Monday, 24 October 2011

Pumpkin-ALE-ia Mania

How on earth I kept this to myself last night I have no idea.

I've posted about my beloved pumpkin but what I never mentioned was that for ages I have coveted the ultimate in pumpkin love - Pumpkin beer.

Now if you are a stalker reader of some of the blogs listed on my 'Blog Love' page then you may have seen that over in the USA, Pumpkin beer is really common this time of year.

I've tried to source it over here by searching the web and even asking retailers if they have ever seen a pumpkin beer in the UK.
I usually get the 'man, this woman is crazy' look. I'd more or less resigned myself to the fact I was just going to have to hot-foot it over to the States in the autumn one year in order to sample the holy grail of pumpkin goodies.

Until now...
Picture the scene....... Monday is nearly over and I have stopped off on the way home from work to pick up a few fresh fruit supplies from the supermarket.
I don't go near the beer/wine aisle as it's right at the other end of the shop to where I am mooching.

Come check out time there are hardly any tills open and as usually happens to me, I get beaten to the nearest free checkout by some pensioner....

I end up at the other end of the store to the checkout right at the end (pensioners don't like this one, too far to walk)
In a bit of a daze (the supermarket will do that to ya) I unload my wares and spend the time waiting for the customer in front to stop fanying about pay for her shopping.

I glanced down the beer isle and oh.my.god.
I forgot where I was, left the shopping and ran- yes, ran-  to the display. Could it actually be..... I saw a pumpkin, read the label and I think I actually let out a squeak of delight.

PUMPKIN BEER!
Actually it's 'Pumpking' beer.
There is a beer god and he was smiling right down on me yesterday. Even better, this beer is brewed here in the UK.

In my state of happiness and while trying desperately not to pee with excitement I snaffled 4 bottles of the stuff and ran back to the checkout.

Thankfully the same woman was still messing about with paying but did I care? Absolutely not. I relished the sound of the 'chink, chink' as the bottles shuffled along to be scanned and had such a grin on my face I think the girl on the checkout thought I had a screw loose.

Back home I had to line them up for a photo call
What a great table centrepiece.

I can't tell you how psyched I am about finding these in our little old supermarket.

Cheers ;)

I like mine mushy....

Monday rolls round again (too quick for my liking).

We had a busy weekend with lots of eating and drinking so in a way it is nice to get back into a meal routine today.

Not that it was in any way easy to roll out of bed this morning. It was a good 15 minutes after the alarm that I managed to haul the old bones out of the pit (and that was after a 1-2-3 count - anyone else do this?!)

Late up meant I had limited time for sorting out the pack up's so it was a grab and go kinda mash up in the kitchen.

For breakfast I pulled together a cereal combo.



In this mornings mix: pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice, banana slices, Total 0% blueberry all topped off with a packet of 'Bear' cocoa cherry pie granola.
It made for an interesting and colourful combo.... think I may pass on the blueberry next time though in favour of just plain.

Mid-morning I went with some carrot sticks that were looking a little sad in the fridge.

A pear and 3 satsumas completed the morning treats.


Lunch was a jacket with cheese and mushy peas with a little side salad.
Now forgive me. I totally forgot to snap a photo of the jacket and salad. My brain is fried today. Here is an apologetic snap of the raw ingredients......


Mushy peas  - did you double take?!
Most people seem a little phased at their addition to the top of a jacket as I guess they are commonly associated with Fish and Chips (mmm, and don't knock it).
If you've never given them a try then just do it! They are seriously good and a real comfort food.

If you do fancy going down the 'in for a penny' route then please also add the cheese. It's heaven.

This is my stand-by lunch. I always keep a tin of either mushy peas or baked beans in the cupboard and a potato in the spud store. This way I know lunch is only a 'ping' away - and on days like today that is just what you need.

Not even the freezer escaped the grab and go raid this morning. After rooting round in the depths I came up trumps with frostbite half a pack of raspberries. Into a container they went and we had afternoon snackage taken care of.

