Thursday 28 February 2019

Thursday, 28-02-19

Good morning!
I forgot to take any photos yesterday as it was such a busy day one way or another.

Today's plans are:
B:  bacon, egg and beans
I have part of a can of beans to use up and this is a nice, substantial meal that will set me up for a morning in town!
SW:  free

L:  yogurt and fruit
My usual weigh-day lunch.  Nice and light but also sustaining.
SW:  free but  if necessary I will count the yogurt as a healthy extra A

D:  slow cooked chicken curry and rice
This is my magazine recipe for today.  It's a pull out from an old Good Food magazine and looks easy.  It's also an ideal opportunity to try the slow cooker function on my Instant Pot and it means I will have a hot meal waiting for me when I get home after SW group this evening.  I have rice in the freezer so that will be perfect.
It's a bit short on veg so I will add more as I usually do.
SW:  should be free

Ss:  I have a healthy extra A and a B to fit in somewhere - probably a few nuts and some milk.

And it is Slimming World group this evening and I HAVE to have lost something this week - I've been so careful.  I won't quite get into the healthy BMI range this week but I'd like to be really close!  Fingers crossed!

Wednesday 27 February 2019

Recipe: feel-good fishcakes

Original recipe found in EasyCook (February), p. 17

What I did.

Ingredients to make seven cakes
(an awkward amount but that's what it made allowing 60g of mixture for each cake)
For the fishcakes
300g potatoes, peeled, cut into chunks, cooked and mashed (or the equivalent in mash leftovers)
1 x 120g can sardines in water or brine, drained
some chopped parsley or dill
juice of half a lemon (I used bottled and estimated)
some seasoned flour - you don't need much

For the dressing
scant tbsp mayo
1 tbsp natural yogurt
lemon juice
a squidge of garlic puree
parsley or dill

spray oil

mixed salad to serve

Place the mash, the sardines, the herbs and lemon juice in a bowl with seasoning to taste, mix well, shape into fishcakes (mine were 60g fishcakes) and dust lightly with plain flour.  Chill until needed

Spray each fishcake with fry light or the equivalent and gently fry on both sides until golden and crisping up.

Mix together the dressing ingredients.

Serve with the lemony dressing and a salad.

This amount was supposed to make enough for two portions but easily made enough for three portions, assuming two cakes per portion so the rest went in the freezer for other meals.

They were OK and I enjoyed them!  I'm not sure parsley was the best herb so next time I will use dill and I think this recipe would work really well with tuna or even tinned salmon.  Less frugal though!

Wednesday, 27-02-19

Good morning!

Today is the day that the magazine challenge all falls apart.  Out this morning, out this afternoon (a different out) and only half an hour between that and governors' training this evening.  Precious little time to eat and even less time to prepare anything.

So it's another topsy turvey menu.
B:  bacon, egg, tomatoes and mushrooms
Filling and should keep me going.
SW:  free

L:  smoked salmon pate (home made) with toast and a salad
I'll make this before I go out this morning.
SW:  healthy extra B for the toast

D:  fruit and yogurt
Hardly dinner, is it, but I know it will fill me and keep me going.
SW:  free

Ss:  Some warm milk when I get home after the training and a nibble of cheese for my two healthy extra As

It's odd - I am use to having a light start to the day and the main mean in the evening but it's totally upside down today!  Hopefully, it will go well, all the same.

I did a very rough audit of the freezers in readiness for the freezer challenge and this is what I found in the ready cooked meal department
seven portions of soup
twenty two (yes, really) main meals (not including the frozen meat, etc)
seven sides (not counting bags of frozen veg)
and also, four SW sauces to use to make meals.

Blimey!  No wonder I am short of freezer space!  Some of the mains are full meals and some need using to make a full meal but, with my weekends away, that's a month's worth, more or less.

I'ver got them all on a list and will cross them off as I use them.

Tuesday 26 February 2019

Instant Pot yogurt - extra comment

I tried it overnight and made double the amount I could make in my yogurt maker.
Two litres of semi skimmed with a good dollop of the last making.
I started it off at ten p.m. and it was finished at six this morning.  A half hour strain later, which, due to the size of my strainer, had to be done in batches, and I now have a batch of delicious, semi-thick, creamy natural yogurt to last me the rest of the week, over the weekend and into next week.
I had enough to store it in my large kilner jar (plus another pot) which makes me feel very 'foodie'.

I'm really glad I got my IP!

Monday 25 February 2019

Tuesday, 26-02-19

Good morning.

Yesterday's photo diary:

Breakfast:  English breakfast wrap - a pain in the bum to eat but it tasted great!

Lunch:  feel-good fishcakes with a lemony dressing and salad.

Dinner:  burger on a bowl with chips and a yogurt garlic dip/dressing

Today's recipe challenge menu.
B:  beans on toast
Simple and filling as well.
SW:  one healthy extra B for the bread, half a healthy extra A for some dairylea spread on the toast

L:  savoury/loaded rice with grated cheese.
Today is a bit tricky, meal-wise, as I'm out this evening, so I'm having my main meal midday and, as I'm out in the morning too, it's a home cooked meal but from the freezer, not from a magazine.
SW:  The rest of my healthy extra As for the grated cheese

D:  Easy pea soup from EasyCook, p41, piece of fruit
Really just a snack before going to see My Fair Lady at the local theatre.  Not too stodgy or I would fall asleep!
SW:  free

Ss:  hopefully none because it's such a busy day I won't have time for any snacks!  That's the hope, anyway.  I might have a banana when I come in from the show.

