Monday, 30 June 2014

Moroccan Ras El Hanout Minced Lamb With Couscous & Minted Yogurt - A Recipe.

Well it was safe to say this was a big hit will all the family, clean plates all around and no leftovers in sight! This Moroccan spiced lamb dish is simple to make but packed full of big flavours and fresh ingredients. I chose to serve it with green beans and spicy couscous from Aldi but you could always make up some plain couscous or even have it with rice. So here is what you will need:

  • 1/2 a pack of minced lamb.
  • 1/2 a can of chickpeas.
  • 1 grated carrot.
  • 1/2 a small onion.
  • 1/2 a pepper.
  • 1 clove of garlic.
  • Handful of halved button mushrooms. 
  • 2-3tsp of Ras El Hanout paste.
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes.
  • 1/2 pint of chicken/vegetable stock.
  • A pinch of saffron (optional)  
  • 2 spring onions.
  • 1/2 a lemon 
  • Small handful of cashew nuts.
  • Fresh mint leaves. 
  • Handful of pitted green olives. 
That may seem like a lot of ingredients and not all are essential, if there is something you don't have there is no harm in substituting it for something else or leaving it out completely I often do this with many recipes depending on what I have in my fridge and cupboards! 

Start by putting your lamb mince in a large fry pan to brown, no oil is necessary as a lot of fat will come out of the mince you can always spoon this fat out to make it extra lean. Whist the meat is browning prep your carrot, pepper, garlic, onion and mushrooms, I like to use quite a small dice for the vegetables and I find the carrot works best grated as it cooks quicker. Add these vegetables to the pan with your mince and fry till they have softened. 

Next add 1/2 a can of chickpeas and 2-3tsp of the Ras El Hanout paste, I found the paste in Tesco but there are recipes online for making your own. The paste mainly consists of a mix of spices commonly found in Moroccan cooking for example paprika and cumin. The paste is only mildly spicy but packed full of flavour, allow it to cook for 5 minutes then add a can of chopped tomatoes, 1/2 a pint of chicken stock and a pinch of saffron if you have it. 

Simmer and allow to cook for around 20-30 minutes until most of the liquid has reduced. Slice a couple of spring onions, some olives and a small punch of fresh mint leaves, these can be added along with a handful of cashew nuts 10 minutes before serving. 

Make up some couscous to packet instructions and/or steam some green vegetables to accompany the Moroccan mince. I also like to make a little minted yogurt to dollop on top and its so simple to make just add a couple of teaspoons of mint sauce to some natural yogurt this is a great tool for cooling down a spicy dish especially for children. As you serve squeeze a lemon wedge over your Moroccan lamb and then you are all done and ready to eat! 

For the children I mixed a small amount of the Moroccan lamb with some plain boiled rice adding a large dollop of the yogurt to cool down the spices and they absolutely loved it! I even managed to hide some chopped up green beans in it and they ate it all! 

Thank you for reading!


Another Weekly Wishlist!

One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven.

Yet another wish list leading up to my birthday next week, what can I say I just cant stop window shopping at the moment! 

Firstly I need to invest in a pair of quality jeans that fit me perfectly. I find it really difficult to get jeans that fit like a glove and at the moment I am in love with these two pairs from the high street. The first being a monochrome tile print pair of leigh jeans from Topshop....I loved the light blue version of these but wasn't sure if I could pull of such a light denim on my legs but these are a classic black and white that would go with anything and last through all seasons. The second pair are the ones I covet the most a pair of ripped knee Whistles jeans, now I wouldn't normally spend £95 on one pair of jeans but these are a wardrobe staple so if I get any birthday pennies these would be a possible contender for purchase.

Talking of Whistles which I have to say I am loving this shop at the moment, they have the loveliest little pastel coloured leather pouch/clutches. I'm really loving these little universal pouches right now....It could be a bag for a night out or it could hold make up there are so many possibilities!

Im pretty sure this Ciate nail polish collection has cropped up on many a wish list and I am still yet to get my hands (or nails!) on it. All I'm going to say is that this 'Beach house collection' of polishes contain the prettiest colours for summer nails! 

I am running so so low on all my skincare products right now and sometime after my birthday I am pretty sure you will be seeing a big haul on this blog! I have been loving trying out some Liz Earle skincare and they have a great value for money monthly skincare set deal which contains some products I would love to try out.

Perfume is always on my wish list...Im a sucker for their pretty bottles! I absolutely love all of the Marc Jacob's fragrances including Daisy, Eau So Fresh and Delight and this miniature refillable handbag sized bottle is just ridiculously adorable not to mention handy!

Lastly I am very impressed with Oasis summer collection right now all their bold floral prints are just gorgeous but what I'm really after is a midi skirt! This one from their Molly King collection is lovely and simple and I adore the nautical stripes which makes it look a little more casual then others I have seen, definitely need this in my wardrobe.

Thank you for reading.


