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Saturday, 4 October 2014

Say NO to Takeaway: Do Your Own Thai Makeaway instead!

I live alone and I must admit, sometimes when I get home from work, I wish that dinner was already on the table waiting for me. But never would I ever pick up the phone to get takeout. (Ok, ok, maybe the odd fish and chips as a special treat)

Now I'm no stranger to making takeaway alternatives at home. So when I was invited to try out Sainsbury's 'Makeaway' range, I thought it'd be a good opportunity to try out some new takeaway alternative recipes on some friends, to show them how easy and cheap it can be.
(That was the plan anyway.)

Sweet Chilli Prawn Rolls
These little prawn bad boys only take about 15 minutes to bake in the oven. They are packed out with prawns (surprise!), bean sprouts, carrot, ginger, lime and coriander, all mixed with sweet chilli dipping sauce. It can be a little fiddly to wrap them up in the filo sheets, but after the first couple, you'll get the hang of it in no time. Just imagine that you're wrapping up a portion of fish and chips and you'll be fine. Serve these warm with extra dipping sauce. Be warned though, they will disappear quickly!

Turkey Udon Pad Thai
Udon are my favourite type of noodles, although admittedly, the 'quick-to-cook' ones you get from your bog-standard supermarket are nowhere near as good as the ones you can get from a Chinese supermarket. In any case, it does save you precious minutes (and an extra pan) when whipping this dish up, as you don't need to pre-cook the noodles separately beforehand. This recipe also uses a packet Pad Thai sauce, whereas normally I like to make my own sauces from scratch, just because you know exactly what you're eating. It was secretly pleasing though to be able to just pour the sauce in straight from the packet at the end ;-) It went down very well with my friends also and they were impressed that it didn't take long to make.

Thai Green Beef Burgers
Now this last dish here I didn't make for my friends, but was for my lunch the next day. I have not really tried Thai green curry before because I fear it will be too hot for my spice intolerable palate, so thought I'd coax myself into trying green curry paste in a Thai Green Beef Burger instead. The result? Yes my eyes were streaming a little by the end, even though there was only 1 tbsp of paste per burger, but it was super tasty! It probably didn't help that I added a dollop of sweet chilli sauce onto the burger just before eating also, whoops!

It did encourage me to try making a Thai green curry though (which I'll post about another day as that's a whole other story I need to tell you about!).

But back to my friends. They were making plenty of yummy noises whilst eating my prawn rolls and pad thai, so I asked them if it would encourage them to try making stuff like this themselves instead of ordering a takeaway next time. "Hm, maybe," said one, with a mouthful of noodles, "But I think I'll just come round to yours instead so you can make it again!"

Well, I'll count that as a partial success then I guess?!

If you liked this, you might want to try making these other takeaway alternatives too.
Continue reading this post..

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Five Ways to Use Coriander

So when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, they say.

But what if you get a massive wodge of coriander?
Don't worry, I wasn't actually served a dinner plate's worth of fresh coriander.

I usually buy fresh fruit and veg from my local market. They don't normally sell herbs, so when I spotted some fresh coriander the other week, I immediately bought some, without realising how large one lone bunch actually was.

Now coriander is one of my favourite herbs and when I buy one of those normal little packets you get from the supermarket, it usually isn't enough. But this one from the market was just ridiculous!

Of course, I didn't want to end up wasting too much of it (and hell yes I managed to use it all!). But I didn't want to get overly coriander-fatigued either and simply use it up within freezable batches of just one or two dishes. So here's five different ways of using up coriander, should you ever find yourself in such a situation...


Bacon, Tomato and Coriander Omelette
This omelette is perfect if you want something a bit different for breakfast, or are after a light dish. As you can probably tell from the image, my omelette flipping abilities aren't great, but as long as you can slide it out the pan and it tastes good, who cares, eh?

Lemon and Coriander Rice
This works particularly well with basmati rice, if you want to make a simple rice salad, where you can then also add some chickpeas and sweetcorn too for instance. Otherwise try this as an easy way to jazz up plain old steamed rice.

Coriander Beef
This is a beefy mince dish which is marinaded in oyster sauce and sesame oil, before being joined with fresh tomatoes, sweetcorn and onion. The fresh coriander is stirred through right at the end, so that it doesn't wilt too much. Best served with steamed white rice.