I've started thinking about the next 'challenge'.  In many ways, I'd love to carry on with the recipe one because I'm having some great meals, the new Good Food and EasyCook magazines are due out any day and I still have loads of recipes on my existing list.
However, my freezer is getting chock-a-block with portions I have had to freeze as they were too big or because reducing the recipe to just one was too awkward in terms of ingredients so the next challenge has to be 'eat from my freezer'.
I will go back to the magazine recipe challenge though, because it's working so very well for me.

Recipe: potato rosti with smoked salmon

This can be found in March/April's Slimming World magazine, p 67.

I did make a few changes so I will describe what I used and did and what I will change next time.

Ingredients for one:
200g floury potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated.
1/4 small onion, coarsely grated
1/2 level tbsp plain flour (should have been SR flour, I now realise and that's one syn)
1 medium egg, beaten
fry light
25g fat free yogurt
pinch of dried dill (to taste)
a squidge of garlic puree (to taste)
a bit of lemon zest and juice (to taste)
50g smoked salmon

Salad to serve

For the rosti:
Mix the grated onion and potato, place in a dry cloth and squeeze as much liquid out as you can.
Place in a bowl and use a fork to separate the potato/onion strands.
Mix in the flour, season and stir in the egg.
Next time I will use my processor to grate the potato and onion; it took longer than I expected and the dishwasher will sort out any mess.

I sprayed a smallish frying pan, heated over a medium heat, added the mixture and flttened it out with the back of  fork.  Then I fried it for quite a lot longer than the recipe said until I was happy with the underneath colour.  Then, to avoid the hassle of turning out onto a plate and returning it the other way, I popped the pan under a medium grill (watch the handle) to cook and brown the top.  This worked well but I gave it plenty of time - I didn't want to eat half raw potato strands!
Next time, instead of using a pan, I will shape on a baking sheet with parchment, maybe using my crumpet rings to shape into smaller circles, and bake in a moderate oven.  Easier!

I made the drizzle sauce by mixing the yogurt, dill, lemon juice and zest and the garlic puree, using the add and taste, add and taste strategy.

Finally, when the rosti was cooked, I topped it with the smoked salmon and drizzled over the sauce.  There was enough left over to dress the salad too.  I think it would also make a delicious dip for SW chips.

Well worth the time it took - it was delicious

Monday, 25-02-19

Good morning!

Yesterday's photo diary:
I will just say that yesterday was such a yummy day . . .

Breakfast:  Posh and perfect!

Lunch:  potato rosti with smoked salmon (with apologies for the poor lighting)

And a close up - because it was worth it!

Dinner:  salmon and veg traybake.  I learned several things.  I learned that I love roasted beetroot.  I learned that beetroot and salmon are a taste combination made in heaven.  And I learned that ten or fifteen minutes in the oven does not properly cook broccoli and next time I will pre-boil it.
Different but very, very tasty.

Today's magazine recipe challenge meals - all three meals too!

B:  English breakfast pitta (or wrap), from Feb's EasyCook, p 3
This is actually between two crumpets but crumpets don't feature as a SW goodie so I was going to use a pitta instead until I found I was out of pitta (it's now on the list) so a wrap it must be!
SW:  one healthy extra B for the wrap and one syn for two tbsp Morrisons brown sauce.

L:  feel good fishcakes from Feb's EasyCook, p 17; salad
It uses sardines as the fish and I will make two portions which uses one can of sardines.  It will be optimised by using extra light mayo and frying with spray oil, not the 40mls of oil the recipe asks for.  Also, to use up a healthy extra A, I will add some grated cheese or some soft cheese to the mixture.
SW:  one healthy extra A and one syn for the lighter than light mayo

D:  burger in a bowl - Nov/Dec SW magazine, p 36, salad
Really I wanted to use up the other burger I made last week and froze and this fitted the bill nicely.  It's just the burger, fried, on top of a nice, mixed salad with some SW chips on the side.
SW: free

Ss:  fruit, cheese to nibble or a choccy milky drink (two syns for the drink, the other healthy extra A for the either)

Sunday 24 February 2019

Is it working

Judging by the statistics, I seem to have a number of 'silent' readers.  That's absolutely fine, it's lovely that people are reading, there's no expectation that all readers comment, obviously (although I'd love to hear from you sometime) and I hope it's helping you.  Thank you for reading.

With that in mind, I have just read what I think is a very helpful blog post from FatGirlSkinny's blog about what to do when the SW plan seems to stop working.  I don't totally agree with every detail but it's packed with commonsense advice that would really work for any sensible plan so I thought I'd share it.

Here's the link.  Do go over and have a read.

Sunday, 24-02-19

Good morning!
Isn't February going fast?  Only five more days, including today.

Just look at this!

As I was wandering around Morrisons looking for some more of the cans of chickpea dahl, a shop assistant walked over to a shelf close by with loads of fresh and reduced stuff.  Of course, I had to have a good look and got first pick.
The salads will be great over the next few days (already have been, in fact), the sweet potato 'waffles' (which I would never, ever normally buy) have gone into the freezer, the pomegranite seeds went on the pineapple salsa for yesterday's dinner - some of them - and I'll have the rest with yogurt.  I had to look up what padron peppers are and I got them because I was intrigued; I'd never seen them before.  It seems that they are a bit Russian roulette with about one in six being extremely hot while the rest are milder and flavoursome.  Hmmm - maybe the safest thing is to chop them all up and freeze them to use as and when in things like chilli, curry, salsa, etc..
Anyway - that was £7.25's worth of fresh and healthy food for just 38p.  That never happens to me but it did yesterday and will help me to be more frugal over the next few days.

