• Day 1

    Tales from the Bare Cupboard Kitchen

    I won’t lie. It’s been a very long, trying month or so. Why? Because someone had the great idea of doing a kitchen renovation. You’ll hopefully forgive the lack of blogs lately too. We’ve lived in our house for nearly … Continue reading

  • Brownies 2-3373

    Barefoot Brownies

    “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schulz Well said, Mr. Schulz! I have to be honest, brownies are actually a recent addition to my bank of baking recipes. Anyone that … Continue reading

  • Pesto Crisps-3433

    Crafty Canapes – Pesto Crisps

    Don’t you hate it when you get caught short. No, I don’t mean in that sense, I mean when you have unexpected guests that pop round to see you. I love entertaining, but sometimes no matter how prepared you think … Continue reading

52 Weeks of Flavoured Water

Happy New Year!

I can’t believe how quickly 2015 flashed before my eyes. In fact, it was such a quick flash in the pan that I only managed to write two TFTBK blog posts for the whole year! Trust me, it wasn’t for the want of trying, but a combination of too much work, and the recent diagnosis of PCOS meant that my focus was elsewhere. But I’m back!🙂

Anyway, it’s a new year, and I supposed in ‘blog’ terms, a new me (again). I don’t really believe in making New Years resolutions, not because I don’t stick to them, but because it seems that after mid-January, nobody else ever does either. It’s at this point, that I hope nobody notices an earlier post that refers to me writing more blogs in 2015..ahem!

So what about 52 weeks of flavoured water, wtf? Well, as the old saying goes: “in for a penny, in for a pound”. So I suppose that the start of the year makes the most sense to start a new weekly blog challenge. In one of the two blogs I managed to write last year (!), I wrote a post about New Year, New Me and I made a list of five areas I wanted to improve upon in 2015:

  1. Be healthier
  2. Drink more H2O
  3. Blog more
  4. Spend more time with my friends and family 
  5. Take time out for myself

Week1 water-5499With the exception of little old number three (which coincidentally is the goal for 2016), I’m pleased to say that I actually stuck with and succeeded at my list. So much so, I’ve decided to dedicate this first post of 2016 to H2O, or rather 52 Weeks of Flavoured Water!

It’s a simple idea, and one I hope you’ll join in with – to drink less caffeine, sugary drinks and alcohol. I actually spent most of New Year’s day making a list of 52 different naturally flavoured waters using fresh ingredients that I will feature as ‘water of the week’ during 2016. As we’re becoming more conscious about cutting out sugar and empty calories from our diets, this seemed like the best way to stay hydrated, more healthily. Let’s say ‘no’ to the daily caffeine fix and put the soft drinks down. I’m still human after all, so of course a cheeky glass of fizz is still permitted – once inlemon and lime water a while!

To kick things off, and to really get my body and mind back into the right gear
after the Christmas and New Year celebrations, week one’s flavoured water is going to be nice and simple…lemon and lime. Check out my new purchase, a funky new water bottle from Amazon – my new pal for the gym and my office!

Time to get healthy – wish me luck.

If like me you’re embracing drinking more H2O, what’s your favourite naturally flavoured water? Let me know in the comments below!

 

The Tastiest Soup Around!

Easy Tomato Soup-4702I’m a huge fan of home-made soup, but I’ve never really liked the stuff you buy in the cans. I know it sound strange, but I just can’t get my head around it. Soup is one of the easiest meals to put together when you’re in a rush, fresh, filling and delicious, so why on earth would you eat something that has a shelf-life of up to 12 months?

Anyway, I think my dislike came from my first job after I left Uni, when a friend I used to work with would have tinned tomato soup every day for his lunch. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love some canned foods – tinned tomatoes, lentils, beans, condensed milk, sweetcorn, etc., but sadly not tinned soup.

My friend would always sing the praises of this well known brand of tinned soup, and I would often make fun of him – usually by getting him tinned soup for Birthdays/Secret Santa, you get the picture, and it sort of became our lunchtime routine. One lunchtime, when I couldn’t leave the office due to bad weather, lack of car and the mere fact I’d forgotten my own lunch, he dropped by with his bowl soup and two spoons and tried to convince me to try some. After a mild, if not entirely dramatic protest, I finally gave in and tried it (you would think by my protestations, he was trying to get me to try monkey brains!). Hmm, it was tomato, and yes, it was hot, but it was also incredibly, and unnaturally sweet – something I couldn’t get my head around. Alas, it just wasn’t for me. Whilst I thanked him for his gallant attempt to rescue me from lunchtime starvation, I wasn’t converted. Instead, I bribed him into popping out to get me a sandwich! He’s still a close friend of mine, and even though we no longer work together, our chats always seem to come back to the subject of tomato soup! And yes, he does have a copy of this recipe.🙂

I love tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich, it’s like the ultimate comfort food and great when you just want to veg out in front of a movie. Sadly, I’m currently on a health kick, so no grilled cheese this time round. But don’t let that stop you, check out my recipe for my super easy, delicious and above all healthy tomato soup!

