SimplyCook: Restaurant quality food at home

The internet is inundated with goodie boxes being delivered to your door, from beauty to food to stuff for your pets, it’s hard to know what’s legit, what’s worth the money and what isn’t.

I stumbled upon SimplyCook by accident, but I am glad I did. Here’s the details:

What’s in the box?

Firstly I’ll point out the box fits perfectly through a letter box, and it took two days to arrive – now that is service!

There are four individual boxes inside, each containing ingredients for some VERY tasty food, along with four very simply recipe cards.
simply cook

Each individual box has three separate pots of spices/herbs/pastes to make something delicious, and it contains enough to serve two – although if you upped the other ingredients I don’t see why you couldn’t get them to serve four.

chicken tinga

I started with the Chicken Tinga – very simple and I already had in the kitchen everything I needed to make it. I’m no chef, but the recipe cards are definitely idiot proof – they are so simple any one could do it!

From covering the chicken in a paste…

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To adding herbs to some oven-baked tomatoes to make the tastiest salsa!

All in all it took around 40 minutes cooking time, but in the end we had these beauties:

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And they were beyond tasty! We also had Goan Fish Curry (but the bf doesn’t “do” fish so we swapped it for chicken) and it was the best curry I honestly think we have ever had.

The flavours are just amazing, so much so we have attempted and failed miserably to re-create it to no avail! The next few pics are a bit of food porn for the foodie in you…

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There is no way I could have created the flavours in these meals on my own – simple yet so tasty and flavourful.

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Finally we tried the Vietnamese Pork – this was unlike anything I have ever tried, it was sweet and delicious.

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As I said, there are four recipes per box and only three in this post… Let’s just say a very overexcited cat may have somehow chewed through the box and the plastic tubs. I was not happy!

Overall, I will definitely be buying one of these in the future. I don’t necessarily think one a week, but one a month would be ideal. At £8.99 a box with free delivery this really is a favourite and one I will be returning for again.

I couldn’t recommend them enough – and what’s more, all of the meals are calorie counted and are very low in calories. I am on a Slimming World journey and I found it easy to work out syns and still enjoy the meals!

Have you tried SimplyCook? We would love to hear your thoughts!

– love Carla x

*This post contains a press sample kindly provided by SimplyCook.com

Recipe: Mint Aero Birthday Cheesecake

Mint Aero Cheesecake 3

As it was the boyf.’s birthday a few weeks back, I thought I’d don my chef whites once again and attempt to make a cheesecake that he’d been eyeing up online for a while.

I’ve made a cheesecake before and it was actually a success, but I cheated slightly by using a pre-made base. This time I was going all out by making everything, and I can safely say although it went down a treat with the birthday boy, I never want to smell another mint Aero for as long as I live…

Mint Aero Cheesecake 1

Ingredients:

For the base:

  • 4oz digestive biscuits (around 12 biscuits)
  • 3oz melted butter

For the cheesecake:

  • 320g soft cheese (Philadelphia or the like)
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 250ml whipping cream
  • 2 large  mint Aero bars
  • 1 bag of mint Aero Bubbles (optional)

Method:

1. Place the digestive biscuits into a food bag, seal and than bash the living daylights out of them until finely crushed

2. Tip the biscuits crumbs into a bowl and slowly add in the melted butter, mixing as you go

3. Line your tin with clingfilm (easy way to get the cheesecake out later, always thinking)

4. Evenly cover the bottom of the tin with the crushed biscuit mix

5. In another bowl (obvs) mix together the Philadelphia and the icing sugar

6. Whip up the whipping cream and add to the Philadelphia mixture

7. Grate the two large Aero bars

*You will hate your life as you get covered in melted minty chocolate, but stick with it*

8. Add 3/4 of the grated Aero to the Philadelphia mixture

9. Spread the mixture onto the biscuit base, sprinkle the rest of the grated Aero on top and decorate with the Aero Bubbles