Yesterday's photo diary

Breakfast:  on an impulse, I made a couple of egg custards in the instant pot (and there's a separate post about it).  I had one, topped up with my breakfast fruit, and it was a clear success.  I had the rest of the fruit with yogurt and that was lovely too.  I felt I had feasted very well.

Lunch, and with all that salad to choose from, I didn't bother with the coleslaw.  It was such a lovely lunch and colourful too.

Dinner was also delicious.  Cajun turkey steak with pineapple salsa, jazzed up leftover rice and more salad instead of the planned broccoli
I'll have that again, for sure.

I also had some fruit and some Beck's Blues.

Today's Magazine Recipe Challenge menu:
B:  the other egg custard from yesterday, topped with fruit and yogurt.  I was very noble and refrained from having it yesterday!
SW:  half a healthy extra A for the milk in the custard.

L:  potato rosti with smoked salmon, salad
This is the first of two mag recipes, taken from the current Slimming World, p 67.  There's no need to adapt apart from using yogurt instead of fromage frais
SW:  this does contain a little bit of flour but such a negligible amount (a quarter of a syn or less) that it doesn't really count so I'm not bothering**.  Also one syn for two tbsp M&S reduced fat salad dressing - which is really nice.
(**edit:  No it isn't, it's one syn per portion, not for the whole lot, sorry)

D:  salmon and veg traybake
Another from Slimming World, this time the Nov/Dec issue, p 37.  I do seem to have 'salmon' days, don't I?
This one has roasted beetroot which I've heard good things about but never done myself.  It also has kale, whick I don't have, so I will use a bit of frozen spinach instead or just forget about it!
SW:  free

Saturday 23 February 2019

Instant pot recipe: egg custard

I found the link to this recipe on the Facebook Instant Pot page (or is it a group?) and thought maybe it could be optimised.
Here's the original recipe:

The only 'naughty' thing in this recipe is the sugar; the eggs are free and the milk could be part of a healthy extra.  I looked up the sugar and 50g is ten syns so no way!  Stevia?  Would it work?  Well, maybe; the only way to find out was to give it a whirl and see.

What I used:
one whole egg and one egg yolk
180mls semi skimmed milk
just under 1 tbsp stevia
half tsp vanilla
a sprinkle of salt
ground nutmeg

What I did
Basically, what the recipe said.
Whisk together the eggs, stevia, and spices, then add the milk and whisk to smoothness.  Pour into two ramekins, leaving a bit of headroom.

Put the trivet (provided with the IP) in the bottom of the inner bowl and pour in one cup of water.
Cover each ramekin with foil and place carefully on the trivet.

Make sure the vent knob is set to sealing/pressure cook/8 minutes and when it's done, do a quick manual release.

Uncover and allow to cool a bit.

The resulting custard was beautifully set with just a gentle wobble - Mary Berry would be proud of me.  I didn't use enough stevia so next time I will try 1.5 tbsp instead.  A bit more nutmeg would have been good too plus a grating over the top.  I dearly love nutmeg.
However, it was a beautiful texture and well worth the making.  I made two with the above ingredients and have had one, just warm, with some of my breakfast fruit, thoroughly enjoying it.  The other I will chill and see what it's like later on.

Another for my list of things to make again!

Saturday, 23-02-19

Good morning!
Yesterday's dinner was lovely though I say it myself.  As a last minute thing, I also made Bombay potatoes and I've posted about it separately.  So delicious, all of it.  There was enough left to make complete meal for another time - chicken korma (that's what it as closest to really), chickpea dahl, bombay potato and basmati and wild rice  so that's all in the freezer now.
I wish I'd taken a photo or two but - guests, so no, not polite.

Today's Magazine Recipe Challenge menu.
B:  yogurt and fruit
There were a few specials on fruit so I got some strawberries (not as tasteless as they look), bloueberries and grapes which will go beautifully with a good dollop of my natural yogurt.
SW:  free

L:  cheese and onion toastie, coleslaw, salad
An old favourite, this, and very tasty.
SW:  It will use up all my healthy extras, especially if I go generous with the cheese, and the mayo for the coleslaw will be half a syn.

D:  cajun turkey steaks with pineapple salsa, broccoli
This recipe is in this month's Easycook, p 10.  Turkey steaks are pretty good value and I have some rice left over from yesterday so I will adapt the recipe to work with that.  The pineapple will be some frozen chunks and I might use some green pepper instead of chilli for the salsa - not the same but I have green pepper but no green chilli, only some red ones in the freezer..
SW:  free

Ss:  maybe some carrot batons, Beck's Blue (two syns per bottle)

While trawling around the Internet for some Instant Pot recipes, I found a recipe for egg custard which I am going to try out, using stevia instead of sugar.  It might result in an abomination but I won't knoiw if I don't try.  If it does work, it will use some healthy extra A but I'm not sure how many, not being au fait with American cups off the top of my head.
I'll let you know!

Friday 22 February 2019

Recipe: bombay potatoes

I've never made this well known curry accompaniment but yesterday afternoon I made a last minute decision to give it a go.  The spice mix I used was from JDSeasonings and if you click on the link you can see what spices are actually in it so when I've used the rest of the mix, I can have a go at making my own!

On the inside of the little sleeve is the recipe and, as I stuck to it more or less, this is what I did.

Ingredients to make 4 portions (I made less)
1 pot of the spice mix
700g poatoes, peeled and cut into good sized chunks
half an onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed (I used garlic puree)
1" cube of ginger, peeled and grated (I used ginger paste)
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp water
juice of half a lemon (I used bottled)
spray oil
fresh coriander to serve (I didn't)

Boil potatoes in lightly salted water until just tender, drain and set aside
Spray a large pan with spray oil and place over a low/medium heat.  Add the onions and fry gently until starting to brown, then add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.
Add the pot of Bombay seasoning, mix with the onions, garlioc and ginger, then add the potatoes, mixing to coat well.
Add the tomato puree, water and lemon juice and cook gently for five to seven minutes, stirring frequently.