Now, I don't wish to labor the point but I am afraid that the colds/coughs have not yet abated. We are still suffering - hubbie more so than me. So we have made an executive decision to cancel the gym classes this week until we are definitely better.

It's not fair to other members either as we just keep passing the bugs round (bleugh).
So a rest week is declared at Cookie towers.

Dinner is echoes of Christmas by way of a turkey dinner.


Christmas dinner in October? Yes please :)
But oh lordy, I have just realised that I forgot the blinking sprouts... oh my..... I need to go lie down. How could I forget the sprouts?!
Stay cosy x

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Jug and Bottle

Being new to this lark I still find it a little weird taking pictures of my food with an audience.
Saturday we went out to the local pub for a meal and although my camera was in the bag I was a little embarrassed to snap a picture of my meal. Same thing happened at lunch today.


So in lieu of food snaps I thought I'd share with you a lovely little gem of a place that I pass on my way to work.

http://www.jugandbottle.co.uk/

This little place is an Aladdin's cave for the foodies out there but they have also been voted the UK's best independent cider retailer in 2011.


Along with a vast list of ciders they also usually have a couple of guest draught bitters/lagers to try too.
If you purchase one of their carry out beer jugs  (as we have) then (providing you remember to bring it with you) you just pay for the quantity of beer or cider on tap that you purchase. 






You can see the jugs along the top of the door there, we have the smallest, I think it was about £2.25 but it's a one-off purchase and worth it to try all the lovely beers.

This week I went for a bramley apple bitter for the husband to try. As it was on offer at £2 per pint I got him 3 pints in our carry out jug.
Just be aware that the bitters need to be drunk withing 24 hours of purchase - not a problem in this house :)

It is a small shop but really packed to the rafters with all kinds of goodies - cheeses, chacuterie, wines, bottled lagers, chutneys, nibbles, biscuits for cheese, chocolates..... the list goes on.



They also make hampers for Xmas and if you order before the end of October then you get 10% off your order. Perfect if you have a difficult person to buy for.

I may or may not have bought some little bite-sized balls of Irish goats cheese in garlic infused oil...... Lordy these are amazing, good job I only got 7 of the wee things as they are dangerous.

It is a great place to stop off at if you are fancying picking up a nice bottle of wine and some olives or nibbles. It is also great to head to for a look round as you'll always find something you need to buy.

We are hoping to go in December for their wine and cheese tasting evening.
This does mean I will have to stop there again to buy the tickets (but not dreamy, bite-sized Irish goats cheese.....)

Happy Sunday :)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Frantic Friday :)

Phew. Yesterday was a good day but man was it busy.

As promised I stopped to pick up coffee on my way to work. Let me tell ya, it was pitch black yesterday morning, it took ages for the sun to start to appear. I'd much rather travel in the morning dark than in the evening dark though, I hate driving home in the darkness.

So the kind lady at the drive thru' filled my coffee right to the top. It still took the usual 14 minutes before it was ready to sip though:
My thumb needs to be a little bigger..........

Breakfast was cooked up at home and eaten when I got to work. I thought I would give the egg whites a whirl in the microwave to have a turkey-egg sandwich on toasted bread.

Hmmm, I don't think I expected the whites to be quite so gloopy..... first thing on a morning this did make me gip a little:

But I cooked them up for 2 minutes and actually they were fine in the sandwich, even if it did look a little white over all. I added some ketchup too, gotta have ketchup in a breakfast sandwich.

Lunch was packed and ready to go:

There was: red grapes, carrot sticks, 2 satsumas, pear, strawberries, raspberries, spicy soup, tuna salad and a bag of snack-a-jacks.

When lunch rolled around and I opened the soup.... erm...... lets just say it was a little buzzin' in there. I had the salad but I just fancied something more. So I headed out with a colleague to the local M&S food hall to snag some goodies.
I bought a little snack-pack of sushi which was delicious and went well with my tuna and feta salad (cukes, tomato, red onion, romaine and small tin 'Be good to yourself' tuna/bean salad).

