A wee cup of tea please.

Right now I am having a tea break and reading this link: 22 Teas From Around The World

I am fairly sure even those of you who are not tea drinkers will want to go put the kettle on now. In fact I feel inspired to try new varieties of tea, although I feel bad that when I lived in Hong Kong I didn’t try any ‘Silk stocking tea’ (No. 7) but I did drink a lot of Jasmine Tea in my Hong Kong days.

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Other happenings this week

I am not sure if I have mentioned before that I am a member of Girl Guiding. Before we moved house I was an assistant leader at a Brownie Unit but I’ve been involved with Guiding for over 20 years. For those who aren’t sure what Girl Guiding is have a look at the UK website: Girl Guiding UK IMG_20150201_150554

After we moved I didn’t volunteer again straight away. We’ve had a busy year and I’ve been working hard on beating my chronic headaches and migraines, I felt that a little break wasn’t a bad thing. Guiding is huge fun, but it is a commitment and I didn’t want to start helping again and not have the energy to enjoy it. Just before Christmas I started thinking about getting back involved again. I was debating this when my colleague found a notice in a local newsletter that said the Guide unit in my village needed help. I wandered in, found out that they needed a new leader and now we’re in the New Year and I have myself a Guide Unit. There are 10 girls and they seem like a really lovely group. The meeting is every Monday evening but there are already fun ‘extra’ activities planned, like a Thinking Day Party, a trip to the swimming pool and county camp in May. I really enjoy Guiding and I will dedicate a full blog post about Guiding soon and share some of the ideas and activities we are doing.

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Getting involve with Guiding in the village has also meant getting to know a few more people in our village and the Boyo and I were invited to the village ball last weekend. A chance to put on a pretty dress, eat nice food, chat to our neighbours and a bit of ceilidh dancing was very much enjoyed by both of us. I really enjoy village life and whilst we don’t know if we will live there long term for the next 2 years I can certainly see it being a happy place for us.

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Tomorrow the Boyo and I will pick up a van and he will drive us 130 miles to my home town. We have needed a new bed for a while and there is one that is not needed in my parents house. It is exactly the kind of bed the Boyo and I wanted so it makes sense to get it. Whilst we have the van I’ll pick up the last of my books and bits and bobs that have been sitting in my parents home for years. The Boyo plans to have a quiet night in on Friday whilst my Mum and I go to a fashion show organised by a family friend. The Boyo and I will have to hit the road on Saturday by 7am to get the bed returned so our weekend wanderings on Sunday will entirely depend on how we feel after our 260 mile round trip.

The prospect of getting the bed has prompted me to sort out a few more things round the house, I spent last night hanging pictures up that have been sitting in a box since our house move and tonight I’m going to tackle the cupboard with all the bedlinen in. I guess I’m on a spring cleaning kick… but spring is still a while away yet. I’m starting to see little signs though;  the mornings have not been quite so dark and I saw some pretty little snowdrops on one of the walks near our house. The thought of Spring definitely makes me feel a little bit more Merry.

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A week of tasty grub.

(note my phone is being a pain at the moment so photos are delayed, for the moment!)

Well I have to say it has been a good week food wise. For my tea break today I have Twinnings salted caramel green tea and Abernethy biscuits. So a little bit good and a little bit naughty. Something I realised a long time ago is that I have a sweet tooth and trying to cut out all the naughty things I love always backfires. The Boyo sincerely hopes that any future children of ours do not inherit this, however it runs through the whole of my Mums family and I’m not nearly as bad as I used to be! When I was leaving school we had a yearbook made up and a wee blurb was written about all of, mine included ‘emergency dashes to the vending machine for chocolate’. Not much has changed!

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So this week as part of my attempts to become motivated and enthused again I decided to resume the challenge I set for myself in 2012. The challenge: I have to attempt one new recipe a week. It can be anything, cakes, treats, main meals etc. but I found it very enjoyable, it makes use of my large recipe book collection, I gain skills by experimenting and practicing and most of all I get to try new things. This included salmon and spinach as well as a lot of cake in 2012 so it isn’t all unwholesome.

So last week I tried out a recipe from BBC Good Food. It wasn’t the usual magazine; it was a Healthy Eating spin-off. I won’t copy the recipe here as that would be a breach of copyright (I am a librarian!). But it was a healthy chilli chicken recipe. If you do find the recipe then I found chipotle paste in tesco but I used a lot of the small jar they sell so I would look for a larger alternative so it would last longer. I made a slight alteration to the recipe; I used passata as both Boyo and I prefer that to chopped tomatoes and it worked out great. Follow BBC Good food on twitter @bbcgoodfood and find other tasty Mexican recipes on their website.

