Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Oh lordy, Kaya got sick today too. I have been up to my elbows in sick and worse all day and now they've gone to bed I have put all the sofa covers in the washing machine, Dettol-ed everything in sight and now finally sat down with a slice of cherry pie and a cup of tea. Thankfully both boys seem to have improved, so hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.
New Girl is about to start, YAY! And later, Dallas. So it's not all bad :) And I wanted to share a nice soup recipe in light of all the crappy weather we've had lately! So enjoy, and keep warm and healthy!

This is actually a recipe I just made up one day when trying to think of delicious and nutritious foods for Onur and Kaya. It's one you can play around with, adding stuff you like and taking out stuff you don't and, unlike most of my recipes, it doesn't have weights or measurements! However, lentils do take a while to cook down (unless you have a pressure cooker) and to be very honest, the more you let this soup cook, the tastier it gets! On the plus side, once all the ingredients are in, you can pretty much go about your business and let everything just hang out in the pan until you're ready!

You will need: (please note all numbers are approximate - you can add more or less according to taste, the recipe is very forgiving!)

2 onions
3 carrots
2 stalks of celery
1 potato
2 handfuls of cauliflower florets
About 300g of lentils
Chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons of olive oil

First, do your prep. Chop up your onions, carrots and celery into one bowl, and yo
ur cauliflower
and potato into a second, as they'll go into the soup later. Add two tablespoons
of olive oil to your saucepan (or as Rachael Ray would say, two times around the pan!) and heat it up. Add your onions, carrots and celery and turn the heat down low.

Fry until the vegetables have softened and the onions are translucent.

Once you've got to this stage, add your lentils and stir them into the vegetables. On top of this add your stock (I haven't stated how much, but start off with a litre, you can always add more later, and with lentils you can never have too much liquid as they soak up loads!) and bring to a boil.

When your soup is boiling, reduce the heat down and wait about 15 minutes for the lentils to fade in colour and begin to open up. This is the time to add your potatoes and cauliflower.

And then you just let it cook down, adding water where needed because those lentils really do drink up the liquid! However, it's totally up to you how liquid-y you want it, I prefer my soups thick and satisfying rather than watery.

Aside from the lentils (obviously!) there are three ingredients to this recipe that I would strongly suggest you leave in, even if you change the recipe, simply because they add so much flavour-wise. These three ingredients are what the French call "Mirepoix", the Cajun and Creole community call the holy trinity, but to you and I they are just plain old onions, carrots and celery :) It is essentially a flavour base for so many recipes, and they are just vegetables that everyone has in their kitchen, but once you fry them together they combine to give amazing flavour to your food!

Hope you enjoy your soup! Afiyet Olsun! (That's the Turkish equivalent of Bon Appetit!)

Monday, 25 March 2013

Turkish "Casserole"

So, I had to get an emergency dentist appointment today. I have really crappy teeth and this particular one at the back was SUPPOSED to have been sorted last year with a root canal, turns out that I wasn't paranoid, the last dentist was actually really bad and not only have both fillings at the back fallen out (because I told her I grind and clench my teeth when I sleep, and she didn't listen) but neither root canal has been done properly. So now I have an infected tooth which will have to be pulled, and the pain of another root canal to go through! Grrr!
Now I'm on antibiotics and won't be able to get drunk on cocktails at my birthday/Easter party! I have been promised chocolate instead :)

As if that wasn't keeping me busy enough, Onur has been poorly since Saturday morning, where he just suddenly threw up all over his breakfast. Saturday he was sick every half an hour, yesterday he'd stopped and ate some toast and a banana, this morning he threw up on his breakfast again :(
He has managed to keep toast and some fruit down though today, even though he has the squits really bad now!!
Kaya is a cheeky little sausage as usual, it was hilarious as when he saw Onur being sick he said "Euurgh Onur, that's disgusting, why you do that?" - ah the wisdom and humour of a two year old!

With all this going on, you could be forgiven for thinking that I'd put the business on the back burner - NEVAH! :D In fact I will shortly be indulging in a conference call with the ladies in my "Baby Brain Group" and our mentor Victoria, to answer some questions about getting started!

