should be sponsoring me at this point) just so I can get through the fog of gnats that congregate in my kitchen of an evening. Yes, this is very annoying and yes I get a bit ranty about it so lets stop with that one right there.

Gnats aside, I've had worse neighbours but last night I was ready to torture, maim and slaughter one of the feckers. Whoever thought the countryside was peaceful has obviously not lived next to a wailing cow. 5am for the past two mornings I have been rudely awoken by this incessant whinging mooing from one particular heifer (I actually think she's lost her calf, hence the wailing which would make her
not a heifer but I am past caring. Yes, this happened last year too). I hadn't got to bed until almost midnight and had to get up for work at 6.30am so I wasn't best pleased, but what can you do? Physically?! What can I do about the damn stupid creature? It's literally howling. It has acres and acres of space to wallow in, why does it have to do it next to my house?

There's only one good place for this darned animal. As the great Lady Gaga once said "Once you kill a cow, you gotta make a burger" so fire up the goddamn BBQ!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Secret Post Club - May


I have once again joined in with the Secret Post Club that I posted about last month. I've been a bit naughty and was a bit slow this month in getting mine sent out but hopefully my recipient will receive their gift today or tomorrow.

This month my gift came from
Miss Cherry Red who sent me this absolutely gorgeous necklace and bracelet set.



I hardly ever buy myself jewellery so this is a real treat! I had no idea who the little parcel was from as there was note but Miss Cherry Red made herself known to me on Twitter, thank heavens! I would have felt awful not knowing who to thank.

So, thanks again for my lovely secret post!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Tomato, Cucumber and Coriander Salad


This was a recipe I took from BBC Good Food. I needed some dishes, something a bit different, for the little fella's birthday party last year where it was actually adults in attendance rather than children. (I know, I know, I'm a terrible parent but I'm just not ready for full blown kids parties yet. This year I have actually asked some children too...)

The salad was
delicious and perfect for a summer garden party or BBQ but would be equally as good as a side dish. I think it would also work really well alongside a curry. It's so simple to make, I feel embarrassed calling it a recipe. The only awkward part was chopping all the damn tomatoes. Definitely not one of my favourite kitchen tasks!

Tomato, Cucumber & Coriander Salad


Ingredients

6 ripe vine tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
1 small cucumber, diced
1 red onion, very finely chopped
6 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

Method

Mix together the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and chopped coriander, but don't season until just before serving.

Couldn't really be any easier could it?

The day I first made this salad was was also the day I rediscovered my Nigella Lawson Mezzaluna. I had completely forgotten I had this - I bought it about three years ago and it had been sat in the box ever since, oops. I soon realised what I had been missing - it's such a great kitchen tool!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Giveaway: Rachel's Food for Living


Yes, it's my second ever giveaway (my first being the awesome Glee DVD). This time I have a copy of Rachel Allen's "Rachel's Food for Living" book to give to one lucky blog reader.

Now, I am going to have to be honest and open here. I have a cookbook addiction and it's pretty bad. I am in the process of creating a list for my blog of all the cookbooks currently in my library - mainly just to share with readers but also for another very good reason. To stop me buying the same book twice. Yes I do this from time to time and it's the very reason I am running this giveaway as yesterday I bought this book on a whim and then realised when I got home that I already had it.

In my defense, I have a lot of cookbooks, it's impossible for me to remember in an instant which one I have and by whom - and this one has a different cover to confuse me further! So okay, I am an idiot but it's you who is going to benefit!

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning this book is leave me a comment on this post - yep, that's all you have to do. I'll number you each in the order that you comment and then a number will be picked from random using the Random Number Generator. The giveaway will close on Wednesday 19th May 2010 and the winner will be announced after 8pm.

Good luck!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Paprika Chicken


Yes, another stonking recipe from BBC Good Food. There really is no end to the great things they come up with is there? I've made this several times over the past few years and I always really enjoy it. It's a really warm and filling dish and not a huge amount of effort, which is always a good thing!

I realise the picture above isn't the most interesting of photos, it's all a bit, well, orange isn't it? That will be the paprika of course! But it really is a tasty one-pot meal so do try it!

