One Of Those Days

Everyone’s had one of those days.

When a simple trip to the bank turns into a torturous 45 minutes of hell.

When you accidentally put Fairy liquid in the dishwasher and it overflows.

When you peel your finger instead of a carrot.

When you fall into the laundry basket when you’re gathering up towels.

When your knee suddenly decides it does not want you to walk around, work out, or be happy.

There are only a few things that can a day like that better. These things are a) listen to Janis Joplin and b) eat pasta with pesto and avocado. Here’s a good starting point for the first one.

And here’s the only non-recipe you need to lift your spirits.

Avocado and Pesto Pasta

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You will need pasta of your choice, pesto and around 1/3 of a medium avocado. I made my own pesto, which is really easy… if you’re not me. All you have to do is blend pine nuts, basil, olive oil and parmesan. My advice would be not to attempt to blend it in a smoothie maker. It probably won’t work, and the next smoothie you make will have a vaguely cheesy flavour.

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Put your pasta on to boil. I chose wholemeal spaghetti. Mash your avocado with a tiny squeeze of lemon juice. I added some leftover mushrooms and courgettes but if you don’t like them don’t use them. If you don’t like pesto or avocado… I’m not sure what to say to you really.

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When your pasta is cooked, drain it and mix with avocado, pesto, vegetables and any other things you have chosen to add. Stir together. Serve with a sprinkle of sea salt and plenty of black pepper, and a slice of garlic bread if you’re that way inclined. Cheer up instantly.

If you’ve followed these steps and you’re still having a bad day, it’s time for cake and wine. Best of luck, my friend.

Currently #3

Here’s what I was reading, listening to, watching, eating and admiring in March.

Reading Last night I finished It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet by James Herriot. It was an easy enjoyable read but not something I would necessarily recommend to anyone, and I won’t be rushing to read another Herriot. Then I closed my eyes and pointed at my bookshelf and came up with The Medici Secret by Michael White. I’ve also been spending too much of my time going square-eyed reading Wikipedia pages trying to teach myself about all the things in the world ever. I had a strange existential crisis and thought about all the things I knew nothing about and so my current mission is to teach myself everything. (This mission may fail.)

Listening to I’m not even ashamed to say that I have been blasting Euphoria by Loreen very often. Yes, that’s the Eurovision winning song. It’s amazing. I also adore Paloma Faith’s new tune.

Watching Against all odds, I have been watching – and enjoying – Cardinal Burns.

Eating Lots of salads. Yes, I’m feeling alright, and before you ask ‘Who are you and what did you do with the real Emily?’, hang in there for a moment. I’ve been buying the bagged salad that tastes really good but costs about a million pounds, and then putting fun things on it like halloumi and chorizo. Also, I made a pizza a while ago that was freaking delicious, and I threw together some red onion and cucumber pickle to go with it.

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Admiring Smart jackets on eBay that I could wear to my interview. I eventually settled on this bad boy in light grey, which should hopefully be smart and businessy enough to slightly mitigate the brazenness of wearing a bright yellow dress. (I don’t really shop in eBay stores very often so I hope it’s not terrible quality.) Now I’m looking for shoes. HELP ME OUT PLS.

Shameless self promotion I just wrote my first review at the wonderful website Judging Covers. I have read and admired this website for a long time and so I’m really pleased that I have the chance to write for them too. Take a look at my review of The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey here.

The Tale of the Breakfast Muffins

I’m not one of those people who doesn’t eat breakfast. Not because ‘it’s the most important meal of the day’ or because I’m better than you, but because I’m greedy. At university I learnt that eating a decent breakfast was essential if I didn’t want to waste money on crappy food on campus. I love breakfast and I love not being hungry and I love not having to spend money on bad food. A conversation  a couple of months ago led me to think about making healthy muffins for busy mornings.

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I eventually decided on courgette and cheese muffins. I added carrot and used half the amount of cheese in the recipe, and added some mustard powder. They turned out a little too eggy, but they’ll do for a handy breakfast with a bit of chilli jam. (Smoky chilli jam, buy it. Eat it on everything. Be merry.) If you make these, my advice is to not put the tomatoes on top if you’re planning on keeping them in the fridge for a few days. I still have a few left and had to perform an emergency tomato-ectomy today because they do not fare well in the fridge.

banana oat muffins

Then, a bunch of overripe bananas in the kitchen inspired me to make a sweet breakfast muffin. That’s basically like eating cake for breakfast. And in my eyes, eating cake for breakfast is the very essence of winning at life. I went with this recipe and changed a few things, as usual. I used applesauce instead of oil, left out the sugar, added more vanilla and some cinnamon and chopped walnuts. Oh and I used wholemeal flour. (Can you tell I’m trying to lose a bit of chub?) I really like the way these turned out. They’re not very sweet so if you make them and you have a sweet tooth, make sure to add in the sugar or use a sweetener.

