Friday, 24 October 2014
It's not bad here, really.


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

These meatballs are my favourite weeknight dinner because they are insanely quick to make. Even quicker, might I add, if you prep everything earlier in the week, but more on that later.

Ingredients for 2 people:
Homemade tomato sauce
375g beef mince (or turkey, pork or a mixture)
Half a slice of stale bread
1 clove garlic
Herbs of your choice
Kale or spaghetti and parmesan to serve

Make your tomato sauce using the recipe linked above and allow to simmer while you put your meatballs together.

In a small food processor, blend together the bread, garlic and herbs until you have fine breadcrumbs. I love using basil, but rosemary would add warmth and coriander would lend a Mexican flavour (add chill to the sauce and you've got yourself a whole new meal). If you don't have any stale bread, you can toast it and then cool it completely, which makes a nice crunchy breadcrumb. You can really use whatever you have to hand here - I used pitta once (don't recommend it) and it still worked fine. In a large bowl, combine the mince with your breadcrumb mixture and mix with your hands until the breadcrumbs are evenly spread throughout. You can also use an egg to bind, but I don't find I need it with pure beef mince. Separate the mixture and roll into evenly-sized balls; I think this amount of mince splits nicely into 12 meatballs, but this is really up to you.

Heat some oil in an ovenproof non-stick pan/skillet and gently fry the meatballs until they are nice and brown. Then pour the sauce into the pan to cover the meatballs and bake in the oven at 180C for 20-30 minutes (this depends on how long you have fried them for, and also if you have made them smaller than I do).

I like to serve with kale and a sprinkling of parmesan; it makes for a really hearty, warming meal that is perfect for winter. If you're having the meatballs with spaghetti, you can probably halve the ingredients (or invite two extra people over for dinner!).

This meal is SO easy to make ahead, and I really suggest doing it when you know you have a busy week coming up. You can make a big batch of meatballs on the day you do your food shopping (I tend to split a large packet of mince in half, make one half into meatballs and keep the other half for bolognese or moussaka) and freeze them in a tupperware container. The same goes for the sauce! Just defrost for 24 hours in the fridge then fry the meatballs, add the sauce and pop straight in the oven when you want them. This would also work well if you're making food for one - just freeze the meatballs in individual serving sizes.

Now that it's so much darker in the evenings, it's getting really hard to photograph the food I make. I don't like eating big meals like this for lunch at the weekend, so really my only option is to improve my low-light photography (and curb my shaky hands!). Do you have any photography tips for me? Also...I'm usually so hungry that I just don't have 10 minutes to properly photograph something, let alone keep a hungry boyfriend from his dinner. I'm sure other people have this problem too! Thoughts?


Friday, 17 October 2014
When you read this, I will probably have just landed in Kuala Lumpur, en route to my favourite noodle shop! I had every intention of scheduling some posts for whole I'm away (two and a half weeks, people!) but I just didn't have time.

If you would like to subject yourself to a little tropical life envy, may I direct you to my instagram

See you in November (what!?)


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

This is such an easy thing to make, I almost daren't call it a recipe. I'm pretty sure it came up on an old Jamie Olive repeat, or something similar, but it's been a total game changer in my weeknight dinner repertoire. To make tomato sauce, I used to finely chop onions and garlic and simmer for ages with chopped tomatoes and a bit of white wine vinegar, but this way is not only far easier, but tastes better too, with an intensely rich tomato-y-ness (that's a word), subtle sweetness and lovely thick texture.

To make enough for 2:
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
A few basil leaves
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
Olive oil

Just four ingredients, my friends! Gently fry the garlic in olive oil with the basil stalks for about a minute (don't burn the garlic), add the chopped tomatoes, bring to the boil and then simmer for as long as you like. THAT'S IT. If you're in a hurry, ten minutes at a gentle simmer is fine, but if you have things to do around the house - a quick shower, a bit of dusting, last night's washing up (guilty) - then leave it to bubble away and steam up your kitchen with the most delicious aroma. FYI, put this on just before you have friends over and they will think they've walked into an Italian nonna's house.

