Slow Cooking Sunday – Stuffed Peppers

This is just a quick post put together from a few photos of a meal I cooked earlier this week. Im currently hanging like a bat in a cave after a weekend away camping at the Kent VW show. Living with a VW nut I get dragged along to these things from time to time, and at these events there is no much to do apart from sit around drinking all day.

I know, it is tough for me but sometimes you have to make these sacrifices. I did not take any pictures, so I cannot write up a review on here. If you wish to learn more about the VW scene here is a great post which I starred in my google reader written by the wonderful Vintage Vixen. Oh, and I was dancing to the Birdy Song at three in the afternoon in a field. What? All the hipsters do it, don’t you know!

Back to the food, the slow cooked food no less. I took a recipe for roasted Moroccan Peppers from a book I bought at The Works for £2.50 to base mine on. I have just listed some of ingredients I used and left it up to you to decide how much you wish to add of each. This is such an easy recipe to adapt and could be made with quinoa or bulgar wheat or with feta cheese or with what ever you fancy/have in your cupboard.

Ingredients
2 peppers
cous cous (sorry I did not weigh it, I judged by eye how much I would need for 2 people, maybe google will be more helpful than me?)
1 tsp harissa paste or to taste
juice of 1 lemon
sultanas
sunflower seeds
half a ball of mozzarella (save the rest for homemade pizzas – yum)
spinach

before cooking

Directions
Slice peppers in half and discard seeds and pif.
Boil kettle add water needed to cous cous according to the instructions on the pack.
Mix in harissa paste, lemon juice and whatever else you fancy. I added some spinach as I love my leafy greens, but in hindsight maybe I should have wilted it first in a frying pan or added into the cous cous at the boiling water stage. You live and learn.
Stuff peppers with cous cous mix then layer the cheese slices on top of them and place into slow cooker and cook on high for around 2-4 hours. (I did around 3 hours so the cheese had melted and the peppers were lovely and juicy)
Serve and enjoy!

after cooking

plated up

Tuesday Tune

In honour of my new Kitchenaid mixer (which I promise to stop wanging on about) and my naming her Spinderella, I have decided to do dedicate a Tuesday tune post to Salt-N-Pepa. It is deviating slightly from my female guitarist theme, but I think they deserve an honorary mention for their own contribution to the cause of females kicking it in the music industry!

Many moons ago when I was a kid, I owned a Salt-N-Pepa’s compilation on tape. I listened to it to death and knew all their lyrics off by heart.

This was when I was in junior school. When I think back as an adult, who now cant really remember their lyrics just the song titles etc, I did wonder if they were maybe a little bit rude for a young Helen’s ears. Dear me, now I really am old – what have I become!!

But having now watched their video’s on You Tube to research this post, I realised that they had lyrics to tell women to be strong and independent, and they did not wear too revealing clothes or use their bodies to sell their music (Rihanna and Shakira – I’m looking at you!) They just used their talent and gave as good as they got to prove themselves in the (still) male dominated world of hip hop.

So basically this means I have managed to justify that I can tut slightly at my 8 year old neighbour being a massive Niki Minaj fan! I’m oooollllldddd ok!

And finally the classic that gets everyone dancing and I still know every word to!

Slow Cooking Sunday – Ham In Coke

Right, this recipe is as simple as they come. It uses just two ingredients to produce some slightly odd but very tasty results, so I am told.

In our house I make this as sandwich meat for Rob’s packed lunches, it’s more economical than buying packs of sweaty wafer thin ham or at least it would be if I could stop Rob from helping himself to thick slices cut straight from the fridge as a snack!

If you use a search engine to look up recipes for slow cooker ham in coke, you will see a lot of recipes that say rub this in, then finish in the oven, boil down the juices etc, which I am sure all taste great. But I don’t see the point of using the slow cooker if it is just for one stage of the cooking process and will create more washing up. Basically I have adapted this recipe to the easiest possible method/lazy girls way!

Ingredients

A cut of ham or gammon, make it a unsmoked one
A bottle of coke, make it a full fat one. The sweeteners in diet drinks will not work.

Directions

Unwrap the meat, put it into the slow cooker.
Pour the coke into your slow cooker until your meat is fully covered.
Drink the rest of the coke.
Switch slow cooker on to low then cook for 8hours minimum. NB I tend to cook this overnight. This time I forgot to set my alarm properly, so it ended up cooking for nearly twelve hours, but it was fine. The only problem was that it tasted slightly of cheap coke, so I would recommend to not be a cheap skate like me and buy the branded stuff that a jolly father xmas drinks or otherwise know as the devils teat juice.
Pour away your cooking juices and leave to cool and slice.

