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Recipe: Tortellini & Pesto Minestrone

First of all, please excuse the rubbish photo – I had to scan the one from the original recipe as I totally forgot to take a picture of my version before demolishing the whole bowlful!

Loved this recipe – ticked all my boxes: quick, easy, declicious, not too unhealthy  - what’s not to like?  William, despite not liking the fact it was quite so green, ate a large bowlful as well, so it ticked the ‘kid-friendly’ box as well.

This recipe serves 4 – I halved it and there was more than enough for two.

  • 1.5 litres stock (recipe said veg stock but I used chicken as I had some in the fridge that needed using up).
  • 500g pack fresh tortellini (recipe said spinach and ricotta, but I used a spicy sausage version which had a lower saturated fat content)
  • 500g spring greens – washed and shredded.  Sadly, Asda was all out of spring greens, so I used a savoy cabbage which worked fine, though given the choice, I’d probably have gone for the spring greens.
  • 140g frozen peas.  I guess you could use fresh if you fancied.
  • 4 tbsp pesto.   I used jar pesto, but fresh would probably be even better.

Bring the stock to the boil.  Tip in the pasta and cook following pack instructions.  Chuck in the greens and peas with 2 mins to go.  When veg are tender and pasta cooked, remove from heat, stir in pesto, along with a good grind of black pepper, sppon into bowls and serve.

Told you it was easy.  Surprisingly filling, as well.

Yum.

** Linking up with Mrs M’s Recipes **

Meal Planning Monday

Haven’t done one of these posts for a while, but in the spirit of getting back into organised mode after half-term, I wrote up a menu plan last night, designed to use up some stuff that’s been lurking in freezer/fridge/cupboards for longer than it should’ve been.  In a fit of SUPER-organisation, I then sat down with a nice glass of white in front of the computer last night and did an online shop, which was delivered this morning.

So I’m sorted for the week.

Sunday (yesterday) – chicken casserole and mash to use up frozen chicken portions and dodgy past-their-best potatoes.

Monday to Thursday, because I’m not sure what order this lot’ll appear in:

Pasta Arrabiata and green salad

Spanish pork and chorizo stew with rice

Spicy butternut squash with feta, served with crusty bread

Thai prawn, ginger and spring onion stir fry with noodles

Friday – either a takeaway or Wetherspoons, I think – I need some sort of reward for all this organisation!

 

**Linking up with Mrs M**

Smoked Salmon, Rocket & Horseradish Pasta

I’m on an ever-continuing quest to find non-meat meals that Ashley, my other half, will actually eat, and when I answered his ‘What’s for dinner?’ question last night, his response when I told him was less than enthusiastic, shall we say.   However, he really enjoyed it and even went as far as to say he’d eat it again, so it was a bit of a result, really.

I thought it was delicious, too, and as it was so quick and easy to throw together, I thought I’d post the recipe here.

Serves 2

200g pasta – I used fresh tagliatelle, but any old pasta would do.

100g smoked salmon, cut into strips.

1 lemon, zested, plus the juice of half of it.

4 handfuls of rocket, you can roughly chop it if you like, or if you’re lazy like me, not bother.  The original recipe called for watercress, so you could use that if you preferred, but as I had rocket which needed using up, I substituted that.

2 tbsp horseradish sauce

2 tbsp half fat creme fraiche

Optional: some finely grated Pecorino cheese to sprinkle on the top, and lemon wedges to serve.

1.   Cook the pasta according to instructions on the packet.  Drain and tip into a bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well, adding lashings of black pepper.

2.  Eat.  Enjoy.

See – couldn’t be simpler!

**Linking up with Mrs M’s Recipe linky **

Fabulous Food

When we were in London a couple of weeks ago, we had an amazing meal at Clos Maggiore, a little restaurant near Covent Garden.  Ashley and I had eaten there once before and loved it, and we were just as impressed on this second visit – the friends we were with really enjoyed it, too.

We chose the six course tasting menu, and not content on this occasion with keeping a copy of the menu (I collect menus from lovely restaurants I visit – they make such a nice reminder of an enjoyable occasion), I decided to photograph each course as well.

We had matching wines with each course as well, which were all delicious (and perfectly chosen accompaniments by the very knowledgeable sommelier).

Seared Wild Scallops with Salted Cod Brandade, Herb Vinaigrette.  Probably my least favourite course, as the flavours were a bit disappointing.  But better was to come …

Roasted Goose Foie Gras & Hazelnut, Pain d’épices & Poached Quince – just a delicious combination of textures and flavours, and far more beautifully presented than my crap photo would have you believe!