Hummus
One of the easier ways to use up a larger amount of fresh coriander because you can freeze the hummus in small batches if you need to. Oh, and don't worry if you don't have a food processor to make this either. All you need is some extra elbow grease.

Lemon and Coriander Yogurt Cake
Finally, I had to of course find some way of baking coriander into a cake. A few years back, I did an Orange and Rosemary Yogurt cake that turned out pretty well, so I figured that a lemon and coriander version would work just fine. And most thankfully it did!

One more extra tip - whilst coriander doesn't freeze particular well, try filling up an ice cube tray with the any leftover leaves and a bit of water. You can then pop them out individually into hot dishes, as and when you fancy a bit of coriander.

So hopefully that has given you some ideas to try the next time you find yourself with some coriander to use up. Enjoy!
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Friday, 22 August 2014

Restaurant to try: @Blacksmiths_Pub Donnington, Chichester

Woah, good food alert.
Me and my friends have a little dinner club night out to a different restaurant once a month - a nice way to catch up on a regular basis, as well as having a good excuse to try some new food. We secretly rate the restaurants afterwards with a score out of 10 and everything*. All for a bit of fun ;-)

We've been doing this for the last two years now and it's just occurred to me that I've never written about any of 'em. It's not that they've all been rubbish experiences or anything like that. They just didn't seem worth writing about.

But yes. The Blacksmiths Arms is definitely a good'un.

It's a pub in Donnington just outside of Chichester which re-opened a couple of months ago after a complete renovation. One of my friends had been there a few weeks before for lunch and recommended that we try it out for our next dinner outing. And so we went.

It's slightly confusing where you walk in, as it is a short hallway, with an open doorway to the left and directly ahead of you is other doorway which shows the side of the bar. (Well to me that's confusing but I'm easily confused.)

I wandered towards the bar (because there were staff there, not because of the prospect of drink!) to ask for our table. As I turned back to check the girls were following, they had disappeared! But they had just made a sidestep through the other door instead. With the low beam ceilings as well, it all seemed a bit Alice in Wonderland. (Like I say, I'm easily confused.)

The dining room itself is lovely - light, warm and homely, and not pretentious. The tables are actually quite close together but at the same time you don't feel like you're sitting on top of another dining party. Probably because there's a lot of natural light from the big windows where you can look out onto their massive gardens (spot the chickens pecking around at the back!).

Everything on the menu looked really good. And I mean everything. The three of us were umming, ahhing and debating for ages. For starters, I went for the Asian tiger prawns, which came with a sweet lime and ginger dip and cucumber, carrot and cashew salad. For the main, I had pan-fried salmon with chorizo, slow-roasted tomatoes and white truffle mash (top of post).


As you can see, this is definitely a place where you eat with your eyes! I love it when you have food presented so beautifully to you, it really makes a difference. All of us were eating slowly, trying to savour everything, not wanting the food to end! I didn't have a dessert myself, but my friends were singing the praises of the local cheese board.

The service seemed to slow down towards the end of the evening, but maybe that was because they were pretty busy by then. We were so relaxed though that we weren't too bothered. It gave us a chance to eye up the dishes on other tables at least - next time I'm definitely going to try a steak!

The Blacksmiths
Selsey Road
Donnington
Chichester
PO20 7PR
01243 785578

www.the-blacksmiths.co.uk

* Psst. Our combined rating was 29.5/30 :-)

Other restaurants you might be interested to try
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Monday, 14 April 2014

Hungry-Jenny-Faux-Pas: How McDonalds Took My Dignity

It all started when my good friend Samji text me this photo:
Instantly, I turned into an excited young teenager:

"OMG! Lol. Maccy Ds? G2G get 1! BRB."

And so I did, quite literally, the next day - venture into McDonalds and order a Big Mac meal, with a side of two Happy Meal toys:
No shame was felt as I gleefully took the photo and Whatspped it over to Samji:

"Snap! Haha."
"Cool. U collecting them all as well?"
"Yeh! I've GOT to!"

And that's where it started to go downhill.

I don't even like McDonalds but suddenly I felt compelled to collect ALL the toys.

It's the Super Mario thing - whenever I see something Super Mario related, I get ridiculously excited. (I don't have Super Mario bed sheets or live in a big mushroom house or anything like that though, I'm not completely obsessed.)