10. Leave in the fridge for at least 12 hours to ensure it’s fully set

Et voilà! A mint Aero cheesecake fit for a birthday cake replacement 🙂

– love Stef x

Slimming World: Week 1

It is no secret I need a good diet. I have tried everything from Atkins, gluten free, meat free, 5:2, juicing to plain old starving myself. Some of it works briefly, some not at all, but what I have learnt is that none of it is sustainable. The only one I surprisingly felt ok doing was the juice diet, mainly because I was drinking so much I was never hungry,but you can only do liquids for so long, so every now and then I’ll do a three day juice cleanse to re-set my body if I have had a particularly bad week but other than that, these “diets” for me just don’t work. And right there is why, they were diets and not a lifestyle change – which was what I am in desperate need of. So I joined Slimming World. All I can say is wow. I can eat so much food it’s not a diet, and I am finding it SO easy!

What is Slimming World?

I would basically call it the food lovers diet, simply because you can eat so much, you can have naughty treats (Syns) and not feel guilty, and it is incredibly easy to maintain. It has changed now and gone are the Red and Green days, instead it is Extra Easy and Extra Easy SP. It is all about Food Optimising and combinations of food that speed up your weight loss whilst keeping you fuller for longer. It is broken down into three basic categories: Free Foods, Healthy Extras and Syns. You need to incorporate all three for this to work, for you to maintain and not feel deprived of food.

Free Food

Free Foods are the best bit – you can have as much as you want, no weighing, measuring or calorie counting. Free Foods include:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Fish
  • Meat and Poultry
  • Meat Replacement
  • Eggs
  • Rice and Pasta
  • Beans, Peas and Pulses
  • Some dairy products

Basically pile your plate high with pasta or potatoes if you fancy it -it’s all about what you eat with it that makes it work, the important bit being Speed Foods marked with and “S” in the bible you get for joining. For example, you want Spaghetti Bolognese for dinner, go for it pile on the pasta and the meat, your speed food will be the veg you have with it, and make the sauce with passata to keep it Syn free!

Healthy Extras

Healthy Extras are the bits you can’t eat so much of, but you must still have one of each a day. You will have an “A” choice (hexa) being dairy foods high in Calcium such as cheeses and milk, and your “B” choice (hexb) will be items high in Fibre such as some cereals, bread, canned soups, nuts and seeds. This was a tiny struggle for me as I always use mozzarella cheese as my healthy extra A choice but I can only have 50g a day and anything else dairy I use my Syns for. Sounds adequate for some, but cheese is definitely my favourite thing in the world so it is hard to weight it out and put the rest away.

Syns

Syns are the good bits of food you really love, chocolate, crisps, naught cereals, ice lollies, alcohol and basically everything I have way too much of. The way it works is you have 5 to 15 Syns a day so you don’t feel deprived, so if you want a jam and cream doughnut you can have one, but it will cost you 12 Syns! You can be flexile with your Syns, so if you want to save them for the weekend you can, but always set a new goal to stay within your allowance and keep you on track.

Food Diary

That may all seem a bit much for someone who has no clue what Slimming World is, but I promise it is way easier than it sounds! Here is a typical weekday for me, as I work in an office it can be easy to pick at food, but I have managed to rope three of my colleagues into joining so it is much easier for me now!

Breakfast

1 slice of wholemeal toast (hexb) no butter (because gross!)

1 poached egg (you can have as many as you want, it’s Free!)

Mushrooms (Speed food)

Grilled tomatoes (S)

Baked beans (Free)

Then in the car I will eat an apple (S) and a nectarine (S)

Lunch

Jacket potato (Free)

Baked Beans (Free)

50g grated mozzarella cheese (hexa)

Salad – lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion red pepper and carrot (all S)

Strawberries and an apple (S) in a mullerlight (Free)

Dinner

Turkey breast steaks with lemon, garlic and Italian herbs (Free)

Sweet potato fries made with Fry Light and salt (Free)

Roasted vegetables (S)

Snacks

I generally pick at blueberries during the day at work, and at around 3pm I have a cup of tea (1/2 syn)

with 2 jaffa cakes (5 syns)

Day finished with 5.5 syns out of 15.

I am a creature of habit, so I actually eat the same things most days for ease, unless I want a lie in then of course I have two Rocky Road Hi-Fi bars (which are AMAZING but only available for purchase from the class, but I hear you can buy them from Ebay!) and my fruit on the way to work. All diet drinks are FREE, so I drink a LOT of Diet Coke!