 

New Year, New Me

I know that it’s probably too late to wish you all Happy New Year, but we’re still in January, so it’s OK, right? This year I’ve come up with the five things that I’m going to do to help improve myself in 2015. And because I’ve added them to the blog, I guess I’ve got to stick to them!

1/ Be healthier – I’m sporting my new Fitbit Flex, a gift to myself to help motivate and keep track of my fitness goals.

shutterstock_93940807

2/ Drink more H2O – Up my water intake. So whether its sparkling, still or naturally flavoured waters, H2O is definitely on the menu.

3/ Blog more – Fortunately my job as a copywriting keeps me busy, but usually writing blogs for other people! This year, I’m making time for my blog too.🙂

4/ Spend more time with my friends and familyMore importantly, the people who inspire this blog. Luckily for me, this is a no brainer, I just need to get better at it!

5/ Take time out for myself – I know it sounds crazy selfish, but sometimes my work/life balance is well, unbalanced. See a movie, learn a new language or indulge in a spa day, why? Because I’m worth it!🙂

So these are my goals for 2015, let’s see where I am in six month’s time! What are some of your resolutions?

Mx

Endless Summer

Summer risotto-3667A delicious risotto where each mouthful is full of sweet and succulent peas, broad beans, zucchini and runner beans. A few gratings of fresh Parmesan and a knob of butter at the end of the cooking will help to create a creamy risotto. Check out my easy recipe using home grown vegetables.

I suppose an apology is in order, a whole five weeks without a single blog entry! Sadly, sometimes time gets the better of you, or rather me in this instance.

Unfortunately the month of September is on its way out, and the start of autumn, has been, well not very autumnal. Perhaps that is why I’ve been having separation anxiety, hanging onto the last few moments of summer. I have been busy though, and I’ve got a stock pile of recipes that I’ve been working on over the last few weeks.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t love the autumn months, I do, but for me summer means endless get togethers with friends, enjoying late summer evenings, and one of my favourite things, picking ripe fruits and vegetables from our garden. Is there anything better than a salad with organic lettuce and tomatoes picked straight from the ground? Crunchy, creamy salad leaves, with warm and juicy tomatoes, ah, excuse me for a moment, I got lost in one of those daydream montages!

So, in an effort not to give in to warming soups and hearty casseroles just yet, I hereby present you with one of my favourite summer dishes, using fresh vegetables from my garden (grown loving by my wonderfully green fingered mother, I hasten to add), Summer Vegetable Risotto. One of the best things about risottos are they are a wonderful vehicle for any seasonal products and don’t fret, I’ve gotten numerous recipes that cover the spring, autumn and winter months, but this one is an ode to summer.

Five Ingredients Friday – Fennel, apple and lemon salad

iStock_000009848361MediumI’m not entirely sure what happened to summer, it seems to have decided to call it a day. Oh well, nevermind. It’s Friday, which means one thing, it’s time for my Five Ingredients Friday’ challenge, and its week four!

This week I’m sharing with you one of my all time favourite salads. In fact, it doesn’t really matter if summer has given up on us, a plate of this will make you feel light, bright and summery, even if it’s pouring with rain outside.

The first time I had this salad was at a lakeside restaurant overlooking Lake Como, where it accompanied a delicious plate of barbequed sardines, and I’ve made it ever since. In the restaurant version, they only used the juice of the lemon. They also used some parsley leaves, which added another level of freshness. In my version, I’ve upped the lemon stakes, using both the juice and fine slices, and have opted to leave out the parsley. Don’t get me wrong, it’s one of my favourite herbs, but with the delicate nature of raw fennel, and the sweetness of the apple, it can overpower the salad.

So onto the ingredients, this incredibly simple salad uses fennel, apple, lemon, Parmesan and olive oil. It’s a cinch to throw together, and goes sublimely with fish, whether grilled, baked or barbecued. Check out my super simple recipe.

Five Ingredients Friday – Oeufs en cocotte

Oeufs ingredients-3798Week three and I thought I’d try something a little different. This week, it’s all about eggs, and a quick, simple recipe that is so incredibly satisfying. The five ingredients I’ve used are: eggs, mushrooms, double cream, thyme and garlic. In the words of a Food Network stalwart, “How bad can that be?”

Oeufs en cocotte are a delicious way to cook eggs, and make a nice change from scrambled or poached. The first time I attempted to make this was as a teenager, when I tried to follow a recipe in one of the very first cookbooks I was given as a kid. Unfortunately, and I don’t wish to put anyone one off at this point, it wasn’t exactly what I would call a success. During in the cooking process, it all went a little bit wrong, and the end result was a piping hot ramekin, with silky, snot-like (apologies!) runny cold eggs. An unmitigated disaster if you will. But the ‘try-hards’ amongst us will understand that one failure does not mean that you hang up your apron, never again to return to the kitchen. The mere fact that eggs are sold in cartons of six and 12 indicates that one must practice to get the perfect oeufs en cocotte! Check out my simple recipe.