Paprika Chicken

Ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil
3 skinless chicken breasts, chopped
1 onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500g potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp sundried tomato paste
1 paprika
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
100ml medium-dry sherry
300ml tub fresh chicken stock
4 tbsp soured cream, to serve
handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve,

Method

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a deep frying pan over a medium heat. Season the chicken and add to the pan. Fry for about 4 mins until browned all over and then remove from the pan and put to one side.

Heat the remaining oil in the pan and fry the onion for about 3 mins, until it is just softened, then add the garlic and cook for a further minute.

Add the potatoes, mustard and sundried tomato paste to the pan, and cook for 1 min. Stir in the paprika, vinegar, sherry and stock. Bring to the boil and allow the liquid to reduce for 2 mins.

Return the chicken to the pan, cover and simmer for 10 mins. Stir well and simmer with the lid off for another 8 mins, or until the sauce is thickened and the potatoes and chicken cooked through.

Check the seasoning and serve with soured cream and a sprinkling of parsley.

I have adapted the recipe slightly from the original as the original uses chicken thighs (8 of them!) and I have to admit here that I don't like thigh meat, I always cook with chicken breast and I also just want it to serve the two of us. There's probably a bit too much potato for just two, but it's so nice we always end up eating it all. Piglets.

You could serve this with any vegetables you like really. I tend to dish up with some thickly buttered crusty bread on the side - perfect for dipping in the sauce!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Monday, 10 May 2010

Pineapple Upside Down Cake


The old ones are the best aren't they? I haven't had Pineapple Upside Down Cake in as long as I can remember. My parents and grandparents were never big on the cooking side so such treats were generally only dreamt about after too much Enid Blyton or Milly Molly Mandy.

I felt the need for a bit of therapeutic baking today but didn't want anything too fussy or complex and this seemed to fit the bill. I love that it's such a retro dish.

The thing I like about this cake is that it's more dessert than cake. It's slightly on the moist (or soggy) side, therefore it's best served warm with a big splodge of ice-cream but it can be eaten cold like a normal cake too if you prefer. It actually goes a bit firmer that way.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Ingredients

For the topping;
50g softened butter
50g light soft brown sugar
7 pineapple rings in syrup, drained and syrup
glace cherries

For the cake;
100g softened butter
100g golden caster sugar
100g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

Method

Heat oven to 180C/gas 4.

For the topping, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Spread over the base and a quarter of the way up the sides of a 20-21cm round cake tin. Arrange pineapple rings on top, then place cherries in the centres of the rings. (I found I could only fit 6 pineapple rings in but perhaps I had extra large ones!)

Place the cake ingredients in a bowl along with 2 tbsp of the pineapple syrup and, using an electric whisk, beat to a soft consistency. Spoon into the tin on top of the pineapple and smooth it out so it's level.

Bake for 35 mins. Leave to stand for 5 mins, then turn out onto a plate.

Two things, make sure you drain the pineapple really well as that will help make sure the cake doesn't go too soggy and also if you are using a loose bottomed cake tin make sure you put a tray or foil under it in the oven as the sugary syrupy goo leaks out and makes a right old mess.

Right, on that note I am off to get a large slice before I settle down to watch this weeks Glee. Do you think Pineapple Upside Down Cake goes well with red wine?


love & kisses
Mrs M x

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Off to Bedfordshire

I have another interior project to undertake - we've decided to skip past the hideous bathroom for now and move onto a smaller project, namely our bedroom.

Our bedroom is gross at the moment - peach walls, floral border, brown carpet, no wardrobes, old uncoordinated furniture...it's in desperate need of an overhaul. We've lived here for nearly 3 years now so it's about time I think.

Now whilst I have pretty much picked everything that has gone in the rest of the house, Mr M has had his rules - you know, no Cath Kidston florals, not too Laura Ashley but he's told me I can go for broke in the bedroom (he wishes...) and do whatever I like. That sort of freedom has of course confused me, I think I need to be restrained a little!

I have no idea where to start but I do have a blank canvas so that should make it slightly easier surely? I decided to peruse the fantastic House to Home website and found this pictures which I am currently being drawn too.