But I wanted to give you all a recipe first!! This Turkish "Casserole" is my go to recipe when I haven't got much time but want a delicious nutritious meal for the family. It's SO easy.
You will need:

1 pack of chicken thighs/drumsticks
About 500g-1kg of potatoes, depending on how many are eating
2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
A tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsps of tomato paste
Herbs and spices to taste, I usually use oregano, thyme, rosemary, paprika and salt/pepper

OK. So grab a casserole dish, or lasagne dish or whatever. Preheat your oven to 180c. Pierce each piece of chicken with a knife, and arrange in the dish (you may need to use two dishes if you're cooking for more than 3-4)
Peel the potatoes and cut them in half lengthways, add these to the dish. Peel and quarter the onions, add these too. Peel the garlic cloves and add these whole. Next, boil your kettle. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste into a measuring jug, then once the kettle is boiled add water to make it up to 1.5 litres. Season with your chosen herbs and spices, and the salt and pepper. Taste it to make sure it's well seasoned, then pour over the chicken and potatoes. Whack it in the oven for about 1 and a half to 2 hours, depending on your oven. You'll know it's done when the chicken looks nice and bronzed on top and falls off the bone when poked.
I usually serve with some rice - I shall share my Turkish rice recipe soon! And that's it, folks, it really is that easy!

Have a great evening!

PS - Once again, I will ask you very nicely to leave a comment and share if you like what you see! :)

Sunday, 24 March 2013


Well I haven't been blogging every day as I promised myself I would, but that's because I've been very busy with a plan up my sleeve! All will be revealed in due course but I am in the process of setting up my own business! The name? The Wooden Spoon Cooking Company! It will probably be shortened over time to Wooden Spoon, but I wanted you all to know its full and proper name!

Why Wooden Spoon? Good question! I have always had a real soft spot for my wooden spoon ever since I began to bake and cook properly. (I am aware that just by reading that sentence, some of you want me to see a doctor. Haha! Bear with me!) I have had my wooden spoon for 8 years now, it was my nan's and has been with me through six house moves, a change of country, marriage and two children. It's special to me because it helped me cook the first meal for my then-boyfriend, now husband, cooked for my children, cooked for my friends and family and I feel like it soaks up the love and makes the food taste better :)
So Wooden Spoon Cooking Co it is!

As for what I will be doing...let's say my first step is to talk to some local centres about doing some cooking courses for kids! The two I have in my head right now are Baking Babes, where we'll make either a really simple bread recipe, which I will post below, or cookies/muffins. The second is Fun with Fruit - introducing kids to lots of fruits, including some they might not have had before, and make some fun fruit faces, or fruit salads or fruit tarts.
I have got lots and lots of ideas, but this is my starting point! I would be really interested to hear what you guys think about this, so if you do have an opinion please comment and let me know!

Now for the bread recipe - super duper easy and what's more, QUICK! Because we don't always have time to wait for it to rise and neither do we always have bread flour knocking around!

You will need:

2 and a half cups warm water (and really shouldn't be that hot, just a tad warm)
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp yeast (or 2 sachets)
2 tbsp oil
6 cups of flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

How simple is that? All stuff that most people have in the cupboard. Now look how easy it is to make!

First, put the water, sugar, yeast and oil in a bowl and mix. Leave about 5 minutes until it the top becomes foamy. When it looks right, add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix quite well. Now comes the only bit that takes a bit of effort - kneading. Pour a little oil onto your work surface and take a really good go at it! Seriously, bash it about, use it to get all your frustrations out and when it's no longer very sticky, it's good to go. Shape into rolls, or a loaf (though this will take longer to cook) and place on a greased baking sheet.
Bake for 10-15 minutes at 200c.

And that's it, it's that easy! Right, I'm off to watch "This Is Jinsy" (have any of you seen it? I've been meaning to watch it for ages!) with a cuppa. Toodle-oo!

PS - if you enjoyed this post, please let me know by leaving a comment and sharing with your friends!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Jam Doughnut Muffins

Ah Sunday. The day of the roast and, if I'm lucky, football. However Arsenal played yesterday so it means I have a bit of spare time today while the roast is cooking and what better to do than bake!