Anyway, I digress. I’ll be totally honest with you, I decided after several successful attempts, that I would select the recipe for today’s blog post, especially as I didn’t think I could get away with another pasta dish. And why not? It’s a great brunch dish, and is the ideal way to kick off a lazy weekend for two.

I’m always slightly perplexed when I happen upon someone that doesn’t like eggs. Who doesn’t like eggs, and what’s not to like? I guess this isn’t exactly the right forum. But, with so many great recipes out there, I’d love to know – what’s your favourite egg recipe?

Five Ingredients Friday: Pasta della Zia Isa

Five Ingredient - Pasta della Zia Isa-3539It’s week two, and this week’s Five Ingredients Friday recipe is Pasta della Zia Isa; a light and relatively quick take on the typical ragu pasta sauce that cooks over a low heat for several hours. This sauce was devised by, and named in honour of my Dad’s Zia Isa, who made this for my parent’s when they visited our Italian relatives a few year’s ago. This pasta dish is delicious, and makes a wonderful change from the usual heavy, dense and rich ragu sauces. And the best thing is that you can make it with just five ingredients (NB: I haven’t included seasoning and olive oil in the count). The ingredients for this recipe are: minced pork, onions, carrots, tinned tomatoes and spaghettini. Check out this super easy, and delightfully delicious recipe.

My Zio Antonio and Zia Isa

My Zio Antonio and Zia Isa

I love visiting my Italian relatives, it’s just a shame I don’t get to see them as often as should – I feel a trip to Italy is in order! There’s always something so welcoming when we do visit them though. The Italians are masters of many things, and I think above all, one thing they surpass the rest of us at is simple, no fuss home entertaining. Take this sauce, for instance, there are no special ingredients, just store cupboard staples, yet the flavours make it an ideal, and satisfying pasta dish to serve your guests.

Five Ingredients Friday: Pasta Genovese

Pasta Genovese - five ingredients-3390Welcome to a new blog segment I’m calling ‘Five Ingredients Friday’. Each Friday, I’ll be posting a recipe that uses, yep, you guessed five ingredients. I might seem a strange thing to do, but I find that so many dishes are over complicated because the recipes insist that we use more ingredients than necessary.

So, why only five? Well a few year’s ago I read an interview with the great Giorgio Locatelli and he stated that Italian food is often ruined because people use too many ingredients, whereas most Italian recipes only use five main ingredients (cue lots of links to recipes showing the complete opposite!).

I have to agree, Italian home cooks (I speak from experience) don’t go in for that fussy Italian cooking you might see on the TV. It’s real food, using with local ingredients and cooked with the love and attention it deserves. It’s not frilly, it’s not expensive and it’s not pretentious. Anyway, on to today’s challenge, the five ingredients are: onions, sausages, pasta, olive oil and bay leaves. Check out our recipe for Pasta Genovese.

The Proof is in the Paella

Paella 2-2854There is just not enough time to try and write about the minutiae of paella making. From its inception in Valencia, to the correct rice to use, not to mention the variations ranging from region to region, there are few dishes that have divided chefs, and diners the way that paella has.

Despite it not actually being Spain’s national dish (it’s considered as a regional Valencian dish), I’ve had countless paellas over the years, and it’s one of my family’s favourite rice dishes. But with the good, comes the bad, and trust me, I’ve experienced some pretty awful attempts of this Spanish staple. If you’re interested in a quick run down, then check out everything you need to know about paella. If you’re after an easy to make homemade version, then check out my recipe.

Frittata di Spaghetti

Spaghetti Omelette 2-3183This is one of my all time childhood favourites. One of my earliest memories of eating spaghetti omelette, or frittata di spaghetti, is delving into my lunchbox during a primary school field trip, when I was about five or six. Whilst my friends were tucking into their cheese and tomato ‘sangwiches’ (it wasn’t until I got older that I dropped the ‘g’ sound), I had in my possession the holy grail of the lunchtime food, a slice of  parmesan and parsley seasoned spaghetti, suspended in egg.

The spaghetti omelette has been a staple of my family for as long as I can remember. My dad used to tell me about when he was a child and in a similar scenario to my own; during a school trip, he also reached into his lunch bag to discover a slice of cold spaghetti omelette that my Nonna had packed for him. Of course, when you decide to embark on this delicious treat in front of your peers – no matter how old you are, you and your slice are often, if not always met with cynicism. Spaghetti? And Omlette? Really? Check out my recipe – with an extra special addition of super stringy mozzarella cheese.

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