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The verdict: I like them both, but making muffins really isn’t my forte. The texture is never quite right. Neither of these are going to be my signature dish, but they’re both useful to have in the repertoire.

What Emily Ate Next

sweet potato, red onion, tortilla, black beans, sweetcornvanilla greek yoghurt, dried cranberries, almondschicken and chorizo risotto

cranberry and pomegranate tea, multiseed bagel with falafel and hummus

salad with tequila lime chicken, avocado and black beans

chocolate and vanilla ice cream with bananas and nuts

Lately, I have been feeding myself in a way that is both nutritious and delicious. I feel happiest and healthiest when I put thought into what I’m eating – not only in the ‘calories and nutrients’ sense but also in the ‘deliciousness and eating what I’m craving’ sense. I’ve fallen out of love with writing blog posts just about what I ate, but I have eaten some lovely things lately and wanted to show them off. My meals have ranged from vegan (sweet potato and black bean stew) to vegetarian (falafel and hummus bagel) to meat-and-cheese heaven (tequila-lime chicken, avocado and cheese salad). I also made a pasta sauce with vodka – does it mean I’m growing up that I’m cooking with tequila and vodka instead of throwing them back?

What kind of delicious things have you eaten lately?

Ricotta & Chocolate Muffins

I’ve been at it again. Baking, that is. It didn’t go too badly last time, so I thought I might try again. As with most things that I make, this was simply an effort to use up something in the fridge that wasn’t going to get eaten otherwise. The ingredient in question: ricotta. There was talk of pasta, but it was the evening, everybody had already eaten, and the cogs of my brain were already set in motion. After a dash around the internet, I came back with the idea of chocolate ricotta muffins. Here is the basic recipe I was working from:

240g ricotta / 2 large eggs / 320ml milk / 1 tbsp vanilla extract / 4tbsp butter / 260g flour / 250g white sugar / 2tsp baking powder / half a tsp salt / 60g cocoa powder / 180g chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180C. Combine cheese and eggs, mix well. Add milk, vanilla, and butter. Set aside.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Combine both mixtures, add chocolate chips. Bake for 20 minutes.

Except I didn’t follow this exact recipe because I seem to have a mental inability to do as I’m told. I used 260g of ricotta because that’s how much was in the tub, added more flour to compensate for that, less sugar because I ran out, cream of tartar instead of baking powder because I don’t know the difference, and missed out the chocolate chips because, well, because I forgot. If you want to make them, perhaps you should follow the recipe. I think mine turned out perfectly well, though. They’re not very sweet, but to be honest that feels like the perfect antidote to the festive season’s excesses. As they’re not too chocolatey, it feels acceptable to eat them for breakfast, which makes them a winner in my eyes.

Now for some pretentious pictures of the muffins. Don’t tell me you didn’t know this was coming.

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Lazy Sunday Food, Instagram Style

I don’t own an iPhone because I am some kind of technophobe, albeit a technophobe who is obsessed with the internet and has a blog. Smartphones scare me a bit, if I’m honest. This does not stop me from playing with the Instagram app on my boyfriend’s phone, though.

The only things I seem to take photos of are my food. I’m not sure what this says about our relationship. So here are my Instagram pics of lazy Sunday food, that may or may not have been eaten on a Sunday.

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Costa coffee / Steak fajitas / Glorious Azteca soup with bread and salad / Tuna melt with salad and crisps / Blueberry pancakes

What’s your favourite lazy day food?

Lazy Sunday Snapshots

This Sunday has been beautifully lazy. All I had achieved by 4pm was eating two meals, waving Rich off, watching two episodes of Pan Am, and changing my outfit about four times. Here are a few pictures of what I’ve been doing/wearing/eating lately.