In the M&S sushi mix: red & yellow pepper, beetroot and cucumber small rolls and a larger tuna roll plus a little bottle of soy.

While in M&S I also picked up some Christmas coffee:
This may not stay unopened for long.

Mid-afternoon there was some snackage in the form of Hot Tomato Snack-a-jacks.
From work it was straight to the gym for spinning followed by circuits. I am sore today in the arms and thighs but I guess in a good way.

To say we were ready for tea was an understatement. Thank goodness for freezer left-overs.
Hello chilli and browm basmati, with a side of veggies of course:
For afters I had the strawberries left from my lunch:
This weekend is another busy one as we have family staying tonight. So I've been up early changing bedding, hoovering and general tidying.

Tonight I think the plan is to eat out at the local pub but I'll update ya'll tomorrow.

So far I've had breakfast on the hoof:
Right, errands to run before the guests arrive so have a great Saturday and I'll catch ya on the 'morrow.

Laters gators x

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Pumpkin patch

I think I've mentioned my love of pumpkin a few times recently.

Imagine my delight yesterday when on the way home from work I spotted a batch of pumpkins for sale at the side of the road in one of the little villages.

Well, I couldn't resist these babies. For £1.50 I snagged a small one from the box on the right and a larger one from the box on the left.
They make lovely autumn decorations:
Although they look great I do feel a soup coming on at the weekend so as not to let them go to waste. The smallest one on the top left is actually an onion squash but I don't think it will mind being lumped in with its bigger cousins.
My pumpkin love is in no way exclusive to the fruit itself but extends to both the larder and home fragrance.....

Starting left we have: pumpkin pie spice from my lovely sister in law over in America, Kringle Pumpkin Spice candle, Libby's canned pumpkin x4 (gotta love Amazon), Yankee Candle wax tarts in Pumpkin butter cream and spiced pumpkin, Yankee Candle candy corn sampler and Yankee Candle tea lights in Frosted pumpkin and Spiced pumpkin.

Thank goodness Yankee Candles have not yet come up with a sprout range or I would need therapy.

Many of the blogs I follow celebrate 'Coffee Friday' I have been honouring this tradition for a while so I will be leaving home a little earlier this morning in order to swing by the local drive thru so I can pick up a nice, steaming, freshly ground large black coffee.

There is however an exact time which I have to wait before the coffee is cool enough so as not to burn my face off mid-commute.
Believe me when I say I have tested this by trial and error (and have the blisters to prove it) Soooo, my perfect time is 14 minutes from receiving said coffee, by which time I have usually reached our aforementioned 'Pumpkin' village.

And I think  that may just be the perfect way to wind up this mornings post - we've come full circle :)

Happy (coffee) Friday!

Question:
Any favourite pumpkin recipes out there that you'd care to share? Would love to hear them.

Getting ahead

I took full advantage of the extra time last night and prepared today's breakfast and lunch.

Into a pan went pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, 28g fruity oats and 1 crumbled scan bran. I added a cup of water and put on the heat for 10 minutes. I then turned off the heat, put the lid on and left the oats overnight.
All there was to do this morning was to reheat and serve - with coffee of course
Lunch was packed and ready to go:
More spicy sweetcorn chowder, salmon salad - lettuce, red pepper, cherry tomatoes, spring onions, cucumber, 1 lightly smoked salmon fillet, 1 tbsp ex light mayo.
For snackage during the day - Honeydew melon wedges, strawberries, 2 satsumas, pear, red grapes and 2 babybel gouda. The Activia yogurt is pictured but was not consumed :)

Once at work the farm shop list came round for ordering lunch and I just could not resist the idea of some garlic and chilli olives. Mmm-mmm. I love olives and 4 of these babies eaten through the day today did the trick for me when I fancied reaching for something perhaps less healthy.