Now me, I'm a doughnut fiend. I could eat doughnuts all the live long day. But making them at home is really quite fiddly and generally requires a deep fat fryer. Then I came across a recipe of Nigella's, from her "How To Eat" book - Jam Doughnut Muffins. I looked at the recipe, the simplicity of it and the really basic store cupboard ingredients and thought "Well, it's probably not going to be that good, but I'll try" - oh, how wrong I was! They are just delicious, and really, really easy to make. We'll start with the ingredients:

125ml milk
85ml vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
200g self raising flour
100g caster sugar
12 tsps strawberry jam

For the coating:
100g unsalted butter
150g granulated sugar

I mean, just look at those ingredients. You've probably got them all in your cupboard or fridge already, haven't you? Then what if I told you that you'll be eating one of twelve deliciously jammy, sugary doughnuts within half an hour? SOLD!

First, preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5 or 190c. Set out your muffin cases or grease a 12 cup muffin tin. Pour the milk, oil and vanilla extract into a bowl and add the egg. Beat together with a fork, and then add the flour and sugar. Mix until the batter is just combined - trust me, the lumps don't make a difference at all and you don't want to over-mix it. Now, put a spoonful of batter into the first case or hole in the tin. Stop when it's about a third full, then add a teaspoon of jam, then cover that with batter until the case/tin is almost full. It's that easy! Stick them in the oven and check at about 18-20 minutes - when they have gone golden brown and feel springy to the touch, they're done. If in doubt, stick a cocktail stick in at the side and if it comes out clean, they're done. If it has batter on it, you need a few more minutes.

Right, while they're in the oven, melt the butter in a pan (or in a bowl, in the microwave) and pour the sugar onto a large plate or a wide, flat bowl. As soon as the muffins are done, remove them from the cases/tin and cover them in the melting butter before rolling them in the sugar, making sure they are coated all the way round. And that's IT!

And now I've shared that with you, I have to be off to bake some! Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Almost A Year Later..!

Oh dear, talk about a neglected blog! I suppose that with two boys I can be excused for life getting in the way!

So since we last spoke, Onur's been getting on brilliantly at school, we've had a fab holiday at Butlins (so much more enjoyable than I thought it would be, in fact we're booked to go again soon!), I have been helping out more at the school and am sort of accidentally in charge of organising the Summer Fete, B-Fest! We've got a dishwasher (lifesaver!) and I've lost 23lbs on Weight Watchers. Weather has been horrid, Christmas was lovely and Kaya has become one of the most intelligent 2 year olds I have ever met!

I think that's about it :)

So I will admit that my blogging knowledge is a little below par to say the least, and that's definitely something I'd like to brush up on. I'm guessing the most important thing is just to write, eh! :) If anyone has any tips to share I would love to hear them!

Oh! But I have to tell you about my latest beauty addiction! You know when you're a mum, you're sometimes run down, you sometimes don't get a lot of sleep and go through the day on zombie autopilot, looking and therefore feeling like crap? Well how would you like to put on some of this miracle product and immediately look fresher and brighter?? The stuff I'm talking about is Olay Multiradiance moisturising lotion and I promise you it's every bit as good as I've said. I've been using it just a few weeks and in the first two days people started asking me if I'd been on holiday, or saying that I look really rested and refreshed!
I just wash my face in the morning, slather on some lotion and look like I've had a full 8 hours sleep! It's blooming brilliant! If you want to check it out, you can do here:Olay Essentials Complete Care Multi-Radiance UV Fluid 75 ml (Packaging Varies)

And trust me, with my kids I need something that makes me look like I've slept. As some of you know, I've had trouble getting Onur dry at night. Now with Onur I think I started trying to potty train him way before he was ready, expected too much of him and then when he started nursery he just regressed and it was really, really hard. He's only just out of pull ups and night and I still have to get up to remind him to go to the toilet - it can be tiring, especially when he's had an accident and I have to change the whole bed too (all without waking up Kaya!) so with Kaya I have just decided to leave it up to him, when he's ready, he's ready. He knows where the potty and toilet are, what they are for and it's totally up to him when to use them. What do all you mummies think? Is this the right approach? I'm desperate to get it right first time and with the least amount of trauma to us all!

And with that, I think I'm done for the day. I am ABSOLUTELY going to be back tomorrow. Yes I am.