The walls will be Natural Calico like the rest of the house, we have sloping ceilings so no real scope for wallpaper, and the carpet will be beige to match the rest of the house. I love painted furniture but can't make my mind up whether to go white painted or just have plain pine. Arggh too many choices!

Any thoughts? Do share them, please!!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Saturday, 8 May 2010

New Potato Salad


Bit boring I know, but it's a summer staple and you may not believe it judging by current temperatures but summer is a-coming. There's absolutely squillions of recipes for potato salad, everyone has their own way of making it - but this is mine! I think I found this recipe once upon a time on a random website (scanning websites for recipes is a past time of mine) but I can't remember which one now.

It's quick, simple and tasty and serves 4. The recipe can easily be doubled or trebled if you are entertaining. Perfect dish to accompany a BBQ, which of course we should all be dusting off by now.

It's another
embarrassingly easy dish that really shouldn't need an explanation.

New Potato Salad

Ingredients

500g new potatoes, scrubbed and halved

1 tbsp half fat creme fraiche

1 tbsp low fat mayonnaise

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 tsp lemon juice

2 tbsp freshly chopped chives

Salt and pepper, to taste


Method


Place the new potatoes in a pan of lightly salted boiling water. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender then drain and allow to cool.


In a bowl mix together the remaining ingredients and carefully stir in the potatoes.
Season to taste.

I'm sure we'll eat a lot of this over the coming months!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Friday, 7 May 2010

Meatball Sub & Fries


Let me start by saying I know my picture above does not make this look the most appetising meal but it was really nice, a small faff, but nice.

Every time I walk past Subway I look longingly at the pictures of the meatball sub in their window however I have not yet succumbed because a) I hate Subway b) I hate the shouty staff at Subway c) the smell makes me want to yack and d) it looks too messy to eat on my lunch break, so when I saw this recipe I knew I had to give it a go.

It didn't disappoint. We had it as a Friday night tea and it was just what the doctor ordered. I'm not sure when I'll make it again but I most definitely will, it was very tasty. The meatballs were lovely.

Making the shoestring fries also gave me an excuse to bust out the brand new Magimix Deep Fryer that we got as a wedding present. I'm not really a fryer but there are a few things I've wanted to try that just need to be deep fried. This was the first time I had used a deep fat fryer and I severely underestimated the amount of oil you need to fill those things - I had to send Mr M on a mad dash to the Co-op! My fries came out darker than I would have liked because I was trying to keep them warm whilst the cheese melted...need to work on timings!

Meatball Sub

Ingredients

For the meatballs;
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 mild chilli, finely chopped
800g minced beef
50g fresh coriander, finely chopped
2 tbsp cajun seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 egg

For the sauce;
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
400g jar of tomato passata
1 tsp cajun seasoning
7 tbsp tomato ketchup
7 tbsp smoked hickory sauce

For the fries,
4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into long, thin strips and soaked in cold water for 1 hour
vegetable oil, for deep frying

To serve,
4 burger buns
large handful grated mozzarella, or cheddar cheese

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.

To make the meatballs, tip all of the meatball ingredients into a large bowl and mix together with your hands.

Take a small handful of the mixture and roll into a golf ball-sized meatball. Repeat with the remaining mixture, arranging the meatballs on a baking tray as you go. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.

For the sauce, while the meatballs are cooking, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the onion and fry for 4-5 minutes until soft and golden then add the garlic and fry for 1 minute.

Stir in all of the remaining sauce ingredients and simmer over a medium heat for 15 minutes, or until reduced to a thick, rich tomato sauce.

To make the fries, while the sauce is simmering, drain the potato strips and dry thoroughly with kitchen paper or a clean tea-towel.

Heat the vegetable oil in a deep fat fryer to 160C. Carefully add the potato strips to the oil and fry for 5 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.

Increase the temperature of the oil to 185C then return the fries to the oil and fry for another 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt, to taste.

Preheat the grill to high. Split the buns almost in half, so they open like a butterfly, then place under the grill, turning once, until toasted on both sides.

Spread some of the sauce over the buns, arrange the meatballs down the centre of each bun and scatter over the grated cheese. Return them to the grill for 1-2 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve with the shoestring fries.