Tea was a recipe I have wanted to try for ages using Naz curry spices - Chicken Korma.
http://www.restaurantcurrykits.co.uk/ 
I followed a video upload from his facebook site to see how it was made - it was so easy and fast.

I used a heaped teaspoon of the spices as he suggested. Once I had dished mine out I added 2 teaspoons of hot chilli sauce to the husbands - some like it hot, he likes it very hot and I knew if I said Korma it would just not cut the mustard. He really enjoyed it, especially the spiciness ;)

I served mine with some wholegrain basmati, a low fat mini naan with garlic coriander and a side of that traditional Indian accompaniment.... SPROUTS!! Heh heh, see, I really am addicted to them.


Not to mention a low cal beer..... well we are celebrating getting through Thursday after all.

Now it's time to sort out tomorrow's early post and prepare for Friday.
We are heading back to the gym tomorrow for the first time since Monday. Spinning at 5.30pm followed by circuits at 6.30pm. Kill or cure time :)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Grocery Shop 1

For those of you that are as nosey as me and wonder what people buy each week on their grocery shop I thought I'd start posting the weeks groceries (gosh, it's rocking isn't it!)

As I mentioned before I often go for home delivery. It's only this year that I've really started doing the shopping this way and sometimes I do just head out to get it myself, particularly if I haven't been organised and booked a cheap delivery slot! 
I usually use Sainsbury or Ocado for online groceries and I've found both of them to be excellent.

This week the shopping quota was HUGE!
Typically we go through a lot of fruit and veg every week so that is nothing new but this week we needed more of the staples such as rice and stock and I also took advantage of a few offers (rude not to).

I must confess to adding a few new things to the trolley this week - testing purposes of course. Usually I am fairly good at sticking to just what we need.
Ocado is a little too tempting for me as they have such lovely and different foods; so I usually do an Ocado shop just once a month.
Here is this weeks haul:

Now (deep breath) here is what was on the list:
Fresh raspberries
Strawberries
Granny Smith apples
Mini gala apples - they are mini too, suitable for a borrower I think! Won't get these again.
Bananas x 6
Onions
Rooster potatoes
Baking potatoes x4
Red grapes
Organic carrots
Organic carrot batons (on offer not just cos I am lazy!)
Satsumas x2 nets (offer)
Conference pears x2 packs (offer)
Garlic bulbs x3
Salad bowl (offer & curiosity buy, won't get again, too small)
Cucumber
Half fat coleslaw
2 sausage rolls
2 Scotch eggs
Feta cubes
Babybel mini Gouda
Activia fat free mandarin yogurts
Heston from Waitrose somked stout and golden syrup streaky bacon (no excuse)
Heston from Waitrose tea smoked salmon (curiosity buy)
Two Chicks liquid egg whites
Wafer thin roast turkey
Semi skimmed milk - 2pts
Happy Eggs - 6 large eggs
Bear Granola Nibbles - cocoa cherry pie
Kettle Crisps Ridges - Cheese and onion
Kettle Crisps Ridges - Salt and Vinegar
GU chocolate banoffee's x2
Knorr Chicken Stock Pot
Knoor Vegetable Stock Pot
Snack a Jacks hot tomato - 1 pack
Tilda wholegrain basmati
Canned chick peas
200g bar 70% chocolate
Waitrose turkey breast joint
Waitrose chicken livers

Phew. That is some shopping.
Both the husband and I take pack up to work so the sausage rolls, scotch eggs and Kettle crisps are all his :) ahem.

I was tempted to try some new items this week:
Waitrose basted turkey breast - was on offer and with only 10 weeks (10 sprout-eating weeks)  to Christmas it's never to early to enjoy a turkey dinner in my book and this is perfect for a 2-person dinner.

Two chicks liquid egg whites - I am thinking omelette,  really just to see what an egg white omelette is like.... I'm assuming tasteless :)

Florette Garden Side Salad bowl - hmmm, rather small and says serves 2! No way. There was 50p off so I gave it a go but not again.