It's dead easy and jolly tasty.  For me, it's a keeper.

Friday, 22-02-19

Good morning!

I'm afraid I forgot to take photos!  However, I found a macaroni sloppy Joe photo on Google Images (thank you) that looks very similar to what I made and which worked really well.  I pepped up the defrosted  savoury mince (which turned out to be turket mince) and pepped it up with some cajun spice before topping it with some cooked macaroni with a dairylea cheese sauce and some grated cheddar over the top and baked it.  That was earlier in the day.  After SW group it took four minutes to microwave it to piping hot and it was really delicious!

(not my photo)

At group I'd gained half a pound, darn it!  I'm ashamed to admit I said a very naughty word!   However, my clothes are looser and when I rechecked this morning (as I always do the morning after group), it had gone shooting down, much more than a morning weigh would warrant, so I'm not disheartened in the least.  I know that it was just One Of Those Things and I'm at home this weekend so can really go for it in the coming week.

I've planned all my meals.  It wasn't as easy as usual because next week is busy;  two evenings I am out with precious little time to eat, let alone prepare, but I think I have got round that.

(long ramble alert)
This evening, I have a couple of friends round for an early dinner.  I've decided to go for a very unauthentic curry meal (no gfhee, for a start) as follows.

The main curry is a sort of chicken tikka thingy but using coconut milk rather than tomatoes and with lots of veg - onion, sweet potato, yellow pepper and peas but not mushroom as my guests dislike mushroom.  Oh, and some chicken stock and some lentils that thicken the sauce nicely.
The only ingredient with any syns is the coconut milk which has about thirty syns (I use a coconut powder rather than a can) but it's made loads.  I always make curries the day before as I reckon second day curry is much nicer.  I've already syphoned off one portion for the freezer and, looking at what is left for the meal, there will be more to freeze, I am certain.  So it should be around five or six syns per portion.

I have a can of chickpea dhal, which is not only tasty, it is also SW free.  Cheers!

Then I shall make a bowl of basmati rice (free) and have sides of mini pittas, mango chutney and natural yogurt.  I have to check the chutney syns but then I really don't have to have any!

So I reckon it will be pretty SW friendly.  The only thing is that they are bringing lemon drizzle cake for afters and yes, I will have a little slice of it and thoroughly enjoy it but I still reckon I won't really have overdone it!

I'm really pleased that the only things I need to go out and buy are mango chutney (my current jar is nearly empty) and something to drink (probably apple juice or something like that).

So, after that long ramble, today's plans are . . .
B: yogurt and fruit
I'm really into yogurt for breakfast right now so they are a bit monotonous to read about.  I'm sure that will change at some point soon!
SW:  free

L:  just a mixed leaf salad and fruit because of dinner
I can't have nothing really so I've planned something really light.
SW: free as I use a fat free dressing

D:  curry, as above
Given that it's a 'company meal', I'm quite pleased with how frugal it is.  OK, the chicken costs, but the rest is all reasonable stuff and the dhal was a freebie in the raffle I won a couple of weeks ago.
SW:  The mini pittas are a healthy extra B and I estimate the curry will be five or six syns.  I have no idea of the lemon drizzle cake!  I shall stick with water to drink.

Ss:  none!

As you can see, I am off the Magazine Menu challenge today but it will be back tomorrow.  The healthy extras have also taken a battering but not to worry, one day won't hurt!

Thursday 21 February 2019

Recipe: bacon and egg burger with spicy fries

Found in the March/April Slimming World magazine, p 46

How to make the burger (ingredients to make one - I made two and froze one for another time)
125g lean beef mince
half a small onion, grated or finely chopped
half a medium egg yolk
some parsley
seasoning - I just used salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients together well, shape into a burger, wrap and chill until needed.

To cook, heat a pan, spray the burger with oil, cook for five minutes on one side, three minutes on t'other, then add 75mls hot water to the pan, cover and cook for a further five to ten minutes or until cooked through.
I've never cooked a burger like this but it worked and the burger was delicious.  I might add some extra spice to the mix next time.

How to make the spicy wedges (ingredients for one)
sweet potato
spray oil
half tsp each of smoked paprika, celery salt and ground coriander
(or spices of own choice)
Pinch of salt
two bacon medallions

Preheat oven to 200C (180 fan)
Peel and cut the potatoes into wedges or chunky fries.  Boil them in water for five minutes, then drain and steam dry.
Mix together the paprika, celery salt and coriander with a pinch of salt.
Place the wedges in a bowl and gently add the spice mix, tossing to coat.
Place on a baking sheet (I use some parchment to prevent any sticking) and spray with oil.  Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes.
Add a couple of bacon medallions when the potatoes have ten minutes to go.

The egg
Spray a very small frying pan, heat, add the egg, cover and allow to fry and cook in its own steam.

Putting it all together
tomato puree (the recipe said passata)
a wholemeal roll or pitta (I used pitta)
some salad leaves
sliced tomato
thinly sliced red onion
mixed leaf salad to serve

Split the roll or pitta and spread each side with tomato puree.
Spread over the lettuce, tomato and red onion.
Layer on the burger, bacon and egg, followed by some black pepper and finally the other half of the roll or pitta.
Serve with the wedges and mixed leaf salad.

This made a huge amount and the coleslaw I also made really wasn't necessary.  Also, I will use less sweet potato although potato is a speed food so having it was good.
It was delicious although I'm not sure if the egg was worth the hassle of cooking it right at the end.  Next time I will have some cheese as a healthy extra instead as well as the healthy extra B for the bun/pitta.