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I also cooked a semi healthy curry using the Hairy Bikers Eat For Life Book. I really like this book, it has so many tasty things in and I plan to use it a lot more. My curry was only semi healthy as I added a chicken pakora, an onion baji and a bit of naan bread. In our defence we have not had curry for ages (apart from one night when we were on holiday) I had a day I was working at home and really enjoyed preparing something properly. It was a Madras recipe, I used beef and I had two alterations, firstly I cooked it nice and slowly, over 7 hours in the slow cooker. I had discounted beef and I find that using the slow cooker gets the best result with the meat ending up lovely and tender. Not dry and chewy. The other alteration was that I added spinach towards the end of cooking time. Just trying to get some extra nutrients in. The only other suggestion I have is that if you cook it like me with a slow cooker you may want to use a little cornflour (mixed into a paste) at the end to thicken the curry if necessary.  The Hairy Bikers are also on twitter @hairybikers and their website has a nice selection of recipes (but not this one – get the book!)

On Friday we had a proper treat, I often make something a bit more naughty on a Friday, such as my smoked haddock pasta. This time it was enchiladas. Please note this is my version, I know it is in no-way authentic and it does contain cheats (oops!) BUT it is tasty and my sister demands I cook this every time she visits, in fact sometimes she visits not to see me but just to get fed, nice to know my food is loved.

M’s Chicken Enchiladas

For 4 People.

Ingredients

6 soft  flour or corn tortillas. (I get whichever is cheapest but for this it is often the corn tortillas)

1 500g tub of passata (very cheap in Lidl or Aldi)

3 Chicken breasts, cut into small chunks

Cheese grated up (however much you desire, but basically enough for a sprinkle in each tortilla and some for the top)

Mexican spices. (Buy when on special offer, I got a big tub of fajita spices in The Range)

1 packet of Uncle Bens Mexican style rice. (very often on special offer, this stuff is great!)

About 150ml of boiling water.

You will also need:

a large oven dish, one such as this. I have a big glass one I use. You basically want it big enough to fit the rolled tortillas in but small enough that they will be slightly squashed together as this stops them from unrolling.

A frying pan.

And 2 bowls.

Method

1. Put the oven on to warm up at around 200c.  Cut the chicken into smallish chunks. Warm a little oil in a frying pan over a medium flame. Cook the chicken and sprinkle over the spices. Remember the more you use the spicier the final result. I often add a few chilli flakes as well and if you wish look at the ingredients on the packet of spice and add more of the individual spices to add more flavour if you have them (eg. Garlic, chilli powder, cumin etc.) As you cook the chicken break it into even small chunks. It is a good way of checking to see how cooked it is and for the wraps later you want small pieces.

2. Pour the passata into a bowl and add some hot water. You don’t want it too thin so add the water slowly, stirring until the sauce is a nice consistency. Then add spices, the same rule as the chicken. The tomatoes neutralise the spices a bit so I’d add a fair bit. I’d say the whole sachet if using one of the sachets of spices (Old El Paso for example) or the equivalent. I know this isn’t very exact but for this you have to go with instinct and play around until you get it right according to your tastes. It is kind of fun, just be confident and go with it. Stir away until spices are mixed throughout.

3. Once the chicken is cooked get a ladleful of the sauce and a sprinkle of the grated cheese. Pour this over the chicken and leave to simmer on a low heat as you prepare the rest – think sticky sort of consistency for the sauce and chicken. Most of the sauce is for the top later.

4. Cook the rice according to instructions (usually 2 min), once it has cooked swap and put the tortillas on a plate and microwave for about 30 seconds. Meanwhile put the rice into a bowl.

5. Now we have all the components we are ready to construct. In a tortilla put a tablespoon of rice, then a spoonful of chicken, a sprinkle of cheese. Wrap then place into the dish, nice and firmly at the end. Repeat until the dish is full.

6. Pour over your sauce. Then as much cheese as you like over the top.

7. Place in the oven for 15-20 min, until the cheese has melted and you can’t wait to eat any longer! Everything has been cooked so it really is just about your patience at this point.

8. Serve. 2 tortillas each person. You will be stuffed at the end.

Other notes: This also makes super tasty leftovers. I always make one extra each for the Boyo and I and we have it next day for lunch. It feels like a real treat. You just microwave a portion for 2-3min.  For vegetables I usually quickly fry some onions, peppers and mushrooms in a bit of the fajita spice to have at the side. There is no room for them in the wraps. The Boyo really likes some jalapeno peppers with his.

 

Thinking about them makes me hungry! Enjoy.

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