Its hard to make a photo of a lump of meat look appealing!

I apologise to any veggies out there for the gratuitous meat shots!

Yeah, you have probably gathered that I do not eat this, I make it out of love for Rob as boiled bacon is one of his fave things, but I do not want to stink out the whole house making it. I have also made this with Dr Pepper (verdict – v.good) and have been asked to try it next with Cherry Coke. This ham could also be made with ginger ale, lemonade or just plain water!

The Post I Said I Would Not Do

Honestly, I have real trouble thinking up blog title posts. I have made this title sound really dramatic when its only a post to show a few snaps I took two weeks ago. I left a comment on Laura’s blog post that my photos from Indietracks were rubbish and I was not going to show them on my blog. But while I was uploading them to Facebook the other day to show my pals, I changed my mind as I want this blog as kind of diary of my life to look back on in years to come.
So here are my unedited (still rubbish) snaps and a quick write up of our break.

Two weekends ago Rob and I were enjoying ourselves at Indietracks, watching bands we had mainly not heard of before, and – umm – drinking lots of alcohol. My kind of fun!

It was our first time at this festival, and its the smallest and one of the most chilled and friendly festivals we have been to. It also seemed that most of the people we camped near were in the bands playing over the weekend!

Highlights include –

  • The Vaselines
  • Stevie Jackson
  • Some mad metal(ish) type of band who I don’t know the name of but had everyone watching them laughing (in a good way).
  • A former train carriage turned into a bar – great for people spotting.
  • Rob asking me “why are so many blokes wearing fox jumpers” me – “don’t you know, foxes are the new owls” Rob “oh”.
  • Rob and I playing a drinking game we invented called spot the satchel, basically drinking every time we spotted a satchel, needless to say we got bladdered.
  • The campsite showers.

 

Introducing Spinderella.

Finally the kitchen is finished. I promise the big reveal post is coming soon, I just need to take some decent pictures.

But for now I can formally introduce you to my dream machine – my pink Kitchenaid mixer!

Rob completely surprised me with my amazing birthday present this year! Is it possible to be in love with a mechanical object? (Umm, don’t answer that one ladies!) Because I have fallen for her big time!

So far I have made a disastrous marble cake, x 2 cupcakes, a chocolate buttercream cake and tomorrow I plan to bake some chocolate chip cookies. Basically, I am never going to be a size 10-12 again, farewell diet plans!!

Inspired by Tracy calling her Kitchenaid Sir Mixalot, and many others out there in blogland and beyond naming their machines, I have decided to name her Spinderella!

Yep I got a little carried away on Picmonkey!

Sigh, isn’t she photogenic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IljogO9Cpf8
I love a bit of old skool hip hop!

A Plate

My mum frequents the chazza shops more than I do and she always keeps an eye out for vintage knick knacks for me. While she was on a weekend break in Eastbourne she picked this up for me for a pound.

Is it a plate or a serving platter? Who knows or cares? I like it ands that’s all that matters! Well done Mum!

P.S. I could not be bothered to edit these pictures (what can I say, I am a lazy blogger!) so I apologise for their darkness, blame it on the good old British summer and my average camera!

10 Things About Me

Inspired by Laura’s post here, I thought I would have a go and share 10 things about me with my readers.

If anyone reads my blog closely enough, they might have noticed that I did previously publish this post a few days ago. I put a load of waffle in the introduction about how I don’t want my blog to be too personal then wrote a few too personal details in the post!

So here is take two, a much less opinionated and more lighthearted version of 10 random things about me.

1. Back in the eighties when most kids were listening to Kylie and Jason, I was listening to Fleetwood Mac. Blame it on my parents who played the Tango In The Night album all the time! I have always been odd.

2. I cannot decide if this stuff is the best thing ever or the most disgusting thing I have ever eaten. I bought some to make some whoopie pies with, but have been eating it by the spoonful from the jar. It tastes like the inside of tea cakes. 

3. Twelve year old me would be proud of me, in that 20 years later I am still wearing DM’s.

4. I wish I was better at photography, but I am too lazy to re-learn the techniques.

5. Rob and I used to own two rescue pet chinchilla’s called Zack and Miri. We named them.

6. I am a tomboy. I don’t wear dresses or skirts if I can help it.

7. I am a Queens Park Rangers fan.

8. I have a potty mouth.

9. I hate gardening but still daydream about having a vegetable patch.

10. I really, REALLY want to visit Iceland. I would also love to go to this festival but its a tad out of my budget right now. One day maybe.

 

Rob’s Birthday Cake

I previously hinted that I had a top secret project planned for Rob’s birthday cake. Maybe I was a little over ambitious in my plans but I decided to make him some cookie monster cupcakes.