In this case though, since I had been exposed to this in its first week, I thought I might as well just get the remaining 6 toys as well…

(Ok, the mushroom above makes a really cool 'Power Up' noise and I wanted to see if the other toys made Super Mario noises too*).

Samji got me up to speed on how to go about collecting the toys in a dignified manner:

1. You don't have to buy a Happy Meal to get the toy, you can just purchase it separately.
2. There's usually a choice of 2 toys to choose from each week, so you can get 2 in one go if you want.
3. Just buy a drink if you don't want to fill yourself with the grease of McDonalds.

Ok, ok, I thought. So actually, I only need to go into McDonalds 3 more times to get the next 6 toys.

That's not so bad. I'll just go in and grab a cup of tea and 2 toys to go. No need to consume any of that crap, and aside from the slight embarrassment of asking for a Happy Meal toy with no child by your side, you can leave the establishment with your dignity intact.

FAIL.

I ended up going in 5 times and buying a fat loada food each time (I didn't take photos of all the food I ate cos I forgot - um, not cos I was slightly ashamed also).
In part of my (very weak) defence, there were a couple of instances where I was only able to buy one toy rather than two (so had no choice but to go in again, right?).

I'm now the (proud?) owner of these 8 cool toys, but at what cost? About £25 worth of foodal crap bought and what worked out as around 4,000 calories later? Ouch.

The silly thing is that I did keep thinking, hey, if you really wanted a collection of Super Mario figurines, you could just find a set online which is probably cheaper and without putting a load of crap in your body too. But I was too far gone. I wanted these Happy Meal ones. I had to get them. And I secretly indulged in the fatty goodness.

Damn you McDonalds.

*FYI No, the other toys don't make sounds.

Fancy a laugh at my other Hungry-Jenny-Faux-Pas?
Continue reading this post..

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Cinnamon Granola Muffins

I found myself in a bit of a granola pickle last week.
Not literally of course - pickled granola sounds gross.

Recently I've got myself hooked on a variety of strawberry granola from Sainsburys, to the point where I don't really like to buy or try any other version. Yes, I know I could easily make my own granola and blah-blah-blah. But hey, we all get lazy right?

Anyway, back to the point - I went to the supermarket to stock up on my beloved strawberry granola and oh shock-of-horrors, they were out of stock.

*gasp*

Being melodramatic here, as there were plenty of other varieties to choose from. I stood there for a good five minutes mulling over which one to buy, all the while suppressing the urge to let out a tantrum childish scream of "But I wanna strawberry oneeee!" Eventually I picked up a red apple, raisin and apricot variety. Sounds nice, it'll do, I thought.

Sadly I was wrong. It tasted nice sure, but it was way too tough and chewy for my delicate teeth. Cor, I'm not going to have time to eat this in the mornings! I certainly had no intention of chucking it away, so I figured I should try and turn it into a more edible breakfast.

And thus, these Cinnamon Granola Muffins were born. As well as the granola, I used some additional dried fruit in the muffin mix also, but you could throw in extra granola in there instead, if you so please.

They are quite dense muffins, as they use wholewheat flour, but perfect for breakfast or a mid-morning snack. I didn't get a chance to test whether these freeze well (as if so, they would be perfect for a grab-and-go jobby), but I forgot to leave one by for this purpose and they all got gobbled up before I realised!

So you shall simply have to bake a batch and see for yourself...
Cinnamon Granola Muffins Makes 12 muffins

150g + 50g granola of your choice
200ml orange juice concentrate
150ml olive oil
2 medium eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g brown sugar
200g wholewheat flour
3 tbsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
50g dried mixed fruit

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Put the 150g granola in a bowl, pour over the orange juice and set aside.
2. In a small jug, beat together the oil, eggs, vanilla and sugar. Add in the orange juiced granola.
3. In a mixing bowl, sift in the wholewheat flour. Mix in the baking powder, cinnamon and dried fruit.
4. Pour in the granola juiced mix into the mixing bowl and gently fold in, until just mixed.
5. Spoon the mixture into a lined 12-hole muffin tray. Sprinkle over the remaining 50g granola atop each muffin.
6. Bake for 20-25 mins until risen and golden brown.

More Hungry Jenny cakes here.