Weight lost

This is the exciting bit, I have done no exercise at all, and literally the only thing I have changed is what I eat, and I actually never used to have breakfast so now I eat even more! I went to my first weigh in on Wednesday and lost 5lbs!

Whilst writing this I am nearly through my second week, and I have had a sneaky go on the scales and I have got say I am VERY pleased with the results so far! I have a few recipes I want to try so stay tuned and follow my food diary over on Instagram.

If you are on Slimming World and have any tips or recipes you want to share we would love to hear from you!

love Carla x

 

 

Recipe: Lemon curd Swiss roll

I adore the annual delight that is The Great British Bake Off so taking part in a monthly version at work was a very easy ‘yes.’

That was until I thought about it and realised that I then had to make the various desserts listed… But hey, I made calzones – surely I can whip up a pudding?!

Turns out I can (to an extent) – here is the recipe for my first bake-off challenge, the Swiss roll:

Swiss Roll

Ingredients:

  • Butter (for greasing)
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 115g caster sugar (plus an additional 4tbsp)
  • 115g plain flour

Method:

1. Grease a 13″ x 9″ tray with buttered baking parchment

2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

3. Put the eggs and sugar into a bowl and place over a pan of gently simmering water

4. Whisk until pale, creamy and thick – the mixture should leave a trail when the whisk is lifted

5. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk for a further 5 minutes

6. Sift the flour and use a large metal spoon to lightly fold in the mixture half at a time

7. Pour the mixture slowly into the tray using a spatula to evenly cover the base

8. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until well-risen, pale golden and firm to touch

9. Place a damp tea towel on a flat work surface and cover with baking parchment

10. Dredge the parchment with the 4tbsp of sugar (dredge means chuck the sugar all over the parchment), turn out the sponge onto the paper and remove the buttered parchment from the sponge

11. Cut the edges of the sponge off from each of the two longer sides

12. Roll the sponge tightly from the short end with the paper inside, before leaving on a wire rack to cool

13. When cold, unroll (but not flatten) and spread the lemon curd filling all over the sponge, leaving a 1cm border

14. Roll up and dust with icing sugar

Et voila! A Swiss roll that’s almost as easy as the pushing down a hill method!

*DISCLAIMER: Yes, I didn’t make the lemon curd, but what do you want from me? Do I look like Mary Berry? Baby baking steps people, baby baking steps…*

– love Stef x

Things I’m Loving #2

Things I'm Loving 2

1. Bloglovin’ app – I was at uni when I first became aware of blogs and bloggers and blogging, and it was through Bloglovin’ that I discovered my favourites. This site also helped me massively in my first two jobs as a PR and an SEO. The app is the perfect handy tool for catching up with your favourite blogs on the go – I’m (blog)lovin’ it (sorry).

2. Lush The Godmother & Rockstar Soap Stack – yes I’m a bit of a Lush lover, but when I saw this duo I actually squealed. In the store. In front of people. I have wanted both of these soaps for ages but have just never quite gotten around to buying. But, the clever people at Lush have put them together in a stack which is now sat in my room. Being looked at. And smelled. A lot (not sorry).

3. Charlotte Tilbury – another YouTube obsession is Charlotte Tilbury. Her how-to videos are amazing and her products are divine. They’ve made their way to the top of my wish/want/need list, but for now I’ll have to make do with drooling over the tutorials – if you love beauty, you should definitely check Charlotte out. Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot and Victoria Beckham’s gorgeous Allure cover are all recreated for your viewing pleasure.

4. River Island Gold Asymmetric Slip Dress – I heart a good ol’ sale and River Island never disappoints. This beautiful dress was just £15, (down from £45), and is very reminiscent of the dress worn by Teresa Palmer in my favourite film, Take Me Home Tonight. With a hen do coming up, this could be the outfit I’d been looking for.