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Banana, almonds, cashews and a dark chocolate Kit Kat / Passport, travel insurance & four thousand Czech crowns, all ready for Prague ON WEDNESDAY! / Rocky Road… for breakfast / My amazing feet. The boots are from Peacocks, a complete bargain at £13 as they were half price. The fur trim socks were about £4 from Matalan, and I honestly think they’re one of the most genius inventions. Apologies for the awful photo, turns out it’s quite tricky to take a photo of your own feet  / I made this amazing pea soup and it was just what the doctor ordered on a day like today / Everything I own at the moment seems to be yellow… including my car / I don’t think I’ve ever shared a picture of these bad boys on my blog, possibly for fear of being relentlessly mocked. These are my bears. The polar bear came from WWF & the grizzly came from John West tuna.

What did you do/wear/eat this week? How was your Sunday?

Cheese Scones & Fairy Cakes

I generally don’t bake. When people say things like ‘if cooking is an art, baking is a science’ I get scared and decide to cook instead. I’m arty, I’m creative! I can’t do science and I definitely can’t do maths. One time I tried to make this recipe and it was still liquid after being in the oven for about three hours. The mixture burnt before it set. I spent almost an entire week trying to wash the dish I had made it in.

However, one of my 30 before 30 goals is to learn how to bake on signature dish. Here it is in writing. It would seem that I like to set myself ridiculous challenges in the hope that over the next nine years I will become a successful, Masters degree possessing, jetsetting, student loan free lady who will turn up to your shindig carrying my signature dish. Then I will drive to the airport in my own car, hop on a plane to New Zealand, write my diary on the way there and my first novel on the way back.

That’s the dream, folks. Apparently.

Today I decided to start on the road to being such a person, and baked. I got out the trusty Be-Ro book and I made not only some cheese scones, but also some fairy cakes. I not only made normal cheese scones, but I made them with a mix of cheddar, gruyere and parmesan, and I glazed one with Marmite and studded one with green olives. I not only made regular iced fairy cakes but I made three varieties of flavoured icing: vanilla, cinnamon and coffee.

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Then I covered them with ridiculous Christmas themed decorations. Because I’m a ridiculous person.

Have I found my signature dish? No, not really. Were they delicious? Yes, and they taste like accomplishment. Now let’s hope I don’t eat them all before my boyfriend arrives.

Both recipes come from the Be-Ro book. If you don’t own one you’re kind of missing out.

Five Things Friday

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last five meals I ate

  1. Bagel with spring onion & black pepper cream cheese, salad
  2. Crackers, cottage cheese, ham, olives, gherkins
  3. Crackers & cottage cheese (a very strange thing to be addicted to, I know…)
  4. Pasta with aforementioned cream cheese, bacon, courgettes and mushrooms
  5. Scrambled eggs, toast, Franks hot sauce

five places I’m going

  1. I’m planning a trip to Hull soon
  2. Rich & I are booked into a spa at the end of October
  3. I will probably go to his house in Halifax at some point
  4. Hopefully a day/night out to Manchester/Newcastle. Who’s in?
  5. A friend & I are going to Prague in December

last five books I’ve read

  1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  2. Q&A by Vikas Swarup
  3. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
  4. Smashed by Koren Zailckas
  5. The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing

five things in my bag

  1. felt purse with an elephant on it
  2. card wallet with a gazillion loyalty cards in it (do I need a Subway card when I live nowhere near a Subway? Of course!)
  3. Moleskine diary
  4. phone & camera
  5. book

five things I do every day

  1. shower
  2. drink coffee
  3. attempt to plan my life
  4. listen to Emmy the Great (no joke)
  5. read blogs

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Chicken sandwiches & salad with honey mustard dressing – Bagel with cream cheese and tomato – Spaghetti with ham, celery and leek sauce & salad – A Tracker bar eaten while watching The Big Bang Theory, I’m so cool – Bread, laughing cow cheese, burger mustard and cucumber (possibly my favourite snack at the moment) – Tea (which I added milk to because I believe black tea is morally wrong)

On Tuesday I made a marinade for salmon which was AMAZING, and I feel like I need to share it with the world. I mixed soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sweet chilli sauce, white wine vinegar and vegetable oil, then added minced garlic, red chilli and ginger. I can’t tell you what quantities because I made it up as I went along and just added things until it tasted sticky, sweet and salty. I guess the main component was soy sauce, and there was quite a lot of sweet chilli, with just a bit of everything else to add flavour. I served the salmon with courgette, aubergine and udon noodles. AMAZE.

Lots of carbs, lots of vegetables: just the way I like it. This is just bits and pieces of what I ate over the week, btw.

  • Do you like The Big Bang Theory?
  • How do you take your tea?
  • Any amazing marinade recipes you’d like to share?

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