What would I do differently? Well splitting the bun and trying to make it stay together was tricky. I couldn't get the large buns so had to use smaller ones which was probably part of the problem. The recipe states burger buns but clearly what you need here is a sub roll? It's a sub after all. It's also hard to get the meatballs to sit on top of the buns without rolling off and then getting the cheese on top is a bit of a mission so next time I'd probably slice the meatballs so the bottoms were flat, I think they'd behave better that way. But flavourwise? No changes, perfect as it is.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Here come the girls...

Yes, finally, the chooks have landed. We collected them on Sunday and introduced to them to their new home, I'd spent Saturday lovingly painting it a nice heritage shade of green. I'd proudly like to introduce the newest members of my family.

Beryl


Peggy


Marjorie


Edna


The girls are all Gingernut Rangers/Goldlines which are a hybrid, a mix of a Rhode Island Red with a Light Sussex and they are just so lovely. I chose this breed for their temperament and the fact that they should be good layers. An hour after they arrived they were eating corn out of the palm of my hand, I swear if I'd sat down they would have got on my lap. If I go near the walk-in run they come over clucking at me. Well, three of them do - Beryl, Peggy and Marjorie. Edna is another matter, she's absolutely crackers, you throw corn - she runs the other way! She was a nightmare to get into the hen house the first night too. Loopy nuts. She has this slightly deranged look about her...

I was a proud chicken-mother last night when on their second night with us they all took themselves off to bed without us having to chase them around the run again. I'm all worried at night though that the fox will come and get them - there was one on my driveway last night but we've tried to make sure they are as secure as possible.

The kids LOVE them, they love feeding them corn and other little bits, which whilst cute, is bring ing out my competitive nature. They are MY chickens, back off ankle biters!

Imagine the excitement when they lay their first egg, we'll all be fighting over it. My chooks are about 17 weeks old so I would expect to see a little eggy in about 3-4 weeks. Typically, they'll lay when I go on holiday won't they and mother-in-law will get the first egg experience, and then I'll cry. Boo.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Monday, 3 May 2010

Pennette Al Forno


You love pasta? You love cheese? You love ham? You'll love this! Four cheese pasta bake with ham. What's not to love.

I love a good pasta bake, a nice warm, filling plate of stodge. I found this, by accident I think, on the UKTV Food website - it's a Gino D'Acampo recipe. (I'm trying to ignore that I decided I didn't like Gino anymore after learning he was a petty criminal who once robbed Paul Young's house. I'm pretty sure that's true and I didn't make it up but just in case I shall add the word allegedly here. Allegedly.).

Anyhow, this was a good recipe, perfect for a family meal. It was enjoyed by all. It's definitely a keeper which is good because in my book you can never have too much cheese in your life.

Pennette Al Forno

Ingredients


500g pasta, pennette

25g butter

200g full fat cream cheese

70g gorgonzola cheese, chopped
70g cheddar cheese, grated

100ml milk, full-fat, at room temp

150g cooked ham, diced

3 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

50g grated parmesan


Method

Preheat the oven to 180ÂșC/gas 4. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add in the pennette pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and place back in the saucepan.

Add the butter, soft cheese, Gorgonzola and Cheddar cheese. Mix well and then add the milk and stir on a low heat until you get a creamy texture. Add the ham, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and stir in the parsley.

Place the pasta mixture into a large baking tray, sprinkle over the Parmesan cheese and bake in the oven for 15 minutes until the top is golden and crispy. Serve immediately.

Cooks note; it's worth getting thick cut ham. Flimsy ham won't cut it here.


love & kisses
Mrs M x

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Gleekery: DVD Giveaway WINNER!

Further to the giveaway I blogged earlier this week - to win a copy of the latest Glee DVD "The Road to Sectionals", the winner has been selected at random using the Random Number Generator. The winning number is....drum-roll please....
Comment Number 4 is the winner, aka as Natasha Bailie who runs the fabulous Natasha Bailie Vintage Clothing Company. Congratulations Natasha! Your DVD will be joining you very shortly!

Thanks to everyone for entering!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

PS Do check out Natasha's blog - it's full of the most gorgeous vintage clothes, perfect if you are going to be attending Vintage at Goodwood this summer!