5. Sex and the City – thanks to daily TV reruns, my love for Carrie Bradshaw and the girls has once again taken over. The outfits, the shoes, New York and more importantly, Berger. I loved Berger, and of all the SATC men, he is my absolute favourite. If there wasn’t a Big, I definitely feel like Berger should’ve been The One. And yes, I’m completely dismissing Aidan (bleurgh).

6. Greek yogurt & honey breakfasts – this month I’m making the conscious effort to get myself in shape. Eating will consist of healthy foods and I’ll be partaking in that strange thing known as exercise. I’ll be swapping brews and prosecco for green tea and water, and to kickstart my days, I’ll be chowing down on the delight that is Greek yogurt and honey (no sarcasm). It’s actually incredibly nice and does fill you up – if you want to be even more rock ‘n’ roll, you can add granola.

7. Real Techniques Brow Brush – by now it’s become apparent that I enjoy everything Pixiwoo/Real Techniques-related. The brow brush is something that has fallen in and out of favour, but I’m currently in a brush and eyeshadow mood for brows, so this is the tool I’ve been reaching for. The angled bristles are perfect for creating a defined brow and it’s extremely easy to use – win.

– love Stef x

Recipe: Valentine’s Day Calzones

Yep, you read that right – a recipe. That I used on that sickingly forced holiday known as Valentine’s Day.

To reiterate, I actually made dough – dough. Not bought something and put it in the oven, which is what my ‘cooking’ normally consists of. And it was edible, like really edible.

Valentine's Day Calzones

Granted they’re not the most perfectly shaped calzones, but you get the drift. So, onto the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 225g plain strong flour
  • 90ml milk (body temperature)
  • 50ml water (body temperature)
  • 1tsp dried yeast
  • 25ml garlic-infused olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 150g cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 200g buffalo mozzarella
  • 70g salami (sliced)
  • 70g chorizo (sliced)
  • 60g prosciutto

Method:

1. Sift the 225g of flour into a large bowl

2. In a separate bowl, mix the warm milk, water and dried yeast

3. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and make a dough

4. Knead for 5 minutes on a floured, even surface

5. Making a small well in the centre of the dough, add the olive oil and knead to combine

6. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with cling film. Leave it to prove in a warm place for two hours

*I discovered (somewhat luckily) that the above initial steps can be done the day before if needed – simply place the dough, still in its cling filmed bowl, in the fridge after proving*

7. Preheat the oven with a baking tray inside to 230 degrees C

8. Add the pinch of salt to the dough and knead again, before divided and rolling into four equal balls

9. On a floured surface, roll each ball out into 8″ circles

10. Place 1/4 of the mozzarella and Italian meat mixture (bung it all in a bowl, season and drizzle with oil) onto 1/2 of each dough circle, leaving a 1″ border around the edge

11. Use water to brush clean the edges, then fold over the sides and pinch closed the calzone

12. Bake for around 8 minutes

And there you have it – calzones fit for a Valentine’s Day meal. We accompanied them with a feta cheese salad and washed it down with a bottle (or three) of Prosecco.

Mez Bez and Paul Hollywood would be proud, I think 🙂

– love Stef x

Sydney, NSW: Phillip’s Foote BBQ, The Rocks

We had been in Sydney a few days, and realised we hadn’t had one barbecue. To rectify the problem we headed down to The Rocks and found the coolest barbie joint in town.

Down at Phillip’s Foote Restaurant the rules are simple: select your cut of meat and get it on the barbecue – just be careful you don’t over cook it!

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The meat is a high-quality and it’s all in the taste. Season it how you wish, oil it up and load up with veggies and salad! I’m not one for the BBQ, normally the boyfriend does it, but I just had to have a go!

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And it was SO tasty! I had a good piece of sirloin, the boyfriend had T-bone and all in it was around $70 (£35 – £40) –  not bad considering all of the other goodies are all you can eat.

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The place itself looks tiny on the outside, but once you are in it is a maze of steps and quirky hidey holes.

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And then there’s the homemade desserts. This is Blackforest heaven on a plate.

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I loved the evening there, and being very small on the outside as I said, you could quite easily miss it if you walked too fast.

Because of the location it’s a nice stroll down to the harbour once you have eaten yourself stupid, so head on down for the best barbecue in Sydney!

– love Carla x