Sunday, 29 June 2014

Tuscan Minestrone & Meatball Soup Recipe.

Now this is something I would never think of cooking for dinner....soup for dinner? Hell no! But this is no ordinary soup, it is hearty and filling and packed full of flavour. In fact this would make a great warming winter dish but as today is rainy and miserable (thats British summer for you) it seems equally fitting! So here is what you will need:
  • 1 large carrot.
  • 1/2 a small onion.
  • 1/2 a red pepper.
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1tsp paprika.
  • 1tsp mixed herbs.
  • 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube.
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes. 
  • Packet of beef mince.
  • Parmesan cheese.
  • Fresh basil.
  • Large handful of pasta.
  • Pesto.
  • Bread to serve. 
I like to start by making the meatballs first, you can either mix the ingredients by hand or use a mixer. For two adults and 2 children I used half a packet of beef mince which made 17 mini meatballs. Add to the mince a handful of finely grated parmesan and a little chopped fresh basil (sadly my basil plant is a bit worse for wear so I added a little pesto instead), mix well and roll into small meatballs and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to firm up. 

Meanwhile finely dice your onion, carrot, pepper and garlic adding it to a large saucepan with a little olive oil and fry until everything begins to soften. Add paprika and mixed herbs, you could also add some dried chilli flakes at this point if you wanted your soup to have a little kick!

Make up approximately 2 pints of chicken stock and add to your softened vegetables with a can of chopped tomatoes and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. Whilst your soup base is cooking remove the meatballs from the fridge and brown them in a frying pan with a small amount of olive oil. This step is important as it adds extra flavour to your meatballs and also stops them from breaking up and falling apart once added to the soup.

Once the soup base has reduced and thickened slightly throw in a large handful of pasta any type would do, you could even use any broken up spaghetti or linguini you may have lying around in the back of your cupboard. Cook for a further 10 minutes before adding your browned meatballs, once both pasta and meatballs are cooked all the way through it is time to serve!  

I defiantly think the garnishes give this soup an extra something, enhancing the flavours not to mention making it look rustic and delicious! Once divided into bowls pile a generous handful of finely grated parmesan in the centre allowing it to melt into the soup and then on top of that a few dollops of pesto.

I like to serve this with bread either a crusty roll, garlic ciabatta or today I chose a slice of toasted walnut bread.

For those of you who will turn their nose up at the thought of having soup for dinner, Im pretty sure this recipe will change your why not give it a go and let me know what you think!

Thank you for reading.


Zara Combined Office City Bag Review & Whats In My Bag!

I recently placed a cheeky little Zara sale order purchasing a bag, coat and a pair of leggings for Wesley  but when it arrived the coat didn't suit me and the bag was damaged....not very successful! After returning and waiting for my replacement bag I finally received it (in tact this time) and It has had it's first 2 outings! I wanted to do a review but I thought I'd combine it with a 'Whats in my bag' post so you can get an idea of how much you can fit in it and what sort of uses it could have.

So here it is the beautiful Zara Combined Office City bag available here currently on sale for £29.99 which for the look and quality of this bag I thought was pretty darn good! As soon as I saw this in the sale I knew I had to have it, not only because it look so sophisticated but I also bought it with a particular purpose in mind. I am not a massive handbag collector I have including this one only 4 bags that are all in continual use, the first being my small CambridgeSatchelCompany satchel which I use for running errands on my own where I only take my purse and phone. The second my beautiful BlushBeLush leather shoulder bag which is slightly bigger which I use more for days out without the children and use a lot more in the winter months as it is black and lastly my large JuJuBe changing bag for both boys.

My problem has been that recently some days I find my changing bag is too large, now the boys are older I find I am carrying less and less for them and sometimes my eldest carries his own things in a little rucksack. I wanted something smaller then my changing bag yet still big enough to carry the basics for two children and still look stylish at the same time......Enter the Zara Combined Office City bag!!

Now onto the bag in question....this style bag came in two colour options I went for this black white and grey combination, the other had a lovely bright red accent colour but I thought this combination was more likely to go well with everything. I absolutely love the block contrasting colours on this bag I think it gives it a high quality sophisticated look, this bag is not leather but it doesn't look cheap and it is very well made. The hardware is a gold coloured metal which I prefer over silver and It comes with both handles to be carried and an adjustable shoulder strap long enough to wear across the body.

Earlier I had to quickly pop out with just Wesley so this is what I had packed for our short outing. The  feature that first drew me to this bag was the front pocket, the front white panel pocket houses a nifty removable black this has absolutely tons of uses! Firstly you could remove the pouch completely and just use the white pocket on its own which is big enough to slot a tablet in, you could also most probably fit a small tablet in the pouch for extra protection if you wished. The pouch could be used separately as a clutch bag for an evening out or a make up bag for travel but for me this is a great space to keep nappies and wipes in when out and about with the kids. 