Thursday, 21-02-19

Good morning!

Yesterdays photo diary.

Breakfast was yogurt and fruit.

Orzo and tomato soup (and I also had an apple)

 A whoppa of a dinner: bacon and egg burgers with spicy wedges (and colesalw)

. . . and it was so delicious!  Too much though - I didn't need the coleslaw.  I know next time.

(and I have one burger left and in the freezer now, so I can have it again or in a different form)

I also had three Becks (six syns)

I'ver already posted the soup recipe as I made it and I'll post a resume of the burger recipe later on.

Today's plans:
B:  marmite on toast
Just because . . . yum!
SW:  a bit of healthy extra A for the cheese spread on the toast and one B for the toast.

L:  yogurt and fruit
The usual weigh-day lunch
SW: free

D:  sloppy Joe pasta bake, salad leaves
Today is tricky because it's SW group so dinner is late.  Really I need something I can just heat up so I will adapt this from the Simming World magazine for Jan/Feb, p.54
It's a bit of a cheat because I will spice up some savoury mince I already have in the freezer and make the macaroni topping with the pasta with melted cheese spread as a sauce.  I'll bake it in the afternoon and reheat in the microwave in the evening
I found a YS bag of posh salad leaves that was reduced to 7p - and it's in great condition still after a couple of days so that really was a find.
SW:  the cheese is the rest of my healthy extra A

Ss:  none

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Recipe: orzo and tomato soup

This recipe is from February's edition of BBC Good Food.  It's not on the Good Food site yet but probably will appear in time.

This is what I did.

Ingerdients to make half the quantity given in the magazine (but see below)
spray oil
half an onion, chopped
about 20cms of celery, chopped
a squidge of garlic puree
1 tbsp tomato puree
400g can chopped tomatoes (zizzed and [pushed through a sieve as the cheaper canned tomatoes can have more seeds and 'bits')
120g cooked chickpeas (drained weight)
75g orzo
350mls vegetable stock

I also added more water because it was very thick and, to keep the flavour up, a heaped tsp marigold bouillon powder.  Also some pepper and a little salt.

I did not use:
olive oil
basil pesto


Spray a saucepan with some oil and heat.  Add the onion and celery plus a small splash of water, cover and sizzle until both are going soft.
Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
Then add the remaining ingredients, bring to a summer, cover and cook, stirring now and then, until the orzo is soft.  Check seasoning, add more water (and stock powder), if required.
If you're using pesto, ladle the soup into a bowl and then drizzle the pesto over.

What I made was supposed to be for two but it has made three very good portions so that's one for now and two for the freezer.  I love it when that happens!

Recipe: pasta with salmon and peas

This is an adaptable, leftovers type recipe which was in Good Food magazine and which I adapted to work with what I had in.

cooked pasta (any kind)
cooked salmon
cooked peas
(I cooked the peas, wrapped the salmon in foil and steamed it over the peas)
half a tube of Primula light cheese spread (or the equivalent)
mushrooms, chopped
spray oil
a squidge of garlic

Assemble the cooked pasta, peas and salmon, flaked into chunks).  If you can reserve some of the pasta cooking water, do so.
In a pan, spray some oil and sizzle the mushrooms.  Add the peas and the garlic and stir them round for a minute.  Then add the pasta and mix it all gently, followed by the soft cheese.  Reduce the heal and stir as the cheese melts and makes a sauce.  As it does so, add some of the pasta water (about three tbsp is plenty.
Finally, add the salmon and mix it in very carefully, taste and season, if necessary, and serve piping hot.

SW:  one healthy extra A (more if you use more cheese spread)

It's adaptable - use whatever you have - and would be great for leftover chicken, or ham.  The cheese makes a lovely sauce (the original recipe said creme fraiche  but I didn't have any)

Wednesday, 20-02-19

Good morning!

Yesterday's photo diary

Breakfast: pineapple and yogurt

Lunch:  tomato soup in a flask

. . . and smoked salmon pate with vegetable batons - so delicious eaten in the open air.

Dinner was pasta with salmon and peas - tasty and filling too.

Today's Magazine Menu is . . .
B:  natural yogurt and fresh fruit
I've just sorted out my fridge and I have plenty of fruit so today it will be strawberries, blueberries and grapes - nice!
SW:  free

L:  orzo and tomato soup
Optimised from February's BBC Good Food, p 36, I have cut out the olive oil, the basil pesto and the crusty bread.  No hardship apart from the bread; the oil can be subbed and I dislike basil anyway!
SW:  free although if I have a roll or pitta to dunk, I will have to syn it as I'm using my B for dinner.

D:  bacon and egg burger with spicy wedges, taken from the most recent Slimming World magazine, p46
Hmmm - I will need to get some mince for this as I don't think turkey mince will wing it really.  Never mind, it isn't as if it's a 'one off' ingredient and something I won't use ever again!  Reading through the menu, it does look delicious so fingers crossed.  Thje wedges are sweet potato wedges - lovely!
SW:  one healthy extra B for the wholemeal roll

Ss:  some Beck's blue (2 syns per bottle), milky drink, fruit.  I'm short on the health extra As but I am having that yogurt first thing and I know that is good for calcium so I'm not stressing.

Tuesday 19 February 2019

Tuesday, 19-02-19

Good morning.

Yesterday's photo diary:
Breakfast was yogurt and an easy peeler.

Lunch:  SW tomato soup with a dollop of natural yogurt.  Tasty but not artistic in the least!

Dinner:  fully loaded wedges; no room for a side salad as this satisfied perfectly well.