Babybel mini Gouda - I love these cheeses and these ones are new to the range. Great for grab and go snacking.

Heston from Waitrose tea smoked salmon - I want to try some of this made into pate and the rest I might just enjoy with some scrambled eggs (or egg whites! ha)

Snack a Jack hot tomato - just fancied the flavour and they are really good for dipping / scooping.

That is the larder and fruit bowl re-stocked, no excuses not to eat well this week.

Not feeling it

I am certain that during the night someone came in and swapped my lungs for pickled walnuts.
Ordinarily I would be at the gym right now doing a double session of 'Jump FX' followed by 'Pump FX' but to save them calling out the paramedics later I decided to take a rest day today.

Breakfast was consumed mid-morning as (shock horror) I wasn't really hungry first thing:

A cereal combo with strawberries, fig and an Activia fat free yogurt. Alongside were the rest of the strawberries and the usual fresh coffee.

Lunch rolled round and I am still on the spicy corn chowder / unattractive soup :)
Paired with a side salad of romaine, tomatoes, red onion, 50g reduced fat coleslaw and some feta - slim pickings but the shopping wasn't coming until later.

I had a small pear to follow which went un-pictured.

Tea is courtesy of an M&S meal deal but still healthy:
I cooked up some mashed potatoes, more carrots and lots of sprouts to make a delicious, filling meal. I think I may have a sprout addiction, I seriously love the little green guys. I'd eat them with everything.
Tomorrow's pack up is done, shopping is away so I think we are on track for a nice relaxing eve (bar the coughing).

Until tomorrow :)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Simple Simon meet mah belly :)

First things first - today's Graze box. Yum-alicious (is that even a word?!)


The suspense was killing me as it was a full 10 minutes before I got chance to open today's box of goodies.
Inside I wasn't disappointed.
There was: Top left: Fig roll - sponge pieces, fig and sesame balls, cinnamon spiced sultanas. Top right: Smoked paprika, garlic and thyme rustic marble bread. Bottom Left: Honeycomb crunch - Almonds, sultanas and milk choc coated honeycomb. Bottom right: Fruit and seed flapjack.


The fig roll was by far and away my favourite this week, closely followed by the bread. I had one piece of the flapjack but shared the rest with my dad. I could take it or leave it really. The honeycomb crunch was kind of wah - I've tried it but I might rate it as 'bin' as I wasn't too fussed. Same with the flapjack really. But all in all a nice combo and added a little excitement to this blustery Tuesday!


Should you fancy trying a free one, go along to the website and enter this code: XZQ67T6 and your first box is free, the second (should you wish to continue) is half price.

Tuesday is always a busy night in this household as we both have stuff on. So the timer is set on the oven for tonight's special treat - Simple Simon Pies. My word, if you like pies then you will totally love these. The pastry is out of this world, I've never had pastry like it and believe me, I have eaten a few pies in my time ;) (there is a joke in there somewhere but lets not go there).

Tonight I have salmon fillet, pink peppercorn, broccoli and horseradish pie. I can't wait to dig in later. The husband is having the sausage and potato pie with onion gravy. If you go to the website the menu is so different. There are a couple of Venison pies which I am busting to try and also a calamari pie. Not to miss the vegetarians out, they have a really good selection of delicious sounding vegetarian pies too - perhaps an idea for Christmas?!

These pies are so filling that we have nothing more with ours but you could have a few new potatoes or some steamed veggies alongside if you wanted.

Here are the little beauties patiently waiting in the oven:
In case you were wondering, I am not on commission or paid to promote any of these products! I am simply passing on sites that I have discovered and products that you may (or not) like. Hope you don't mind. As I find stuff I will continue to share.

Well, gotta fly. Time marches and before you know it I'll be tucking in to my lovely fish pie. I might consume a glass of vino too, perhaps white tonight ;)

Night all!


