Sunday, 24 March 2013

Random Tea

Today's challenge was to turn to a random page in a recipe book and cook whatever was on that page. I love cooking and I love trying new recipes so I was looking forward to trying this one. My only worry was that I was gonna end up with some recipe for a vegetable side dish or something. I'm sure posh peas are very nice but they're not exactly going to do me and the hungry runner for tea!

I decided to use my Jamie's 30 minute meals book to make sure I got a proper meal. Flung it open and it landed on this page

I was well impressed when I saw what it was - I couldn't have planned it better. Piri-piri chicken! I love it. Anyone who knows me well will know I spend a lot of time in Nandos so I just knew this recipe was gonna be my thing.

I didn't manage to get it done in 30 minutes - mainly because I didn't have a liquidiser - but it didn't take long and I had an impressive looking meal for not much effort at all. The full menu was piri-piri chicken, rocket salad and dressed potatoes followed by portugese tarts for pudding. Lovely :-) I'd post a picture but the food didn't hang around long enough.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Something Yummy For Money

One of my challenges is to raise £1001 for charity over the 1001 days. Should be do-able as it doesn't have to be all at once and it doesn't have to all be for the same charity. It's only a quid for each day of the challenge.

I was already at £70 after the FC United Minithon but with it being Comic Relief last week I thought it was the perfect opportunity to raise some more. I'm very into baking at the moment and there were bake sales going on everywhere so it was an easy way to make money. I made cakes for my work, Dan's work and Hope Methodist Church.

This was the set I made for Dan's work. I decided to go with a bit of a red nose day theme. They weren't sold for a set price here so I can't be sure exactly how much my cupcakes made. They just asked for donations so to count it toward the challenge I divided the total amount of cash donations by the number of people who donated cakes and came up with the figure of £14.63
For my work I made another box of the comic relief cupcakes and also a box of lemon cupcakes. We sold these at 20p per cake and all mine were sold so they made £4.80. The cake sale at work was manic - 200 kids, parents and grandparents. I've still got the bruises on my legs where I was pinned against the wall by a cake table!
For church I made strawberry and vanilla cupcakes with comic relief toppers, lemon cupcakes (some with lemon buttercream and some with sherbet lemon sugarpaste). I also had my very first attempt at cake pops without too many disasters. I was really chuffed with my little self as my cakes sold out in less than 5 minutes :-) The cupcakes were sold for 50p each and the cakepops for 30p making a total of £13.50
Over the three cake sales my cakes raised £32.93 for Comic Relief. My total raised for charity so far now stands at £102.93 - over 10% of the way there!! The big one is coming in the summer with the Great Manchester Swim, find out more and sponsor me here.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

An Armenian Meal

If you read this blog often (or at all!) you'll know that me and Dan love our meals out. So far we are loving the challenge of finding new places to eat but we were struggling to think of where to go next. A quick search on trip advisor and we found this place - The Armenian Taverna

We had no idea what traditional Armenian cuisine included but it sounded like something a bit different and the reviews were great so we decided to give it a go. So on Friday night we headed into town and found a little place we've probably walked past hundreds of times before. It's opposite the town hall, just a little door that you'd probably never notice but it's well worth finding.

I've got to admit when we first went in I wasn't too sure about the place. It's downstairs in the cellar and the further down the stairs you get the mor you feel like you're going back in time. It's all red gingham and ornaments! But get past that and the place is lovely. It had a really nice family run feel to it which you don't get in many places anymore.

Because we knew absolutely nothing about Armenian food we decided to play it safe and go for the Armenian Banquet.
Armenian Banquet - Starters: hummus, falafel, tabouleh, baba ganouge, kufta, yershig, taramasalata, mutabal, binirow borek, chef’s lavish bread;
Main Course: a selection of chef’s mixed kebab - chicken, minced lamb, lamb chop and pork cooked over charcoal - served with rice and with a skewer of grilled onions, peppers and tomatoes;
Dessert: Coffee and an Armenian delight.

I'm still not entirely sure what everything was but I loved it all. I love meals were you can just sort of tuck in and have a bit of everything so it was great.

I definitely want to go back, think I'm going to be more adventurous this time though and choose something off the main menu. It all looks good though so I don't know what to pick.

I'm now at 4 out of my 10 new restaurants and I've loved them all (maybe I just love food!). Think I'm going to try the greek place next...

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Holiday Highlights

Well I survived my first week back at work. Nearly killed me when the alarm went off at half five on that first morning but once I got out of bed it wasn't too bad. Got me thinking I haven't told you what I got up to in the holidays though.

As usual, I didn't get through even half of what I had planned. I'm always full of big ideas but the reality of my holidays is usually pjs, slippers and slobbing in front of Jeremy Kyle. I did manage to get a bit more than that done at least.

I did loads of baking. I'm really into it since I did my cupcake class. Treated myself to some new nozzles and cutters from Hey Little Cupcake so I've enjoyed experimenting with them and seeing what I can come up with. I love making cakes and usually I enjoy eating them but I have to admit I'm a bit cupcaked out. I've given a lo of my cakes away to other people this week though and they seem to have gone down alright. I've even had one lady ask me to make some for her daughters birthday with a big party cake - and she's going to pay me!!! Well chuffed with that, it's fun to do and if I can make a bit of extra cash from it - BONUS!

I've done lots of snuggling up with my letters so I've managed to complete my reply to every letter within a week of receiving it challenge. I'm well chuffed with my little self!! I just hope that now I've finally caught up I can stay that way but I don't hold out much hope.

My favourite day of the holidays though was the Thursday when I travelled up to York to meet my penpal Clair and complete another challenge. I'd been looking forward to it for weeks and bounced out of bed on the Thursday morning in a giddy mood. The closer we got to York though the less giddy I got and the more nervous I became. We got along great in our letters and texts but what if it was all a bit awkward. People who know me think I'm nuts but honestly I'm really shy with people I don't know. And then I had the worry of not recognising her, what if I walked right past her at the train station? That would be embarrassing.

Clair had said she would stop that proplem by holding up a sign with my name on. However, the trains were all over the place so I ended up on an earlier train that was running late meaning I was there first. And then Clair was running late because she was stuck behind a tractor - a sign of things to come! I hadn't realised just how far out in the country she lived.

After worrying about not recognising her, it was actually quite funny when Clair arrived. She walked into the station through a different door to the one I was stood at. I saw her out of the corner of my eye and was 99% sure it was her. Not quite sure enough to shout her though so I ended up chasing her around the station for a few minutes while she tried to find me!

When I finally caught up, we went to her car where she introduced me to her husband Mark. The three of us spent a lovely day together. We had dinner at Wetherspoons (italian burger - yum!!) and then they took me out for a drive in the countryside around where they lived. Clair had described her town in her letters but I had no idea how far out in the country it was. It was so pretty, surrounded by hills and the moors. I saw the Kilburn White Horse and a beautiful monastry. I was really excited by the sight of a red phone box which Clair and Mark thought was hilarious. It was a really nice day and I hope we can do it again soon.