Other healthy baking recipes you might enjoy.
Continue reading this post..

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Hungry-Jenny-Faux-Pas: Attack of the Almond Cookie Ghosts

I certainly didn't want my first post of 2014 to be a Hungry-Jenny-Faux-Pas. But this was something I just couldn't keep from you.

What with it being Chinese New Year yesterday, I had this grand notion that I'd get myself back in the blogging game and kick off the year by sharing with you some Chinese New Year almond cookies.

What I didn't anticipate however was that they would morph into these creepy-looking Almond Cookie Ghosts in the oven…
Aaaaargh!

The funny thing is, I made a batch of almond cookies just before Christmas, as a present for my brother-in-law which he seemed to enjoy. I mean, they did threaten to bubble dangerously out of control when I baked them, but somehow restrained themselves. They at least came out the oven as individual cookies.

I wanted to work on the texture and sweetness of the cookies though, and so decided to play around with the recipe a bit. I should really have known that something wasn't quite right when I ended up with a slightly stickier dough than expected.

Ah well, I thought, I'll leave it to chill in the fridge and it'll sort itself out. And of course, it didn't. As I rolled out the individual cookies, they still felt suspiciously sticky.

But no matter, I thought to myself again, I'll just bake them anyway. I mean, how bad could they be?

Ten minutes later, this happened...
Nooooo…! I probably shouldn't have left them unattended. But from the living room, they smelt so good, I figured they were doing ok...

After a period of chuckling to myself, followed by a short period of despair, I decided to taste it. And here's the surprise - they actually tasted really good! Nicely sweet, with a kind of fairy cake type texture.

So with that, I confronted the ghosts and sliced 'em up to take them into work. And they went down a treat!
"Oooop!"

Ha, take that, you silly Almond Cookie Ghost!

Fancy a laugh at my other Hungry-Jenny-Faux-Pas?
Continue reading this post..

Saturday, 2 November 2013

The Lost Appetite of Hungry Jenny

Hello?

Are you getting this?

Oh, my sweet Hungry cakes, I don't know what's happened.

Look, I don't have alot of time, so listen up ok...

So it's been 6 months now since my last post. In the blogging world, that's like a century, right? You've probably moved onto other things. Don't worry, I understand.

But - I seem to have lost my appetite. No, not literally, I'm still Hungry, now don't you worry about that. But this past year, I just haven't been...feeling it. It's not you, it's me.

I still bake, but usually now just stuff I've already posted before, or, shock horror, from other recipe books. I can't seem to find the energy or headspace to come up with new stuff these days.

A major factor of this actually is work - as much as I love it, demands are getting bigger and I'm pretty much brain-fried by the time I get home. And the last thing I want to do when I get in, I'm sad to say, is switch back on my laptop. Not just for blogging, for anything. I barely even go on Twitter anymore.

It used to be a therapeutic thing. Both the creative side of baking/cooking and the writing. Actually, I lie. It still is a therapeutic thing. Even as I write now, I'm feeling such a nice sense of calm and I wonder why I don't still do this more regularly.

But using my laptop is a faff - this is the first time I've been able to use it within the last couple of months. It's old and tempermental. Sometimes it decides to work, sometimes it doesn't.

I'm sat here right now with the laptop plugged into my TV because the screen doesn't work. If I take the laptop mains out, it will all go. And sometimes my wireless connection doesn't work, and my internet cable thing isn't long enough to reach. Hence why I don't have alot of time.

I couldn't leave you folks without a little recipe to end the post on though. It was originally meant to be kind of like rocky road - but I'm not a fan of marshmallows or raisins in chocolate. So they're just Glorified Chocolate Digestives really!

Glorified Chocolate Digestives
Makes 12

150g digestive biscuits
200g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
100g unsalted butter
2 tbsp golden syrup

1. Put the digestive biscuits into a large plastic bowl (or a bag) and use the end of a rolling pin to bash them into crumbs.
2. Put a pan on a low heat, and melt the chocolate, butter and syrup. Turn off the heat.
3. Gently mix in the biscuit crumbs.
4. Spoon the mixture into a 12-hole cupcake tray and allow to cool for half an hour, before then sticking in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set.

Hope to see you guys again soon..!

Other chocolatey recipes you might enjoy.
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