It's nice to be back home and in charge of my own supplies again for a while.  Yesterday I had the fun making my first Magazine Meal and it was lovely.  I also had a go at making my yogurt in the instant pot rather than in my yogurt maker and it worked well too.  I've done separate posts about both of these.

Today's plans:
B:  yogurt and fruit
Back to my natural yogurt again and very thankful that all the Mullerlight freebies have been used.  I wasn't going to waste them but I did get rather tired of the two flavours after a while.
SW:  free

L:  soup, smoked salmon dip and vegetable batons, fruit
It may sound lavish but actually it's using up leftovers.  The soup was left from yesterday while the ingredients for the dip were left over from last week so really do need using up.  I'm off for a jolly to Hyde Hall so it will be a sort of picnic, hopefully.
SW:  free

D:  pasta with salmon and peas (BBC Good Food, Feb, p108) and a side salad
This is a simple Magazine recipe, optimised from the 'use up leftovers' page.  I won't be using up leftovers, I will cook salmon and peas from fresh but that's OK.  I could use tuna instead, I suppose, but I fancy salmon.  I'll let you know how it goes
SW:  one healthy extra A for the pasta sauce

Ss:  a choccy-milky drink for the other A and two syns, Beck's blues for two syns each and I have to find a healthy extra B from somewhere.  Maybe I will take some bread with me on my picnic.

And I've just realised there's a salmon overload again but tough - I'm sure I will survive!  I just think it's great that I can have such delicious food and not worry about weight gain.

Finally, I took a screen shot of my list of meals from the magazines I looked through and here it is.  Plenty of choice, as you can see.  I'm just ticking them off as I give them a whirl.

Monday 18 February 2019

Instant Pot: making yogurt

I have a perfectly good yogurt maker that gets plenty of use but I thought I'd give the yogurt function a go in the IP (using initials is quicker than typing it all out each time).

There's plenty of advice out there about making yogurt from 'raw' milk, yogurt cultures, gelatine, goodness knows what.  However, I just wanted the simplest way, the way I usually make it.

So . . .
a litre carton of semi skimmed, long life milk
a couple of heaped tablespoonfuls of your last lot of yogurt
. . . is all you need.

A word about the yogurt.  You can use any natural yogurt but I do find that the flavour is different depending on what you use.
I rather dislike the flavour of the cheapest 'savers'-type yogurt and when I used it to make my own, I didn't like the results much either.
My really favourite natural yogurt is Liberte Greek style 0% fat natural yogurt.  I think it's lovely.  Unfortunately, it really isn't cheap.
However, using some to make your own with Aldi's long life semi skimmed takes it down into the pretty frugal banding and the resulting yogurt is just gorgeous (I think).  It's creamy and, if you strain it for a short time, it becomes lovely and thick and so, so good.
(can you guess I rather like it)

Back to the IP
I tipped the milk into the IP bowl,  added the yogurt and stirred it around a bit.  Then I put the bowl into the IP, pressed the 'yogurt' button, added one more hour to be safe (the default is eight hours), put the lid on (no need to pressure seal the lid but I decided to buy an accessory - a glass lid that is fine for anything but pressure cooking).
Then I just left it to work its magic - hopefully.

Certainly, nearly 30 minutes in . . .

. . . it had come up to heat nicely.  The thing counts up, not down

Eight hours down the track (the extra hour wasn't needed) and a half hour strain later and I have two pots of thick, deliciously creamy, mild-flavoured natural yogurt.  If I'd wanted it to be more tangy, I could have given it longer.

Definitely a winner.

I think the big advantage of using the IP over the yogurt maker is that you can make larger amounts of yogurt.  As I get through quite a lot, that's an advantage.
A disadvantage is that it does tie your IP up for long periods of time so you would have to choose your time carefully.  Overnight should be fine though.

As far as SW is concerned, natural, fat free yogurt is free.  It doesn't officially count as a healthy extra A but I'm afraid I do count it as such when it suits me because that's all it is - milk.  I checked and yogurt is still a good source of calcium which is what As are supposed to be all about so I'm guilt free over this (but don't tell Jennifer).

Recipe: fully loaded wedges

. . . or, as it turned out, fully loaded wedges with extra cheese, extra veg, fresh tomatoes instead of canned and some chips because I forgot to cut all of the potato as wedges.

From Mar/Apr Slimming World magazine, p 16 - adapted a fair bit to work with what I had in!

What I did.
I cooked the wedges the SW way; par-boiling them for five minutes, then spraying with oil and roasting.

The sauce was as follows
Fry some chopped onion, pepper, mushroom and a couple of old, rather wizened baby corn in fry light until softened.  Then add some fresh tomatoes, quartered (I had some old ones and some freebies from last week's raffle).  Add a squidge of garlic puree, some tomato puree, some Lea and Perrins and a touch of salt and pepper, cover and simmer on very low for about ten minutes or so until everything is soft.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Then add some cooked and shredded chicken and mix it in well.

The topping was natural yogurt with a bit of garlic puree and some of my cajun spice mixed in and it was lovely - I shall make that again as a dipping sauce for chips.  To think I almost didn't bother with it because of the cheese!

To put it all together, I put the cooked wedges around a dish with some sea salt, spooned in the hot sauce, sprinkled over 30g grated cheddar and drizzled over the yogurt topping.

And it was absolutely delicious.

SW:  one syn for the cheese

Monday, 18-02-19 (updated)

Good morning.

Magazine week starts but, silly me, as I'm still away, I don't have my meal planning with me and can't remember what today's magazine meal actually is.  I have a feeling it is lunch and dinner so will update this later once I get home.  Luckily, it is half term so I don't have to go to Knitter Knatter Club, or help out in FS and there's no tuition, meaning that there's plenty of time to make whatever it is I have planned.


