Friday, 28 August 2015

FIVE FOR FRIDAY #37


This week has been TIRING. I've been super jetlagged and it's really been a struggle getting out of bed and also mid-afternoon has hit me like a ton of bricks.

I spent a few days hidden away at my parents house to recuperate (/get my washing done and be fed) which was really, really needed. I went out on a lovely, long walk with Bracken. The first signs of autumn are starting to show now and everywhere looks beautiful in the Nottinghamshire countryside.

This weekend I fly to Milan for another working week. Gutted to be missing carnival this year but thankfully the sun is shining over Italy right now so some warmer weather is definitely welcome.

This weeks Five For Friday...

LAS VEGAS - God I loved Vegas, like really really loved it. Not necessarily for the place itself - I mean, lets face it...some of the hotels look a bit worn, it's full of drunks and a little bit seedy BUT it's fun. And I felt a huge sense of freedom while I was there. I felt like I could let myself go a little and I met/spent time with some brilliant people. I already can't wait for my next trip in February. I keep getting excited thinking about the whole thing.

CHEESY FILMS - Princess Diaries 2 was on at the weekend and it made me appreciate a cheesy and predictable film. I've also been enjoying numerous click flicks this week - Love, Rosie. It made me SOB. Love just isn't like that. Silly films!

TAKING SOME TIME OUT - to sleep, to see my family, to do all of the things I don't often find time to do. I even baked this week, something I've not had the chance to do for a long while now.

A GREEK FEAST - I was approached by Jet2Holidays to create a meal based on a destination of my choice. I picked Crete as Greek food is high up there on my list of favourites. I love being able to cook up things like this for myself and my family when I've been on trips away.

UNEXPECTED CONTACT - I lost touch with an incredibly close friend of mine many, many months ago now - completely unexpected and for no real reason. But this week, that friend got in touch and it really meant the world to me. Friendship can be a fragile thing and a thing that really shouldn't be taken for granted.

Have a great bank holiday weekend guys! 

xo

Monday, 24 August 2015

MADE: A Greek Meze


Sometimes I just can't be bothered to whip up a proper meal - I can guarantee that at least 2 nights out of the week I feel this way. Team that with the horrid jet lag I'm currently experiencing and I'm thrilled that a mezze is 'a thing'.

I love Greece, mostly for the delicious food. After longing to go to Crete for quite some time now, it got me thinking - if I can't go to Greece, I'll bring a taste of it to me! Think olives, oil-drizzled salads, juicy lamb, flavoursome dips...

For this feast I made a variety of Greek dishes - tzatziki, grilled lemon and garlic courgettes with feta, quinoa tabbouleh, lamb kofta, Greek meatballs and a typical Greek salad.

I also teamed it with hummus and baba ganoush - both Deliciously Ella recipes, the baba ganoush, in this instance, without the sundried tomatoes.

Get your notepad and pen, you've got a few things to get...


All you need for the tzatziki:
7 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 large cucumber, grated
1 lemon, juice only
Sea salt and black pepper, to season
1/4 tsp paprika - plus a little extra to sprinkle over


All you need for the feta courgettes:
2 courgettes, halved - grilled for 5-7 minutes, turning them over
4-5 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove
1/2 lemon, juice only
A handful of fresh parsley


All you need for the Quinoa Tabbouleh:
1 cup quinoa
3 cups water
1 garlic clove
1/2 lemon, juice only
3 tomatoes, diced
1 red onion, diced
A handful of fresh parsley
2 tbsp EV olive oil


All you need for the lamb koftas:
400g lean lamb mince
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp fresh garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano


All you need for the greek meatballs (makes 15):
2 slices bread - I use sourdough - in pieces
1 tbsp milk
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 onion, diced
2 tsp mint
1/2 tsp salt
120g ground beef
120g ground lamb
2 eggs
60g plain four
For the traditional tomato sauce - 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 1/2 onion diced, a handful of fresh parsley, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp all spice, 1 tsp oregano, sea salt and black pepper, 1/2 glass red wine (optional)


All you need for a traditional Greek salad:
4 large ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 cucumber, diced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
Handful pitted olives
Crumbled feta
For the dressing - 4 tbsp olive oil, 1 1/2 tsp oregano, 1 tsp white wine vinegar
Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to season


First things first, get everything prepped. I usually start with dips and salads so they're out of the way and popped into the fridge ready for later. For the tzatziki, spoon the yoghurt into a bowl, grate the cucumber in and mix the rest of the ingredients in. For the Greek salad, chop everything up and drizzle the dressing over the ingredients. Pop the dip and the salad in the fridge.

For the quinoa tabbouleh, add the quinoa and water to a small saucepan and cook on a low heat for 15 minutes or until the quinoa is soft. Whilst the quinoa cooks, chop up the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and mix the lemon parsley and oil into a separate bowl. Once the quinoa has cooked, mix all together in a bowl and drizzle of the dressing. Leave in the fridge to cool.

For both the meatballs and the koftas, the method is the same - mix the ingredients together (both lists separately, of course) in a bowl once onions and herbs are chopped. The meatballs shaped into, you guessed it, little golf balls and the koftas into more of a rugby ball shape. Pop the both in the fridge for at least half an hour to cool. Once cooled, cook for 3-4 minutes on each side for the koftas and cook the meatballs for around 10 minutes to allow them to cook through to the centre (best to do this in batches of 8-10). 

