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Breakfast Bars

18 Nov

After last night’s overindulgence I figured we could do with a batch of Breakfast bars. I try to keep these in the house at all times and often use them as a breakfast/ lunch replacement. These are a variation on Nigella Lawsons Breakfast Bars. And consist of oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and condensed milk to bind.

I like to think of these as healthy but please note that condensed milk is pretty high in fat and sugar! I have tried to calculate the calorific value of these several time and I’m pretty sure they come in at about 200 kcal.
So the ingredients are:
250g jumbo oats
75g shredded coconut
100g dried fruit
125g mixed seeds
125g chopped nuts
1x 397g tin of condensed milk
Oven preheated to 130 degrees C or gas Mark 0.5
You will also need a lined and greased 22×33 shallow baking tin.

Nigella specifies cranberries and peanuts for fruit and nuts. I tend to use chopped figs and brazil nuts but today I used almonds. Any fruit/nut combo will do, even dried banana and a few chocolate chips are acceptable!

Mix all the dry ingredients up, warm condensed milk on the stove until it is warm and runny but not boiling. Pour the condensed milk over the dry ingredients and stir until combined then press into your tin and bake for about an hour, until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and leave for about 10 min before cutting 4 x 4 into 16 rectangular bars. Leave to cool completely before removing from the tin and putting in storage jar. These are still good a week later (if they last that long!)


During busier times I have experimented with boxes of fancy muesli. This resulted in a quicker and still tasty alternative. They were crunchier and more caramel like and definitely worth the minor bother! I just took the small box of museli, added a tin of condensed milk and cooked as above. I think that as long as you stick (roughly) to the overall quantity of dry food above, you can’t go far wrong!

Happy breakfasting!


The Medway Takeaway Part 1

18 Nov

Moving to a new area always raises difficult questions when ordering take-away. It takes time and a few mistakes before we establish where is good and where is not-so-good. After much Internet searching last night we ordered from Kashmir Indian and Bangladeshi Takeaway. They don’t deliver (as I found out the long way round) so we ordered through an online delivery service.
I used the opportunity to have some meat and ordered a Lamb Ceylon which is a medium-hot curry with black peppers, chilli and coconut sauce. Dan went for a traditional Prawn Madras.
On the side we ordered a Tarka Dall (lentils) and Sag Paneer (spinach with Indian cheese). I had a Peshwari (sweet nutty) Naan bread and Dan ordered a garlic Naan bread.

Clock wise from the bottom left: Lamb Ceylon, Sag Paneer, Onion Bhaji, Tarka Dall.
The Ceylon was tasty, slightly sweet and coconutty, but respectably hot. I would give it an 8/10, I would have liked it slightly hotter but it probably was ‘medium-hot’ as described. The Dall was particularly good, not too runny or greasy with a good earthy-hot taste. The Paneer in the sag was especially well done although I thought the sag itself could have done with more flavouring. The portions were slightly smaller than other take-aways, but still bigger than needed! They were not stingy with the meat nor the prawns so we felt we got more than our money’s worth. We also felt, that while this was in no way a low fat meal, they hadn’t used too much fat in any of the dishes.
Dan’s madras was good, he scored it 8.5/10 he got plenty of prawns and the sauce was better than he would expect from a madras and an appropriate level of heat.
Service was good, the restaurant called to say when they were delivering and gave us complimentary papadoms. Unfortunately they gave Dan a Peshwari, rather than Garlic Naan, which he didn’t like. Still we all make mistakes! And as long as they don’t do it again they are forgiven. He says he would still go back and we both give them 8/10 overall.
Pretty good for a gamble eh?

Day 3 of 5

7 Nov

Today was pretty good. I managed 2 things of the ‘want’ list and did a few little ‘shoulds’ (but no I didn’t sort out my paperwork).