I like to make a big batch of this on a Sunday afternoon to pop in the fridge for ad hoc suppers and packed lunches throughout the week. Also, the more garlic the better! Add chilli for a bit of a kick, or meaty herbs like rosemary and thyme for an added layer of warmth.

Serving suggestions:
Stir through cooked quinoa and add some vegetables for tomorrow's packed lunch
Pour over courgette noodles for a super low-cal meal (perfect if you're doing the 5:2 diet)
MEATBALLS! (recipe coming soon)
Spread over a tortilla wrap with some cheese for a speedy quesadilla


Monday, 13 October 2014

I like the idea of chalkboard paint, but I just think it looks so messy. Imagine all the chalk dust everywhere! Also, I don't know if anyone else has this - I know the usual pet hate is nails on a chalkboard, but what I really really hate is the sound of a chalkboard being wiped clean, especially by one of those old school erasers.

What I do love, however, is chalkboard menus. I think they look so cool in cafes, especially with a bit of swirling typography and a couple of scrolling banners. Now, if I could just master the art of an impeccably drawn design, then I might consider it in my house (kitchen, hallway, bathroom??).

Do you have any chalkboard walls in your house?

{1, 2, 3, 4} - my bad, totally didn't realise the 2nd and 3rd are the same place!


Friday, 10 October 2014

If you follow me on Instagram I'm afraid you'll have seen this one already. And if you don't - you must be crazy! You're missing out on a whole load of bunny pics.

This picture was taken on a particularly wet morning, right after I went to the clinic for my smear test. TMI? Perhaps, but ever since a friend blogged about her experiences, I really feel like it's something we should talk about more. After I read her post, I brought it up with my friends and it turned out they'd all been to have theirs already! It takes 5 minutes, it's awkward for all of 1 minute of that, and if you're all clear, you don't have to think about in for another 3 years. Actually, my nurse said to me 'it's a present. It's your birthday present from Cameron (the British prime minister) for turning 25.' I think she was being sarcastic because we can all think of things we'd rather be doing on a Thursday morning but actually, yes, it is a gift. I'm thankful for access to free healthcare and I'll be darned if I don't take advantage of it. So if you are 25 and you live in the UK, go get your smear!

This weekend my flatmates are moving out and my cousin is moving in (with his 50in tv!!) so there's lots of coming and going and a big deep clean on the cards for us. Enjoy!


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Have you made your own pesto before? Well, you should. It takes so little effort, but the pay-off is mega. It really is a totally different thing altogether to the stuff you get in a jar (which, mind you, I also like), and a little goes a long way. The best part is it's super easy and you can cater to your own tastes.

The basic recipe for pesto is fresh basil + toasted pine nuts + garlic + olive oil + parmesan. The easiest way to make it is in a food processor, but it's simple enough to finely chop everything too.

To make a basic pesto for 2
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp pine nuts dry fried in a pan until just toasted
large handful of basil
2 tbsp grated parmesan
plenty of olive oil

When you make your own pesto, you realise how much oil actually goes into it, and it is really not healthy at all despite all of the fresh ingredients! First, whizz up the dry ingredients and then slowly add the oil in, gently stirring as you go until you get the consistency you like.

My pesto usually varies depending on what we have in the fridge, so this version I made for a packed lunch features a small handful of basil leaves, a big handful of baby spinach, a clove of garlic, a little parmesan, a small handful of cashew nuts and two tablespoons of olive oil. The mixture could be looser, but I didn't want to load up on too much oil, so I added a little water to it instead.

I've also used cherry and sundried tomatoes before to make red pesto, and using a fried garlic clove takes some of the sharpness out of the raw stuff.

Since I'm trying to eat lots of salads and lighter lunches at the minute, I decided to make courgette noodles. Have you made them before? I usually grate a courgette with my julienne peeler and add it to spaghetti to pad out a meal a bit, but this time I just went for pure courgette, which I grated and then blanched in boiling water for about 30 seconds.

Next time I'm going to add some cherry tomatoes in for a different texture, and I've also heard of adding mashed avocado for a creamier sauce.