Slow Cooked Fillet of Cornish Cod “Rougaille” , Vermicelli & Shellfish, Iberico Chorizo Sauce – loved this, the fish was cooked to perfection, and somehow the strong shellfish and chorizo flavours didn’t overpower it.

Caramelized Honey Glazed Gressingham Duck Breast, Roasted Red Plum & Endive Meunière, Ruby Port Sauce – the duck was very strongly flavoured, and I couldn’t eat it all, but the presentation was once again amazing.

The cheeseboard.  Always one of my favourite parts of a meal.

Dark Valrhona Chocolate & Griottine Fondant, Griottine Cherry Sorbet – considering I’m not a huge fan of chocolate desserts, I demolished this in about five seconds!  The cherry sorbet was the perfect accompaniment to cut through the richness of the chocolate.

Goodness, reliving that has made me hungry!  Is it lunchtime yet?!

Lentil, Chick Pea & Chilli Soup

Regular readers will know that I am not a big fan of winter, but one of the things I do like about it is eating big, hearty, steaming bowls of soup.  Healthy and delicious, too – what’s not to love?

I’ve noticed over the last week that mornings are definitely getting lighter and evenings a little longer, so spring must be on its way, despite the fact that it was -3 degrees C when I did the school run this morning!

So while it’s still wintery and chilly enough, I thought I’d share one of my favourite winter soup recipes with you.  It’s delicious, a bit spicy, really filling, and ridiculously simple to make.

2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp (or more if preferred) chilli flakes
1 red onion, chopped
140g red lentils
Approx 1 pt veg stock, depending on how thick or runny you like your soup
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
1 small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
Greek yogurt, to serve
  • Heat large saucepan and dry fry cumin seeds and chilli flakes for 1 min.
  • Add oil and onion, cook until onion softens.
  • Stir in lentils, stock and tomatoes, bring to boil and simmer for 15 mins.
  • Whizz soup in blender until it has a rough puree texture, then pour back into pan and add chick peas.
  • Heat gently, season to taste and add chopped coriander.
  • Finish with a dollop of yogurt.

I’m sharing this post as part of Mrs M’s February recipe linky party, so if you like cooking, do pop over and have a look at all the other lovely recipes.

 

Menu Planning Monday

In order to lose weight and get healthier (and also because it saves money, without a doubt), I’m determined to get back into menu planning this year.  With this in mind, I’m joining in with Mrs M’s weekly Menu Planning Monday linky.

Having over-indulged all Christmas, we’re planning a somewhat healthier start to 2012, and this week’s eats look like this:

Monday – lamb curry (using leftover lamb from last night’s leg)

Tuesday – Prawn stir fry with noodles

Wednesday – Almost Vegetarian Cassoulet (found a recipe for veg cassoulet, but decided it needed a few bacon lardons added to flavour all those beans!)

Thursday – Vegetable and egg fried rice

Friday – Pasta with tomato and tuna sauce

Saturday – undecided.

Sunday – Roast chicken

I’ve done my online shop, ordered an organic veg box and am good to go for this week.  My selection of recipes doesn’t look very exciting, but I’m hoping to get some inspiration for next week from reading everybody else’s menu plan Monday posts!

Happy cooking!

Bits & Bobs

I don’t often go to M&S Food Hall  (far too much temptation in one place – get thee behind me, Satan), but when I popped in last week to pick up some bits and bobs for my cocktail evening, I treated myself to this salad for lunch:

Crayfish and mango, with a coconut and chilli dressing.  It wasn’t cheap, but it was huge and ABSOLUTELY delicious.

And while I was waiting at the checkout, I couldn’t resist picking up these little pots of yumminess for Will:

 Considerably more expensive than buying him a chocolate bar, and probably only an equivalent amount weight for weight, but the cute pots got me!

Like I said, far too much temptation …

Moving on, do you remember I wrote about a vintage dress I picked up by Horrockses Fashions a couple of weeks ago?  Well, while I was researching it, I discovered there was a book all about the company, so I ordered a copy from the library.

It is a beautiful coffee-table type book, and is full of vintage loveliness – just look:

I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours flicking through it, and learnt a lot in the process as well.

William finally got the cup he won for being Year 6 Scholar last year, and brought it home earlier this week:

I am a very proud mummy, and love that the winner’s name is engraved on it each year.

(I’ve blurred out the surnames on purpose – they are written in full in real life!)