I made chocolate whoppie pies


These were made much faster by the addition of this wonderful stuff

It’s not usually available in the uk, and when it is it’s usually prohibitively expensive. So normally I either faff about trying to make my own or make a butter-cream filling. When I saw it, reasonably priced in the supermarket I thought I would give it a go. It was successful! Filled whoppie pies in half the usual time!


The Wedding Blog
It may have taken me three months to write a post about it but it’s finally done! I managed to put together a wedding post (see for yourself!).

The Car Service
Also long (read two years) overdue. It cost me dearly but I now have legal tyres and a working clutch!

Being Social
I cooked for Dan and my lovely 3-day-live-in-friend. It really does feel like a treat to have a friend round for dinner!

I’m feeling pretty good about today. It was good to let some of the ‘shoulds’ slip in favour of the ‘wants’ for once!

The Little Things

6 Jul

I thought I would share some of the Things that have made me happy this week….

1) Getting the data in
yes it required driving to London. But. I. Have. It!

2) Getting Down To It
Yes; actually writing my results section. It’s not finished. But it’s a good way through.

3) Breakfast
I know this is becoming a re-occurring theme in my blog but having only recently re-started eating breakfast and Discovering bacon and maple syrup this has got to be worth an entry!


Which leads me nicely on to my next happy thing…

4) Double Yolk Eggs
I bought a box of extra large eggs… All of which have been double yolkers! Perfect for dipping!

Not to mention perfect comfort food!

5) Wholesome Soup
I have been trying to eat better; mostly by adding lots of veg. I figure that if I make sure I eat a pile of veg, anything else I eat doesn’t really matter. I also don’t have time to cook or sit down and make a proper event of a meal. So I made the biggest vat of sweet potato, butternut squash, celeriac, courgette, butter bean and cabbage soup ever! (I also threw in a pack of bacon as ‘seasoning’). This has kept me feeling healthyish all week…

6) Phone Calls
Making the time to stop and talk! Feeling Heard. Feeling Supported. Being Acknowledged. Offers of Help. Thank You to my lovely friend and mother.

7) Relaxed Puppies
When I take a short break from studying I go and look at the pups. I swear their calmness is contagious…


Not only is their calmest contagious… But their joy…


8) A New Toy
Yes it is filled with doggy treats… Hours of entertainment!

9) A Good Looking Correlation Matrix

My thesis results are turning out to be pretty meaningless, largely due to a lack of statistical power. Anyway. I made this table and wondered at it’s beauty. Then I tried to sleep and couldn’t. Then I decided I needed an evening off.

10) An Evening Off
The pups and I met D in the forest as he finished work. He bought me flowers and whisky (yeah I had run out!). The pups ran, scampered and frolicked. Then I spotted these dudes…

I came home,drank Pimms and am writing this post as D cooks me a proper meal.

Things aren’t so bad
I hope something made you happy this week

Life Without Bacon

22 Apr

Life without bacon is hard…

Don’t get me wrong… I DO eat bacon

I just can’t cook with it on accounts of D being a meat-free zone

This is much more disabling than you might imagine.  For example, many soups and stews use bacon to add a little flavour.

I am, therefore, always thinking of ways to adapt recipes.

I thought I would share this one with you as it looks like it’s becoming a staple in our house.

Kipper, Kale and Bean Soup 

This recipe came from the waitrose supermarket website i-phone app.  It originally contained bacon, not kippers and celery (D doesn’t do celery either).  I am increasingly discovering that kippers make a fairly good, cheap bacon substitute.  This soup proves my point.

This is supposed to feed four but we eat the lot between the two of us.  I think you might get away with two adults and two small children but otherwise I would double the quantities!


2 carrots

1 big leek

2 cloves garlic

1 tin of mixed beans/pulses

200g Kale

150g Kippers ( I buy the cheap boil-in-the-bag ones)

1 veg stock cube


cube the carrots and finely slice the leek and garlic.  Shallow fry untill soft.