Got any epic pesto recipes for me to try?

LET'S TALK ABOUT: how long you spend at the office

Monday, 6 October 2014

I read a feature on The Everygirl last week about how to turn your internship into a job and the first point really really bothered me: be the first in and the last out.

#1DAY12PICS: october

Sunday, 5 October 2014

It's been  a while since I joined in with Michelle's #1day12pics challenge. So long, in fact, that I didn't realise the first picture in this set is the same as the one I started with in May! This is the first weekend of Autumn where it has really been quite chilly, and much darker in the flat too.

8:37 Now it's darker in the mornings, I like enjoying the light at the weekend. I usually do a little instagram scrolling and maybe flick through a magazine before getting up.

9:24 First point of call when I get out of bed. He's actually rubbing his chin on me, which is what he does every time he sees me to remind me I belong to him!

10:20 We made it to Breads Etc.! I've been wanting my boyfriend to go with me for ages, but he hates queueing for his food. Luckily there was no line (a Saturday secret, perhaps?) and yes, I ate all of the toast.

11:55 I found this huge picture frame on the side of the road and I'm chuffed! Actually, I found it a week or so ago along with this one and I've been trying to decide if I should paint it or not, but the dark wood looks great against the navy walls in our spare room.

12:00 Time to do some work. It looks quite bright in this picture, but it was actually really dark, hence all the lights on!

12:46 I already have this jumper in white, but I re-ordered it in black too as it was getting a bit dirty from wearing it around the house (read: while I cook).

1:30 The post arrived! I ordered these books (including a re-purchase you might recognise) for my holiday, but I'm having a hard time not cracking into them now as the book I'm currently reading is a little lacklustre.

2:22 I ordered this Made.com lamp a while ago in the summer sale and it's been sitting in its box since then. I thought I'd have a look at it before we actually call the electrician to install it - don't you think it looks like a weird alien? I'm not convinced...

3:30 I always do a re-shuffle when I'm procrastinating. I'm particularly pleased with the top shelf right now, but I'm going to have to make way for more books soon.

5:45 Getting the tomato sauce on for dinner. There'll be a recipe on here soon!

6:30 A nice long bath while dinner's in the oven. I picked up this shampoo from Holland & Barrett and it makes my hair super soft!

9:45 Darren and I watched a really gruesome movie (The Raid 2) - don't let this serene candle set-up fool you!


Friday, 3 October 2014
A single photo and a story from my week:

Where do you do your makeup in the morning? I'm always fascinated by the different ways that people get ready. I have always sat on the floor, up close to the mirror, and find it really quite difficult to do it any other way - I could never do it with just a compact mirror on the train!

I actually do my makeup in the room where Scampi lives, because my wardrobe is in there too, and it's the highlight of my day to get ready with him. He's very sweet and comes galloping over to greet me with a few nudges, he puts his head in my lap waiting to be stroked and then he gives me a few quick rubs with his chin (a rabbit's way of saying I OWN YOU). Then he does his own thing, nosing about in my makeup bag and rubbing his chin over all his stuff, y'know, just in case some other rabbit was to come in and think it's his! 

(Doh! Looks like I pretty much did this same post about 6 weeks ago!)


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Normally I like to include a few different books in my reading lists, instead of talking about just one book, but I haven't been up on my reading much lately and I couldn't not talk about The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. Oh it's GOOD.

It tells the mysterious story of Allan Karlsson, who escapes his old people's home on the morning of his 100th birthday. As the story twists and turns with hilarious results, the author dips into the century of Allan's life and uncovers all sorts of surprises that have been cleverly woven into the real history of the past 100 years. The storytelling is so persuasive, I had to google a few things just to double check this Mr. Karlsson wasn't real! If you read one book this month, make it this one!

Also, I'm going on holiday in 2 weeks and I need your book recommendations please! I was to-ing and fro-ing with getting a kindle, but I don't want to worry about it getting stolen on the beach and I'd much rather have a real book in my hands. So I need some holiday reads that are meaty enough to get me through 10 days of (blissfully) doing nothing, but that are not going to weigh down my hand luggage either.