Having waited very VERY patiently for Season 6 of Grey’s Anatomy to become available in this country (it’s been available everywhere else, even FRANCE, for MONTHS), I finally lost patience, as there’s still not a date for it, and Season 7 is already available in the States, for goodness sake, and bought myself a Region 1 boxset of Season 6.  Thank heavens for multi-region DVD players.

I’ve only watched the first three episodes so far, but am so enjoying catching up with all my favourite characters again – it really is one of the best series I’ve watched for years.

And finally, at the end of this post of total randomness, new shoes:

A bit of a Chanel vibe going on here, and very on-trend with the block heel, but only £26 from the Next Directory.  Really comfortable, too, as Next have wide fit options in loads of their styles these days.  Love ‘em.

 

Friends For Dinner

I am writing this at 4pm, and it has literally bucketed down with rain ALL DAY today.  Thank goodness we’re off to Spain for nine days on Sunday – and fingers crossed that the weather will be better there!

Last night we had Ashley’s business partner Mike and his wife Emma over to dinner, and a fun evening was had by all.  Ashley exercised his culinary talent, and made an absolutely delicious meal.

Canapes made by me – they were supposed to be smoked salmon blinis, but unfortunately the smoked salmon was a bit mouldy when I took it out, so rather than poison everybody, I rummaged through the cupboards and came up with the unusual combination of blinis with pate, garnished with green olives and sundried tomatoes!

Cod loin wrapped in parma ham with parsley sauce

Herbed fillet of beef in a port sauce, stilton crouton, roasted new potatoes, beans and carrots.

Orange slices marinated in peach schnapps, raspberry coulis and clotted cream.

It took me nearly all morning to wash up!!

 

This Week …

I am thinking …  about my Life Audit.  I am completing a detailed time log and a daily information sheet each day for 28 days.  It’s quite time consuming at the moment, but as I get used to doing it, it should get quicker, and hopefully the results will be worth it.

 I am thankful … for healthcare.  William still has his cough, and three courses of antibiotics haven’t got rid of the infection.  He’s had a chest x-ray, which was clear, thank goodness, and has now been referred to a Consultant Paediatrician – we’re currently awaiting the appointment.

From the kitchen … this week’s menu plan includes Sweet & Sour Pork, Roasted Butternut Squash & Feta Bake, Vegetable Chilli, Risotto and Spaghetti & Meatballs.

 I am creating … Nothing very much, really.  I’m giving my inspiration board a bit of a makeover at the moment, so I guess that can count as creativity.

I am proudof William, who was made a prefect at school yesterday.  I can’t believe it’s his last year of junior school.  How quickly they grow up.

 I am going … out for a walk later on with my friend Annette.  It’s ages since we walked, and the plan is to make this at least a weekly event again now the spring is here.

I am reading …  I’ll Be There For You by Louise Candlish, which I’m enjoying, but I’ve been reading it in dribs and drabs, and I need to have a big chunk of time to sit down and really get into it.

One of my favourite things the new Frock It meme hosted over at Mid-30s Life.  An inspired idea, in my humble opinion.

A few plans for the rest of the week … pizza and a catch-up on Thursday evening with my friend Faye, who I haven’t seen for a while; Water for Elephants at the cinema maybe tomorrow or Friday; dealing with a very large pile of filing that’s got my name on it, and continuing to work on my Life Audit.

This Week I’m …

… Reading

I’m just coming to the end of House Rules by Jodi Picoult, which I’ve enjoyed a lot.  I have another of hers in my bookcase, waiting to be read – Picture Perfect – which I might well take on holiday with me at the end of the month.

… Watching

The first disc of Season 3 of The Tudors has just arrived from Lovefilm, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into that.  Gotta love a bit of Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

I’ve also been watching Silk, a series about barristers which finished recently on the BBC.  After a bit of a slow start, I’ve become quite engrossed in it – some interesting characters and good storylines.

… Cooking

Am slowly plodding through my 43 Things challenge to cook at least one recipe from each of the cookery books I own this year, and Saturday night’s dinner was this delicious goats cheese baked in a walnut crust, served with roasted beetroot, chilli and shallot salad.  From Rick Stein’s French Odyssey.  Yum.

… Looking Forward To

… The Easter Holidays.  Will breaks up from school for a month on Wednesday – woohoo, a whole month of no alarm clock – how lucky am I?  Plans for the hols include lots of cinema visits, friends over to play, trips out to the skate park with the JD Bug scooter, and of course, our week in Tenerife at the end of the month.