B:  yogurt and fruit
As yesterday and it'll probably be a Mullerlight and that will be the last of the freebies.  Phew.  Looking forward to having more of my own, home made yogurt again, especially as I am told you can make yogurt in it - it certainly has a yogurt button.
SW:  one syn if I have a Mullerlight

L:  SW tomato soup and bread to dunk
From the freezer, made a few weeks ago
SW  one healthy extra B for the bread

D:  fully loaded wedges (SW magazine, March/April, p 16), small side salad maybe
The first of my Magazine meals, it needs cooked and shredded chicken which, of course, I have, after cooking those YS breasts in the instant pot last week.  Excellent.
I'll r5eport back.
SW:  the cheese will be one healthy extra A, the rest is free

Ss:  choccy-milky drink (2 syns and the other A), Beck's Blue (2 syns per bottle)

Sunday 17 February 2019

Sunday, 17-02-19

Good morning!

B:  yogurt and fruit
It's very useful to suddenly have a liking for this as  still have a few of the Mullerlight freebies to finish off and they're only a few days from their use by date now - not that I particularly worry about that with yogurt anyway.
SW:  one syn for the yogurt

L:  Beany veg soup, bread for dunking, apple
I made a lovely big pot of soup yesterday for lunch and there's plenty left for today and there's likely to be enough to be able to freeze a couple of portions for Mum and Dad for later on in the week too.  This time, I zizzed and then seived a can of chopped tomatoes for the base of the soup and it ended up like a thicker minestrone sort of thing.
SW:  all that goodness and totally free

D:  roast pork, roast potatoes, apple sauce, carrots, maybe kale; fresh fruit and natural yogurt
I shall slow roast the pork - it's only a tiny mini-joint anyway - and I might roast the carrots too.
SW:  I've looked up apple sauce and I'm estimating between two and three syns.

Ss:  Cheese and a milky drink for two syns and two healthy extra As.

Magazine week starts tomorrow.

Saturday 16 February 2019

Magazine Week

(Well, four days and then the whole of the following week, starting on Monday).

This started because I was flicking through the new Slimming World magazine and thinking (as I always do) what a lovely lot of recipes there were and then realising that I always say that but rarely make many of them.  And that's plain stupid as they are designed specifically for the SW plan.
Also, being a bit of a foody mag addict, I sometimes see recipes that could easily be adapted (optimised is the word SW uses, I think) in other magazines too.  I usually get Good Food, Olive, Delicious, Easycook and sundry others and, while some generally have very fancy-pants recipes, there's usually something.

So I thought I'd rootle around the most recent magazines and base a week's eating around them.
Delicious and Olive were no good (but still good to read!).  I found a few in Good Food, loads in Easycook (which is another BBC mag) and most in one or other of the last three SW magazines.

So I set to and created a table listing all the recipes I wanted to try and where they could be found amd I got a whole page of them.  Plenty to choose from there!

The guidelines (not rules - you know what they say about rules)

No buying loads of one-use ingredients.  You know what I mean - those things that get used for one recipe and the rest ends up at the back of the cupboard/fridge/freezer, never to be used again!  I'll do what I always do and substitute, using what I already have.

A reasonably frugal ethos with the occasional splash out.  Just like now.

One meal a day to be a 'magazine meal'.  Maybe more than one, although the list is big on main meals and short on breakfasts and lunches.

Anything that's not a SW recipe will be 'optimised'.  In many cases, this mainly means using spray oil instead a great big glug of oil - how these magazines do love their oils!

And, of course, I will report back.

Saturday, 14-02-19

Good morning.

Today's plans
B:  natural yogurt and fruit
I'm using my own yogurt which is really nice and much better value than all but the very cheapest bought yogurt.
SW:  free

L:  veg soup, bread to dunk, apple
I'm not sure how to make the soup yet.  Probably I will use chopped tomatoes as a base and throw in all sorts of bits and bobs Dad has around.
SW:  healthy extra B for the bread.

D:  lamb, mash, kale and sprouts, Mullerlight
Lots of green veg in this meal and I slow cook the lamb so it is very tender and melt-in-the-mouth
SW:  one syn for the yogurt

Ss:  milky choccy drink and cheese to nibble - two syns and both my healthy extra As

Friday 15 February 2019

Recipe: smoked salmon pate (or dip)

Our group leader, Jennifer, brought this with her to the Free Food February taster evening, complete with recipe.  I am not sure where the original recipe came from but if I find out, I will amend.

I've just made it, ready for lunch, as I like to give these things a chance to 'mature or 'settle' a bit - I reckon the flavour is better.

The amounts are a bit vague.  I added as much cottage cheese as looked right for one and then added the other ingredients to taste.

fat free plain cottage cheese
smoked salmon (trimmings are fine)
lemon juice (from a bottle, no need for fresh)
dill (I used dried)

I added a few extras, (as I do)
black pepper
a very little salt (be really careful)
a smidgeon of garlic puree

Bung it all into a mini blender or a stick blender beaker.
Zizz until it's the texture you want.  I like it pretty smooth.   Then taste and add as you like.  I added a bit more salmon but the rest was about right for me.

Pour into a ramelin or serving bowl and serve with dippy things.

Friday, 15-02-19

Good morning.
Well, I'm very pleased.  Another two pounds off this week.  Very encouraging and motivating.