Rinse the beans and add to the pan

add 1 litre of boiled water and the stock cube to the pan

Simmer for 10 min

Add Kale, simmer for 5 min

Chop kippers up into small strips

add to pot, simmer again for about 5, untill kale and kippers are cooked through

Serve with grated parmesan and crusty bread


destroy your waistline… and the healthiness of this meal by making cheese muffins to accompany!


These really make it  what I would call a ‘weekend’ rather than ‘weekday’ meal.  They are fab and so easy to make you can make them while the soup is cooking

It makes 12 so I always half the quantities as I don’t think they keep very well and there are only two of us!

2 cups plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp english mustard

black pepper

2 cups grated extra mature cheddar cheese

2 eggs

1 cup milk

(I’m using ‘cups’ as this was adapted from a basic american recipe. you need a special measuring cup or just measure up to  200 ml in a measuring jug)

Mix the dry  ingredients and grated cheese together,

Mix the wet ingredients together,

Mix the wet and the dry ingredients together…but don’t over-mix!

Spoon into greased muffin tray

Bake for 10-15 min at 200 C or until golden brown.

And there you have a perfectly healthy meal turned into a weekend treat…

Still… at least you ate some veg eh?!

A Belated Easter Post

21 Apr

I started writing this post over Easter and thought I would try to write a seasonal one for you all (I’m sorry it’s late!).  I have had a busy time thesis writing, I wanted to get as much done as possible before I started my new clinical placement. Fortunately, the lack of blogging and the persistent slogging has paid off and I’ve written pretty much all I can untill I start getting the results of my experiment in.

Unfortunately, I pretty much missed easter altogether!

In England Easter is a bizarre and fantastic conglomeration of  the Pagan celebration of new life, the Christian marking of the death and rebirth of Christ and blatant consumerism.  To celebrate I usually make a cake; a simnel cake to be precise, which is a medium-light fruit cake with a layer of marzipan baked into it, it is our favorite but really should only be served at Easter.  I really missed the simnel cake but I did allow myself to make some easter nests!  Which were scrummy:

They are just made with crushed shredded wheat cereal and melted dairy milk chocolate, mixed up and squished into nest shapes where you place your little mini eggs. Leave to set in the fridge.  Not exactly high brow…


Untill you serve them with this:


That would be a peaty single malt whisky


Had I have been at my mother’s house for Easter, food would have been of central importance.  It still was here, only not so fancy! At my Mum’s we would have had fish on good friday and a roast dinner on Easter sunday (probably lamb- but not necessarily).  D does not eat meat so there is little point in cooking a roast dinner in this house.  We were able, however, to have fish on the friday.  This took the form of a smoked mackerel salad:

I know it’s a ‘salad’!

This always puts us off too, untill I actually make it and realise how ‘yum’ it is.

I think the recipe came out of one of my mum’s magazines years ago, I can’t remember where and I have probably sufficiently altered it for it not to matter too much.  It’s basically a bag of mixed leaves (preferably something peppery); sliced radishes; sliced Gherkins; Smoked, peppered mackerel and new potatoes.  I make a seriously unhealthy dressing by mixing mayonnaise with grated horseradish (or horseradish sauce) and lemon juice.  No measuring involved just to taste.  The flavours are fantastic= Smoky fish, tart gherkins, peppery radishes/leaves and the freshness of the lemon= Grand!  We washed this down with a few pints of homemade Woodfordes Wherry, a Dark Ale which didn’t seem to disagree with the fish as much as you might expect.

For Easter sunday we went with a cheats ‘toad in the hole’.  I’m ashamed to say I bought the (boat-shaped) yorkshire puddings and just added meaty sausages to mine and veggie sausages to D’s, served with gravy, Kale and mashed potato neither of us minded too much!

And that was our easter,  I hope yours was more seasonal and I look forward to a time when I can embrace public holidays and celebrations again! (maybe then you will get to see my simnel cake!).

Happy weekend!




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