If you're teaming your meatballs with the traditional tomato sauce - heat a little bit of olive oil over a low heat in a frying pan and slowly cook your onions to slightly brown and soften for around 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and allow to simmer and reduce. If adding the wine, do this before the tomatoes and allow to burn off. Once the tomatoes have reduced, add the herbs and spices and mix well. Pop your meatballs on top to mix with the sauce.

While your meatballs and koftas are cooking away, slice your courgettes and stick the underneath the grill for 2-3 minutes on each side. Once grilled, mix together the oil, parsley, lemon and garlic and drizzle over the courgettes.

Now - it's time to dish everything up! I serve mine with tortilla wraps or these yummy homemade, yeast-free flatbreads I make every now and again.

Bring a taste of Greece to your kitchen! 




Have you got a favourite Greek dish? Or a dish that makes you think of your favourite sunny destination?

xo

*This post was written as part of the Jet2holidays Country Cuisine Challenge - I was reimbursed for the cost of the ingredients - a big thank you for including me*

Friday, 14 August 2015

FIVE FOR FRIDAY #36

 
It feels like forever since I typed out a blog post. I've been a bit quiet the past few weeks due to back to back trips for work and for play. It's been a bit of a whirlwind and it's not over yet but that's the exciting part. I was worried when I took on my job that, although amazing, the travel may get too much for me. I can't lie and say I look 100% fresh faced but I'm loving it. I'm loving exploring new places, meeting lots of new people and generally feeling happy in my 'career' (the word still scares me and makes me feel like too much of an adult...)

This week I returned from holiday. Yes, an actual holiday. Not a work trip. It was great and I'll tell you more about it over the coming weeks.

The week ahead for me is basically Las Vegas. Again, for work but seriously LAS VEGAS. I am beyond excited. BEYOND EXCITED. I've never been before and I honestly think it'll blow my mind. I also think that I would only want to go the once and then I'd be ready to leave. I've just got a feeling.

THIS WEEK'S FIVE FOR FRIDAY:

BUDAPEST - God it was nice to have a holiday, like so, so nice I can't even put it into words. It was a scorching 36 degrees for the duration of the holiday which was a tad too much for me but it meant an excuse to laze at the baths by day and drink ice cold G&T's at the Ruin Bars by night. I had massages. We went on a river cruise. It was wonderful and I'm already planning my next trip back to Budapest (maybe when it's 10 degrees cooler...)

COMING HOME - Which probably sounds crazy having this as a highlight of my week but it was really nice to go back to my house after a week away. You see, I only moved in with my friend in June and it actually feels like I have a home now, rather than a place I rent that feels more formal. It was amazing to sleep in my own bed, sprawl out and wake up to my usual routine the following day.

HAVING A TAN - Going on holiday = having a tan. MY FAVE. I feel more confident in my own skin when it's a little tanned. I look a little thinner, healthier and generally just have that glow about me. Plus, freckles galore on my nose!

NEW CDS IN THE CAR - Retro! I got the new Maccabees album, Slaves and Circa Waves before going away and have been playing them in the car to and from work everyday. The Maccabees new album is absolute perfection. I can't get enough of it. And Slaves have allowed me to be a bit shouty this week which has really helped with certain situations that have raised my stress levels!

MIX AND MATCHING OUTFITS - I have a bit of a spending problem 90% of the time. I am frivolous no matter how much money I have and it's dangerous. So, right now, I'm trying to mix and match the things I have. It's working out fairly well so far but I still spend a lot of time browsing ASOS/Forever 21/Boohoo/Monki/anything with clothes/shoes/accessories.

Until next week...I hope you all have a fab weekend.

xo

Monday, 3 August 2015

MONTHLY GOALS: August

 
Actually relax - I really struggle relaxing, which sounds crazy but when I get a little bit of down time I panic about not being busy. I need to spend any free time having a moment to myself and recuperating.

Plan my New York trip - I'm heading over to NYC for work next month but have 3 and a bit days to myself to play tourist. ALL THE EXCITEMENT. I am determined to jam pack in as much as physically possible but need to plan my days to make the most of the free time I have there. I'm going to get a city pass to make sure I get as much out of the tourist attractions as poss - can anybody recommend any musts (sights, restaurants, must-visits etc)?

Get organised - This month I'm in the UK for around 13-14 days - the rest I'm away with work, on holiday or away from home. I need to really organise my time in between and make sure I get on top of things. As well as that, I need to have travel documents organised, all the currencies needed as well as a plan of attach for the exhibitions I'll be working at.

ENJOY my holiday to Budapest - Bit of a no brainer really but holiday time is a very rare thing for me these days. I want to make sure that I see as much as I can but also get plenty of time to relax and feel free of work for a little while. Note to boss: I will still be checking my emails, don't worry!

Capture my travels - Not just on camera but also just see them, inhale them. Does that sound weird? These days we're so reliant on iPhones, flashy cameras, technology in general, that we just forget to take in a moment or take in our travels and just think, "wow, this is pretty cool - I want to remember this forever'

And that's it folks.

Have you got any monthly goals for August? Or even any exciting plans coming up? Let me know in the comments below.

xo