Starting on Monday (because I'm not at home over the weekend) I'm going to have a Magazine Fortnight.  That is, I will have at least one meal each day that is based on a recipe from a magazine, mostly from the SW magazine, but also adapted (I think the SW term is 'optimised') from recipes found in other magazines such as BBC Good Foord and BBC Esasycook.  I'm a sucker for foody magazines but Delicious and Olive recipes are rather too fancy pants-special ingredients for everyday.  Sadly, Good Food is going the same way which, I guess, is why they also have Easycook.

Why?  Well, just because I fancy the idea, I guess.  It's a good way of widening my repertoire and staying reasonably frugal and SW friendly, the last two of which are priorities for me.

Today's plans:
B:  bacon, egg and tomatoes
Nice and filling - lovely.
SW:  free

L:  smoked salmon dip with home made wrap 'tortilla' chips and carrot batons, fruit
The dip is smoked salmon, cottage cheese, lemon and dill and our group leader, Jennifer, made it for last week's taster evening,  It was so tasty.  The dippers are a wrap, cut into wedges, sprayed with oil and baked until crunchy.
SW:  one healthy extra B for the wrap

D:  salmon, peas and chips, fruit salad
It's a very salmon-y day, isn't it?  However, as I'm not paying for dinner, it won't be terribly costly - for me, anyway.
SW:  a few syns for the light seafood sauce

Ss:  cheese to nibble for one of my healthy extra As and a choccy milky drink for the other.

I won the raffle last night so now have a little collection of fruit and cans - that's nice, isn't it?

Thursday 14 February 2019

Instant Pot: cooking fancy rice

. . . specifically Wholegrain Jasmine Rice, Red Rice and Riceberry, bought in M&S
No, I had no idea either, but it looked interesting so I bought a bag to give it a whirl.

I rinsed one cup of the rice and shook most of the water off again before tipping it into the pot.
Then I added one and a third cups of water and some salt, making sure there were no grains of rice sticking to the sides of the pot.

I set the pot to Pressure Cook/ 24 minutes and allowed it to decompress naturally afterwards.

You know what?  It's really, really nice!  A great flavour and texture.  It made three and a half of my portions, three of which are now in the freezer and the half one will be for my dinner tonight, with chilli.

I'm dead chuffed!

I've been looking around for Instant Pot recipes that are also Slimming World friendly and not American in format.  I'm not patient with recipes containing packages of unknown/unavailable ingredients and cups of this, that and the other.
So I've decided that each time I make an Instant Pot recipe that works for me, I'll post it as a separate entry.  It will help me find them more quickly and might help others as well.
I won't steal.  I will post links when necessary and, if I adapt, I will say what I've done.

Instant Pot: cooking rice

I've been looking around for Instant Pot recipes that are also Slimming World friendly and not American in format.  I can't be fussed with packages of unknown/unavailable ingredients and cups of this, that and the other.
So I've decided that each time I make an Instant Pot recipe that works for me, I'll post it as a separate entry.  It will help me find them more quickly and might help others as well.
I won't steal.  I will post links when necessary and, if I adapt, I will say what I've done.

Rice has always been a bit of a sticking point with me (literally!)  I never seemed to get it right, always over or under cooked it, added too much water or not enough . . . frustrating.

Until Thermione (my Thermomix).  Now I bung rice in the simmering basket, add seasoned water, set it and away it coes.  Perfect rice every time and no sticking whatsoever.

However, I thought I would try it in the Instant Pot.  The water:rice proportions are 1:1 so in went a cup of rice and a cup of water with a bit of salt (a cup is the minimum amount of liquid you must have and a cup of rice makes three portions for me).
It's so little water because there's very little, if any, evaporation.

So, in it went and the Pot was set to High Pressure/4 minutes.  That's not the total time, there's the heating up (not sure how long) and the de-pressurising afterwards (ten minutes and it shows on the dial how long it's been depressurising) to take into account.

And the results.  No 100%.  The rice was certainly cooked nicely but had stuck a bit.  To be fair, that might have been my fault because, looking at other sources of info, I think I should have rinsed the rice beforehand, thus adding a little more water to the pot and eliminating the starch.

So my conclusion is that I will stick with Thermione when I am making a small amount of rice as it's perfect.  However, for larger amounts, I will certainly use the Pot, ditto if I'm making up a rice recipe.  Must try my savoury rice done that way.

Also, I quite like brown rice and wild rice but never seem to cook it long enough - I really dislike hard rice.  I reckon the Pot will do a good job with these and will buy some and give it a go soon.  Watch this space!

(my thanks to Google Images for the photos)

I tried again,  rinsing the rice well and with a bit more water.  I still prefer it done in Thermione, to be honest.

Thursday, 14-02-19

Good morning!

Yesterday's photo diary

Breakfast:  corned beef hash with mushrooms and egg.  It was very nice although I have to admit, without the egg the hash would have been pretty dry.  Made for lunch or dinner, I'd have added some grated cheese.

Lunch was at a friend's.  She made smoked haddock and spinach egg pots and it was delicious, giving me one healthy extra A and my B as well.   I have the recipe.  :-)

Dinner was a ready meal;.  The SW/Iceland chilli.  I was disappointed that there was no rice - you have to have rice with chilli.  So I added some from the freezer and then it was way too much so I have another portion waiting for dinner tonight
OK-ish, but I bet it will be nicer when I use the recipe to make it at home.

I also had a banana and three Beck's Blues.  Oh, and a Mullerlight, I almost forgot that.

Today's food:
B:  porridge with fruit and yogurt
SW:  One healthy extra A and one B

L:  yogurt and fruit
The usual weighday lunch and very nice it is too
SW:  one syn for the yogurt

D:  The rest of the chilli and rice from yesterday
Halves the cost which has to be a good thing
SW:  free

Ss:   I'm short on one healthy extra A so a choccy milky drink for two syns

Fingers crossed!