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.
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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:

chicken tinga wrap

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…

goan curry

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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.

goan curry finished

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

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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

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

Guest Blog: One girl’s guide to weight loss motivation

Emma’s story: It was about a year ago when my doctor told me I had an obese BMI and that I needed to lose weight – something like that really changes you.

What I originally thought was just a bit of extra baggage was now a one way ticket to diabetes, and I suddenly questioned everything about myself and my entire lifestyle.

That memory, which even now I hate to think about, was my epiphany moment in which I finally realised that my weight had spiralled out of control – I needed to fix it there and then – there were no excuses and no alternatives, it had to be done.

But do you have to wait until you’re shamed by your GP to finally start a healthy lifestyle? Do you have to wait until you’re classed as obese? No, you don’t. You can start right here, right now, you just need to find out what motivates you.

If you were to ask me today for a motivational weight loss quote I could recite quite a few – classics such as; ‘excuses don’t burn calories’ or ‘don’t eat sugar, you’re sweet enough already’ are some of the things I internally tell myself on a day-to-day basis to try and stay focused on my weight loss journey.

For a long time though, quotes like these meant absolutely nothing to me – I just wasn’t ready to hear them. After trying (and failing miserably) a million different diets and exercise regimes, I grew tired of hearing people say things like ‘eat clean, train dirty’ or ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ – I just want to smack them in the face with my Ben & Jerry’s.

The reality was that those quotes, no matter how inspirational some people thought they were, were just another reminder of my inability to lose weight and the continuous lack of motivation that I had.

When you know you’re fat, the worst thing you can hear is someone telling you you’re fat. It’s the same with motivation – when you have zero motivation, you hate it when people tell you how to be motivated, because you feel like nothing they can say will change you.

Motivation

Some people say that successful weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise – the gym bunnies of the world will probably say that it’s 70% diet and 30% exercise.

The truth is that it is motivation, above anything else, that is the key to a successful health regime, or any other achievement in life. If there is nothing driving you and pushing you to achieve your goals then what is going to stop you reaching for that bag of crisps or tasty chocolate bar?

So before you start your weight loss plan or even if you’ve tried and failed in the past, you need to understand your emotional triggers.

What would truly motivate you to lose weight? You need to find, what I think of as your ‘A-ha!’ moment (no, not the band), an epiphany in which you realise that you need to start making life changes and sticking to them in order to be happy. I like to call this motivational fuel.

For some, this could be something small such as your favourite jeans are now too tight as you’ve put on a few pounds over Christmas. However, for some of us who really struggle to get motivated it could be something much bigger, such as you have an obese BMI like I did, or you’ve been asked if you are pregnant (yes that happened to me too).

Sometimes it takes the drastic or the emotionally scaring to really wake you up and realise you need to do something. If you have finally hit your breaking point then this is your chance, use it to change your life and get healthy.

If you don’t know what your motivational fuel would be, then you need to think about all the times when you have been upset by your weight or when you have wanted to get healthy – try and find what would be a trigger for you to really push yourself.

If you don’t have any, then think of something which could happen in the future, such as you eventually get too big to shop at your favourite store or you would be too shy to wear a bikini on the beach.

Emma's Story

You need to picture how you would feel if that were to happen and why it’s now in your hands to change it. Once you’ve hit that epiphany moment you can now really kick start your life. But remember that motivation is a fire that you need to keep fuelling, so here are some of my tips to help:

1. ‘Think slim’ at every opportunity possible: This could be as soon as you wake up, when you do your food shopping, when you cook dinner and when you are at the gym. Every free moment that you have you need to be thinking about how you’ll look when you lose weight and how great you’ll feel. The more often you think about it the more it will resonate in your mind.

2. Create new habits: If you can dedicate 3 days a week to the gym, stick to those 3 days – no matter what. If you’re not able to go to the gym, start walking for a least 30 minutes a day. Or every time you want some chocolate have a piece of fruit instead. Eventually, it’ll become a habit and it’ll just become part of your routine like going to work or brushing your teeth. When you have created a habit that you can stick to, create more.

3. Don’t buy unhealthy food If it’s not in your cupboards it can’t tempt you: Seriously don’t buy crap, even for ‘treat’ days as you’ll just be making things harder for yourself. Out of sight, out of mind – at least until you can control your cravings.

4. Track your progress: Apps such as MyFitnessPal will allow you to track all the food you eat in a day, the exercise you do and how much weight you’ve lost so far. If I ever feel like I’m struggling I’ll look at my weight chart and this fuels me to keep going.

5. Be proud of your weight loss: If you lose weight don’t keep it to yourself, tell people about it. Others will be proud of your achievement and those supportive comments can really drive you to keep going. After all, you wouldn’t want to tell someone who’s praised you for losing weight that you’ve put it back on, would you?

6. Exercise is your friend: If you suddenly get a craving for something naughty – do some exercise instead. When you’ve worked your butt off (literally) and you’re knackered and sweating, you are less likely to eat unhealthily as you won’t want to undo all your hard work.

7. Social media: The internet is an amazing place for keeping you motivated. YouTube in particular is one of my favourite places to go when I’m struggling. You can find so many weight loss success videos that are incredibly inspiring. Instagram also has Before and After pictures which are fantastic for seeing the effect healthy eating and exercise can have. You can find them using #beforeandafterweightloss – it will make you believe that if they can do it, you can too.

So there you have it, my tips for motivation. Hopefully this will help you if you have been struggling to get started or keep going. Remember, you’re in control and the only person who can achieve your goals is you.

Stay strong and don’t give up – and I’ll let you in on a little secret: Once you’re ready for it and your motivation fire is burning, losing weight is not as hard as you think. The 3 stone I’ve lost so far can vouch for that…