What’s that coming over the hill, is it a cookie monster? Umm no.

This is why I will never have a future in cake decorating!

I had seen pictures of other peoples success’s online and thought they looked relatively easy to recreate. I bought a special grass piping nozzle and some blue gel colour, and had been excitedly discussing my plans with my mum. I even watched a tutorial on YouTube in preparation!

Well on the day I made these as per usual nothing went to plan! It took ages to get the right colour blue and I stained my nails and hands with the food dye, left lots of blue fingerprints everywhere and ruined a hand towel in the process!

When I finally managed to get some of the icing into a bag ready to pipe onto the cakes, I found it is much trickier than it looks to get the desired fur/grass effect! Then some of my holes in my piping nozzle blocked up, so the icing was only coming out of one or two holes! Plus I don’t have much patience with fiddly things, so basically I just gave up after managing to get one cupcake slightly resembling cookie monster!

After eating nearly a whole bag of white chocolate buttons and a few Maryland cookies, I calmed down and the crisis was over. I just put the rest of the icing into another piping bag with a nice large (read it as easy!) nozzle to decorate the rest of the cakes and call them smurf cupcakes!

Next time, when I recover from this fiasco and I am brave enough to have another attempt at these I will try the coconut method as shown in this video here instead of the piping method.

I just thought – I could have poked the nozzles holes with a cocktails stick to unblock them! – Doh!
Never mind, yet again its not WWND ha ha!

I admitted defeat and gave up after one attempt! Fiddlyness 1 Me 0.

Smurf Cupcakes!

I sent the cakes over with Rob to give to his work mates at a place where he freelances. Apparently they dyed everyone blue!

 

Rob’s Birthday Gift

The end of June brings Rob’s birthday. This year for his main gift I bought him tickets to Indie Tracks (yey!) and a SodaSteam Genesis machine.

RRP £60. Bought by me for £45 in Robert Dyas. Money well spent I hope!

Now I am not a huge lover of fizzy drinks, but Rob can easily guzzle down a 2ltr bottle per day of whatever we have in the fridge (Dr Pepper is his fave).

This is all very well and good but I have been increasingly unhappy about the amount he drinks and the amount of bottles we end up recycling.

I have only got the power to change one of those things. My goal is to reduce, reuse and recycle, so if buying this means that the amount of plastic in my green recycling wheelie bin goes down. Then I will be a happy girl!

 

Image from The anti room. I think this is how my parents 80’s one looked!

I can just about remember when I was a kid in the early eighties my parents had a SodaStream in their kitchen as they were all the rage back in those days. Recently they have become more popular again, as people get more concerned about the huge eco-footprint caused by the manufacture, transport, waste and recycling of plastic bottles.

I hope we (mainly Rob) will get many years of fun from our new SodaSteam. I personally cant wait to have sparkling water at the push of a button! And you don’t have to just use the SodaStream syrup’s. We can use any cordial we have to hand. I cant wait to have a fizzy Bottle Green elderflower drink!

But the thing that sold this product to me was that there is a slimline tonic syrup. So when we have our G&T’s we never have to worry about running out of tonic water! Yey!

Slow Cooking Sunday – Maple Mustard Chicken

This is a lovely and very easy recipe that I found here, when I was searching for something completely different, but it was a lucky find.

I love slow cooker recipes that have very few ingredients. The fewer the better I say! This one has just four, but it could really have just two. I did not think the paprika added anything to it, and the black pepper you could skip and just put a grinder on the table to add later. In fact Rob did do just that, as I could not be bothered to tell him I had already added pepper to the chicken!

Ingredients
6 chicken thighs (not pictured as they are pugly) I used thighs with skin and bones but took the skin off them.
3 Tablespoons of maple syrup
1.5 Tablespoons of Dijon mustard
A sprinkle of paprika
A shake of black pepper

Directions
Put the chicken in the slow cooker bowl. Mix maple syrup and mustard in another bowl, then pour on chicken. Add the paprika and pepper if you want to, but its not essential.
Cook for 3-4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low, depending on how fierce your slow cooker is.

Terrible photo, sorry peeps.

Well this was very simple and tasty. Its a keeper that’s for sure.

Top tip, if you have a slow cooker get yourself one of these. I got mine for three pound in Morrison’s BTW. Rob likes a bit of sauce (ooh matron!) with his food, so in order to serve the cooking liquor/gravy, a stainer is invaluable as chicken thighs are fatty little so and so’s.

Even if you remove the skins like I did, you will still get a lot of grease in your sauce during the cooking process. So your arteries will thank you for buying the jug.