Grazing day

Mmmm, Tuesday. 'Graze' day in my world at the moment.
Graze is a fab company that send little healthy snacking parcels out to you in the post. There is a vast aray of lovely foods to choose from - breads and olives to seeds and flapjacks. You rate each item and the Graze team pick 4 items based on your personal tastes to go into your box each week.
I go for the 'nibble' box but there is also a nutrition box option where you choose from 'eat well' which provides only the healthiest snacks or 'energy box' which is low on  the GL scale.

If you want to try your first box totally free then go to www.graze.com and enter this code XZQ67T6. Choose your likes from the list of foods and you too could get a little box of delicious healthy snacking through the post.

I like to have my graze box delivered today as I tend to eat lightly on a Tuesday.
Usually the husband and I enjoy a 'flexible meal' on a Tuesday night. I am out until 9-ish and the hubbie does a double session at the gym so we plan either a takeaway or something ready cooked that just needs to be re-heated.

Tonight it is 'Simple Simon's Pies' - http://www.simplesimonspies.co.uk/ 
OMG! these pies are totally out of this world - but we'll get to those in a later post tonight.

Back to this morning. They day has gotten off to a good start in the form of freshly brewed coffee and a ripe fig.
Followed by a snack left over from last weeks Graze box - 'Florentine' - dark chocolate buttons, cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Morning energy boost or what :)
Yum Yum.

Once today's box arrives with the post I will snap a picture and let you know what is in it. I like it to be a surprise each Tuesday, but you can check the night before to find out what is coming if you really can't wait.

Oooh, exciting :)

Laters aligators x

Monday, 17 October 2011

Schweddy Slap....

Tee hee :) You know the satisfying 'slap' as your work out gear hits the floor?! Mmmm baby, that was my clothes tonight after a brutal but brilliant spinning session.

Now ordinarily I wouldn't condone exercising when feeling under the weather but I think you know yourself and I knew I was feeling well enough and even that perhaps a sweaty workout would be good.
Ooof it burned at times in the old thighs but in a nice way. I must admit that the lungs feel like walnuts though.

Lets return to lunchtime.
Bear with me here, I know my soup looks a little gross but trust me, it is good. I think its because I used black turtle beans and these have made the soup the funny colour. But it hit the spot and filled me up.
Recipe is here http://www.savvyeat.com/crockpot-spicy-corn-chowder/ I followed the recipe with the exception of using black turtle beans.

Paired with a simple Greek salad - romaine, cukes, tomato, red onion, 7 black olives and 42g cubed feta - and topped with good balsamic this made a really great lunch.

Mid-afternoon I had some Snack-a Jack curls (88 cals, bargain) shortly followed by some pineapple slices and an Activia Fat Free yogurt.

Tea was a dilemma. I was just not feeling in the mood for anything. I'd defrosted some sausages  low fat garlic and herb for me. But what to have with? In true comfort-food fashion I opted for Actifry chips, baked beans, egg and sausages.
Healthy-holy-delicious:

Even the husband said it totally hit the spot tonight. Sometimes you just need those meals.
Healthy? Why yes. The chips were cooked in the Tefal Actifry with 1 tsp oil, the low fat (syn free) sausages were grilled, the beans... well they are just beans and the egg was fried in Fry Light.

I am finishing a tiny glass of wine (125ml) while we catch up on Spooks from last night, only one left in the series after this :( how will I cope?!

Have a good night all, that is Monday nearly over.... phew.



Monday Blues

Even after 10 (yes, 10) hours sleep I still was not feeling it this morning. The cough is worse and if someone had offered me a pass out of work then I might just have taken it.

Alas it was not to be, instead I hauled my sorry booty out of bed and got ready for work.

For my hour long commute to work I made sure to have some caffine on hand
Sometimes, life has a way of making you smile, even when you are not feeling great. On the way into work today, a rainbow:

and a lovely sun

Breakfast is a cereal combo - sliced banana, Total 0% blueberry and Bear granola cocoa cherry pie (yum).
Mid morning I'll be enjoying a fig, pear and satsuma

Right, lots to do. Catch you later :)