Now for the main compartment that is reasonably spacious, because I was out with Wesley I took with me a jumper for him, sippy cup, a couple of toys as well as my large purse and diary. All this fit easily inside and is was not over packed at all, I even tested it and my DSLR can also fit in there with ease also.  
Inside the main compartment there are 3 small pockets the bottom one big enough to slot a phone into, the largest one I found fits my kindle perfectly and in the top one I carried with me some lippy and a mirror.

As you can see this bag can carry quite a bit and due to its boxy shape it would be great for files and books making it perfect for work or collage as it will easily fit A4 sized items inside. Overall I am so pleased with this bag it definitely suits my needs right now it is so versatile that I'm sure I will get a lot of use out of it. Here are a few pictures of how big it is up against the body and when carrying as it is quite a large handbag on a small framed person it may look a bit bulky so keep that in mind and I hope this is useful as reference!

Thank you for reading.


Saturday, 28 June 2014

Clinique Haul!

Today I picked up two products from my favourite brand Clinique that I have been lusting after, both products are new in for summer and even better I got several freebies to try as well.

Since Its release just a few weeks ago I have been wanting to get my hands on one of the new Long Lasting Soft Matt Lipsticks after reading some rave blogger reviews about this amazing new formula. After swatching them several times over the past weeks I finally bit the bullet and decided to go for the shade 'Matt Beauty' a dusky mid toned pink, a lovely everyday colour thats not too bright but a bit more noticeable the a nude pink. If I were to pick up a second It would have to be 'Matt Manderin' a stunning vibrant orange red that I think would suit most skin tones. I love a matt lip finish but there is always the common problem of it being drying and uncomfortable to wear so I'm super excited to give this lipstick a good test and will review It on my blog soon.

My second purchase was one that I missed out on a few months ago when it was released, the Clinique Cheek Pop Blushes were so popular they sold out pretty quickly especially the shade 'Peach Pop' which is what I deem to be most suited to my skin tone. I completely understand why these little beauties were so popular not only is it the most stunning packaged blush I've ever seen with its sturdy clear casing and the most beautiful embossing but the formula is unlike any blush I have ever tried before. Its so pretty I almost don't want to use it and spoil it but don't you worry you will see a review of this soon!

Now onto why the brand Clinique are so awesome, not only is the quality of their products top notch but they know how to treat their customers. The counter staff are always super helpful and with every purchase they give you a ton of free samples to try, and twice a year with the purchase of at least 2 products they give out a whole bonus time gift set which are always amazing! With my two Clinique purchases I got a couple of samples and even a free full sized lipstick! This Long Lasting Lipstick in 'All Heart' it a lovely wine/plum colour and unlike the one I purchased this has a more glossy finish which I actually really like! Getting a free lipstick can be a bit hit and miss when it comes to may not be a colour you would wear or it might not suit you but this lipstick is actually in a colour that I would have chosen myself. I know I will get a lot of wear out of this freebie especially in the colder months as it is the most perfect autumnal shade. 

I also was given a free generous sized sample of their Repairwear Laser Focus Eye Cream which is great for those first signs of wrinkles which I am very sad to say that I'm already fretting about....I blame the children and lack of sleep! Also a couple of sachet samples of the new launch of their Clinique Smart Repair Serum, both of these I am looking forward to trying I absolutely love Clinique skin care and its never a let down. 

You might see a Clinique skin care haul in the near future as I seem to be running low on some of my favourite from this brand. Thank you for reading.


Thursday, 26 June 2014

Thai Green Curry Recipe.

Recipe number two from this weeks meal menu is a tasty Thai green curry! A lovely fragrant curry served with a ton of green veggies a a spoon full of rice, I have been very good and have dramatically reduced my carbs by replacing most of them with fresh steamed vegetables. So here is what you will need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 a pack of baby corn.
  • Handful of button mushrooms.
  • 2 spring onions.
  • 1tsp of ginger paste.
  • 2-3tsps of Thai green curry paste.
  • 1 can of coconut milk.
  • Small handful of cashew nuts.
  • Small bunch of fresh coriander.
  • Juice of half a lemon. 
  • Rice and vegetables to serve. 

Dice your chicken into chunks and fry in a little olive oil until browned then add your mushrooms, corn, spring onions and ginger paste and continue to fry until the veg has softened. You could change up the vegetables you add depending on what you have I think mange tout and pac choi would also be tasty! Add 2-3 spoonfuls of Thai green curry paste depending on how spicy/strong you like it followed by the can of coconut milk. Simmer for 15 minutes until reduced slightly adding some fresh coriander, cashew nuts and a squeeze of lemon juice before severing.

Cook rice to the packet instructions to accompany your curry I opted for only 2 spoonfuls then filled the rest of my plate with fresh steamed broccoli and green beans.  

Because this curry was quite spicy for the boys I made ginger and coconut rice with chicken and vegetables leaving out the curry paste and they seemed to enjoy theirs just as much as we did!

Thank you for reading.